Thursday, June 10, 2010

Thursday's Ways Not To Die


What better way to celebrate Gay Pride Month than to give some love to the story of two girls gone so bonkers in their confusing affections for each other that they smash in the skull of one of their own unwitting mothers? Hooray for deranged queers!

Seriously though, hooray for deranged queers. I wrote up a semi-defense of the stereotype before, in reference to Ben Foster's performance in 3:10 to Yuma, but this seems a good place to take the stance again. Deranged queers, hooray! I love 'em! In real life and in the movies! Alright mostly just in the movies. In real life I think Pauline Parker and Juliet Hume seem pretty freaking awful. But in the movie, with Melanie Lynskey and Kate Winslet bringing their confusions to inspired life and with Peter Jackson surrounding them with film-making magic, well it's just a pleasure wading in their insanity. They suck you right into their hysterical fantasies, and when they grab each others hands and swing around the woods, stripping to their oversized period-appropriate underpants, it's completely exhilarating.

Problem is, they just picked the wrong damned parent to bash! It's really marvelous the way Peter Jackson manipulates our sympathies here, making Pauline's Mum (a woefully unsung Sarah Peirse) the only other really sympathetic character in the film just in time for the horror to enclose upon her. The scene with her cluelessly sipping her tea and eating her cakes as the girls just want to get on with her murdering is simultaneously chilling and darkly funny.

No we cry - bash in Juliet's mother's head, you fools!

But it's not to be. Pauline, in that single-minded way of teenagers, has decided her forgiving and caring and simply overwhelmed mother is out to get her and must be stopped. Poor Honora. Fifty years later and she'd have probably been a member of PFLAG while Pauline watched her mother wave around a rainbow flag in embarrassed horror. But in 1954 it's clear she simply has no way to wrap her head around what's going on with these girls. And they have no way to wrap their head around the fact that she's trying to wrap her head around it.

But Peter Jackson makes this tragedy about more than the smothering confines of a specific time and place - it's still impressive even fifteen years later how much he seems to understand the passionate tumult of a teen girl's hormone-soaked imaginations, and the tumble they can take them off into dangerous obsession. The film's soars (and is positively exhausting) when these two get going, fueling each other's infatuations, and with them we go until there is no going back. The film starts with the conclusion and then shows us the circle that enclosed it - the path through this forest only has one ending, foregone.

