apolla: (Default)
I don't know what to say, but I want to say something.

I was at work yesterday when I nipped quickly onto BBC News and discovered that a gunman had opened fire in a Colorado movie theater during a midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises. It was like being punched in the stomach... later we learned 12 people were dead and dozens more injured.

I sat at my desk and forced myself not to cry as I read the details. Those around me expressed horror too.

Except that this felt different. Why? Two things. The attack took place in a cinema. A cinema, the place of dreams, hopes, wonder and beauty.

Also you know, this was a midnight screening of the new Batman picture. Do you know who goes to a midnight screening of a comic book movie? Geeks. Fandomers. Us, in other words. Friendslist, it was us in that theatre. We all know very well the excitement of a midnight opening. How many of us have done it? Or the queues for Harry Potter midnight openings at bookstores? The jubilation of being first yes, but mostly the quivering excitement of the wait being over. We've been waiting for DKR for years. I'm super-excited and I'm not even in Batman fandom. I'm going to a breakfast screening tomorrow morning.

But those midnight screenings are part of fandom community too. Even in a cinemaful of strangers a person is amongst pals. We're all there because we have to be there now, first, with no more waiting! It's that beautiful feeling of not being the freak in the room, the geek in the room, the oddball in the room because we are all freaks, geeks and oddballs. I don't know exactly who was in that movie theatre, but it was a midnight screening of Dark Knight Rises: I can establish some notions. Are we surprised that a blogger was killed? No. Saddened, yes, but not surprised.

This was an assault on us, friends. Whatever the reasons and causes, this was us under fire. I'm not saying that makes us special or any of us able to comment on the event with more authority than anyone else. But if you're wondering why it feels worse than other similar events, that might be why.

*

Movies are my refuge. I love them. They are not a simple escape from the dark bits of life, it's more complex than that, but that world constructed from celluloid and stardust is indescribably important and beautiful to me. The cinema is the cathedral of that world, a place where we fellows in movielove congregate to share the experience.

Christopher Nolan said something similar: "The movie theatre is my home, and the idea that someone would violate that innocent and hopeful place in such an unbearably savage way is devastating to me."

That cathedral has been sullied by someone who brought real blood and horror into a place where blood is corn syrup and horror is over by the time the credits roll.

*

I have a great deal to say about the whys/blame/whatever about this, but now isn't the time and my thoughts are not sufficiently processed.

Tomorrow I will go to see The Dark Knight Rises. I will almost certainly not be placed in the same danger as those moviegoers in Aurora, but I will think of them. I'll think of everyone who has been a victim of the violence our society values. I'll think of The Joker and what he represents in our society. I'll remember Heath then. I'll remember every great moment I spent in a cinema: from Che Part One blowing my mind; the joy of The Band Wagon and Cinderella and A Hard Day's Night on a big screen; trying not to try in front of my mum and dad as a child watching The Lion King, laughing myself hoarse during American: The Bill Hicks Story; the sight of Valentino's face 30 feet high during The Son of the Sheik, a thousand such moments and every single time a movie lifted me from the dark pit in which my mind so often found itself.

I will think of those dead and injured as Batman and Bane do battle. And I will try to feel the joy of a new movie experience because that's all I can do. 
apolla: (Rock Chick)
In the last few weeks I've seen a bunch of silent movies at the cinema. There was, most happily, The Son of the Sheik at the Prince Charles Cinema at Leicester Square. That was Valentino as God intended, thirty feet high, incandescent and one of the great faces of cinema. Oh, how I love that face, which rendered the rape of the heroine by the hero almost tolerable. Almost. How his acting had improved since the original Sheik movie five years earlier, how his eyes burn through one's soul, how his smile causes one's heartbeat to thunder!

I also saw a movie starring Pola Negri called Mania; and The General, Keaton's hilarious Civil War-era comedy. I love that guy's work so much. What else? Oh, Anthony Asquith's Underground, which is set on the London Underground and stars Brian Aherne who I adored in Shooting Stars and the Dietrich talkie Song of Songs.

In fact, I can't remember the last talkie I actually saw at the cinema, but I've been to a bunch of silents. Hmm, not sure what that says about me or the state of the motion picture industry. Anyway the last one I saw was The Phantom of the Opera, the 1925 Lon Chaney picture. I wasn't much in the mood to be honest. I'd had a pain in arse week and it didn't even start until ten to nine so I was going to get home pretty late. The audience was pretty full though, unlike for Son of the Sheik.

The audience laughed a lot. Now, there are moments in the picture which are funny. The owners in particular are designed as buffoons, but this audience were at times laughing at things which in 1925 were scary. They didn't get it, I think. They were laughing not because the film was bad (it's not) or because it was intended to be funny, but because it wasn't what they were used to. Silent films are so different to talkies generally but particularly modern movies. What is not necessarily known these days is that a lot of the Silent Stars who didn't transition into talkies took it as a choice. Douglas Fairbanks Sr really felt that a lot of the art of silent cinema was lost when talkies came along. Having seen his Four Musketeers, I do see his point. There is an art to the great silents which was lost when sound arrived and which was never quite regained. Different perhaps rather than better/worse, but that was lost.

A lot of it is 'dumb show' like Debbie Reynolds' character says in Singin in the Rain, but if one approaches it as being a close sister to the theatre, a lot of the dumb show starts to make more sense. It is often tableaux, particularly in The Phantom of the Opera. I like that, in small doses.

Also, did you know there's a colour section of The Phantom of the Opera? There's split-screen in The Son of The Sheik too: double Valentino! The people making these movies were innovators, not just primitive shite-hawks.

I'm getting off the point I was going to make. Long-time readers of this particular obscure corner of the blogosphere may recall the piece I wrote back in 2005 when I'd been to see the movie of Lloyd-Webber's musical version of The Phantom of the Opera. It was a profound moment for me, although the movie itself was not quite worthy of it. I still think that post was one of my better bloggeriffic moments and although a lot has changed in my world since then, I stand by it.

As I sat in the cinema watching Chaney, I thought back to the time I sat in another cinema surrounded by my family as I had this moment of clarity and why it happened, what I was feeling and so on. It was not repeated last night, but it might've been a continuance, or an adjustment.

When Chaney's monster was unmasked, I shrugged. He wasn't that horrific. Was this because I've seen pictures of the monster before, and it was not a surprise? Some of the audience laughed at his unmasking actually, but I can imagine an uninitiated audience in '25 could have been genuinely rattled by the Phantom's real face. Apparently it caused some moviegoers to faint.

I don't know, man. I sat there looking at this monster make up and just thought 'Not that bad'. Am I too cynical or just open-minded? Am I unwilling at the most basic level to hate someone just because they're 'ugly'? I hope so.

I've always felt sorry for the Phantom. I mean, he's an evil bastard in some respects – have you read the book? He does some really bad shit. He's a murderer many times over, specialising in torture. That stuff is bad, and I don't excuse it for fictional characters any more than I would real life arseholes. And yet... I don't hate him for his face. I feel terrifically sorry for him on that score. The world made the Phantom, as the world has created many a twisted personality through its intolerance of Different.

Maybe it's because I've always felt like the Phantom. I'm not actually ugly. Really I'm not, but for a long time I felt like the world saw me as the freak in the corner, the fucked up loser who deserves only to be pointed at and mocked. Whether anyone else every truly treated me like that is lost to time – I cannot be truly rational about it even now – but the material point is that I felt it to be so. Maybe that's why I won't hate the Phantom for his freakiness but I will despise his actions.

I asked, back in 2005, would I love Jim Morrison if I were beautiful? Back then, and maybe still today, it was about Jim. That was the epiphany I had in that movie theatre, as some jigsaw pieces fell into place as the film showed me a pseudo Pere-Lachaise and a freakish character obsessed with someone gorgeous who could sing. I saw me and Jim in the Phantom and Christine, although who was who was not immediately clear.

There are a lot of criticisms to be made about the recent Phantom movie, not least the fact that the Phantom wasn't actually that grotesque (which given he was played by Gerard Butler is hardly surprising). But that misses the point, I think. The actual fact of his disfigurement doesn't matter. His attitude towards it matters. The world's treatment of him matters. Come on, we still live in a world where a lot of people think it's OK to point and openly laugh at people in the street because they don't conform to 'Normal' in whatever way. On a shallow, basic level I've had it happen to me recently just for the crime of wearing wacky trousers. How people with genuine disfigurements or other disabilities (visible or otherwise) are treated makes my blood cold.

We live in a shallow world, it can't be denied: A world where the Daily Mail mocks one celebrity for being 'fat' and turns on a sixpence to then deride another for losing too much weight, or where they criticise one for too much surgery and then scold another for letting herself go. This is a world where women are told 'heads you lose, tails we win' and where few options are ever good enough or acceptable.

I'm not ugly, I don't think. I never was, not in a cosmetic sense or in a character sense. But I felt the world believed me to be, and that's what mattered. Because what the world thinks of us does matter. It matters in different ways and to different degrees to different people, but it does matter. I tell the world to fuck itself daily, but I would still like the world to accept me as telling it to fuck itself, to acknowledge my right to live that way. Isn't that ridiculous?

I started writing a post awhile back about a walk I took through London at the start of summer. I didn't get far with it because I just kept getting angrier and angrier. Basics: I walk home from work every day and every damn day I sing along to my iPod. Nobody cares/comments except occasional glares for disturbing people's loud mobile phone calls. Then, I walk home from work on a sunny day in a bright yellow summer maxi dress with my shoulders largely exposed and a nearly-sweetheart neckline. I sing along to my iPod (a heavy blues rock number called 'Seven Days' courtesy of Rory Gallagher) and receive compliments along the way. I am angry, not for receiving compliments, but for only receiving them when I am dressed in a manner considered 'pleasing'. As if the dress made my voice better.

The years since I wrote about the phantoms in my world have wrought many changes to my world and the wider one.  I've reconstructed my personality with some help, I've latched onto (yet another) dead Irishman. Gerard Butler became a proper movie star with 300 and then blotted his copybook forever with The Ugly Truth and The Bounty Hunter. I still love Jim Morrison, beautiful or not, though I wouldn't say he 'haunted' me these days. I beat that back into its box awhile ago (singing “Light My Fire” on stage seems to have been the turning point, weirdly) and he is now a more benevolent presence in my head.

I understand better how the world actually works its insidious attitudes into our unconscious minds, how privilege wears on each and every one of us, how the instruments of hate are bound up in everything we see, hear and read in popular culture. I understand better how self-hate is reinforced by advertisers working for companies whose best interests are apparently served by making us despise ourselves.

The last time I went into the flagship TopShop store on Oxford Street, I walked out in a fury. I'd gone in just looking for 'something' in a way not characteristic of me. Inside I felt how the shop was encouraging me to feel like shit so I'd buy something to feel better. A yellow tennis skirt for £35! Something sparkly for £65! The same vintage dress I bought a few years ago on eBay for £20 for £95! How all the mannequins are very tall and very thin, to 'inspire' us. How their dress sizes are cut smaller than most stores. How their staff look at one with pity and/or scorn. How no matter what, you're not good enough until you've bought stuff from them. Feeling glad I'd rarely bought anything in there before, I walked out, choosing to diminish my self-hate by leaving the store. I haven't been in since.

God, what was my point? Hell only knows. I started listening to Sam Cooke and got distracted. He does that,.

Maybe this: I still don't feel beautiful, or pretty, or pleasing. I don't know if anyone would consider me so. I still feel more like the Phantom than Christine, even as I acknowledge that I am a damn fine singer (no soprano, though!). Do I own the ways in which I'm different? Yeah. Do I won the ways in which I actually conform to normal? Sure. If the last five years have shown me anything, it's that in a few important ways, I get a pass just for being considered the 'default' (white, young, thin, educated, temporarily able, cisgender) even if within that group I'm not much of anything.

For all that I'm not beautiful, I will never be treated the way people who are not 'default' are. I will not be assumed to be a slut just by virtue of my skin colour. I am not assumed to be unhealthy and disgusting simply due to my size (even though I've been much, much more unhealthy than many people in a larger dress size). I do not (currently) have to move through a world not designed for me. My nonconformity is, largely, of my own making and that is one of the greatest privileges I possess. The fictional Phantom never had that choice, and nor do millions of real people.

So no, I didn't laugh at those bits of the movie, and not just because I tried to watch it from a 1925 perspective, but because I tried to watch it from a progressive 2011 one.

Would I love Jim Morrison if I were beautiful? Does it fucking matter?

Love all the people.
apolla: (Rock Chick)
In the last few weeks I've seen a bunch of silent movies at the cinema. There was, most happily, The Son of the Sheik at the Prince Charles Cinema at Leicester Square. That was Valentino as God intended, thirty feet high, incandescent and one of the great faces of cinema. Oh, how I love that face, which rendered the rape of the heroine by the hero almost tolerable. Almost. How his acting had improved since the original Sheik movie five years earlier, how his eyes burn through one's soul, how his smile causes one's heartbeat to thunder!

I also saw a movie starring Pola Negri called Mania; and The General, Keaton's hilarious Civil War-era comedy. I love that guy's work so much. What else? Oh, Anthony Asquith's Underground, which is set on the London Underground and stars Brian Aherne who I adored in Shooting Stars and the Dietrich talkie Song of Songs.

In fact, I can't remember the last talkie I actually saw at the cinema, but I've been to a bunch of silents. Hmm, not sure what that says about me or the state of the motion picture industry. Anyway the last one I saw was The Phantom of the Opera, the 1925 Lon Chaney picture. I wasn't much in the mood to be honest. I'd had a pain in arse week and it didn't even start until ten to nine so I was going to get home pretty late. The audience was pretty full though, unlike for Son of the Sheik.

The audience laughed a lot. Now, there are moments in the picture which are funny. The owners in particular are designed as buffoons, but this audience were at times laughing at things which in 1925 were scary. They didn't get it, I think. They were laughing not because the film was bad (it's not) or because it was intended to be funny, but because it wasn't what they were used to. Silent films are so different to talkies generally but particularly modern movies. What is not necessarily known these days is that a lot of the Silent Stars who didn't transition into talkies took it as a choice. Douglas Fairbanks Sr really felt that a lot of the art of silent cinema was lost when talkies came along. Having seen his Four Musketeers, I do see his point. There is an art to the great silents which was lost when sound arrived and which was never quite regained. Different perhaps rather than better/worse, but that was lost.

A lot of it is 'dumb show' like Debbie Reynolds' character says in Singin in the Rain, but if one approaches it as being a close sister to the theatre, a lot of the dumb show starts to make more sense. It is often tableaux, particularly in The Phantom of the Opera. I like that, in small doses.

Also, did you know there's a colour section of The Phantom of the Opera? There's split-screen in The Son of The Sheik too: double Valentino! The people making these movies were innovators, not just primitive shite-hawks.

I'm getting off the point I was going to make. Long-time readers of this particular obscure corner of the blogosphere may recall the piece I wrote back in 2005 when I'd been to see the movie of Lloyd-Webber's musical version of The Phantom of the Opera. It was a profound moment for me, although the movie itself was not quite worthy of it. I still think that post was one of my better bloggeriffic moments and although a lot has changed in my world since then, I stand by it.

As I sat in the cinema watching Chaney, I thought back to the time I sat in another cinema surrounded by my family as I had this moment of clarity and why it happened, what I was feeling and so on. It was not repeated last night, but it might've been a continuance, or an adjustment.

When Chaney's monster was unmasked, I shrugged. He wasn't that horrific. Was this because I've seen pictures of the monster before, and it was not a surprise? Some of the audience laughed at his unmasking actually, but I can imagine an uninitiated audience in '25 could have been genuinely rattled by the Phantom's real face. Apparently it caused some moviegoers to faint.

I don't know, man. I sat there looking at this monster make up and just thought 'Not that bad'. Am I too cynical or just open-minded? Am I unwilling at the most basic level to hate someone just because they're 'ugly'? I hope so.

I've always felt sorry for the Phantom. I mean, he's an evil bastard in some respects – have you read the book? He does some really bad shit. He's a murderer many times over, specialising in torture. That stuff is bad, and I don't excuse it for fictional characters any more than I would real life arseholes. And yet... I don't hate him for his face. I feel terrifically sorry for him on that score. The world made the Phantom, as the world has created many a twisted personality through its intolerance of Different.

