Roz Kaveney (rozk) wrote,
Roz Kaveney

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Oh, and it's a New Year

And I have my New Year cold, which - dammit! - stopped me going to last night's party hosted by fjm and chilperic, but was not obviously present when I had dim sum with them and a variety of other LJers on Sunday. Which means I probably infected everyone, and am not in anyone's good books.

On the other hand, after much procrastination, I managed to write up the Moorcock profile, and review Robert Irwin and Helen Simpson, today. Which leaves the Marge Piercy and some book of short stories still owing, but not yet at the deadline stage.

I will, I will, I will, get pieces in EARLY this year.


Apart from odd bits of fiction that got out before writer's block descended, and writing the teen movie book, and having an endlessly tolerant beloved, 2005 pretty much sucked, though not as much as 2004, which was one of the worst years of my life.

2006 has things in it which are almost certainly going to make it a less than good year, but we shall see.

As Neil once said to me, in an earlier set of crises, I need a better script editor. This one is far too fond of the same old plot twists and touches of melodrama. Nor am I alone in needing a new script editor - the world has one whose idea of good plotting was to invent G W Bush and Osama Bin Laden.

Whenever you feel like complaining about JJ or Joss or Rob or Ron, remember that they could be worse. (Actually. how would the world be if it were being written by any of them? That is a worrying sort of thought.)


On Friday, giogio persuaded me to go with her and Alice to see 'Brokeback Mountain'. As promised to jennyo and thete1, my thoughts thereon.

People who know me know that I have a way of saying 'heritage' about works of art that lengthens the a with contumely and scorn. Consider me to be saying 'heritaaage' at various points in what follows, even if I don't use the word. 'Heritaaage' is what I am pointing at when I consider Merchant-Ivory or most classic drama; it sentimentalizes the canon by treating it as part of an immutable past which we are not allowed to interrogate in any way.

'Brokeback Mountain' is a big gay heritage movie, with two impressive central performances and a lot of scenery. It is noticeable that Ledger and Gyllenhall are significantly hotter when they are actually snogging than when they are feigning bonking - at the best moments of the film there is heat and hunger on display which is what I felt I wanted from the book and film more than anatomical tours. The bit parts are gorgeously cast and performed - the movie is good on e.g. Ennis' relationship with his elder daughter and his meeting with Twist's parents. The business with the shirts - one of Proulx's tackier inventions - manages to be quite moving.

(You always know an adaptation is good if it takes something like this - the recognition/acknowledgement scene between Esther and Lady Dedlock in 'Bleak House' - is another good example - and makes you believe, when it is performed, in something that was corny and crude on the page. Heath Ledger does wonders with this meretricious material as Gillian Anderson and Anna Maxwell did in the television 'Bleak House'.)

And shot by shot, this was a perfectly composed movie, whose every frame one could hang on a wall. The trouble is, Ang Lee seems to do this in every movie, irrespective of whether or not it is good, mediocre or a stinker. 'Hulk the Heritage Comics Movie' had lovely shots, just the same as Ang Lee's good films like 'Ride With The Devil' and 'Crouching Tiger'. And it was not enough in 'Hulk' and I am not sure it is enough here.

As Te remarked, though, this movie is not for us. It is for the great American public, who need to be banged about the head in a comforting sort of way and reminded that we are all human, and love hurts, and life is tragic anyway and does not need to be made worse by half-understood religious claptrap from several millennia ago.

If one ordinary punter watches 'Brokeback Mountain' and is influenced away from homophobia, let alone towards actual tolerance, that would be a good thing, and maybe that can happen. Or maybe movies like this are a necessary part of the broader process whereby such things happen, just as movies with Sidney Poitier were in the Civil Rights movement period. Not a cause, not a catalyst, but part of the sparks that fly upwards as things react.

It is an OK film, of its kind, a well-meaning liberal intervention.

So why was I not especially looking forward to it? And why am I still feeling moderately grumpy?

Here's the thing - Jake Twist and Ennis del Mar are supposed to be what? five years older than I was back in those days. Which makes them several years younger than the street hustling drag queens who gave me much of my emotional education in the Manchester of the late 1960s.

Their great tragedy is that Ennis' fear of being kicked to death by other cowboys prevents their being together. Well, excuse me, boo hoo.
I was never kicked to death, but I took several beatings down the years for being a big old tranny and so did a lot of people I knew. Whipped with barbed wire by parents or thrown out of Belfast by a paramilitary sister. At least one of the old Soho crowd - Big Pearl - eventually died of those injuries, though they may have had more to do with a quarrel about smack.

And in the process, the pair of them manage to damage a bunch of other lives, notably those of their respective wives. Partly because of their own tragedy, but mostly because they are not prepared to give up what, by 1971, half way through their story, people were calling 'straight male privilege'.

They want to be lovers, and they want to be butch cowboys out on the range. And life is hard and they make their choices.

I identify with them, in a sense, because I did let myself be persuaded, by Sylvia and the other Manchester queens, to defer any decisions about changing sex until after Oxford. I faffed around having inappropriate crushes - no change there - and social embarassment and long dangerous hitchhiking trips to places where I felt safe to be myself. (People who know me have heard the serial killer stories.) And then I was persuaded further into further delays by brothers and sisters in the Movement who thought being trans was reactionary and all of that. Part of this was confused principle, and part was reasoned prudence - and I hurt myself and I hurt other people.

But even at my most cowardly, I never went back into the closet, because there was not room for me in it. It was where I stored my flannel shirts and leather corsets and feather boas and comic book imaginings. And even scarily thin Roz was sort of big.

Jake and Ennis are real, in a sense, but they are bigger wimps even than I was, back in the day.

Like Te says, this is maybe not a movie for us. .
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