Old movies tend to inhabit some quaint niche, culture having moved past what they often were addressing. This is why, of course, history is so important--to understand the cultural context of art works when they came out. For instance, Nude Descending a Staircase might not seem controversial until you realize that it sparked fits and near riots at the 1913 New York Armory show where it was first exhibited.
When The Rules of the Game was first shown, a gentleman unfolded a newspaper and lit it with a match in an attempt to set the theater on fire. The French government banned it. Of course, this was on the eve of WWII, but see if you can find the political message in the film. It's a film about social class, the predecessor to Upstairs Downstairs, or more acutely, to Gosford Park. Altman substitutes a McGuffin murder mystery where Renoir uses simply the scandal of lovers to drive the plot.
So why the incredible reception? Why did the Nazi's ban the movie after they took over? Because not all of France was against what was to become Régime de Vichy. The French Government was arguing whether to seek some agreement with the Nazis, who were marching on France, or to move the government to the North African French territories, and run the war from there. But, the chaos of war won over, and the French government did negotiate peaceful surrender with Germany.
Under the plan, France would be occupied and even would pay for the Nazi's costs in inhabiting their country. Insult to injury!
So, we have the leftists who are arguing that France should never surrender. We have the upper classes arguing that France should negotiate with Germany. And we have Renoir, who looked at the ineffectual right wing and mocked them by showing them as buffoons who only cared about their collections, lovers and self-obsession. The insulted class was outraged.
Renoir deftly sets the wealthy upper class as idiotic, but does it subtly in a way that actually helps you connect with the story, and in some ways have sympathy for them. But it's this careless philandering, obsessing and cruelty that leads to the murder at the end. A case of mistaken identity. Don't let the Germans mistake France for something other than it is. Don't let the idiots rule the day.
The end of this movie, and by ending I meant the final few minutes when the director imposed too fine a point on it, negated the movie before it. I don't think you could necessarily call this a spoiler, even though it sounds like I just described the Sixth Sense. It's not a spoiler because what the director imposed is a political message that had nothing at all to do with the story he just told.
I guess a movie like this can be made for two reasons. The first is to look at the history of an historical figure (no matter how you feel about them) and look at the forces that created the persona that made them famous. The second is propaganda about an historical figure that attempts to exploit their past to impose some sort of divinity on them. I might have argued that this movie was trying to be the former, but when our young Guevara swims across the Amazon to spend the evening with lepers, I would say we're walking into sainthood territory.
But the end of the movie. Right--we're reminded that this young man whom we've watched grown and (and this can't be emphasized enough) has empathy for the people turns into the poster child for lefty ignorance--I mean, the handsome revolutionary who was the saviour of his people. Or, rather, other people who needed saving.
I'm pretty far to the left, but embracing Che feels a little close to embracing Pol Pot. I guess it depends on your view of Communism, but I have yet to see an application of Communism that is any more humane that the system is was supposed to replace. I have no empathy for the revolutionaries because none of the revolutionaries proved their propaganda by any other means than tragically imposed dictatorship.
Of course, I'm just as uncomfortable with the right in America demonizing communism and Marxism as some sort of tool of the devil. I certainly don't think that capitalism is divinely inspired--but, here's a good one, if you're ever arguing about evolution with a right-winger, ask them to explain capitalism from a divine point of view instead of natural selection, which is kind of the point of capitalism.
Pardon that digression--the truth is that the leaders I admire were people who stood up to oppressors and bared their chests to the sword point, standing on principal. I have little sympathy or respect for those that held the knife, even if it was sharpened on the block of the people, even if it was held to the chest of the oppressor. Propaganda of any sort--and this film is propaganda--leaves me feeling more manipulated and angry than a million Spielberg films.
This director is asking us to feel empathy for a man only showing us some reasons he may have become what he became, but without showing us what he did. Without showing us the revolution, we have no revolutionary. But, at the same time, without showing us the revolution we have the sanitized Che, the one who you can't argue against. After all, he loves poor people!