Maybe it's because I've always felt like the Phantom. I'm not actually ugly. Really I'm not, but for a long time I felt like the world saw me as the freak in the corner, the fucked up loser who deserves only to be pointed at and mocked. Whether anyone else every truly treated me like that is lost to time – I cannot be truly rational about it even now – but the material point is that I felt it to be so. Maybe that's why I won't hate the Phantom for his freakiness but I will despise his actions.

I asked, back in 2005, would I love Jim Morrison if I were beautiful? Back then, and maybe still today, it was about Jim. That was the epiphany I had in that movie theatre, as some jigsaw pieces fell into place as the film showed me a pseudo Pere-Lachaise and a freakish character obsessed with someone gorgeous who could sing. I saw me and Jim in the Phantom and Christine, although who was who was not immediately clear.

There are a lot of criticisms to be made about the recent Phantom movie, not least the fact that the Phantom wasn't actually that grotesque (which given he was played by Gerard Butler is hardly surprising). But that misses the point, I think. The actual fact of his disfigurement doesn't matter. His attitude towards it matters. The world's treatment of him matters. Come on, we still live in a world where a lot of people think it's OK to point and openly laugh at people in the street because they don't conform to 'Normal' in whatever way. On a shallow, basic level I've had it happen to me recently just for the crime of wearing wacky trousers. How people with genuine disfigurements or other disabilities (visible or otherwise) are treated makes my blood cold.

We live in a shallow world, it can't be denied: A world where the Daily Mail mocks one celebrity for being 'fat' and turns on a sixpence to then deride another for losing too much weight, or where they criticise one for too much surgery and then scold another for letting herself go. This is a world where women are told 'heads you lose, tails we win' and where few options are ever good enough or acceptable.

I'm not ugly, I don't think. I never was, not in a cosmetic sense or in a character sense. But I felt the world believed me to be, and that's what mattered. Because what the world thinks of us does matter. It matters in different ways and to different degrees to different people, but it does matter. I tell the world to fuck itself daily, but I would still like the world to accept me as telling it to fuck itself, to acknowledge my right to live that way. Isn't that ridiculous?

I started writing a post awhile back about a walk I took through London at the start of summer. I didn't get far with it because I just kept getting angrier and angrier. Basics: I walk home from work every day and every damn day I sing along to my iPod. Nobody cares/comments except occasional glares for disturbing people's loud mobile phone calls. Then, I walk home from work on a sunny day in a bright yellow summer maxi dress with my shoulders largely exposed and a nearly-sweetheart neckline. I sing along to my iPod (a heavy blues rock number called 'Seven Days' courtesy of Rory Gallagher) and receive compliments along the way. I am angry, not for receiving compliments, but for only receiving them when I am dressed in a manner considered 'pleasing'. As if the dress made my voice better.

The years since I wrote about the phantoms in my world have wrought many changes to my world and the wider one.  I've reconstructed my personality with some help, I've latched onto (yet another) dead Irishman. Gerard Butler became a proper movie star with 300 and then blotted his copybook forever with The Ugly Truth and The Bounty Hunter. I still love Jim Morrison, beautiful or not, though I wouldn't say he 'haunted' me these days. I beat that back into its box awhile ago (singing “Light My Fire” on stage seems to have been the turning point, weirdly) and he is now a more benevolent presence in my head.

I understand better how the world actually works its insidious attitudes into our unconscious minds, how privilege wears on each and every one of us, how the instruments of hate are bound up in everything we see, hear and read in popular culture. I understand better how self-hate is reinforced by advertisers working for companies whose best interests are apparently served by making us despise ourselves.

The last time I went into the flagship TopShop store on Oxford Street, I walked out in a fury. I'd gone in just looking for 'something' in a way not characteristic of me. Inside I felt how the shop was encouraging me to feel like shit so I'd buy something to feel better. A yellow tennis skirt for £35! Something sparkly for £65! The same vintage dress I bought a few years ago on eBay for £20 for £95! How all the mannequins are very tall and very thin, to 'inspire' us. How their dress sizes are cut smaller than most stores. How their staff look at one with pity and/or scorn. How no matter what, you're not good enough until you've bought stuff from them. Feeling glad I'd rarely bought anything in there before, I walked out, choosing to diminish my self-hate by leaving the store. I haven't been in since.

God, what was my point? Hell only knows. I started listening to Sam Cooke and got distracted. He does that,.

Maybe this: I still don't feel beautiful, or pretty, or pleasing. I don't know if anyone would consider me so. I still feel more like the Phantom than Christine, even as I acknowledge that I am a damn fine singer (no soprano, though!). Do I own the ways in which I'm different? Yeah. Do I won the ways in which I actually conform to normal? Sure. If the last five years have shown me anything, it's that in a few important ways, I get a pass just for being considered the 'default' (white, young, thin, educated, temporarily able, cisgender) even if within that group I'm not much of anything.

For all that I'm not beautiful, I will never be treated the way people who are not 'default' are. I will not be assumed to be a slut just by virtue of my skin colour. I am not assumed to be unhealthy and disgusting simply due to my size (even though I've been much, much more unhealthy than many people in a larger dress size). I do not (currently) have to move through a world not designed for me. My nonconformity is, largely, of my own making and that is one of the greatest privileges I possess. The fictional Phantom never had that choice, and nor do millions of real people.

So no, I didn't laugh at those bits of the movie, and not just because I tried to watch it from a 1925 perspective, but because I tried to watch it from a progressive 2011 one.

Would I love Jim Morrison if I were beautiful? Does it fucking matter?

Love all the people.

Oscars 2010

Saturday, 6 March 2010 12:43
apolla: (Default)
For the first time in six or seven years, I will not be hosting an Oscars chat this year for one very simple reason:

I do not intend to watch the Oscars this year.

It's the first year I'll miss them entirely since 1997 and I don't care. Don't get me wrong, I'm as much in love with movies as I ever have been, but my tolerance for self-congratulatory smug bastardry is so low at the moment I can't even take it for the sake of taking the piss as I usually do. I'm not spending £25 to get the movie channels to watch it, I'm not staying up all night and taking the morning off work the next day just so I can snark and snipe.

Fuck them. Some of these people signed the hateful Polanski petition, others are epic douchewads like Cameron whose movies have done as much damage to the notion of Hollywood movies being intelligent, thoughtful and incisive as George fucking Lucas.

I find it hard to celebrate a business which gave us Paul Blart: Mall Cop, even if it also gave us The Imaginarium of Dr Parnassus and other genuinely interesting films. I'm tired of women-hating rom-coms full of rich white smug bastards who don't reflect any kind of reality I'm aware of.

There have always been shit movies. I've seen a lot of them from all eras... but never before has the ratio of good-bad been so skewed to the bad. Maybe the mid-50s, during the first 3D craze, when Hollywood was scared shitless of TV and instead of making good movies just threw gimmicks at the audience.

I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it any more!

If you're going to be online tomorrow night, I might well be around cos I'm always awake late at night, but there's no Oscar chat. You're welcome to ping me and say Hi or whatever. Sorry to the literally no people who were looking forward to it.

Oscars 2010

Saturday, 6 March 2010 12:43
apolla: (Default)
For the first time in six or seven years, I will not be hosting an Oscars chat this year for one very simple reason:

I do not intend to watch the Oscars this year.

It's the first year I'll miss them entirely since 1997 and I don't care. Don't get me wrong, I'm as much in love with movies as I ever have been, but my tolerance for self-congratulatory smug bastardry is so low at the moment I can't even take it for the sake of taking the piss as I usually do. I'm not spending £25 to get the movie channels to watch it, I'm not staying up all night and taking the morning off work the next day just so I can snark and snipe.

Fuck them. Some of these people signed the hateful Polanski petition, others are epic douchewads like Cameron whose movies have done as much damage to the notion of Hollywood movies being intelligent, thoughtful and incisive as George fucking Lucas.

I find it hard to celebrate a business which gave us Paul Blart: Mall Cop, even if it also gave us The Imaginarium of Dr Parnassus and other genuinely interesting films. I'm tired of women-hating rom-coms full of rich white smug bastards who don't reflect any kind of reality I'm aware of.

There have always been shit movies. I've seen a lot of them from all eras... but never before has the ratio of good-bad been so skewed to the bad. Maybe the mid-50s, during the first 3D craze, when Hollywood was scared shitless of TV and instead of making good movies just threw gimmicks at the audience.

I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it any more!

If you're going to be online tomorrow night, I might well be around cos I'm always awake late at night, but there's no Oscar chat. You're welcome to ping me and say Hi or whatever. Sorry to the literally no people who were looking forward to it.

Polanski

Saturday, 3 October 2009 21:48
apolla: (Default)
I am an Errol Flynn fan. Most of you know this, but it's something I feel should be laid out in the open before I say another word.

I am disgusted with the so-called good and allegedly great of Hollywood right now. The news is full of Polanski again, just as it has been in the past, and every commentator, blogger and tweeter that has nothing else to say is passing judgement on Polanski in some form.

I have nothing to say about Polanski. There is nothing to say. He drugged and raped a thirteen year old child and was found guilty of that crime. As Bill Hicks and his friend Jimmy Pineapple used to say: Case. Fucking. Closed.

I am not here to pass judgement on Famous Respected Film Director Roman Polanski, because it's already been done. I am here to pass judgement - inasmuch as it's in my power to do so - on Hollywood.

Many people have rushed to sign up to the Free Polanski crusade. (The link is in French but has been translated by various news sites). The jokes about Woody Allen signing it so write themselves... but there are people on this list that I respected this time last week.

David Lynch. Neil Jordan. Jeremy Irons (who fucking played Humbert Humbert in the Lolita remake for fuck's sake!) Gilliam. Scorsese. Women like Tilda Swinton, Natalie Portman and Kristin Scott Thomas.

Fuck me. Hollywood has always been a pretty insular community most interesting in protecting its own but this is a new and fascinating low for them. They've been covering up scandals exactly like this for as long as Hollywood has existed... but I don't think they've ever stood up so publicly for 'one of their own' after it all came out before.

This from the same 'community' that still scorns Elia Kazan for naming (already known) names during the dark days of HUAC.

Hollywood does not like outsiders attacking any of their number. Jon Stewart's Baldwin Brothers and Chris Rock's Jude Law jokes made most of us laugh when they hosted the Academy Awards, but they didn't go down well in the Kodak itself. Sean 'Po-Faced Douche' Penn even tried to correct Rock on the Jude Law score during the show!

Please allow me the opportunity to repeat again: Roman Polanski drugged and raped a child. He pleaded guilty. He then ran away. Is that clear? Excellent.

By the way, one name on the list really leapt out at me: Harrison Ford.

Yes kids, INDIANA JONES IS STICKING UP FOR A LAW-DODGING CHILD RAPIST. Let us be clear and unambiguous. The petition has not been exposed as a fake and there is no reason currently to believe it is. It's not on Wikipedia, after all... To be understood: HAN SOLO believes that Roman Polanski's liberty is more important than the concept of justice. This from an actor who has made a living playing morally upright characters who strive for justice in various ways.

That's going to make watching Air Force One a different experience, isn't it? It'll still suck, of course.

None of this would matter except that Hollywood (the idea, the concept, rather than the geographical location) continually touts itself as right-on, forward-thinking, the people with the right answers. The guardians of artistic standards (yes I know, try not to laugh) and so sure of themselves as right that the conservative right hates them for their left-leaning liberal smugness.

Well, I feel as if that's been thoroughly shot in the foot this week. Not so much shot in the foot as shot in the foot, turned gangrenous and then amputated above the knee with a hacksaw.

I've never really thought that Hollywood had the answers or was always right, but I still laboured under the belief, as a dedicated movie fan, that most of the people there were trying to make good movies that had a point, that they were trying to change the world through art, for the better.

Well... there's a lot of names not on the list (and given the circumstances, Big Jack Nicholson and Anjelica Huston are notable absentees perhaps)... but a lot of the people on the list or who have otherwise spoken in Polanki's defence are important in Hollywood. Directors. Producers. Weinsteins.

As I said at the top, I'm an Errol Flynn fan. EF's statutory rape trial knocked the Second World War off front pages at the time. The difference between Errol and Polanski is three-fold: Flynn wasn't accused of having to drug anyone; the females in question were 17; he was acquitted.

I don't say this to excuse Flynn. I know his tastes ran to girls considered underage at the time and in at least one case, a girl who would be considered underage now. My point isn't even that I have always taken to understand that his cases were about statutory rape and not necessarily about him forcing anyone to do anything. The argument was then as it likely is now, that a good many 17 year old girls in 1942 would've quite happily let Flynn in. That's not even my point and I'm starting to make excuses for the old cunt and he doesn't deserve it.

No, my point is this: Errol Flynn was a terrible human being. A total bastard. I watch his films anyway. It doesn't follow that I condone his actions: I don't. That said, it is possible to separate the 'art' from the human in many cases. What I love, what I always have loved, is Errol Flynn the idea, the guy up on the screen who never really existed. That's fine, as long as I understand that what I care about, what I always enjoyed, was a myth wrapped up in a legend hidden in fiction.

You don't have to defend the human to accept that his or her 'art' or whatever skill, is important to you, or that you find it interesting or enjoyable. It is possible to say 'Roman Polanski made some great films that I really enjoy, but as a human he is despicable and deserves the full weight of the law on his head.'

That said, I'm talking about the fiction. In real life, over 100 people have surrendered the high ground for a cause I simply don't understand. It will be difficult to accept much Harrison Ford ever has to say ever again. I will now watch Scorsese movies with a new eye because they didn't have to stick up for Polanski. By defending the indefensible, they have endangered their art in the eyes of sane people, because there will likely be a lot of second-guessing from here on. Because it's one thing to be despicable... and yet another to defend the despicable. (I make no comparisons in terms of which is more reprehensible, just observe that they're different).

I judge you, Hollywood, and on this score I find you deeply wanting. Deeply. I have stuck up for you pompous bastards for a long time because I cared about the movies. If I can move past the shit Errol's done through the years and still enjoy his films then I must be pretty open-minded and able to put real life aside...

But you're talking in real life right now and you're being douchebags. You're just plain wrong. There isn't a single movie in the entire history of the world that justifies anyone evading justice. If Bogart had been found guilty of a such a crime, I would say he deserved the penalty as laid down, regardless of the fact he's in Casablanca, The Maltese Falcon and The African Queen. I'd still watch Casablanca but he would need to serve his punishment. It's called justice and a lot of the time it's complex and full of grey areas.

This is not complex and it's not full of grey areas. Polanski was found guilty of a heinous crime and ran away. I judge you, Hollywood Elite, for defending him and calling for him to continue to evade justice just because he made a few films that someone decided were important and he had a pretty shit life.

TL;DR: So, Hollywood Fails on a truly Epic level and I am not surprised.

Polanski

Saturday, 3 October 2009 21:48
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I am an Errol Flynn fan. Most of you know this, but it's something I feel should be laid out in the open before I say another word.

I am disgusted with the so-called good and allegedly great of Hollywood right now. The news is full of Polanski again, just as it has been in the past, and every commentator, blogger and tweeter that has nothing else to say is passing judgement on Polanski in some form.

I have nothing to say about Polanski. There is nothing to say. He drugged and raped a thirteen year old child and was found guilty of that crime. As Bill Hicks and his friend Jimmy Pineapple used to say: Case. Fucking. Closed.

I am not here to pass judgement on Famous Respected Film Director Roman Polanski, because it's already been done. I am here to pass judgement - inasmuch as it's in my power to do so - on Hollywood.

Many people have rushed to sign up to the Free Polanski crusade. (The link is in French but has been translated by various news sites). The jokes about Woody Allen signing it so write themselves... but there are people on this list that I respected this time last week.

David Lynch. Neil Jordan. Jeremy Irons (who fucking played Humbert Humbert in the Lolita remake for fuck's sake!) Gilliam. Scorsese. Women like Tilda Swinton, Natalie Portman and Kristin Scott Thomas.

Fuck me. Hollywood has always been a pretty insular community most interesting in protecting its own but this is a new and fascinating low for them. They've been covering up scandals exactly like this for as long as Hollywood has existed... but I don't think they've ever stood up so publicly for 'one of their own' after it all came out before.

This from the same 'community' that still scorns Elia Kazan for naming (already known) names during the dark days of HUAC.

Hollywood does not like outsiders attacking any of their number. Jon Stewart's Baldwin Brothers and Jude Law jokes made most of us laugh when he hosted the Academy Awards, but they didn't go down well in the Kodak itself. Sean 'Po-Faced Douche' Penn even tried to correct Jon on the Jude Law score during the show!

