Monday, February 28, 2011

My Two Film Heroes

I can't even remember the last Academy Award-nominated movie I saw but we're talking decades, not months or years. I bought a DVD player so my son, the movie buff, could watch films when he's here.  I've never bothered to learn how to turn it on. I have Showtime on my cable but I ordered it for one program, Inside NASCAR. I watched part of Avatar when we were in Florida visiting the kids but I gave up and went to bed before it was over.

Mom is big into the red carpet on Oscar night. She likes seeing the dresses and shoes and hair dos although she doesn't have a clue about who starred in what film.

I have favorite actors and actresses but that doesn't mean I'll necessarily bother to see them on the big screen. I loved Farrah Fawcett but I don't believe I ever saw one of her movies. I was always a Cher fan but I don't think I've ever seen one of hers either. I like Brad Pitt and Jennifer Anniston but.....

Over all, I much prefer reading over watching films. Partly, that's because I'm more in control. I can pick up a book and put it down at my convenience, wherever I happen to be - at the doctor's office, in the car, at home. Movies require more commitment, especially if you go to the theater.  You have to be willing to invest a dedicated amount of time.

There are two actors for whom I'll go to that effort - Michael Moore and Johnny Depp. Yep, I know - two more disparate people you could not find - the consummate politico and the consummate actor. Beauty and the Beast. The ultimate reality and the ultimate fantasy. One who plays the same character, himself, every time and one who plays a series of wildly differing characters.

When you sit through a Michael Moore docu-movie, you come out depressed about the world and how the lower classes are screwed over by their superiors (superior in power, at least)....and how complicit we are in our own screwing. Depressed, yes, but believing that he shows you things you need to know if you are going to be an informed and aware citizen.

That's not to say I always agree with Michael. I think he goes a little over the top sometimes to make his points but I understand that some drama has to be created if you are going to to draw viewers. I totally disagreed with him about Barack Obama versus Hillary Clinton and I still think we'd be better off today if we'd elected Hillary, but that's water under the bridge, and people will disagree about candidates.

Johnny Depp offers the opposite of Michael. Pure entertainment and escapism. Leaping from the mainsail with daring Captain Jack Sparrow, the unrepentant reprobate who somehow always manages to pull off doing the right thing. Faraway lands, mysterious waters, fantastic villains. Wandering into wonderland with Alice and her exotic cohorts, including Johnny as the Mad Hatter.

Johnny's milieu is so totally different than Michael's. Wicked watery denizens of the deep versus the everyday evil of corrupt politicians. One of our heroes taking them on with an actual sword, while the other forges his sword from pen and camera. They are both pirates of a kind. One steals ships and treasures while the other tries to steal away with our apathy.

I have a thousand book heroes but on film, these are my only two.