Another busy week up here leading to another low tally…perhaps that will be the theme of the year ahead? At least it was a two screening week…with more to come in the week ahead. So then again maybe low tally won’t be the theme of the year.
#52FilmsByWomen continued this week with Sally Potter’s ORLANDO.
Potter is the tenth director of the series for me, and likewise one whose work I’m more familiar with. Three years ago, I was deeply smitten with her coming-of-age film GINGER & ROSA. Prior to that, I was knocked-out by her film YES at the 2004 Toronto International Film Festival. Potter’s films have a way of highlighting the nuance in how we relate to one-another; as friends, as lovers, and as members of the same family. Arriving at ORLANDO actually reminds me that I need to dig deeper into her filmography.
ORLANDO is based on the classic novel by Virginia Woolf (which Potter adapted for this film). The spin for this film was the way it approached the lead character’s transformation from male to female mid-story. Potter chose to cast Tilda Swinton as the titular character which put her in drag to pose as a boy for the first half of the film before slipping into the feminine version of Orlando for the final bit. Part of brilliance of this, considering it was 1992, was recognizing the glorious androgyny that Swinton carries naturally and seeing how well she would suit the role.
With my ignorance of the original story, It took me a moment or two to settle into ORLANDO. At first, I thought the entire film had the gender roles reversed. Around the time Orlando went on his first date with a Russian princess, I realized I was missing something. (Thank-you Wikipedia) Were I playing the game of making the movie I want instead of discussing the movie I watched, I might well have created a version of this film where the roles are all played by the opposite sex. The same way that hearing Swinton express Orlando’s thoughts of being a restless boy, I believe there is likewise something illuminating in hearing a man recite dialogue written for a woman. In another universe, that film exists.
There’s something fascinating about the way this film has the same actor express both the masculine and feminine trappings. In some instances it circles the identical approach that men and women take to some of life’s situations…in other instances it demonstrates the vast differences. The very character of Orlando brings that up through his/her transformation, but Swinton playing both sides seems to take it to a higher level.
ORLANDO has a cleverness about it that makes it more genuine and avoids the gender-play from becoming a gimmick. In a way, it makes me wish Potter would employ the idea more often…but then a movie like this wouldn’t be nearly as special.
Here’s the week at hand…
WHISKEY TANGO FOXTROT – Not bad, but could have been “more”. Podcast thoughts about this forthcoming on Monday.
ZOOTOPIA – Cute, but Disney has done far better lately.
Streaming/Blu-Rays/DVD’s I’ve Never Seen
SLIDING DOORS – I’ve always been consumed by notions of “paths not taken”, so in an unexpected way this film is very much my beat.
ORLANDO – Now lets see Sally Potter sleep in a box at MoMA
Streaming/Blu-Rays/DVD’s I’ve Seen Before
PANIC ROOM – Watched this on a Sunday visit to my folks’. They ate it up.
SHUTTER ISLAND – Why are you all wet, baby?
Boxscore for The Year
39 First-Timers, 34 Re-Watched
73 Movies in Total
How’s about you – seen anything good?