Saturday, July 17, 2010

HD Time Machine

My Dad and Me, Wabush Lake, 1959

I finally got down to watch A Single Man again, this time on DVD at home. Why I didn't buy the Blue Ray I don't know.

Anyway, I watched with my husband fully aware this wasn't his type of movie. (When I tried to get him to watch Brideshead Revisited once, he ran out of the room saying This is too gay for me.) He made me watch Hot Tub Time Machine last week, a movie that is on the opposite end of the scale to A Single Man.

Anyway, I wanted to see if my ideas about he movie would change at all. But they didn't. I still found it pretty and meticulously crafted, but a bit over produced, too precious. (The friend I just visited in Halifax loved the movie by the way and she's not that much of a Colin Firth fan.)I still found Julianne Moore's performance a bit weird; indeed she reminded me at one point of Edwina on Abfab. The accent, I think and all the cigarettes and 'darlings' flying about.

And I still think Colin Firth has had performances equal to this, although I have to concede this role gave him more room to manoever. And he cries very well, for a 'repressed guy. :)

And I still think all the women in the film were too stylized, unrealistic, props or anima. Decoration. Not fleshed out, by design, if you will. Literally and figuratively.

And I still found the old man, young man thing icky, although I can see it was handled with dignity - and kid gloves. You see George is a very dignified man, as most of Colin Firth's characters are or should I say, as are Colin Firth's most famous characters.

I gained an admiration for the pacing, which is pitch perfect, though.

Anyway, George reminded me more than ever of my father, so the director, Tom Ford, certainly captured the sixties. Indeed, the style of the movie was reminiscent of some 60's movies, not the gritty realistic ones with Albert Finney, but those ones like The Romantic Englishwoman with Glenda Jackson and all those mirrors. (They never play that one on Turner Classics.) Or The Go-Between, a movie I love.)

Firth's character, George, mentions he came to the US in 1938. (There's something cockeyed about the time line in the movie.) My father, likes so many Britishers, came after the war. And unlike George, he lost his British accent immediately.

My final word: the movie would have been nothing without Firth and yet, if they had cast an unknown, they might have been able to make it a groundbreaking movie, gritty and get down dirty, at points, instead of dancing around everything. (The short beach scene reminded me of a sketch from Extras, which means it was a tad cliche.)

Anyway, I asked my husband if all the homoeroticism in the movie freaked him out. (I mean, he couldn't stand the sight of Charles Ryder and Lord Sebastian Flyte eating a picnic under a tree.)
He replied, "What are you talking about?"
I answered, "All the male nudity and cameras panning over the bodies like they usually do over women's bodies in the movies."
"I didn't notice, " he replied. "I felt sorry for the guy. I guess it's a love story.
And so it is, except the dvd of A Single Man has no picture of the love interest Matthew Goode. Just the shots of Moore and Colin.
The marketers know who Colin Firth's fans are. Women like me.

One other thing that bothered me about A Single Man was the fact the two men lived in the burbs in the 60's. How did that happen?

I lived in the burbs. I recall one evening my Dad coming home late (I was in bed, at least I remember I was) and he told my mother how the next door neighbour, who had given him a drive into the city that day, had 'made a pass' at him. I sort of knew what that meant.

The next door neighbour was married, of course. I also recall his wife used to wash her bedsheets every day. My mother remarked upon it.

My husband, amazingly, did not fall asleep during the film. I kept a close eye on him.

How can I relate this to Flo in the City, my novel about a girl coming of age in the 1910 era? I can't. No mention of homosexuality in the letters, needless to say. Although it was there, no doubt. There is mention of a boy committing suicide in the town of Richmond. And Edith says, "He was always a strange boy."

Hmm. And there are the Boston men, Chester, who is not inclined to marry, which bothers his mom, who needs help around the house and Dr. Henry Watters, a cousin who appears to be the best kind of man, thoughtful and responsible, and who has a successful practice, but who never marries and dies in 1937.

I can relate this blog to Looking For Mrs. Peel, my play about my British Grandmother,

because it partly takes place in 1967. In it, I invoke all those Expo 67 hostesses and Yardley The London Look. And the sizzling political situation. And this play is all about women, so the men literally have no voice. Including, well, especially, my father.