Monday, 29 June 2009

From camp to cretins

Having never seen a live musical, it was with some trepidation I joined a friend at the Playhouse to see La Cage aux Folles last Friday. Filmed musicals have always seemed appallingly tacky, overblown and full of ridiculous plot contrivances which would be dismissed in even the most outlandish Hollywood summer blockbuster. Only Oliver! truly resonated with me because it's about London street urchins and has a career-best Ollie Reed performance.

LCaF was far better than I could reasonably expect and full of great one-liners such as, "If he loved me, he'd vacuum." A story about a gay couple who run a drag club will always be camp as Glastonbury but even for unreconstructed heterosexual men like me there's plenty to think about. Themes of identity and pride are key to the story. Drag queen Albin is eventually true to himself despite the initial efforts of partner Georges to hide his same-sex partner from self-appointed moral guardian Monsieur Edouard Dindon.
On one level this is a fairytale, because being yourself can often bring its own problems, but at some stage in their lives everyone has had to deal with disapproving parents. Never mind, eh? Love always finds a way. In fiction, at least.

A completely different cultural experience last night. Terminator Salvation. The fourth in a series of gradually diminishing returns. It was great fun, but Christian Bale should drop the portentous growl. It's all very well being the most serious actor of your generation, but the throaty bark was enough in The Dark Knight. In a Terminator sequel, fans appreciate a little humour. At least when they have to sit through a subtitled version of the film without warning from box office staff. When I went to complain (thus missing the bulk of the opening death row scene) a cinema employee who looked like a down-at-heel Grandpa Munster explained it was for the deaf and tried to lay some guilt trip on me. Of course the subtitles were for the deaf, I didn't doubt that, I just wanted warning before paying to get in. Grandpa said I could speak to the manager if I wanted my money back, but only if I saw him right now, thus missing the film. After making it clear I wouldn't be returning to the cinema again, I returned to my seat. Five minutes later a security man walked in the screening and the manager came to talk to me while I watching film. I told him I didn't want my money back so he finally pissed off. How stupid can you get? It's already inconvenienced me to complain the first time, without the old vampire trying to prolong the matter, now the manager interrupts the film.

Streatham Odeon staff proved themselves incompetent but I'll return. Although I love jammin' all over town at a moment's notice (and often do), I'm far more inclined to see a film locally. The Odeon is one of three cinemas within 25 minutes walk and there will be times when neither of the other two are showing an interesting movie, so there's no alternative when the mood hits - unless I want to draw my own damn film on the kitchen wall.

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