Most Controversial Movies of the Decade





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The Power of Cinematic Love: A Tribute to Supercouples

The supercouple is perhaps the most common entity in entertainment.  Supercouples, a term used since the early 1980s, are the high-profile, culturally significant and nearly perfect romances that influence our expectations of what a great love story should be like.  They exist in television (Ross and Rachel from Friends), comic books (Clark Kent and Lois Lane), literature (Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennett), soap operas (Luke and Laura from All My Children) and musicals (Tony and Maria from West Side Story).

But of all the various forms of entertainment, film is arguably the most influential medium that defines a supercouple. A movie has less time to develop a story and to argue why a couple should be together. It uses the allure of a fairy tale romance and the idea that love can conquer to pull the audience in. After a classic line is spoken (“Love means never having to say you’re sorry”), and the often mismatched duo is drawn together (if they actually stay together is another story), an iconic supercouple is born.  Whether it is a couple from a classic (Joe Bradley and Princess Ann from Roman Holiday) or a couple that just emerged as an iconic love story (Cecelia Tallis and Robbie Turner from Atonement), audiences continually seek out these romances for thrilling, unequalled love stories.

In Casablanca, the ill-fated romance between ex-lovers Rick Blaine, an American expatriate, and Ilsa Lund, the wife of Czech resistance fighter is often considered the greatest romance in American film history.  When Ilsa enters Rick’s café for the first time after their Parisian affair, he utters the first of Casablanca’s many classic phrases: “Of all the gin joints, in all the towns, in all the world, she walks into mine.”   Their brief reunion combines drama, comedy, suspense, and the emotional struggle of who Ilsa really loves:  Rick or her husband, Laszlo.  In the end, Rick sacrifices a lasting relationship with Ilsa because the solving the problems in the world is far more important than any romance between two people.

The sordid romance between Depression Era gangsters Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker has maintained an enduring international popularity in film, television, music, and poetry.  The 1967 film based on their relationship, Bonnie and Clyde, has cemented the duos enormous impact on popular culture.  The tragic and graphic death of Bonnie and Clyde, paired with their enduring appeal, cements this couple as dangerously romantic and as American legends.

The relationship between Jack Twist and Ennis Del Mar in Brokeback Mountain has captivated audiences like no other romance has in recent years.  Their love is anything but easy.  Despite their desire for one another, both men are deceived by the cowboy myth and societal expectations prevent them from staying together.   Jack and Ennis are just emerging as the iconic romance, whose love, as the film’s theme implies, can never grow old.  Audiences are just discovering and experiencing this romance over and over again.

Before Doctor Zhivago or Titanic, Gone With the Wind was the first epic film that set a monumental love story against the backdrop of historical event.    Rhett Butler and Scarlett O’Hara belong together, but they just can’t seem to stay together.  Something, the Civil War or Scarlett’s infatuation with Ashley Wilkes, always seems to get in the way.  And with Rhett’s perfect send off to the always self-involved Scarlett, “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn”, their classic and tumultuous romance ends.  While any chance of them remaining together is lost, Rhett Butler and Scarlett O’Hara remain one of cinema’s most beloved couples.

By now, you’re probably wondering if any screen duo makes it in the end and one couple manages to beat the odds.  Even if it meant climbing the Cliffs of Insanity, battling Rodents of Unusual Size, or facing torture in the Pit of Despair.  Westley and Buttercup in The Princess Bride embody the ideal fairy tale romance.  At first Westley was just Buttercup’s “farm boy”, responding “as you wish” to her every demand and hoping she would realize her love for him.  They eventually fall in love, but are separated for five years and Buttercup becomes engaged to another, Prince Humperdinck.  In the end, Westley and Buttercup beat the odds, proving that true love, no matter how difficult it may be to achieve, can concur all. 

Honorable Mentions: Jack and Rose (Titanic); Jennifer and Oliver (Love Story); Sam and Molly (Ghost); Johnny and Baby (Dirty Dancing); Han Solo and Princess Leia (Star Wars); Jerry Maguire and Dorothy (Jerry Maguire); Lloyd and Diane (Say Anything); Dr. Zhivago and Lara (Doctor Zhivago)

Published: The Mount Holyoke News
February 14, 2008

An Oscar Controversy

Crash winning Best Picture over Brokeback Mountain was one of the biggest upsets in Oscar history. But did the right movie win? And what does this say about the so-called liberal Hollywood?

Read this excerpt from Jeffrey Wells and you’ll see what I’m talking about.

Let’s all keep it going and dig into our hearts this morning and extend some of that Crash compassion to the small minds and timid souls who voted against (and in many cases probably didn’t even see) Brokeback Mountain.

I’m not talking about those who love and respect Crash for what it is — they’re fine and approvable. I’m talking about the duck-and-hiders.

Squeamishness, old-fogeyism (not the kind you can measure in years but which can be found among people of all shapes, ages and nations) and puptent-phobia snuck into the room, and then slowed and stalled the Brokeback bandwagon and finally turned it down an alley.

