Monday, December 20, 2010

La Dolce Moore

Hello, snow angels!  While I try to never brag, keeping the lines between my journalistic obligation to expose our rightful place in the hallowed tomes of horror history and my personal trials and tribulations as a gay working in said industry strongly defined, if you know me at all then you surely know that I have the best friends in the world!  Just in time for the holidays, one of my oldest and dearest has graced us with his presence.  Mister M.A. Fortin - proprietor of This Movie Exists has stopped by the manse for a cup of egg nog and he's brought us all a gift (hint: it may or may not be Gucci and it is obviously wrapped in an sumptuous, red velvet bow).  I give the faggotyass floor to Mark...

YOU GUYS. Why is Julianne Moore not more of a gay icon?

I mean... okay, she sort of is. She meets a lot of the requisite pre-existing conditions: she cries hysterically in every movie, she plays gay a lot, she's played some of the WORST mothers in film history, and she's a Todd Haynes muse. She played Carol in Safe, for Chrissakes. Yet I don't see the real outpouring of pink support that she deserves on the internet (despite a recent honoring here on this very website). Is she just too normal? Maybe she's just too grounded-- she doesn't look like the type of woman who could possibly end up in a hit-and-run or an insane custody battle or be found sleeping in a neighbor's backyard.

Whatever. J-Moo is very much a living, breathing gay-icon, whether drag queens dress up as her on Halloween or not, and Ridley Scott's batshit fantasia Hannibal (2001) proves it! 

"I always figured him for a queer."

Hannibal is a gay movie. Whereas The Silence of the Lambs was in every way a straight movie about aberrant gay desire, its sequel is framed with the light whimsy of a fairy tale-- and has a fairy tale's perverted ability to do WHATEVER THE HELL IT FEELS LIKE, WHENEVER IT FEELS LIKE IT. You know how Silence was (and remains) one of those movies that feels controlled to perfection? Well, Sir Scott (and screenwriters Steven Zaillian and David Mamet) apparently decided that careful plotting and things like, I dunno, logic were irrelevant to theirproceedings. No, Hannibal is pretty much the one movie you can find that features Julianne Moore (by most accounts a terrific, thoughtful, and focused actress) looking like she has no idea what she's signed up for. It's hard to believe that Hannibal exists-- but I guess this is what happens when you get carte blanche from Universal and Dino DeLaurentiis. Where to begin?

"This town is full of corn pone, country pussy."

Everything in the Thomas Harris universe has a faintly homo-unfriendly tinge to it. Hannibal starts with Julianne stepping into Jodie Foster's roomy, sensible shoes as FBI Special Agent Clarice Starling, now out of Quantico and going to fish markets to have accidental shootouts with HIV-positive, automatic-weapon-wielding drug queenpins with children strapped in their Baby Bjorns. Oopsie! Panic ensues for J-Moo as she tries to hose off the baby covered in "tainted" blood post-shootout-- and OK, while you can't automatically link anything HIV-related in a movie to being necessarily "gay," I feel like this is just a soupcon of the wild, evil sissy panic that Hannibal has in store for us: an overture of distaste before the first act of pure, uncut WTF.

Following this upsetting interlude, J-Moo goes home and cries. I like to think that Julianne is crying because she was realizing that taking this role was a losing battle-- and that she cannot make any sense of the script. But J has to dry her eyes right quick because she needs to run off and get back in the saddle to catch Hannibal Lecter, the world's most crypto-queer cannibal psychiatrist! Girls, let's face it, and own it: Lecter is the gay world's Freddy Krueger. She cooks, she LOVES to stir up drama and ask inappropriate questions, and she knows everything about antiques and opera. I dunno about you, but I've certainly met Miss Lecter in a gay bar on an off-night once or twice in my life (fact: white wine spritzers are a helpful tool to enable a sly, discreet escape). 

Anyhoo, back to Julianne: during her quest to find Lecter (who's roaming free now in Florence, Italy), Julianne is forced to head to a huge (and I mean obscenely huge) home to visit with Hannibal's resident evil queen, a man who makes Lecter look like Pat Buchanan when it comes to filling out the faggoty checklist. This lady has:

a) an antique-laden (yet childless, barren and empty) home;
b) a dedicated and resentful manservant;
c) TONS of money.

