Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Blasting Out From Under Mom’s Shadow, or Thoughts on Carrie Fisher’s Postcards From the Edge

Postcards From the Edge (1990), the movie adaptation of Carrie Fisher’s autobiographical novel of the same name, presents an unflattering portrait of her life at the time; doing bumps between takes in her trailer and overdosing in strange producer’s beds.  Suzanne Vale, the fictional Carrie Fisher, is played by the very real Meryl Streep at the top of her game, a sincere and melancholy performance that perfectly captures Suzanne’s loneliness and isolation under the unrelenting spotlight and pressure of being both a movie star and the daughter of a Hollywood icon.   Doris Mann, the stand-in for Carrie Fisher’s actual mother Debbie Reynolds, is played by actual Hollywood icon Shirley MacLean (Warren Beatty’s sister, nobody remembers that).
The surreal chaos of movie production is juxtaposed against Suzanne’s home life and her struggles with sobriety, as she moves back in with her mother who in turn micromanages her career, turns every conversation back towards herself and treats her daughter more as a younger, professional rival, almost as if  she's acting the part of being her mother in the movie of her life.  It seems an accurate portrait of a show-biz family and growing up in Hollywood and reminded me sadly in places of Judy Garland’s life; of a time when actresses were treated more as products or commodities.
Mike Nichols of The Graduate (1967) and Working Girl (1988) is a director's director, and the movie is a film student’s master class in screen tracking, single takes, and composition, in addition to portraying Carrie’s complicated and often toxic relationship with her mother.  Look out for old-school Hollywood manly man Gene Hackman as a paternal director who calls Suzanne a "spoiled, selfish, coked up little actress", Richard Dreyfus as the emergency room doctor who pumps her stomach and CCH Pounder as the rehab director.
Debbie Reynolds was a mid-century movie icon, an old-Hollywood triple threat (actor, dancer, singer), arguably most remembered for her role as Kathy Selden in Singin’ in the Rain (1952, with Gene Kelly, and one of my favorite movies) and with an IMDb page that goes back to 1948.  Much like Jamie Lee Curtis, when Star Wars (1977) came out Carrie Fisher was referred to in reviews as “Debbie Reynolds’ daughter”.  That one role changed her life for better or for worse, and the irony is that Debbie Reynolds is now more famous for being Carrie Fisher’s mother.  
Carrie Fisher touched so many lives as the Rebel Princess from Alderaan, and fortunately she’s achieved a certain kind of cinematic immortality because of it.  I never knew Carrie Fisher, though her 19 year-old face is etched in my memory as if she were an old friend and in a sense she is.  We create one-sided relationships with our favorite movies and actors, we use them as touch-stones and mementos of our lives.  Our collective loss echoes across the galaxy, and creates a vast disturbance in The Force.

my first novel?  thanks for asking:)  it’s a the first book in a 4-volume supernatural martial arts series chock full of killer kung-fu witches, haunted carnivals, punk rock assassins, and a 24-hour diner with the best pie in town…
read for free on kindle unlimited or buy the paperback, available at fine bookstores everywhere (amazon).