Food for Cinema Thought: Separating Film from Reality

I started watching the Australian film Two Hands last night on Netflix Instant, but I didn’t even make it to the ten-minute mark before stopping and closing the browser. Odd, I thought, but not improbable. In the sixth months following Heath Ledger’s death, I watched 10 Things I Hate About You and The Dark Knight, but I haven’t seen anything else since then. That’s over three years ago. Sure, I’ve seen The Dark Knight many times in the last three years, but I guess not enough time has passed for me as far as his other movies are concerned; the wound that was the news of Ledger’s death still feels fresh.

Ledger’s death affects me in a way that other recent deaths haven’t. I can still watch Brad Renfro, Corey Haim and John Ritter in their film and TV work, although it helps that Haim made fun 80s movies like The Lost Boys, License to Drive and Dream a Little Dream and Ritter was so hilarious on “Three’s Company” that I just focus on the comedy. Some who died in the 90s, like Chris Farley, River Phoenix, John Candy, died recently enough that it sometimes hurts to watch their performances. I guess decades have to pass before the chasm is wide enough. James Dean, Marilyn Monroe, Elvis and other stars have achieved such legend status (besides dying well before I was born) that I’m not particularly haunted by their demises. I’m sure it’s very different for those who do remember.

There are other Heath Ledger films I’d like to see: Brokeback Mountain, Casanova, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, The Brothers Grimm, Monster’s Ball and Candy among others, but it may be a while before I feel up to it. Maybe I’ll try to watch A Knight’s Tale on Netflix Instant – that might be easier.


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