Yesterday’s Coffee

January 26, 2010

is it also Today’s? I wake up confronted by a ghost in my coffee pot. It holds the open promise of yesterday and its failure. For it is not all consumed. Shall I throw it out? Let it fill the sink, and let me pretend again that today I will write my thank you notes.  Today, I shall call my senator and tell them to pass a climate change bill. Today, I will eat yesterday’s salad, and not tomorrow. Will this new pot of coffee be wholly consumed? Or will it stare at me again tomorrow, bleary eyed in the kitchen, as I stumble for the grinder?

By a reasonably objective metric (academy award nominations), William Hurt ranks as one of the greatest film actors of all-time (he has four) and yet he makes no appearance on the AFI’s 100 Years…100 Stars. On its own, this would be a triviality; many great actors fail to achieve mass consciousness. Perhaps I’m betraying my age, but has anyone ever gone to a movie just to experience the raw animal magnetism of Albert Finney? But, as we’ve mentioned many times, William Hurt owned the 1980s, starring in several of the decade’s biggest commercial and creative successes.

I thought about this the other day while watching Damages season 2 on DVD. There’s a scene where William Hurt’s character takes a polygraph. Hurt’s character is exactly the type of role for which he’s remembered: handsome without being charming, and cold without appearing calculating; uncertainty surrounds him. And Hurt is an expert at maximizing uncertainty. Watching him take the polygraph, you’re sure that he’s managed to pass the test while lying. When it comes back inconclusive, you’re almost surprised. Is he not as devious as I thought, or could he be telling the truth? There may only be a 5% chance that he’s telling the truth, but Hurt makes you consider it. In this way, he’s a great foil to Glenn Close whose skill is smiling as she stabs a knife in your back. She’s good at convincing other characters that she’s being honest, but not so good at staying a step ahead of viewers. Only the show’s jumbling of chronology allows those possibilities to slip in.

But again, the mystery that is William Hurt and his ownership (or: pwnage) of the 1980s. Read the rest of this entry »