Sunday, June 17, 2007

Beautiful Budd But No Cigar

Although I bought it at least a couple of months ago, I had never gotten around to viewing my copy of the DVD release of 1962’s big screen take on Melville’s Billy Budd. Though I’ve read it, heard excerpts of the opera and attended an early screening of Beau Travail, the post-modern take on the tale, I had never seen my own copy of it.

Friend and fellow blogger/writing group member The Blue Elephant has been trying for weeks to arrange for a screening, and it all finally came together last night with a circle of his friends over a wonderful Thai meal and viewing on a home big screen bigger and with a better sound system than at most of the theaters at The Opera Plaza or the Lumiere.

The film held up to its reputation, but I’m not sure I’d call it homoerotic. Homocentric is perhaps more accurate. While I’d agree that Terrence Stamp is mesmerizing, pretty and angelic, I never found there to be much about him, in this role at least, erotic. I know that many would disagree with me on that count, and it probably speaks volumes about what appeals to me. Since childhood, I’ve always been drawn to Goofus more than Gallant, the dangerous scoundrel, not the angelic do-gooder.

Pleasant find of the weekend was a $9 Japanese labeled DVD of Steven Soderbergh’s Kafka. A decade and a half later it holds up much better than I remember it from the original release, if only for seeing the grossly under-rated Theresa Russell whom I’d completely forgotten was in it. Even if it has more in comon with The Third Man than Kafka himself or anything he wrote, it has plenty of intriguing moments. The same cannot be said for the reworking of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari which has a somewhat similar look and aims for a similar vibe by bringing spoken dialogue to the 1919 masterpiece. When a somnambulist is given spoken dialogue, it loses all the mystery.

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4 Comments:

At 9:41 PM, Blogger Gavin Elster said...

yeah I'm a Goofus guy too. " Goofus date rapes his prom date while Gallant says please before the rape."
I like Goofus. He didn't beat around the bush. Terrance was beautiful. I'd do him . Even the Stamp of today is attractive to me.

 
At 9:50 PM, Blogger Junk Thief said...

Yeah, Gavin, I'm sure I'd do him too. I always thought Terrence was gorgeous, but he fueled the stuff of passionate wet dreams much more in Teorema. And unlike Sean Connery, I agree that he is still hot today.

 
At 5:07 AM, Blogger Dave said...

Kneel before Zod!

 
At 7:28 AM, Blogger David Rochester said...

Is that film finally out? Last time I looked, I couldn't find it.

I actually think Melville's original story is far, far more homoerotic than any adaptation of it has ever been . . . certainly it's there, in a dominant/submissive sense, between Budd and Claggart, but to my eye and ear, it's more prevalent between Captain Vere and Budd. I think that comes through more clearly in Britten's opera, which has brilliant moments, and appalling quarter-hours. (I prefer "Peter Grimes" both musically and social-commentary-wise, myself.)

 

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