Monday, August 6, 2012

monday melbourne roundup - the miff edition



I demolished Trippy Taco with such ferocity I actually scared a couple who were sitting outside. Crack fries 4EVA. Spudbar continues to furnish me with sweet potato bliss. Hint - you can get a kids meal which is a half serve of sweet potato with 3 cold toppings and a poppa. I've been eating that more as the large meal is too big for me.

I shamefully ate Lord of the Fries twice this week, I've had a bit of fake meat overload. I will do a post later in the week as I got to sample a few new things on the menu at the new Flinders Lane and Swanston St store. Are they coming to saturation point in the CBD? It's an odd spot considering there are 3 stores now within a 1 city block radius.

In parallel news has anyone else noticed the resurgence of Starbucks? There's a new one on Elizabeth St and I'm pretty sure there's a new one on Bourke St near the Carlton. Wonder what thats all about? It looks like Asian students love them as much as bubble tea places as they are the only customers every time I walk past. CURIOUSER AND CURIOUSER.


1. moonrise kingdom - wes anderson

I am now firmly a Wes Anderson fan. I thought that this was the film that would tip the balance but I had forgot that he made Fantastic Mr. Fox which I loved. For the record I hated Tennenbaums and Zissou LOVED Rushmore and Darjeeling. Moonrise is his distillation point, his film reduction to use a food term ha.

I've finally figured Wes Anderson out, his films are about masculinity. What being a man means to him from the world he ingested as a little boy through to the world now. His films star men/boys, the majority of the cast men though women are not sidelined they are given equally well written roles. A mans transition, escape, sometimes literally; the path to becoming a man (standing on his own two feet against authority, despite social convention). These men are not jocks or action heros nor are they comically weedy (I think of Woody Allen as one of the only other males directors exploring masculinity in this way). They are average men (if not a little supremely handsome) using their wit and humanity to navigate issues of the heart and justice.

Set in the bastion of male development the Cub Scouts, Moonrise Kingdom is a story of two tween lovers on the lam. Whilst having the potential to be vomit worthy twee or overbearingly nostalgic it sits firmly in a place of passive observation (which isn't hard when you have such extraordinary child actors and set designers).

It's a collection of his favourite action film stars of the 80s (Bruce Willis, Harvey Keitel, Bill Murray) in decidedly tender but still heroic roles. The nerdy anti-heros of cinema also star (Jason Schwartzman and Edward Norton). I found it amazing sitting there in a cinema filled with men laughing gleefully at a quite cute film about a little boy and a little girl and it made me think. This is one of the few films a man can go and enjoy with it being humourous and NOT deeply offensive to his gender. Can you think of a recent film, aimed at a male audience that doesn't derive its humour from slapstick, racism, vulgarity, sexism or any other base mechanisms? As a woman I do from time to time get to see films that explore femininity, gender and sexuality in thought provoking and touching ways.

Moonrise Kingdom does that which made me realise that there are hardly any others (with the exception of English language Michel Gondry films*). If I were male there would be very little film out there that would give me examples of the kind of man I am or women I would love or relationships I would like to emulate. This makes me supremely sad but also in such awe of Wes Anderson.

Could this film have been more poignant if it had been adults instead of children? It certainly couldn't have been as twee. It's a very passive reflex (and an extremely effective one), transference for the man who would not potentially see a romantic film if it was just a Wes Anderson quirky rom com? Would it make it 500 Days of Summer? Or is it also deeply entrenched in regressive therapy, of seeing a child enact his greatest childhood fantasies? To rewrite history.

I think about those four boys - the Wilson brothers, Noah Baumbach (also making films of a similar self exploratory vein) and Wes Anderson. All beautiful men who grew up in quite butch Texas together in the 70's. What they are producing is outsider art and the world needs more. Men need to have access to more stories like this. Where the men are humane, kind, caring, manly and deeply concerned with the feelings of others (and with seriously amazing taste ha). 4/5

2. amor

I woke up crying over Hanneke. It reminded me of the weeks before my Nan died. I found a photo a couple of weeks ago I had taken at that time, my Mum and Nan sitting side by side on her hospital bed, backs to me. They're hunched over looking at something, Nan yellow and skeletal. It felt morbid at the time but I'm so glad I did. It was the last time I would see her alive and knew it. I can still feel her body in my arms.

Amor echos the slow, hallucinatory process of watching someone die. How simultaneously it swiftly degenerates and also takes forever. Symbology and metaphor is light but interspersed perfectly. A pigeon keeps entering the flat of Georges and Anne a poignant reminder that life persists.

To say Amor is about euthanasia is to do it a deep disservice. It's title sums it up - Amor is about love. Plain and simple. It is measured, loving and unflinching. Amor is a masterpiece that will haunt me for a life time. I give full marks so rarely that I forget what it feels like but you remember straight away when it happens. Full marks to me means it is a piece of art so profound it has left a permanent mark. Amour is that and more. I cant get over how extraordinary this film is. It's perfect. 5/5

3.  the sessions

If John Hawkes wasn't in this film I would have screeched OSCAR BAIT and refused to go and see it. I'm left disturbed by this film and I don't know why. I found it offensive but I can't put my finger on it? Is this the only way an aging actress can rejuvenate her career? Full frontal nudity and sexual surrogacy? (I guess the same can be said for a white man - the only way he can elevate his career, bag those statues, it to appropriate a disability/social hardship - because that's how you can tell he is ACTING).

I feel like I'm being unfair but its SO BORING as it's just beige Oscar bait. Helen Hunts spray tan is so jaundiced its really distracting. John Hawkes is beautiful and I still wanted to lick his neck but I found this film deeply disappointing. To ad more conflict to my heart there was at least 4 Deadwood actors in it! (Dolly did a cameo, Dan was his night nurse, John Hawkes obviously and Calamity Jane!) I automatically pay ANYTHING with Deadwood actors in it extra points but considering how shamelessly Oscar baiting this was I give it total neutrality 2.5/5

ps: I also resent the implied "moral of the story" that through the professional kindness of a sexual surrogate it gave him confidence to hit on his future wife. This may actually be true but it really grated on me.... it pissed me off... just another way for society to justify a woman selling her body. (BUT SHE LIKED IT SHE FELL IN LOVE WITH HIM.. SHE CRIED WHEN SHE HAD TO STOP "TREATING" HIM).

Don't get me wrong I think discussing sexuality around people with disabilities is excellent and it was certainly done in a non pervy, thoughtful way. I also don't have a problem with sexual surrogacy. Perhaps I'm being short sighted but all I saw was another story (from a different angle) that blatantly purchased a woman's vagina to further a mans development. No mater how abled/disabled you are there is a paid sexual service for you!

I will disentangle these feelings and write something more coherent some other time. Am keen to hear others views on it.

* meaning - a lot of European cinema is feminist/displays positive male role models. I make the distinction with English language Michel Gondry films as they are distributed wider than European cinema.

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