If the director had left off that last bit of text, explaining who this character became, and how the CIA murdered him (maybe they did, but the facts seem a bit hazy to make unambiguous statements like that), then we would be dealing with a film concerned with narrative and character. INstead, we're dealing with a movie whose message was summed up neatly with a bow for us. Instead, we're dealing with a movie only Pravda could love. It's no better than the Passion of the Christ. What a shame to waste such beautiful cinematography. What a shame to waste such good acting.
I saw this movie months ago, and although I scored it rather high, it hasn't stuck with me that much. Funny comedy, enjoyable enough. What more can you say?
A documentary that smartly sets itself up as a sports film (i.e., 1. underdog or outsider is a fighter and muscles their way to the top, only to be knocked down nearly fatally before winning the day. 2. Top dog off of his or her game and out of date falls to young upstart, decides to quit, changes mind and is knocked down nearly fatally before winning the day. Or course, these are also love story themes, which makes them archetypal). But, of course, all the athletes are quadraplegics, in metal armor on wheels.
But, the sports film idea here is a fake out. It's a personality movie, about overcoming your own demons, notably demons that take away much of the use of your body. Fascinating characters, interesting subject, well made documentary.
The very fact that I am writing these words proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that this blog is not about street cred. It is, as I have said, a record of the movies I've seen--and it would be against the spirit of the thing to deny a movie just because it was a Disney movie made for little girls. And it's about Ice Skating. And the box shows two views of the protagonist with the words: "From Scholastic...To Fantastic!"
I'll ignore the implication that smarts ain't all that, and focus instead of the weird self-mocking the movie engaged in. Joan Cusack (whom I would watch in nearly anything, but was made very dowdy here) played the mother of our physicist-on-ice. She complained about feminist ideals throughout, including a critique of the ice skating costumes as sexist little misogynistic ideas of what girls should be (well, not those words exactly...) to which her daughter replied "But mom, they're actually very aerodynamic!" The message our young viewers were supposed to take away is that Mom is strident and unrealistic, and not with the times. I suspect a writer who worked on it is a Sarah Lawrence grad who was full of self-loathing for writing such fluff (and for Disney to boot!), and crafted the mother carefully as both a foil to the intentions of the Dorothy Hammel-Bohr character and as a way to express her own loathing of the material in a contained and approved way.
At heart it's a sports-plot movie (plot number 1 in my review of Murderball), which I usually find much more rewarding than watching actual sports since the story arcs are more controlled, and the competition is a distillation of real sports. You have to be a serious fan to sit through all the mundane normal games to catch that amazing, exciting game. Sports movies deliver that fantastic game every time, without fail.
Other brief comments:
* No matter what you think, or what characters you might see in movies, it is impossible to be punk rock while ice skating. Can't be done. There's no such thing as punk rock sports. Even the X-games. If punks and jocks actually ever merged, the universe would implode.
* Sometimes you must realize that the mean popular girl is actually very nice pretending to be mean. It's actually her mother who is mean pretending to be nice.
* No matter what role she's in, Kim Cattrall looks like she's about to talk dirty to you.
* Ignorance can be overcome with a quivering lip and dazed expression.
* Zamboni's can travel over land.
FAIR WARNING: I'm not even going to attempt to avoid spoilers here. I intend this review as a conversation with people who have already seen the film, or who just don't care. So there.
Okay. Now that all those Skeleton Key Virgins have gone, we can get to brass tacks. When Kate Hudson puts William Hurt in an old potting shed, and then covers him with a sheet, Christine turned to me and said "Worst hospice worker ever." That kind of sums up our Kate, who was called by a lousy plot device...I mean, her personal obsession over her father's death, to leave the warm security of New Orleans, where she frequents jazz/rap clubs and is lives a nicely integrated life with her black best friend. We learn she moved from New Jersey, where I guess they don't have much going for nursing programs.
