Recasting: Rebecca Remake
A Variety article announces that Dreamworks is remaking Rebecca. There have been many adaptations of the Daphne DuMaurier novel, the most famous of course being Reese Witherspoon’s favourite movie directed by her favourite director Alfred Hitchcock. If you don’t get the Resse reference, it’s because you weren’t stupid enough to have seen This Means War. This re-adaptation also means that this is the girliest thing Steven Spileberg has ever touched second to “Smash.” Anyway, and despite my questions about such a homophobic movie being remade, or how Walter Hollman has had farts better than my casting posts, let’s begin!
MAXIM DE WINTER – Originally played by Sir Laurence Olivier. My Choice: Michael Fassbender. What? I just want the Jane Eyre crew together. I’d even want Judi Dench to play the Florence Bates role. My second choice would be Orlando Bloom who theoretically would bring in the young female fan base. But seriously Bloom has turned down so many roles from the Dominic Cooper Role in An Education to the Aaron Johnston role in Albert Nobbs. And I know this is just a fantasy list but I still want someone who will actually show up.
THE SECOND MRS. DE WINTER – I mean we’re never going to find someone as glowingly beautiful as Joan Fontaine. Stars before her looked like Betty Boop and the ones after her, even ones more elegant like Grace Kelly, were sun-kissed girls. She hasn’t come out in public since the 80’s but during Rebecca she was blond and alabaster. Infuriatingly lily white yet incomparable. Without considering tanned beach regulars of contemporary Hollywood, my main choice is either ones who look too mousy or one who might grow up too fast (and yes, I resent this girl for being just six months older than me and I know someone who knows something about her that’s not embarrassing yet I can’t print here). I choose beauty over age. I choose Sarah Gadon.
MRS. DANVERS – Originally played by: Dame Judith Anderson. A picture is worth a thousand words. My ‘research’ has already shown me that more American actresses – of difference races to boot – can do this faster than their British or Australian counterparts do. I can also just put up Helena Bonham Carter or Charlotte Gainsbourg who has proven themselves to be able to play matronly. But of course this exercise is about new perspectives so let’s give Olivia Williams, still beautiful yet still beautifully evil in The Ghost Writer, this chance.
JACK FAVELL – Originally played by: George Sanders. British actors of the late 1930’s had smarmy gravitas in their early thirties while actors of the same age these days still look like they came out of a dorm room’s uterus. I almost put Fassbender to fill Favell’s shoes so that someone like, as I previously said, Bloom or pretty boys like Cillian Murphy to take the de Winter role. But then I remembered a man who has given us four and a half years of creepy hot yet play the most human role Sanders has ever played: Benedict Cumberbatch.
MRS. EDYTHE VAN HOPPER – Originally played by Florence Bates. But can she be funny? It’s really the only requirement, as the role and the actress who plays her are somewhat on lower billing. She’s a memorable Hitchcockian caricature like all Hitch caricatures are. But how about actresses today. How about someone humble enough to play bit parts yet have won an Oscar for playing someone who talks too loud in restaurants and make a really bad first impression as well as receive bad first impressions of others? My Choice: Emma Thompson.
Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Apparently Michael Pitt played a young, clean-cut football jock in “Dawson’s Creek,” thus becoming the show’s second most successful alum. I watched the show’s first two seasons but I wouldn’t know. The Michael Pitt that I know is the one who got his rocks off at a tub, as well as other forays into American indie cinema.
The off-Broadway incarnation of “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” has its star, writer, and director John Cameron Mitchell plays both the titular East German transsexual rocker and her arch-rival Tommy Gnossis. The film begins with Hedwig singing one of her songs about the origin of love and he might as well be singing about their broken relationship as lovers and mirror images as well as about his disjointed body. In the film, Pitt plays Tommy and we can see the characters in their separate lives when Tommy has become famous and during flashbacks, when Hedwig is still singing in restaurants and Tommy is still a God-fearing 17-year-old. Instead of an off-screen reference, Hedwig now has someone to lust for, to break her heart and to plot revenge against.
Pardon my ignorance on queer trans body politics, but it’s easy to assume that drag is an exterior performance. Camp and sex appeal, essentially. There is some truth to this bravado in the film, as we look at Hedwig’s glazed eyes as he looks into the mirror, looking like one of the deadpan mannequin heads where he places his many wigs. But Mitchell also remarkably infuses interior layers within Hedwig, a confident performer and a vulnerable child. There’s a revelatory scene when he appeals to Tommy that he Tommy loves her, he should also love the front of her. Of course it’s a hard sell. Nonetheless, her drag side is so human that we the audience might be surprised at what she looks like in the end.
