19 April 2007

Life and virtue

I've been slowly recovering myself and trying to get chores and cleaning done. My mom got me started going through some boxes when she was here visiting, and I've been trying to get up the discipline to continue the task. Last night, I went through one entire box. It was mostly full of Utah stuff-- binders, education manuals, notes for books I'd read or lectures I'd given, even some tracts that we wrote and published in 2000. I saved a bunch of stuff for archival purposes (maybe I'll actually organize and archive it!), and still was able to throw away or recycle c. 25% of the stuff in the box. If this keeps up, I'll be able to get rid of so much stuff, consolidate boxes, streamline and simplify our life... I feel so virtuous!

And speaking of virtue, I watched part of Ben-Hur while I cleaned and sorted last night. I haven't seen that movie since I was 10, and boy does it seem different now. I liked it back then, and I liked it last night, but the general impression was so different! I'm a lot more aware of things like historical context, scripts, acting, life in general... Ben-Hur won a truckload of Oscars in the Awards for 1959, and it really is a good film. The script, despite its Oscar nomination for best writing from previously published material, isn't that good. It contains few beautiful and memorable lines, lacks smoothness, and bears too much of the stiffness of its source material (which problems can be blamed on that material, the reverent novel by Wallace). Sometimes the actors seem to be playing bipedal platitudes, rather than passionate human beings. In my opinion, Charlton Heston, however, turned in a really good performance with the material he was given, even if he seemed too ruggedly old and jaded for his part in the beginning of the film. The direction, sets, costumes, all are very nice but somehow stuffy. It's a good epic, but I wouldn't buy that it is a better movie, qua movie, than other 1959 efforts such as Some Like It Hot.

One thing that caught my attention and made me realize how much my perceptions have changed since fifth grade, is the portrayal of the relationship between Judah and Massala in the early portion of the film. The two young men are so thrilled to see one another, and grasp and touch each other, and gaze into one another's eyes... "It will be just like old times!" It was all kind of... CREEPY. Just what DID they do in those old times? Yeesh. It was like Brokeback Mountain with togas. I wonder if director Wyler was intending to portray that subtext, or whether it was just played for innocence in '59 but seems less innocuous in these morally degenerate times.

Maybe I'll do another box and watch another old movie tonight. Or maybe I'll level my WoW character. The pursuit of virtue is a complicated path.

1 comment:

Willow said...

virtue has its rewards--like fewer boxes around the house.

Post a photo of your haircut,please. I know I look too young to have adult children. I need the reassurance that my children are actually still quite young.