Monday, May 19, 2008

Backbreaking Boredom

My best friend at school when I was about six or seven was a large, ruddy-cheeked boy who looked like a farmer's son, though he was in fact the scion of an ironmongering family.
A fan of cowboy films, he cantered everywhere, holding invisible reins and slapping his thigh. If we were late for school he would break into a gallop and I would jog along behind without him being aware that I was not also on horseback. When he pointed his fingers at little old ladies, who were presumably surrogate Indians, and shot them I pretended I wasn't with him. I didn't much care for Wild West fantasies and certainly didn't want to draw attention to myself by role-play on the public highway.
At that age I was already converting reality into prose in my head, sometimes embellishing it, sometimes fictionalising it, sometimes as straight reportage. That was probably because I was more likely to be found reading a book than watching The Lone Ranger. It might also explain why I once walked into a lampost and gave myself a nosebleed. Who says that writing is not a dangerous occupation?

This reminiscence is solely to pad out what should have been a review of Brokeback Mountain, which had its first terrestrial showing on Channel 4 last night.
But I managed to stick with it for only the first 50 minutes. These were among the most boring 50 minutes of my life. And when I get bored I get angry. So the soundtrack in my living living room consisted of 35 oh, for fuck's sakes and 23 get on with its.

It confirmed my belief that film is the most self-indulgent of mediums. How long should I be expected to look at an opening shot of a man waiting outside an office trailer? Why do I need to see the same shot filmed through the undercarriage of a passing train? How many times do I need to see the two characters sitting around cooking beans on a camp fire as the days pass by and, in the real world, night falls and dozens of my brain cells lose the will to live? (Not a good idea to trigger memories of the famous Blazing Saddles farting scene, by the way).
An appropriate caption would have been: we apologise for the delay to the plot but in the meantime here's some beautiful scenery to look at.

I've read that, at cinema showings, many people walked out. I assume this wasn't because of the sex scenes but because they decided that life is too short and they despaired of a sex scene happening within the next three weeks.
The first sex scene, and the only one I saw, was the 'any port in a storm' scenario, the kind of animalistic sex that happens in prisons and other all-male institutions. I suppose it's possible that this can develop into an emotional attachment or 'love', but that's probably the exception rather than the rule.
But lengthy analysis of this particular relationship is a waste of time because it was fictional, it was written by a woman and it was portrayed by two straight actors. And boy, how they made sure that the public knew they were straight.
One of them said that the characters weren't gay; they were two straight guys who fell in love. Presumably he'd never heard of bisexuality or that sexuality is a spectrum rather than an either/or.

Anyway, I surrendered my right to review the film properly when I switched it off. By 9.50 pm the thought of lying in bed and listening to The Westminster Hour with the delightful Carolyn Quinn became irresistable. Carolyn Quinn being the programme's presenter, not the woman sharing my bed, I should point out.
I was never confused.


At 5:38 PM, Blogger Betty said...

I thought I was one of very few people who was underwhelmed by Brokeback Mountain. I was stupid enough to sit through all of it as well!

There does seem to be a trend for films to be really long these days. Perhaps the two and a half plus hours are supposed to justify the overpriced tickets.

At 7:19 AM, Blogger Willie Lupin said...

betty: I think with award-winning films there's a tendency to think the fault must be ours.
But if a film-maker, dramatist or novelist doesn't hook me into the story very quickly, I can't be doing with them!


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