QC: Notes on a Scandal
Richard Eyre‘s Notes on a Scandal begins with the symbolically named Barbara Covett (Judi Dench) looking out of her classroom window, narrating her low expectations about her pubescent, multiracial students. A lesser actress would read the word ‘progress’ as a racist, but Dench knows to keep the undertones down here and besides, Barbara has taught long enough to see the rough-edged evil within every generation of adolescents and she hates her students equally for that.
The more Barbara gets to know the new art teacher, the symbolically named Sheba Hart (Cate Blanchett), the more she thinks she knows what latter wants. She calls Sheba’s affair with the year 10 student Robert Connolly a middle class fetish to mold any poor person and that Sheba needs rescuing from her loveless and impulsive marriage. Robert joins her so, curtly telling Sheba that she wanted to feel like Bob Geldof. They’re not necessarily wrong – Sheba is a lost character but comfortably so because of her financial stability and beauty, making others covet her, and a character shouldn’t feel needy if she’s wanted back. She hasn’t planned on the husband (Bill Nighy) and children (Juno Temple) but she’s grown to love them.
I’m also still ambivalent about how these major characters place themselves on a morality scale. Barbara and to a lesser extent Robert distrust Sheba as the other, a person similarly inwardly dirtier. There’s obviously some class war here. These working class characters dissociate the bourgeoisie as a prison of appearances and consumerism, both thinking about the affair as if she’s had many. The two are easy to condemn if we forget that Sheba is inadvertently a leech, too.
- Notes on a Scandal (shewhoshallremainmentallychallenged.wordpress.com)
InsideOut Hangover: …Lesbian Space Alien…
It’s kind of sad that Madeleine Olnek’s Codependent Lesbian Space Alien Seeks the Same is my first Ed Wood movie, but the experience was fun in this new incarnation. The title, however, isn’t that self-explanatory, only referring to an ad that one of the three lesbian space aliens (Cynthia Kaplan) have given out, their mission on earth is to get their hearts broken.
Shot in cheap digital black and white, the main focus is on Zoinx (Susan Ziegler) who finds her Jane (Lisa Haas), without telling the latter that her stay on Earth isn’t permanent, that Jane is only part of her mission to rid herself on earthling love. But while they’re together, their budding love, the banter of the spies watching the, and the aliens’ creative behaviour actually seems natural. 4/5.
InsideOut ’11 Hangover: Off Beat
For fear of sounding reductive, here’s a movie about relatively lower middle class people in German-speaking Switzerland. In Off Beat, Lukas (Hans-Jakob Muhletahler), a Zurich based rapper in his mid twenties, is literally going down while his brother Sami (Manuel Neuberger) takes his place in the music game. The relationship between him and older his manager Mischa (Domenico Pecoraio) gets sour when the latter wants Sami into the fold, made more complicated because of drugs, alcohol and the secret romance between elder brother and manager.
The film focuses on the melancholy within Lukas instead of getting more conventional storytelling done. And we know his is a sad movie because it is set and shot in eternal night/dawn/twilight. What the audience gets instead are rap-like narrations, exposing Lukas interior thoughts, his surprisingly convincing love for Mischa as well as thoughts about his fragmented family, especially about his father who never appears on-screen.
We also see Sami ignoring his older brother the way adolescents do, even when the latter is being publicly humiliated or being helplessly young within the adult world he’s thrust himself into. Or Mischa’s reticence in revealing his romance with Lukas, or not doing anything to mend the brothers’ relationship. Or Lukas, a character well performed by Muhletahler, starting rap rivalries like their North American counterparts do. Extras include the worst rap song and the four most creative interpretations of the anthem-like Beethoven’s 7th I’ve heard so far. A slow-paced yet convincing drama. 3/5.
InsideOut ’11: Renee
Renée is a documentary about the tennis player/eye doctor Renée Richards, who made a splash in the 1970’s tennis scene because she was born Richard Raskind. There are two threads in this documentary about transformation. The first being the forces, like transphobia, that’s stopping her from taking the top spot. The second are her friendships as both Richard and Renée. We see her in present day dealing with her fractured relationship with her son whom she abandoned and occasionally visits. Renée could have been about both instead of just about Renée, but looking back now, that possibility would have been too depressing, but this film nonetheless decides to show her contentment in changing into a woman. This is also a sports film, and there’s focus on her interest in sports as a man and her technique and flaws on amateur and professional courts, shown in colorfully restored footage. Also Contains short but graphic depictions of sex change operations. 4/5.
Playing before the documentary is a short film called “Love and Other Red Spot Specials,” about a male-to-female transvestite in Australia. I was expecting Chris Lilley.
