“If your life was made into a movie, who would play you?” It’s a fun question, isn’t it? Of course, it’s also the most revealing because people often pick the actor or actress that they’d like to be, not really the other way around. But, it’s a nice way to daydream ourselves out of our less-than-interesting lives. I wonder why the question isn’t more like, “If you could make your life into a movie, what would it be?”
With that in mind, this post is six movies about me. Or at least six different ways of imagining what my life-as-drama could be.
The straight-up biopic:
A young Southern woman (Jewel Staite) reaches a crossroads in her life; she’s just finished school & is being groomed for promotion at her office job. Her husband (Adam Arkin) wants to focus on building a family while she tries to find more satisfying outlets for her writing. Taking place against the current backdrop of Wal-Mart’s efforts to build a new store on a Civil War battlefield, she attempts to find her way through the changing landscape of her life & her native land. Main action of the film focuses on lots of conversations over dinner at Mexican restaurants & late night heart-to-hearts over Vietnamese coffee.
A talky movie punctuated by shots of the battlefields, sunsets, construction & strip malls. Partial soundtrack list includes Allison Krauss & Union Station, Neko Case, Lizz Wright.
The European pic:
An American photographer (Scarlett Johansson, pre-The Island) decides to visit her father’s homeland, Norway, and follow the annual pilgrimage of St. Olav in Nidaros, as detailed in the novel Kristin Lavransdatter. Neither Catholic nor fluent in Norwegian, her trip is an attempt to find herself or the parts of her experience that feel right despite her unfamiliar surroundings. In the midst of her idyll (work, contemplation, a foreign lover played by relative unknown Konstantin Dovre) comes the news that her father, her only parent, has died & that he has another daughter that he’s concealed for years. Patrick Bauchau has a small but significant role as the international investigator who reveals the momentous news.
A quiet movie with subtitles and long moments of actors looking conflicted. Partial soundtrack includes Sarah Bettens’ “All of This Past”, Blonde Redhead, occasional Gregorian chant.
The crazy-girl pic:
A young female writer (Milla Jovovich) is committed to the asylum St.-Hazel-in-the-Snow for a short-term stay after suffering a breakdown upon the completion of her visionary, apocalyptic novel. She is tormented by her muse/personal demon played at turns by Brad Dourif, Ben Foster, Tilda Swinton and Jovovich herself. Nothing is certain in this institution—from the violent outbursts of the other inmates to the seemingly rising tide of chaos & controversy over our heroine’s novel. Even the attending occupational therapist Bruce (Michael Sheen) seems to have ulterior motives: does he have feelings for her or is he threatened by her delusions & her work? John Hawkes plays her former professor/mentor who attempts to reach out to her & give her stability.
Filmed in Rockville at the former site of Chestnut Lodge (pre-construction & re-zoning). Soundtrack includes lots of jazz & orchestration by Angelo Badalamente.
The vampire pic:
A female dancer (Summer Glau) living in the Fan area of Richmond pursues a promising career in theater & dance. As a key opportunity presents itself with an opening in the city’s dance company, our heroine realizes that she is being stalked. Eventually, a strange gaunt red-haired vampire calling himself the King of Birds reveals himself as her stalker. Enthralled by her grace & vitality, the King tries to convince her to join him in eternal life. Wary of his violence & charisma, she tries to lose herself in her work while contemplating how to escape such a powerful being.
Visual style of film takes a lot of inspiration from the drawings of Edward Gorey. Partial soundtrack includes Elliott Smith, AFI’s “Silver and Cold”, a few local Richmond darkwave bands.
The avant-garde pic:
A red-haired androgyne walks through a building in various stages of construction. It wears a long white dress & black combat boots; it’s arms are covered with tattoos or ink drawings of falling stars. One of the boots tried to sing Tom Waits’ “Cemetary Polka” to the accompaniment of bagpipes. The other boot keeps interrupting to talk about Flannery O’Connor’s writings, specifically her poor attitude toward Girl Scout shoes and what it would be like for a shoe to be on a wooden leg. The androgyne is aware of the boots’ debate and interjects their own thoughts.
Visually, a very cluttered and multi-leved pic; there is rarely an unobstructed, straight-forward view. Think empty picture frames stacked on top of one another in a pile. The sound of wind chimes fades in and out.