Elizabeth Scripturient (the delinquent, ecumenical (hermionesviolin) wrote,
Elizabeth Scripturient (the delinquent, ecumenical

"This is fine, but not great, though I'd like you to edit a bit and post it on BB as a fine example.

Nothing like a looming deadline for a college essay to make those ficathon assignments look interesting. And then i saw The Beautiful People Movie (TM Cate). Still high on the energy of the movie, we [the Friedman crew, whom i followed home] gave an excited rendition of it to OtherHousemate, and in our post-movie discussion and our rendition we came up with some interesting ideas, and the movie itself had some interesting philosophical insights, but mostly it was a wtf. Everyone kept sleeping with each other and saying they loved each other, but there is no chemistry, and they keep cheating on each other and then being honest about the deceit and demanding details about the deceit [primarily about the sex, and really it's the guys who keep demanding details about the sex] and falling back into the same relationships. The only moment of chemistry is the photography scene with Julia Roberts and Natalie Portman, and there's the hysterical anonsex scene with the two guys which at the time you hope turns into something.

They are all brutally honest, all the while lying to each other or to themselves. And not even just about the big stuff. Did you notice the Cupid bit? "Did you tell him we call him 'Cupid'?" "No, that's our joke." While the audience just saw in the previous scene her telling him, "Thanks, Cupid."

And for a movie that was possibly the most sexually frank movie i have ever seen (all the talk about positions and orgasms, and the nudity at the club -- speaking of... when Larry meets Alice at the club, her wig resembles her hair when she first meets Dan [also: is it a reference to Lost in Translation, and if so, how?] and when Dan meets her at the club her wig resembles Anna's hair. Discuss. Sidebar: Alice changes her hair almost immediately after meeting Dan and again immediately after leaving him, though the second change is not back to that of her passport, so clearly she is not returning to exactly the same life she previously had -- or is she?) Rose Ellen pointed out that there is never any sight or mention of any STI/pregnancy protection ever. (And we know it's at least a little bit more than the incestuous circle of 4, because Larry admits to sleeping with a whore in New York.)

Larry: You women don't understand the territory... because you ARE the territory.
Alice: It's not a war.

We never understand why the women love these men, but it seems pretty clear that for the men it is a lot about ownership and control, and once Anna leaves Larry for Dan, Larry is all about fucking up the two of them. He talks a lot in their fight about the exquisite deceit Anna managed, and he had been totally honest up to that point and continues to be so but he gets into the game and wins by fucking them up. OtherHousemate said the title in German is a German word that means SkinClose -- as close to you as your skin is. The English title leaves you thinking "Closer? To what, or who? The hell?" But SkinClose is a great pun, because there's a lot of sex but no real relationships (no real intimacy -- cue Larry screaming at the security camera) but they do learn how to push each other's buttons and how to play each other. They keep being honest about the bad things they've done, which ruins the good relationship they've managed to create.

Oh, and they're basically the only 4 people who speak in the whole thing. Which makes sense since it was a play. It also emphasizes the self-centered-ness of all of them. Which i feel like must be part of the point, that this must be social critique of some kind. I find myself thinking of seminar discussion today ("The Demon Lover" ballad variants and Elizabeth Bowen short story, seguing into Wuthering Heights) with NMB talking about self-centered lovers are, how they create this world of just the two of them and nothing else matters. Which then makes me think of jennyo's comment about how
Love is dangerous. Love is the triumph of the unconscious, the primal, the selfish, the hedonistic, the incredibly needy over the mantras of moderation, responsibility, and above all, the triumph of zeal over common sense. It's a head rush, it's passion and losing control. Love can be incredibly sacrificing, and it can be incredibly, incredibly selfish. [...]

...I do not so much understand, then, how evil people are incapable of it.
Anna: Where is this "love"? I can't see it, I can't touch it. I can't feel it. I can hear it. I can hear some words, but I can't do anything with your easy words.

Larry: You don't know the first thing about love because you don't understand compromise.