- Op-Ed Columnist : Between Torment and Happiness (nytimes.com)
InsideOut ’11: Advocate for Fagdom
The Advocate For Fagdom, about the life and work of Toronto film director Bruce LaBruce, is structurally a bad film. It uses clips of LaBruce’s films that discredits him as scatter brained. The interview subjects explain the provocateur’s work and doing so aimlessly, eventually going off into diatribes about an idea of queerdom and making LaBruce its main representative. A subject even audaciously claims that the shock audiences and actors get from LaBruce’s work is because male actors are more ‘shy’ about performing nudity and sexuality than their female counterparts.
Nonetheless, I just can’t write this movie off because LaBruce is essentially interesting. The POV footage of LaBruce’s hometown are raw and endearing. That there’s one subject who actually discourages LaBruce’s use of the latter’s experimental film influences. That John Waters talking censorship in Ontario is actually pretty funny. He also talks about the men in LaBruce’s early work with clips that surprisingly aren’t gratuitous. And yes, we probably share the same taste in men. The film is a good introduction to the man, which the only thing it needs to be. 3/5.
- Hot Docs 2011 (jwhyteappleby.wordpress.com)
So this guy Mark Hogencamp of Kingston, NY get ‘queer-bashed,’ leaving him brain-damaged, but comes out of it with the best revenge – better artistic skills and penmanship than me? I’m not saying with schadenfreude that his skills as an artist should be as stalled as mine, but not fair, world.
Hogencamp is as multifaceted as the aesthetic of the fictional town he has created with his two hands, Marwencol, a portmanteau of his name and the two most important women in her life, Mark, Wendy and Colleen. The film, as much as it is dedicated towards his fictional world, also focuses on the man who has created it. He talks normally except for stressing the words ‘angry’ and ‘drink,’ two of his past vices. He’s honest about the porno tape that an old VCR has eaten up or other revelations about his views and practices on sexuality as revealed through the real world and his fictional one. The film lets us watch the man evolve.
Significant portions of the film is devoted to showing storyboard stills of Mark’s stills of the WWII dolls placed in both the town he’s physically constructed, both within 1/6th scale, and seamlessly within natural settings. I’m gonna nitpick and say the the zippers seem larger than scale, but that’s about it. His friends say that he expresses his anger through the dolls, an admirable action because of how he does it. He carefully paints the scars and bullet holes into the body of these dolls instead of attacking them. At first this feels like he’s staining those dolls until we see the effect he successfully conveys, making the violence look like the dolls have inflicted them on each other, as certain plot points of Marwencol’s story go.
Those stills are more colorful than the less glamourous people like Mark and certain townspeople of Kingston, NY from whom some of the characters in Marwencol are based on. No human Barbie dolls and war hunks in Mark’s real world, which make them more special since the film lets us see the beauty that Mark sees in them. These people are interviewed one by one, their reactions to his art as unabashedly honest as the fiction Mark creates. His best friend says that he’s ‘partaken in battles and come out on top,’ Marwencol then becoming a balance between communal fantasy and a symbol for the wars Mark endures to be healed.
These movies sucked
Lists like this for me happens in accident, or two years later when the movie comes up on TV and say ‘Hey, that was crap.’ I trust critics. If I read a terrible review, it means I won’t pay 12 bucks for it. There are exceptions. Seven or so of these were movies selected by film festivals in either 2009 or 2010. Making fun of festival movies is like kicking a dead dog, but sometimes I have no choice. Sorry for the grumpiness.
Alice in Wonderland
Les Amours Imaginaires
Enter the Void
Cher tries to set up people in couples and boxes, but Clueless subverts assigned stereotypes, the most obvious one being that ‘clueless’ newcomer Tai (Brittany Murphy) is sluttier and bitchier than she looks. There’s more.
Dionne is not Mammy. Dionne (Stacey Dash), is a true Beverly Hills girl with mood swings, which is why I love her. If writer-director Amy Heckerling was a worse writer, Dionne would only serve as life support to Cher. Dionne has juicy scenes like crying in the bathroom in a party when she finds out that Murray (Donald Faison) – who isn’t threatening because he wears braces – shaved his head, or slightly betraying Cher by huddling around Tai (Brittany Murphy), or freaking out on the freeway. I especially love how the film sets up the latter scene. Her line reading of ‘What if he was really tired?’ is both deadpan and camp, both levels played well together. Dionne and Cher talk like that throughout the film, like a Whit Stilman film where all the character wear pink. And the deadpan aspect of the line readings prepare you for the hilarity that’s gonna ensue. Also, she is older than Paul Rudd. Speaking of minorities,
I couldn’t tell if Christian was gay neither. The Jason Priestley lookalike’s pleated pants and old man abs made it more difficult, if you must know. And yes, the film deceives us when Christian acts a bit combative towards Mel (Dan Hedaya), while gay boys successfully befriend parents. Although ‘hagsville,’ Tony Curtis RIP and ‘Aww, honey, you baked’ should have rung alarm bells. Which brings me to why I didn’t wanna bury this section as a third item. I’m a Filipino gay man in my twenties who writes about film instead of a white straight male critic over 40, and for some reason, I feel more personally about characters who fall in whatever bracket I share him or her with. That’s something I don’t see too blatantly in 40-year-old straight white men, or at least their character critiques are more general. I think. In layman’s terms, I kept comparing Christian to myself, or who I was when I was the same age as he is. Can someone back me up on this? Christian dances with another guy in that party, something I would never try to do unless I was in a predominantly gay area. But then he’s a classical film lover and a bit of a ‘art fag,’ written by a woman, based on a source material from the Regency period. Christian makes me curious about what ‘gay guys’ have been like in 1995 or the early 1800’s. And how could Murray have known and not Cher nor Dionne? Don’t women have better gaydars than straight men. Or maybe Cher and Dionne just don’t.
