Sunday, August 7, 2022
Probability and Outcome
McCABE & MRS. MILLER to the hairdresser George Roundy he played in SHAMPOO, each man with big dreams but little follow through or awareness of how business (and, by extension, the world) really works. You could also go from McCabe building the town of Presbyterian Church to Bugsy Siegel intent on realizing his dream of Las Vegas and their ultimate fates. Even his John Reed and Diane Keaton’s Louise Bryant in REDS as seen in that early montage of creativity and expression during their early Greenwich Village days together is practically replicated in the flashback of Beatty’s Lyle Rogers and Dustin Hoffman’s Chuck Clarke beginning their collaboration in the early scenes of Elaine May’s ISHTAR, which itself leads to an encounter with world politics that attempts to destroy them. This is all for starters and the tone may be different in the films but there’s something about the feeling in them which stays the same, to pursue a dream to the point of obsession. What is life without a little obsession, after all? Beatty himself tends to be cagey about such things in the few interviews he’s given so, like many things in life, we’re forced to figure it out for ourselves. BULWORTH. Maybe some of it is even part of RULES DON’T APPLY. In the case of this particular film it’s almost a sidebar of the main storyline (screenplay by Elaine May and Warren Beatty, based on a play by Harry Segall) which, as far as we can tell for a long time, is primarily about Joe Pendleton’s determination to get to the Super Bowl. It’s all he really cares about at first and this is so important to Joe that he barely seems to think about the greater issue of, you know, his life having ended. Entering Farnsworth’s body does something about the way he sees things even if his motivation primarily comes from his very first look at Julie Christie. Who could blame him, of course, but what this does is set Joe on the right path to actually accomplishing something in this other body that would be good for the world. So while everything he’s saying and realizing makes perfect sense to us, the people around him are simply baffled, suddenly forced to deal with a Howard Hughes suddenly going full Bulworth, if you will. here and, I swear, I’m pretty sure I can be heard cheering in the crowd at the end although I’m not claiming that he answers all these questions. I didn’t expect him to. But there’s always the hope that I’ll see him at some tiny sushi place in a strip mall one of these days but even if this happens I promise I won’t bother him. As the two leads walk off into the darkness at the end of HEAVEN CAN WAIT we know that their story isn’t over, just like in our own lives we sometimes keep walking and if we say that one meaningful thing maybe a certain someone will walk with us. Maybe that idea is just a dream, but maybe it’s all we can do. One other question Ben Mankiewicz asked Warren Beatty was if he plans to make another movie. The answer, of course, was, “I don’t know.” Sometimes that’s the best response for anything in this world. Especially when deep down we already know what the answer is.