Rest in peace, Paul Newman. I never really knew much about his acting until fairly recently. I have a hard time getting into movies from before I was alive. No real reason for that, really. I think it’s mostly a mental block, but I also think that the realism in acting had a long evolution, so a lot of earlier movies are too theatrical. Not that that’s necessarily a bad thing, I’m just not partial to it.
Anyway, the first time I really got Paul Newman was in Road to Perdition, which is an oft overlooked masterpiece. Newman was already pushing 80 by then, so playing the role of a weary mob boss who carries all of the disappointment of life on his shoulders wasn’t a great stretch. But Newman really knocked it out of the park.
In particular, there was this scene. By the way, if you haven’t seen this movie, here be spoilers. Newman’s character’s biological son is a despicable and traitorous human being while Tom Hanks’ character Sullivan, who he raised as his own and who is closer to him than his real son, is on the run from Newman’s minions. The family is slick with betrayal and what they did to Hanks’ character was wrong. Newman’s character, Rooney, knows this and knows that his adopted son must make things right.
On a very dark and rainy night, Sullivan waits in the shadows for Rooney as he departs a restaurant. It takes a few minutes for Rooney and his men to realize that something is wrong, but as soon as the first shots are fired, Rooney knows immediately who it is. Director Sam Mendes beautifully frames Rooney as the men fall around him and the pouring rain drenches him, spilling off of his hat and sloped shoulders. Rooney turns to face Sullivan. He looks at his boy, the one he should have protected, the one who now has to be on the run forever with his own son, and knows that this is right. “I’m glad it’s you,” he says, and Sullivan, fighting back tears, mows him down. When it’s over, he looks up to see illuminated windows and shocked spectators witnessing the act.
In other movie snob matters, the husband’s birthday was on Thursday and it unfortunately was kind of a bust. He had rather un-fun exams on that day and it was otherwise a typically annoying weekday. I couldn’t get it together to do something special for him, but hoped that the gifts that the baby and I gave him at least made up for it. We gave him Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking Glass, Sade – Lovers Live, and the Criterion edition of the original Russian version of Solaris.
Last night, after the debates (ugh) were over and the baby was in bed, we put in Solaris. Now, Criterion is supposed to be on top of things. So why is the aspect ratio set up so that if you want to watch in widescreen and see the subtitles, you have to set it in subtitle zoom, which makes it all stretched out and wonky. There’s no 16:9 setting in which the subtitles are viewable, so we had to watch it in 4:3 with the letterbox. Grrraaarrrgggh! Unacceptable, Criterion.
Alright, I have to get moving. I’m in a book club! Look at me, all being sociable! Today we’re talking about The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, which I just finished reading last night and LOVED, even though I was initially irritated that it had a quote from Michiko Kakutani right on the front cover, but whatever. I guess when you get such accolades you show them off, right?