I went out! Had bog standard curry, went for a walk, took the tube home late and the whole deal!
My friend Andy and I completely blanked for a year after Bill, his lad, was born - and we have both become determined to see each other more often - and indeed for his lovely missus Polly to get in on the socialising where possible, along with Nora and Mackay.
Andy and I do have a history of going to the flicks together, so we did that on Thursday, and went to see the much discussed "Brokeback Mountain" on which, I could in all honesty, ramble on for a good half an hour. It could be a combo of it being a really rather wonderful film as well as it being the first film I can actually remember seeing in the cinema since "The Day After tomorrow" (weirdly, also with Riley, and also starring Jake Gyllenhall - so that must have been well over a year and a half ago = no, I just remembered. I went to see 'Hitchhikers'). So the actuality of a big fat west end screen, sitting in the 2nd row with no one in front of you and a relatively quiet audience was fairly mind blowing.
It's such a beautiful film. Poignant and suffused with an inevitable sadness. The timeless, fantastic colour direction really helps the feeling that it could have been any time. Such huge vistas - hilariously, near the beginning I did catch myself thinking "I wonder how many of those sheep are cgi'd?" A date comes up at the beginning, 1963, as if to taunt the audience with the knowledge that elsewhere in the US, such seismic changes were happening that if these two lads had known, they could have got on a Greyhound and fucked off to a mad, new future together. Instead, their limited horizons mean there can only be one conclusion. There's a great piece of dialogue, where Ennis underlines to Jack just what a complete fucking mess his life has been, as a result of his uncontrollable and alien feelings for him. The paranoia, the living on the edge of his community, his inability to communicate with his children or hold down a job... It's just so sad. All of it. One small piece was so unsubtle it annoyed me, but it's a petty whinge really. After a scene in which Jack finally finds his balls in his dealing with his Father-In-Law, and carves the Christmas turkey, cut to Ennis, uncomfortable and awkward at the table of his now ex-wife, and her new husband the supermarket manager, who chooses to carve their turkey with an electric knife. Like... we don't really need any more evidence that these two are real men. One's a rodeo rider and the other's a taciturn cowboy. As I say though. A fairly petty whinge.
And good God, Jake Gyllenhaal has grown to be an extraordinarily beautiful young man too. Blimey. It must be the long eyelashes and dark eyes that do it. I mean bless Heath Ledger, he did a fantastic job. I mean really, really fantastic. But your eyes tend to be on Gyllenhaal when he's on the screen. Ang Lee must be an extremely empathetic director, to coax those two performances out of them. They're whole and real.
Apparently there are some places in the States that won't show the film, for obvious, crass reasons. It's so sad that there will still be kids in places in that country who struggle with the confusion and upset that falling in love with the kind of person you didn't expect causes. One hopes there'll be a healthy trade of downloads and secreted DVD's out in the sticks.
I came out of it thinking that I can't see a time when this dumb race will ever get to the point where the term "Homosexual" is an irrelevance. What's really great is that although the film deals unflinchingly with the pain that the love affair causes them both, it is at the end of the day, a traditional doomed romance type film. It's filmed as a romance rather than a film "with a message", and as such of course does a damned good job of carrying the message further.
So from, the sublime to the truly astonishing. We watched "Triumph of the Will" last night on DVD. It's the Reifenstahl Nuremberg one from 1934. It was... Well. Astounding, really. We were both left pretty speechless and a bit freaked out. I've only really seen Hitler in short clips before. What was interesting was watching him in comparison to the other speakers at the conference. Hess was average - only Goebbels seem to have any real air of gravitas about him. Meanwhile, and I don't know whether this was a regional accent thing, but Hitler rolled his 'rrrrr's and delivered anything he was saying with a deep, emotive energy. Several short speeches he didn't use notes and seemed to make it up, and only the main speech at the end he looked slightly less at ease, unconsciously clutching his elbows for comfort, and reading from a lecturn. The "Dalek" tendency was there with many of them, but not with him. He wasn't slow or deliberate, but bloody hell - the light of absolute conviction was there in his eyes. He *knew* what he wanted to say, and he knew it was right (you know what I mean. Obviously he was wrong. That's not what I'm saying).
The other fascinating thing being that of course, the film was a massive propaganda exercise to deliver the message: "Hitler represents peace and strength; Hitler is you; Hitler is Germany" 1934 stylee. There was barely any mention - although it did come up, of Aryan superiority. What there was was a hell of alot of "They tried to beat us, but they do not understand us - they think that you are all here through fear of the state. The truth is, is is us who tell the state what to do" (the universal "us" of course, talking to the tens of thousands of parading soldiers and "land" soldiers). A lot of similarities with the Stalinist (even pre-Stalinist, to be honest) USSR message (no class, the working man and woman as hero) and very curiously, occasionally a little bit of reassurance that Hitler isn't doing anything weird, the party is behind him, we should all rally around him. So the stamping out of anything anti-Nazi was well on the way at that point.
An absolutely fascinating document of the road to not just fascism, but what came next. It is no surprise to me, watching it, given that the media by this point was no longer free, and you've got films like this hammering home the messages Hitler's propaganda machine wanted: you are all heroes, our country is magnificent therefore you are all magnificent; we will be the beacon for all Germans throughout the world... I mean if your sons had been killed, you were living in poverty, your country had been thoroughly humiliated by the outcome of the first world war... it doesn't take a genius to see how that situation could be manipulated, and one's base fears, anxieties etc could become entangled in this new world order crap.
My point being that there are many who blame the whole German people for the war. I never have and this film hasn't changed that opinion. Yes, there are many subjective stories of how racist Germans can be, even these days, but then so can the white british, that's not my point. Many people bought in to something, and didn't realise they were buying in to the wrong thing, because they were so far away from Berlin (it was a rural country, don't forget) and yet more people were probably so scared of losing their homes and more importantly, their kids if they were seen to be dissenting that they simply either went along with it, or documented cases, tried to help where they could. That's not to say there weren't many idiots who fell for the whole schtick, hook line and sinker, and then once in, tried to justify the unbelievable madness of it by bolstering their own opinions - and of course, a good war gives the real psychopaths the perfect excuse to kill with impunity. and there were plenty of those knocking about.
It is a fascinating film to watch. Propaganda, as well as being part newsreel. An incredible document, during which I kept thinking of how George Lucas must have used it to engage quite a bit of Star Wars imagery (tens of thousands of rows of "Storm Troopers" - a phrase Hitler uses - all ready for action).
Luckily my comments are up the spout at present (sorry about that) so I've no doubt that the many norks who will have read that and somehow decided that that must mean I'm sympathetic to the Nazi project won't be able to post up their ill informed idiocy. Phew.
Oh yes! and Uncle Stephen's babysitting tonight, so that means Mackay and I are going out too! 3 films in 3 days. I don't know how I'm going to cope. We might go and see Jarhead, if only so I can look at Jake Gyllenhaal again. It comes as a terrible blow to remind oneself that that lad is about ten years younger than I am. .
you know, it's not often you're going to get those two films discussed in the same post - and there's absolutely no way to link the two.