Thursday, May 11, 2017

"I Saw 'Norman'"

The movie’s complete title is:  “Norman:  The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer, written and directed by Israeli filmmaker Joseph Cedar.  (My mind just flashed on the film, Morgan:  A Suitable Case for Treatment, I guess because of the extended title and because “Morgan” is alphabetically similar to “Norman.”   Don’t you just love watching my mind work?  I do.  It makes me feel I’m alive – “I think nonsense; therefore, I am.”)

It is not infrequently that I appreciate movies from other countries.  I recall two Mongolian movies I quite liked.  Which speaks highly of the Mongolian film industry.

It is possible that the Mongolian movie moguls retain their lesser accomplishments “in-house”, allowing only their superior offerings to travel, thus creating the impression that Mongolians can teach the world a thing or two about filmmaking.

All I know is I’ve two memorable Mongolian movies.  Canadian movies, by contrast?  Hey, we’ve got hockey. 

In the case of Norman, we have “Two mints in one”:  An Israeli filmmaker chronicling an American milieu.  Which is immediately promising.  An “outsider’s” perspective is always advantageous for observing the cultural phenomena of others.  Case in Point:  The canny perceptiveness of Canadian comedy.

So there.  It’s more than just hockey.  I knew there were two things we were good at – hockey and comedy.  And if I think about it, there are probably more. 

Butter tarts!  They’re delicious! 

(And of course, there’s the health care.)

Norman astutely examines of an American cultural phenomenon.  I enjoy that in a movie.  Plus, it tells a story I have not seen before. 

Norman.  I liked it.  Maybe you’ll like it too.

Thank you, and good night.

Wait.  You didn’t include any specifics.

INNER EARLO:  “Do I have to?”

I think you do.

“But it’s so much trouble.  Couldn’t they just look it up?  That’s all I do.”

You also provide your personal perspective.

“Didn’t I do that already?  ‘A guy from another country examines an American cultural phenomenon.  I liked it.’  What else do they need to know?”

Who’s in the movie?  What’s the story?  Which American “cultural phenomenon” does it examine?  Is it contemporary?  What sets this movie apart… ?

“Okay, okay.  Richard Gere – who is a surprisingly believable ‘Old Jew’ – plays an inveterate ‘power broker”, putting people together for their mutual advantage, like a matchmaker but with high-level deal-making rather than marriage.  The thing is he’s not successful at it, though he buoyantly behaves like he is.  In the opening sequence, ‘Norman’ forges a relationship with a minor government official who three years later becomes the Prime Minister of Israel, their early fortuitous encounter bringing ‘Norman’ coveted attention and serious difficulties.  Along the way, ‘Norman’ makes numerous promises it seems he will be unable to keep, and then there’s the ending, which I will not give away.  ‘Norman’:  Different, skillfully executed and cleverly entertaining.  Can I go now?

In a minute. 

“Aw, come on.”

One last thing.  Was there anything you didn’t like about Norman?  Traditionally, reviewers hold back their quibbling “reservations” of their otherwise positive critiques till the second-to-last paragraph, before finishing with, “Overall, I thought it was good.”

“You are really annoying, you know that?”

“Reservations”, please?

“Okay, one reservation.  We are not told if ‘Norman’ had ever previously been successful.”

And that matters because…

“You pass a person talking to themselves on the street and for a second you are unaware if they are mentally troubled or just talking on the phone.  If we are not told his ‘backstory’, then we are uncertain whether ‘Norman’s’ a respected practitioner who has fallen on hard times or a delusional crazy person in a fantasy world of his own.  This distinction makes all the difference in how I ultimately respond to the character and I would like to have received a clarification.”

“Overall, I thought it was good.”

Okay.  That wasn’t so bad, was it?

"For you, maybe.  I had to do some hard thinking."

And now it’s done.  So what’s next?

“You rewrite.  I’m going to lie down.”

You know we're the same person.

“Oh yeah.”

“Hurry up.  I’m tired.”

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