Wha, huh?

October 15, 2007

In general, this weekend was a very good weekend for cinematic eye candy in the hetero female department of my household. It got off to a strong start with Cillian Murphy (in cute, non-Batman or Red Eye villain mode) using his soulful blue eyes and elegantly pronounced cheek bones to very good effect in The Wind That Shakes the Barley (the kick off film for a long stretch of Serious Movies to balance out all the Stupid Movies that made their way into my queue over the summer). Then, on a spur of the moment invite from school pal, we checked out Elizabeth: The Golden Age, just out in the theaters. I was feeling pretty bummy when I walked in, b/c I remembered that Joseph Fiennes got killed off in the last one, but lo and behold, Elizabeth traded up for Clive Owen as Sir Walter Raleigh. Bonus!

And it looked like I was on a roll when this trailer featuring Ryan Gosling (kind of eh in the looks department, but he does have a certain charisma) started up… but I found myself more than just a little dismayed by the premise of this movie. Of course I’ll have to withhold judgment until I actually see it… which may mean I never get to judge. The premise appears to be that RG can’t get a girl so he orders a lifelike doll. He gives it a name and takes it everywhere with him, introducing it as his girlfriend and insisting that everyone treat it nicely. I’m sure it’s heartwarming and ultimately proves that there’s no substitute for real human on human love, but a couple of snippets from the trailer kind of set me the wrong way. In particular, a scene between men at some hardware store where one of them expresses jealousy that RG’s character has found a girlfriend who doesn’t talk. Perhaps, in context, this scene is not as troubling as it appears (one of my favorite pet peeves is the awfulness of movie trailers in general), but it just seems a little suspicious combined with a couple of other hints that perhaps the reason poor RG’s character can’t get a girl is that girls these days are just overlooking his unique qualities and good heartedness (he may have some kind of mental condition, it’s not specified in the trailer, he just looks v. bumbling).  Also, I just can’t imagine this film being made with the gender’s reversed. Maybe it has, and someone will set me straight here, but I don’t think anyone would entertain the notion that a silent, perfectly groomed, always smiling doll could ever substitute for a “real” man.

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3 Responses to “Wha, huh?”

  1. AH Says:

    What did you think of WTSTB? I have mixed feelings about it, because, on the one hand, it deals with the period for my thesis, and it isn’t horribly inaccurate. It isn’t terribly accurate; besides the history, the accents are, at times, just bizarre–Cillian Murphy’s for one is all over the place. When I watched it with my friends, they joked that he was trying to include all the counties. But it doesn’t get things completely wrong, and I was happy to see the character of the bicycling riding young woman supporting the republicans. And I really liked that they included the republican courts.

    But what did you think? I’m curious, because obviously my perspective is totally skewed. And, if your answer is that you enjoyed it solely on the basis of Cillian Murphy, well, even I can understand that.

  2. SJ Says:

    That’s funny, b/c I read somewhere that the only reason Mr. Murphy got to audition for the part is b/c he is actually from Cork, where WTSTB is set. I definitely liked the film, but I’ve only just begun to reflect on why and whether or not that’s a good thing. It was beautiful on just about every level. In particular, I’m thinking of the scenes with singing, especially one where they are marching through the fog. I also saw parallels w/ the Iraq war, which were welcome as far as I am concerned. In the end I felt like both sides were being stupid, but I definitely felt more sympathy for Cillian Murphy’s side b/c well, he’s nice to look at, he was a noble med student who didn’t even want to get dragged in, he was a much more emotionally compelling character etc. Is that a trick of film that has nothing to do with history? Probably.

    I will say this for sure: I watched it much differently b/c I had read your thesis and chatted with you a bit about the history of that period. Other than that, I would be totally ignorant. So I was much more sensitive to the portrayal of women than I think I would have been otherwise–I saw them as collaborators rather than just victims.

  3. AH Says:

    The fact that Cillian Murphy is from Cork and his accent in WTSTB is from…Cork + every other county was sort of what inspired a lot of amusement among my friends.

    Also, the parallels were definitely intentional. My advisor commented that the movie is a bit more about now than it is about then.

    I found myself thinking a lot about how little control we have over our lives, and how relieved I am sometimes not to have to live up to such big, overwhelming events. Anyway.


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