vegansaurus!

08/19/2010

Vegansaurus double, no TRIPLE, feature!  »

This is a very special edition of Vegansaurus double features because there are not two but THREE movies! Yes, folks, we here at Vegansaurus are not afraid to totally mess up our ideas for regular columns after only one previous installment! That’s ‘cause, as you know, we have balls. Or vaginas. I mean, we don’t want to be all patriarchal, right?

Which brings me to this installment’s features!

Proposition 8 being overturned is super cool. As some vegans have observed, human rights and animal rights should go hand-in-hand. Even conservatives agree — how many times have you heard a Republican claim that if we let gays marry, the next thing you know, people will be marrying animals? See? We stand united.

But this civil rights victory will no doubt be eclipsed by 2010’s even more impressive gay rights progress: three big movies about two-and-a-half hot lesbian couples! All played by straight actresses! Yes, folks, 2010 is officially the Year of the Lesbian (for Year of the Cock, we’ll have to wait till 2017). Finally, society seems to have gotten past its fear of seeing two hot, straight women caress each other’s bodies. In fact, I saw surprised to read on the Internet that, far from being repulsed by the sight of Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis performing passionate sexual acts with each other, many people (especially heterosexual males, oddly) seem to have been able to look beyond gender and sexuality to simply appreciate the beauty of two people expressing their appreciation for one another, regardless of what they’re packin’.

But enough about society’s newfound acceptance of homosexuality. These movies speak for themselves. At least, the one of them that I’ve actually seen does!

First up, director Darren Aronofsky’s fifth feature, Black Swan, is currently getting a wedge of attention due to its pre-release trailer, which draws viewers in with a complex plot and top-notch acting. All of which is just code for sapphic hate-sex. All that aside,  Aronofsky has proven himself to be a pretty compelling director, even if his grasp of female characters has usually been pretty shallow. The Fountain excepted, if Black Swan is anything like his previous work, it will definitely be worth seeing. Its release date is December 1.

You might think that I picked this next film, which has no scheduled U.S. release date, to show off my film cred, except there’s nothing hip about Julio Medem, the Basque Country’s most famous director (it sounds impressive, but the fact that I had to put a Wikipedia link to the Basque Country makes it a dubious honor). Room in Rome is his first English-language feature, but he probably wasn’t aiming to conquer the US market: like Sex and Lucía, his best-known film in the U.S., Room in Rome is will probably get a NC-17 rating slapped on it, which is the kiss of death for mainstream success here. Just ask Elizabeth Berkeley.

While Medem’s work lacks the ironic awareness of its own melodrama that has made his countryman Pedro Almodóvar such a relative success in the US, his films are incredibly compelling. Visually, his films are usually packed full of painterly symbolism and, lately, creative cinematography. And storywise, his work features complex plots and crazy revelations about lineage. Seriously, Spaniards love that stuff! You just have to write something like, “Juan, I am your father!” and then they’re all, “OMG, foreign Oscar nominee!”

But in Medem’s last film, Chaotic Ana, he took the complex plot and twisted bloodlines thing to new heights even for him, in a story about a young artist who, through hypnosis, remembers thousands of years of her previous lives as, in one incarnation or another, a woman warrior against imperialism. No, really. She also discovers that her current lover was, in her last life, her son. For some reason, that film, like their romance, didn’t do too well (I liked it, though!), so for Room in Rome, Medem decided to return to basics: the story takes place mostly in a single hotel room and over the course of only one night. Apparently, he decided to simplify in the wardrobe department, too. 

Finally, if you haven’t seen The Kids Are All Right, which seems like it’s in more theaters than Inception, then you are a ridiculous person. Director Lisa Cholodenko has done something impressive: made gay marriage seem pretty average. The lesbian couple in the film, played by Julianne Moore and Annette Bening, are just like any other married couple: they bicker, they don’t have sex very often, and their kids are totally embarrassed by them. But they also love each other deeply. If it sounds like the zeitgeisty formula for a post-Prop. 8-California hit, it is.

But what’s even more impressive is how The Kids Are All Right doesn’t confine lesbian sexuality to a box (hahahahaha) made by straight people even while it makes having a family with two moms seem as non-threatening as Ellen in a power suit: Moore and Bening’s characters get off to gay male porn while they do it, and even though Julianne Moore’s character has hot extramarital sex with a straight dude, nobody (except him) really questions her sexuality for more than a New York minute (which is also, coincidentally, totally the length of a Hollywood sex scene). Yet nothing about it feels the least bit subversive, which is what makes it so successful. 

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