Sunday, July 26, 2020

i love to dress up and pretend

Under the opening titles, as Patti LaBelle sings "Something Special" we see different women in different outfits, in blocks that never show the whole person. Parts of women, parts of outfits, earrings, eye makeup, and yesterday (because I had completely forgotten the acting class angle of Outrageous Fortune, I thought for a moment this was going to be about women working in fashion. But no.

Cut to theatrical fencing class and Lauren is, to put it mildly, overeager. And we learn that her ambition is to play Hamlet. Cut to dance class. A gay guy who asks her out "to do some serious research" and she turns him down. Cut to Lauren and friend talking about not dating actors. They find the flyer for Korzenowski's workshop. Cut to Lauren outside her parents house in need of money. And I find myself confused because she could just do her own production of Hamlet with the $5000 her father gives her. And, Lauren's idea that Sandy can't go into an audition for the workshop
without a prepared classical monologue. That means Shaw, Ibsen, Shakespeare.
feels wrong. Like the screenwriter thought the audience would only understand stage acting within an extremely narrow scope. And, I'm reminded of Shakespeare in Love when all the actors audition with the same lines from Marlowe's Doctor Faustus--"Was this the face that launched a thousand ships and burnt the topless towers of Ilium? Sweet Helen, make me immortal with a kiss." But Thomas Kent grabs Shakespeare's attention to by reciting lines that are 1) different and 2) from Shakespeare's own Two Gentlemen of Verona--
What light is light? If Sylvia be not seen? What joy is joy if Sylvia be not by? Unless it be to think that she is by and feed upon the shadow of perfection. Except, I be by Sylvia in the night. There is no music in the nightingale unless I look on Sylvia in the day. There is no day for me to look upon. She is my essence and I leave to be if I be not--
And, one must wonder in the context of Shakespeare in Love if Shakespeare is enamored because she compliments his writing or because she picked something unique. Is it ego or boredom? Or maybe both.

But even Will himself wouldn't hold up Hamlet as the epitome of theater. And he would tell her to find herself some funding--or rather get some more from her father--reserve a theater, run some auctions of her own, and play Hamlet already.

And I would say, take an interest in something less obvious.

But, as Lauren and Sandy get held up by a kid with a toy gun, I get distracted wondering what was popular in theater in the late 80s and further distracted by what's called "Great Theater Massacre of 1982". In 1973, hotelier John Portman Jr. Set out to build a hotel in Times Square. Three Broadway stages and 2 movie theaters would be demolished. Portman tried to appease his detractors with a promise of a new stage inside the hotel, but there were protests, plans were delayed. Portman backed down. For a while. In 1980, he returned with the support of Mayor Ed Koch. In 1982, enter Joe Papp, producer and director, and the "Save the Theaters" campaign. Broadway/Times Square was to be designated a national historic site. But, the bill to do so didn't pass, theaters were demolished, the hotel went up.

Meanwhile, Lauren and Sandy get along like girlfriends for a moment as they hesitate to finally confront Michael, and I get stuck still on Lauren's lines from earlier. Her plan for the audition was "Ophelia's mad speech" which I'm guess she means that "what a noble mind is here o'erthrown" bit in Act III, and I figure if Leslie Dixon wanted to make a female version of a buddy copy sort of movie, maybe she shouldn't hinge it on two women being stuck on a man who lied to them both. Maybe don't aim for feminism by having Lauren want, without any further explanation, to play Hamlet. And, maybe don't have her using a monologue that reinforces the female character's subservience to the male. Obsessing about Hamlet's madness and not her own.
(I do try to find another Ophelia monologue about madness and find none.)

I mean, the idea works, generally. A couple of women get caught up in a plot far bigger than them (like many an action film, not just buddy cop movies), the men around them, whether villains or supposed heroes, just get in the way, and the women have to get shit done themselves... Until they need help from George Carlin and a truckload of Mexicans. But then Lauren gets to win the final confrontation with Michael by jumping like she did in dance class and everything is just fine. The lying man is gone. He didn't release a toxin that could kill all the vegetation in California. And, Lauren gets to play Hamlet.

I'm not sure if it's feminist or not.

But, it's a comedy that has the identification of a body hinging on genital size, a lead come after the offer of a blow job, and the final locating of Michael (in a brothel no less) by listening to him climax with a prostitute, and my conservative mother still loved it.

Go figure.

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