Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Eternal Scoundrel

I recorded the Golden Globes on Sunday because I love Tina and Amy and they did not let me down.  I'm still laughing at the description of Gravity as "that movie where George Clooney would rather float into space and die than spend one more day in the presence of a woman his own age".

Since I live in Los Angeles I can testify that George is not alone in that club.  Lots of those types of astronauts in the hills of Hollywood.

I also wanted to see Breaking Bad get it's much deserved kudos.  I was not an early adaptor.  I was incredibly resistant even when friends whose opinions I greatly respect were raving about the excellent writing - I was thinking about the potential for flashbacks.  I ended up mainlining four seasons on Netflix and recording the last season and I have to say that it was totally worth the discomfort of a few bad memories and more than one sleepless night (I eventually had a no BB past 6pm rule).  That is some of the best writing (and music supervision) ever.

Having had the good luck of being invited to screenings and also access to "screeners" provided to Academy voters I really wanted to see what and who would win in the film categories.  I so wanted Emma to win for her performance as PL Travers, but then I haven't seen Cate Blanchett's performance in Blue Jasmine.  I feel the same way about that movie as I do about The Wolf of Wall Street. 

I'm not a Woody Allen fan or a Scorcese fan.

For many that would mean that my opinion on film doesn't matter.

But it's really a personal thing for all of us right?  Life is very full and busy so it comes down to how do I want to spend 2 (or sometimes 3) hours?  I have always found Woody Allen's films to be a bit masturbatory in their neuroses.  Despite the fact that Diane Keaton loves him and I love her, I wouldn't want to hang out with him.  Same with Scorcese - his movies are too violent, too testosterone filled; they are the celluloid version of Hemingway novels and I don't like those either.  This is not personal in either case it's just that I enjoy movies much like I enjoy wine or sex... I want to be delighted, entertained, pleasured, etc.  You know a generally positive experience.  I don't want to be traumatized, annoyed or depressed.

So while I appreciate the marvelous one night stands that were Midnight in Paris and Hugo, I'm fully aware that for me, that's pretty much it with those guys.

I really and truly think that Bruce Dern deserved the award for best actor in a comedy, but then I can't really say because I didn't see Leo's performance in WofW.  If I can get a hold of a screener I may give it a shot.

Again, I'm a little concerned about shame inducing flashbacks, but the fast forward button makes everything manageable.

My two favorite, and in my opinion, most highly deserved awards went to Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto for their performances in Dallas Buyers Club.  This was a movie I really wanted to see but I was completely unprepared for where it would take me and it was totally due to those performances. 

In 1987 my boyfriend/best friend was diagnosed with HIV.  I shouldn't have been surprised because he was a 20th century Oscar Wilde - without the all the way gay.  He was a beautiful young man who attracted and was attracted to women and men.  He was also attracted to altered states and dangerous situations. 

Much like Ron Woodruff he was an unapologetic scoundrel.

With the diagnosis came a stigma that infuriated him and left him helpless.  In 1987 it was still a death sentence, but the drugs that weren't legally available to Ron Woodruff and Rayon became legal that year so Gary was able to take AZT and DDC.  They didn't give him more T-cells.  And while they might have slowed the destruction of his immune system they made him so toxically ill he felt like death was a better option than that kind of life.sick.

He died in 1993.

Seeing the movie took me back to those six long years where we watched the people we loved who had this virus become scarecrows and die.  What Ron Woodruff did was bring hope to those who were pretty much told to suck it.  Watching the movie brought up the hatred I felt for Ronald Reagan and his antipathy and abandonment of millions of people who received this diagnosis all over again.  This was a massive public health issue that was ignored because the primary group affected were deemed to deserve it.

It took me back to those days of never ending sadness for a loss that happened incrementally over years.  I lost my friend because his body disappeared and couldn't carry him forward anymore.

What was beautiful about the performance these actors gave is that they captured so perfectly the eternal quality of human spirit.  Although the disease ravaged his body Gary was a scoundrel till the end.  He enjoyed the shock on the faces of friends when we took him out to dinner and would run into people he hadn't seen in a while.  He used to hand out condoms.  He was the safe sex poster child - embracing the role of the horrible warning.  His humor never faded although as his death got closer he admitted to being scared because he didn't believe in God or heaven and wasn't thrilled about the idea of a void.  Indeed, it was months of watching him gasp for breath, clinging by his fingernails to the mortal coil.

With the advent of retroviral "cocktails" we don't see the walking dead like we used to in the United States - so I'd forgotten what it felt like to wake up in that world and feel all those feelings.  Matthew McConnaughey and Jared Leto were not in sight in this movie.  They moved out of the way and channeled the indomitable spirits of so many people who left too soon in the characters of Ron Woodruff and Rayon. 

I cried all the way home and all the next day because I don't think we every really get over grieving that kind of loss - we just go on and our lives fill with good stuff so that's where we live - until something pulls the scab off and we feel it all over again.  Like it just happened.

This journey back wasn't only sad, it was also pretty wonderful to remember Gary's upthrust middle finger as he dealt with his shitty hand.  Snort - I'm sorry but he would love that I just put it that way.

I don't believe that any of those intrepid spirits went into a void.

No - they continue to express through the memories of the people who loved them and in the stories of their lives that we tell and retell. 

Gary was, is and will always be a scoundrel and thinking about him makes me laugh more than it makes me cry.

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