Thursday, March 26, 2009

Spanglish Re-Interpreted

First, the original review, follow the link: Spanglish 1.0


The good ones haunt you, given time. They travel around in your brain like little black clouds dissected with the shafts of light carrying the favorite things from the film at the end of them...cinematic pots of gold.

They worry at you, keeping you guessing what the answer is even when it's right there (smack-dab) in front of you. Even if you knew it already and just didn't know it (already!). But I've cracked "
Spanglish," I know what Brooks was darting away from in such a hurry, and brushing the tracks behind him as he went so you wouldn't see them.

It is one of the irritating things to me about films these days (he said from his rocker) that nobody comes out and SAYS anything anymore. Film-makers now couch their statements in metaphor. They put six degrees of separation between the story and the POINT of the story so that one can easily get lost in the brambles along the way. Part of this could be merely bad story-telling. Part of this could be to avoid the obvious and pretentious—the curse of films. Part of it might be the various "elements" that make up a film (and by that I mean the ideas of the producers and their girl-friends, or trainers, the six teams of writers, the actors' changes before their agent will even consider the part, as well know...the ideas of the director and maybe the last writer typing...too many cooks make you wonder what your meal is), over-familiarity with a project also inspires scissoring the obvious.

It's writing around things (like the previous paragraph does) rather than come to the point.

Here's the point, only eluded to in the last line of the first review:

1 Corinthians Chapter 13: 4-8 (King James Version:)*

"Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,
Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;
Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;
Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

Charity never faileth."

More modern English-language bibles (post-60's) have exchanged the term "charity" for "love" (probably in an effort to keep The Beatles from "owning" it). Here's the same passage from the New International Version:

"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails."

Given that context, Deborah Clasky: Californian Golden Girl (Téa Leoni) is the opposite of Love. Not "Hate." She doesn't "hate" anybody. She's just so much not what love is, because she is everything that "L-o-v-e," as spelled out in Paul First Corinthians, is not: she is completely self-absorbed, obsessed by weight and fitness, wholly undone by a lack of self-confidence which roars its ugly head by being as dominant over others and controlling of them (in an effort that they not find her insignificant or useless and abandon her), she does things solely for what she will gain by them.

She is so entirely in her own tumbling mouse-wheel of a head that she doesn't even realize the crushing defeat it is to give her daughter cool school-clothes two sizes too small, to encourage her to lose weight. She can't relax enough to enjoy sex, but when she does, collapses in a dissatisfying heap (the turn on the feminist "male-pig stops having sex when he's through" cliché **). Her arrogance comes undone when she suspects her husband might—at this very moment—being having an affair. She never suspects that it might not happen. She never suspects because she would, given the same circumstances, and she doesn't understand anything different.

It is a stunning character-concept of evil with the best intentions, put out there to set-off the relatively normal people the rest of the cast is, and to set parameters around the "love" concept: Love isn't selfish. Love is kind. Doesn't envy or boast. Isn't proud, rude, or self-absorbed. Love is slow to anger and quick to forgive. It welcomes the truth and not injustice. Protects. Trusts. Hopes. Lasts.

Love is why there is no "love story" in "Spanglish," despite it being very much a love story. Love, by this definition, and not the Hollywood equation of boy+girl, is what defines the parting shots: "Te Adoro," and "God bless the guy who gets you!"*** At the end, you leave what lasts, like love.

The character of Deborah Clasky has lasted for me. For a long time, I've carried her around in my head—that little grain of sand that makes a pearl—a beast to show the beauty in others, a
bas relief (very base, although the "e" is silent as well as invisible) that distinguishes her contrast with the rest of the world. Her shallowness shows that the depths of love aren't skin-deep, and why such spiritual, giving love shouldn't happen, given the wrong circumstances.

And, of course, leave it to a movie called "Spanglish" to do an old time-new spin on The Universal Language.

Amazing, really.

* Although I present another version, the most colloquial is in "The Message" version of the Bible (best read in the voice of Andy Griffith, I think):
"Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn't want what it doesn't have.
Love doesn't strut,
Doesn't have a swelled head,
Doesn't force itself on others,
Isn't always "me first,"
Doesn't fly off the handle,
Doesn't keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn't revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.
Love never dies.

** And you know what they say about clichés...(besides that I write them, I mean)

*** The fact that it's Adam Sandler perfectly delineating that line should shut up anyone who doubts how "good" Sandler can be. But it raises the question: If he's that good....

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