The Good Dinosaur
A film that has some promising elements and which often seems as if it is on the verge of evolving into something wonderful but never…
We all know how the sentence always ends. They both said they were amazed to discover how psychic Demi Moore was.
Remember that classic feature in Mad magazine, "Things we'd like to read in the papers"? I'd love to read a story where a top Hollywood star signs up to play a psychic, and she consults two real psychics, and they both agree the star doesn't have two watts of psychic power, and is in fact a metaphysical dead zone.
But it never works out that way, and on this Saturday afternoon, talking with Demi Moore, I'm inclined to take a forgiving view, since I just met a psychic who said she was amazed how psychic I was.
"I think `psychic' is a tricky word to use," Moore was saying, "because everyone has their own interpretation of what it means. I think we're all a little intuitive. You get an instinct or a feeling. You get in tune with somebody, or you can finish their sentences, or you know when the phones are going to ring. That's all a form of being psychic. I certainly wouldn't say that I can do what those real psychics do, and you know what? After being able to spend time with them, I don't know if I'd really want to."
Yeah, because you could get in trouble. Look at the character Moore plays in "The Butcher's Wife" (opening Friday in Chicago). She's a simple girl from an island off the coast of one of the Southern states, and she's never gone anywhere or done much of anything, but when she stands up in the light tower and looks out over the ancient ocean, she gets messages. For example, she knows that the man in the fishing boat down there is destined to be her husband, so she walks right into the water and into his boat and embraces him and tells him so.
The man in the boat is a butcher from New York City who is on a fishing trip during his vacation. He is an overweight 40ish bachelor played by George Dzundza, and if you have seen George Dzundza in the movies, you will know why he is so delighted to be embraced by Demi Moore and told that he is destined to become her husband.
They are married two days later and return to New York, and Demi goes to work behind the counter of his butcher shop, and then all sorts of complications ensue because her psychic power allows her to tell people what they should really be doing in their lives. Since the butcher shop is in Greenwich Village, of course everyone she meets is currently doing the wrong thing, so she has her work cut out for her.
I wanted to ask Moore about the advice she gave everyone, and more about her psychic research, but first I asked the obvious question: How did it feel to be a blond? I haven't been doing celebrity interviews all these years without knowing which questions are truly important, and in this movie, Moore, who is famous for the variety of her short brunette haircuts, is a blond with flowing Rapunzel tresses. Now, for the interview, she is back to supershort black hair, sculpted with gel.
"It was great. It was very exciting to do such a dramatic change. It really does kind of alter your feeling, how you present yourself."
You're not only a blond, I observed, but you play a complete innocent. What kinds of preparation did you go through mentally to get into that place?
"You're right, she was very innocent. I don't think I did anything too dramatic. I focused more on doing research for some of the psychic things, basically. She just had an openness, a real free-spirit quality. She wasn't somebody who had a lot of weight on her shoulders about the world, and it was more a question of just kind of getting into that head space, of being relaxed and light."
It's a much different character, I said, than the woman you played in "Ghost," who was faced with the possibility that her fiance was contacting her from beyond the grave. Was it just a coincidence that you made this psychic movie so soon after the other one?
"I really see it as such a completely different type of movie. `Ghost' had a heavier type of message, and this is just a real feel-good kind of movie. It's very sweet and charming and romantic. `Ghost' had some of those elements, but it was much deeper in its tone."
Do you have any opinions about that side of existence after this picture and "Ghost?" Do you think there's another sphere?
"Yeah, I think there's really a lot of merit to the possibility that spirits exist, and obviously psychics wouldn't have been given the gift to reach out to that side of existence if it wasn't meant to be used - hopefully in a real good and positive manner. One of the women that I worked with in New York was tested scientifically as a young woman when she discovered that she had a gift. She's worked with the police department and I think that the fact gifts like hers are being used in more legitimate ways now also makes it a lot easier to believe."
Between "Ghost" and "The Butcher's Wife," two romantic films about the other side, Moore made "Mortal Thoughts," a decidedly anti-romantic film about two husbands who end up dead and two wives who may or may not have killed them. The movie contained some of her best acting, as a working-class woman whose life centers on a beauty shop, her friends and the husbands who make life miserable for them in one way or another. Moore's own husband, Bruce Willis, appeared in the movie as the particularly insufferable husband of her best friend.
I thought "Mortal Thoughts" was an intriguing movie with convincing, original performances, but it was a box-office flop. "The Butcher's Wife" looks to be another hit, if not perhaps on the scale of "Ghost."
"There aren't a whole lot of great roles for women," Moore said, "and that's why I've tried producing films like `Mortal Thoughts.' It's one way to get them made. It provided me with a role that had greater depth, and allowed me to show a level of acting that I haven't been able to show yet."
Did you get any advice saying, "Stay in the mainstream, this is not a good career move?"
"No, as a matter of fact. I got a lot of support from my agent. We never set out to sell tremendous amounts of tickets; it wasn't that kind of movie."
Moore's recent Vanity Fair cover, where she posed nude and pregnant, was covered up by brown paper wrappers on many newsstands. It was a nine-day's wonder a few months ago, and I asked her what the bottom line had been on that experience.
She wrinkled her brow, as if thinking about something she still hadn't entirely sorted out in her own mind. "I think more than anything else I was stunned at some of the negative responses. That people found it pornographic, or they thought it wasn't family-oriented. I think it's so interesting that they'll have other nudie type magazines out there, but the fact that I was pregnant would all of a sudden be something that isn't family.
"Magazines with titles like Guns and Ammo are displayed on all the newsstands, and they represent taking life away. I was representing life, yet I supposedly wasn't appropriate. There was even a letter in this month's Vanity Fair where this woman said, `It's a desecration! It was pornographic!' People think motherhood is wonderful, but it should be left behind closed doors, or whatever. It's stunning. I can hardly believe it."
There was another letter in Vanity Fair from a woman who said she plans to have photos taken during her pregnancy because they'd be so appropriate in the family album.
"I think pregnant women are beautiful. When I was pregnant with Rumer, my first child, Annie Leibovitz, who did the Vanity Fair cover, photographed me naked just for our family, and we have these photographs up in our home where anybody can see. So, when we did this photograph, it was very natural. I think that pregnancy is something great to capture on film, not necessarily for everyone to see, but for you to have. I look at my mother and I say, `Where's the pictures of you when you were pregnant?' She whispers. `Oh, there's only one. I didn't want anyone to see me.' "
And the Spy magazine cover? Where they showed Bruce naked and pregnant?
"We thought it was a hoot."
Matt Zoller Seitz reviews and reflects upon Jesse Eisenberg's New Yorker piece about film critics.
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