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Mint Juleps
Thursday, March 06, 2003  
Recently I bought a DVD of "Better than Chocolate", a movie I had liked on HBO (late night). The DVD has a great feature: the director, Anne Wheeler, voiced over the entire movie, making comments as she see the different scenes. She talks about the actors, putting the film together, the props, etc. Of course the DVD also can play the film without the directors comments.

A year or two ago after first seeing the film, I made an effort to find out who write it; I sent her (Peggy Thompson) an email saying how much I liked it and that I looked forward to reading her other works. I have been disappointed that she never wrote back. I wonder about the relationship between the writer and the director. How much did the director change from the writer's script? Apparently a lot. How much of that was not OK with the writer? They often have no say . . . . yet from what I had read in some articles on the web, I had the impression that they were friends.

After listening to the director's comments, I realize that the movie succeeded for me in spite of her. If she had a clue about the poignancy of the relationship between the two young women who fall in love, she seems to have lost it in the years it took to make the movie and the surveys done to find out what is bothering the modern young lesbian. She brought in a friend or two to play the "comic" roles of a trans-sexual and of the young women's mother. While these actors certainly added to the film, the director's comments about the editing make it clear to me that she went over-board to focus on them, while cutting scenes that are more key to the movie's powerful emotional plot. The plot of the girls' coming of age and of the censorship they face as lesbians.

What does come through in this movie for me and why do I like it? First I like how it treats art; especially two of the scenes where the young woman (who I think the story should have focused more on) are creating art -- in the first they paint themselves and use their whole bodies to make two big canvases. In the second they take a barrel, fill it with books, then water, and freeze it. Emptying the barrel they are left with a frozen block of books which starts to melt. Another really artistic point is the sign of Lorraine Bowen's "Julie Christie." The neon faces and boots creates an effect that can't be beat. I emailed her (she replied). And I ordered a fun CD straight from her in England. (send cash). Lastly and perhaps most importantly, every time I see the movie, it makes me cry. Why? I think it is the struggle of finding what you want in life and going for it, in spite of all the adversity and tries to prevent you. Especially if you can do it when you are young.

Thursday, March 06, 2003



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