The novel is much more critical of straight masculinity than the film. I think get now why so many people I know love the film without seeming to care one way or the other for the book.
All of this makes the film a very silly thing. Yet it also somehow manages not to become an obviously dreadful thing either. Which I suppose counts for something.
Ozon hasn’t. He’s latched on and in his best films clambers up onto their shoulders and creates real beauty. 8 Femmes and Dans la maison are good examples.
Une Nouvelle amie is not as good overall as these two films, but the scene in the queer bar where a drag queen sings “Une Femme avec toi” is one of the best moments he’s staged in a long time. Interestingly, it is also the one moment in the film where Ozon leaves Hitchcock and Sirk to the side.
And in leaving them behind, the scene in the bar reminds me of Ozon’s best film, Le Temps qui reste, a movie that confronted directly the problem of telling stories—and especially queer stories—without a preexisting model.
People walked out during my screening. An odd person sitting beside the Beav and me laughed maniacally at random and inappropriate moments. It was summer, it was hot, the air conditioning couldn’t keep up, and in the first half hour, someone opened a can of tuna behind us and then dropped it, spilling the juice everywhere and making the theatre smell like fish.
So did I love the movie or did I love watching it? Tough to tell, but I definitely loved at least one of the two and left the cinema happy.
Wim Wenders filming dance. It’s breathtakingly beautiful to watch and deeply moving. The trailer offers a good snippet.
Edmund White’s biography of Proust is like his fiction: dense and intellectual but gossipy. He always seems to be watching you with twinkling eyes, waiting to see if you’ll realize how salacious and funny all this serious stuff is.
Proust’s spectacular climb to social success and wealth is the focus of White’s story, and he explains how Proust’s social climbing and the strategies he uses to accomplish it create the material for his fiction.
Yet, if Proust’s social climb provides the skeleton of the biography, his sexual behaviour is its flesh and blood. There are tales of Proust’s love affairs with young men, quotations from letters bluntly proposing to his friends that they should masturbate each other, the outraged calls for a dual by pistol when he learns that someone has suggested he is homosexual. White presents this tangle, explaining how Proust uses and transforms it in his fiction. In the process, he establishes that even Proust’s heterosexual moments aren’t.
Interestingly, White refuses to rationalize the contradiction between Proust’s bald expression of desire privately to intimates and the theatrical violence of his rejection of the role of public homosexual. In our era of celebrity outing and legalized gay marriage, such a disjuncture can easily appear like repression, closeting, or an act of bad faith, but White doesn’t speak in these terms. Instead, he offers a frank (and gossipy) account of Proust’s sexual behaviour without assuming that this behaviour must define his identity (or that he must have one).
As a result, Proust–a character I found thoroughly unappealing–emerges from the shadows of the past as refreshingly and provocatively queer.
It’s also the kind of film in which characters, who are upper-working-lower-middle class don’t speak. They don’t express emotions and then, when suddenly they do, the emotions are bigger and more bluntly stated than seems possible.
The key feature here is that the protagonist inexplicably decides to do the one thing that is obviously the most wrong thing to do in the given context, the thing that is so crazy and/or stupid that it’s impossible to see why anyone would ever do that thing. Ever. But the protagonist does it, without emotion or explanation, and the movie goes forward from there.