If you pay attention to the film, you’ll know how it might end. I also really like this scene/shot/movie because of the generational divide, Josh (Paul Rudd) looking at Cher with such reverence while Mel’s being stern towards Christian. And Josh is aware of this generational divide, telling Mel not to let Cher go out looking like ‘that.’ Josh is in between, the bridge between Cher and Mel, old enough to know better, young enough to know that Cher isn’t so vacuous as others might think. Although he distractingly sounds a bit like Christopher Walken in one of the last scenes. Also, did anyone see this movie and think ‘Josh is gonna be ubiquitous,’ because I didn’t.
Cher isn’t always perky, but some of you might have known this already. Yes, her arguments about violence in the media is considerable, but her knowledge of ‘Haitians,’ jazz and art criticism needs work. If any of my professors heard ‘Monet’ defined like that, they would pop a blood vessel. She drops the Beverly Hills accent once in a while, which surprisingly makes both inflated and deflated Cher more convincing. And is that a Kollwitz sculpture behind her? I imagine her being a philanthropist, if she’s not misled.
New York Tristate in the house. Timothy Findley who first talked to me about the New York exodus to California in the early days of cinema. Apparently Tai and Mel has kept that tradition alive, their accents representing as prominently as the California accent.
Ooh, I wonder if they have that in my size. If this movie’s setting is 2010, she wouldn’t need to ask that question because she’d be a size 0. Or maybe not being size 0 makes her better than the average airhead.
Starbucks? That existed before the 1999 Seattle riots?
The world goes on despite of Cher. So this is the third movie I’ve seen this year about the Bosnian War, although I’ve seen Clueless before. The Bosnia reference also shows how 90’s it is, a great addition to other 90’s references like Ren and Stimpy, Radiohead, Alaia. Also, is that a flower-pot? How much did Mel let her decorate in the house? Cher’s very girl for a girl raised by a single parent. This movie is about Cher becoming more well-rounded. It also helps that she has people like Josh around her, correcting her without being condescending. And Christian ‘educating’ her about film and art. And Mel who’s an art collector himself. And Miss Geist (Twink Caplan).
I also watched the television series, where Caplan, Dash and Faison among others took the roles they had in the film, but you knew that already.
Also, Scott Rudin prouced this movie. Respect. Silverstone and Heckerling, also the director of Fast Times at Ridgemont High, are reuniting to make Vamps, about vampires on the prowl in the city a la “Sex and the City.” I’m worried.
- Scenes We Love: Clueless (cinematical.com)
TIFF: L.A. Zombie
A friend warned me against Bruce La Bruce and therefore warned me against the latter’s new movie at TIFF, L.A. Zombie, that he has no desire to watch because it would end up being like ‘pretentious hack poverty porn.’ But of course, I’m not a good friend.
An alien zombie emerges (Francois Sagat) in the form that whoever Supreme being created him, from the Pacific Ocean and walks his way to the beaches of L.A. There’s three versions of this monster. There’s the alien zombie version of him who penetrates dead men with the former’s whatever it is in the latter’s man-made orifices – I hope I’m understood. The homeless version of him, cured after intercourse with the dead men – he regresses into the first version although he eventually controls his transformation between these two stages. The third version looks like the first, but the latter watches the former have sex with dead sadomasochistic muscle heads (including Francesco D’Macho, Erik Rhodes, Matthew Rush) and this third version has bigger fangs. Portions of the film accompanied by Chopin’s violin concertos.
The two coexisting versions of the alien zombie are, according to him, open to interpretation. Every text is open to interpretation. There are many intentionally disappointing things about the film. That he can’t fully commitment to any message is my biggest disappointment. The film has its fashion connections, from Bernard Wilhelm’s deconstruction designs to a cameo by Santino Rice as a homeless drunk. I gave this movie a 1/5, and I felt good doing it.
