Sunday, July 4, 2010

Bill Murray & THE RAZOR'S EDGE

"America" - The last line of my favorite film.
Movies can inspire us ...affect us ...and sometimes they can answer questions we didn't know to ask...
This film, more than any other, sums up my truest philosophy on the human condition:

We all get what we truly want.

I was handed this new perspective at a time I was indulging something I thought I wanted, and it grabbed hold quickly. I was left with the question - what do I need(not want) and what does that need want? They are different. Our "learned personality" covets, and I believe this to be the downfall of North American culture.
I read a story by Kurt Vonnegut years ago called Harrison Bergeron ...about society bringing everyone down to the same level ...I think we do this to each other, but mostly to ourselves ...not so much misery loves company as impotence and fear adore company...
"Keeping up with the Jones'" has tragically created about a billion Harrison Bergerons ...only measuring ourselves against others - the "successful " ones, with no core sense of who or what we really are ...what we really need, to be the best possible version of this assemblage of gifts that any of us is.

Is life distracting us from obtaining our goals? ...or is distraction what we seek? Why does someone stay in an abusive relationship? ...what interior question is being addressed?
We measure ourselves against what we see to be success and decide it's too much ..too hard, and the fear is so warm ...

I believe we are searching, both consciously and un- , from the moment we wake til the moment we sleep, for what we truly desire in this world...
But what is it you seek ...what experience is guiding you? ..what pain or inspiration? ...what self-imposed limitation keeps that goal forever planted in the realm of the someday...?

"I didn't know I was lying, but I was." - I love that line.

Our protagonist, Larry Darrell is still a mystery to me ...but one I think of often. If honest answers are what we seek, how can life not be immeasurably rewarding?
What will make me happy? What will make this experience valuable while I'm in it? How do I affect others?
I honestly believe Bill Murray made Groundhog Day as a thematic sequel(or perhaps a philosophical follow-up) to Razor's Edge ...What is the value in anything ..anyone? How do I engage this experience unselfishly?
But the lesson itself is not soft. What do you truly want? Honest answer...

At one point he visits an old friend who is not well ...listen to Larry's answer when his friend thanks him...

As for the film itself, John Byrum's direction is subtle and strong, allowing the film and the performances be patient when it's necesarry. Denholm Elliot could do no wrong in the 80's and the cinematography is gorgeous. My long-standing crush on Catherine Hicks remains undiminished ...Child's Play, Star Trek IV ...and she's great here(don't hate her) is Teresa Russell - lovely, vulnerable, sad.
I love Bill Murray's performance as Larry Darrell, but I just love Bill Murray ...I think he knows who he is ...or at least, he's not afraid to look.
I could have discussed Ghostbusters - I think it's a perfect movie - Life Aquatic, Broken Flowers, etc...amazing, and I would give him the "best cameo of all time" award for Zombieland, but between the ultimate messages of Groundhog Day and Razor's Edge I think it's the personal philosophy of the actor that gets me most. GD feels more European in tone every time I see it ...and what a message - value what is valuable. That's it.
All the players in RE seek, and recieve ...but, like a great number of our lives I suspect, you have to look back at the question, and realize, that this and only this, provides the answer that is your day to day existence. What do I want?

Mr.Murray indulges both the exquisite beauty and the exquisite sadness that is life ...and honestly evokes that old idiom: If I didn't laugh I'd cry. I thank him and my friend Mike Goodfellow, who knew I should watch this movie...
It's like Jeopardy - sometimes the answer prompts the question itself.
I'm left with a question upon writing this. Do I want to be a filmmaker who measures himself against the works of others? No, I want to answer myself. The way the people on this list have, and then let the world form it's own questions to my answers.

There is a moment in The Razor's Edge when Larry is atop a mountain, burning his books to stay warm ...his last possessions. He is smiling - I envy that smile.

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