Thursday, July 01, 2010

In: Meryl. Out: Julia. That in which we adapt to A-grade Hollywood actresses

I don’t like it when a movie ends at 2 in the morning and I don’t know what to think about it. It makes me feel like I wasted time when I could’ve been sleeping off the day and making my skin and eyes look better for the next day.

Turns out, I’m more curious than vain. I saw Adaptation last night. It had Meryl Streep, Nicholas Cage, Chris Cooper -- how wrong could you go? Meryl was writing a book, Nicholas was adaptating it into a screenplay.

The book was about orchids -- ghost orchids – how a toothless ace horticulturist, Laroche (Cooper), hangs around crocodile-infested swamps to get hold of these flowers that Streep doesn’t particularly care about but is fascinated by how some people – men, Laroche (Cooper) -- can be so passionate about them. Engrossing enough, don’t you think?

Possible that never has a horticulturist on celluloid said something more remarkable than Laroche about orchids:

"Point is, what's so wonderful is that every one of these flowers has a specific relationship with the insect that pollinates it. There's a certain orchid look exactly like a certain insect so the insect is drawn to this flower, its double, its soul mate, and wants nothing more than to make love to it. And after the insect flies off, spots another soul-mate flower and makes love to it, thus pollinating it. And neither the flower nor the insect will ever understand the significance of their lovemaking. I mean, how could they know that because of their little dance the world lives? But it does. By simply doing what they're designed to do, something large and magnificent happens. In this sense they show us how to live - how the only barometer you have is your heart. How, when you spot your flower, you can't let anything get in your way."

Streep is stunned when she hears him say this. She plays a journalist doing the article on orchids.I want to be stunned! Why does nobody say such stuff to me, damnit? Anyway, I make a mental note to do a news alert on flowers, because, you know, I'm a journalist... and if I do a story on orchids, Nicholas Cage will woo me. This is my reasoning and such are my cognitive skills. I don’t like his red wig, but once we’re together, I’ll take care of it.

My other tangent: Meryl Streep is me (except I like flowers more than she lets on). Streep doesn’t collect stuff, and is not passionate about anything.

"I suppose I do have one unembarrassed passion. I want to know how it feels to care about something passionately."

She’s accepted that being a bit disinterested is “part of her constitution”. In my head, a bell is rung. I do a Tom Cruise. I bounce on a sofa and yell: Yes! Yes! Hug me! Lets you and I in our passionless fervour conquer the world together!

But I’m not usually enthusiastic. I could never do a Cruise. I pity Katie.

I get her though, Streep. I get her role. She’s just a writer curious about how other people behave. (I should put this in my About Me). Better yet, I should have put this to my parents when they were worried I was growing up to be a dispassionate plebeian child bereft of ambition, motivation – and, to make it worse -- a gaping hole where should’ve stood an ability to listen. I should’ve told them this, if only I was so clever back then.

They were concerned. They would tell me about how important it was to have a hobby, like my brother. Just fourteen months apart, he was the one with talent and interests. Before girls became an all consuming passion and he morphed into a bit of a butterfly, the boy was besotted with sketching, coins, mythology – always wanting to know more stories about Karan in the Mahabharat, military history, war, Sikh history, Chengiz Khan history - everything that bored me to tears.

Stamps, old coins, calligraphy – his thing, his beat. He was good, too. I loved his sketches; the way he’d draw puny men with toothpick-thin legs and have stubs of hair jutting out of their twitchy knee caps – wonderful comic stuff!

I was less mainstream -- collecting polka dotted silver chocolate wrappers, empty perfume bottles and Big Babol stickers in my abundant free time.

Not only was I outstanding at any sport – as against my champion golfer and horse riding elder brudder, I didn’t even have a hobby! Which sensible kid in people’s slam books would write favourite hobby: collecting stones in different flat shapes. Not me, no! Back then obsessively cutting non-existent split ends didn’t amount to much either. And I can’t say I was overly credited for dark humour at such a young age. Little has changed, I say. But for my memories, I’d be nothing.

So while my brother would spend hours floating postage stamps in a chilimchi of water to make the glue slip off before he could stick them into his albums, I’d idle about, devil at work, poker face, inventing trivia and convincing him, hey you know what, Scooby dooby doooo, where are youuu... was sung by The Beatles. Really? Yup. He believed me. I rank that as a highpoint of my childhood.

He’s an interested sort of chap. I am the most 5/10 person you know. Turns out, that’s fine. It’s in my constitution. And who am I to argue with ooh, my constitution? I must remember to use that somewhere. The move was ordinary. Towards the end, Nicholas’s twin, Douglas gets shot by a man who then gets eaten up by a crocodile. The screenplay changed my... day. Minus the cocaine, dead marriage and sad eyes, I’m Meryl Streep, baby.


Kshitij said...

Oh...I really feel the connection now :P

I caught it too last nite, one of the better movies showing on TV, of late. And Meryl Streep! man!! she was "ghost orchid" :P

Bt the favorite was Donald for "3" :) and Streep in the "getting stoned" part :)

"Donald: I'm putting in a chase sequence. So the killer flees on horseback with the girl, the cop's after them on a motorcycle and it's like a battle between motors and horses, like technology vs. horse.
Charlie: And they're still all one person, right?"

P.S. small correction again :(, the name is Adaptation, minus the "s"!

"But I drive off...filled for the first time with hope that you wont do it again :)
I like this. This is good."

The Unbearable Banishment said...

There you go confusing Hollywood with real life. Well, if we're going to go there this morning, then I'm James Bond. And I must be off. I need to save the planet (but not before sleeping with someone young and beautiful). Please don't wake me.

The Bald Guy said...


The Bald Guy said...

Don't mind me. I'm bald.

Nimpipi said...

Kshitij: Hawk eyes, you've got there! Changing the 's', una momenta. Thanks, she says, mildly sheepish.

I saw Julie and Julia last night. On a Meryl roll, I tell you.

Un B -- or if you prefer, Mr 7:D - Real life was a bore yesterday. Today too, come to think of it, I'd rather mingle with Ashton Kutcher, than, I dunno -- grumble mumble -- go to work. Phhoooie!

Bald G: See, you're tripping again. Arbit punctuation not = comment! But who cares what I think. And sigh, lets be honest, I'd rather an inchoate thought than no thought i guess... gloom suffer suffer

The Mystic said...

So does the devil in you wear Prada?? :P

The Mystic said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nimpipi said...

Mystic: Aah, I get it, I get it; devil-Prada - v clever. But there Anne Hathaway is more me:P

P.S: Please notice my tweaked template and tabs under the header and be proud of me:)

a fan apart said...

The script is by Charlie Kaufman (Eternal Sunshine, Synecdoche). Was reminded of this New Yorker piece on screenwriting guru Robert McKee. There's a bit about Adaptation in it, quite interesting.