Saturday, April 02, 2005

Hitler and the titties!

Last night I took in a double feature with Matt and assorted combinations of his friends and co-workers. And the two movies we saw could NOT have been more unrelated—except for the fact that a lot of the people in them got royally fucked.

The first movie, which we drove way up to Evanston to see, was Downfall, a controversial film about the final days of Hitler, as told (more or less) by Traudl Junge, his last stenographer. Many have criticized the film for "humanizing" Hitler, which it does. It gives him alternating moments of compassion, warmth, anger and irrational delusion—all of which coalesce to create a character study of a misguided, loathsome, tragic man who might have been forgotten to history as simply a misguided, loathsome, tragic man if he hadn't managed to rise to such an elevated state of power and influence.

The movie also accomplishes something I always look for in the retelling of historic events: Giving me a deeper understanding of what it was like to actually BE there. Before the movie Titanic, for instance, I understood that the sinking of that ship must have been horrible to experience. But the movie showed me the layers of fear and denial and panic and hope the passengers went through as their world disappeared under their feet. It helped me understand how people were forced to see their loved ones crushed by smokestacks, drowned in icy waters and trapped in locked steerage holds. It put me in the middle of the screams and the frozen bodies and the endless silence when the ship was finally gone. It transformed my understanding of the sinking from tragedy to Tragedy.

Similarly, Downfall brings to life the horrors of WWII as experienced (and imagined) from the confines of a dark, claustrophobic, smoky underground bunker. (GOD, it must have been gross down there—everyone smoked.) It shows how Hitler's lackeys struggled to stay in the good graces of a man who was spiraling out of emotional and rational control. It explains basic mundanities like boredom, bathroom breaks and food preparation. It plops you in the middle of the room where Magda Goebbels murders her children to prevent them from growing up in a world without national socialism.

It makes you appreciate what we as a collective society have at the dawn of the 21st century. And how—given the recent political rise of equally fanatic, equally determined, equally irrational religious fundamentalists—we could be in danger of creating another Hitler state here in America.

Here's one thing I really like about the film: The costumes and wigs and makeup are completely unremarkable. They don't call attention to themselves, they aren't exaggerated and self-aggrandizing, they aren't Hollywood. They just are—which pulls you right into the time period and the events and heightens the realism exponentially.

And here's one thing I would change if I could: I'd make the characters call each other by name more often. There are so many similarly dressed, similarly grim generals and sycophants and random soldiers running through every scene that I was often confused about who was whom. And the individual significance of these men's deaths was often lost on me.

But that was just the first movie. After a hearty, way-too-fattening, way-too-delicious, WAY-too-much-food dinner (cajun chicken pasta! molten chocolate cake!) at Chili's, we headed back into Chicago to the always fabulous, always artsy Music Box Theatre for a midnight showing of—and I am not making this up—Deep Throat. As in Linda Lovelace. As in Harry Reems. As in Harry Reems IN Linda Lovelace. As in balls-to-the-cooter STRAIGHT PORN. And it was being shown in the name of Art.

WARNING! GROSS PARAGRAPH! And it was just as disturbing as I'd imagined—and not just because of the straight sex and the terrible acting and the ugly men and the laughable editing and the clowns-in-the-washer soundtrack (all of which were presented in unrelenting VaginaVision). No—that wasn't enough to make this the most culturally influential, bring-porn-to-the-mainstream-and-gross-$600-million smut film ever. There's also a scene where Linda and a doughy mullethead share a very long straw that brings them refreshing sips of Coke from somewhere deep in Linda's flabby vagina. There's a bubbly-farts-in-a-bathtub sound effect that accompanies many of the orgasms. There's a vagina-shaving scene that made everyone in the audience instinctively reach to protect his or her cowering sex organs.

And there was that sinking feeling that I'd just been robbed of $8.75 and two hours I'd never get back.

But the movie does have value as a cultural artifact. Its tacky clothes and false eyelashes and booshy moostaches and home décor selections are a hoot. And I learned that apparently all you needed to work in porn in 1972 was an overbite and a rack that looked like a pair of pantyhose filled with tapioca. And two buckets of blue eyeshadow. And a hoo-hoo shaped like a collapsed soufflé. And cheap shoes.

(Am I being a bitch here or am I just still in shock over how radically our standards of beauty (at least porn beauty) have changed in the last 30 years? I'm probably being a bitch. But Linda Lovelace and her wacky, slutty roommate really did have ugly boobs. And positively revolting vaginas. (At least for this highly prejudiced audience member.) And don't even get me started on the flabby grandma arms the bucktoothed nurse had where her tits should have been.)

Anyway, by 1:30 I was Hitlered and hoo-hooed out. And despite every disturbing minute I'd seen last night, I slept like a baby.

And when I woke up, I still had a full tummy. Urp.

4 comments:

Christopher said...

I read an interview with Bruno Ganz the other day. I do really want to see that movie when it comes out here.

Aside from that, what is the difference between a revolting vagina and a pretty vagina? I'm gay you know and have never seen one up close.

Jake said...

Pretty vagina: You see it and say, "Thanks, but no thanks."

Revolting vagina: You try to chew open your own carotid in an effort to erase the image of it from your brain AS FAST AS POSSIBLE.

Vicki said...

I just have to say that your blog will be bookmarked forever (in my heart, if not in my Favorites Folder, because who knows where the world will take us both?) based on this particular post. I laughed until I fell off the chair and bruised my pretty vagina.

Hugo said...

Der Untergang was powerful - I saw it while on vacation. True, not quite standard vacation fare, but more palatable than titties and vaginas that's for sure.