I'm Losing You

Last night M. and I had long-time plans to see The Blair Witch Project (No, I’m not going to link to their site dammit – obviously those smart boys don’t need it.). However, the Monday morning revelation that the little film had made 1.5 million on only 27 screens scared us away – we decided to wait until it goes a bit wider. So, left with a deep desire to sit in air conditioning and eat popcorn covered with yellow oil (mmmmmmmmmm…yellow oil…) we looked around for another film to see. In past times, I’ve gone through "stupid" periods where I would’ve chosen to see Wild Wild West (West, Jim West, desperado, rough rider, no you don’t want nada…) or Big Daddy. Sometimes I just get in that mindless mood where the thought of an "art" film just seems like too much work. These moods can last for months sometimes, and when I do emerge, blinded and stumbling, I feel as ashamed and dirty as if I’d just smoked a carton of Camel Unfiltered, eaten three pints of Haagen Daaz, and had a manage a trois with Heart.

So luckily I’m not in that space right now, and we decided to see a little movie called I’m Losing You. Directed by its author Bruce Wagner, (I read Wagner’s book about 2 years ago and really liked it), it is about LA but doesn’t fall into the normal parody-cynical Swimming With Sharks/The Player mode that many LA movies do. (And note: I loved the 2 above films as well.) I’m Losing You is much more literate than that (and literary). He adapted the film from his own book and I mean really adapted it. The characters are very much the same, but he excised massive portions of the book – scenes and lines and subplots that he wrote and must have loved – in order to make the film more focused and, well, filmable.

Bottom line: This is a fantastic movie which apparently had some Hollywood-ish problems with its distributor/production company, etc. Switched to Strand Releasing. I know that at the Hamptons Film Festival, Meryl Streep began to champion the piece, speaking public about its beauty where she could. And David Cronenberg signed on as a producer at some point. So while it has its big fans, it will soon be totally lost in the shuffle. And understandably. The cast includes such box office powerhouses as Frank Langella, Andrew McCarthy, Rosanna Arquette, and Elizabeth Perkins. It is a shame, however.

Frank Langella plays the producer of a Star Trek-esque show, who at age 60 and feeling and looking great, learns he’s going to die within a year. McCarthy is his failed actor son who works for a company that sells life insurance policies of AIDS patients to healthy folk. He has a daughter from a horribly failed marriage with a dangerous drunk, Gina Gershon. Arquette is Langella’s long adopted daughter who discovers the truth of her parents’ passing, goes nuts, and becomes involved in spiritual Jewish mortuary work. Perkins is a long-time HIV-positive woman whom McCarthy falls for. Not exactly the recipe for a blockbuster.

But trust me on this: it is a beautiful movie with endless heart and nuance and beautifully played scenes and meticulously crafted characters. And not a downer at all – despite how it sounds. To me, the biggest surprise – the surprise of the century in my mind – is Andrew McCarthy. His turn here rivals Sheedy’s High Art triumph for Brat Pack breakout; alas it will go unnoticed. I played him in two separate comedy shows on stage, and studied the hell out of the guy (in Less Than Zero and St. Elmo’s Fire, specifically). And while he was fun to goof on, I’m now convinced he’s a potentially powerful actor who seems to have learned not to solely act with his eyes, as he used to. Rumor has it he’s replacing Scott Wolf on B’way in Side Man. Good for him

And if you go see this tiny little mistreated but beautiful soul of a film – good for you too.

This is where I let Larry King take over my body for a few minutes.

I heard a great thing today, for those who want to help Indie Films but still can't get over their desire to see a stoopid big-budget thang: go to a multi-plex, buy a ticket for a small film starting around the same time, and then go into your stoopid film. Little guy wins!...I wish I had a videotape of myself turning off my alarm instead of getting up, as I did this morning. Do I look angry? Out of it? Mischievious?...I met one of the actors on Blair Witch recently, and he let it slip that the 3 actors are kinda pissed about how the producers are touting the film, pretty much making it seem like they simply scared the performances out of the actors, and hiding the fact that they worked their little actor asses off in the process...