Two questions, seemingly unrelated, and then again, not.
What If This Is All There Is?
What if we live on a planet, in this interminable, indeterminable universe, that is one and only one of a kind, unique…? What if what we can see with our eyes, the solar system and the constellations of stars, is the extent of the physical universe and the rest, the galaxies, the nebulae, the black holes, the endless points of light, is simply interpreted and interpolated digital illusion, special effects created by scientists and video game-makers? What if the ancients were right and Star Trek is wrong? What if Charles Darwin is right and the scribblings of frightened, mal-educated, small-minded people who created bibles and scriptures are wrong? Without gods and saviors and space-time and multi-universes and enlightenment and heavens and hells and spiritual this and that, what does that make our planet and we on it? Are we less with the awakening that this is all there is, or are we living gods with the desire and ability to extrude illusion, put it on film, and give it a life of its own? Is the arc of our story a full circle and are we headed forward to the beginning? And if this is all there is, what happened to all there was? Maybe it's all recorded in a book somewhere or even on a cassette tape.
Whatever Happened To Martin Brest?
Over a period of twenty years, Martin Brest made a small group of good films (Scent Of A Woman, Midnight Run, Meet Joe Black, Going In Style, and Beverly Hills Cop) Two of them were box-office "blockbusters." Then, in 2003, he made Gigli and over the event-horizon, like a rush of cosmic gas, came his 'Orson Welles' moment. The Hollywood establishment, the mass of critic-reviewer pundits and the mush of gossip-obsessed movie goers... all, tore him to shreds, scourged him like a fallen messiah. They, all of them, called Gigli the worst film ever made. They still do. It wasn't, and isn't—it's not a bad film at all even in its current mutilated form. That's what happened to it, it was mutilated. Brest had a vision for this piece, a dark vision with a disturbing, downbeat ending. The studio forced him to exorcise 40 minutes of the footage, reshoot some of the scenes, and slather on a happy ending. The result? They pulled the film from the screens after three weeks. That was 10 years ago and Brest hasn't done anything since. Is he sick, is he dead, is he living in a schizophrenic time warp of before and after? No one seems to know: there's little information available about him. People who know him don't seem to know much. He doesn't give interviews, he doesn't have photo ops. No one seems to care. One who should care is the current Golden Boy of Hollywood, Ben Affleck. Look closely: he did some of his best screen acting in Gigli. What wrecked the film's reception and sank it into the mud was not the film itself, it was the nausea circus that surrounded the film's two stars--Affleck and Jennifer Lopez. It has haunted Affleck right up to the self-redemption he experienced at last month's Oscars. Now that he is redeemed and a "made- man," he should circle back and (as psychobabblers advise) face the fear that haunted him. Buy the rights to Gigli, bring Martin Brest out of the shadows, restore the film to its original nature. Now clean shaven, would he do that, can he do that, will he do that? What will he do? Time marches on in both directions. Maybe it's all written in a book somewhere or even recorded on a cassette tape.