Review [sort of] - Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil
This movie came up the other day, in the very tangential way that things do on Twitter. I decided it might make a good topic for a blog post, since it is one of may favorite movies, which might help explain a few things.[caption id="attachment_986" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Original movie poster for the theatrical release."][/caption]
The 1997 movie actually is based on a book, which helps make this review a little less off-topic. However, I've never read the book by John Berendt, which is available from Amazon. The film is set in Savannah Georgia, and in many ways the city itself is a significant character. In the movie, John Cusak plays a New York writer - presumably Berendt - in town to cover a party that's the social event of the year for Savannah's high society. The party is thrown by the rich, and closeted, Kevin Spacey. Spacey plays the part of a southern gentleman to the hilt.
Late in the night after the party, Spacey's character shoots and kills his rough trade lover, played by Jude Law. Law practically chews up the scenery in the small part of the white trash hustler / boyfriend. The question for the rest of the film is, was it murder or self defense?
“Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" is part courtroom drama and part murder mystery. Spacey's lawyer is a real good ol' boy 'bubba' but no fool. Cusak's character injects himself into the case, and with help from such colorful characters as the trans* Lady Chablis he begins to uncover what really happened, maybe.
I don't know how the people of Savannah feel about the film, but it does make me want to visit the place, although it's unlikely I ever will. For me, it makes Savannah look like a more genteel version of Bangkok. One of the reasons I keep watching the film, and trying to find it on DVD, is that I think it would be fun to write a Bangkok version of the story. After all, we have entitled rich people, rent boys and ladyboys up the wazoo. The trouble is, it's such a perfect fit that it would be hard not to just simply copy the script of the movie and change a few location details. That would be easy, but it wouldn't be very interesting to write.
I figure one of these days the movie, or a local headline - it's been a while since we had a good high-society murder in Bangkok - will trigger things and the muse will crack his whip again. Until then, I'll just keep watching the movie, waiting for those magical moments, like when Lady Chablis informs Cusak that the 'F' in the name on the mailbox is for Frank.
One interesting thing about the movie I hadn't noticed until I looked into it for this post is that it's directed by Clint Eastwood. I wouldn't have guessed that. Apparently the film didn't do well at the box office. I don't know if it was the gay angle or the general quirkiness of it, but I like it.
Posted in Book Reviews on May 6, 2012