Anyway, it's a good thing that her best friend is black, because that means she's able to explain what Hoodoo is ("That Hoodoo that You Do" doesn't quite have the same ring, although--as this movie explains--that would make more sense than than Voodoo). There is stereotyping that says all black people are _________ (fill in the blank with some derogatory comment), and then there is stereotyping that says all deep-south blacks know Hoodoo, even if they don't believe in it.
But we can accept this as part of the world of the movie. It does some things rather well, and somethings horribly, but the things it does well are very nice. Early in the film, views of the decrepit South, burdened by heavy water, dilapidated buildings and encroaching greenery are shot in drive-by, giving the feeling that we're descending into a documentary more than a horror film. It effectively gives us a context which the rest of the movie conveniently ignores, but I'd love to see a long video of the b-roles that ended up on the cutting room floor.
Hudson is as good looking and appealing as ever, and the director makes her earn her pay by stripping down to her skivvies, and running around in some decidedly unnatural contexts. The whole shower sequence, for example, seems a throwaway save for the lingering shots on her booty and back.
Which raises a question. Mirrors are taken out of the house, and it becomes blatantly clear at the end with the final twist just why, and the reaction that William Hurt has when confronted with his own visage in her little pocket mirror. But, of course, the mirrors are explained differently to the ignorant Kate and her loving audience. We learn that you can see the spirits of the dead servants in mirrors in the house. The servants, of course, we're lynched in a death metal video inserted about half-way through the film. So, we have the shower scene which is a set up to get Kate into the shower so that we can see her in the mirror and see a shadow pass, suggesting that the spirit is around.
Overall, the genuinely creepy and scary parts of the film (including my favorite, the phantom doorknob in an old house turning and creaking) were well handled, but sadly diminished by the laughter of the audience at key moments later on when style and mood had to reconcile themselves with a thin, but overly complex, plot.
Heck, I liked the idea and the end twist. I thought it was effective, and probably could have been whittled into something that held together better. Sad to waste the fabulous Gena Rawlands, although she certainly was as good and dynamic as always. William Hurt conveys more with a look than lesser actors do with 15 pages of dialogue.
I only wish I hadn't started laughing so hard when Peter Sarsgaard encounters some powdered construction debrit. "I can't cross! She's fixed the door!" Take that in the Hoodoo.
I totally guessed the big "secret" of the Crying Game before it was revealed. When that movie came out, it was all the buzz around town. Have you seen it? Could you believe it? Like many people (who are either pro or anti), I always claim that I can totally recognize transvestites and transsexuals, but that assumption is totally undermined by the reality that I would never know if I met a transvestite or transsexual that I couldn't tell, so my scoring is skewed by my own confidence. So, before I become too self congratulatory on this useless and meaningless talent, I'll just say that I didn't love the Crying Game because the reveal was ruined for me and leave it at that.
Mona Lisa is a stronger film. It's a bit less grand, but we get a lot of screen time with Bob Hoskins, who is mesmerizing, and fascinating to watch. He's like that guy you see on the street and would like to follow out of curiosity, but your better sense turns you away. I personally prefer when he plays the tough guy in movies like this, as opposed to the whimsical guy in movies like Maid in Manhattan, but either way I think he's pretty compelling.
The story is revealed in peeks through windows, and frankly the plot was never terrifically clear to me, other than Bob driving around Cathy Tyson, giving a view of underground London in the 80s, gritty cheaply priced sexuality everywhere. Neil Jordan filmed real street walkers in a number of the scenes, a definite nod to reality. It is a film that could be a story lifted from a real life, everything plausible, but not without hope.
It's interesting to hold this film up against some of Mike Leigh's film, to see realistic characters treated without derision, a reflection of the sociology of Britain in its day. At a time when the Iron Lady ruled the post-socialist, grey concrete and pale-red-brick landscape that spawned a million synthesizers from the fading glory of edgy guitars, this movie harkens back to noir. No need for metaphor, though, in that day and age. Dealing with the subject directly gives us an opportunity that the noir films never gave: to be exposed to a side of society that the majority of us steer clear of, and to cheer on the man we think might just escape it, if he can keep his head screwed on straight.
