InsideOut ’11: Man at Bath
Christoph Honore’s Man at Bath features cruelly volatile characters, focusing on a French gay couple falling out of love, mostly because Emmanuel (Francois Sagat) rapes his boyfriend Omar. Omar gives his boyfriend a week to move out of his apartment, which is convenient since he’s going to New York for film work with Chiara Mastroianni. The film then shows scenes of Emmanuel hooking to earn money to Omar picking up Dustin, a young Quebecois/Al Pacino lookalike to scenes when the couple are in the apartment. We’ll assume that it’s Emmanuel imagining his boyfriend in that space, both connecting sexually.
There are some good things. Like there’s no hint of subversion in Sagat’s emotionally versatile performance or that singing indie rock before sex is actually cool or Emmanuel having sex with three different guys in his soon-to-be ex boyfriend’s apartment might just be the best revenge ever. But are these characters depicted with distance or self-awareness? That could have saved the film, as well as some editing and organizing the plots from priority a, b or c. 1/5.
Before the main event, there was a screening of a short called The Lady is Dead, about a heavily made-up old woman watching LGBT men and women of all shapes, two of which are twinks who weigh exactly like my right thigh. 2/5.
The Kids Are All Right
The trailer for The Kids are All Right shows Manohla Dargis calling it a ‘near note-perfect portrait of a modern family,’ in a way that it shows complex implications to the words ‘biological’ and ‘parent,’ there are clashes, affairs, dinners with people who are having affairs, cathartic speeches of redemption. It’s a typical formula if not for the slow pacing, the script, tick-y acting from the major players and the hand-held cam close-ups in group scenes, all giving the impression of a balance between improvisation and direct delivery.
Basically, two teenagers from lesbian parents look for the sperm donor, and whatever ensues, ensues.
Annette Bening as Nic is the best in show without trying. I’ve only seen her in crazy parts (American Beauty, Running With Scissors). Other reviews have tried to sell her as the stable one in the relationship, and she is that. She can also be ‘not my real self,’ be acidic, be the embarrassing drunk one, be the one who has to deal with the headaches just like a parent. Her first line at the first dinner conversation about Jules’ (Julianne Moore) truck makes the audience follow her more. Her calm reaction to a shocking revelation proves that Bening’s performance becomes the greatest one within greatest performances.
I’m ambivalent about Laser (Josh Hutcherson) as a character. It was his idea to contact their sperm donor Paul (Mark Ruffalo). A little selling point for the movie and his character that he might or might not be ‘too close to his loser friend Clay,’ that subplot being really hilarious. He also doesn’t know how to talk to Paul, being directly hostile about Paul’s opinions about little things, this approach somehow different from his sister, college age Joni (Mia Wasikowska) just smiling at him. Despite of those things, I don’t feel like I got to know the guy. He must have had female friends, unless that’s what ticked off Nice and Jules. I think Laser just fades into the background after the scene with the talk.
O hai, HaySpayTu. Tanya (Yaya da Costa) is a bit Earth Mother Archetype to me, just like a grown-up version of the real Yaya da Costa we know.
And hai, Peggy’s lesbian wooer (Zosia Mamet) from “Mad Men!”
I also wanna talk about the Susan G. Cole critiques to this movie. A) Mark Ruffalo doesn’t even act like a stoner in this movie and the last time he did that was in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. I think he actually does his best to defend his character – a lesser actor would have just laid there and portray Paul as the dirt bag that he is on the script. B) Bisexuality exists. I’ll concede that the film uses a Degrassi: TNG storyline, and that she’s not alone in thinking that the Jules and Paul thins is BS, but a plausibly realistic one. But then I’m not a lesbian so I don’t know how strong their fortitude is against Mark Ruffalo. Mine isn’t.
Now that that’s all out, time to download the rest of the soundtrack!
Inside Out – All the Young Dykes: Lesbians…
This wasn’t a movie, it was more of a session about film by critic Ingrid Randoja. For half an hour, Randoja shattered my Catholic 90’s upbringing as I learned that “Fried Green Tomatoes” was a lesbian film although straight critics are helplessly oblivious to this knowledge, that Kate Winslet had a face of a 40-year-old at 18 and that’s a poorly worded compliment about maturity that showed within a teenager, that “Chasing Amy” sucks because it wanted Amy to be with the Ben Affleck character. The depiction of lesbians has a circular time line since it went from predatory to positive (“Fucking Amal”) and back to predatory (“Monster”). But there’s also linear progression, as the films go from showing young lesbians to lesbian mothers (the up and coming “The Kids are All Right”). And she talked about TV too (“Cagney and Lacey”).
