Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Great Expectations

Is it a winning strategy to have great expectations from life? Maybe not, but, I was born a demanding soul. We ought to have great expectations from life, from people, from the Arts. Art exists to give us that extra something, in the first place, so how wouldn't we be demanding with it? I am always on the look out for the best in music, theatre, visual art, cinema --sure, there's personal taste involved in that.

That said, I have my highly demanding moments, when I enter the cinema furious to suck up the ultimate photography, some popular philosophy in the form of witty lines, exquisite costumes and fine soundtrack, a sense of perfect harmony of image and script, of exterior and interior. In many cases, disappointment follows. It's not funny to seek for completeness -which art in any form is capable of providing amply- and to get tricked; it occasionally hurts, and that's where sarcasm comes from. After many such disappointments, you end up going to the cinema with no expectations at all, or expectations so low that could wipe the floor. It's only then that you get rewarded. Life sucks, sometimes.

Thinking of the last good movie I've seen in months, I remembered Great Expectations (1998) by Alfonso Cuaron (I don't want to be a snob on David Lean's take of the story, but that's not to be mentioned here). I watched it back then, when Life in Mono was haunting our teenage ears, and I watched it recently. It didn't disappoint me one bit. Good acting, awesome photography, direction and editing, a lot of emotion, a lot of devotion. It is Charles Dickens, and fellow Charles mastered the art of writing as no one did. And you know what? Words matter. I may very well be of the frivolous kind, I may very well like design, fashion and the eye-candy, but, well, words matter. Being elaborate is going deeper, reaching the truth of feelings and of the grey matter and to make good art you need both. You can get away with poor presentation, but not without feelings and some solid thinking behind them.

That's why now, eating my Corn Flakes and considering all the mediocre or crap art I was confronted with lately, I start feeling weary and cautious on my future choices.

* Only to aknowledge the brand-new version with Helena Bonham Carter and Ralph Fiennes in the important roles of the eldest that make everything happen using the younger generation; well, I won't let it take my heart. No Mike Newton can do it better than Cuaron. Of course it's a different thing they're doing, Newton going back to the costume drama tradition and doing it very well, while Cuaron offered us a truly modern version of the story, so subtle in its changing of epochs, so thrilling...