Monday, January 23, 2012

Movie Monday ~ The Ides of March ~ Ryan Gosling ~ US Politics

I'd been waiting to see The Ides of March since first reading of it months ago. The movie never did reach our local cinema, so we awaited the DVD release, rented it during its first week out. Main reason for being so keen to see the movie: Paul Giamatti is in it. Bored, disgusted and disillusioned as I'm feeling about the whole US political circus, The Ides of March's fictional political scenario wasn't enough to put me off seeing a performance by Giamatti.

Sad to report, though, I was disappointed in the movie, apart from Giamatti's performance. He never disappoints; Philip Seymour Hoffman likewise.

Maybe I was expecting too much. Maybe the travesty that is real-life US politics has by now completely deadened my appetite for more. I've enjoyed every past political movie - seen all the big ones, and a few lesser known. This is the first where my reaction was definitely: "Meh!".

The film is an adaptation of an original stage play, Farragut North, by Beau Willimon who assisted George Clooney and Grant Heslov in writing the screenplay. Strange title - Farragut North; it is, I discovered, a Metro station in Washington DC in the business district. I suspect the story's transition from stage to screen may be where something went wrong. I understand that in the original stage version the candidate character (George Clooney in the movie) never appears, is only referenced. Dialogue is between campaign managers and other "interested parties". I can kind of see how that would have worked. The presentation would have been a more oblique and subtle look at the backroom workings of political power. Simplifying it all, filling in the blanks, joining the dots for a movie audience might have brought the whole thing down a notch or several, caused it to become...I don't know....shallow, facile, comic-bookish?

Cast of the movie at the Venice Film Festival. Photo from HERE.

Clooney isn't the "star" of the film, but plays a key character: one of two Democratic primary candidates duking it out for the nomination. Ryan Gosling is meant to have the star-billing. He plays an up and coming press secretary in Clooney's campaign workforce. It's the first time I've seen him in a movie. He has earned the reputation of being a real hot shot actor, yet I didn't "get" him or believe this characterisation at all. He mumbled much of his dialogue, it was a real effort for me to understand at times, and such a relief when superb actors, Paul Giamatti and Philip Seymour Hoffman delivered their lines. There's also something about Ryan Gosling's face that just doesn't appeal. Eyes too close together?

George Clooney plays George Clooney, pretty much, until the last scenes. Some of his campaign speeches were music to my ears - or would have been if I hadn't lived through our current president's campaign speeches - and what has followed.

The two main female characters, a hard-bitten reporter, Marisa Tomei and a supposedly naive intern played by Evan Rachel Wood, both gave decent performances with the rather clichéd material available. In the case of Wood's character there were several plot loopholes, not her fault, of course.

The movie's title, from Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, is the best thing about it. There were "Et tu, Brute?" moments for each of the main characters at some point in the movie. (The biggest real life "E tu, Brute?" nowadays is the 99% shouting it out to all politicians, everywhere.)

Bearing in mind what we all know, now, about a succession of political characters in real life, a medley, mosaic or montage of the sum total of it all might satisfy some viewers. I couldn't find it satisfying, not without seeing a few just deserts being dished out. Real life politics may not dish out just deserts very often these days, but it is within the power of movie makers to depict what is missing.

A peek at Ryan Gosling's natal chart. Maybe I can identify something to account for my apathetic reaction to him and his performance which many critics have praised highly.

Born 12 November 1980 in London Ontario. Chart is set for 12 noon - no time of birth known. Moon would be in Capricorn, but degree uncertain. Rising sign unknown.

All his planets lie in the segment of the zodiac between Libra and Capricorn. Not a lot to dislike there. In spite of the clustered formation there's "a bit of everything" : Air, Water, Fire and Earth; Cardinal, Fixed and Mutable involved. The emphasis on just four of the twelve signs indicates a certain strength of focus in his nature, something which, no doubt, will have energised his zoom to success.

Creative Neptune conjunct dynamic Mars in mutable Sagittarius is an excellent combination for an actor.

Without Gosling's time of birth it's not possible to know which of the planets and signs lie in strong positions, i.e. near chart angles (ascendant, mid-heaven and opposite points). That information would throw a brighter light on his real-life personality.

I don't see any astrological reason why I didn't warm to him. To parody another quote from the same source as the movie's title: "The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in the movie".

A quote, again from the same source, Shakespeare's Julius Caesar and apt in view of the movie's plot and events of the US political scene in 2012:
How many ages hence
Shall this our lofty scene be acted o'er,
In states unborn, and accents yet unknown

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