"It's Mummy! She's terribly hurt!"
Previous Ways Not To Die: Busting Rule Number Three (For The Purpose of Number Two) -- Daisies #4 - Window Dressed To Killed -- Hands Off the Haas Orb -- Bullet Ballet -- A Single Vacancy at the Roach Motel -- A School Bus Slipped Thru The Ice -- Trache-AAHHHH!!!-tomy'd - For Mel Gibson's Sins -- A Wide Stanced Slashing --- Daisies Ways #3 - Scratch n' Snuffed -- The Victim of a Viscous Hit & Run -- Curled -- Kabobbed -- Daisies Ways #2 - Aggravated Cementia -- Boo! Nun! -- 2009's Ways Not To Die -- Bug Scratch Fever -- Daisies Ways #1 - Deep Fat Fried in My Own Unique Blend of 500 Herbs & Spices -- By the Yard End of the Stick -- Screwed From A Very Great Distance -- A Righteous Bear-Jew Beatdown -- Fisted By Hugo Sitglitz -- Xeno Morphed -- Fuck-Stuck -- A Vengeful Elevator God: Part 4 -- Lava Bombed -- The Cradle Will Rock... Your Face Off!!! -- The Food of the Nilbog Goblins -- The Slugs Is Gonna Gitcha -- Phone Shark -- Hide The Carrot -- Sarlacc Snacked -- Avada Kedavra!!! -- Hooked, Lined and Sinkered -- "The Libyans!" -- Axe Me No Questions -- Pin the Chainsaw on the Prostitute -- The Wrath of the Crystal Unicorn -- The Ultimate Extreme Make-Over -- Drown In A Sink Before The Opening Credits Even Roll -- The Dog Who Knew Too Much -- Don't Die Over Spilled Milk -- Inviting the Wrath of Aguirre -- An Inconceivable Outwitting -- The Five Point Palm Exploding Heart Technique -- Nipple Injected Blue Junk -- Your Pick Of The Deadly Six -- Thing Hungry -- Don't Fuck With The Serial Killer's Daughter -- DO Forget To Add The Fabric Softener -- Any Of The Ways Depicted In This Masterpiece Of Lost Cinema -- Rode Down In The Friscalating Dusklight -- Good Morning, Sunshine! -- Mornin' Cuppa Drano -- The Cylon-Engineered Apocalypse -- Tender-Eye-zed -- Martian Atmospheric Asphyxiation -- Maimed By A Mystical Person-Cat -- The Sheets Are Not To Be Trusted -- Handicapable Face-Hacked -- I Did It For You, Faramir -- Summertime In The Park... Of A Pedophile's Mind -- A Vengeful Elevator God: Part 3 -- Strung Up With Festive Holiday Bulbs By Santa Claus Himself -- A Vengeful Elevator God: Part 2 -- A Vengeful Elevator God: Part 1 -- Decapitated Plucked Broiled & Sliced -- Head On A Stick! -- A Trip To The Ol' Wood-Chipper -- Pointed By The T-1000 -- Sucking Face With Freddy Krueger -- A Pen-Full Of Home-Brewed Speed to The Eye -- Motivational Speech, Interrupted -- A Freak Ephemera Storm -- When Ya Gotta Go... Ya Gotta Go -- Hoisted By Your Own Hand Grenade -- Having The Years Suction-Cupped Away -- Criss-Cross -- Turned Into A Person-Cocoon By The Touch Of A Little Girl's Mirror Doppleganger -- Satisfying Society's "Pop Princess" Blood-Lust -- Done In By The Doggie Door -- Tuned Out -- Taking the 107th Step -- Rescuing Gretchen -- Incinerated By Lousy Dialogue -- Starred & Striped Forever -- Vivisection Via Vaginally-Minded Barbed-Wire -- Chompers (Down There) -- Run Down By M. Night Shyamalan -- Everything Up To And Including The Kitchen Toaster -- Sacrificed To Kali -- Via The Gargantuan Venom Of The Black Mamba Snake -- Turned Into An Evil Robot -- The Out-Of-Nowhere Careening Vehicle Splat -- "Oh My God... It's Dip!!!" -- Critter Balled -- Stuff'd -- A Hot-Air Balloon Ride... Straight To Hell!!! -- Puppy Betrayal -- High-Heeled By A Girlfriend Impersonator -- Flip-Top Beheaded -- Because I'm Too Goddamned Beautiful To Live -- By Choosing... Poorly... -- Fried Alive Due To Baby Ingenuity -- A Good Old-Fashioned Tentacle Smothering -- Eepa! Eepa! -- Gremlins Ate My Stairlift -- An Icicle Thru The Eye -- Face Carved Off By Ghost Doctor After Lesbian Tryst With Zombie Women -- Electrocuted By Fallen Power-Lines -- A Mouthful Of Flare -- Taken By The TV Lady -- Bitten By A Zombie -- Eaten By Your Mattress -- Stuffed To Splitting -- Face Stuck In Liquid Nitrogen -- Crushed By Crumbling Church Debris -- Bitten By The Jaws Of Life -- A Machete To The Crotch -- Showering With A Chain-Saw -- In A Room Filled With Razor Wire -- Pod People'd With Your Dog -- Force-Fed Art -- Skinned By A Witch -- Beaten With An Oar -- Curbed -- Cape Malfunction -- In The Corner -- Cooked In A Tanning Bed -- Diced -- Punched Through The Head -- Bugs Sucking On Your Head


breedaniels said...

This scene is so disturbing to me. Sarah Peirse is so gut wrenching. That scene affected me as much as the home invasion scene in "Henry: Portrait of a Seial Killer" when I first saw it. I love your synopsis of what the mom would be like today!!! I live for this blog and am often surprised at our taste in films and men; )Take care, JA.

shawnp said...

Ugh. You need a NSFL (not suitable for lunch) flag on this post.

I can hear the cry the Mom makes after she's been thwacked.

/puts down the turkey sandwich.

Anonymous said...

What a good, good movie. I hope Peter Jackson decides to make more like this instead of trying to become the next Jim Cameron. We need this sort of Peter Jackson.

Jason Adams said...

It's the part where we're tricked into thinking that Kate Winslet's trying to help her up, only to have her really be reaching for the brick-filled stocking so she can get her own smashes in, that gets to me every time. So upsetting.

Dale said...

Now you've made me go and rent this. Your description was so good I just had to see it.