All About All About Eve

Over the weekend, I had the pleasure of going to see the classic All About Eve at Steele Indian School Park in Phoenix. It was a wonderful evening for such an event, although it got a little cold (yes, it gets cold here, Sara!), but there is nothing better than enjoying a film while laying on a blanket in the grass with about 200 gay men chugging cocktails.

All About Eve is the story of the ambitious Eve Harrington, who befriends theatre star Margo Channing at the height of Margo’s career, coming to her first as a shy, starstruck girl with a checkered past. Margo, in a supreme act of hubris, invites Eve into her home and into her life, setting the gears in motion for the drama (and hilarity) that ensue.

What’s wonderful about this film is twofold: first, Bette Davis, with whom I share my birthday, gives a tour de force performance as Margo. A forty-year-old actress playing 24-year-old parts, Margo is feeling especially old. Her younger boyfriend is less a comfort and more a worry to her, and she drinks heavily. Davis’s Margo is brilliant because she is equal parts unapologetic diva and insecure hysteric; Davis remembers to show Margo’s vulnerability but does so not as a weakness, but as a kind of revelation. Margo’s diva nature is external, is cultivated by those around her, while her inner life makes her into a well-rounded human being.

The other thing to celebrate here is the writing and dialogue. This film is full of amazing lines, most of them Margo’s, full of wit and rancor. You’ll recognize “Buckle your seat belts, boys, it’s going to be a bumpy ride,” but the context of this line and its actual delivery transcend the trope it has become. Equally entertaining are the voiceover remarks provided by theatre critic Addision DeWitt, the foppy bachelor who flits around these women of the theatre with both disgust and complete adoration.

You’ll recognize elements of the plot in films that followed, everything from Single White Female to The Devil Wears Prada. All About Eve stands at the top of the heap, though, transcending time and remaining and important classic film.

On the Shortbus

I bought the John Cameron Mitchell film Shortbus recently based on some recommendations from friends who’d seen it and thought it amazing. I love Hedwig and the Angry Inch, too, so I thought I’d like this one.

Well, when I was shopping online for the DVD, I saw there was an unrated version, so I thought, “Well, why not? I’m an adult, after all.”

The DVD came in the mail yesterday, and I very nearly mean that as the double entendre it sounds like.

Case in point.

The story of the film concerns several late twenties/early thirties folks struggling with various issues. Sofia, a “couples counseler” (neé sex therapist), has never had an orgasm. Her husband, Rob, watches internet porn. Sofia counsels gay couple Jamie and James on whether or not they should have an open relationship because, as Jamie reveals, “I need to love everybody.” James doesn’t know who he loves. Dominatrix Severin is a hard-edged goth-punk chick with an axe to grind a name she’s afraid to be called. Ceth is looking for love, and a mysterious voyeur across the way has been documenting Jamie and James’s lives for several years.

All these characters commingle at a private sex club called “Shortbus,” where anything and anyone goes…whichever way they want. The world of Shortbus is a buffet of naked bodies, orgasm faces, and frank conversation, all presided over by drag queen Justin Bond, who ministers to this flock with a sense of reckless abandon and hope.

But what’s interesting about Shortbus is that it’s less about sex—although there’s tons of it, and in more varieties than you knew existed—and all about catharsis. Each character has become numb, paralyzed, trapped in him or herself. As Justin Bond explains, everyone comes to New York after 9/11 because they’re empty. These characters aren’t empty—they’re blocked. They all have something they need to get out, and soon.

Mitchell captures the lost souls he perceives to populate a post-terrorism New York City with both tenderness and consternation. Why can’t Sofia just come already? Why can’t Severin just move on? These are important questions, timely questions, age-appropriate questions, too, it seems. Trapped in time, the many bodies of Shortbus are seeking one true thing—connection—and although the metaphor is now trope and overdone, Mitchell’s blatant, in-your-face approach to it takes no prisoners

Mini-review: 300

Dir. Zack Snyder
Starring: 600 silver-dollar man-nipples, dead cattle in the form of leather briefs, the Sunday night crowd from The Padlock [gay leather bar] as the Arcadians

Let me tell you what I love about Greece: that men were men, and that they didn’t pansy around with more than a striking black loincloth and festive cape. That their cape-clatches matched their shields. That their swords….oh, never mind.

300 is yet another thinly-veiled attempt to understand domestic terrorism as drag queen supergoddess Xerxes of Persia (is this a bar I haven’t heard of?) brings thousands of his ugliest troll friends for a camping weekend near beautiful Sparta. When not preening his many piercings, reapplying his metal-toned lip gloss, or fiddling with his many necklaces, Xerxes perfects his “bored-now” scowl and best impression of Faye Dunaway impersonating Joan Crawford impersonating a human being.

The Spartans, led by a delicious slab of man-meat, decide to hold him off at a narrow pass into Sparta. What follows is a carefully choreographed orgy of violence in washed out color film stock. It’s enough that there are about three women in this whole movie, one of whom is a bad-ass Spartan queen, because the men are either beautiful bearcubs or future stars of Falcon Films. It’s a win-win film for the gay crowd.

[honestly, I just really liked it.]