Christmas Film Festival Concluded

After my blog entry on Christmas Day, I did exactly what I said I would. I drove out to this amazing lookoff BeeGoddessM and I “discovered” late last August in West Pennant. The sun was shining brightly over the water as the moon was rising behind me and a traditional Norwegian Christmas carol was playing on the radio. It was amazing — the kind of gorgeous moment you wish other people were with you so that they could be mesmorized by it, too.

I came back home between this drive and my night at the movies, and thankfully I did: Lonestar from Nashville returned my call a few minutes before I was to step out to go to the cinema. Life has become too busy for both of us and, as a result, we hardly keep in touch anymore. Everyone in his life seems to be doing well, except his son. He gave me a three-sentence précis of what is up with his “boy” (who’s in his mid-30s) and, obviously saddened and upset, concluded with “He’s seriously fucked up and I don’t want to talk about it anymore.” We promised to try to keep in touch more in the coming year.

Whenever I go to the movies, I’m taken aback by how expensive it is. For two films plus popcorn and pop for the second flick, I dropped $30 on Christmas night. A lot of people were there — going to the movies has obviously become a Christmas tradition for many — but there were precisely five of us to watch Kinsey at 6:50 and eight for A Very Long Engagement at 9:30. Particularly the low attendance at the latter surprised me although maybe it shouldn’t have, this being Halifax and all.

I liked Kinsey. It’s remarkable that, more than 55 years after the publication of his first volume on male sexuality, the validity his work is still being debated. When it comes to human sexuality, it’s still okay to hold a discourse that is at odds with actual practice, as if repeating a falsehood over and over is going to turn that falsehood into an indisputable fact. Also fascinating to me is the continued collective obsession with what is “normal” and the desire to be “normal.” Of course, a “norm” (or statistical average) is arrived at by the summation of all variations divided by the number of samples, which usually leads to a bell curve where results in either extreme end are few and thus unusual. And if the “unusual” results in real harm, only then is it problematic. Equally problematic, however, is determining whose yardstick should be used to determine harm. To me the line is clear but, to others, my line would be deemed too permissive.

Meanwhile, what can I say about A Very Long Engagement! Despite having the same director and lead actor as Amélie, this film is not a variation on the same theme. I loved the whimsy of Amélie and a few scenes made me laugh so hard that I was crying. AVLE isn’t as whimsical and, dare I say, as a result, I liked it even more than Amélie. The depictions of WWI trench warfare are gruelling but, in the end, they all serve to advance the storyline; the violent scenes, while difficult to watch, aren’t gratuitous. Because I speak French, I probably have an advantage while viewing this film, as the characters’ accents matter (south of France/Corsica versus Brittany or Île-de-France). I don’t want to give any spoilers, but if you get a chance to see this film, do so!