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Well, the New Year is here, and I celebrated it in a relatively… - John C. Kirk

Jan. 2nd, 2006

12:08 am

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Well, the New Year is here, and I celebrated it in a relatively low-key manner. I was off on SJA duty last night (at the Natural History Museum's outdoor ice-rink) - I'd heard that it's been very busy, with lots of broken bones, but hardly anything happened while I was there. The main thing that stuck in my mind was when people complained about the ice being cold and slippery... The tube strike turned out to be less disruptive than I'd feared, so I made it on to a party afterwards in time to hear the chimes at midnight with some friends.

And following on from my resolutions, Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett have written some for Crowley and Aziraphale. I also liked Gaiman's wish for his readers: "May your 2002 be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you're wonderful, and don't to forget make some art -- write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. And I hope, somewhere in 2002, you surprise yourself." (He certainly has a knack for phrasing things more eloquently than I can.)

Meanwhile, I've just been watching a couple of films on TV. "I, Robot" is one that I didn't get round to watching in the cinema (partly because I heard so many complaints about how it compared to the books), but I quite liked it. Then "Eurotrip" was a lot of fun - not exactly sophisticated humour, but it made me laugh. It was also interesting to see Michelle Trachtenberg (Dawn from "Buffy") and Kristin Kreuk (Lana from "Smallville") in very different roles. Mind you, avoid "Snow White" - Kristin Kreuk did ok in an early role, but the film is pretty dire. "Jack and the Beanstalk: The Real Story" is a similar style of film, but it was done far better.

Looking at upcoming films, I think that "Brokeback Mountain" may well be a good film with lots of artistic merit, but all I could think of during the trailer was Cartman's line from "South Park" ("Independent films are all about gay cowboys sitting around eating pudding"), so I think I'll give it a miss. And "The Wild" looks very similar to "Madagascar" (although I haven't seen either), so I'll probably skip that too. I'm looking forward to "Just Like Heaven" and "V for Vendetta" though.

Comments:

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From:shuripentu
Date:January 3rd, 2006 11:13 pm (UTC)
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Not having seen that South Park episode, I'm actually quite keen on seeing Brokeback Mountain in the cinema if the reviews are good. The trailers look very promising, and I would be proud to see a mainstream movie with homosexuality as one of its primary themes do well at the box office.
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From:johnckirk
Date:January 3rd, 2006 11:48 pm (UTC)
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(First up, standard disclaimer about opinions varying etc. - if you go to watch the film, then I hope you enjoy it.)

Since I haven't seen the film, I can't really speak about it with much authority. But hey, this is the internet, so why stand in the way of tradition? I saw the trailer, and I had two main objections to it:

a) It was one of those that says "We're going to tell you the entire plot of the film", i.e. it has major spoilers, and I think the film would be more effective if you didn't know about the gay theme in advance.

b) It seems to be a story about a guy who has a wife and small child (children?), and then says "Hey, screw them - I don't care about my commitments, I just want to get my end away with an old flame." This doesn't make me inclined to care about what happens to him. I'd have the same objection if he was straight, but I'm also bothered by the vague implication that "Hey, this is Art, so that makes it ok". Granted, there can be good films about a person's fall from grace (e.g. Star Wars III); I also think that it's a lot easier to resist temptation (for adultery or whatever) when you're not actually being tempted, so I don't want to judge the guy too harshly just for that. However, I get the impression that this is more about celebrating the gay love, and how it overcomes all obstacles (like that pesky "wife and kids" thing).

More generally, I don't think that a film is intrinsically good just because it has <insert minority here>; I think it's better if it just takes that in its stride. So, if you have a black captain in Star Trek, fine - Sisko's race was never an issue, and it was more significant (character-wise) that he was a single parent who wound up in a long-term romantic relationship. And if you had a romantic comedy where the protagonists were both male, that's also fine - "Will and Grace" is probably the closest example I can think of for that (and "Utena" to a lesser extent). I can also understand why people with a strong interest in the minority will want to see the film anyway (like me watching "Thunderpants" because of the kid with anosmia), but in this case that's not much of a motivation for me.

Having said all that, I reserve the right to change my mind if loads of people come back saying that it's the best film they've ever seen in their entire lives :)
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From:shuripentu
Date:January 4th, 2006 11:35 am (UTC)
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I suspect this film is one of those stories where the execution is of far greater importance than the plot. The plot can only reasonably be expected to go in one direction; it'll the character development that will make the story interesting and hold the film together. A good plot is an easy way to make a story work, but it's hard essential: Margaret Atwood's "The Edible Woman" essentially had no plot, but it was still an enjoyable read.

As for the adultery aspect, I think homosexuality does have a lot to do with it. There was, and still is, a huge amount of pressure on gay people to be(come) "normal": "just settle down with a nice woman and you'll turn out straight" is a "fix" still commonly prescribed to those "afflicted" by homosexuality.
Not knowing the full details of the story, I can't say what exactly happened; it's possible that he's bisexual and this is simply the story of an old flame showing up, with the homosexual aspect being an interesting, but not central, ingredient. However, I strongly suspect that the main character married his wife more due to pressure from a conservative family and community than anything else.

As for the minority aspect, I think the difference here is that this film doesn't just deal with a minority, it deals with issues that this minority faces on a regular basis. If there was an episode of DS9 where not only was the captain black, but his ethnicity became an important plot point (whether due to racism, culture, whatever) then I suspect a lot of people would sit up and take notice, especially if it was done well.

Well, I'll be going to see it at some point; I may even have the inclination to post a review afterwards. :)
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