Please allow me the opportunity to repeat again: Roman Polanski drugged and raped a child. He pleaded guilty. He then ran away. Is that clear? Excellent.

By the way, one name on the list really leapt out at me: Harrison Ford.

Yes kids, INDIANA JONES IS STICKING UP FOR A LAW-DODGING CHILD RAPIST. Let us be clear and unambiguous. The petition has not been exposed as a fake and there is no reason currently to believe it is. It's not on Wikipedia, after all... To be understood: HAN SOLO believes that Roman Polanski's liberty is more important than the concept of justice. This from an actor who has made a living playing morally upright characters who strive for justice in various ways.

That's going to make watching Air Force One a different experience, isn't it? It'll still suck, of course.

None of this would matter except that Hollywood (the idea, the concept, rather than the geographical location) continually touts itself as right-on, forward-thinking, the people with the right answers. The guardians of artistic standards (yes I know, try not to laugh) and so sure of themselves as right that the conservative right hates them for their left-leaning liberal smugness.

Well, I feel as if that's been thoroughly shot in the foot this week. Not so much shot in the foot as shot in the foot, turned gangrenous and then amputated above the knee with a hacksaw.

I've never really thought that Hollywood had the answers or was always right, but I still laboured under the belief, as a dedicated movie fan, that most of the people there were trying to make good movies that had a point, that they were trying to change the world through art, for the better.

Well... there's a lot of names not on the list (and given the circumstances, Big Jack Nicholson and Anjelica Huston are notable absentees perhaps)... but a lot of the people on the list or who have otherwise spoken in Polanki's defence are important in Hollywood. Directors. Producers. Weinsteins.

As I said at the top, I'm an Errol Flynn fan. EF's statutory rape trial knocked the Second World War off front pages at the time. The difference between Errol and Polanski is three-fold: Flynn wasn't accused of having to drug anyone; the females in question were 17; he was acquitted.

I don't say this to excuse Flynn. I know his tastes ran to girls considered underage at the time and in at least one case, a girl who would be considered underage now. My point isn't even that I have always taken to understand that his cases were about statutory rape and not necessarily about him forcing anyone to do anything. The argument was then as it likely is now, that a good many 17 year old girls in 1942 would've quite happily let Flynn in. That's not even my point and I'm starting to make excuses for the old cunt and he doesn't deserve it.

No, my point is this: Errol Flynn was a terrible human being. A total bastard. I watch his films anyway. It doesn't follow that I condone his actions: I don't. That said, it is possible to separate the 'art' from the human in many cases. What I love, what I always have loved, is Errol Flynn the idea, the guy up on the screen who never really existed. That's fine, as long as I understand that what I care about, what I always enjoyed, was a myth wrapped up in a legend hidden in fiction.

You don't have to defend the human to accept that his or her 'art' or whatever skill, is important to you, or that you find it interesting or enjoyable. It is possible to say 'Roman Polanski made some great films that I really enjoy, but as a human he is despicable and deserves the full weight of the law on his head.'

That said, I'm talking about the fiction. In real life, over 100 people have surrendered the high ground for a cause I simply don't understand. It will be difficult to accept much Harrison Ford ever has to say ever again. I will now watch Scorsese movies with a new eye because they didn't have to stick up for Polanski. By defending the indefensible, they have endangered their art in the eyes of sane people, because there will likely be a lot of second-guessing from here on. Because it's one thing to be despicable... and yet another to defend the despicable. (I make no comparisons in terms of which is more reprehensible, just observe that they're different).

I judge you, Hollywood, and on this score I find you deeply wanting. Deeply. I have stuck up for you pompous bastards for a long time because I cared about the movies. If I can move past the shit Errol's done through the years and still enjoy his films then I must be pretty open-minded and able to put real life aside...

But you're talking in real life right now and you're being douchebags. You're just plain wrong. There isn't a single movie in the entire history of the world that justifies anyone evading justice. If Bogart had been found guilty of a such a crime, I would say he deserved the penalty as laid down, regardless of the fact he's in Casablanca, The Maltese Falcon and The African Queen. I'd still watch Casablanca but he would need to serve his punishment. It's called justice and a lot of the time it's complex and full of grey areas.

This is not complex and it's not full of grey areas. Polanski was found guilty of a heinous crime and ran away. I judge you, Hollywood Elite, for defending him and calling for him to continue to evade justice just because he made a few films that someone decided were important and he had a pretty shit life.

TL;DR: So, Hollywood Fails on a truly Epic level and I am not surprised.

apolla: (Default)
Second movie is The Bible... In The Beginning, (number 111 picked by[profile] black_olives_11 )

*

The Bible... In The Beginning
, 1966. Directed by John Huston. 20th Century Fox. Starring: A ton of people.

There are two reasons that I own The Bible and neither of them are Christianity. They are two simple reasons which should not require explanation: PETER O'TOOLE and Ava Gardner.

The film covers the first 22 books of Genesis, and I could go and get my dad's school Bible (authorised! for Catholics!) so I can make sure they're doing it right but... I'm not going to.

The Creation is covered by a ten minute series of scenes as John Huston himself narrates. Lots of stars, gushing water, running animals and - finally - a blond, blue eyed man called Adam.

Now, it may be that I've listened to Old Harry's Game too much but... I simply don't buy the idea of Adam and Eve necessarily being blond and blue eyed and speaking in (possibly overdubbed) English accents.

Huston's narration continues, and to be honest I don't mind; lovely speaking voice the man had. Lots of Sweeping Strings and Vocal Choir music.

Of course, Adam and Eve are naked but this is 1966 and Hollywood so you don't see anything. Probably just as well. I mean, the blue penis in Watchmen caused enough of a stir this year.

So far, so ponderous. I can't think of any funny religious films until Life of Brian right now. I wonder what makes people so unwilling to take the piss out of religion? Oh, that's right, absolute fear. Not necessarily fear of God but of the likes of the Legion of Decency.

Check out the list of films condemned by the Legion. It's a bit like Nixon's Enemies List, where it's almost a list of recommendation for everyone else. Paul Newman said being on Nixon's Enemies List was one of his greatest achievements.

So I'm 22 minutes into a 174 minute film and Adam and Eve are only now talking about the Tree You're Not Supposed To Eat From. Eve, of course, as history tells it, the one who kicks it off and to be honest, when a tree is called The Tree of Knowledge I think I'd be willing to have a go, because knowledge is the one truly indispensible thing in humanity's existence.

Lots of shots of how pretty Eden is, but as a person who's been to the Lakes of Killarney I am quite unimpressed. It's basically a meadow with a stream and some animals, including Shadowfax.

And here we are, at the creation of period pain, childbirth agony, misogyny, hard work, death and all bad things (including by extension, the Jonas Brothers). There are also GIANT fig leaves. Or maybe in this case they're not actually fig leaves. I don't know, I'm not a nature person.

Adam and Eve are cast out as I think most of us expected. A baby is born in short order and named Cain. I think we can see where this is going...

Watching a film about the Bible is a bit like watching a film about the Titanic: you know how it's going to end, right?

RICHARD HARRIS! Yes kids, that mean old Mr Cain was actually an Irishman. He looks young, sinewy and beardy, but God doesn't like it and spurns - yes! spurns! - Cain's offerings. I think I'm not supposed to like Cain, but the idiots cast Richard Harris. And now he's beating his brother to death for no particularly good reason.

I have a question that's bugged me all my life: If Adam and Eve are the first, and they have two sons... with whom exactly do either of them have children? It seems to me that Abel died before having children, so are we all descended from Richard Harris? I'm confused. Should I have listened more at church?

God can be such a bastard, can't he? Still, his voice is also done by John Huston (a busy chap on this film) so again, I am soothed by it.  So Cain has a wife and a son, but WHERE DID SHE COME FROM? Wasn't there a third son, Seth? Have I misremebered that?

Another narrated montage of humanity's development. 37 minutes in and there are finally more people... but they're all evil (surprise surprise), murdering and whoring and whatever, so God gets pissed off. Ah, Seth turned up just now. So... Cain's descendants are all evil but create music and all kinds of innovations, while Seth's descendants include Noah (John Huston again).

And now all I can think of is Evan Almighty, even though that wasn't a particularly good film... and Old Harry's Game again in which Satan breaks the news that Noah's family weren't the only ones to survive because "he wasn't the only one with a boat" which seems like a good point to me. And now I'm thikning about QI and the bit where Stephen Fry points out that there were differing numbers of animals depending on whether they were considered clean or unclean.

People in Biblical times seem obsessed with the notion of clean/unclean, don't they? Maybe, in the days before refridgeration or whatever, they had to be.

All the non-Noah people MUST be evil because they have painted faces and messy hair, and animal skulls about their persons.

Animal time! Yes, they come in two, and I am again reminded of Old Harry's Game and how the lions ate most of the others before he thought to lock them up.

HOW exactly did Noah get polar bears? Did he ring Harrods?

SPOILER ALERT! It's raining.

Ages later.... water gone, God decides to be nicer to humans. A rainbow!

And now.... intermission. Yes, it's old enough to require an intermission. Go get your ice creams now...

/intermission

The Tower of Babel now, with Stephen 'swords and sandals a speciality' Boyd as Nimrod, who decided to build the Tower that would reach to Heaven... because up to now God hasn't shown himself at all to mind humans getting too big for their boots. I can't see that this will end well. And all the people speak one language (esperanto?) so all can communicate. I can't imagine what punishment God might mete out.

BIG CLOUDS OF DOOM! SCAFFOLDING COLLAPSING! WOE!

Nimrod's scheme is done in and yet he still wants to continue. The Many Extras are not so stupid and choose, wisely, to run away, far far away. But what's this? They can no longer understand each other! Fighting hath broken out as the Lord did confound their language and scattered them abroad. And that kids, is how Flemish came to be.

More desert scenes. Quite bored of sand, to be honest.

Now, 'tis time for Abraham. This means, unfortunately, it is time for George C Scott, an unpleasant man who thought beating up Ava Gardner was suitable behaviour for a human being... So far he's just doing a lot of Meaningful Staring.

And there is my girl, Miss Gardner, with her beautiful voice to match her face, as they trade eupemisms about sex. I was under the impression that even in the Bible it was OK to shag if you're married (to each other, natch) so I don't see the point of all the going-around-the-houses but... this is Hollywood in the 60s.

So Abram as he currently is, is doing well with his people and his sheep... but Ava is barren so... you can see where this is going, because no man can possibly be successful without bearing sons. A man cannot be a man without bearing men... snore. So he whinges about it and God more or less says, "Sacrifice some animals, then go shag Hagar, her maid. They won't mind."

I think it's handy that sacrificing animals is largely out of fashion these days. It looks messy. There's some foreshadowing of the treatment Jews will get through the generations, but he still wants his son.

Actually, it's Sarai/Sarah who sends Hagar to him... Interesting Wiki Fact: Abram and Sarai are half-siblings. That's not weird at all. I feel awfully sorry for her, telling him that he should shag Hagar so he can have children because she can't. That poor woman. Ava seems to be wearing a mohair shawl.... Hagar is a bit of bitch to her, talking about ripened fruits and so Sarai quite reasonably gets upset.

I am incredibly biased in favour of Miss G, but Ava puts in a very restrained, thoughtful performance. Her age is showing on her face, but it's still that face and she is still more beautiful than most people will ever be.

Whenever I think of this story, it reminds me of Isaac and Ishmael, the post-9/11 episode of The West Wing. It's a very thoughtful episode of the show.

Time for Lot's Wife, Sodom, Gomorrah and all that caper, from the looks of it. I think The Brick Testament tells this particular story best. James Bond's father in law is playing Lot, which I find amusing for no good reason.

OK..... I just got totally distracted by the Brick Testament and forgot to watch, until I heard the unmistakable voice of...

PETER O'TOOLE! He's here at last! It's only taken two hours.

He plays angel(s), which is surely playing against type given what he was up to in 1966. Anyway, your man is warning Abraham about what he's about to do to Sodom. Instead of asking 'what are you playing at, massacring people?' Abraham offers PETER O'TOOLE a seat and refreshments.

Well, it's what I'd do if PETER O'TOOLE turned up at my house. There are THREE of him, too. One beardy, one not, the third I know not. He's quite an astounding actor, and even as a young man could bring gravitas even to ridiculous, pompous religious speeches.

PETER O'TOOLE tells Abraham and Sarah that they will have a son. She doesn't believe him or is overcome and laughs. PETER O'TOOLE takes offence.

Now, it seems to me that PETER is actually really playing God, y/n, rather than the Three Angels he's credited as. Anyway, Abraham does ask him to spare the people of Sodom and Gomorrah. PETER says "If there are fifty righteous men I'll not destroy it, etc etc." Then he DISAPPEARS! God/Angels/PETER takes pity and says he will not destroy the city if 10 righteous men can be found.

Unfortunately, Sodom and Gomorrah are pretty well full of sinners, sexual deviants, drinkers, and what have you. Like Grimsby on a Saturday night, I reckon... so the chances of finding even 10 righteous people is probably a bit like finding 10 righteous people in a Grimsby nightclub. PETER O'TOOLE's gonna have his work cut out.

If you're wondering why I capitalise his name, it refers to an Oscar night online chat, when he was ROBBED (yet again) of the Best Actor award. Forrest Whittaker got it for playing Idi Amin. An excellent performance, I grant you, but PETER in Venus was so truly outstanding as he was the seven times he was nominated before that and still didn't win. So anyway, it was probably a convoluted conversation but I declared in all my outrage, that henceforth he would be PETER O'TOOLE and he is.

I digress. The people of Sodom are trying to break into Lot's house to get at PETER (an understandable notion, perhaps) and I think we can see where this is going... the Sodomites are SO WICKED AND EVIL that they broke in so that they 'may know' these strangers. Which I assume is Biblical speak for getting Biblical with them. Lot offers his daughters instead of the strangers, which seems as bad as that which the Sodomites want to do with PETER O'TOOLE

ooooooh! MEGA CLOSE UP of those blue O'TOOLE eyes! The purchase of this DVD has been rendered worth it. He declares he's gonna smite these evil bastards and tells Lot to take his wife and daughters out before the brimstone begins. "Look not behind thee," says PETER. Can you guess what Lot's wife is going to do? Because those women they just can't do as they're told, can they? God doesn't want them to see his terrible punishment, I get it. Lot's Wife now = sodium chloride. Sodom is just a mushroom cloud, so we can apparently deduce that God had nukulur weapons before the Americans.

But it's all OK really becaue Sarah's had her baby and Abraham can rest easy, having two sons. Never mind that those two sons will lead to religious warfare for centuries... These people just aren't forward-looking, are they? Sarah's now the oldest mum until IVF comes along...

Oh dear. Sarah wants Abraham to get rid of Hagar and Ishmael. Methinks she is jealous now she has what she wants. Still, in all His Infinite Wisdom, God tells Abraham to do it. So that's going to end well...

PETER O'TOOLE is back when Hagar and kid in the desert are near death and suddenly! There is water!

Abraham's aging make up is starting to make him look like a character from Labyrinth.

And now, for the bit covered by Dylan, so presumably this is all going to be resolved on Highway 61. Isaac is clearly too clever and cute for his own good, so God tells Abraham to sacrifice the little imp. Abraham (quite rightly) objects to murdering his son (isn't murder one of the commandments? I suppose we haven't got to that bit yet), but decides that God is right and so leads the poor kid up the road to become an episode of Taggart. There's been a murrr-durrr...

Abraham and Isaac wander through a load of rubble that was once a city God destroyed. Isaac asks if God killed the children of the city and if they were wicked too. and there's A SNAKE! Abraham goes on a bit of a rant, I'm not really listening to be honest cos I'm back reading Revelations at the Brick Testament. The kid goes to his dad to make him feel better, like any good son would do. So Abraham decides that this means he should kill the boy... so they go up a mountain, he lights a fire and waves a branch around, as you do. Isaac is a clever kid and works out that his dad's getting ready for a sacrifice, but there is no ram! Clever kid, like I said.

He's scared but gives his dad a hug just the same and lets Abraham sacrifice him. Then, just as he's about to stab the kid, God finally intervenes and reveals it was just a test of Abraham's devotion.

Also, Isaac is not his only son. Wasn't there a whole big thing earlier? Have they not read the script? Has this been shot out of sequence?

Anyway, the kid lives, although is a bit smoky around the edges and - MIRACLE OF MIRACLES - there is a ram for the sacrifice! Hurrah!

