I watched the film last night and was blown away by Judi Dench's performance. It's unusual that a jaded ex film theory student like myself is blown away like that, and although I do truly always love Dame Judi, this was the penultimate character for her I thought.
Breathtakingly vicious and manipulative, her Barbara is as layered as any real live human being, unusual for a film script these days. In fact, the layers of each main character in the film, Barbara, Sheba and Steven, are peeled away like the skin of an onion-- as the film progresses we get deeper and deeper into their psyches and man, are they all twisted!
The are also all twisted up in the affair that art teacher Sheba (Cate Blanchett) is carrying on with her seemingly abused 15 year old student, Steven. Lonely and intense fellow teacher Barbara befriends Sheba, who she alternatively loves and hates for her beauty and bourgeois sensibilities, and she uses their closeness to pull Sheba further and further into her web of neediness when she discovers the affair.
I hate to say this since the film shows the more pathetic sides of humanity, but this movie and its characters reminded me more of real life than most films. The secretiveness, the two-faced-ness, the desperation, the complication, the cat....it was all so dense and realistic! I loved that Barbara narrates the film and that we get to hear her innermost thoughts, which she carefully journals every night-- it's the ultimate gournol. She convinces herself that she knows all about Sheba's life and marriage and thoughts and feelings because she is so absorbed with wanting things her own way, seeing things her own way.
Each character completely justifies his or her actions to themselves, and it is incredible to watch. Judi already has an Oscar, but still, someone should have given her an honorary award this year for her insanely believable ferociousness and vulnerability in this film. She scares me now.
Perry Farrell started playing music in the brilliant but short lived band Psi Com. The band released one self titled album in 1985. He went on to create two excellent album with Jane's Addiction. "Nothing's Shocking" and "Ritual de lo Habitual" had a major influence on many of us who grew up in the late 80s and early 90s. Especially those of us growing up in southern California. These albums and their singles were heard everywhere. Everyone had the tapes blasting in their cars and I swear that I probably heard Jane's Addiction at least once a day, somewhere. The band became known as the symbol for alternative music. Back when alternative actually still meant something. Perry Farrell also went on to create the alternative music festival known as Lollapalooza. This was a pretty exciting festival for kids who had never experienced anything like this before. Perry Farrell also released the movie "The Gift" in 1993. While this may be one of the worst films ever released, it remained one of my favorites for many years.
As I waited with my boyfriend, Corey, in the Emergency Room loading dock, nurses, aides, cleaning people and, I think, some illegal immigrants would rush through. The energy was frenetic. It was like someone spliced together all the link and filler scenes from a TV medical drama, and edited out the entertaining parts where you find out the doctor’s sleeping with the wife of the man who runs the hospital who is an alcoholic/pill addict and, even more tragic, votes Republican.
We learned that Corey had appendicitis. They wanted to perform surgery that night. Our plans to play poker and go dancing would, in all likelihood, have to be cancelled.
A cute picture of my boyfriend, Corey
Corey is a self-professed control-freak, and this would reveal itself in many ways. He would grill anyone who entered our room with the same battery of questions, to which he would receive, more or less, the same answers. I didn’t ask why, but I secretly theorized that he was waiting for one of them to “slip up” and say something like, “Well, you may be feeling discomfort because your uterus is over-extended,” to which Corey could then raise his pointed finger and exclaim, “Ah, ha! Got you! I’m a boy and I don’t have a uterus! Because of my hysterectomy last year.”
My boyfriend won’t find that joke funny, but he’s all cripple from surgery, so I’m safe.