Friday, January 02, 2004


I'd seen Todd Haynes's Far from Heaven in the theater and hadn't been too impressed by it. But the other day I saw a copy of the DVD in the library with a commentary track by Haynes. Now I'm a sucker for commentary tracks, though I often end up being disappointed by them, and his commentary for Poison was interesting, so I checked the DVD out. After watching the movie (with commentary) for fifteen minutes, I realized that I disliked it. Yes, it was an uncanny imitation of the look and feel of 1950s movies, but it was lifeless, like a wax statue. And the substance of the movie was nothing more than the tired old stereotype of the 1950s as conformist and repressed. Now, my history dissertation was on the 1950s, and I've done some more research on them since then. And there is some truth in this view of the 1950s, as there often is in stereotypes. But to present the 1950s as nothing more than this is a gross distortion. Even more, it's lazy. Ultimately, it's all about displaying the 1950s as a dark age so we can be complacent about our own "enlightenment."

I then rented the American Film Theater's adaptation of Eugene Ionesco's Rhinoceros, directed by Tom O'Horgan and starring Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder. After about fifteen minutes of Mostel's nonstop, elephantine, unfunny clowning and O'Horgan's leaden direction, I'd had all I could take.

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