God's a funny guy, isn't he? Bit insecure, bit needy, as they say in Old Harry's Game. But he's pleased now so he says that Abraham's seed will spread across the world, etc etc.

I'd like to end on a 'and they lived happily ever after' but we know better, don't we?

*

Next Film on the List: The Italian Job.

If you'd like to pick a number up to 538, please leave a comment. Numbers 352, 111, 4, 456 have been selected so far.
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Second movie is The Bible... In The Beginning, (number 111 picked by[profile] black_olives_11 )

*

The Bible... In The Beginning
, 1966. Directed by John Huston. 20th Century Fox. Starring: A ton of people.

There are two reasons that I own The Bible and neither of them are Christianity. They are two simple reasons which should not require explanation: PETER O'TOOLE and Ava Gardner.

The film covers the first 22 books of Genesis, and I could go and get my dad's school Bible (authorised! for Catholics!) so I can make sure they're doing it right but... I'm not going to.

The Creation is covered by a ten minute series of scenes as John Huston himself narrates. Lots of stars, gushing water, running animals and - finally - a blond, blue eyed man called Adam.

Now, it may be that I've listened to Old Harry's Game too much but... I simply don't buy the idea of Adam and Eve necessarily being blond and blue eyed and speaking in (possibly overdubbed) English accents.

Huston's narration continues, and to be honest I don't mind; lovely speaking voice the man had. Lots of Sweeping Strings and Vocal Choir music.

Of course, Adam and Eve are naked but this is 1966 and Hollywood so you don't see anything. Probably just as well. I mean, the blue penis in Watchmen caused enough of a stir this year.

So far, so ponderous. I can't think of any funny religious films until Life of Brian right now. I wonder what makes people so unwilling to take the piss out of religion? Oh, that's right, absolute fear. Not necessarily fear of God but of the likes of the Legion of Decency.

Check out the list of films condemned by the Legion. It's a bit like Nixon's Enemies List, where it's almost a list of recommendation for everyone else. Paul Newman said being on Nixon's Enemies List was one of his greatest achievements.

So I'm 22 minutes into a 174 minute film and Adam and Eve are only now talking about the Tree You're Not Supposed To Eat From. Eve, of course, as history tells it, the one who kicks it off and to be honest, when a tree is called The Tree of Knowledge I think I'd be willing to have a go, because knowledge is the one truly indispensible thing in humanity's existence.

Lots of shots of how pretty Eden is, but as a person who's been to the Lakes of Killarney I am quite unimpressed. It's basically a meadow with a stream and some animals, including Shadowfax.

And here we are, at the creation of period pain, childbirth agony, misogyny, hard work, death and all bad things (including by extension, the Jonas Brothers). There are also GIANT fig leaves. Or maybe in this case they're not actually fig leaves. I don't know, I'm not a nature person.

Adam and Eve are cast out as I think most of us expected. A baby is born in short order and named Cain. I think we can see where this is going...

Watching a film about the Bible is a bit like watching a film about the Titanic: you know how it's going to end, right?

RICHARD HARRIS! Yes kids, that mean old Mr Cain was actually an Irishman. He looks young, sinewy and beardy, but God doesn't like it and spurns - yes! spurns! - Cain's offerings. I think I'm not supposed to like Cain, but the idiots cast Richard Harris. And now he's beating his brother to death for no particularly good reason.

I have a question that's bugged me all my life: If Adam and Eve are the first, and they have two sons... with whom exactly do either of them have children? It seems to me that Abel died before having children, so are we all descended from Richard Harris? I'm confused. Should I have listened more at church?

God can be such a bastard, can't he? Still, his voice is also done by John Huston (a busy chap on this film) so again, I am soothed by it.  So Cain has a wife and a son, but WHERE DID SHE COME FROM? Wasn't there a third son, Seth? Have I misremebered that?

Another narrated montage of humanity's development. 37 minutes in and there are finally more people... but they're all evil (surprise surprise), murdering and whoring and whatever, so God gets pissed off. Ah, Seth turned up just now. So... Cain's descendants are all evil but create music and all kinds of innovations, while Seth's descendants include Noah (John Huston again).

And now all I can think of is Evan Almighty, even though that wasn't a particularly good film... and Old Harry's Game again in which Satan breaks the news that Noah's family weren't the only ones to survive because "he wasn't the only one with a boat" which seems like a good point to me. And now I'm thikning about QI and the bit where Stephen Fry points out that there were differing numbers of animals depending on whether they were considered clean or unclean.

People in Biblical times seem obsessed with the notion of clean/unclean, don't they? Maybe, in the days before refridgeration or whatever, they had to be.

All the non-Noah people MUST be evil because they have painted faces and messy hair, and animal skulls about their persons.

Animal time! Yes, they come in two, and I am again reminded of Old Harry's Game and how the lions ate most of the others before he thought to lock them up.

HOW exactly did Noah get polar bears? Did he ring Harrods?

SPOILER ALERT! It's raining.

Ages later.... water gone, God decides to be nicer to humans. A rainbow!

And now.... intermission. Yes, it's old enough to require an intermission. Go get your ice creams now...

/intermission

The Tower of Babel now, with Stephen 'swords and sandals a speciality' Boyd as Nimrod, who decided to build the Tower that would reach to Heaven... because up to now God hasn't shown himself at all to mind humans getting too big for their boots. I can't see that this will end well. And all the people speak one language (esperanto?) so all can communicate. I can't imagine what punishment God might mete out.

BIG CLOUDS OF DOOM! SCAFFOLDING COLLAPSING! WOE!

Nimrod's scheme is done in and yet he still wants to continue. The Many Extras are not so stupid and choose, wisely, to run away, far far away. But what's this? They can no longer understand each other! Fighting hath broken out as the Lord did confound their language and scattered them abroad. And that kids, is how Flemish came to be.

More desert scenes. Quite bored of sand, to be honest.

Now, 'tis time for Abraham. This means, unfortunately, it is time for George C Scott, an unpleasant man who thought beating up Ava Gardner was suitable behaviour for a human being... So far he's just doing a lot of Meaningful Staring.

And there is my girl, Miss Gardner, with her beautiful voice to match her face, as they trade eupemisms about sex. I was under the impression that even in the Bible it was OK to shag if you're married (to each other, natch) so I don't see the point of all the going-around-the-houses but... this is Hollywood in the 60s.

So Abram as he currently is, is doing well with his people and his sheep... but Ava is barren so... you can see where this is going, because no man can possibly be successful without bearing sons. A man cannot be a man without bearing men... snore. So he whinges about it and God more or less says, "Sacrifice some animals, then go shag Hagar, her maid. They won't mind."

I think it's handy that sacrificing animals is largely out of fashion these days. It looks messy. There's some foreshadowing of the treatment Jews will get through the generations, but he still wants his son.

Actually, it's Sarai/Sarah who sends Hagar to him... Interesting Wiki Fact: Abram and Sarai are half-siblings. That's not weird at all. I feel awfully sorry for her, telling him that he should shag Hagar so he can have children because she can't. That poor woman. Ava seems to be wearing a mohair shawl.... Hagar is a bit of bitch to her, talking about ripened fruits and so Sarai quite reasonably gets upset.

I am incredibly biased in favour of Miss G, but Ava puts in a very restrained, thoughtful performance. Her age is showing on her face, but it's still that face and she is still more beautiful than most people will ever be.

Whenever I think of this story, it reminds me of Isaac and Ishmael, the post-9/11 episode of The West Wing. It's a very thoughtful episode of the show.

Time for Lot's Wife, Sodom, Gomorrah and all that caper, from the looks of it. I think The Brick Testament tells this particular story best. James Bond's father in law is playing Lot, which I find amusing for no good reason.

OK..... I just got totally distracted by the Brick Testament and forgot to watch, until I heard the unmistakable voice of...

PETER O'TOOLE! He's here at last! It's only taken two hours.

He plays angel(s), which is surely playing against type given what he was up to in 1966. Anyway, your man is warning Abraham about what he's about to do to Sodom. Instead of asking 'what are you playing at, massacring people?' Abraham offers PETER O'TOOLE a seat and refreshments.

Well, it's what I'd do if PETER O'TOOLE turned up at my house. There are THREE of him, too. One beardy, one not, the third I know not. He's quite an astounding actor, and even as a young man could bring gravitas even to ridiculous, pompous religious speeches.

PETER O'TOOLE tells Abraham and Sarah that they will have a son. She doesn't believe him or is overcome and laughs. PETER O'TOOLE takes offence.

Now, it seems to me that PETER is actually really playing God, y/n, rather than the Three Angels he's credited as. Anyway, Abraham does ask him to spare the people of Sodom and Gomorrah. PETER says "If there are fifty righteous men I'll not destroy it, etc etc." Then he DISAPPEARS! God/Angels/PETER takes pity and says he will not destroy the city if 10 righteous men can be found.

Unfortunately, Sodom and Gomorrah are pretty well full of sinners, sexual deviants, drinkers, and what have you. Like Grimsby on a Saturday night, I reckon... so the chances of finding even 10 righteous people is probably a bit like finding 10 righteous people in a Grimsby nightclub. PETER O'TOOLE's gonna have his work cut out.

If you're wondering why I capitalise his name, it refers to an Oscar night online chat, when he was ROBBED (yet again) of the Best Actor award. Forrest Whittaker got it for playing Idi Amin. An excellent performance, I grant you, but PETER in Venus was so truly outstanding as he was the seven times he was nominated before that and still didn't win. So anyway, it was probably a convoluted conversation but I declared in all my outrage, that henceforth he would be PETER O'TOOLE and he is.

I digress. The people of Sodom are trying to break into Lot's house to get at PETER (an understandable notion, perhaps) and I think we can see where this is going... the Sodomites are SO WICKED AND EVIL that they broke in so that they 'may know' these strangers. Which I assume is Biblical speak for getting Biblical with them. Lot offers his daughters instead of the strangers, which seems as bad as that which the Sodomites want to do with PETER O'TOOLE

ooooooh! MEGA CLOSE UP of those blue O'TOOLE eyes! The purchase of this DVD has been rendered worth it. He declares he's gonna smite these evil bastards and tells Lot to take his wife and daughters out before the brimstone begins. "Look not behind thee," says PETER. Can you guess what Lot's wife is going to do? Because those women they just can't do as they're told, can they? God doesn't want them to see his terrible punishment, I get it. Lot's Wife now = sodium chloride. Sodom is just a mushroom cloud, so we can apparently deduce that God had nukulur weapons before the Americans.

But it's all OK really becaue Sarah's had her baby and Abraham can rest easy, having two sons. Never mind that those two sons will lead to religious warfare for centuries... These people just aren't forward-looking, are they? Sarah's now the oldest mum until IVF comes along...

Oh dear. Sarah wants Abraham to get rid of Hagar and Ishmael. Methinks she is jealous now she has what she wants. Still, in all His Infinite Wisdom, God tells Abraham to do it. So that's going to end well...

PETER O'TOOLE is back when Hagar and kid in the desert are near death and suddenly! There is water!

Abraham's aging make up is starting to make him look like a character from Labyrinth.

And now, for the bit covered by Dylan, so presumably this is all going to be resolved on Highway 61. Isaac is clearly too clever and cute for his own good, so God tells Abraham to sacrifice the little imp. Abraham (quite rightly) objects to murdering his son (isn't murder one of the commandments? I suppose we haven't got to that bit yet), but decides that God is right and so leads the poor kid up the road to become an episode of Taggart. There's been a murrr-durrr...

Abraham and Isaac wander through a load of rubble that was once a city God destroyed. Isaac asks if God killed the children of the city and if they were wicked too. and there's A SNAKE! Abraham goes on a bit of a rant, I'm not really listening to be honest cos I'm back reading Revelations at the Brick Testament. The kid goes to his dad to make him feel better, like any good son would do. So Abraham decides that this means he should kill the boy... so they go up a mountain, he lights a fire and waves a branch around, as you do. Isaac is a clever kid and works out that his dad's getting ready for a sacrifice, but there is no ram! Clever kid, like I said.

He's scared but gives his dad a hug just the same and lets Abraham sacrifice him. Then, just as he's about to stab the kid, God finally intervenes and reveals it was just a test of Abraham's devotion.

Also, Isaac is not his only son. Wasn't there a whole big thing earlier? Have they not read the script? Has this been shot out of sequence?

Anyway, the kid lives, although is a bit smoky around the edges and - MIRACLE OF MIRACLES - there is a ram for the sacrifice! Hurrah!

God's a funny guy, isn't he? Bit insecure, bit needy, as they say in Old Harry's Game. But he's pleased now so he says that Abraham's seed will spread across the world, etc etc.

I'd like to end on a 'and they lived happily ever after' but we know better, don't we?

*

Next Film on the List: The Italian Job.

If you'd like to pick a number up to 538, please leave a comment. Numbers 352, 111, 4, 456 have been selected so far.
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I've seen a lot of bad films. I made a habit of watching them at one time to improve my tolerance level, then in California I found myself incredibly bored because classes were wicked easy and I couldn't drive so I watched even more bad films.

Xanadu. Josie & the Pussycats (we only watched this to find out what Dean Martin's grandson looked like. Not interesting enough to render the film tolerable). Twilight (ooh, controversial of me!). The Fast and the Furious (actually, anything involving Paul Walker that I've suffered through makes it onto this list). 40 Days and 40 Nights (which 'features' a woman raping a man and where Maggie Gyllenhaal is the second fiddle to Shannyn Sossamon). Fucking Glitter. Yes, I'm one of the 16 people worldwide who sat through that. You don't know how bored a person has to be to make it. It became an emotional and mental test of stamina at one point, like Ahab versus Moby Dick, man.

I reached a point where I couldn't bring myself to waste so much time on things that were solely bad. I never saw Gigli or The Hottie and the Nottie. and I hope never to be bored enough to consider them.

There are two kinds of bad films: the bad ones that have something redeemingly likeable about them (I'd put Xanadu in this category but I understand people who disagree), and the bad ones which are just unquestionably bad (Glitter. Seriously man, you don't know, you weren't there).

I've always had a liking for good romantic comedies. No, really. When a romantic comedy is really well done, it can change your world. Hepburn/Tracy, Rogers/Astaire, It Happened One Night and Some Like It Hot. Dude, these films are enough to make me consider the possibility that love is actually a good idea. And this is me, a creature with a lump of marble where a heart should be.

Just glancing at the list on Wikipedia I see a long list of mighty films which manage to be romantic, funny and get this - intelligent, kind and thoughtful! Oh my God, you weren't expecting that, were you? No, because the genre has been kicked almost to death by cheaply made crap designed only to make money.

You know the stuff: it's constantly marketed with horribly smug, over-photoshopped posters. The protagonists are almost always white, upper-middle-class tossers. Self-absorbed, whiny bastards you couldn't empathise with in a month of Sundays and plots that seem to begin and end with their meet-cute. I didn't think much of Serendipity but at least it screwed with the meet-cute idea.

The casts seem to be pretty much the same, too. Is Matthew McConaughey the king of the Shit Romcom or is it just me? The Wedding Planner, How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days, Failure to Launch, The Ghosts of Girlfriends Past. A list of films so bad that I'd rather watch him in Reign of Fire. Or induce a power cut. There are other men who seem to disgrace the romcom pool but none quite so consistently as Matt. OK, he and Hugh Grant are probably tied in this category.

The girl is pulled from a pool of interchangeably samey actresses, each of them ultimately white bread WASPy types. Now, I like Sandra Bullock but you've got to admit she's the only thing standing between mediocrity and outright awfulness in many of her pictures. Every so often, the 'new' whoever turns up, hoping she'll get to be Julia Roberts.

The latest is Katherine Heigl and she's tied up in the reason I'm here right now. Now, given she gave an interview after Knocked Up (which was not especially clever or original but someone decided that it was so everyone else went along with it) saying that it was sexist. Fine, she's entitled to her opinion, but might I respectfully demand she clamber down off that high horse? Why?

The Ugly Truth. Anyone and everyone involved in that film loses this argument. I mean it. If proof were ever needed that womanhood's greatest enemy is and always has been other women, here you go. If proof were required that women seem to think men are solely dick-focused cardboard cut-outs, here you go. If proof were required that Hollywood is more sexist today than it was thirty (or even fifty) years ago, here you go.

Taken solely on its own, with no other context, The Ugly Truth is just a terrible movie. Taken as it is, part of a wider entertainment world, it's fucking terrifying. Honestly. I'm not exaggerating.

