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Sunday, January 6, 2002

TiVo doesn't like it when I'm disloyal. I watched two movies on DVD last night, and TiVo paid me back by deleting All the Pretty Horses even though I'd only watched half of it. I planned to get back and finish it, but while I wasn't looking, TiVo decided it needed the room on the hard drive.

All is not hopelessly, irretrievably lost, because I can record All the Pretty Horses again next week and watch the second half. And I will, because I liked it. I read the Cormac McCarthy novel it's based on a few years back, and I think Billy Bob Thornton did an inspired job directing the film version. It has the same sparseness and grit the book has. The first half of it anyway.

So before TiVo could exact any more revenge, I spent most of today watching movies and deleting them myself. I also canceled a few planned recordings, so I don't get stuck with a full hard drive and no time to watch.

It began last night, when I got a late start watching Crime & Punishment in Suburbia. It was getting later and later, and ordinarily I'd have paused, saved, and picked up the rest of the film later. But I was afraid to look away, because I was sure it would be gone when I came back. I stayed up until an unreasonable hour finishing the movie, and I'm glad, because I really liked it. If I didn't like it so much, I'd throw out some facile description, like "a younger, darker version of American Beauty," but it stands up on its own too well to be compared to anything else (unless it's Dostoyevsky; the title isn't an accident).

This morning I watched a movie from the WE (Women's Entertainment) channel (did you even know there was such a thing?) called Lover's Prayer. I thought it might be fun because it's based on stories by Turgenev and Chekhov, and you know those crazy Russian romantics. But it was pretty grim, and I fast forwarded through a lot of it. Even Kirsten Dunst was a disappointment in this one.

At this point, I thought I'd like to try something a bit frothier and slightly less Russian, so I watched the latest smart chimp movie on the Disney Channel. They come up with one of these almost as often as they throw out a new trifle from the Lawrence brothers, but I like the chimps better. And this one was cute, but that's about it. Maybe that's all they're after when they're programming at Disney. I know for sure I'm not their target audience, but I like some of their movies. Deep inside, a lot of me is still about twelve years old.

Finally, the main event. I know Cast Away takes up a lot of drive space because it was recorded in digital surround sound (and because it's two and a half hours long). I, the big Tom Hanks fan, had never seen it. I thought it was fascinating to watch and psychologically intriguing. I respect the imagination of the writer, director and actor regarding how a person would survive a long period of isolation, and what he'd be like after the ordeal. Almost everything seemed the way I would imagine it myself.

Before the movie was released, I remember reading an article about the controversy regarding Tom Hanks being alone on screen for more than half the film. Obviously, I have no problem with that, because I think he can do no wrong as an actor. He's as close to Everyman as anyone since Jimmy Stewart, and his approach to a scene rarely falters. In fact, I can't picture this particular movie with anyone else in the part.

This article (and I think I read it in a dentist's office, ironically enough - well, no, it's not irony as much as pointless coincidence, dentistry being mentioned a few times in the movie, but that's what passes for irony these days) also discussed the long period, half an hour or so, with no dialog, as if that would bore viewers or somehow turn them off. I was anything but bored, but it's one area where I would have reacted differently than the character.

When I'm alone, I talk. If I were alone on a deserted island, I'd talk to the palm trees, I'd talk to the debris washing up on shore, and I'd definitely talk to the locket with the picture of the woman who was almost my fiancée. Most of all, I'd talk to myself. Since I live alone, I'm aware of the phenomenon. I have entire conversations with myself every day. I can't imagine being silent for days on end.

He doesn't even mutter, and he calls out only when he hears a noise or thinks he might not be alone. I'd be yelling at the fates or cursing the situation. (Again, this is something I do every day, and loudly, too.) But apparently this guy needed a face to look at before he could bring himself to speak in complete sentences. Maybe there are other people out there who don't talk when they're alone, but it seems a little weird to me.

That's a minor quibble. I really enjoyed the movie. Tom Hanks is a great actor, because I was just as miserable as he was. It makes me wish I'd paid $8.50 to be that much more wretched on the big screen.

I live here

From the middle of the drive, looking at the house and garage.

I know everyone else saw this movie a year and a half ago, but I don't get out much. I stay home talking to myself and watching movies, remember?

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Recent recommendations can always be found on the links page.

One year ago: Maybe the Last Time, I Don't Know
"It's happened before, and if I swear it'll never happen again, I'll probably end up wrong. Again."

Two years ago: Groundhog Day
"Whatever happened to Baby Jane? Where have all the flowers gone? Why do fools fall in love?"

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