A Single Man

A Single Man

 

Over the recent years, I have noticed two trends in popularity. The first is the rise of the female director (which may culminate in an Oscar for the feminine Bigelow, as director of “The Hurt Locker) and gay. And while this is not as perfect for said popularity as the hetero-homo boys of the female directed “Hump Day,” this will do nicely as we have a tale of homosexuality in a period of time when it wasn’t quite so popular. However, the tale wisely isn’t explicitly about prejudice or persecution. It is about a life and love lived.

And, sure, you’ve seen it all before, but it is well told and directed by Tom Ford. And that’s what we should really talk about. The film is gorgeous. It pops with pristine images, accentuating grain and allowing the cinematography to brilliantly play on shafts of light and shadows. Smoke wafts through the air, and colors pop, and the framing is perfect. As cinematography in film goes over the past few years, I’m gay for this movie’s look.

Too many films drudge it up and suffer from what I call “drunken cameraman syndrome,” which is basically a mentality cameramen have gotten into post “NYPD Blue” where they feel that by shaking the camera it becomes more “REAL” and involves the audience more.

But Tom Ford know that he is telling a tale. And he tells it beautifully, carefully, and precisely. Remove the visuals and you have a movie hardly worth mentioning. This movie is a pleasure to watch. Thank God the folks at Cinema City got the projection right this time to make it quite enjoyable (“Nine” they projected slightly out of focus—I don’t think it made much difference in enjoyment).

The acting itself is rather good, and you’ll be hard pressed to find much to complain about here. Sure, there’s nothing revolutionary here, and I left with no new insight, but I felt I knew a bit about this single man. More importantly, I had more questions for him, That’s quite a high achievement. Think about all the film characters you have met in your years as a film critic (we are all critics, I was just stupid enough to start a blog): how many characters did you leave behind as the credits roll, never to think again of them. This is a full fleshed out character. We are only with him for two hours. We can’t know everything. We SHOULD want to know more.

I’ll admit I was skeptical about this film going in. Tom Ford, some kind of designer or photographer or somebody was making it (I guess probably a designer—film IS a form of photography), and I thought…okay, maybe hoped he would fail. Being a director is a ART, after all. Not everybody can do it. Well, maybe not everybody. But as Takashi Miike would say, “Almost everybody can be a filmmaker…and everybody with money can.” Whether that is true or not, Ford can (though I hestitate to write that, because when writing Ford in film, one should always refer to John). He made a damn fine looking film.

Along with Robert Richardson’s work in “Inglorious Basterds” (Bob, go back with Oliver, you guys were great!), I’d say these two are easily the two most visually pleasing tales from last year. And that’s probably as close as you’ll get to a Best of the year list from me. So there you have it.

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