Roz Kaveney (rozk) wrote,
Roz Kaveney

More festival films, basically

Though I do want to say that I cannot understand why everyone is so upset with Livingstone's remarks about the American Ambassador, as opposed to his telling people to go back to Iran or whatever, which is appalling, or his sucking up to homophobic Islamic theologians and wouldbe theocrats, which is appalling and creepy. No, the point is that the American Ambassador and his staff are trying to extend diplomatic immunity so that they not only pay no taxes, which is fair enough, but don't pay the Congestion Charge. Which is not a tax. It is a toll and on the whole a good idea.

To refuse to pay it on spurious grounds is not only to be like a chiselling little crook; it is to be one.


Meanwhile, I've been picking up on some people's unhappiness at the festival with the choice of 'Happy Endings' as the first night gala. Part of the problem is that Roos is quite misanthropic, which means that when he has lesbian and gay characters, they are as liable to be jerks, or at least partly jerks, as anyone else. It is also true that he has a habit of creating entirely or largely reprehensible characters who are women - I am not going to say that he is a misogynist, but it is true that he created Christina Ricci's character in Opposite of Sex and Maggie Gyllenhaal's character in this. Who are fascinating and fabulous, but umm... not exactly role models. Has anyone seen Bounce? What's that like?

Had an entertaining lunch yesterday with pigri who was at the next table and talking to her friend about Veronica Mars and The L-Word. What was that teen film I hadn't seen and you said I should?

And now to yesterday's three films.

Sevigne is a smart witty Spanish film about theatrical folk and the making of a play which somehow felt like every other backstage film I've ever seen, except in that the central love affair was lesbian. It was very romantic and I liked the fact that neither the husband nor the boyfriend nor the writer girlfriend of Julia, the central character, was conventionally especially attractive. The husband is a middle-aged control freak critic and arts fixer, who comes to realize that this woman is the best thing that could possibly happen to a wife of whom he has somewhat tired, and acts like a mensch. The producer boyfriend is perhaps the film's weakest character. Marina is sweet and pudgy and talks too much - her original meeting with Julia and the husband is a matter of her coming up to their table and being fannishly embarrassing, and is exquisite. The compromises forced on the play by the husband's theories and Julia's theatrical instinct are sometimes appalling, sometimes funny and you get a sense of my god, this is how art gets made. I did tire of some of the psychobabble - Julia has to confront, in order to play Madame de Sevigne (and could someone tell me how to type accents in lj?), her own failed relationship with her dead daughter- and the eventual sexual relationship between Julia and Marina is more therapeutic than sensual. Still, often funny, sometimes insightful, always charming and pretty to look at; lots of landscape. I don't have the programme notes to hand and couldn't find it on IMDB, so I can't comment on the performances.
Unveiled is interesting, simply because in a festival that has a lot of standard trans stuff, it is a film about cross-dressing which has nothing to do with trans issues. Refused asylum in Germany, Iranian lesbian Fariba steals the identity of a male co-internee who has suicided - she hides his body - and gets a crap job and shares a room in a hostel. And she falls in love with co-worker Anna, who is particularly irritated with men who don't tell her the whole truth... The relationship with Anna is actually plausible and charming; Anna has smelled various rats to an extent that means that discovering what the truth actually is is something of a relief, and she has fallen in love with Siamak to an extent that makes shifting her attention to Fariba quite easy in the event. This is a plot turn which might have been hard to swallow - but Jasmin Tabatabai and Anneke Sarnau are convincingly in love. Only things go wrong, because of racism and homophobia and Germany's sanctimonious immigration policies, and Fariba ends up on a plane to Teheran - only she has another trick up her sleeve. The sense of getting away with things at one or two points stops this being an entirely miserabilist film - it is very good on working-class German life and a squalour which sometimes underlies it, and on exile and loss. At the same time, I found myself thinking this is good, but not a film I will want to revisit.

And then there was 'Backstage' which was utterly wonderful and which I will write about later, because I have to cook lunch.
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