- Australians won’t see zombies having sex (theglobeandmail.com)
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!
Before Night Falls
Cut it, Javi. You’ve had bad hair for a role before.
Before Night Falls is playing at the Cinematheque at 9:30 tonight. Come because I probably on vacation and can’t.
Salo, or 120 Days of…
Saw this at the TIFF Cinematheque as part of their Pasolini retrospective. Apparently I would have stayed longer in the theatre for 25 more minutes if the Cinematheque had the premiere version. It’s either in Criterion, on the internets, or is lost ‘forever.’
The movie isn’t porn. It isn’t titillating, unless having a two second glimpse of 16-year old flaccid penis gets you off, which is, good for you I guess. Four men, the Duke, the Bishop, the Magistrate and the President sign a book of rules, shepherd eighteen adolescent boys and girls into a mansion and degrade them sexually. There isn’t the contact nor intimacy nor should I say, intensity of ‘normal’ sexual activities. The adolescents are ‘taught’ sexual acts and are told that that’s their purpose. They have to please these four men and their pleasure isn’t a reward. And they eat shit and they get sliced in the forehead. If you were expecting something else, sigh on you.
It’s funny how I can’t show any nudity or sexual acts to a 20 year old in the screen caps – I won’t anyway – but it would probably have been OK to show the same 20 year old with a gun on his head. Or his tongue cut off.
This movie is Pasolini’s critique of fascism in Italy, but I’ll get back to more on that. While the men are examining one of the potential girls, the Magistrate asks her if he will prefer them to the nuns in the convent, the gamine answers that she doesn’t know that yet. This might look like overreading, but a madam transfers the innocent child from one oppressive system to another, a typical problem in ‘modern’ Europe when religious absolute monarchies are overthrown by totalitarian regimes like that in Italy. Depending on your judgment of the girl’s fortune, she wasn’t chosen because of a missing tooth. The nuns already turned her into damaged goods.
Again, critique of Fascist Italy, and conspiracy theories suggest the Neo-Fascist P2 killed Pasolini. That was repeated by my friend’s friend outside the theatre at the end of the film, who likened the mansion in Salo to the 9 billion secret prisons being built in Canada at this moment – his opinion, not mine. The fact that Fascism ruled in more than one country in Europe, and that threat constantly pops up made the film more resonant to me. And that I couldn’t like the inane blindness and heteronormative stance of Amarcord, a movie made near the same time about the same earlier period, after watching Salo. Although it’s not a great one or a favourite, it’s essential.
However, Michael Haneke names this one of his ten favourite films. Obviously.
Via FlixChatter via Encore’s World of TV and Film via SortaThatGuy (can I use your first names if we’ve talked to each other on Twitter or commented on each other’s blog) is a 31 Day Movie Meme. I downloaded movies up to the eighth day, I spreadsheeted it, I mapped out all the movies I saw so that every period got representation in proportionate to how many I’ve seen in said era, or tried to anyway. But I had no time. Thankfully, FourofThem did it in short form and I decided to do the same.
Day 01 – Sequel that should not have been made
—American Psycho II: All American Girl (2002). I saw the ending and it was enough. Poor Mila Kunis.
Day 02 – Movie that you think more people should see
—Ballast (2008). I was alone in the theatre watching this. With a whopping 1000 votes from iMDb. See it, nerds, what are you waiting for?
Day 03 – Favorite Oscar-nominated movie from most recent ballot
— Bright Star (2009). Never changed my opinion on it once. Bu then I’m an English/Art History double major so this was up my alley.
Day 04 – Movie that makes you laugh every time
— In Bruges (2008). Someone should bar me from watching Harry Potter, because if I go and every time Voldemort comes on screen, I’ll scream “Don’t facking talk to me about my cunt facking keeds!”
Day 05 – Movie you loathe
—Diary of a Mad Black Woman (2005). Fucking hate Tyler Perry and his sensationalism.
Day 06 – Movie that makes you cry every time
—A Star is Born ’54. Judy’s monologues make me remember that I have a soul.
Day 07 – Least favorite movie by a favorite actor or actress
—Revolutionary Road (2008) for Kate Winslet. Made her pretty only on the outside.
Day 08 – Movie that should be required high school viewing
—Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936). Weird choice, but lets the freaks know that they can fight back. Also Mysterious Skin (2004).
Day 09 – Best scene ever
–The argument between the titular Malcolm X (1992) and his wife. Fences can’t be as good as that.
Day 10 – A movie you thought you wouldn’t like but ended up loving
—Breaking and Entering (2006). Apparently Minghella’s worst film, but so emotionally resonant.
Day 11 – A movie that disappointed you
—Nine (2009), but as a good gay boy I had to haul my ass and my sister’s to see it anyway.
