dimanche, novembre 05, 2006

Little Miss Poltergay

Today was a double-header film day, although they were spaced out on opposite ends of the day. In the morning I headed out with my colleague and her daughter to see Little Miss Sunshine. I had been meaning to see this flick since it came out, and I can finally say that it's as good as the reviews. It was a great "ensemble comedy" film with great performances by pretty much everyone. I was especially blown away by the performances of Steve Carell and Abigail Breslin. There were a few plot holes that you had to swallow before to follow the story ("They did WHAT with a dead body?"), but I felt like the movie was less a realist text and more an impressionist one that magnified the everyday drama of familial tensions to a level where it can't be sublimated. I was surprised that none of the reviews of the film commented on the end. Olive's "talent act" at the "Little Miss Sunshine" competition creates a near-riot not just because it's obscene and cheeky, but because it makes explicit what is sublimated in the child-beauty-pageant circuit. It's OK that pre-pubescent girls put on heavy makeup, spray-on tans, two-piece swimsuits and evening gowns...just so long as nobody says "kiddie sex." But as soon as this chunky little girl in a top hat and unitard starts gyrating like a stripper, everyone goes APESHIT. As I watched this movie, I had this "what would Zizek do?" moment. I can imagine him cackling with smug satisfaction as another popular text exemplifies Lacanian notions of the traumatic Real.

Anyway, the flick was good and the location was awesome. The theatre we went to was one of this pair of large MK2 cinema complexes on opposite sides of the beautiful bassin de la villette, which is the head of a canal that runs from the north-east end of Paris towards the Seine, employing a series of locks to allow barges to move along the canal. Although it was a bit deserted now that it's cold here, I can imagine this place is gorgeous in the summertime.

After that, I headed home (with a stop at the boulangerie for bread) and porked out on bread and re-heated over-thick congee. I took my leftover salsa from last week (which was perfectly balanced by now), brought it to a boil, and then stirred in some of the near-solid congee. This gave me some congee of the proper consistency, but with a citrus tang and a fair bit hot pepper. It was deeeeelicious.

I got a bit more work done on my paper for the Hawaii SEM conference, but not enough. Every time I think about the conference I have this hilariously ambivalent reaction ("Whee, Hawai'i!! Aieee, my paper!!!").

Part of why I didn't do enough work was that I got a text message from Greg, saying "Poltergay tonight?" If you've been reading this blog, you'll know that Poltergay isn't just some strange Parisian sexual fetish involving gimp suits and "ectoplasm" (now that I've typed that out, my mind has filled it in and I need a shower). Anyway, the film was nowhere near as vapid as I expected it to be. Sure, there was definitely a LOT of camp, and a not-insignificant amount of stereotyping (of both str8 and gay, mind you), but it was well-written and entertaining. None of the characters, living or dead, are particularly realistic and there are some pretty colossal "plot devices" that you have to swallow (ha!). Nevertheless, realism isn't what you expect from a movie about a house haunted by gay disco-dancing ghosts from the 70s. The movie is more a series of gay jokes (not necessarily of the bashing sort) strung together into a plot line, but the writers had a lot of jokes up their sleeves and the tone was carefully balanced between "laughing at" and "laughing with." Part of the fun of the movie was watching a series of stereotyped (i.e. presumably predictable) characters be placed into tension with each other and then left to work themselves out like a dialectic. And certainly the ending was some sort of transcendental aufhebung. I mean, roman orgy ghosts?

We saw a late showing at the MK2 in Les Halles without much realizing that we would have to walk through Les Halles at night to get there. (There's a wiki entry on Les Halles here, but the text is simplistic and a bit unsubtle; the images are useful, though.) Les Halles was this ancient marketplace in the centre of the city that was demolished in 1971 and replaced with a partly subterranean shopping mall. Although the upper layer features nice parks, the mall itself was pretty big flop and has turned into a half-abandoned warren for drug trafficking, gang activities, delinquent youth and other such things. During the day, with a few chain stores struggling to stay open, it's just a depressing blister of suburban dystopia in an otherwise bustling neighborhood, but at night it gets pretty creepy. In addition, the pedestrian squares and walkways between Les Halles and Réaumur-Sébastopol have become a mirror-image of Toronto's Yonge Street: tourist traps, random bars, and porno theatres.

