1. topp of the world
The heat was intense this weekend, but I’m still so happy to be home that it all feels like a wonderful game. The Let’s Live In L.A.! game. Saturday AK and I managed to spend four hours in air-conditioned movie theaters, which is how you win the Let’s Live In L.A.! game.
First stop: Redcat for an Outfest screening of The Topp Twins: Untouchable Girls. Imagine if Flight of the Conchords were middle-aged lesbian twins who played a variety of characters in their act and were just as into herding cattle as singing. That would be Jools and Lynda Topp, who are apparently quite famous in New Zealand. It’s always a little odd to witness documentation of a huge phenomenon you’ve never heard of. It’s what makes Canada, with its own set of movie stars and TV shows, seem like a parallel universe more than a foreign country.
But the Topp twins made me want to live in some such universe. My favorite part was when someone (their manager?) said, “I mean this in the nicest way, but they’re the least professional people I’ve ever worked with. What they do is just who they are.” Sometimes I fall so head-over-heels into the world of ambition, and I’m almost always the worse for it. It was nice to be reminded that success can come from goofing around with your sister. Or rather, life is too short not to spend as much time as possible goofing around with your sister, so prioritize that and the rest will follow. And if it doesn’t, at least you had fun.
2. a (funny, heartwarming) cautionary tale
Next we saw The Kids Are All Right at the ArcLight. Is it too soon to call best movie of the year? I realize I’m biased, seeing as how this movie is all queer family-themed. But since all too often I have to pick between seeing a good movie and seeing a gay movie, it was a huge treat to have one-stop shopping.
Annette Bening and Julianne Moore play a longtime couple with two teenage children from the same sperm donor. The kids go searching for the donor and find Mark Ruffalo, a motorcycle-riding ladies’ man with his own organic farm and restaurant. Collectively they are not so much a postmodern alterna-family as a hot mess—but the sort of hot mess whose happiness you root for.
The movie is so well written that every scene is a microcosm, drawing out each character’s flaws and desires. When teenage son Laser finds his moms’ porn stash and asks, “Why do you watch guy-on-guy movies?” Bening immediately scolds him for snooping while Moore offers a thesis on externalized vs. internalized sexuality and the inauthenticity of girl-on-girl porn. One parent controls and refuses to listen. The other puts her own emotional drama before her kid’s wellbeing. And they continue to do so for most of the movie.
But the kids are alright (and usually right), and writer-director Lisa Cholodenko seems to suggest that redemption comes more from mutual need than from calculated atonement. It’s a comforting thought, in a dysfunctional sort of way.
Whenever AK and I see relationship movies in which one character hangs on too tight and one runs away, we can’t help but exchange looks of recognition. They’re cautionary tales: I need to reign in my control-freak tendencies, and she…well, she’s not quite the free spirit Moore’s character is.
“I like to think I’m that mellow, but I’m not,” she said.
“Thank god!” I said.
We both agreed never to [spoiler alert -->] sleep with our sperm donor, and we shook on it.