June 26th, 2011

breaking bad

Bridesmaids

I would not have gone to see the film Bridesmaids except that I have read good reviews on women's blogs. I went to see it and those reviews are right. It's a funny film, which for a wonder expresses women's humour. Humour is such a big part of women's lives; it's great for it to be shown in a film.

If I hadn't been told about this film, I would have avoided it. The trailer and poster make it seem rubbish. Big fat weddings among the hyper-affluent and glamorous do not fill me with enthusiasm.

Although it's about a wedding the main character arc is a woman picking herself up after her small business goes bust in the recession. Part of that process is the woman stepping away from a demeaning sexual relationship (with Don Draper) but it's not a film where women spend their whole time struggling to get men. The big romantic struggle is between two women, over who will be 'best friends' with the bride. That's the conflict which drives the film.

And it's funny and quite harsh in places. Our hero is completely broke (though with some left over nice dresses) and trying to maintain friendships with women who are much more affluent than she is. One has to wonder if after the story finishes, they would ever see her again.

I think the film pulls its punches at the end. Two of the secondary characters begin a lesbian relationship, which is definitely the best thing for both of them, but this seems to just disappear. The final wedding is as gooshy and over-affluent as anything, and well maybe the bad taste is part of the point, but it seemed a cop-out to me.

But it's not an awful ending, and I really hope this is the first of a new wave of comedies which let women express themselves as funny human beings, like the old days. This could be a Katherine Hepburn film. Apart from, you know, the bit where the bridesmaid shits in the sink.
breaking bad

The Young Visiters

The Young Visiters is a short novel written by Daisy Ashford when she was nine. It was a big hit in the Edwardian days. Fred's executors let me take a book or two from his collection, and I took a 1919 edition of this book. I brought it home yesterday and my daughter pounced on it and read it right through, laughing all the way.

It's very funny. It's well written - it has internal cohesion - but it is written in a childlike way. I suspect it was a big hit in its day partly because it includes quite a bit of what could be sexual innuendo (of a gentle kind) made palatable by its innocent expression.

It's interesting that the Preface is by JM Barrie, the author of Peter Pan, which also occupies that confused interface between adult danger and childlike invulnerability. For some time it was suspected that Barrie was the real author of The Young Visiters and I would have thought so myself, but it appears this theory has been well investigated and rejected over the past century.

I am still reading it, but let me quote a couple of places which show you how it is funny, and the gentle innuendo which pervades it.
Mr Salteena was an elderly man of 42 and was quite fond of asking people to stay with him. He had a quite young girl staying with him of 17 called Ethel Monticue. Mr Salteena had wiskers which were very black and twisty.

Mr Salteena's friend Bernard Clark writes to him asking him to come and visit: 'Please bring one of your young ladies, whichever is the prettiest in the face.' Salteena replies.
My Dear Bernard. Certinly I shall come and stay with you next Monday I will bring Ethel Monticue commonly called Miss M. She is very active and pretty. I do hope I shall enjoy myself with you. I am fond of digging in the garden and I am parshial to ladies if they are nice I suppose it is my nature. I am not quite a gentleman but you would hardly notice it but cant be helped anyhow.