Not mentioned was the Oscar nominated Mulholland Drive, a movie I’ll plug until my death. I mentioned this omission and Randoja assessed the David Lynch film as lesbianism under a straight male lens, and I guess she has a point. I guess I’ll do a second official entry for Mulholland Drive if it catches me again, but the movie, especially the sex scene, was more romantic than it was erotic. At least it wasn’t as erotic as the scene in “Bound.” However anyone interprets it, the relationship between Betty Elms and Rita is either a real thing in some alternate universe or an ideal. Yes, Rita is a bit leachy and Betty asserts herself as Rita’s saviour, but straight relationships are imperfect too. Would the film have been different if say, Lisa Chodolenko directed it?
Inside Out: I Am Love
(Just so you know, Jil Sander > Prada)
“I Am Love” has aspects of the perfect art-snob film: style, deconstructing the rich and a baffling ending. Set in Milan, the film profiles the Recchis. Edo invites to dinner his middle class girlfriend Eva. His sister Betta reveals her lesbianism to him and to their mother Emma (Tilda Swinton), who’s bound to show her wild side soon. The film has a sensory feel to it and is capable of tragedy – the latter making us wonder how the family’s rebels are going to carry on. The audience laughed at the ending. I liked the movie, but the worst thing I can say about it is that it’s partly a movie about food that’s never made me feel hungry. Who eats flowers? What is wrong with rich people?
Silence of the Lambs
(not the most flattering angle ph. Orion)
Isn’t Clarice Starling is such a nice girl? There’s something about way she smiles and jokes around and has good rapport with others. No wonder Hannibal Lecter has a thing for her, just like every other leering pervert who goes to school with her.
In the scene in the Your Self storage facility outside downtown Baltimore, she asks the manager with a nervous laughter to call her friends at the FBI if the door falls down. She’s cordial yet in control. I wouldn’t even joke about getting stuck in some skeevy guy’s storage room. And as a first time viewer like I was a few months ago, I kind of was expecting the door to close. But watching the way she talks about the worst case scenario, we should have known nothing is gonna happen and she would be fine. If your definition of ‘fine’ is uncovering Benjamin Raspel’s decapitated head.
(hot damn, girl looks like Nicole from MTV Canada)
That early scene, as well as most of the earlier scenes, have such different qualities from the Clarice Starling later on who looks like she’s on the brink of tears. Jodie Foster had to give unity to the character after all. She’s a character appealing enough that Hannibal wanted to know her. I wanted to see her deal with other situations, and I was a bit frustrated but then again it’s a relatively short text – 118 minutes – in a genre film, and they can only allow certain things in there. But then, there’s always gonna her friendliness and wide-eyed constant learning and her humility when she’s not directly dealing with the case. Good enough for me.
The movie has always been a movie in parts for me, always catching the ‘transsexuals are very passive’ scene, because they could only either be passive or serial killers. And all British guys know how to put condiments on a cadaver. And all redhead chicks are both strong yet vulnerable. And all blonde guys have manginas.
While we’re in the ‘gender and sexuality’ thread of the conversation, Clarice is all we have as a representation of the female and feminine in this movie. Catherine, although with a coarser vocabulary, isn’t really Clarice’s foil because she’s just as resourceful yet vulnerable. And Ardelia isn’t a fully developed character. The boys, however, are a different case. An LGBT character is a serial killer yet Clarice’s declaration on the passivity of transsexuals isn’t invalidated. I didn’t take an Angus Reed poll or anything, but a queer man can love women as much as another can hate them. Technically Bill already has foils, but if the film had characters presented as Clarice or Bill’s foils, they wouldn’t be as effective on their own.
I first saw it in its entirety at the Toronto Digital Film Festival, a ‘horror’ film that froze me instead of jolted me, despite of the cloudy quality of the digital film . I won a poster for answering the trivia question of how many Oscars it won. I haven’t opened the poster yet, I don’t know where to put it in my room, I don’t even know where it really is. Then there was the crispier AMC’s televised run Monday night, when Miggs can smell Clarice’s ‘scent’ and Hannibal imagining Crawford imagining ‘fondling’ Clarice, and Bill ‘having’ himself so hard.
I discovered new things in this awesomeness the second time around, that ‘good bag and cheap shoes’ sounds like a hell of a fey insult and I should use it someday. Someone should tell Clarice about that ugly ass coat too. That Clarice kinda looks like Scully. That Buffalo Bill is capable of love. That apparently Anthony Hopkins and the girl who plays Catherine reunited in a really terrible Chris Rock movie that I still wanna see.
That adds to what we already know about that galvanizing moment when Lecter beats the shit out of that guard. And the poetic sequence when Clarice really finds the killer. The little Western touches within the film. That if Jodie Foster wasn’t a lesbian, I’d prescribe it to her. That Clarice is getting better at her game the same way Bill is. That you can never listen to Tom Petty the same way again. That this movie is probably a metaphor about the 90’s paying for our collective sins in the 80’s but I haven’t fully figured that out yet. That this movie’s the only Best Picture winner that encapsulates ‘grunge.’ And like Liz Lemon told her gay cousin, never help someone move a couch into a van.