I don't know what to tell you, really. I've seen some good (OK, half-decent) reviews online and people on Facebook and such who seemed to like it but really, this is bottom-of-the-barrel, lowest common denominator stuff.

Taken on its own, The Ugly Truth's characterisation of the lead woman would merely be one-dimensional and vaguely offensive. Taken as part of a growing trend, it's fucking terrifying. Apparently, only shrews can be successful outside the kitchen and/or bedroom and/or nursery. Only control freak bitches get promoted and successful women are friendless, pathetic creatures outside their sphere of work.

The weird thing about The Ugly Truth is that Abby (the lead,  Heigl) is painted in part as a Mary-Sue. Within the first few scenes people are telling her she's the 'best there is' and 'nobody could've pulled that off!' when in fact, most people given control of a TV show would cut to something else while one of the anchors freaks out.

Hell, in The Ugly Truth, even the second tier women are painted as pathetic, shrewish or desperate. Abby's assistant actually says she lives vicariously on Abby's love life, while the female anchor on the show is whiny and diva-like. Terrifyingly, The Ugly Truth was written by women.

I always thought Doris Day's characters were whiny, hypocritical, naive, self-deluded, bossy and whatever else it is that annoys me about her. Ten minutes into The Ugly Truth I would've willingly watched The Glass Bottomed Boat or Please Don't Eat The Daisies. Twenty minutes in, I was almost willing to take back everything I ever said about The Big DD. Almost. Certainly, it made the Hudson-Day movies look like a David Lean epic in comparison. In fact, I'm going to stop typing just long enough to put Pillow Talk in the DVD player.

No, still can’t stand her. I guess Doris is the girl our current shrews are ultimately based on. I’m not just talking about The Ugly Truth. The year’s biggest romcom features an even more successful and therefore even more detestable female lead. The Proposal had a few minor moments of humour but ultimately even Sandra Bullock can’t save it. She plays a woman who everyone hates while Ryan Reynolds plays a nice everyman type who everyone likes. Rinse and repeat that with drugs for Knocked Up. Same for How To Lose a Guy in 10 Days except she’s (half) kidding. It seems that the romcom has become a world in which guys are nice, laidback dudes and around them shrewish women are uptight, shrieking, selfish bitches who think they can’t find the right guy but in fact they’re the ones that are wrong. And almost every single one of these movie women has to conspire in some way to get their guy.

Sleepless in Seattle - Girl stalks guy. Guy knows nothing of this.
While You Were Sleeping – Girl lies to unconscious dude’s family about them being engaged. Guy knows nothing of this. (that she ends up with his much nicer brother is refreshing.)
Legally Blonde - Girl goes to Harvard to get guy back. (again, that she ends up doing something else is refreshing).
The Wedding Date – Girl pays guys to be date so she doesn’t look pathetic.
Sweet Home Alabama – Girl lies about everything, including her name.
Just Like Heaven – Girl cares so much about her work she doesn’t have a life until she dies.
Bride WarsTwo girls are so psyched OMG about getting married that they tear each other to shreds.
Two Weeks Notice – uptight girl works for immature tycoon. Becomes more uptight then gets drunk and falls in love with immature tycoon.
13 Going on 30 – little girl finds out she becomes an uptight backstabbing bitch who alienated her best friend so she can have the life she wants as a magazine editor, then realises she doesn’t want that life at all. She wants to start going out with someone when she’s 13 and stay with him in their little house. Forever.
No Reservations – Girl is bitchy chef. Guy is laidback chef. Child with dead mother is merely garnish.
Return to Me – Girl doesn’t bother telling guy she has his dead wife’s heart.
27 Dresses – Girl is uptight and has worn a lot of ugly shit. Decoy Guy is laidback outdoorsman. Second guy is laidback reporter type.
The Accidental Husband – Girl is snotty bitch radio guru who doesn’t believe in love. Guy is laidback fireman with side order of soccer.

I know I’m being a bit selective. I haven’t mentioned films like Must Love Dogs, which while incredibly predictable in some ways was incredibly honest and featured likeably ordinary people. Definitely, Maybe managed to be a little different. He’s Just Not That Into You was patchy (the Affleck/Aniston segment was particularly disappointing) but at least presented a few slightly different types of people. Still, Jennifer Connelly was particularly shrewish.

I haven’t mentioned 10 Things I Hate About You or Ever After, both of which were far, far better than I expected when I started watching them the first time. Both of these films, incidentally, feature interesting and intelligent female leads with backbone and heart. How is it that Cinderella has been portrayed more fully than a *insert career title here*? Or perhaps we’re supposed to think that women are only supposed to play at having careers while they wait to marry, like a girl plays with six different career Barbies.

You know, the shrew has her place. She’s been a character type for as long as there have been plays. She’s at least more interesting to me than a blandly perfect girly-girl. Hell, if there was ever an archetype I could empathise with, it’d be the shrew... but the fact is, not all women are shrews. Not all women are only shrews. If they were, women really would rule the world. We’d all be miserable because shrews aren’t that much fun to be around... but not all women are shrews. Not all women who have good jobs are shrews. Not all single women are shrews.

Come to that, not all single women sob into a pillow every night because they don’t have a man. Not all single women are incapable of having a relationship. Not all single women are dreaming of the Perfect Man, because if anyone knows he doesn’t exist, it’s probably a single woman.

While we’re at it, not all men are entirely shallow douchebags. To borrow a phrase from Craig Ferguson: I KNOW, RIGHT? They’re not all sitting on their arses on a sofa/in the park/in the pub. If they were, the world would be a very different place. More than that, it’s as insulting to men to reduce them to dribbling sex morons as it is to reduce women to uptight perfectionist bitches. Or are we to truly believe that the people behind some of the best art, literature and music were only thinking in terms of bedpost notches? Sure, a lot of them were thinking about their next shag, but not just that. We do men almost as great a disservice by portraying them as romcoms are at the moment – but at least their characters are likeable.

I’ve learned in my few years that any relationship that is unequal in some way is doomed to be unsuccessful. Men and women aren’t the same (shocker, right) and we shouldn’t treat each other as if we are, but we are equal. How’s that for an ugly truth? We are equal and our strengths and weaknesses should work with the other person’s strengths and weaknesses. That’s a happy ending, right there. Respect and equality. Maybe they’re difficult concepts to put across on a screen, but Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn managed it. Gable/Colbert managed it. Gable/Gardner managed it. Ledger/Stiles managed it. Even Crystal/Ryan managed it better, and I hate When Harry Met Sally (and if anyone is the mother of the insane, neurotic female romcom lead, it’s that soulless female).

We’ve come a long way since Tracy/Hepburn, but unfortunately we’re going downhill. It seems to me that when it comes to romcoms now, nobody wins.

Everyone involved in the making of The Ugly Truth lost a great deal of respect from me. Everyone. When I can sit here and say that The Ugly Truth is the worst thing Gerard Butler has ever been in, when I've seen Dracula 2000 and Attila, you know something is very, very wrong

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I've seen a lot of bad films. I made a habit of watching them at one time to improve my tolerance level, then in California I found myself incredibly bored because classes were wicked easy and I couldn't drive so I watched even more bad films.

Xanadu. Josie & the Pussycats (we only watched this to find out what Dean Martin's grandson looked like. Not interesting enough to render the film tolerable). Twilight (ooh, controversial of me!). The Fast and the Furious (actually, anything involving Paul Walker that I've suffered through makes it onto this list). 40 Days and 40 Nights (which 'features' a woman raping a man and where Maggie Gyllenhaal is the second fiddle to Shannyn Sossamon). Fucking Glitter. Yes, I'm one of the 16 people worldwide who sat through that. You don't know how bored a person has to be to make it. It became an emotional and mental test of stamina at one point, like Ahab versus Moby Dick, man.

I reached a point where I couldn't bring myself to waste so much time on things that were solely bad. I never saw Gigli or The Hottie and the Nottie. and I hope never to be bored enough to consider them.

There are two kinds of bad films: the bad ones that have something redeemingly likeable about them (I'd put Xanadu in this category but I understand people who disagree), and the bad ones which are just unquestionably bad (Glitter. Seriously man, you don't know, you weren't there).

I've always had a liking for good romantic comedies. No, really. When a romantic comedy is really well done, it can change your world. Hepburn/Tracy, Rogers/Astaire, It Happened One Night and Some Like It Hot. Dude, these films are enough to make me consider the possibility that love is actually a good idea. And this is me, a creature with a lump of marble where a heart should be.

Just glancing at the list on Wikipedia I see a long list of mighty films which manage to be romantic, funny and get this - intelligent, kind and thoughtful! Oh my God, you weren't expecting that, were you? No, because the genre has been kicked almost to death by cheaply made crap designed only to make money.

You know the stuff: it's constantly marketed with horribly smug, over-photoshopped posters. The protagonists are almost always white, upper-middle-class tossers. Self-absorbed, whiny bastards you couldn't empathise with in a month of Sundays and plots that seem to begin and end with their meet-cute. I didn't think much of Serendipity but at least it screwed with the meet-cute idea.

The casts seem to be pretty much the same, too. Is Matthew McConaughey the king of the Shit Romcom or is it just me? The Wedding Planner, How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days, Failure to Launch, The Ghosts of Girlfriends Past. A list of films so bad that I'd rather watch him in Reign of Fire. Or induce a power cut. There are other men who seem to disgrace the romcom pool but none quite so consistently as Matt. OK, he and Hugh Grant are probably tied in this category.

The girl is pulled from a pool of interchangeably samey actresses, each of them ultimately white bread WASPy types. Now, I like Sandra Bullock but you've got to admit she's the only thing standing between mediocrity and outright awfulness in many of her pictures. Every so often, the 'new' whoever turns up, hoping she'll get to be Julia Roberts.

The latest is Katherine Heigl and she's tied up in the reason I'm here right now. Now, given she gave an interview after Knocked Up (which was not especially clever or original but someone decided that it was so everyone else went along with it) saying that it was sexist. Fine, she's entitled to her opinion, but might I respectfully demand she clamber down off that high horse? Why?

The Ugly Truth. Anyone and everyone involved in that film loses this argument. I mean it. If proof were ever needed that womanhood's greatest enemy is and always has been other women, here you go. If proof were required that women seem to think men are solely dick-focused cardboard cut-outs, here you go. If proof were required that Hollywood is more sexist today than it was thirty (or even fifty) years ago, here you go.

Taken solely on its own, with no other context, The Ugly Truth is just a terrible movie. Taken as it is, part of a wider entertainment world, it's fucking terrifying. Honestly. I'm not exaggerating.

I don't know what to tell you, really. I've seen some good (OK, half-decent) reviews online and people on Facebook and such who seemed to like it but really, this is bottom-of-the-barrel, lowest common denominator stuff.

Taken on its own, The Ugly Truth's characterisation of the lead woman would merely be one-dimensional and vaguely offensive. Taken as part of a growing trend, it's fucking terrifying. Apparently, only shrews can be successful outside the kitchen and/or bedroom and/or nursery. Only control freak bitches get promoted and successful women are friendless, pathetic creatures outside their sphere of work.

The weird thing about The Ugly Truth is that Abby (the lead,  Heigl) is painted in part as a Mary-Sue. Within the first few scenes people are telling her she's the 'best there is' and 'nobody could've pulled that off!' when in fact, most people given control of a TV show would cut to something else while one of the anchors freaks out.

Hell, in The Ugly Truth, even the second tier women are painted as pathetic, shrewish or desperate. Abby's assistant actually says she lives vicariously on Abby's love life, while the female anchor on the show is whiny and diva-like. Terrifyingly, The Ugly Truth was written by women.

I always thought Doris Day's characters were whiny, hypocritical, naive, self-deluded, bossy and whatever else it is that annoys me about her. Ten minutes into The Ugly Truth I would've willingly watched The Glass Bottomed Boat or Please Don't Eat The Daisies. Twenty minutes in, I was almost willing to take back everything I ever said about The Big DD. Almost. Certainly, it made the Hudson-Day movies look like a David Lean epic in comparison. In fact, I'm going to stop typing just long enough to put Pillow Talk in the DVD player.

No, still can’t stand her. I guess Doris is the girl our current shrews are ultimately based on. I’m not just talking about The Ugly Truth. The year’s biggest romcom features an even more successful and therefore even more detestable female lead. The Proposal had a few minor moments of humour but ultimately even Sandra Bullock can’t save it. She plays a woman who everyone hates while Ryan Reynolds plays a nice everyman type who everyone likes. Rinse and repeat that with drugs for Knocked Up. Same for How To Lose a Guy in 10 Days except she’s (half) kidding. It seems that the romcom has become a world in which guys are nice, laidback dudes and around them shrewish women are uptight, shrieking, selfish bitches who think they can’t find the right guy but in fact they’re the ones that are wrong. And almost every single one of these movie women has to conspire in some way to get their guy.

Sleepless in Seattle - Girl stalks guy. Guy knows nothing of this.
While You Were Sleeping – Girl lies to unconscious dude’s family about them being engaged. Guy knows nothing of this. (that she ends up with his much nicer brother is refreshing.)
Legally Blonde - Girl goes to Harvard to get guy back. (again, that she ends up doing something else is refreshing).
The Wedding Date – Girl pays guys to be date so she doesn’t look pathetic.
Sweet Home Alabama – Girl lies about everything, including her name.
Just Like Heaven – Girl cares so much about her work she doesn’t have a life until she dies.
Bride WarsTwo girls are so psyched OMG about getting married that they tear each other to shreds.
Two Weeks Notice – uptight girl works for immature tycoon. Becomes more uptight then gets drunk and falls in love with immature tycoon.
13 Going on 30 – little girl finds out she becomes an uptight backstabbing bitch who alienated her best friend so she can have the life she wants as a magazine editor, then realises she doesn’t want that life at all. She wants to start going out with someone when she’s 13 and stay with him in their little house. Forever.
No Reservations – Girl is bitchy chef. Guy is laidback chef. Child with dead mother is merely garnish.
Return to Me – Girl doesn’t bother telling guy she has his dead wife’s heart.
27 Dresses – Girl is uptight and has worn a lot of ugly shit. Decoy Guy is laidback outdoorsman. Second guy is laidback reporter type.
The Accidental Husband – Girl is snotty bitch radio guru who doesn’t believe in love. Guy is laidback fireman with side order of soccer.

I know I’m being a bit selective. I haven’t mentioned films like Must Love Dogs, which while incredibly predictable in some ways was incredibly honest and featured likeably ordinary people. Definitely, Maybe managed to be a little different. He’s Just Not That Into You was patchy (the Affleck/Aniston segment was particularly disappointing) but at least presented a few slightly different types of people. Still, Jennifer Connelly was particularly shrewish.

I haven’t mentioned 10 Things I Hate About You or Ever After, both of which were far, far better than I expected when I started watching them the first time. Both of these films, incidentally, feature interesting and intelligent female leads with backbone and heart. How is it that Cinderella has been portrayed more fully than a *insert career title here*? Or perhaps we’re supposed to think that women are only supposed to play at having careers while they wait to marry, like a girl plays with six different career Barbies.

You know, the shrew has her place. She’s been a character type for as long as there have been plays. She’s at least more interesting to me than a blandly perfect girly-girl. Hell, if there was ever an archetype I could empathise with, it’d be the shrew... but the fact is, not all women are shrews. Not all women are only shrews. If they were, women really would rule the world. We’d all be miserable because shrews aren’t that much fun to be around... but not all women are shrews. Not all women who have good jobs are shrews. Not all single women are shrews.

Come to that, not all single women sob into a pillow every night because they don’t have a man. Not all single women are incapable of having a relationship. Not all single women are dreaming of the Perfect Man, because if anyone knows he doesn’t exist, it’s probably a single woman.

While we’re at it, not all men are entirely shallow douchebags. To borrow a phrase from Craig Ferguson: I KNOW, RIGHT? They’re not all sitting on their arses on a sofa/in the park/in the pub. If they were, the world would be a very different place. More than that, it’s as insulting to men to reduce them to dribbling sex morons as it is to reduce women to uptight perfectionist bitches. Or are we to truly believe that the people behind some of the best art, literature and music were only thinking in terms of bedpost notches? Sure, a lot of them were thinking about their next shag, but not just that. We do men almost as great a disservice by portraying them as romcoms are at the moment – but at least their characters are likeable.

