Sunday, October 12, 2008
The return of Debra
"Debra Winger, approx 1980"
I'm guessing you never pegged me for a worshipper of movie actresses. Of course not. You know that, as a self-respecting cynic, I know perfectly well they're only mortals. (Although , let's face it, watching the Oscars on TV one could conceivably be convinced they're more like demi-godesses.) And even if I were to accept that at certain moments on screen they could be thought of as , OK, let's say semi-divine, I still know that their art is not them. Not exactly. At performance's end, when costume & makeup come off, actresses may be brilliant or dull, marvelous or boring, but, bottom line: they're just ordinary women (admittedly, remarkably good-looking). Only a pathetic fool would worship them.
As a matter of principle, I'm 100% convinced that this is also true of screen actress Debra Winger. But -- oh bottomless, sobbing chasm of delicious despair -- I'm hopelessly smitten. I have been for decades. Her movies, mostly from the 80s (she dropped out of Hollywood in 1995), are watchable but not great (Urban Cowboy, Terms of Endearment, An Officer and a Gentleman, Betrayed ). On the other hand Debra ("please, may I call you Debra?") is bewitching, mesmerizing, a princess, a courtesan, a vestal virgin, the girl I love -- oh God! -- she's that ole debbil moon, the tao that cannot be told... I confess! Every time she appears on screen I get a jolt -- it's spiritual, sexual, my chakras light & go ding ding ding like a pinball machine. I'm in heaven.
Fantasy. Irrational. Mildly insane. OK, I have a crush, right? I'm carrying a torch. That's all it is. A matter of deep unknowable physical history & hormones. There are no higher beings -- no angels, for example. No past lives in which I was the mighty king to her magnificent queen. Any educated person with a modicum of informed skepticism knows those are tall tales. In the end she's just another attractive woman. Of course...
"Debra Winger in 'Rachel Getting Married' ", 2008
Debra, I adore you...
more helplessly than ever.
Explanatory footnote: This all came up because of a movie, Rachel Getting Married that I saw yesterday. It's directed by the great mostly unsung Jonathan Demme, stars Anne Hathaway, Bill Irwin & yes, Debra Winger (she plays Hathaway's mother). I won't bore you with the plot, just say it's emotionally complex & has the guts to present this complexity without tying up all the loose ends into a nice satisfying (unreal) ending. Worth seeing for sure.