I've never quite understood the whole appeal of Thanksgiving (aside from the cranberry sauce), and not being American, I've never celebrated it. In fact, I was feeling less than thankful, since a commenter on filmtotaal pointed out to me that my latest review - the one I felt so good about, the one I didn't have to labor over but that simply spilled out onto my keyboard - was actually very awkwardly written. And he was right. Quite a blow to my fragile ego, as you can imagine. However, I do not want to dwell, and hence, forced myself to write down this list of things I am thankful for.

- My new room, and watching films from my new bed
- Pepernoten
- The way Cary Elwes' hair falls in front of his face in the beginning of The Princess Bride
- The Princess Bride existing, at all
- How well my thesis is going, progressing slowly but steadily
- Friends who bring brownies and rosé to movie nights
- Getting the No Country For Old Men review, and thus getting to see it in a week and a half instead of on Valentine's day
- The fact that no matter how many great movies I see, there's always so many more to discover
- Gus van Sant still being allowed and able to make strange, noncommercial movies when he wants to
- The fact that soon, I'll be allowed to play Sufjan Stevens' Christmas albums again
- "Don't eat those old people's french fries, pigeon! Don't you know you can fly?"
- Hugh Laurie as Gregory House
- Blog-a-thons
- having people read what I write, even if on the blog it's only a hanfdul
- The internet, where there is always someone who shares your obsessions and passions
- Finally, for the fact that despite my underdeveloped writing skills, I am getting -through my job and editor- a chance to improve myself little by little. It's frustrating that I can no longer always get away with elliptic, associative nonsense, but I know that in the long term, it's going to make me a better writer.

Ok, boring rant over, and I do feel somewhat better. Very therapeutic and all. So, go ahead, what are all my many, many readers thankful for?

Happy Thanksgiving



Ok, so in my desperation to get the "No Country for Old Men" review, I offered to review Beowulf, since nobody had professed interest for that and the release date is this Thursday already. The IMAX version is already in theatres, and there I went, begrudgingly, thinking it would be another 300. But I have to admit...

I didn't hate it.

Oh, it was silly. And with those strange, almost-real, plastic characters, it's hard to truly get into the story. But except for the first fifteen minutes, I wasn't bored for a minute, and I laughed a lot more than I did at my last semi-voluntary review, which was of The Heartbreak Kid.

Still. No fair. The guys get Angie's boobs, but Ray Winstone's digital dong stays carefully, hilariously, hidden, even in a naked fight longer than Viggo's. I know this is intended for 13-yo boys, but still, no fair!

Another plus for Beowulf? It's inspired some truly funny reviews.


A tale of two Hedwigs - Queer Film blog-a-thon

NOTE: this is my contribution to Damion's Queer Film Blog-a-thon. What are you waiting for, go check it out!

My name is Hedwig.

I was named after the main character from a novel published in the year 1900. "Van de koele meren des doods" by Frederik van Eeden. The title loosely translates as "Of the cool lakes of death", and the book is exactly as cheery as you would expect. The delicately nerved protagonist is a sensual creature who gets married to an impotent man and wonders about why "the mystery of marriage" is missing. She then runs off with a piano player, delivers a dead baby, and carries it in a basket with her to Paris where - if memory serves - a doctor makes her a morphine addict, after which she wanders the streets of Paris as a whore. In the end, she ends up a nun.

When I finally read the book at age 18, I hated, hated this Hedwig. Luckily for me, I found a namesake I could identify with a lot more around the same age. This one was a botched transsexual, a rocker from Berlin, with fabulous wigs and a thirst for vengeance. Someone who had no less of a tragic life, but who - unlike the turn of the century twat from the book - didn't just roll over and hope for the cool embrace of death, but instead fought with tooth and long, polished nail for justice and for love.
The movie, if you haven't guessed it by now, is Hedwig and the Angry Inch. And I'll admit, I bought the DVD mostly out of vanity. If you're called Hedwig, you don't find a lot of namesakes, and I was curious enough to spare 10 euros. I couldn't have spent them better.

John Cameron Mitchell does so much so well in this movie that's it hard to know where to start. The music, and its very own mix of mythologies, the amazing central performance, the strange ending, the humor. But what I want to talk about in particular in connection with this blog-a-thon is how naturally and flexibly gender, gender-roles and sexuality are treated.

Hedwig herself is, of course, a wonderful mess. She's not transgendered in the sense that she's felt like a girl all her life: the operation is done out of love, both for her "sugar-daddy" and the country (and associated freedom) he represents. Her surgery is botched, leaving her with the "angry inch" of the title, and as a result she is the ultimate outsider: a piece of an impossible puzzle, futilely looking for another half that will fit. Her triumph is that she refuses to stop looking.

You can tell John Cameron Mitchell believes, or at least wants to believe, that there is indeed someone out there for everyone. To use an awful Dutch proverb, there's a lid for every jar. What Hedwig points us to is that in order to find that lid, we shouldn't be halted by convention, and if we should consider both men, women, and everything in between. This movie shows that in some way, everyone is somewhere in between. It's not for nothing that Hedwig's poor, abused boyfriend Yitzak is played (wonderfully) by a woman. And the reason Tommy Gnosis is a tragic figure rather than a true villain is that he cannot look beyond a simple angry inch to find love.

I've long had a fascination for gay culture. I'm still not entirely sure why, but I think I'm starting to figure it out. Queer culture is all about taking what makes you different, what makes you a "freak" in the eyes of some limited people, and making something great out of it. I might not be gay, but I understand what it's like to be different, even in a subtle way, from what's considered the norm. Hedwig, and many other queer films sure to be discussed today, take these feelings of unbelonging and turn them into art. In this particular case, the lesson to draw is clear: be whoever you are, and find love wherever you can.

I don't know about you. But I take comfort in that.