I have to confess something to you, my friends. After two decades of life doing this “stuff” I almost hate reading film reviews. In fact, I can say with 100% certainty that by now I do hate reading them. I hate experiencing a film and then reading what other people think about it. It’s one thing if it’s on Facebook (bad enough) or Twitter (oh god help us) but when they hit as some kind of authority on what is primarily a subjective experience it can be a real drag. It can also sometimes be an enhancing experience. But usually not. Usually you must discover and endure someone’s own personality as it interfaces with art. Art you love. Art you know that exists to be loved. That said, I know that it doesn’t really matter what I think about this. It’s just that it took me a long time to figure out that my opinion mattered to me more than theirs did. In that, I’m the one who watches the movies so it should matter most to me, right? As it would to you.
The only reason I bring this up is that there are movies – most movies, really, that should be seen and not judged. Can You Ever Forgive Me, currently riding an astonishing 99% on Rotten Tomatoes, is one of those movies. I’m glad that it’s getting great reviews but as I was reading through them I once again had that moment of thinking, “there isn’t one of these with excerpts that I want to pull out and present to you.” I’d rather just say, see the movie then read the reviews (which are good, btw).
Melissa McCarthy was on Fresh Air yesterday. Since I’m currently driving across the country (am in El Paso, Texas. Can you guess the movie with this quote: “Do you know how many people I know in El Paso, Texas? That’s how many!”) so naturally I’m listening rather than reading news. McCarthy talks to Terry Gross about her early years on a farm – where her mother took in cats. Seriously, they had like 30 cats there. She said it embarrassed her a bit when her friends would drop her off and all of the cats would trot up to the car. Her telling of it is funnier than my rephrasing could ever be, so you should listen just for that. But also she talks about her work in standup, her work doing “serious” off Broadway plays, and her thoughts on the kind of roles she’s always offered in Hollywood films.
In listening to the clips of McCarthy’s work, and thinking about how good she is in Can You Ever Forgive Me, and even The Gilmore Girls, it occurred to me what a shapeshifter she is. There are so many different, authentic, endearing characters she has given us over the years. This is a career highpoint, no doubt, but hopefully it is a beginning of what will be a long career in film.
Do I think she can win Best Actress? I think she gave one of the two best performances I’ve seen all year, along with Glenn Close. But it’s hard at this moment to see anyone else other than Lady Gaga winning. Best Actress isn’t now, nor has it ever been, nor will it ever be just about the performance. It’s really about falling in love.