January 3 - BEING THERE (1979)

"Shortchanged by the Lord and dumb as a jackass." "All you gotta be is white in America to get whatever you want."

Both FORREST GUMP and BEING THERE are stories about vaguely simple men who happen into success and national renown through chance. FORREST GUMP is a much funnier film (although both are classified under Comedy / Drama), and its emotional beats are much more extreme. BEING THERE, on the other hand, is much steadier; carefully building throughout with an appropriately understated performance from Peter Sellers. There's not much that happens in BEING THERE in terms of plot -- especially when compared to GUMP -- but the ways in which the film is different from Zemeckis's colorful, over-the-top whirlwind tour of 20th century America highlight their thematic similarities all the more.

  Image credit:   moviepostershop.com

Image credit: moviepostershop.com

BEING THERE is a beautiful movie. The set design is extravagant (Chance stumbles his way into a "kingmaking" businessman's good graces and palatial home) and the cinematography is truly gorgeous: Here is an album of wide shots that particularly caught my eye. Despite being somewhat of a slow burn, Chance/Chauncey's (Sellers) innocence drives the movie forward, subject to the projections and molding of the people around him. All Chance knows is gardening and television, but everyone he meets divines profound meaning from his surface-level observations. Whether or not you read into that dynamic is emblematic of the film as a whole. I don't know how much BEING THERE affects me beyond an aesthetic appreciation, but there's something about the film that is really worthwhile in some way.

 I remember the first time watching this movie and being really confused about this scene. I'm less confused now, and now it's memorable for new reasons.

I remember the first time watching this movie and being really confused about this scene. I'm less confused now, and now it's memorable for new reasons.

I don't know what I'll end up watching tomorrow, but I'm already seeing how hard it's going to be keeping up this movie-a-day challenge. I don't know what I want to get out of this, other than to satisfy my curiosity about where I'll end up 366 degrees from SNAKE EYES. I do know that if I start resenting watching movies, I'll stop. I'll make adjustments to the challenge to keep the fun alive in service of completing this foolish, Sisyphean task.