Robert (Bro. Pepper-spray of Reasoned Discussion) (montecristo) wrote,
Robert (Bro. Pepper-spray of Reasoned Discussion)

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When the going gets tough, the tough go for the movies!

It was completely overcast this morning. This is unusual for the Bay Area at this time of year. I look out the window here and it is still cloudy. Ah well, all in all, this is a good thing. Yesterday, at lunch time, I refrained from going to lunch with Robert so that I could have some time to work on Project McGuffin by myself at a picnic table outside. Naturally, Robert and I do not work on McGuffin while on the company clock or on the company premises. I actually got some useful things done. I am going to do the same thing today and see if I can make a habit of it. Yesterday was sunny and I picked up a little bit of a burn on my arms. Heh heh, software engineers with tans? What's next buns o' steel and a six pack? Who would've thought that software development could be so healthy?

I haven't posted for several days now. I have had an enormous number of things on my mind, as much has been happening. Despite my better efforts and despite progress in certain areas, much is still in chaos. Life has recently been a mixture of the absurd, the amusing, the enjoyable, and the hectic. Mind you, life is naturally a mixture of these things, but it makes a lot more sense when these disparate things come at you with more "slack-time" between them!

I got so fed up last night with the way negotiations are going with the ex wife I just couldn't concentrate on anything. I walked away from the computer and flopped in my bed with a bag of Pop Secret Kettle Corn and put in a movie around 10:00 PM. the movie was Adaptation which my mother had sent me sometime ago and which I had never seen.

This is a very unusual movie, and I am a big fan of unusual movies, especially comedies. Nevertheless, in the first few minutes, I was ready to pull it out of the player and chuck it in the trash can. The protagonist, Charlie Kauffman, played by Nicholas Cage, is a nebbishy little neurotic whose interactions with others are stress-inducing and cringe-worthy, and the voice-over narration adds to this effect on the audience. If you survive the opening minutes though, things start to get interesting. I found this to be true, even though the thread of the plot jumps around all over the place in time and you have to pay close attention to what happened when to make sense of it all. Furthermore, the plot also changes points of view quickly as well among the four main characters and this can be confusing as well, although it is integral to the story-telling.

The story is about a neurotic screenplay writer whose life is in a rut. He has run out of ideas for pursuing the things he values and has become timid and insecure. He is attempting to adapt a difficult non-fiction book into a movie. The book is about a fascinatingly eccentric man who cultivates orchids. The orchid cultivator, John Laroche, played by Chris Cooper, has been legally stealing plants from a wildlife preserve to conduct his work and the title of the book is called The Orchid Thief. Laroche appears to be an almost monomaniacal character, who throws himself into the pursuit of one value after another, yet he is also evading that which he values most — companionship. The writer of the book, Susan Orlean, played by Meryl Streep, seems dissociated from values almost entirely and consequentially is losing all passion for living. She is desperate to reverse this state of affairs and find something that will inspire her to actually live. Compounding the drama of the situation is Charlie's growing infatuation for Susan based upon his reading of the insights and observations expressed in her book. Into this mix is also tossed Charlie's twin brother, Donald Kauffman, also played by Nicholas Cage. Donald is attempting to break into screenwriting, but his skills are somewhat naive and immature. Consequently he is something of an embarassment and a vexation to his brother, Charlie. Donald is a foil for each of the other three characters and seems to have the best philosophy of the lot. Consequently, he is also the happiest of the lot. This phenomenon also vexes Charlie, who is desperately eager to discover why Donald's philosophy appears to work for him and attain for Donald the kinds of values, like love, admiration, companionship and self-esteem, for which he has been yearning himself. The primary question of the movie soon becomes apparent when Charlie's and Donald's philosophies are contrasted &mdash whose is the better understanding of the way the world really is and how it works? Can Donald provide a crucial insight to his smarter, more talented brother, or will Charlie's cynical, pessimistic outlook prove all too realistic?

As the movie progresses, four stories are being told: the story of Charlie's struggle to understand self-worth, recover his ability to perceive and acquire meaninful values, and adapt to changing circumstances and write the screenplay, the story of John's avoidance of the pursuit of his primary value and what happens when that primary value drops into his lap, the story of Susan's continuing evasion of what to value and how it is spoiling her sense of life and happiness, and the story of Donald's attempt to become a successful screenplay writer like his brother and achieve things beyond his previous expectations. As the movie progresses, the four stories become intertwined and begin to distort and interfere with each other, leaving the audience surprised as to which direction the plot will go as each of the story's sub-plots approach climax.

The movie is a very twisted comedy-drama which keeps the viewers interest continuously piqued. The elements of humor and tragedy are skillfully intertwined to produce a story about people's ability to adapt to the challenges that beset them and grow — or else perish. All four of the major roles are handled excellently by three actors playing at the top of their form. I would recommend this movie to everyone who enjoys a good movie with an excellently told story, especially if they have a taste for those whose stories are told in an unusual or strange fashion. Adaptation is certainly all that.


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