Saturday, March 11, 2006

A few cold words

One reaction on the Brokeback loss no-one has felt the need to capture..and a very important one at that. Creator of Ennis and Jack, Annie Proulx tells Guardian how it felt to see the heavily nominated and near favourite movie lose out to a race drama. True to her writerly self, Proulx begins by giving us a bird's eye view of the red carpet:

Inside, we climbed grand staircases designed for showing off dresses. The circular levels filled with men in black, the women mostly in pale, frothy gowns. Sequins, diamonds, glass beads, trade beads sparkled like the interior of a salt mine. More exquisite dresses appeared every moment, some made from six yards of taffeta, and many with sweeping trains that demanded vigilance from strolling attendees lest they step on a mermaid's tail. There was one man in a kilt - there is always one at award ceremonies - perhaps a professional roving Scot hired to give colour to the otherwise monotone showing of clustered males.

For someone who was an insider in the Brokeback brigade, she is quite nearly impertinent in her criticism of Crash.

We should have known conservative heffalump academy voters would have rather different ideas of what was stirring contemporary culture. Roughly 6,000 film industry voters, most in the Los Angeles area, many living cloistered lives behind wrought-iron gates or in deluxe rest-homes, out of touch not only with the shifting larger culture and the yeasty ferment that is America these days, but also out of touch with their own segregated city, decide which films are good. And rumour has it that Lions Gate inundated the academy voters with DVD copies of Trash - excuse me - Crash a few weeks before the ballot deadline.

As you read forward, Proulx diligently tears down the magnificent facade that's called the Oscars...not just the selection procedure, but also the details of that oh-so-grand ceremony:

There were orders to clap and the audience obediently clapped. From the first there was an atmosphere of insufferable self-importance emanating from "the show" which, as the audience was reminded several times, was televised and being watched by billions of people all over the world. Those lucky watchers could get up any time they wished and do something worthwhile, like go to the bathroom. As in everything related to public extravaganzas, a certain soda pop figured prominently.

But finally, she hits the nail on the head, and introduces a searingly deviant point of view:

Hollywood loves mimicry, the conversion of a film actor into the spittin' image of a once-living celeb. But which takes more skill, acting a person who strolled the boulevard a few decades ago and who left behind tapes, film, photographs, voice recordings and friends with strong memories, or the construction of characters from imagination and a few cold words on the page? I don't know. The subject never comes up. Cheers to David Strathairn, Joaquin Phoenix and Hoffman, but what about actors who start in the dark?

Well said, Proulx...well said! But them words weren't cold exactly, heck, even remotely.

Brokeback review
Proulx's Bookslut interview

1 comment:

Jim said...

The whole article struck me as petty and unpleasant. I have a lot less respect for Proulx as a writer after wading through her self-indulgent prose.

I could go on about it, but I'll just choose one thing - if the members of the Academy really are "out of touch with their own segregated city" why did they pick Crash - a film about contemporary segregation in L.A. - for Best Film?

(P.S. Like the 'related posts' feature - how did you do that?)