I suspect that Larry is talking shit there (which is not to say that he doesn't himself believe it, of course) but it is interesting that none of the characters seem able to compromise. At least, the men can't. They have to know everything about their partners and then can't forgive them for it. Alice perhaps has the right idea inventing a lie, but she's also intense -- loving Dan forever in this painfully intense way, but also stopping, and being willing and able to pick up and leave with just the shirt on her back. But still, if anyone is the hero(ine) of the movie, it's her. But this is also because she's the most mysterious, the most removed from all of these machinations. Does that imply that really everyone is horrible if you only knew their motivations, that if everyone were as brutally honest as these characters we would all hate each other?

Dan: Everybody wants to be happy.
Larry: Depressives don't. They want to be unhappy to confirm they're depressed. If they were happy they couldn't be depressed anymore. They'd have to go out into the world and live. Which can be depressing

IMDb doesn't have this quote, but at Anna's opening, Alice says it [the exhibit] is all a lie, that they're beautiful pictures of sad strangers, and that the pictures are beautiful, but the people inside the pictures are still sad, but the beauty of the photographs reassures the viewers that life is good or whatever, but it's a false reassurance because the people in the pictures are still sad (life's still a bitch).

Cate wasn't wrong when she called this the Beautiful People Movie (though Jude Law is notably unattractive, Clive Owen is i think intended to look kind of sleazy, Julia Roberts looks probably more average than i've ever seen her, and mysterious heroine Natalie Portman is hot in all 3 of her hairstyles). But their lives are so fucked up, and they never seem to learn from their mistakes, fall into the same patterns. The movie ends with us having come full circle -- Alice is a sex object in New York, Dan is unfulfilled, Anna is in an unhappy marriage. It's a really bleak empty portrait of life. It sems that we're supposed to want to be like Alice, but no one can be like that; she's the unrealistic mysterious young woman who exists in fictional narratives. Are we supposed to know that on some level and thus find that identification troubling? The movie closes with us watching her (very obviously sexualizing her, and she is no longer in relation to anyone else like she was in the opening, but it occurs to me now that means she is in relation to all of us) and she seems free, while the other three seem lost/constrained. (I wonder how the play ended.) Oh watch me be meta, deconstructivist, and pomo. Or not. (I should probably read the play, huh?)

Opening line: "Hello, stranger."
Closing line: "Welcome back, Miss Jones."

Factoid of the day: King Tut may have died of an infected leg wound.

Who knew DD sells Box O' Joe Chai? I knew there was a reason i didn't get up in time to have breakfast. Skarda talked about how we see in stories what we need, which i thought was an interesting take on what usually gets blanket referred to as "reading too much into it." "When we're horny, we read for sex. Right? Don't you? Elizabeth does. I can tell by the giggling. This is why she's applying to grad school to do 'Cultural Studies.' " Yes, this is me with my head in my hand. Though really, so not inaccurate. I mean, seminar paper much? I also now wanna read Robert Alter's The pleasures of reading: in an ideological age. See also Gillian:
Tibullus is constitutionally incapable of penning anything under 95 lines, as well as anything that doesn't dwell on the minutiae of subsistence agriculture.

Meanwhile, my housemates are analyzing the gender stereotypes portrayed in critics' darling primetime drama series "Jack and Bobby" on the WB.

And I'm studying...why?
My brother is picking me up around 4 on Friday. Once home, my Internet access will probably average once a day. I'm spending Sunday and Monday with Kate (so i will not be attending this) but otherwise i'm available. Who wants to fly me out to Mary Baldwin to hear Ruth Graham speak on March 16 and meet sk8eeyore and wisdomeagle and Jan? Oh, and if Felicia asks you for my address, charge her at least $200 for the information and give me half.

Anyone who's gonna be here over the summer and doesn't mind office work, e-mail ajohnson@smith and you can have my job. (And yes i bitch about my eyes bleeding sometimes, but we know i heart my job.)
Tags: cultural studies geek, food, innuendo, links, movies: closer, movies: watched, travel: spring break virginia [2005]

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