It's ironic, then, that Greg and I got into and out of our movie without incident. It wasn't until we were approaching the far side of the Pompidou Centre when I noticed someone across the street yelling loudly and incoherently to himself, clutching a can of beer in one hand. He was right across the street from us and we were about to cross over to him. Three steps onto the street, I got a better look at him as he lurched towards a pair of passers-by, grabbed Greg's arm, and swung back, following the road North rather than following it. It was the same man I had encountered in September, this time less manic and more simply drunk and surly. He wasn't necessarily being aggressive, but his intrusive approach to people and his total lack of inhibition was certainly unnerving. Greg and I noticed that he was still using his "I'm not racaille" approach when asking for change, pointing to the same pair of white K-Swiss shoes he was wearing when he took me on a harrowing tour of this same neighborhood more than a month ago. In fact, he was wearing the exact same clothes. It was sad to see him still in bad shape, but less so to see that he was still alive. Nevertheless, we kept to our side of the street; gone was the quiet but intense manic of last time, in his stead was a staggering, hollering drunk.

Now, as before, I don't have anything enlightening to say about the encounter. While I didn't dramatically abandon him the way I did last September, I sort of felt worse for watching him stagger by from a distance, and then returning to the exchange of clubbing stories with Greg. With the afterglow of a funny movie mingling with the adrenalin of a close call and the sadness of the circumstances, I hopped one of the last trains back to my place and got into bed.

4 commentaires:

amy a dit…

I adored the scene with the Italian grandmother.

But I have a question perhaps you can settle. Why exactly couldn't the best friend see the ghosts? At first I assumed he was just secretly gay, but at the end they gave some very quick explanation having to do with the firemen, and I missed it. Why was he touching the firemen's dicks?

Sorry, but this one detail is driving me nuts.

LMGM a dit…

Yeah, the Italian nonna scene was hilarious. I wanted to post a partial transcript of her tirade, but I thought that was giving away too much of a good scene.

Anyway, the best friend couldn't see the ghosts because he has a job as some sort of doctor or healthcare professional. Apparently, the huge van he drives around at the beginning of the movie is a mobile clinic or something of that sort. Since he gives medical exams to men (including firemen, as the main character proclaims) he touches their dicks, which, according to the movie's logic, makes him incapable of seeing gay ghosts. Mind you, they did get a bit of mileage out of "Is the best friend gay?" before connecting the dots.

Another question that Greg and I had was: what's up with the McDonald's product placement? The "ghostbuster" character is constantly and prominently eating McDonalds. How much did they pay for that?

amy a dit…

Ah. I guess I got most of that, I just thought there was something missing. Do doctors really touch people's cocks that often? Well, I suppose it happens now and then, but I thought they must have mentioned the exact circumstances at some point. Would have been a good gag opportunity.

Eh, they should have just had him be queer.

As for the MacDo, we discussed that too. I don't think they paid for it, because I don't think it was a very positive portrayal... but maybe that's just me.

I decided that the point was that the ghost-hunter dude was very sleek and pompous, and it was a gag that this kind of person would have such low-brow taste in food. After all, the hero is always drinking wine and eating proper french food, even when he's by himself.

LMGM a dit…

Well, there was that scene when they are driving to the Marais and his buddy bends over his lap to get the "blessed stone" out from under the brake. Just before then, his buddy was saying something along the lines of "I'll be administering medical exams to firemen. Wanna come along, since you're gay?" Hilarity ensues.

As for the MacDo, I guess you're probably right. I was just stunned at how it wasn't just random junkfood that he's eating, but MacDo every time, and with gratuitous close-ups of the product. Hmmm.