Sunday, August 03, 2008

Underrated Part 2: Jeff Daniels

Last night, I watched The Squid and the Whale. I wasn't planning on staying up late to ponder the tragedy of divorce, but there was a party in the apartment above me that sounded like an '80s aerobic class. I swear Jane Fonda was invited. And so instead of silently fuming over the rhythmic chaos, I banged away at my piano and then watched a movie. I like to think that my evening was more creatively stimulating that the one belonging to my "Dancing on the Ceiling" friends.

Jeff Daniels is underrated. But not in a James Marsden way. He's consistently fascinating, yet he manages to fly just slightly under the popularity radar. Maybe that's better for his career. He's not always lovable, or even likable, but he's authentic. And that's all I really want when I watch a movie. If I sniff out a phony, the entire film's a write-off. Even in Dumb and Dumber, I bought his dumbness. And since I previously gushed about his performance in Terms of Endearment, I won't bother to rehash anything here. Let's just say I'm an admirer of his craft, just slightly late in joining the fan club.

Last night, I wanted to slap him. And Laura Linney. Because divorce maddens me. Because I rarely understand it. Because I long ago decided that I would rather remain single than enter into a marriage that can't stand the test of time. Lonely and single is better than lonely and married. Am I a little naive? Perhaps. But I'm also pretty determined to fight for a forever. And people who give up make me want to throw things. I don't believe in irreconcilable differences. Irreparable brokenness, maybe. But don't tell me that after 20 years you just don't mesh.

But I digress. The movie. Daniels. The most disturbing moment is when he kisses Anna Paquin. She played his daughter in Fly Away Home, so the scene had an unintentional incestuous vibe. Actually, I take that back. I'm pretty sure it was very intentional. Creepsters.

Jesse Eisenberg is also now on my radar as "talent to watch." He was very Robert Sean Leonard (circa Dead Poets Society). But quirkier, nerdier, and in desperate need of psychological help. Maybe he'll be the next Jason Schwartzman, also amazing and underrated. (The film doesn't do much to support the notion that divorce doesn't do major damage to children. The boys in this flick are terrifyingly screwed up.)

It's one of those good films I find difficult to recommend. It's just complicated and messy and broken. And incredibly frustrating and unsatisfying.

Oh, and Laura Linney will get her Oscar one day. You read it here first.

P.S. Jeff's also a musician. Which earns him an extra gold star.


In Christ Alone said...

I think this post just shattered my little world (quoting you from another post you have since had and which blew me away).

I remember 25.

I remember wanting to fight for forever.

Thanks for bringing this movie to my attention. It is probably something that this 51 year old married, separated for 8 years, woman alone could probably glean something from. Not divorced. Not unmarried. What is that about?

Many aha! moments today, courtesy of your blog. You write with eloquence and honesty and passion. That moves me....sometimes to tears.

In Him,

In Christ Alone said...

I watched this movie after this post....the discussion by the director in the extra features was interesting, apparently a little autobiographical and to me that was a little scary. The time was mid-1980's and I guess things were a little weird at that time. I was there but I missed it because I was birthing babies and changing diapers.

Dysfunctional comes in all shapes and sizes....this was a very capital D dysfunctional family. I really didn't get everything and the obscure plot made me a little scared...listening to the discussion on the movie almost made me more confused. I agree the acting by the oldest son was tremendous. He played his role well. I totally bought his character.

Just sharing because I found the movie in the bargain bin at The Great Canadian Superstore for 3.99, irony in that after having never heard of the movie before your post....had to see what it was about. Very weird.