Quaran-Scenes: “So Close” in “Enchanted”

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Screen Shot 2020-05-15 at 11.45.51 AMScreenwriter Bill Kelly probably imagined Enchanted taking on a much darker life, negotiating the chasm between the reality of sex and relationships and the cutesy version of love peddled by fairy tales and, specifically Disney movies, but the product that came out of it is more than serviceable. Its defanged nature is detectable in the finished film, especially when you read about how the version of Manhattan that bubbly GIselle (Amy Adams) finds herself in is harsher, scarier, the untamed concrete wilderness of one of those ‘80s comedies. I’m thinking, what would it have been like if Adams’ unhinged adventure looked more like Martin Scorsese’s After Hours than, I don’t know, the Disney version of New York City where the male romantic lead (Patrick Dempsey) has a nice apartment overlooking Central Park. Enchanted still has its charms, though, their deconstructionist exercise feeling a lot more like homage than a real concerted effort to interrogate the values of these texts. It’s Into the Woods-lite, and its existence just makes their own spin on the Sondheim musical, directed by Rob Marshall a little less than a decade later, feel redundant, as it, too, was victim of Disney’s navel-gazing neutralizing. But the maturity and calloused irony of whatever may have been in that first draft remains present in Adams’ delirious performance and in one particular scene at, of course, a ball.  Read the rest of this entry »

Quaran-Scenes: “You Only Live Twice” in “Tully”

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Screen Shot 2020-05-13 at 6.39.15 PMI tend to describe Jason Reitman and Diablo Cody’s Tully, which seemed to be shrugged off when it was released in 2018, as “Follies, but about motherhood”, a reference that, though it may only register for some people, seems apt to me: certainly, it is about the challenges of motherhood (in particular, raising three children), and the skewed and inequitable manner in which the labor and work of motherhood is discussed, and a thoughtful character study of a woman, Margo (Charlize Theron), experiencing postpartum depression. I think it is also about the lives we lead, the ones which we wish explored and embodied, and the struggle to reconcile our past dreams and aspirations with present reality.  Read the rest of this entry »

Quaran-Scenes: “Hopelessly Devoted to You” in “Pushing Daisies”

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Screen Shot 2020-05-06 at 11.40.35 AMIt is of my opinion that pining is, essentially, quite boring for everyone except for the person who pines, a little world of stasis where one can wade through feelings, tumble through them with uncertainty a kind of propeller. Do they like me? Do they know I like them? What would happen if they were to find out? Am I too obvious? Will my lack of subtlety eventually be my downfall? None of these questions is especially interesting to the outsider, and the friends who listen patiently do so out of social contract and, if you’re lucky, genuine investment in your wellbeing. And while there may be a narrative arc that may appeal to the friend, longing in and of itself is basically a solitary experience, until it’s not. (I would even be inclined to argue that it’s still, basically, a solitary experience with occasional collaboration.) 

And that yearning is basically predicated on lack of tactility. Rather, one is caught up in the ineffable, the horrid swirl and whirl of time, a delirious trap that confines only you. And all of it is so absurd. So silly. Imagine if someone walked in on you in the throes of wanting! How ridiculous that would be. Read the rest of this entry »

Quaran-Scenes: Kath Bloom’s “Come Here” in “Before Sunrise”

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Just a series of scenes I’ve been thinking about while in self-quarantine.

The wonder of new attraction is restless, vacillating between excitement and awkwardness, especially when confined in small spaces. As verbally flexible as Richard Linklater’s Before Sunrise is often thought of, even acrobatic in nature as Parisian Celine (Julie Delpy) and homegrown American boy Jesse (Ethan Hawke) roll from one subject of conversation to the other, their body language suggests more complexity regarding how the two feel about one another. It’s not the unidimensional, facile overblown love for one another, but rather something more searching, magnetic and strange, hopeful and winsome.  Read the rest of this entry »

You Could Be a Font: 19 from 2019

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2019 in film 2Another year, another couple homewrecked, another layer of calcification, another foot away in ironic distance, I mean, another foot into my obsession with Stephen Sondheim’s Company. But you knew that! I don’t think I could wrap-up 2019 better than this piece about alienation, displacement, Sondheim in pop culture, and why “Being Alive” haunts us, with thanks to my wonderful Paste editor Dom Sinacola. (Don’t worry, I’m not completely devoid of self-awareness when it comes to my Company content. At this point, it’s sort of a bit. But! I did write/finish my Company screenplay, which I had been talking about doing for five or so years. So, I’m very proud of that.)  Read the rest of this entry »

Women Under the Influence: Ivo van Hove’s “All About Eve” and Cyril Teste’s “Opening Night”

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women mirrorsIn two different plays, adapted from two different films, and by two different directors (one Belgian and one French), two women—“of a certain age,” someone, more likely than not a man, might write colloquially, garden variety sexism dotting the fibrous page—look into the mirror and see their unsavory fates, and the loss of what was once so promising, even if under a particular paradigm. They’re two actresses playing actresses in play adaptations of films about plays, and theatre, and performance, and all of that baggage. One actress, Margo Channing (Gillian Anderson), reacts to her growing obsolescence with venomous wit, peppered in with drunken desperation. The other, Myrtle Gordon (Gena Rowlands) responds with a sort of actorly paralysis, like the yips, and also with sloshed conduct. And as two live feeds amplify and project the frustration and neuroses these women are experiencing, men loom in the background, flattening it all for the sake of their own thrill. 

It’s fairly interesting that, at least in New York, that the international broadcast of the National Theatre’s production of All About Eve, directed and adapted by Ivo van Hove, and the United States premiere of the stage adaptation of Opening Night, directed and adapted by Cyril Teste, should “run” in such close proximity to one another, mere weeks apart. They’re effectively very similar texts, with equally iconoclastic leading roles for women, and presented in not dissimilar, but extremely disheartening ways. It could be argued that the films from which these plays are adapted are in dialogue with one another, and, in a way, so are the adaptations themselves, though I would really designate it as a pompous shouting match that grates on the ear than a conversation.  Read the rest of this entry »

Can’t Buy Me Love: “Sauvage/Wild”

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“You were made to be loved,” Ahd (Eric Bernard) tells Léo (Félix Maritaud) just a day before he’s about the leave the country, cementing his absence from the same plane of existence as Léo. Long the object of affection for the passive, yearnful, almost puppy-eyed Léo, Ahd is, for the intents and purposes of Sauvage/Wild, directed by Camille Vidal-Naquet an all but explicitly said gay4pay street hustler who has since left the street and traded the unsustainable, unpredictable life cruising for clients on roads outside of Paris for the comfortable living room and gated flat world of being a kept boy, a bourgeois paradise. It’s a trade-off, a transaction, as all sex and love is. But, as much as Ahd is inclined to encourage Léo that he was “made to be loved”, he is, for the bulk of Sauvage/Wild the one loving. Read the rest of this entry »