Posts Tagged ‘Reese Witherspoon’

Punch & Judy

Punch & Judy

Before Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl, the last time I was this hopelessly addicted to a book was when I read Scott Smith’s A Simple Plan. (Or was it The Ruins? Whichever one of those I read second. Anyway, I found it totally apt that Smith wrote a big juicy blurb for Gone Girl‘s book-jacket.) Flynn’s story starts out like one of those true-crime Lifetime movies, until it gets flipped over and piledriven onto the arena floor. Then just when I thought the damage had been done, this crazy monster got back up and smacked me upside the face with a barbed-wire folding chair again and again and all the while I just kept thinking Keep comin’ at me you diabolical psycho.

There are some cliches here but at least they’re acknowledged. Besides, there are so many unavoidable cliches in the Missing Wife/ Suspected Husband Story (both fiction and non-) that it’s near-impossible to subvert them all in a single book. So of course there’s a very predictable extra-marital affair. Yet for the reasonable price of a few cliches, we don’t just get all that subversion. We’re also treated to pages and pages of vicious musings on marriage, male-female relations, criminal psychology, post-recession America, and the elastic hysteria of Public Opinion. Yes, there are some cliches in that stuff too, but honestly, can we ever have too much Nancy Grace-bashing?

I’m utterly amped for the movie. It might have to be like 80% voice-over, but if anyone can work wonders with wicked voice-over, it’s David “Fight Club” Fincher. Reese Witherspoon will only be producing, not starring, and thank goodness- not because she wouldn’t be perfect in the title role, but because she’d be so obviously perfect. I’m hoping for someone who hasn’t already played this kind of character. Sure, Jessica Chastain; fine, Amy Adams. But if I had the rights to Gone Girl I’d wait about five more years and then cast Alison Brie. (Granted, I kind of wish Alison Brie was in everything.)

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(Part 19 of An Ongoing Series)


Any one can get angry — that is easy… but to do this to the right person, to the right extent, at the right time, with the right motive, and in the right way, that is not for every one, nor is it easy.

Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics

…you can’t interfere with destiny, that’s why it’s destiny. And if you try to interfere, the same thing’s just going to happen anyway, and you’ll just suffer.

Tracy Flick (Reese Witherspoon), Election

Tammy Metzler’s right: High School elections are basically a bunch of charades and empty promises made primarily for the sake of the winners’ college transcripts.

I say this as a former student government officer who was much less an officer than a glorified event planner.  I harbored no illusions of “making a difference;” I simply enjoyed the power and privilege of writing smart-ass Homecoming skits and organizing Battles Of The Bands.  (And OK, fine, listing those accomplishments on my college transcript.  Hate the game, not the player.)  I dropped all interest in “governing” during my first semester of film school, in the autumn of that magical year of 1999, when I decided my time might be better-spent drinking more booze, smoking more pot, and watching more movies.

Since then I’ve remained an outsider to the whole governance thing.  From here, Election‘s satire- as it applies to Real World Politics rather than High School Politics- seems to have some fine points.  It often feels like most high-level politicians are either popular-but-toothless like Paul Metzler (Chris Klein), or brutally ambitious narcissists like Tracy Flick (Reese Witherspoon), while rabble-rousers like Tammy Metzler typically end up shoved off to the margins or shut out of the process altogether.

But Election‘s satire isn’t its biggest hook for me.  What fascinates me is the timeless moral/ ethical dilemma of mostly-decent teacher Jim McAllister (Matthew Broderick).  He’s wading through the fuzzy fog of Tracy’s affair with his friend-and-colleague, with plenty of reason to believe she may not be the totally blameless victim that society’s laws say she is.  All Jim wants to do is what he believes is right: teach Tracy a lesson in humility while also protecting his beloved school- maybe even the world at large- from the glittery steamroller of her ego.  Naturally, he’s got his work cut out for him.

So, how morally and/or ethically right was Jim in trying to rig the election?  Was he foolish in his attempt to thwart the unstoppable Tracy Flick?  Or was he brave?  Was he noble, or petty?  Was it worth the price?  Is he truly happier in the new life his actions lead him to, or just trying to convince himself he’s happier?  Is he better off, or more pathetic?  After multiple viewings, I have plenty of opinions on these questions, and about zero easy answers.

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