Sunday, January 20, 2008

Movies, men and the writer's strike

I have become a serious movie goer in the last couple of years. This passion was fueled by a screen writer, Jim and a set designer, Les. I have had many special, important and amazing men in my life, but these two have special places in my heart for different reasons.

Residents of Utah are intimately familiar with the work of Les. If you have seen any of the legacy movies, Work and the Glory, BYU history movies and yes, even the movie shown in hallowed LDS temples, Les's handiwork and legacy can be seen. He is one of the hardest working men I know - he gives amazingly of his time, talents and resources to help those around him. He is often known to pick up the tab for friends who cannot afford it (I lost track of how many dinners he bought me in the month before I left Utah) - he buys birthday cards and gift certificates for massages, groceries, books and the like for friends and family. He plays games with his nieces and nephews and they love their uncle Les. His family is large and very close -I haven't met them all, but I met his sweet parents - his dad is a retired professor of seminary (that is the LDS required religion course at LDS owned colleges, and optional at others). He has a sister who is married to a man who was recently called to serve a mission somewhere south of the border. He loves magazines, dresses like an Amercrombie and Fitch model, works out frequently - spinning at 24 Hour Fitness somewhere in the valley. Look for the guy with the great body, graying hard and fabulous smile - what do I know, I have never seen him naked. We shared a hotel room once. Our friends had bought a home in Idaho and we took one of our road trips. Splitting the cost of a hotel room was a sensible thing - we both snored, and didn't worry about waking the other up from across the room. You can find him at any of Salt Lake's healthy eateries, Diet Coke always in hand. He served an LDS mission to Japan, is educated, intelligent, smart and deeply spiritual. He embodies all that religious people strive to be: kind, caring and his brother's keeper. He has found a great new place to worship - I went there one Sunday with Les and Mike, another friend of ours. The preacher was motivational, progressive and passionate - she was also a woman. We had brunch afterwards. It was a good day.

I attended my first ever Oscar "party" in Park City last year. It was an intimate gathering with great food, lots of wine and people from "the business" - Les's friends and associates. They work with or without unions - long hours and little thanks. We laughed and I listened as they gave me the scoop on those actors with whom they had worked. It was fun and an amazingly intimate and candid insight on "Stars." Les will come and see me in NYC one of these days - he has never been here. He had better hold on to his hat - it seems to me that there are no ugly men here - that's what comes from living in a homogeneous state for so long. The diversity of men is breathtaking. Most of them dress like they actually read "Details" and "GQ" magazines. Long hair, short hair, earrings, jeans, suits, long coats, dreadlocks - I am like a kid in a candy store. People would often ask me what on earth I did in NYC when I came to visit. The same thing I did in Salt Lake - sit in coffee shops, chat and people watch - only now the men actually come and chat with me!

Jim is a long cool glass of water. I met him at the coffee shop in the Library of the Year. He had a pony tail, legs that wouldn't quit, amazingly intense blue eyes and a smile to melt a glacier. In typical Annette fashion, I invited him to my upcoming party and we sort of stuck. We were even roomates for a brief minute until my ex husband showed up on the doorstep, needing a place to stay with two of my kids in tow. Jim is a student of life and at the University of Utah. He is working on his first screenplay. It is going to be great - how do I know that? I spent hours on campus with him, patiently typing and retyping his notes, trying to figure out the format for a script - those instructions are easy if you are a screenwriter or a film student, but the learning curve for me was huge. I can't wait to see the movie - writing the script was pretty intense, shall we say. Jim is Irish-American and from the Windy City. He has lived in Utah for ages - over 10 years at least. We have watched more movies (at the dollar movie - perfect for families, students on a budget, and unemployed people). The first movie he saw was with his dad - I don't recall the movie, but it is black and white with an amazing sex scene - I have never seen the movie, but Jim has recounted it so often to me, I will know it when I see it one of these days. He is close to graduating - I think he is done this year. He taught me how to laugh, cry, breathe, meditate, eat healthy, take care of myself and maintain life balance. I have never loved a man as much as I loved Jim - not in the sexual way, necessarily - we never had sex, but I can tell you, this man can hug and make a girl feel loved. There is an amazing woman out there who will capture his heart again someday - she might be in Florida, Chicago, New York, California or the Bermuda Triangle - whoever she is, wherever she is, she is going to be one heck of a lucky woman!

I prefer foreign movies as a rule - yes, some might say that makes me a movie snob, but I grew up in London, lived in Germany and speak 3 languages - I like movies to be a cultural experience, thought-provoking, life-changing, and occasionally, a silly chick flick. From Michael Moore's movies to the Bourne Trilogy, Michael Clayton, Hotel Rwanda, Shawshank Redemption, Life is Beautiful and Schindler's List (I saw it once with my two oldest sons when they were in junior high - it was emotionally gut wrenching - I could hardly get the images out of my mind for a week. I will never be able to watch it again - too real for someone who has been to Anne Frank's House, Dachau and Auschwitz and lived in Germany for 7 years with a few too many people who claim that the Holocaust never happened).

I saw Will Smith's latest blockbuster over last weekend. Will has recently been named one of the 5 most powerful people in Hollywood. While "Lions for Lambs" barely made a blip in revenues, with its all star cast, including one of Hollywood's hottest men - no - not him, the other one - he lives in Park City, Utah. There are two people I really wanted to meet in Utah, Robert Redford and Dr. Condaleeza Rice. I tried really hard to meet the latter, and wanted to ask Rocky to let me meet Robert Redford when they had that amazing environmental conference, but didn't want to impose. What was I thinking????

Will Smith continues to amaze us with his intellect, on stage screen presence, ability to choose over and over again blockbuster making movie scripts. I loved "The Pursuit for Happyness." It spoke to me on many levels.

In the summer of 1980, I attended an outdoor packed concert in London's Crystal Palace stadium. It was the last concert Bob Marley gave in London before his untimely death. His songs feature prominently in "I am Legend". I love "Redemption Song" - I listen to his music several times a week. I wonder what he would be writing and singing about were he still alive today......The same stuff - will we ever learn?

Will Smith's performance is stellar, captivating and that body is to die for - Jada is one happy woman - I can see it when she looks at him. Will's daughter plays his daughter in the movie. The movie is haunting, thought provoking, apocalyptic and perhaps even prophetic.

Please go and see it and don't forget the writers and set designers, costumers, etc, etc, etc. who help make movies happen. They don't get millions of dollars per movie. Perhaps we should demand that the price of a movie ticket not exceed $5, that movie stars not make obscene amounts of money and that we bring a level of equlity and social justice into the business. Actors work hard, but they have lots of people on staff behind the scenes to help them look good. Conan O'Brien just bought a $10.5 million dollar home - I hope his writers get very well paid.

No comments: