Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Cool Imitation or Imitation of Cool?

Allen Felix really is an interesting character. He is so real it is painful.  There are times within Play it Again, Sam that you just have to cringe because you can recognize his imitation of cool within real life and realize that it doesn't always work to imitate cool.  Allen's need to be cool is shown as he has full conversations with his imaginary Humphrey Bogart; Bogart tells Allen what he needs to do in order to win over women and just be cool.  In the end, it seems that imitation will never make you cool, but instead it may spur you into learning what can be cool about you.  

One movie comes to mind immediately as I think of cool imitation, Some Like it Hot.  The movie includes many imitations but it is an imitation as a whole.  It is a comedy based off of one historic and tragic event, the St. Valentine's Day Massacre, but is turned into a whirlwind run from the mob.  Not only does the movie imitate organized crime, such as having a meeting of gangs called friends of the opera, but also on an individual level there is imitation.  Joe (Tony Curtis) and Jerry (Jack Lemmon) see the infamous shootings of the massacre and have to get away to save their lives.  They run off to Florida with a women's band by imitating women musicians, now named Josephine and Daphne.  While imitating women they are protecting themselves and make friends with Sugar (Marilyn Monroe), who really thinks they are cool girls (for one Jerry takes the blame for Sugar's flask).  Joe decides that he will go even further in his imitation in order to win over Sugar, so he chooses to act as if he is Shell oil Junior , has a fake accent, and even takes Sugar on his supposed yacht.  Curtis's imitation in acting is of Carry Grant and his suave romantic style (later they worked together in Operation Petticoat Junction).  Sugar of course thinks he has coolness about him because the wealth and power she believes he has.  Joe is actually everything she has been trying to get away from, a lousy saxophone player.  His imitation works, but he thought he had to be someone else in order to win Sugar's heart.

Another cool imitation that comes to mind is not a character; it is a whole adaptation of a play.  Baz Luhrmann made an ingenious and imaginative remake of William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet.  Luhrmann's version is highly modernized.  Instead of ancient households, the Montague and Capulet families are major companies in high competition with one another.  There are not the same swords as in the play, instead swords are guns that are literally named swords.  Many original lines from the play are used throughout the movie, but with the new imitation come some new meanings.  The film is a great way to show today's audience how Romeo and Juliet is still applicable to life and acknowledge the great work the original play really is.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent examples. Does our contemporary notion of cool fit well with the points Shakespeare was trying to make?