How are you? I am going out of town for a few days, so I want you to have plenty to tide you over until my next ramble. Don't say I never loved you.
News from Around the Reel
An excellent link from today's IndieWire hit me on all my sweet spots: "Classic Photographers, Female Directors, and Cronenberg the Seer". Strange but true, I didn't write that one!
The J.J. Abrams World Domination Tour continues with his directing of Star Wars Episode 9 million (aka VII), which apparently is scheduled for 2015. Carrie, Harrison and Mark are on board.
One of my favorite movies, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, turns 40. Talk about a time warp.
Are you fidgeting and can't find anything to watch? Pop in to The Guardian Screening Room. The beautiful For Ellen starring Paul Dano is up, as is Love Addict, directed by Pernille Rose Grønkjær, who I had the pleasure of interviewing a few months ago.
Trance: Danny Boyle's of-course-it's-got-a-killer-soundtrack new film is going to be a wild, wild ride. I am so excited. May the lords of technicolor forgive me for my initial doubts. Check out this recently released clip of the heist which, I think, is the center of the mystery the movie aims to solve. I can't wait to get this soundtrack.
Kiss of the Damned: I am only mentioning this film here because I want you to watch it under the following conditions ONLY: you are sort of drunk, you're doing something else that doesn't demand your full attention, and, you have someone to shake your head with. I don't normally list films on this blog with these kinds of conditions, but I just can't ignore the fact there's something really ... attractive...? about this film which is basically terrible. I think it's the way it was shot, or how it is strangely reminiscent of Blade if it ever crossed paths with Next Door. So, by the power of Times New Roman (allusion to the poster), if it even is TNR, bask in the light of this vampire film which comes complete with the standard "you're one of us now I will teach you everything you need to know" set-up, the night club scene, the femme fetale orgy weirdo bullshit like it's supposed to be shocking, the "my skin condition doesn't let me go out in the light" cover line, the "humans live in OUR world" justification of action, and last but not least, the French accent. Lestat and Nick Knight, cover your ears.
To the Wonder: The new film from softie Terrance Malick is a bit touch-and-go for me, but the story is beautiful. Javier Bardem saves the day.
Director: Xavier Dolan
Starring: Suzanne Clement, Melvil Poupaud
Producer: Gus Van Sant
Highlight: High on the list at this week's BFI London Lesbian & Gay Film Festival.
This film came out last year in France and has been making an undeservedly slow trip around the world. Thanks to iMDb the full list of release dates is out. So now, you have NO EXCUSE to miss this film. And if you still can't find it, or get to go see it, tell me.
The rundown: Laurence and Fred (Frederique) are a young couple in uber-love in Montreal. On his birthday, Laurence tells his beloved Fred his deepest secret -- he is a woman trapped in a man's body. He's been living a lie for 32 years and now wants to make his life right. Of course, Fred's reaction is complicated, heartbroken and confused, as she tries to merge together her feelings for the love of her life as a man, as a woman, and as a woman herself. The story is heartbreaking, not only because it handles the emotional and social struggles of transgenderism, but because it focuses such a hard, hard spotlight on the toughest time of a relationship and leaves it no room to breathe. You really feel the highs and lows with this couple, before and after Laurence reveals his secret. It's beautiful, it's ugly, it's work, it just is. Probably one of the best portraits of a relationship I've ever seen.
Pros - 1) Suzanne Clement's performance in a way overshadows Melvil Poupaud's, and his is also beyond stunning. But Suzanne's incredible ability to go between emotions, to make you take a deep breath when she needs to take one, to make you cry when she does, and feel pissed when she does, is 100000% talent. She's a fucking incredible actress. It's no surprise she's on the 2013 Canadian Screen Awards short list. 2) The soundtrack is great. 3) The clever "blurring" of Fred's gender by having her name as Fred, and her half-long haircut.
Cons- 1) At times, the film gets a little too deliberate in character establishments, and what the definition of a woman, man, friend and relative are, what a relationship is, what it isn't. I suppose this is an attempt to show the kind of staunch, fixed world Laurence's identity challenges, but the film wasn't released during the time it takes place in ('89 to '99), it's obviously been released in the tweens of the 2000s. And we've made many a great social strides since then, even though sometimes it's not so apparent. There is a strangely clever nod to the latter midway through the film, which is an oddly placed time warp, where a character says, "it gets better my ass." 2) It's long. This usually isn't a problem, but for a movie that rakes you over the coals of emotion and atmosphere and lots of 80s and 90sness, 168' is a beating. 3) There are some oddly placed moments of levity and out-and-out abstract symbolism in the film that are very Baz Lurhmann-y, and for an already dramatic story, they make the drama of the film seem cartoonish.
Here is Suzanne KILLIN' IT in an excellent scene where an ignorant waitress' comments have gone on long enough.