Why oh why did this movie get panned so hard? It's got an abysmal 50% at Rotten Tomatoes (as opposed to 70% with The Royal Tenenbaums, or 85% with Rushmore. Shit, even Bottle Rocket got 75%). What happened in between the projection and the critics eyeballs that they failed to recognize this absolute master work? Is it like battery polarity, when you mix post-modern critics with certain movies they start repelling each other?
What seems to set the polarity--and this is an anathema to our modern, overly smart culture-soaked critical pool--is earnestness. It's not that it lacks irony, but this movie is a love poem to Jacques Cousteau and his crew, and not the mocking of a iconoclast that would have been much easier to make, and possibly more popular. Instead, Anderson took us on a voyage of discovery past the known world of Cousteau to the unknown world of Zissou--but isn't it true that Cousteau's world was just as strange and beautiful to the people who watched his works? Isn't the world created by Anderson a logical extension of such a world, fictionalized to impose the same sense of wonder on the modern audience?
I once thought that Wes Anderson kept a yardstick between himself and his characters--the requisite ironic distance so that he could mock them playfully--but in reviewing some of his films, I've come to change my mind. I think he's in love with his characters, and he treats them with great affection. I declare him post-ironic (I've quoted it before, but it's worth saying again. The Hipster Handbook says "To a hipster, irony caries more weight than reason". Has Anderson broken the sixth wall? The wall of necessary irony and emotional detachment?).
Roger Ebert said that "My rational mind informs me that this movie doesn't work." I had no such qualms. Maybe if you break it down in three-act segments, with rigidly constructed character arcs you might find some flaws, but the emotional landscape of this film is engrossing and endlessly bitter sweet. It feels like the last day of camp, when you're leaving all the good friends you've made to go back to your regular life. It's a movie I'm very comfortable with.
Anderson's attention to detail is flawless--his shots and technique perfect. Everything from the fictional fish to the cut-away boat were spot on. Even the carefully considered and controlled typography--using a stroked Futura, as opposed to his usual filled Futura--evokes a metaphor of loneliness.
Everyone I've talked to who loved the film were also Cousteau fans. Maybe that's the prerequisite, or the polarity switch. When it comes to investing yourself into this work, it helps to know the inspiration. I predict (that I am a fool for making a prediction, however...) that this film will be rediscovered in the future, and considered one of his best. History will be kind to Zissou. It was certainly kind to me, I loved every second of it.
Seen to hilarious effect in a room with early-teen girls who were giggling and sobbing alternatively throughout the whole movie. Which of course made us all the more amused as the movie wore on. They would break out giggling, and we'd look at each other and laugh. They'd break out sobbing, and we'd look at each other and laugh. But there was high DRAMA as the three girls behind us like, TOTALLY wanted to sit with some other girls, until one of the three girls behind us saw that this TOTAL bitch was sitting with them and she, like, was totally not going to sit with them. So PLEASE, you guys, let's sit together in the back. But, like I want to sit with Gretchen! Guys! I can't believe you'd totally desert me. I will NOT sit near that monster! Okay, fine. Hurrumph. Sit. Giggle. Cry.
Not so bad as these sorts of movies go. Joan of Arcadia played well in the obligatory heavy handed scenes (SPOILER ALERT: Sign of lazy writing--giving a young precocious girl leukemia as a way of teaching a lesson to another girl. A bit obvious, don't you think?), but added touches made you realize the director was paying attention. A girl passes out in Wal Mart, and pees her pants. That's not something you see in every film.
One character has sex and doesn't like it. A daddy is a bad daddy (did he get fired from the White House?) and doesn't prove his love for his half-ethnic daughter, who is frightened by the WASPs of his new marriage. I'm glad she let dad have it on the phone.
