FAR FROM HEAVEN is the lovingly crafted new film from Todd Haynes (VELVET GOLDMINE), about an upper class socialite house wife (the great Julianne Moore from JURASSIC PARK PART 2 and ASSASSINS) dealing with the shameful prejudices and social pressures of the time. When she discovers that her husband (one of the Quaids, I think Randy) kissing a man, she tries to be loving and understanding about it. Her friends joke about her liberalism and call her “Red” but she naively deals with it as a medical problem, and brings him to a doctor to be “cured”. Soon she strikes up a friendship with her black gardener (the president from that stupid tv show 24) and again tests the limits of her liberalism when she finds that both whites and blacks scorn their innocent relationship.
Part of what makes it work is that the styles of acting, the dissolve-heavy editing, and the music by Elmer Bernstein are all taken directly from the films of that time period. It’s as if Haynes had travelled back in time and created a movie that he wishes they could’ve made back then, dealing with issues no one wanted to face, ones that are still embarassingly relevant today. It’s all a perfect re-creation of the melodramas of Douglas Sirk.
Oh, who am I fooling. I would never have known that if everybody else didn’t already say it. I don’t even know what that means. I’ve never seen a Douglas Sirk movie. Have you? I don’t even know which ones he directed. There is a scene where the Quaid goes to see THREE FACES OF EVE in a movie theater. Hey man, I’ve seen that and I can prove it, I reviewed it a long time ago. So I figured hey, maybe that’s a Sirk movie. But no luck, I looked it up. I haven’t seen any of those movies, and haven’t even heard of most of them, or remember what they were now that I am not on imdb anymore.
To be fair, I bet half of these other clowns don’t know who Douglas Sirk is either. They probaly just read it in the press kit and then wrote it like they knew what they were talking about. At least I had to read other reviews to find out, I don’t get the press kits.
But shit, that doesn’t let me off the hook. How did I get to this point anyway. I used to specialize in the FILMS OF BADASS CINEMA, now here I am giving my opinion on a ’50s style melodrama about racism and homophobia. The new one from the director of SAFE. I haven’t even seen SAFE man. Although somebody did show me that one he did where the Barbie dolls act out the life of Karen Carpenter, and that one was good. The point is, I used to talk about guys getting their faces shoved through glass, not Julianne Moore struggling with her feelings for her gardener. And to be frankly honest, I probaly have more interesting things to say about those kind of movies. God damn it Hollywood, why have you forsaken me? Keep making this intelligent business but give me the hard shit too. I’m begging you man I need you.
Anyway I thought it was a good movie. I like how it shows that white liberals aren’t exactly as great as they think they are, but at the same time it is sympathetic towards them. You right wing nutballs don’t take that the wrong way please, the point is that liberals aren’t liberal ENOUGH. They’re well ahead of you though. You can’t expect her to do more than what she does, but you sure want her to. At times it’s frustrating because she really can’t do the right thing without making the movie phoney.
Anyway all of the actors are great in their retro way and so is the attention to detail in re-creating this old style of filmatism. And I like the fact that there’s not alot of irony about the time period or laughing at their archaic customs, at least I don’t think there’s supposed to be. I saw this at a nice new place they got in Seattle called The Big Picture. They serve drinks and deliver popcorn to you personally in champagne ice buckets. They even got wicker ottomans in the front row. I mean I never felt so underdressed in the lobby of a movie theater before. It’s a nice place, unfortunately it attracts them yuppies and if I can make one or two generalizations about yuppies – well, no, it would be too hard to limit myself to that. But this particular group of them was not appreciative of Mr. Haynes’ sincerity in using ’50s filmatic language. The ending is very sad, but as soon as “The End” pops up they all laughed, like it was some kind of joke. “Ha ha, those stupid ’50s fuckers used to write ‘the end’ at the end. What a bunch of neanderthals.”
I mean come on man, when you saw the opening credits, with that font and that music, how could you not have known it would end with “The End”? This is not a surprise, unless you’re a dumb fuckin yuppie rotting your brain away with cell phone radiation.
other helpful tips for cancerous cell phone brained yuppie fucks:
- for crying out loud, don’t run me over on a fuckin crosswalk. I don’t care if you’re talking to one of your clients on your cell phone, that’s no excuse.
- why do you need a cell phone anyway? nothing is sadder than seeing two friends walking side by side talking on cell phones to two other friends. Are you together or not? why bother being together if you’re talking to some other asshole?
- And hey it’s cool that you decided to use the bus to commute to work, but again, ditch the god damn cell phone. I don’t want to hear you narrating your whole journey. “Yeah, we’re right by Larry’s Market…” And even more than that I don’t want to hear about work today or your vacation to Europe. God damn it, just sit down and shut up.
VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.