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« Policy Break -- Tax Takedown | Main | Leon Krier »

August 15, 2002

DVD Journal: "Sex and Lucia": "Lost and Delirious"; "The Good Girl"; "My Big Fat Greek Wedding"

Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Friedrich --

I confess that I'm not a tax or Social Security wonk, but would be curious to know what your favorite plan for fixing them is. I have only a few dim feelings on the subject, all of them along the lines of "simpler is better," and "what a Ponzi scheme!" These hunches lead me in the direction of thinking a flat tax makes a lot of sense, and that (assuming government needs to get involved in retirement planning at all) Social Security ought to be put on a you-pay-for-yourself basis ASAP. Deep, huh? Enlighten me.

Despite all discouragements, I still watch the occasional movie. Do you? What a nice art/entertainment form, at least in principle -- the work complete unto itself, lots of talented people contributing, and over in an hour and a half. What a pleasant, compact way of having a "fiction experience" when you're in the mood for one. So, an update:

1. "Sex and Lucia" -- fairly enjoyable high-class art-porn. Ingrown, and full of the kinds of mystical-seeming coincidences modernist art-porn seems prone to, which is fine by me -- the modernist art-porn novella is one of my favorite forms, and I accept its conventions happily. Ie., half "Emanuelle," half Atom Egoyan. Too much death and grief for my tastes (modernist art-porn novellas require some death and grief, but this was a bit much). But three fabulous, and fabulous-looking, actresses, each one very uninhibited. (The guy who directed "Y Yu Mama" said in an interview I ran across somewhere that he chose a Spanish, rather than a Mexican, actress for his movie because Spanish women are so free and daring these days.) A couple of remarkable scenes: One where the newly-in-love guy and girl are sexually frolicking -- I haven't seen many movie scenes that suggest so sweetly how silly and playful sex can be. And another where a woman seduces a guy verbally. They're on a park bench, watching children at play, and she tells him about how she masturbated the night before while watching a videotape of her mother (who happens to be a porn star) getting fucked. The girl is grinning and mischievous and the poor guy hardly knows what to do -- he just gets more and more confused and worked-up. Now that's my kind of modernism, ingrown and kinky. The women in the audience seemed to enjoy the movie, which raises the evergreen question: why do women go so enthusiastically for some erotic movies and object so vehemently to others?

2) "Lost and Delirious" -- Lesbianism as a disruptive force at a Canadian girls' boarding school: "A Separate Peace," basically, but with girls instead of boys, and with the implicit homosex made explict. Beautifully made, in a subdued, art-house way (great light, great attention to the girls' facial flesh -- the tiny scars, the translucency, etc), and gutsily acted. But a long, solemn trip into a very dreary lesbian mindset -- a movie for the Lillith Fair crowd. One beautiful scene of two girls making it, though -- very transporting. The look of tenderness and rapacity that women can get in the midst of sex -- I never tire of watching it...

3) "The Good Girl" -- enjoyed it! Or about 2/3 of it, in any case, but that's still a recommendation. Small-scale, quirky blue-collar Texas tragi-comedy/romance. Jennifer Anniston can act -- who knew? Lots of funny/touching/absurd observational work by writer, director and actors, and a pleasingly lowkey, "open" approach to the dramaturgy. The movie's main flaw, so far as I was concerned, was that the characters here and there do things more stupid than what the movie had prepared you to accept. (The writer, Mike White, has a distinctive but uneven talent...)

4) "My Big, Fat Greek Wedding" -- By-the-numbers, perfectly OK, low-budget, underdog-triumphs romantic comedy. Some script flaws (there's never a romantic crisis, for instance). But what's most fascinating about seeing the movie at a theater is the good will that pours off the audience. Right from the start they're appreciative, and rooting for it. Why? Because the actress playing the heroine is an unknown, and the movie doesn't have "star product" or "glitz" written all over it? (My theory is that it's "Rocky" for women.) The other reflection it sparked off in me is how hungry audiences seem to be for ethnic humor -- this picture has a lot of those-wacky-Greeks humor. Audiences want to laugh about group traits, but the only people apparently allowed to make the jokes are group members. Blacks can make jokes about blacks ("Undercover Brother"), Greeks about Greeks (this thing), and audiences will understand that it's ok to laugh. (WASPy types are fair game for everyone, but that goes without saying.) I wonder if it'll be OK once again sometime soon for people to make jokes publically about groups they don't belong to. Wouldn't that be a radical new step?

What have you caught recently?



posted by Michael at August 15, 2002


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