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Saturday, September 13, 2003
Parenthetically Speaking

Hmmm . . . in reading over those last two posts, I noticed that I use an inordinate number of parentheticals. I can't help it; it's the way I think. But I've heard told that the use of parentheticals is the sign of a juvenile writing style. While this may explain my continued fascination with sooperhero comik buks and the fact that I can still enjoy movies like XXX at age 28 (Jesus! When did I get so old?), I suspect it may be something that I need to try to work out of my style. If I were to think about it, I'd imagine reading something with this many parentheticals is probably annoying, but I'll choose not to think about it too much more tonight.

Look at that. I can't even get through a negative analysis of my use of parentheses without throwing a parenthetical in. I'm afraid a grammatical intervention can't be far away . . .

"I'm a secretary"

Just finished watching last year's "Secretary" starring my friend Will, I mean James Spader (does this guy ever play any role that doesn't revolve around "non-mainstream" sexual practices?), and Maggie Gyllenhaal. I have to say, it's a pretty good movie. It plays S & M relationships with a lot more compassion, and probably realism for all I know, than I ever would have expected, especially given the way the movie began. Lee, Gyllenhaal's character, started off only barely more functional than Rain Man, but she ended up as a more functional member of society than most of the other characters with more "mainstream" sexual practices (we are led to assume). I think she's a real find, much more so than her brother who I think is way-hey overrated (in fairness, I haven't yet seen Donnie Darko which I hear is his breakout role; but I thought he was terrible in The Good Girl). I'm very interested to see if she's as good in other movies as she was in this one, where she gradually showed the changes that her character went through during the course of the movie, and how discovering her proclivity for S & M (more the M side, though) allowed her to more fully be herself and interact with "acceptable" society.

Spader shows remarkable depth to his character, and the lengths to which he will go to punish himself for what he feels are unacceptable thoughts and behaviours are quite interesting and, I suspect, realistic. In retrospect, I think he usually brings a certain depth to roles that he plays; he's just so damned understated emotionally in most movies that he's creepy. And this guy's going to be replacing heartthrob Dermot Mulroney in The Practice in the fall? Like I said, I think he's usually pretty creepy, but I feel kind of bad when someone like him needs a paycheck so bad that he has to resort to crappy network pseudo-soaps. At any rate, I can't see anyone else but him playing the lawyer (the "S") role, so that says something.

Finally, the movie makes a funny casting choice (at least for those who have seen the other movies he's been in) by casting Jeremy Davies, of Spanking the Monkey and Going All the Way fame, as the more acceptable, mainstream love interest for Lee. Since Davies made his name playing sexually dysfunctional young adults, I'm sure that the filmmakers cast him in that role as an intentional wink-wink, nudge-nudge to indie movie buffs (reminds me of Tarantino's casting of Maria de Medeiros, best known to that point as Anis Nin in Henry and June, as Brice Willis' girlfriend in Pulp Fiction).

All in all, I'd probably recommend Secretary above almost anything else I've seen recently, because it has actual dynamic characters in it, something that the usual Hollywood drivel seems to have forgotten about (and no, sudden third act changes that seem to come out of nowhere don't count as dynamic). Not to say that I can't enjoy that drivel, because I can and do, but in many ways I liked this flick better than most of what comes out of the movie factories.

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