Sunday, February 7, 2010

"Adaptation" - as reviewed by Andy

I really like this film. It's originality sets it above most other films of last decade, even above most of the "original" films that we've reviewed. And also, it's a fabulous Nick Cage movie. Not so much an exciting film, but intriguing.

If you'll allow me a moment of confession though, I must admit that I watched the film quite some time ago. Before Jason moved to West Virginia in the summer of 2008, he gave me a list of movies to watch. I diligently watched each of them, and one of them was "Adaptation." However, my list from Jason gave no mention of writing, discussing, or anything of the like. It was just a list, so I watched the movies (mostly by myself), and that was that. "Adaptation" quickly blurred into the amorphous collective that is "movies I've seen."

When Jason suggested watching "Adaptation" for the blog, I of course agreed (because that's how our relationship works, and I defer to his greater knowledge, except for whether "Brick" was a great movie...), but I totally forgot about previously seeing the movie. I even read the description and queued it up without realizing. In fact, it wasn't until I'd watched about 5 minutes of the film that it occurred to me that I'd seen the movie before. I guess it questions my opinion of the movie and my prowess in film that I couldn't remember...

None-the-less, fabulous film, that I doubt I will forget again. I think what made "Adaptation" so great was that you, as the viewer, didn't have any idea where the film was going to take you. Frankly, it's hard enough just to identify what the movie is actually about until the very end.

I think what the movie so aptly illustrates is the complex art of script writing. Yes, the acting in it is fabulous, and Chris Cooper deserved his Oscar for his portrayal of "Laroche," but that's not what was so brilliant about the film. Cage did a great job playing Kaufman's on-screen character, but even great acting would have failed had the Kaufman character not struggled so much to write the script. There was a honesty about the struggle he had, and even though it quickly diverged into pure fiction (as far as I know, Susan Orleans is still not in jail for homicide...), there was still a sense of reality about how much Kaufman struggled with the script, and how timid and uncertain he was about the decisions he'd made to write himself in, to diverge from truth to fiction, to violate all of the conventional rules about screen-writing. I imagine that one of the difficulties Kaufman must have had was feeling like he was too narcissistic and that the film became too much about him, and nothing about what Columbia Pictures actually wanted. I'm betting he was as scared and vulnerable when he handed over a draft of the script as he had ever been in his whole life...

or at least that's how I remember it. Comments by Andy

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