Sunday, March 14, 2010

'The Razor's Edge' Open Thread

What are your thoughts?


  1. Today's crazed. Hoping for a quiet afternoon tomorrow.

  2. Didn't have to cook after all -- I'm watching the show!

  3. I've been going back over snippets here and there, checking the details in particular scenes. There is a lot to this movie, but I feel as though there are pieces missing. Almost as though there were scenes that represented things that happened in the book, rather than depicting them. Like Larry's time in Tibet (?) -- What is it he figures out that lets him stop looking for answers in his books? I presume the scene on the stairs with Isabel at the end is supposed to answer that (that we have a debt to pay just for the privilege of having a life.) Does Sophie's death clarify further, what he thought he figured out before, so the real real answer is "There is no pay-off. Here."? So, don't think about being happy; just take what comes, make the best of it?

    I wonder if my read on some of the other scenes is what was intended. When Larry brings Isabel back to his (apartment? room? garret?) in Paris, it seemed to me that the level of "doing without" he was asking her to take on in order to share his life was so truly dreadful -- and so unnecessarily dreadful -- that he was telling her she was worth no effort, no care, but he'd like the company. Do you think he was trying to scare her off? Test her? Or did they just go overboard on the yuck factor?

    Murray seemed oddly flat in a lot of scenes, but I think that's due to some extent to how little he had to work with from the other players. I did like the scene after Piedmont gets killed, Larry going on and on, as Piedmont had about the Harvard boys, about how awful he he had been, until he's practically laughing and crying at the same time. (And he wasn't gettin' nuthin' from Doyle-Murray!) And I really liked the controlled passion when he confronts Isabel after Sophie's death.

    I'm definitely going to need to mull this over some more.

    Would you mind if I change the subject? I'd like to ask you, out of the main traffic pattern, about your reply to my comment that I thought we were all saying the same thing, about faith being a belief accepted rather than proven. Am I over-simplifying grotesquely? (Or offensively?) I have the feeling you think I've rambled off the path here -- so far off the path you can't talk me back. If you'd rather let it drop, that's okay. But if not, I am interested in your thoughts.

  4. Hey Cathy, that was just a little joke. You were concluding saying that now that you had figured out what the dickens you were trying to say you now had to figure out what the dickens you were going to make for dinner, and were thankful for eggs, and I was just saying "Keep the faith", lightheartedly equating the Faith discussion with the travails of dinner preparation in a ... well, it was just a little sort of joke.

    "Deep Meaning? No one hear goes by that name, Miss. Not today, anyway."

    The Razors Edge is supposed to arrive today, so I will watch it when I get back. It said something to me when I first watched it, and my guess is what it said to me was different than what the writer or director was trying to say, so... we shall see.

    As to the other topic, I thought you were trying to pull us together and that sometimes can be challenging to do. I've hung out at April's awhile and believe discussing faith might not put the group on its best footing. For one, Ilion is very precise in his language, and that can lead to a longer discussion than what you might have thought possible. ;) You were fine. Better than fine. Very fine.

  5. "Deep Meaning? No one hear goes by that name, Miss. Not today, anyway."

    Sometimes it's so nice to be wrong. :)

    I'm psyched to hear what you think about the movie.

  6. You've gotten me thinking about movies that "spoke" to me decades ago, and wondering whether they would affect me the same way now, given both the changes in movie story-telling, and the changes in moi since then. Have you ever seen The Chalk Garden? It is, at least as I recall from seeing it once on TV, a beautiful drama in which Deborah Kerr plays governess to willful, indulged, and troubled, Hayley Mills. I've just been checking Netflix and Hulu -- neither appears to have ever heard of it. *sigh* Do you know anything about the various random-sounding sites that (claim to) let you download movies?

  7. I'll watch anything you like. This is good fun for me. The Chalk Garden, no I have never heard of it but it is highly rated at IMDB. It sounds like a good one, but I don't know how we could get a hold of it. There is an old Peter Sellers movie called The Battle of the Sexes (1959) which had some really fun scenes in it, but I've never been able to find it. Not a great movie, but kinda fun. Some of the characters are pretty rich.

    The Razors Edge should arrive today. I'll watch tonight and share my thoughts, but I recall what hit me the most was the resignation he felt at the end of the movie, and the realization that the girl he was so delighted to have in his life was not his reward for going through the things he had. That was all something else, and that he really didn't know what plans God was working out in his life. The part that was left to him was simply to take the next step and live his life as best he knew how. That is what God asked of him to do, and he was just going to move forward without really knowing how everything was to work out. It was more a humbling realization than a disheartening realization, though that was there too.

    I thought there was a lot of truth in that.

  8. Wow. I just really enjoyed that film.

    Bill Murray's character Larry never really was sold on pursuing the good life as it was in Chicago's upper class. He was keen on marrying the girl, he was willing to accept the job, but he still found himself volunteering to cross the ocean and drive an ambulance when our nation was not even at war. The job was Isabel's idea, and when he asks her "You don't want a guy with a million dollars?" she replies "No, I just want you...and a half a million". It's clear these two are not looking at their lives in the same way. In Doctor Zhivago, the narrator commented at one point that happy men do not volunteer to go off to a war, and I believe he is in the right of it here.

