TV-MA? IMDB, you are confusing the living daylights out of me. I know the MPAA isn't around yet, but why are we using the TV ratings standard?
DIRECTOR: Mike Nichols
Stupid theatre degree. All I can do is think about how I would stage this. I have a long relationship with Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf. I owned a copy of a book that contained both Edward Albee's Zoo Story and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf. Every couple of years, I swear I'm going to sit down and read them. I get through Zoo Story a bunch of times and then stop. I never start the one that's more famous. Man alive, this story is dark. I like dark stuff, but this is a dark world with dark people who want to make other people dark. That's not always an easy watch.
Edward Albee is a puzzle. When the theme of the film is about truth and lies, it makes it extremely hard to follow what is going on. Characters tease and play and drop nuggets of truth hidden among piles and piles of cruel lies. If I watch this again, I know I can get something else out of it. I'm sure that the movie is just loaded with foreshadowing. Some of it is obvious. The use of the gun umbrella (which, by the way, I need. April 18 is my birthday. You're welcome, Internet.) is this moment of character shift and gives a preview about the killing of a character. I'm trying to keep it vague enough to avoid spoilers, but the movie is more about character exploration than it is about specific plot points. I mentioned how the movie is particularly dark. That comes from the characters. The characters are wholly unlikable. I know that there has been a push for the antihero lately. But even Walter White is likable in the sense that you kind of want him to get away with it. I honestly want to fix Martha and George. Sure, that's a weird Messiah complex on my part, but these people just seem so miserable and so unhappy that there is a disconnect from society.
But the unlikable characters doesn't affect my like for the movie. These terrible human beings bring out emotions that are hard to define in English. I'm sure that there's a German word for it. They have words for every emotion. But my reaction was laughter from sheer discomfort. My mind didn't know how to process the quality of the evil wit that I was experiencing. There's a lot of people responsible for my emotional breakdown and I'd like to thank all of them for destroying me as a person. Mike Nichols, between the camera angles and the editing, paces the move beautifully. So much is told between what is said and what is left unsaid. I've already preached how much I like Albee (I LIKE HIM!), but the even more bizarre combination is Elizabeth Taylor (whom I tried referring to as "Liz", but then felt like a real jerk) and Richard Burton. What kind of marital suicide were they shooting for when they agreed to take on this role? How could you not place your relationship as collateral for a nuanced performance? My wife, the Queen of Wikipedia, told me how this film affected them. They kept seeing George and Martha instead of Taylor and Burton. I'm going to go with a "duh". I don't mean to belittle their problems. They were plastered all over the tabloids and everyone knows every dirty detail. I think of intense method actors like Daniel Day Lewis and think that they sacrifice everything for their craft. I don't know if Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton knew what they were sacrificing for this role, but it is very impressive.
Part of my love for this movie is in the supporting roles. I'd like to point out that I had no idea that was a young George Segal until Wikipedia Queen told me. That's pretty cool. But Nick and Honey's abandoning of social conventions, while reading slightly bizarre, was intriguing. I liked Nick, but I loved Sandy Dennis's Honey even more. The addition of an innocent character in the midst of the vitriol really kept the movie somewhat relatable. I don't know why they just didn't leave, but I don't care. I think of the part in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, where the killer tells the protagonist that it was more abhorrent to offend someone than to worry about self-preservation. Maybe there's something there. Perhaps we are so obsessed with what is expected of us that we dare not question sanity because that is a bigger crime than self-destruction.
But what do I know? I'm not a biology teacher or a math teacher or a history teacher. I also don't throw raging booze parties until sunup.
Film is great. It can challenge us. It can entertain us. It can puzzle us. It can awaken us.
Mr. H has watched an upsetting amount of movies. They bring him a level of joy that few things have achieved.