I don’t have a recording of any Academy members talking about the sacrosanct John Wayne macho-cowboy tradition, or confiding their concerns about how it might feel it they watched one of the briefest, most darkly lit, most discreet coupling scenes in movie history, and what the cultural ratification that an Oscar win would mean for Brokeback and gay people everywhere, so I guess there’s no proving these views were a factor.

The anti-Brokeback banshee was swirling over and under Paul Haggis, Cathy Schulman and Jack Nicholson as they stood on the Kodak stage last night.

And it wasn’t pretty and it ain’t pretty now. I live in tres gay West Hollywood and I was walking along Santa Monica Blvd. this morning and feeling the air, and I can tell you there’s no joy in Mudville this morning.

Earlier today in Salt Lake City, Larry Miller was having a quiet little chuckle over his coffee.

I imagine he was also probably feeling a bit surprised to discover, as Nikki Finke put it last night, that Hollywood “is as homophobic as Red State country…in touch, not out of touch.”

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I saw both Brokeback Mountain and Crash. Both are excellent, well-acted, well-written, well-directed movies.

David Carr, the “bagger” writes:

“Over all, the Bagger believes that Brokeback lost not because it dared to depict closeted gay males as fully formed characters, but because people liked, but did not love, the movie. And for some, Crash brings to life an inner dialogue they must be having that is filled with fear and suspicion. In the end, everyone thought Brokeback would win and everyone thought the other guy was going to vote for it. In the end, not enough of the other guys did.”

read his entire column

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One more opinion. From the LA Times. A column called “Breaking No Ground

“So for people who were discomfited by Brokeback Mountain but wanted to be able to look themselves in the mirror and feel like they were good, productive liberals, Crash provided the perfect safe harbor. They could vote for it in good conscience, vote for it and feel they had made a progressive move, vote for it and not feel that there was any stain on their liberal credentials for shunning what Brokeback had to offer. And that’s exactly what they did.”

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Now just I’m confused. What’s your opinion? I want to know.

My 2006 Academy Awards Recap


The Oscars were really good this year (definitely much better than last year’s show.) Where to begin?

The opening montage of every classic moment/actor digitally animated… wow. For a classic film freak like me, it was fun trying to see how many movies I could name. Then the comedy bits started. I loved it when Jon Stewart woke up in bed with George Clooney. “Is this a dream?” “No.” Great way to start the show.

Stewart’s first few jokes completely bombed but after that he picked up steam. Then he lost it again. That’s okay. Nothing can stop me from loving Jon Stewart. I loved the tribute to Westerns and the innuendos. “The gayest genre” according to Stewart if you watched Oprah today.

Best Supporting Actor goes to… George Clooney, as predicted. He gave a great speech. “All right, so I’m not winning director.” Then he added, “I’m proud to be out of touch”.

March of the Penguins won best documentary, although it should’ve gone to Enron. Still a great movie nonetheless and I loved how the director (I forget his name) dedicated the award to all the children who saw the film and how hopefully it could influence then when they’re making the important decisions (with environmental issues and such) by 2041.

Rachel Weisz winning was awesome and she looked gorgeous for being 7 months pregnant. In her speech she thanked those who do the humanitarian work like her character did in The Constant Gardener.

I guess the old fart’s don’t run Hollywood afterall. I mean, 36 Mafia won for best song. By far the most excited (and more shocked than the cast of Crash) to win.

Robert Altman, director of M*A*S*H and Nashville, received the honorary oscar. Well-deserved. He’s been denied too long. His next feature is A Prarie Home Companion. Meryl Streep and Lindsay Lohan star in a great ensemble cast.

Philip Seymour Hoffman won Best Actor for his role as Truman Capote in Capote. And he dressed for the occasion.

Another shocker. Reese Witherspoon won.

Love Ang Lee. Great director. He deserved it for Brokeback Mountain.

But the best moment of the evening had to be when Crash pulled the biggest upset in recent year’s. Yes, I was expecting that it could happen and as the night went on, it was becoming a little more clear to me that it could, but stilll I was shocked. My jaw literally hit the floor. And then I was pissed. Why? The acceptance speech was cut off. Come on now. They make this big deal during the show to promote great Oscar moments and the producer ruin one by turning off the mic.

I’ll respond to the controversy surrounding this win tomorrow.

The Crash posse

Other great moments:

  • The mock political campaigns fro Best Actress. “Keira Knightley, acting while pretty.”
  • Lauren Bacall. Need I say enough.
  • The montage tributes to epics, film noir, and biopics.
  • Itzhak Perlman, playing selections from each nominated score.
  • Stewart, ” “‘Good night and good luck’ — the line that Mr. Clooney ends all of his dates with.” The look on Clooney’s face… priceless.

Overall a great night at the Oscars. Can’t wait until next year. I’m thinking Scorcese could finally win.