    Larry was a bright guy, and he understood Piedmont's gruffness was a response to the harshness of the life they were facing, and not a callous disregard. Piedmont ultimately died to save Larry's life, and the hard words larry spoke at his side were a loving tribute to a friend who had given his all for him. That was a hard scene to do, and Murray pulled it off perfectly in my estimation. A great scene, really.

    Following his return from the war, it was clear that Larry could not go on through life living the part that Isabel had laid out for him, and though he loved her, he knew he had to go on. The life adventure that followed was carried out with an admirable quiet determination.

    Larry returned to Paris to discover that his 'love' Isabel had married Gray, something Larry had a hard time imagining. In fact, in ideals Isabel was actually closer to Gray than she ever was to Larry, but Larry just couldn't see it. I liked that Larry could help Gray, and was happy to do so and would take no credit for himself.

    But the real guts of the movie began when Sophie entered the room at The Bagalia. Larry immediately saw Sophie as an intrinsically valuable person, and nothing...Sophie's drinking and gallows humor, the discomfort of Isabel and Gray, the appearance of Co Co... nothing was going to move him off. I loved his determination to cut past all the barriers that the damaged Sophie put up to keep him away, and his faith in her and willingness to sit and listen - it was all very good. That is how we should be.

    Well, it was a movie that left me with things to think about, and that I valued. High marks for Bill Murray. Well done.

    What were your thoughts about it? What was your favorite scene? Did you enjoy it as well?

  9. As far as the story-telling goes, i still feel kind of frustrated -- there were places where something important wasn't explained well enough. I suspect this happens sometimes when writers are very familiar with the source material; the scene makes sense to them, because they already know what it's about.

    But there were some scenes, some moments, that were perfect little jewels. The scene at Isabel's uncle's house after Sophie's death. I can still feel the menace in Larry's playing with the chair that he had broken years before, and his cold hatred for Isabel when he says he wonders how she got Sophie to take that first drink. Just the look on Murray's face...

    And yet, Murray is completely believable, minutes later, in the "deathbed" scene, when he conjures up a way to make the dying Elliott happy, "reading" the fake invitation so the man could think his friends had not forgotten him after all. Such a loving thing, a gift both to the dying man and to the servant who loved him.

    Murray shows us that Larry has pulled himself together, that he has quickly come to terms with his realities, in what is most likely a final farewell to Isabel, in the scene on the stairway. He tries to explain what is going on in his heart and his head to Isabel, who "just [doesn't] get it." Murray's lines are not good enough here, but his character's resilience, and generosity of spirit, come through beautifully in spite of the dialogue.

    Although the brief moments of joy that Larry and Sophie share were the happiest part of the movie, I think these scenes at the end are my favorites.

  10. Very well said, Cathy. I wish I had said that!! : )

    One thing I liked was when he cornered Isabel with the chair as you mention, and then sat down on it, so he was not towering over her, but was below... pressing her and yet not in a boorish way. That's hard to do.

    Also when Sophie was speaking to Larry about how she felt after Bob and her son had died in the wreck, how she had felt that somehow she had deserved it... inside I just wanted to say "No, no you didn't deserve it!", trying to 'help' her by minimizing the errant thoughts, yet Larry just sat with her and let her speak, and she felt heard, and understood .. that is a hard thing for many of us to do. When she had finished and told him ow glad she was that he was there for her, he just replied, "Well, it's not hard loving you" That was just great.

    Yes, the best part of the movie was how well they ended it all. Larry's journey had not separated him from humanity, but made him more fully human, a very strong, impressively compassionate and caring person. Thanks so much for watching it with me!

    Well young lady, what's your pleasure?

  11. I can't decide! I've got kind of a kid-in-a-candy-store thing going. I always love good comedies, and there are a lot of classics ("screwball" and otherwise) I either haven't seen or haven't seen in a long time. Then there are some of the old dramas that aren't too heavy , but still need a little homework to really appreciate -- I've been meaning to check out Meet John Doe, and some others whose names I can't remember, for ages.

    But something also got me thinking in a different direction altogether -- Did you like The Sixth Sense? As a rule, I don't do "creepy", but everybody I knew insisted it would be OK -- and I loved it! I thought it was so superbly crafted, and have sort of savored how well done it was since I saw it. However, I've never seen any of Shyamalan's other movies, and wondered whether you have, and/or what you thought of them. (If you haven't seen The Sixth Sense, I would love to watch it again, but DON'T LET ANYONE TALK TO YOU ABOUT THE PLOT!!! (It is actually a legal offense to discuss the ending in at least 17 states. Well, OK, but it should be.)

    So, let me know whether anything has come to mind for you, or whether any of this stuff appeals to you. What a fabulous hobby -- no muss, no fuss, no special shoes!

  12. I did enjoy The Sixth Sense, but I generally do not like scary, creepy stories either. I don't actually watch them, but I think its safe to say that anything with teenagers getting chased around is going to have to be out of the field of discussion for the movie club.

    Other than that, it's carte blanche for you. Anything you would like is good with me.

  13. OK. I have never seen You Can't Take it With You ! Netflix has it as DVD and as Watch-it-now.
    Say "when"! :)