Friday, November 02, 2018

Juliet, Naked

Okay, I finally saw it. (Pay per view alert!) I can't even explain why it took me so long, considering how absolutely this film dovetails with everything I'm about. But a few thoughts:

1. Nick Hornsby is my favorite living writer. I'm not claiming he's the greatest literary talent or anything like that, but everything this man writes makes utter and perfect sense to me. This blog owes its existence to his book Song Book; I've read everything he's published. And of all his novels, Juliet, Naked is quite possibly my favorite. (Notice how I hedge my bets, because, jeez, I love everything he's done.) Nick, if by any chance this blog post surfaces on your feed -- please do let me know. I promise I won't get weird.

2. Kinks world lives.  Casually, walking through Waterloo Station, a snippet of dialogue -- a throwaway, really, if you didn't know better -- mentions that the station is a big deal if you're a Kinks fan (KAPOW).  Later, Ethan Hawke performs "Waterloo Sunset" at a local gig, and it's almost unbearably beautiful.

3. Chris O'Dowd is so underated. So many of us have connected via fan websites; O'Dowd plays a superfan we can all identify with. I love how his passion for the music, versus his cluelessness in life, is so delicately delineated. His face registers all the nuances of a response to music that is heartfelt and yet, hell, totally beside the point. Except okay, but whoa . . .

4. And the songs? If you're gonna do a movie about an elusive rock talent, you gotta line up some quirky folks to write his songs. Monsters of Folk's Conor Oberst and M. Ward, Robyn Hitchcock, Wilco's Jeff Tweedy-- I've written about them all over the years. Click on their links in the column to the right.  This film totally gets the music right, which buys it major cred.

5. Okay, now I get Ethan Hawke. He started out so young, and so beautiful (really, those cheekbones are so unfair), I never thought much of him. It wasn't until I saw Boyhood  a couple years back that I realized he is actually an actor of a very high degree. Here he's playing a grizzled, washed-up musician who dropped out of the biz and disappeared 30 years ago, inadvertently gaining a cult following. He's a mess of a human being, and Hawke plays it to the core, never making excuses for him. All right, Ethan, now I officially forgive you for Great Expectations.

6. Gotta stand and face it -- life is so complicated. One of the things I most love about Nick Hornsby's novels is that there are no pat solutions -- lost loves lead to new opportunities, and we all pick up our sorrows and move on. I love how this film doesn't settle for a cheesy plot resolution, but still leaves us encouraged for the next chapter. Viva life!