I watched the Cameron Crowe film Elizabethtown on DVD tonight. It's a great shambling mess of a film... and not one of Cameron Crowe's best. I also think it was something I needed to see right here, right now.
Sometimes films just catch you right in the exact moment you need to see them. I remember it was that way with Fight Club too. I was in the throes of dissertation hell in 1999 when the film came out and the idea that an IKEA-addicted auto reliability expert would dream up a "single serving friend" named Tyler Durdon appealed to me. Well, perhaps appealed isn't the right word, but it was one of thoses "yeah, I can see that" kind of moments.
What attracts me to Elizabethtown right now? Part of the film is about a guy from Oregon going to his father's home town in Kentucky. His Dad was visiting relatives and he died. The poor fellow now must go visit a large mob of relations who he has rarely seen and somehow plan the the funeral.
The similarities become clear once you know a few basic facts:
I can only imagine what it would be like if my Dad were to die somewhere in the Land Of The Confederacy and I had to go to assist with the arrangements. I hope it would be like the movie; a great mess of relatives that Lyle Lovett poetically describes as "the last of the Family Reserve".
- My Dad grew up deep in the Land Of The Confederacy.
- My Dad is one of five siblings. His mother was one of NINE siblings. My Dad occasionally throws out these names of people who are my relations and I have to wonder "WHO????" with about that many question marks.
- I am married to the daughter of a mortician, and her family's take on humor about death and dying is rather interesting.
- My parents mortality has been on my mind in the last few years, most recently because the cancer that threatened to take away one of my Mom's kidneys about three years ago has returned in the form of tumors of the bladder. These are manageable with monitoring... but I find myself thinking thoughts like "I hope Mrs. Geek and I have children soon enough that my parents can know their grandchildren."
The other thing that takes me immediately about Elizabethtown is the soundtrack. The movie puts the music front and center. This is natural when you consider that Cameron Crowe cut his teeth writing for Rolling Stone and married Nancy Wilson, the guitarist from Heart. While I can't say that the film succeeds on a deep musical level, it did make me think.
There was once a time when listening to an album seemed like an event. You listened to a record like Dark Side Of The Moon or Led Zepplin II or Thick As A Brick or Back In Black and it was a whole experience. It was not about just a single, or a couple good tracks that made it to Top 40 radio. The music of the last few years seems to have lost it for me in that respect... and I felt the need to put on Music From Big Pink, a record made about the time I was born, in response.
Of course, I saw that Tom Cruise was one of the executive producers of Elizabethtown and it nearly ruined the experience for me. I know that all things must end... but do they have to finish with thoughts of a space alien Emperor named Xinu and a sweet girl from Dawson's Creek that he may or may not be marrying this weekend? I hope not.
on 2006-06-30 at 9:38 p.m.
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