Yes, kiddies: Julianne must meet with TOM FORD.

No. Wait, that's not right. It's Mason Verger (played with icky relish by an uncredited Gary Oldman), a former patient of Lecter's who had the hots for him. See, years ago, Verger (who likes to diddle little boys-- disgusting "gay" character trait #1 established: molester) went home with Lecter to get it on, and Lecter offered him the use of some "poppers" (disgusting "gay" character trait #2 established: druggie). Well, that bitch shoulda checked the label, 'cause whatever was in that bottle wasn't amyl nitrate. It makes Verger go batty, and cut her own face to ribbons-- and then Lecter feeds the pieces to a dog (disgusting "gay" character trait #3 established: gay sex is gross). Now Verger's confined to a wheelchair and has a face like a squashed tomato. She's dying to find Lecter to get revenge-- and her plan for that involves having Lecter eaten alive by wild boars. I've heard of pig play, but this bitch is one sick lady.

"She will spit and bite if she's cornered, so you should watch it."

Fast forward: Julianne really goes through it in this movie. She not only has to deal with this sicko homo, but then she gets suspended by the bureau, sexually harrassed by Ray Liotta, and gets a mash note from Lecter. Oh, and in the interim, Lecter's been getting cruised HARD by this distinguished, older Italian gent who just CAN'T stop looking at pictures of Lecter online (girl, we've all been there)! This man ends up hanging by his intestines in a piazza. I like to think that Lecter punishes this dude because he's already married. To a woman. And if there's one thing a self-respecting gay can't tolerate, it's the DL.

Nor can any self-respecting gay tolerate any behavior that abuses children (hence Verger's initial flashback punishment). I guess this is why we, the gays, need to embrace Lecter more as our own: because he's an avenging angel of sorts with exquisite taste who can't tolerate bad manners. He's like Martha Stewart's fever dream fantasy come to life. Maybe I'm reaching, but in the rococo, baroque landscape of crazy known as HANNIBAL, a girl needs something to hold on to. Just ask Julianne.

Seriously, ask her. Because by now she's tracked Lecter back to Verger's home, rescued him from the hungry, insatiable pigs (girl, we've all been there), and subsequently shot. Lecter rescues her himself to bring to a cozy lakeside cottage, but not before stopping at Gucci (again, I'm sorry, but Tom Ford is in here somewhere) to get the comatose Julianne a hot little number to wear.

It's around this point that it looks like Universal execs were watching dailies of the movie and collectively decided to fire Ridley Scott and give the movie over to that nice Nancy Meyers. The film's truly insane last act takes places at Ray Liotta cottage, where Lecter has both him and Julianne hostage (I mean, for the weekend!). Remember how in Something's Gotta Give, Meyers lingered grotesquely over appliances, furniture and whatnot to create a movie that's the equivalent of a throw-pillow? Well, her touch is at work here in spades. Julianne wakes up, drugged out, and hoping that this whole movie was a horrible dream and that her handsome hubby Bart Freundlich is already downstairs making egg-white omelettes. But no: J-Moo is still in Hannibal, and Julianne, ever the trouper (she was in Body of Evidence, you guys), stumbles downstairs to find that Lecter is about to torture Liotta for dinner (in divine copper cookware, of course). That's what you get for fucking with his Julianne. Lecter doesn't want to bang her-- I think he's just her bestie and will sass anyone who disrespects her. Of course, "sassing" and "sauteeing and feeding a man his own brain" are different responses entirely, but we must keep in mind that the gay community is wide and diverse and therefore we mustn't judge.

In the end, Hannibal ends up somehow being both meretricious and totally hysterical. It's a hard film to take seriously, yet it still has some sort of power. Whatever the reason, we gays love our embattled ladies-- and the trials of Julianne in this flick should be enough to anoint her a gay saint for life. 

1 comment:

  1. Eh', your review made my morning. I'm still laughing. Thanks for that.