I’ve learned in my few years that any relationship that is unequal in some way is doomed to be unsuccessful. Men and women aren’t the same (shocker, right) and we shouldn’t treat each other as if we are, but we are equal. How’s that for an ugly truth? We are equal and our strengths and weaknesses should work with the other person’s strengths and weaknesses. That’s a happy ending, right there. Respect and equality. Maybe they’re difficult concepts to put across on a screen, but Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn managed it. Gable/Colbert managed it. Gable/Gardner managed it. Ledger/Stiles managed it. Even Crystal/Ryan managed it better, and I hate When Harry Met Sally (and if anyone is the mother of the insane, neurotic female romcom lead, it’s that soulless female).

We’ve come a long way since Tracy/Hepburn, but unfortunately we’re going downhill. It seems to me that when it comes to romcoms now, nobody wins.

Everyone involved in the making of The Ugly Truth lost a great deal of respect from me. Everyone. When I can sit here and say that The Ugly Truth is the worst thing Gerard Butler has ever been in, when I've seen Dracula 2000 and Attila, you know something is very, very wrong

apolla: (Default)
Our filmic odyssey begins with Ziegfeld Girl (number 352 picked by[livejournal.com profile] windtear )

Ziegfeld Girl, 1941. Directed by Robert Z Leonard, musical numbers by Busby Berkeley. Starring Judy Garland, Lana Turner, Hedy Lamarr, James Stewart.

*

Nobody did musical films like MGM. When I say that, I'm not always being complimentary. My outstanding memory of this film is that MGM threw all its pretty girls and glamorous costumes at Ziegfeld Girl but forgot a decent plot. Let's see if my memory is faulty. Hit play, somebody!

So... Lana Turner is a pretty elevator girl, James Stewart is her beau. Fortunately, this is established almost immediately so there's no faffing. Gosh, Stewart's gotta be six inches taller than her. Also established is Lana's disaffection for her job (can't blame her) and her chance to be a Ziegfeld girl. Snogging ensues and Jimmy Stewart's hair is in the place it always should be - perched right on the back of his head.

I think I'm supposed to think that being a Ziegfeld girl is the pinnacle of something, and that Florenz Ziegfeld is a benevolent god atop the Broadway Mountain.

And now, here's Judy, sat in the waiting room with all those Generic Pretty Girls.

Musical number! Judy's character and her dad doing their vaudeville routine on stage in Harlem. Perfunctory at best with the poor girl in a ridiculous costume that's half-majorette, half-tutu. Fortunately it's not too long.

The reason I'm recapping rather than writing about the film is because I don't recall it striking me the first time and I can't see it happening this time.

There's some stuff with girls walking up and down stairs with books perched on their heads. Jackie Cooper turns up almost-all-grown-up. Sparks fly between Judy and Jackie.

Hedy Lamarr alert! Now that's a face, right? She gets pulled in to be a Ziegfeld Girl when her husband is there to be audition (unsuccessfully) musician. You can see where this is going right?

I can't remember how the film ends. Did I see to the end last time or did I get bored? Maybe I got bored and left it running while I played The Sims.

Eve Arden alert! Principal McGee as a young, wisecracking woman. Dude comes in to give a long speech about what happens to Ziegfeld girls once they step onto that stage, but then absolves Ziegfeld of any guilt for things going wrong. Not foreshadowing at all...

Because being a Ziegfeld girl is all life, condensed, apparently.

Musical number: Tony Martin sings 'You Stepped Out of a Dream' and the parade of Generic Pretty Girls waft across the stage in gauze and wearing stars on wires. Hedy does the walking-up-stairs without a problem. Certainly she looks very beautiful but... this is not interesting watching. Generic Pretty Girls wearing gold lame curtains do some walking-down-stairs. Various ridiculous 'glamorous' costumes are worn. More walking up-and-down stairs. I am watching the clock.

Oh, to have been MGM's chief gauzy material supplier!

I recall parts of this from the clips in That's Entertainment! and rather wish I was watching that instead, so I at least had the promise of Gene Kelly in a minute.

As usual, Berkeley's 'choreography' consists almost entirely of lots of people just moving. Apparently he'd been something to do with parade drills in the military. It shows, as far as I'm concerned. It's glitzy, it's big but it's not interesting.

Did I specify no fast-forward/skipping in the original post for this? I hope not... the film has been on for half an hour and it feels like twice as long.

Ah... Lana's clearly a snotty bitch in this. The set up is established that her relationship with James Stewart is going to get screwed up. She's going to pick up with the rich bloke, she's going to get sucked into the image, she's going to be the one who starts to believe her own press. The only way it could be more obvious is if there was a tickertape at the bottom of the screen telling us.

I'm having no luck getting into this particular picture at all. It's all glitz and glamour but not much heart or head. Most unforgiveably, the music is uninteresting. While Hedy is undeniably very, very beautiful, I don't think it's something to base an entire movie on. Tony Martin (Mr Cyd Charisse when he wasn't singing) is clearly going to make a play for Hedy - I'm not bothering to use character names because it's clearly unimportant in this film.

So, what have we learned so far? The melodrama isn't that dramatic and the music isn't that hot.

OH! Jimmy Stewart just started punching people! He's Todd Wilkins! He's Todd Wilkins if Elizabeth went and got herself into a show and got 'sponsored' by Bruce Patman. Since when does Jimmy Stewart punch people? It's Bizarro Hollywood.

It is said that Lana Turner was discovered in a cafe of some sort, which I believe if only because she can't possibly have been discovered at an audition: as an actress she makes an excellent sweater girl.

Melodrama escalates: Jimmy Stewart becomes a gangster because Lana cares more about money. I'm reaching for the fast-forward button, man... Judy and Dad are still trying to make it as a duo when the audience realised during their first scene that it will end in tears. Judy auditions to be a singer but does badly because she's doing vaudeville when the Ziegfield lot want glamor!! instead. Listening, I don't blame them. Judy does it her way and predictably pulls so many heartstrings that a flood warning is issued. Actually, so far it's the only scene in 53 minutes that I haven't wanted to skip through. The dad ditches himself for her sake as we always knew he would. Still, at least this character has a soul.

An hour and five in, Lana's definitely drunk.

Oh my GOD. According to imdb, this is 130 minutes long. HOW? Seriously how? I'm already losing the will to live...

*

Part Two, The Next Day, after some sleep.

I'm trying to watch, really... I'm an hour and a half in. Lana's in a state of perma-drunkness even when on stage in some strange costume that looks like it's inspired by Hitchcocks The Birds. Hedy's decided to stick with her husband instead of Tony Martin after the most civilised wife-and-mistress conversation ever committed to film. Civilised and boring. Haven't seen much of Judy in awhile.

There's more walking up and down stairs. Lots more, until a beach scene which involves a beast of burden of some kind - I think it's a white ox but could just as easily be a cow or something.

Ethnic Tokenism! Some faux-flamenco by slightly dark-skinned persons. I can only assume this is separate from the storyline and not featuring any leads so that MGM could cut it out for the racist audiences...

and we're back at the stage-beach and it's JUDY! Hurrah! She singings! She... may be slightly blacked up. I shall repeat to myself *1941, 1941* as if that makes it OK. Song is called Minnie from Trinidad I think. Ethnic Tokenism includes a fake parrot tied to Judy's shoulder as part of her costume. Choreography remains just a bunch of people moving. No wonder Gene Kelly had such a hard time with Berkeley.

Now, I've never been inside the New Amsterdam Theatre but the size of the stage for this number wouldn't fit inside Wembley Stadium!

Drunk Lana fell off the stage. Judy and Hedy are sympathetic but don't actually seem to care. Hedy and Violinist reconcile. Lana is fired. Judy goes for milkshakes with Jackie Cooper. Clearly she's totally over the kid-roles...

Time passes (fortunately, we don't have to watch it), Lana is still drunk and now apparently a whore of increasingly low rent.

For the LAST WEEK!! of the Follies, we learn that Hedy's leaving to accompany her husband on a concert tour. And now JUDY'S ON THE MARQUEE! But what's this? She wants to LEAVE to help her Pop! It's her Pop!

The first sensible thing I've heard all movie: "Leave Hoboken where it is."

Lana is now so down on her luck she makes Dicey Reilly look good, and I still don't care. Honestly, I couldn't give a damn about this character. Moral of the story: girls who like drink always get their comeuppance and girls who want to not live in poverty will always get their comeuppance. Douchebag slaps Lana. She collapses. It's Oh So Tragic.

Lana goes home to be nursed by her mommy and daddy and Jackie Cooper. James Stewart turns up, fresh out of clink and all Jimmy Stewarty again instead of a nasty gangster. You can see what's coming, can't you? She even has the special Hairdo Of Tragic Near Death that I've previously seen on every other actress who did the Gracious Death Scene. Still, there's another half an hour of this bloody film to go. She's got it all: the slightly raspy voice, the slow stammer, the wide eyes... girl's definitely doomed.

They kiss. I still don't care. Jimmy seems eager to forgive her for the last two hours' worth of being a selfish bitch, but I suppose it's Lana Turner. Some stuff about ducks ensues but I'm not really listening: watching the time counter tick over is actually better than the film itself at this point.

I just know this post is dull as anything, but man I cannot make this interesting.

Discussion is had between Tragic Lana and Reformed Jimmy about how she's two people and neither's any good. Jimmy disagrees, I do not. She declares that she simply must go to Judy's big opening night, which is presumably what takes up the last half hour. Meanwhile, I'm sat here getting older. Tragic Lana is Tragic.

Judy's Pop gets to go on stage with his mate to do their vaudeville routine on the Ziegfeld stage.

Lana turns up at the show. The box office guy doesn't let her pay for a ticket because 'Mr Ziegfeld wouldn't like it'. Just like the never-seen Big Z didn't like her getting pissed and falling off the special stairs? Tragic Lana must very tragic because she's speaking very quietly and being very nice. Judy's Pop and his mate go down a storm with the posh audience. Judy is pleased so can clearly now go on and do her thing without guilt. Hurrah!

Generic Pretty Girls are now generic and surrounded by balloons. "To be a perfect Ziegfeld girl you don't need much knowledge." No shit. Tragic Lana watches tragically and thinks "I could've still been there if I wasn't such a hoor." or something. More walking on the stadium-sized stage continues and still isn't that interesting.

INTERESTING WIKI FACT: The real Ziegfeld was married to Billie Burke, who played The Good Witch Glinda in The Wizard of Oz.

Tragic Lana walks down the staircase of the theatre like it's the one on stage as the music swells. But OH NOES! At the bottom of the stairs she collapses Tragically. Hedy and Violinist come to her and Tragic Lana tells her, while in position for Glamorous Death, that she's going to raise ducks with Gil. Judy ends the film on the top of the Magical Staircase dressed like one of those toilet roll covers from the 70s and the final shot is from a completely different film which I recognise from That's Entertainment! A suitable end, I think.

Verdict: If this hadn't come as part of the Judy Garland Signature Collection, I wouldn't own it in a million years. It's proof that for every truly stupendous musical film, there's at least six films like this. Urgh.

*

Next: The Bible... In The Beginning. At least that's got PETER O'TOOLE

apolla: (Default)
Our filmic odyssey begins with Ziegfeld Girl (number 352 picked by[livejournal.com profile] windtear )

Ziegfeld Girl, 1941. Directed by Robert Z Leonard, musical numbers by Busby Berkeley. Starring Judy Garland, Lana Turner, Hedy Lamarr, James Stewart.

*

Nobody did musical films like MGM. When I say that, I'm not always being complimentary. My outstanding memory of this film is that MGM threw all its pretty girls and glamorous costumes at Ziegfeld Girl but forgot a decent plot. Let's see if my memory is faulty. Hit play, somebody!

So... Lana Turner is a pretty elevator girl, James Stewart is her beau. Fortunately, this is established almost immediately so there's no faffing. Gosh, Stewart's gotta be six inches taller than her. Also established is Lana's disaffection for her job (can't blame her) and her chance to be a Ziegfeld girl. Snogging ensues and Jimmy Stewart's hair is in the place it always should be - perched right on the back of his head.

I think I'm supposed to think that being a Ziegfeld girl is the pinnacle of something, and that Florenz Ziegfeld is a benevolent god atop the Broadway Mountain.

And now, here's Judy, sat in the waiting room with all those Generic Pretty Girls.

Musical number! Judy's character and her dad doing their vaudeville routine on stage in Harlem. Perfunctory at best with the poor girl in a ridiculous costume that's half-majorette, half-tutu. Fortunately it's not too long.

The reason I'm recapping rather than writing about the film is because I don't recall it striking me the first time and I can't see it happening this time.

There's some stuff with girls walking up and down stairs with books perched on their heads. Jackie Cooper turns up almost-all-grown-up. Sparks fly between Judy and Jackie.

Hedy Lamarr alert! Now that's a face, right? She gets pulled in to be a Ziegfeld Girl when her husband is there to be audition (unsuccessfully) musician. You can see where this is going right?

I can't remember how the film ends. Did I see to the end last time or did I get bored? Maybe I got bored and left it running while I played The Sims.

Eve Arden alert! Principal McGee as a young, wisecracking woman. Dude comes in to give a long speech about what happens to Ziegfeld girls once they step onto that stage, but then absolves Ziegfeld of any guilt for things going wrong. Not foreshadowing at all...

Because being a Ziegfeld girl is all life, condensed, apparently.

Musical number: Tony Martin sings 'You Stepped Out of a Dream' and the parade of Generic Pretty Girls waft across the stage in gauze and wearing stars on wires. Hedy does the walking-up-stairs without a problem. Certainly she looks very beautiful but... this is not interesting watching. Generic Pretty Girls wearing gold lame curtains do some walking-down-stairs. Various ridiculous 'glamorous' costumes are worn. More walking up-and-down stairs. I am watching the clock.

Oh, to have been MGM's chief gauzy material supplier!

I recall parts of this from the clips in That's Entertainment! and rather wish I was watching that instead, so I at least had the promise of Gene Kelly in a minute.

As usual, Berkeley's 'choreography' consists almost entirely of lots of people just moving. Apparently he'd been something to do with parade drills in the military. It shows, as far as I'm concerned. It's glitzy, it's big but it's not interesting.

Did I specify no fast-forward/skipping in the original post for this? I hope not... the film has been on for half an hour and it feels like twice as long.

Ah... Lana's clearly a snotty bitch in this. The set up is established that her relationship with James Stewart is going to get screwed up. She's going to pick up with the rich bloke, she's going to get sucked into the image, she's going to be the one who starts to believe her own press. The only way it could be more obvious is if there was a tickertape at the bottom of the screen telling us.

I'm having no luck getting into this particular picture at all. It's all glitz and glamour but not much heart or head. Most unforgiveably, the music is uninteresting. While Hedy is undeniably very, very beautiful, I don't think it's something to base an entire movie on. Tony Martin (Mr Cyd Charisse when he wasn't singing) is clearly going to make a play for Hedy - I'm not bothering to use character names because it's clearly unimportant in this film.

So, what have we learned so far? The melodrama isn't that dramatic and the music isn't that hot.

OH! Jimmy Stewart just started punching people! He's Todd Wilkins! He's Todd Wilkins if Elizabeth went and got herself into a show and got 'sponsored' by Bruce Patman. Since when does Jimmy Stewart punch people? It's Bizarro Hollywood.

It is said that Lana Turner was discovered in a cafe of some sort, which I believe if only because she can't possibly have been discovered at an audition: as an actress she makes an excellent sweater girl.

Melodrama escalates: Jimmy Stewart becomes a gangster because Lana cares more about money. I'm reaching for the fast-forward button, man... Judy and Dad are still trying to make it as a duo when the audience realised during their first scene that it will end in tears. Judy auditions to be a singer but does badly because she's doing vaudeville when the Ziegfield lot want glamor!! instead. Listening, I don't blame them. Judy does it her way and predictably pulls so many heartstrings that a flood warning is issued. Actually, so far it's the only scene in 53 minutes that I haven't wanted to skip through. The dad ditches himself for her sake as we always knew he would. Still, at least this character has a soul.

An hour and five in, Lana's definitely drunk.

Oh my GOD. According to imdb, this is 130 minutes long. HOW? Seriously how? I'm already losing the will to live...

*

Part Two, The Next Day, after some sleep.

I'm trying to watch, really... I'm an hour and a half in. Lana's in a state of perma-drunkness even when on stage in some strange costume that looks like it's inspired by Hitchcocks The Birds. Hedy's decided to stick with her husband instead of Tony Martin after the most civilised wife-and-mistress conversation ever committed to film. Civilised and boring. Haven't seen much of Judy in awhile.