Day 12 – Best soundtrack/background music in a scene
—Vertigo (1958), especially the Prelude and Rooftop scene, judging by my iPod play count.
Day 13 – Favorite animated movie
—Up (2009), or if parts of Kill Bill Vol. 1 (2003) count. I’m not good at my animation after I turned 13.
Day 14 – Favorite film in black and white
—Waterloo Bridge. It has that one scene that does wonders for black and white cinematography, but what I care about is the content.
Day 15 – Best musical
—Chicago (2002), again, judging by my iPod count. And because it’s really slutty.
Day 16 – Your guilty pleasure movie
—Clueless (1995). When you look at it, it’s really a movie about Rodney King and OJ.
Day 17 – Favorite series of related movies
—The Godfather (1972, 1974, 1990), because I’m boring, and because the last one’s cute.
Day 18 – Favorite title sequence
—Twelve Monkeys (1995), then the tapestry-like The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943).
Day 19 – Best movie cast
—Gosford Park (2001). Rarely do you see Kristin Scott Thomas and other great British actors and actresses together.
Day 20 – Favorite kiss
—Before Night Falls (2000), when a random man takes his glasses off and kisses the audience. Reminds me of many I’ve had.
Day 21 – Favorite romantic couple
–Woody and Diane in Annie Hall (1977). Woody’s disgusting, but their chemistry is ideal.
Day 22 – Favorite final scene/line
–“Adios,” by the Marlene Dietrich character in Touch of Evil. (1958) Fierceness.
Day 23 – Best explosion or action scene
—The Big Heat (1953). No fire, all camera movement. I could feel my walls shake.
Day 24 – Quote you use most often
–“My art has been considered vaginal by critics, which bothers some men. Vagina.” The Big Lebowski (1998). Imagine medium-sized gAsian say that, and then laugh before the next line.
Day 25 – A movie you plan on watching (old or new)
—Get Low (2010), a movie about a swan song, because I’ve seen a lot lately. If I stay in the country, that is.
Day 26 – Freakishly weird movie ending
—Fat Girl (2001). Doesn’t even prepare anyone.
Day 27 – Best villain
—Mieko Harada in Ran (1985), then Angela Lansbury in The Manchurian Candidate ’62.
Day 28 – Most over-hyped movie
—No Country for Old Men (2007). This started the iMDb thing of giving ten stars to any male centred movie that just came out.
Day 29 – Movie you have watched more than ten times
–The closest is Gone with the Wind (1939), with at least four.
Day 30 – Saddest death scene
—The Death of Mr. Lazarescu (2005)
Day 31 – Scene that made you stand up and cheer
–The explosion in The Thing (1982), aided by the crowd.
Y Tu Mama Tambien
My TA John was talking about subtext in film and talked about this movie in how Julio (Gael Garcia Bernal) and Tenoch (Diego Luna) are using Luisa’s (Maribel Verdu) sexually to hide their feelings for each other. Annoyingly I interject ‘But isn’t it also about the history and sociology of Mexico undergoing generational and political change?’ He, like a saint, replies something in the lines of ‘Yes, as well as about two dudes who secretly wanna fuck each other.’
The second time around, I appreciated how much Luisa rubs that subtext in the guys’ faces.
My mom walked into the scene when Tenoch was having sex with Luisa. And apparently my aunt was ‘shocked,’ even though the latter quipped that my viewing of it was ‘educational.’ That went well.
The first time I full watched this movie was thankfully by the time I was in college, since nudity would be close to nothing to me and just cared about the bleak Mexican landscapes. And this movie also taught me what ‘pendejo’ means.
The second time around might feel like grasping at straws, but when you’re watching a movie the second time do you just look at things like the characters’ tastes in interior design, books, music, etc.? This is a movie about teenage boys, a social demographic that barely if ever cleans their house or are tacky enough to put lots of stickers in their cars. Like the anarchy sticker on the right hind (?) windows, showing how Julio shares his car with his college activist sister. That we’re always looking out through the right set of windows to be reminded of that sticker once in a while. Or, most likely unrelated to teenage aesthetics, that I’m kinda angry that I can’t tell who the girl is in that Vogue Eyewear ad campaign at the background in the end of the movies. Or that Luisa hasn’t touched that Yeats book that her pretentious, cheating ass fiance owns. Or that there’s a hotel in rural Mexico with nice beds and a shitty pool. Or, as Lars pointed out the Jules et Jim and Harold and Maude poster and in the room where Tenoch is fucking either Ana or Ceci. Both posters also foreshadow the film’s plot.
Also, where is Maribel Verdu’s ticket to Hollywood? Yes, she has Pan’s Labyrinth, but where’s her Bad Education or Milk or Vicky Cristina Barcelona? Verdu can tell Debbie Downer stories without sounding like Debbie Downer herself.
