All Those Glittering Years: On “Follies”, “Friends: The Reunion”, and the Road They Didn’t Take

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Look at these people, Aren’t they eerie?

Look at this party, Isn’t it dreary?

I’m so glad I came

— Sally, ‘Don’t Look at Me” from Follies (1971)

The Friends set is not crumbling. The Russian dressing colored couch in Central Perk is not in tatters, and the moths haven’t eaten at the corners of its upholstery. The foosball table in Joey and Chandler’s apartment isn’t in pieces. The garish purple paint in Monica’s apartment isn’t wilting and weeping off the walls. Everything is as it was, unmoored by time. Well, except its cast. One by one, they tacitly enter the soundstage, walking through time the supertext of the scene. And with pop up clones of the sets that have traveled across the country, the world, Friends doesn’t exist so much as the ghost of 1990s pop culture and its sweeping influence; it is its mummification.

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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 »

Goodnight, Ladies: 18 from 2018

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best of 2018 round 4Imagine having the intellectual or emotional bandwidth to talk about 2018 at all, is something I keep saying to myself. It’s a sentence I could easily write over and over again for this little post. I am truly exhausted, but I’m glad I’m alive. I’m glad I have people around me that I can share parts of myself with, and that they can, hopefully, share their lives with me.

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