There's more walking up and down stairs. Lots more, until a beach scene which involves a beast of burden of some kind - I think it's a white ox but could just as easily be a cow or something.

Ethnic Tokenism! Some faux-flamenco by slightly dark-skinned persons. I can only assume this is separate from the storyline and not featuring any leads so that MGM could cut it out for the racist audiences...

and we're back at the stage-beach and it's JUDY! Hurrah! She singings! She... may be slightly blacked up. I shall repeat to myself *1941, 1941* as if that makes it OK. Song is called Minnie from Trinidad I think. Ethnic Tokenism includes a fake parrot tied to Judy's shoulder as part of her costume. Choreography remains just a bunch of people moving. No wonder Gene Kelly had such a hard time with Berkeley.

Now, I've never been inside the New Amsterdam Theatre but the size of the stage for this number wouldn't fit inside Wembley Stadium!

Drunk Lana fell off the stage. Judy and Hedy are sympathetic but don't actually seem to care. Hedy and Violinist reconcile. Lana is fired. Judy goes for milkshakes with Jackie Cooper. Clearly she's totally over the kid-roles...

Time passes (fortunately, we don't have to watch it), Lana is still drunk and now apparently a whore of increasingly low rent.

For the LAST WEEK!! of the Follies, we learn that Hedy's leaving to accompany her husband on a concert tour. And now JUDY'S ON THE MARQUEE! But what's this? She wants to LEAVE to help her Pop! It's her Pop!

The first sensible thing I've heard all movie: "Leave Hoboken where it is."

Lana is now so down on her luck she makes Dicey Reilly look good, and I still don't care. Honestly, I couldn't give a damn about this character. Moral of the story: girls who like drink always get their comeuppance and girls who want to not live in poverty will always get their comeuppance. Douchebag slaps Lana. She collapses. It's Oh So Tragic.

Lana goes home to be nursed by her mommy and daddy and Jackie Cooper. James Stewart turns up, fresh out of clink and all Jimmy Stewarty again instead of a nasty gangster. You can see what's coming, can't you? She even has the special Hairdo Of Tragic Near Death that I've previously seen on every other actress who did the Gracious Death Scene. Still, there's another half an hour of this bloody film to go. She's got it all: the slightly raspy voice, the slow stammer, the wide eyes... girl's definitely doomed.

They kiss. I still don't care. Jimmy seems eager to forgive her for the last two hours' worth of being a selfish bitch, but I suppose it's Lana Turner. Some stuff about ducks ensues but I'm not really listening: watching the time counter tick over is actually better than the film itself at this point.

I just know this post is dull as anything, but man I cannot make this interesting.

Discussion is had between Tragic Lana and Reformed Jimmy about how she's two people and neither's any good. Jimmy disagrees, I do not. She declares that she simply must go to Judy's big opening night, which is presumably what takes up the last half hour. Meanwhile, I'm sat here getting older. Tragic Lana is Tragic.

Judy's Pop gets to go on stage with his mate to do their vaudeville routine on the Ziegfeld stage.

Lana turns up at the show. The box office guy doesn't let her pay for a ticket because 'Mr Ziegfeld wouldn't like it'. Just like the never-seen Big Z didn't like her getting pissed and falling off the special stairs? Tragic Lana must very tragic because she's speaking very quietly and being very nice. Judy's Pop and his mate go down a storm with the posh audience. Judy is pleased so can clearly now go on and do her thing without guilt. Hurrah!

Generic Pretty Girls are now generic and surrounded by balloons. "To be a perfect Ziegfeld girl you don't need much knowledge." No shit. Tragic Lana watches tragically and thinks "I could've still been there if I wasn't such a hoor." or something. More walking on the stadium-sized stage continues and still isn't that interesting.

INTERESTING WIKI FACT: The real Ziegfeld was married to Billie Burke, who played The Good Witch Glinda in The Wizard of Oz.

Tragic Lana walks down the staircase of the theatre like it's the one on stage as the music swells. But OH NOES! At the bottom of the stairs she collapses Tragically. Hedy and Violinist come to her and Tragic Lana tells her, while in position for Glamorous Death, that she's going to raise ducks with Gil. Judy ends the film on the top of the Magical Staircase dressed like one of those toilet roll covers from the 70s and the final shot is from a completely different film which I recognise from That's Entertainment! A suitable end, I think.

Verdict: If this hadn't come as part of the Judy Garland Signature Collection, I wouldn't own it in a million years. It's proof that for every truly stupendous musical film, there's at least six films like this. Urgh.

*

Next: The Bible... In The Beginning. At least that's got PETER O'TOOLE

apolla: (Black Rose)
The above quote is from a short (for him) rant by Jay in Dogma. In it, he bitches to Bethany about the fact that he and Silent Bob had travelled all the way from New Jersey to Illinois after seeing Shermer in the movies. He was furious that the town didn't really exist. Now, Dogma was incredibly important to me for many reasons, but Jay & Silent Bob's bitter disappointment that Shermer was fictional was shared by this particular member of the audience. I think it's fair to say that we're not disappointed for the same reason.

A man had a heart attack while he was walking in a park. It shouldn't be a big deal to anyone but that man's family and friends. This particular man, though, managed to do something not many people have:

He made movies for teenagers that managed to be both good and clever. In a world where films like It's A Boy/Girl Thing and A Cinderella Story and anything involving Miley or Zefron, it's almost hard to believe that such films ever could exist.

I remember when I fell in love with The Breakfast Club. I have no idea what made me think to watch it, but I did. Maybe I read something about it in Empire. I watched it so many times that I can still spew out quotes from time to time. Bender's remark about screws falling out all the time was for a long time, the soundtrack for error messages on my computer. I think I wrote fic, but didn't finish it.

I watched it with one of my friends once and he just didn't like it, as I recall. I wonder if he'd say the same now? We weren't long out of secondary school, and I think our different (incredibly different) times at our different secondary schools might've had something to do with it.

Everyone knows I hated secondary school. I don't keep quiet about it anymore. It continues to influence me in some ways: I don't like using the changing rooms at the gym because inside my head I'm still the girl who had her stuff thrown out of the window; still the girl who had the mick taken out of her. Yes, I know I wasn't the only one, cry moar etc. I hated the place. I was an outsider and I didn't belong. Is it any wonder that I loved The Breakfast Club? I wanted to be as don't-caringly brave as Bender, man, even if he was also completely fucked up.

That said, I still think that the loooooooong scene where they're talking towards the end is way, way too long. It feels like it doesn't belong to me, because it feels like the film falls into the cliches it was exposing. I haven't seen it in a long time. I don't have it on DVD. I suppose because it meant so much to me then I distanced myself from it as I put myself back together (shout out to Natasha, Rachel and Eb for that, too). I wonder if I watched it now if I felt the same?

And man, that line about Claire being a "fat girl's name"? Do I ever want to prove that arsehole Bender wrong on that. That'll get me to the gym.

I digress. My friend hated The Breakfast Club. I forget why, but I wonder now if it was that he didn't necessarily see those characters the same way as I did? To the best of my knowledge, said friend was wicked popular at school. He's beautiful, he's personable, he's smart, he's a jammy bastard. What could The Breakfast Club offer him? This is all conjecture, I have no recollection beyond him hating it.

Man, I just thought of something: I'm Brian, with a bit of Alison in there for good measure. Said friend? He's Ferris Bueller.

Ah, Ferris. Another film I watched over and over again, but in a different way. It was the dream where The Breakfast Club was a kind of reality. Like nearly every teenager who ever saw Ferris Bueller's Day Off since then, I wished I could've done the same. I never played truant/cut class once. I did the first five minutes of the film: I worked myself up so badly that I was ill without having to fake overmuch, and got some needed respite from the Ninth Circle.

*

I just remembered something. I remember sitting in the abovementioned friend's garden (let's call him Rocky for the purposes of this post). Rocky told me, in all seriousness, that Home Alone 2 was going to be on ITV at Christmas. My eyes must've widened as I said something along the lines of:

"Wow! Cos it hasn't even been out on video yet!"

Rocky was having me on, of course, during one of my strange bouts of complete gullibility. I wanted to believe it, because I was nine years old and loved Home Alone. When Home Alone 2 came out, I liked it almost as much, but I must also admit that I tended to fast forward through quite a lot of bits of both films... and these days I'm far too cynical and black-hearted to think much of them... but there was John Hughes with films made for me. I didn't know at the time that he'd already made a bunch of movies that would be ready for me a few years later when I needed them.

*

Back to where I was... where was I?

I can't tell you absolutely honestly that John Hughes movies were my adolescence. There were things I couldn't relate to, being a kid in Britain rather than America, but the important things were universal. I remember seeing Weird Science at some point but it didn't mean much to me: Kelly Le Brock was never, and likely never will be, a fantasy for me, and although I dreamed of a measure of revenge against those I felt wronged me, I wanted something more along the lines of The Count of Monte Cristo than slapstick comeuppances (this is how I remember Weird Science. If I'm wrong, tell me).

No, John Hughes movies weren't my adolescence. My adolescence was the Beatles and Dylan and WOE IS FUCKING ME and technicolor dreams... with just a dash of John Hughes movies. The Breakfast Club and Ferris Bueller were enough for me as part of a wider movie world I constructed for myself from swashbucklers, Disney movies and the likes of Die Hard.

Then, just at a random moment in HMV last year, or the year before, as I embarked upon a life on my own, I bought Some Kind of Wonderful. No reason, particularly, it was just cheap and I thought it might be OK. I watched it very late one night, curled up in my duvet. By the end, I was in pieces crying. I'd assumed that Eric Stoltz would end up with the rich, pretty girl instead of his friend, the cool and quirky one. When Keith (what kind of hero is called Keith? A realistic one, I suppose) walked off into the moonlight with Watts, it felt like the bitterly 'Hollywood' endings of a thousand horrible teen movies was soothed away. I didn't realise at the time, because I hadn't seen Pretty in Pink yet, that it was the film Hughes had wanted Pretty in Pink to be. Had I seen Pretty in Pink beforehand, I might've been even more affected by Some Kind of Wonderful with the terrible burden of "unrequited Duckie love" bearing down (thanks to Dean from SPN for the quote).

It's a funny thing: If a movie is good and clever, it doesn't matter if it's a 'teen' movie or a 'grown-up' movie or a whatever-pigeon-hole-you-want movie. I can hardly stand most teen movies, and didn't much like them when I was the demographic. I'm too old, cynical and disbelieving in fluffy wuv, twu wuv to stomach most of them. The fact that Zac Efron seems to be in most of them doesn't help.

But I'll watch a John Hughes teen movie. I still haven't seen Sixteen Candles (I know, right?) but when it finally gets sent by Blockbuster Online, I won't think 'ick, teen movie', I'll think 'oooh, John Hughes movie' because his movies were good and clever, and they had heart to them.

John Hughes movies weren't my adolescence, but now sitting here I rather wish my adolescence had been a John Hughes movie. And yeah, I wish Shermer was a real place too.

apolla: (Black Rose)
The above quote is from a short (for him) rant by Jay in Dogma. In it, he bitches to Bethany about the fact that he and Silent Bob had travelled all the way from New Jersey to Illinois after seeing Shermer in the movies. He was furious that the town didn't really exist. Now, Dogma was incredibly important to me for many reasons, but Jay & Silent Bob's bitter disappointment that Shermer was fictional was shared by this particular member of the audience. I think it's fair to say that we're not disappointed for the same reason.

A man had a heart attack while he was walking in a park. It shouldn't be a big deal to anyone but that man's family and friends. This particular man, though, managed to do something not many people have:

He made movies for teenagers that managed to be both good and clever. In a world where films like It's A Boy/Girl Thing and A Cinderella Story and anything involving Miley or Zefron, it's almost hard to believe that such films ever could exist.

I remember when I fell in love with The Breakfast Club. I have no idea what made me think to watch it, but I did. Maybe I read something about it in Empire. I watched it so many times that I can still spew out quotes from time to time. Bender's remark about screws falling out all the time was for a long time, the soundtrack for error messages on my computer. I think I wrote fic, but didn't finish it.

I watched it with one of my friends once and he just didn't like it, as I recall. I wonder if he'd say the same now? We weren't long out of secondary school, and I think our different (incredibly different) times at our different secondary schools might've had something to do with it.

Everyone knows I hated secondary school. I don't keep quiet about it anymore. It continues to influence me in some ways: I don't like using the changing rooms at the gym because inside my head I'm still the girl who had her stuff thrown out of the window; still the girl who had the mick taken out of her. Yes, I know I wasn't the only one, cry moar etc. I hated the place. I was an outsider and I didn't belong. Is it any wonder that I loved The Breakfast Club? I wanted to be as don't-caringly brave as Bender, man, even if he was also completely fucked up.

That said, I still think that the loooooooong scene where they're talking towards the end is way, way too long. It feels like it doesn't belong to me, because it feels like the film falls into the cliches it was exposing. I haven't seen it in a long time. I don't have it on DVD. I suppose because it meant so much to me then I distanced myself from it as I put myself back together (shout out to Natasha, Rachel and Eb for that, too). I wonder if I watched it now if I felt the same?

And man, that line about Claire being a "fat girl's name"? Do I ever want to prove that arsehole Bender wrong on that. That'll get me to the gym.

I digress. My friend hated The Breakfast Club. I forget why, but I wonder now if it was that he didn't necessarily see those characters the same way as I did? To the best of my knowledge, said friend was wicked popular at school. He's beautiful, he's personable, he's smart, he's a jammy bastard. What could The Breakfast Club offer him? This is all conjecture, I have no recollection beyond him hating it.

Man, I just thought of something: I'm Brian, with a bit of Alison in there for good measure. Said friend? He's Ferris Bueller.

Ah, Ferris. Another film I watched over and over again, but in a different way. It was the dream where The Breakfast Club was a kind of reality. Like nearly every teenager who ever saw Ferris Bueller's Day Off since then, I wished I could've done the same. I never played truant/cut class once. I did the first five minutes of the film: I worked myself up so badly that I was ill without having to fake overmuch, and got some needed respite from the Ninth Circle.

*

I just remembered something. I remember sitting in the abovementioned friend's garden (let's call him Rocky for the purposes of this post). Rocky told me, in all seriousness, that Home Alone 2 was going to be on ITV at Christmas. My eyes must've widened as I said something along the lines of:

"Wow! Cos it hasn't even been out on video yet!"

Rocky was having me on, of course, during one of my strange bouts of complete gullibility. I wanted to believe it, because I was nine years old and loved Home Alone. When Home Alone 2 came out, I liked it almost as much, but I must also admit that I tended to fast forward through quite a lot of bits of both films... and these days I'm far too cynical and black-hearted to think much of them... but there was John Hughes with films made for me. I didn't know at the time that he'd already made a bunch of movies that would be ready for me a few years later when I needed them.

*

Back to where I was... where was I?

I can't tell you absolutely honestly that John Hughes movies were my adolescence. There were things I couldn't relate to, being a kid in Britain rather than America, but the important things were universal. I remember seeing Weird Science at some point but it didn't mean much to me: Kelly Le Brock was never, and likely never will be, a fantasy for me, and although I dreamed of a measure of revenge against those I felt wronged me, I wanted something more along the lines of The Count of Monte Cristo than slapstick comeuppances (this is how I remember Weird Science. If I'm wrong, tell me).

No, John Hughes movies weren't my adolescence. My adolescence was the Beatles and Dylan and WOE IS FUCKING ME and technicolor dreams... with just a dash of John Hughes movies. The Breakfast Club and Ferris Bueller were enough for me as part of a wider movie world I constructed for myself from swashbucklers, Disney movies and the likes of Die Hard.

Then, just at a random moment in HMV last year, or the year before, as I embarked upon a life on my own, I bought Some Kind of Wonderful. No reason, particularly, it was just cheap and I thought it might be OK. I watched it very late one night, curled up in my duvet. By the end, I was in pieces crying. I'd assumed that Eric Stoltz would end up with the rich, pretty girl instead of his friend, the cool and quirky one. When Keith (what kind of hero is called Keith? A realistic one, I suppose) walked off into the moonlight with Watts, it felt like the bitterly 'Hollywood' endings of a thousand horrible teen movies was soothed away. I didn't realise at the time, because I hadn't seen Pretty in Pink yet, that it was the film Hughes had wanted Pretty in Pink to be. Had I seen Pretty in Pink beforehand, I might've been even more affected by Some Kind of Wonderful with the terrible burden of "unrequited Duckie love" bearing down (thanks to Dean from SPN for the quote).