Speaking of Debbie Downer, I’m trying to fully articulate what I think about Luisa. She’s receptive of the adolescent goofiness of Tweedele-boi and Tweedle-bum, cries in private, receptive again – no pun intended, then she blows up on them, then receptive again. It’s difficult to believe that she easily adapted a Hanna Schmitz-like role towards these boys and/or that she only came out with them as a now-or-never thing. Tenoch lightly accuses Julio of being a leech, but she partakes in the leechiness too. Sexual favours, her escape towards a paradise death – dying in Heaven’s Mouth, so to speak. And that we only see her cry once without having a barrier between her and the camera shows how we’re seeing this woman from a man’s gaze – we pity her but we will never understand her, and it’s a bit frustrating but thankfully not distracting from the film’s merits.
Bechdel time! Luisa asks tour guide Chuy’s wife Mabel for travel tips for where the other beaches are, and she also asks about the beautiful native names of the beaches and towns. Pass!
And not the biggest fan of the shakycam.
Lastly, I also wonder whether Julio and Tenoch would ever friend each other on Facebook.
I know this Slavic girl in college whom I like making fun of behind her back. I don’t know if it’s more insulting that everyone thought she was stupid or that I didn’t see her as stupid but instead, a person with a tragically clinical view of academia. We had a conversation on the bus once about David Cronenberg’s Eastern Promises, a movie that just came out at the TIFF 2007 and the first movie from that crop to be released in theatres. She said the rapes made her uncomfortable, for reasons more basic than what I can deduce from other things I know about her. Once in a while she reveals a point of vulnerability and closes back up again, in a way telling me either that I’ll never find out her secret or that she doesn’t have a wound in the first place.
Roger Ebert and Carina Chocano separately compared this movie to The Godfather, and they’re right in that both movies are about the second generation of gangsters and not the first, a typical focus point in post-classical gangster films. It’s been said about The Godfather that it’s about the sons or the daughters paying for their father’s sins, despite of how much the parents try to shield them, or how much the children try to legitimize themselves, and no matter how much the latter presents themselves as products of nurture, or society, instead of nature, of family. In Eastern Promises, however, the children ‘stray from the path I’ve set out for [them],’ as the patriarch Semyon says in dismay. The half-English Anna Ivanova (Naomi Watts) will not adopt her Uncle Stefan’s negrophobic, anti-miscegenation viewpoints. Semyon’s son, Kirill (Vincent Cassel) is a hotheaded SPOILER, closeted homosexual, doing away with those who whisper that truth. Kirill’s driver/undertaker Nikolai (Viggo Mortensen) is a clawing his way to the top of the Russian mafia. The movie never lets us conclusively know how their different rebellions will help or hinder their characters, especially with Nikolai and his double life.
Speaking of double lives, the homoeroticism in the film, as shown specifically through Nikolai makes me think that Kirill couldn’t help it. Cronenberg depicts the gangster lifestyle itself as homoerotic. Kirill orders Nikolai to have sex with one of the prostitutes to prove his heterosexuality. The elders examine Nikolai and his symbolic tattoos, standing in front of them wearing only his underwear. The bathhouse death match. Kirill and Nikolai’s faces so close to each other, reminiscent of Viggo’s closeness to William Hurt in Cronenberg’s earlier work A History of Violence. I wonder if Nikolai is bisexual, or using himself to get to Kirill’s confidence, or if it’s compassion bursting through the hard surface he has to keep up for his job. It’s a fragmented interpretation of the character that doesn’t answer all the questions, and that actually makes him a more memorable character.
Yes, the movie had rapes and babies and a death match at the bathhouse, but there’s something anticlimactic about the movie, especially in the film’s denouement. And most of this is gonna sound like I’m shitting on Kirill/Vincent Cassel here. As a character who’s behind Semyon’s shadow, he’d be resentful and would hesitate in acting out his father’s orders. What does it say about me if I’m unconvinced that Kirill wouldn’t readily do to the baby Christine what Semyon has told him to do, or that I expected Christine to have a harder time than she did? Or that the sexual tension between Nikolai and Anna should have been left alone where it was before the last scenes? Or that I expected absolute evil from Nikolai?
Inside Out: Is It Just Me?
(Fine. This picture made me want to watch the movie. ph. InsideOut)
Despite what the movie’s presenter said, yes you are. I’m protective of queer cinema. Director J.C. Calciano aims to set the movie’s protagonist Blaine (Nicholas) as a romantic in sex crazed Los Angeles, making both look like caricatures. Fine, the movie shows the internet as a locus where a gay man can find a kindred spirit as he does with Texan lonestarwhatever, or Xander (David Loren). It also shows Blaine adamantly refusing to play the hookup game and I guess that’s admirable. Can he at least lighten up while he’s in the bar setting? The movie comes off as slightly contemptuous of the gay scene, but I guess he’s allowed to do that. If the presentation wasn’t so clunky, the acting so perfunctory and the script written by a child, it wouldn’t take me four hours to concede that there is some good in this film.