Then the Gilmore Girl falls in love, and melts the hearts of her iconoclastic grandfather, who has been feuding with her true loves grandfather for generations. Woah is me! Those silly Greeks and their silly family feuds. It's about stealing fish or something, says the grandson. Yeah. Tell that to Paris, Helen and Tyndareus.
Well, the whole thing is aimed at teenage girls, and as a post-feminist message--of following your heart, doing what you think is right, and owning up to your own shortcomings while forgiving other people theirs--it does a good job. Girls can be anything they want, after all. Right? Right. It's all the more better when you have a pair of magical pants that fit you. I wonder though....what would the equivalent in boy movie be? The dead body in Stand By Me?
Ode to Bruce Willis, star of the movie Hostage
in Villanelle form
Bruce Willis, Bruce Willis--save and fulfill us
Your women are scared, but they will understand
Please don't retire, we need you to thrill us
Your woman, she knows that bad men will kill us
the man that she wed is a manly men's man
Bruce Willis, Bruce Willis--save and fulfill us
A plot is revealed, and themes soon will drill us
reckless armed devils are playing their hands
Please don't retire, we need you to thrill us
But wait! an impossible twist has just chilled us
How will you fix what you can't understand?
Bruce Willis, Bruce Willis--save and fulfill us
We pay out our ticket, a small price to bill us
Evil degrades 'neath your able strong hand
Please don't retire, we need you to thrill us
Torn shirt and blood let through a gash on your head
You've saved all the girls, and the leader is dead
Bruce Willis, Bruce Willis--save and fulfill us
Please don't retire, we need you to thrill us
"I don't think I recognize myself in this movie," he said. "These characters mumble so much. I always gave clear speech to my characters."
She had just finished filing her nails. She reached for a small red bottle with a black tapered cap.
"Do you think these people sound like my characters? Do you think...are you listening?" he asked. The acrid punch of her polish invading his nose.
She lifted a brow, feigning interest. The ice was melting in her soda, the condensation dripping down the glass sides.
"Don't make too much of it," she sighed. "It's just a movie."
"A movie based on my stories," he said.
"Made after your death," she said, waving her hand in the air. "Besides, movies are a director's medium. You had your turn. You wrote your stories. Those will last longer than film."
"Bullshit," he said. "That's wrong. Think about music. You can listen to your favorite song an infinite amount of times. You can only watch your favorite video a few times. It's like that. People will see the film and tire of the stories before they know them. Before they've read them." He wished for the first, but not last, time today that he could have a drink.
"You're making too much of it. He's considered a genius," she said. "You were the master of one medium, and he is the master of another. Think of it like an ode; an interpretation. Someday, while all literature critics compare sparse writers to you, film critics will compare all busy filmmakers to him," she said.
He paced, his right she sticking on the tile floor each step. "That's just it, right there," he said. "He took my stories, but ignored my form. I write simple, concrete words that offer unobstructed views of my characters and their actions. He made a highly stylized film that obscures the characters behind environments. It's got nothing to do with me, with the exception of some basic plot points."
She started painting the nails on her other hand. He said "it's the difference between inflection and uninflection." he stopped suddenly "Did you feel that?"
She looked up at his startled face. "What?" she asked.
"That shaking? Is it an earthquake?" he said.
"I don't feel anything." she said.
"Of course you don't." he said. "It's just me turning over in my grave."
"Give it a rest." she said, rolling her eyes. "The film has one thing on you."
"What's that?" he asked.
"It's a damn good movie," she said "And you never made one." He collapsed on the couch next to her.
"That's true. I never did," he said.
She put her arm around him, careful not touch her wet nails to him or the couch. "But you did something better. You wrote some of the best short stories ever written. He made a great film inspired by them. That's something." she said.
"That's something." he said. "But don't you think it would have matched my style better if it had been Mamet?"
"Who cares," she said, and then she kissed him. "Who cares," she mumbled through their connected lips. "Who cares."
