Friday, October 9, 2009

I'm Laura Mars.

"I sat there and watched the blood dry on her face until it was just about the color of your hair."

To those who suggest that homosexuality is a choice and not a genetic predetermination, please explain to me why I watched Mommie Dearest every day when I was 8 years old, staring blankly at histrionic scene after histrionic scene for hours on end. There are some impulses (like making out with boys and Faye Dunaway) which we have absolutely no choice but to succumb. These impulses are part of our genetic makeup bag. Of course, those who think being gay is a choice are the same people who don’t believe in dinosaurs, but let’s not get upset - not today. The Eyes of Laura Mars is gay Easter, a great big basket full of chocolate and marshmallow treats wrapped with a Hermes bow!

The first shot of The Eyes of Laura Mars is a black and white closeup of Faye’s eyes over the refrain of a Barbra Joan Streisand Power-Ballad. This pretty much sets the tone for the proceeding ninety minutes.  This is a film where our heroine is put through the ringer without ever actually gets her hands dirty or her hair mussed.  Nicole Kidman would later adopt this genre of thriller as her own.  Faye Dunaway is playing Faye Dunaway as Laura Mars, the most glamorous photographer in the world. So keen is her eye that she begins to see gruesome murders happen, psychically. In the 1970s, photography was still controversial. People in the art world weren't ready to embrace the medium and they certainly didn’t want to embrace Laura Mars, who specialized in tableaus of naked women splayed out in gruesome and beautifully shot crimes of passion. Edgy!  A lot of people wanted Laura dead. Being the World's Most Important high fashion photographer, Faye is surrounded by the gays. Her best friend and confidante is an ascot wearing, feathered hair, stonewall-rock-throwing queen named Donald. Donald is very fond of Laura, going so far as wearing her dress and heels from time to time - evolking the rare exception where I find myself wanting the killer to kill the gay.  Donald makes me feel like Michelle Obama watching a minstrel show.  This is my issue, not his.  I can only imagine how stressful it must be to try and be Faye Dunaway's gay friend.  All the scheduling and film-loading and grocery shopping and crime-solving is invariably left to her token gay while Faye just emotes and yells his name in random locations.

“I’m very serious about my work, by my own standards.”

If you take away Faye’s delivery and the vanity lighting, The Eyes of Laura Mars is a actually a gritty little movie. Shot entirely in Manhattan, Raul Julia and Tommy Lee Jones and Brad Dourif completely inhabit their roles. There are times, however, when it's clear that Irwin Kirshner just had to turn the camera off to end a scene because Faye would otherwise keep going and going, inserting pauses and intense staring and hair flips like the energizer bunny in a silent movie. 

How do you solve a problem like Faye Dunaway? She’s arguably the greatest bad actress of all time. You cannot take your eyes off her! The only thing capable of holding its own opposite the scenery-devouring Ms. Dunaway (who was paid a million dollars for this movie, having just won her Network Oscar) is Theoni Aldredge’s costumes. Furs, plaids, slit skirts, silk scarves, capes, and more furs! Irvin Kershner’s next directorial effort was The Empire Strikes Back, Laura Ziskin went from being Jon Peters assistant to one of the most successful movie producers of all time, and John Carpenter’s Halloween came out months later making him a horror icon. The rest is gay history (thank God).

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