Inside Out: Children of God
(The last waltz. ph. insideout)
“Children of God” is an island of clichés. The progressive white gay guy, the closet case Uncle Tom, the female preacher infected by her homophobic closeted husband. It’s also a cautionary tale for smarter young gays and gay filmmakers. If you’re gonna let a man inside your rented home after knowing them for a day, do not let them sleep over because he will steal from you or kill you (this doesn’t happen in the movie). Do not pretend ‘allergies’ is an excuse. Do not give bedroom eyes to another guy only to shut him down while your beard pours her drink at his face. Fight homophobia through activism instead of making some ’empowering’ speech only four people will hear.
Inside Out: Hogtown Homos 2010
Apparently, they do this series every year. Some of the shorts in 2010’s round of the “Hogtown Homos” program show queerness in its raw stages, experienced in an individual’s youth as he or she experiences confusion but more in a funny way and less distressing. Well if you count a spoiler accident witnessed by the three twinks in the Bunuel-inspired “After,” putting a damper on fantasizing about the young man playing football in front of them. Or Tony, Aaron’s missing playmate in “The Armoire,” the latter having an imagination he can’t yet articulate. There’s awkwardness and a bit of sadism in some of these shorts, but I left the theatre with a chuckle or eight.
Inside Out: Bear Nation
“Bear Nation” is like climbing mountains and valleys with fatter, older, hairier bearded guys, such as the stereotype. The movie, however, doesn’t feel Sisyphean, the film’s subject knows how to laugh at itself and turn any sad or negative thought into a positive note. We see a pluralist portrait of a ‘splinter of a splinter’ of a movement, one bear’s account of bear history differing from another (Glenn Sumi has his own thoughts on how bears came into place). It also takes us distances from Toronto to London to show this urban movement recalling a pastoral ideal of erotic manhood. With an amazing Arts and Crafts soundtrack and appearances by Tracy Morgan and the very frank Kevin Smith, it’s a great documentary about self acceptance, as well as those who will accept each other for who they are.
Inside Out: Poison
“Poison” makes for a disjointed viewing experience, with three vignettes/plots about alternative sexuality. All three are a bit campy examples of real issues on homosexuality, but are too extreme to be considered a deterrent against queerness. The plots intertwine, surprisingly bringing the film’s audience smoothly to and from tones like absurdity, the sublime, and the erotic. Michael W. Philips suggests that the three vignettes won’t stand out on their own, and I agree with him for a bit. But then who wants to release three short films instead of just making a full length feature?
Far From Heaven
(some gay bars are still like this today ph. greencine)
Is it just me, or is everyone in “Far From Heaven” just a little creepy? Grown up version of a boy from “Children of the Corn” randomly showing up in Frank Whitaker’s (Dennis Quaid) hotel room door. Actual children of the corn chasing black girls and throwing stones in their heads. Frank’s wife Cathy (Julianne Moore) randomly showing up at Raymond’s (Dennis Haysbert) trailer-y looking home, with good intentions of course. Flash bulbs. Gossip. Mona Lotter (Celia Weston) spying. Spying! Spying! Spying! If I could give an advice to any civilization, I would tell them not to have too many social constraints, because everyone just ends up being creepy.
“Far From Heaven,” like many melodramas I’ve seen, is almost a masterpiece. The one thing I respect about the movie is that it’s a 2002 movie stuck in 1957 Connecticut, where everything is everyone’s business. The movie can therefore never be judged by any standard other than the latter.
(President Palmer’s on to something. ph. rankeverything)
Because it’s stuck in 1957 I’d understand if some people found this a little pessimistic, but that pessimism comes through the movie’s ending. It could have ended with Cathy’s phone call to the NAACP or another call between Cathy and Frank arranging a meeting. Instead it ends with Cathy and Raymond in the train station (Did he expect her to be there?), putting the other two actions or events on hold. We’ll never know if Cathy ends up volunteering for the NAACP or what’s gonna happen between Cathy and Frank.
Also, I saw this movie in entirety in some shitty pan and scan TV airing, and the lighting’s a bit dark. Again, noir elements in a romance-themed film, using colour filters more than neon lighting. I just hope the lighting and the colours are greater in a better quality version.
Another reason why I can’t fully dislike the movie is the cast, especially Julianne Moore, who deliver dated conversation with such straight faces. Dennis Quaid depicts Frank as a loose cannon, but that’s not too distracting.
p.s. Lars’s essay on the same movie compared to an actual Sirk.