It's a funny thing: If a movie is good and clever, it doesn't matter if it's a 'teen' movie or a 'grown-up' movie or a whatever-pigeon-hole-you-want movie. I can hardly stand most teen movies, and didn't much like them when I was the demographic. I'm too old, cynical and disbelieving in fluffy wuv, twu wuv to stomach most of them. The fact that Zac Efron seems to be in most of them doesn't help.

But I'll watch a John Hughes teen movie. I still haven't seen Sixteen Candles (I know, right?) but when it finally gets sent by Blockbuster Online, I won't think 'ick, teen movie', I'll think 'oooh, John Hughes movie' because his movies were good and clever, and they had heart to them.

John Hughes movies weren't my adolescence, but now sitting here I rather wish my adolescence had been a John Hughes movie. And yeah, I wish Shermer was a real place too.

A Star Is Born

Saturday, 18 April 2009 19:42
apolla: (Default)
Until today, I had never seen A Star Is Born. Not the first version, not the Babs & Kris and not even the Garland-Mason version. The latter has been sat on a shelf here for probably three years, waiting in the Garland box set. I don't know why I never watched it before, and I can only surmise that it just felt like I never really felt I had to. I don't know why. I mean, it's got Judy, it's got Mason (whom I've always liked), it's got a massive reputation and it's about Hollywood. Seriously, it's the kind of thing I should always have leapt at but... I just never did.

Actually, I'm still watching it. I find it awfully slow - this is the restored and reconstructed version - and although I like it, I don't love it yet.

The main thing I thought so far is that Errol Flynn would've made a brilliant Norman Maine, except that by 1954 he was too dissipated and fucked to have been able to do it.

Also, I wonder if this story would work the other way around: Big Female Star marries Unknown Male and while he becomes a massive star, she goes into career decline. Would it happen the same way, I wonder? That said, I feel bitterly sorry for Norman already now that even the postman doesn't recognise/remember him. That must be a bitch of a feeling.

After all that, I do agree with Groucho: Grace Kelly winning an Oscar instead of Judy for this is the biggest robbery since Brinks. That said, seeing Judy Garland being all level-headed and easy to work with on set somehow doesn't quite work for me. It's too sad to see when I know the truth (partial, slightly mythical perhaps) of her movie career. I mean, if you choose to look, you can even see her Matt Perry-like weight gain and loss and back and forth within this one film. Maybe acting as someone like Esther-Vicki, down to earth and stuff, is her great achievement.

"What is it that makes him want to destroy himself?" Love, if we knew the answer to that, there'd be a lot of movie stars and musicians still alive. If we make the remark genderless, too...

"Love isn't enough." Girl, we already knew that.

God, this is a long fucking film. It makes Watchmen look like an hourlong drama.

A Star Is Born

Saturday, 18 April 2009 19:42
apolla: (Default)
Until today, I had never seen A Star Is Born. Not the first version, not the Babs & Kris and not even the Garland-Mason version. The latter has been sat on a shelf here for probably three years, waiting in the Garland box set. I don't know why I never watched it before, and I can only surmise that it just felt like I never really felt I had to. I don't know why. I mean, it's got Judy, it's got Mason (whom I've always liked), it's got a massive reputation and it's about Hollywood. Seriously, it's the kind of thing I should always have leapt at but... I just never did.

Actually, I'm still watching it. I find it awfully slow - this is the restored and reconstructed version - and although I like it, I don't love it yet.

The main thing I thought so far is that Errol Flynn would've made a brilliant Norman Maine, except that by 1954 he was too dissipated and fucked to have been able to do it.

Also, I wonder if this story would work the other way around: Big Female Star marries Unknown Male and while he becomes a massive star, she goes into career decline. Would it happen the same way, I wonder? That said, I feel bitterly sorry for Norman already now that even the postman doesn't recognise/remember him. That must be a bitch of a feeling.

After all that, I do agree with Groucho: Grace Kelly winning an Oscar instead of Judy for this is the biggest robbery since Brinks. That said, seeing Judy Garland being all level-headed and easy to work with on set somehow doesn't quite work for me. It's too sad to see when I know the truth (partial, slightly mythical perhaps) of her movie career. I mean, if you choose to look, you can even see her Matt Perry-like weight gain and loss and back and forth within this one film. Maybe acting as someone like Esther-Vicki, down to earth and stuff, is her great achievement.

"What is it that makes him want to destroy himself?" Love, if we knew the answer to that, there'd be a lot of movie stars and musicians still alive. If we make the remark genderless, too...

"Love isn't enough." Girl, we already knew that.

God, this is a long fucking film. It makes Watchmen look like an hourlong drama.

The Magic 27

Tuesday, 24 March 2009 20:28
apolla: (Default)
I'm twenty-seven years old tomorrow. In twelve hours, actually, if you go by birth time. It's not a big deal for most people but...

Twenty-seven... do you know how many important people in my world died at twenty-seven? Hendrix, man. That Joplin girl, although she's never been my thing. Brian 'The Bastard' Jones. Kurt. Robert 'Devil at the Crossroads' Johnson. There are more - wiki for 27 Club.

And then there is the man it always comes back to. The adored Jim.

I haven't spoken about him here for awhile, although maybe I have and it just doesn't feel like it. It was ten years ago or thereabouts that I really discovered what it was he meant to me and would come to mean to me, and I'm about to outlive the weak-willed bastard. I have loved him for such a long old time that I only remember how it is not to love him in theory. I know there was a time that I didn't love him, but I don't feel it.

I don't want to outlive Jim, I really don't... but to achieve even a sliver of what he did, I will have to. I'm not on the same special fasttrack as him. To outlive my great hero, to surpass him even only chronologically, feels so wrong. I can argue of course, that as he'd be sixty-five if he'd bothered to live, I still haven't caught up. I'm STILL playing catch-up, still! I still feel this ridiculous tugging towards that undeserving old bastard... and reaching 27 hasn't changed that.

*

I'm actually healthier now than ever before. I keep relatively fit by going to the work gym (sometimes i even manage to go twice a week!) and I don't eat even a fraction of the rubbish I used to. Crisps are gone. Most chocolate is gone. Cookies during work remain a vice, because Sainsbury's cookies are such manna from heaven. I don't drink Coke anymore, diet or otherwise, though my dependence on tonic water is worrying it's nothing in comparison to the bad, bad old days.

I don't get much more sleep than I used to, but at least now I think "Ah, half twelve, I should think about sleep" rather than "Ah, half three." Maybe I'm just on my way to the middle like everyone else, I don't know.

I don't have to battle the demon drink like I might once have done, although I'm drinking Marsala right now. I've fought and partly-won against my own lesser demons. I don't pretend to have won completely, or forever. Maybe listening to Jimmy right now is enough to send me back to the depths, or to the bottom of a bottle.

I'm not really much different to the person I was two, five, ten years ago. But that person has fought the right battles enough times to have just a little control over those lesser demons, just a little. I'm still the Unhappy Girl from Strange Days, but I know why I am and I increasingly choose it.

Ten years ago I was a rock music obsessive who watched way too many movies. My dreams are still more or less the same as they were then, but maybe at least with a couple of roots in reality. I'm the same person. I don't change.

*

Anyway, I won't outlive Jim Morrison until 20 Oct 2009. I won't have to really worry until then, right? I still hope that when I die, he'll be the one to come collect me, and I won't know whether he's from heaven or from hell. Except that it can't be heaven without him and the others...

The Magic 27

Tuesday, 24 March 2009 20:28
apolla: (Default)
I'm twenty-seven years old tomorrow. In twelve hours, actually, if you go by birth time. It's not a big deal for most people but...

Twenty-seven... do you know how many important people in my world died at twenty-seven? Hendrix, man. That Joplin girl, although she's never been my thing. Brian 'The Bastard' Jones. Kurt. Robert 'Devil at the Crossroads' Johnson. There are more - wiki for 27 Club.

And then there is the man it always comes back to. The adored Jim.

I haven't spoken about him here for awhile, although maybe I have and it just doesn't feel like it. It was ten years ago or thereabouts that I really discovered what it was he meant to me and would come to mean to me, and I'm about to outlive the weak-willed bastard. I have loved him for such a long old time that I only remember how it is not to love him in theory. I know there was a time that I didn't love him, but I don't feel it.

I don't want to outlive Jim, I really don't... but to achieve even a sliver of what he did, I will have to. I'm not on the same special fasttrack as him. To outlive my great hero, to surpass him even only chronologically, feels so wrong. I can argue of course, that as he'd be sixty-five if he'd bothered to live, I still haven't caught up. I'm STILL playing catch-up, still! I still feel this ridiculous tugging towards that undeserving old bastard... and reaching 27 hasn't changed that.

*

I'm actually healthier now than ever before. I keep relatively fit by going to the work gym (sometimes i even manage to go twice a week!) and I don't eat even a fraction of the rubbish I used to. Crisps are gone. Most chocolate is gone. Cookies during work remain a vice, because Sainsbury's cookies are such manna from heaven. I don't drink Coke anymore, diet or otherwise, though my dependence on tonic water is worrying it's nothing in comparison to the bad, bad old days.

I don't get much more sleep than I used to, but at least now I think "Ah, half twelve, I should think about sleep" rather than "Ah, half three." Maybe I'm just on my way to the middle like everyone else, I don't know.

I don't have to battle the demon drink like I might once have done, although I'm drinking Marsala right now. I've fought and partly-won against my own lesser demons. I don't pretend to have won completely, or forever. Maybe listening to Jimmy right now is enough to send me back to the depths, or to the bottom of a bottle.

I'm not really much different to the person I was two, five, ten years ago. But that person has fought the right battles enough times to have just a little control over those lesser demons, just a little. I'm still the Unhappy Girl from Strange Days, but I know why I am and I increasingly choose it.

Ten years ago I was a rock music obsessive who watched way too many movies. My dreams are still more or less the same as they were then, but maybe at least with a couple of roots in reality. I'm the same person. I don't change.

*

Anyway, I won't outlive Jim Morrison until 20 Oct 2009. I won't have to really worry until then, right? I still hope that when I die, he'll be the one to come collect me, and I won't know whether he's from heaven or from hell. Except that it can't be heaven without him and the others...
apolla: (Fleeen)
Like so many scribblings that turn up on this here blog, the following is actually the culmination of several different conversations and a few other odd little things.

I don't know how many people know this, I suppose anyone who knows me at all well, but for about a decade or so, I have had one hero who towers over most of the others in so many ways. Step forward, Errol Flynn. It is the centenary of his birth this year, a landmark I'd forgotten about until the other week.

During a mock exam for Theatre Studies in Year 13, I got bored and started reading My Wicked, Wicked Ways, Errol's autobiography, instead of writing my paper. It had a lot of the big allegations (and truths) removed back when it was published, and there's all sorts of things I wouldn't believe if I'd seen them. It also made no mention of his fifteen-year-old girlfriend beyond a dedication to "a small companion".

I had a conversation the other day about another actor who seems to me to differ from Flynn in only one respect: he's alive. If the internet gossip blogs are telling the truth (and sometimes they are, you know), he's probably Errol for the 21st Century, right down to the rumours of being fond of occasional manlove. He also features in action movies, though more shouty than swashbuckling, and though not quite so beautiful (who is?) I think he's sometimes almost as charming and charismatic on screen.

If he's the New Flynn, then I wouldn't trust him as far as I could throw him. I've loved Flynn for ten years or so, but it was, is and always will be, of the most absolute platonic sort, not because he's long-dead, but because I don't believe I could be in love with someone so completely unable to dedicate himself to one person, to love one person. There are things about Flynn that I dislike: the penchant for younger ladies, for one (if the internet is true, New Flynn just about fulfils this criterion too). The drugs for another (again the internet for New Flynn). I was never more disappointed in Flynn than when I saw a documentary and his daughter talked of his twenty/twenty-five year morphine addiction, though not because of the addiction. In My Wicked, Wicked Ways, Flynn says he experimented, had a bad few weeks and was helped out of it by friends. It wasn't the drugs that made me cry, it was the fact that he'd lied. The reason I'd loved that man wasn't the legend, it was the way he had chosen a way to live and was unapologetic for it. He lived by his own rules and to the devil for anyone who wouldn't let him. That's what I loved and respected. And he lied just like everyone else, in the end.

I never felt sorry for him, this alcoholic, drug-addicted, serial shagger movie star, not ever. Even when I read between the lines of My Wicked Wicked Ways or read the actual lines in trash-biography books like Satan's Angel, I never felt sorry for him, because he had lived the way he wanted to. Then I saw My Favorite Year and another of my heroes, PETER O'TOOLEplayed a fellow called Alan Swann with such grace and pathos that I realised that for all his charm, charisma, beauty and outright wonder, Errol Flynn was ultimately a sad, pathetic little man just like the rest of us. He died as alone as the rest of us, for all the In Like Flynn escapades, for all his Cuban exploits, for all of his nose-thumbing to authority, Errol was like the rest of us. I could hardly bear the sorrow that day, although I've seen My Favorite Year many times since and of all the DVDs I've imported from America, it was the most important to me (Dancing Lady strangely low down the list!).

Still, the humanising of Errol Flynn has allowed me to see him with fresh eyes and I'm glad to say I love him no less. He is, and ever will be, the most beautiful man, I have ever seen. He makes Ben Barnes look like Sid James. Of all the movie stars I've seen grace the screen (ie, most of them), only Valentino has a power almost equal to Flynn's in terms of keeping one's gaze directed at him, and only him. I first saw The Adventures of Robin Hood on TCM and taped it off there before I got a copy of the video proper, and at one time I would arrive home from school, put the video straight on and watch it. Then rewind and watch again. I could probably quote the whole damn script given half a chance, and there are lines from it that will stay with me forever:

"Why, you speak treason!"
"Fluently."

I think that one, brief exchange between Maid Marian and Robin Hood is what pulled me in. Who else could've pulled off a line like that? When it first came out, I thought Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves was OK. Not great, but I liked the legend itself so I watched it. I can't watch it anymore, not because of Costner's performance, or Slater's nonsense or the other awfulnesses, but because I've seen Flynn now and can't go back. If only we could transplant Rickman's Sheriff into the 'proper' film...

There's something knowing about every film Flynn did, so that even when you're watching some terrible films, Flynn lets you the audience know that he knows it's terrible too. I've seen awful films elevated to enjoyable by that alone. This was not a po-faced "WHAT DON'T YOU FUCKING UNDERSTAND?" method actor, and yet he possessed each of his characters quite completely. I loved that about him from the first scenes of Robin Hood through to this morning, when I finally saw The Master of Ballantrae on TCM. Ballantrae is a bad film, but even with his face ravaged by years of hard living, neglect and dissipation, Flynn is still a movie star and yes, my eyes still followed him so intently that I can hardly tell you what the guy playing his brother looked like. I'd hardly even have noticed Roger 'Colonel Blimp' Livesey if it weren't for the fact he was touting some terrible Oirish accent about with him. There is something about a man who had such a power even when his looks have mostly abandoned him.

So no, I really don't care what shit Flynn got up to during his eventful 50 years. I don't care if he murdered a native person in New Guinea and I don't care if he was boffing 15/16 year old girls (partly because I think they were probably more than keen). I happen to not believe the unsubstatiated rumours of him being a Nazi spy, mostly because he appears to me to be far more socialist than anything - he went to Cuba for the revolution, for God's sake! I don't care about any of it, not because I'm heartless, but because watching him in those films, all I see is that face and all I feel is the waves of charm rolling from the screen.

He wasn't as far as I can see a good man, but he was great in his way. He was unapologetic about the life he chose to life, and I don't suppose he regretted most of it. Time will tell if the New Flynn actually is the New Flynn, but I don't think I'll live to see anyone truly fulfil the same place in the world. After all, Pirates of the Caribbean managed to resurrect the swashbuckler, but the role Errol once took had to be split between two people: Depp and Bloom. Incidentally, he'd already taken part in parodying the form with The Adventures of Don Juan in '48.

He was a bastard who likely brought as much misery as joy to anyone who loved him at the time. I wouldn't have much liked being one of his wives, or children, but I love him. There's nothing you could tell me that could possibly change that, and that ladies and gentlemen of the jury, is pretty well the dictionary definition of a True Movie Star.

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