Suzy Says
Radio Nowhere
The Majestic
December 26th, 2001 by suzy in Movies

Yesterday, Rufus and I decided to see Jim Carrey’s new movie, “The Majestic”. With its majestic running time of two and a half hours, we figured it would definitely help pass the time and take our minds off our troubles, in the time-honored way of movies since their invention.

It was quite eerie walking to the movie theater. We left the house at 9:30 a.m., and the streets, other than a few scattered, die-hard joggers, were almost competely deserted. So was the theater at 1000 Van Ness; there were only five people ahead of us in line and possibly six people seeing the movie besides us.

1000 Van Ness used to be a Cadillac showroom in the 1920’s and 1930’s, but it was vacant for years and years, its original splendor gradually decaying over decades of disuse. It was renovated in 1998 and converted into movie theaters, a gym, and apartments. The character and beauty of the building was preserved as much as possible, including the adorable bears who have been guarding the facade for nearly 80 years. Here is one of the bears before the renovation, and here he is after.

So it was quite nice to go to a movie featuring the restoration of a movie palace in such a place. Also, most of the film had been shot where my brother and sister live, Mendocino and Fort Bragg, and it was fun for me to identify the various locales. When the film was being shot, it caused great inconvenience to the locals, particularly when the film crew closed off the only bridge into or out of Mendocino for an important scene. My brother told me that although Jim Carrey was well-liked, the residents objected to the fact that the filmmakers brought all their own extras and carpenters and even flag wavers (for traffic control). The area is used frequently for movies and TV shows — “Murder She Wrote” was filmed there for years — and normally, locals are used for some extra work and carpentry. So the fact that this crew didn’t use any local talent at all definitely made them less popular around town.

Despite this, and the long running time, it’s a wonderful movie. It would be easy and obvious to categorize it as Capra-esque, but it’s more than that. The outline is that Carrey’s character is a blacklisted Hollywood screenwriter in the days of the McCarthy hearings, who has a car accident outside a small Northern California town and wakes up with amnesia. He looks a lot like a local boy who went missing in WWII, and has to decide if he will accept the identity of the missing boy, or not, and the film then follows what happens after his decision.

I’m afraid it will get trounced at the box office by the current fantasy blockbusters and those films appealing to the lowest common denominator, and those who think of Jim Carrey as nothing more than Ace Ventura won’t give it a chance. But he gives a subtle, emotional, and excEt performance in this film. He is the heart and soul of it. Supporting him is a great cast, including Martin Landau and James Whitmore, and of course, the beautiful scenery of the coast.

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