Wednesday, November 27, 2002

after dire warnings from everyone and their mother about snow, today burst on the scene as fresh and pristine as a newly cleaned toilet bowl. my brother drove down from cornell yesterday and slept over with the intent of leaving early-ish this morning. while he was forcing his way southward, ben and i wandered into the city to see far from heaven, the new todd "velvet goldmine" haynes flick. initially i was suspicious: i've seen parts of the original douglas sirk melodrama and in no way could i conceive of anyone wanting to remake it. but you have to give him credit. haynes maintained a smooth, authentic 50s tone without descending into parody, and he simultaneously updated just enough of the details to make the story believable to viewers now.

on the way home, ben and i discussed the inter-racial relationship around which the story revolves. that julianne moore's character's love interest is not just a gardener but a black man is one of haynes' twists. their interaction bears racial -- as well as class -- baggage. setting up the black man as a counter to moore's gay husband has the potential to enforce the stereotype of "savage" virility, but the interaction they have remains so chaste that that fear dissipates. they never even kiss. that makes the drama more wrenching somehow: not only is it impossible for two adults, one white and one of color, to have a romantic attachment, it's even impossible for them to be friends. at least in the 50s.
and that's the second question. placing this story in the 50s is safe. attitudes then are easily catelogued, and you can portray the drama and hypocricy of them without having to exaggerate. what about nowadays? in some parts of the US, the social stigma remains nearly as intense as it was half a century ago; in others, it remains, just in subtler form. a film that attempted to address that issue would really be something to see.

still, i enjoyed far from heaven -- more than velvet goldmine, i think. marc, who my brother kindly let hitch a ride to dc today, informed me that sir haynes is actually good friends with one of my professors, the one i'm taking a film seminar with next semster in fact. it is possible he is the one who will be called in to evaluate my honors project and honors standing at the end of next year. that would be the most frightening two hours of my life.

happy turkey or vegan equivalent, folks. wish my dog luck, she's back in the hospital. be well.

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