Thursday, June 16, 2011

In the Company of Mutants

Let me sum up:
It's a first ever geek tears mash-up! With "Company" and "X-Men First Class." (See--this new random posting thing can be fun...)

Let me splain:
Both bits of pop culture goodness definitely made me cry this week. And there is one sexy thread linking them that I really wanted to write about, but I'll save that for last. So we have a version of Sondheim's "Company" recently performed by the Philharmonic and and all-star cast, filmed, and released in theatres yesterday (Neil Patrick Harris's birthday--w00t!) And we have the latest installment in the X-Men movies.

I'd seen "Company" once before. Not my favorite Sondheim of all time, but I really enjoy it. It's a gorgeous show about the pain, ambivalence, and joy in romantic relationships. (Here's a taste). The cast was amazing. Stephen Colbert's performance of "Sorry-Grateful" was heart-wrenching, and definitely tear-inducing. Which is funny, because the song doesn't totally resonate with me. Granted, I approached dating in a very quirky way (lots of kissy-face in Preschool, made out with a few guys in Jr. High, made out very little with my two gay High School boyfriends, then had a reflective dry-spell until the night I gave in to being wooed by my best friend of 7 years). At any rate, I've never for a moment been sorry I got hitched. And--though this is me talking out of my ass--I get the feeling Colbert doesn't have a lot of sorry days either. But all relationships still bring vulnerability, complication, and struggle, and this song touches on the slippery, lovely reasons that we pursue relationships in spite of such pain.

There are too many things I loved about this show to name them all. But I loved that "Getting Married Today" finally got our audience clapping out loud (people love them some patter song!) I loved Lupone's take on "Ladies Who Lunch." And I loved getting choked up along with NPH as he sang "Being Alive." I am a relationship geek.

Now to comic book geekery. I'm not very familiar with the X-Men cannon, but I am a sucker for villain origin stories. Pretty much every Erik/Magneto scene made me cry. I loved many things about this movie (most centered around Erik and Charles), and strongly disliked some others (honestly forgot who Moira was by the end of the movie, not to mention the other mutants). And I was wildly entertained by the fact that Kevin Bacon looked exactly like Gary Cole for most of it.

So why write about these two movies together? You might think it's because debates have been raging around both projects over whether authors intentionally included gay subtext. I think the overall party line tends to be YES to "X-Men" and NO to "Company." I also think that once an artist hands-off their work to an audience, it takes on new meaning. And that's what makes art sexy, baby. Unless you take the Woody Allen approach and carry Marshall McLuhan around with you.

But my main point today has nothing to do with gay subtext. Or tears. It has to do with a little something I call the "Cary Elwes" effect. I grew up with a huge crush on Mr. Elwes, thanks to his work in "Princess Bride" and "Men in Tights." Wasn't crazy about him in "Twister." And most of the hostility I bear the "Saw" franchise comes from the fact that the first "Saw" movie confirmed that Mr. Elwes, though charming in his way, can't act his way out of a paper bag (or a death trap) unless he's hitting that one, dashing note. Sadly, many have noted that Ms. January Jones (who I adore on "Mad Men") seems to be subject to this phenomenon, too. I wanna say she got stuck in the same bind as Natalie Portman in the "Star Wars" movies--making a choice to play a character as super emotionally controlled is tricky (I worry this will come up for another XMFC star, Jennifer Lawrence, in The Hunger Games). But yeah. Throw Betty Draper in white lingerie, and you have Emma Frost.

Which is why I have to give one last bit of love to Ms. Christina Hendricks, aka Joan from "Mad Men." Her performance in "Company" was wonderful and goofy and endearing. My main comment afterwards to my hubby was "Did you see that? How she had a different voice than on 'Mad Men?' I think that's called act-ing."

~Geek out

1 comment:

  1. If only all artists agreed with this:

    "I also think that once an artist hands-off their work to an audience, it takes on new meaning."

    Once again you prove how smart/awesome you are! :)