He forgot about wanting a drink for a while.
Much ado, with our more righteous critics, about the appropriation of 9/11 imagery by Spielberg. The problem goes like this: Spielberg is an emotional manipulator. Spielberg used imagery that evokes some of the circumstances around 9/11. Ergo, Spielberg is appropriating imagery of 9/11 to emotional manipulate us. Cad! Ego maniac! Uncaring pseudo-American!
I think the math is all wrong. I agree that Spielberg is emotionally manipulative, but then again so is Todd Solondz. So is Goddard. So is any filmmaker whose work makes you..., well, feel something. They're relying on age-old stories to evoke emotional responses.
The problem seems to be that Spielberg manipulates our emotions for the sole purpose of financial gain. Or, maybe it's just that he's a populist film maker. Whatever the reason. My argument is that Spielberg didn't put this imagery in to manipulate us. I think what he said to himself was "Hmmm. I want to make this experience seem real for the audience. What would real people do if a tragedy like this struck?" From the experience of the New York, and other places, we know that people would react by putting up signs. By acting out of fear and self-preservation.
I think, despite his arguable flaws (that is, arguable on the intent and merits of them, not on whether or not they exist), I don't think the man is purely driven by greed, nor do I think he's evil. I think he wants to make movies that move people. This movie was most moving in its dedication to realism, and realism is enhanced by echoing the real world and how it spontaneously reacts to crises.
For my part, I could ignore the Cruise machine (even amidst his Tom Cruise Kills Oprah mania) because he blends well enough into the everyman role. The movie was thrilling, exhilarating and even frightening at times. I had a good time, and for what it's worth felt that Spielberg was making some questions into mass-scale tragedy, and how people react to it. Maybe not the deepest quest made in cinematic form, but just because it's couched in a big-budget blockbuster doesn't mean we should assume the worst about those who would entertain us.
The night we watched End of the Century, we did a punk rawk double feature. The Ramones story was all about the talking heads (I'm leaving in that potentially confusing sentence for the amusement of it. Pay attention to the letter case!). The Unheard Music, on the other hand, was about a filmmaker trying to show a band and their influences in a metaphorical way. Because X is hardly direct with their imagery, this was a smart choice, and ultimately a great movie.
It relies on the old standard Ephemera mish-mash technique--mixing in public domain footage with performance and interview shots. Anybody who grew up in the 80s knows exactly what I'm talking about with the ephemera films. Oh god, they were dull. Usually some artsy-avant type doing rapid cuts (read: no more than 24 frames, which pre-digital editing was pretty damn fast), ironically juxtaposing a nuclear explosion with classroom health films, usually set to some slightly disturbing drum machine / synth loop. We were supposed to feel something from these films, but I doubt that something was supposed to be the boredom I inevitably sunk into as yet another film student showed their poorly-made masterpiece.
But here is an example of somebody actually using those techniques to great ends--a difficult challenge, but W.T. Morgan (director) and X the band obviously had a point to make beyond some general ennui about modern culture. It was more of a specific celebration of modern culture through the collage of influences that fed into Los Angeles, punk rock, and especially X themselves. The trick is, this movie doesn't name those influences, but brings them to you experientially so that you might gain understand of the band. It's a perfect show-don't-tell movie.
The movie crafts character for the four band members: Billy Zoom firmly in the clutches of rockabilly car culture, D.J. Bonebrake in a 40's jazz environment, and Exene and John in their bungalow-- with Dia de los Muertos figurines, concert posters and some old-lady lace touches around the fringes--are the representatives of pick-your-own-culture, with equal parts country-western, southern rock, mexican mysticism, and good old American working-man liberalism.
While any of those looks are anachronistic and well-known now, at the time X came around they were brand new and really unexplored. They were truly about originality and seeking your own path, as opposed to simply saying "Oh, I want to play alt-country," and then starting a band called Uncle Soup-o-low, and emoting annoyingly like Ryan Adams (yeah, we get it--you feel deeply).
We see the band writing songs, performing songs, recording songs. We meet Ray Manzarek, showing that X refused to lock themselves into the punk dogma of the day by rejecting anything smacking of hippy. Instead, X made music--a lot of it, and a lot of really good, original and groundbreaking stuff.
Three scenes stuck with me from watching this movie in 1986 when it first came out. The first is Bonebrake in his kitchen showing how he can do polyrhythms with each limb on his body. ("Hey!" said John Doe to Billy Zoom on the phone, "I just saw this drummer who hits his snare drum REAL hard." Billy: "Offer him anything."). Second, the record distributer who didn't pick up X. Has to be seen to be fully enjoyed, but it definitely spells the problem with the music industry, and why it's currently starting a long descent into obsolescence.
Finally, and most movingly is a hypnotic sequence where two flatbed trucks move a house through Los Angeles in the middle of the night, set to the song The Unheard Music. John and Exene, in perfect symmetric unique harmony sing:
Friends warehouse pain
attack their own kind
A thousand kids bury their parents
there's laughing outside
we're locked out of the public eye
Some smooth chords
on the car radio
no hard chords
on the car radio
we set the trash on fire
and watch outside the door
men come up the pavement
under the marquee
there's laughing inside
we're locked out of the public eye
I heard an interview with Phoebe Gloeckner this weekend, on Studio 360. She was speaking about how her graphic novel The Diary of a Teenage Girl is being banned from some libraries. It deals with a teenage girl having an affair with her mother's boyfriend, while sorting through a laundry list of issues: neglect, alcoholism, sexual abuse. She talked about people's reactions to her unflinching work, and how people react to sex in general.
"...anytime you talk about sex the galvanic skin response is triggered and people kind of get turned on a little bit--just when you say sex, penis--and when you combine that with something that doesn't seem quite right, like a teenager having sex with her mother's boyfriend--it kind of goes haywire, they feel uncomfortable. They're a little bit turned on, but they're supposed to be turned off, or they think they should be."
Which is exactly the line that this movie attempts to address. We have a variety of characters who are all responding to sex in childish ways, despite their ages. The youngest is the clearest in some ways--his misunderstandings about physiology and sexuality are so outrageously infantile that they become absurd and humorous. His ability in verbalizing them with such aplomb--which makes him sound like he actually knows what he's talking about--give him an authority that seems hard to question. I've met kids who have that ability to add the force of conviction behind everything they say. It takes a strong--or at least observant--parent to realize that these kids are in need of just as much protection as the ones who seem more delicate. It's just the presentation that's more forceful, but the mind is still questioning.
But our young character here gives us a graphic language for talking about this issue without spelling it out. Indeed, among you, those who have seen the movie will either laugh, groan, or shiver with disgust when I write this symbol:
While the rest of you might wonder why I did an ASCII drawing of a tie-fighter on my page, and why anybody could react to it in the way I describe. Let's just say that because of what that little drawing represents, two couples walked out of the matinee screening we attended. Lest anybody feel that that wasn't enough, the way an adult acts to two teenage girls through the mediation of hand drawn signs might make you uncomfortable. He certainly made himself feel uncomfortable--especially considering that his big desire was to sleep in bed with someone else. Really...just sleep.
But so goes this movie, not about sex or love, but about the idea of sex and love. About the projection of our desires--galvanic and emotional--onto the emotional maps we view other people through. It's about how that perception of sex changes as we grow and actually interact with other people. A pursuit that one character--a rather uptight gallery director--put like this:
"Email wouldn't exist if it wasn't for AIDS."
Which is to say that we create our mediated relationships as a go-between to actual contact, good and bad. July obviously has a strong grasp on that, and mediates each relationship in the film successfully through signs, chat rooms, video, and even through the use of stories when people really do encounter each other. As if the potential pain and the visceral excitement of actually meeting somebody you have the galvanic skin response to is enough that you need to play it down by fictionalizing it.