September 24th, 2011

Brian and Justin

Mostly Big Eden

I was feeling really quite desperately ill this morning after breakfast -- ill like I'd eaten too much egg, but my breakfast was spinach, split pea soup, and brown rice ... no egg that I'm aware of. So I don't know what made me so sick, but it messed up my plans to see Debbie today, which I'd really been looking forward to, so I was feeling down and was glad that a couple hours later I found the movie Big Eden in a Netflix envelope in our mailbox, as it's one of my absolute favorite movies and I'd been excited to see it again. (If only it was available on streaming, I could watch it every day! Perhaps I should buy it on DVD.) I think I first saw it in July 2003.

So today I lay on the couch with ice packs on my still-uncooperative arms and watched one of my favorite movies ever, and even after the several times I've seen the movie I still spent the whole time thinking how great it is.

I've read some other people's reviews of Big Eden, and there are things about the film that some people apparently don't like, but most of those things don't bother me in the slightest. It's a gay romance, but most of the "romance" consists of pining, and I'm a sucker for pining (in books, movies, tv shows, anime, songs, and pretty much everywhere), so it was bound to please me. No one in the movie is significantly mean-spirited, unkind, selfish, or bigoted. Pretty much all the characters (except, to some extent, the main character and his NY agent) actively want the best for everyone else in their community and do what they can to ensure their neighbors' happiness.

(I totally identify with pretty much every single character in this movie -- Big Eden is like a town full of cowboy Kimberlies -- which might be why I like it so much.)

So yeah ... it's pretty unrealistic. There's a Pollyanna quality. The movie lacks a certain kind of plot tension that comes from unpleasantness. The tension instead is mostly internal, coming mostly from people struggling with their own desires (sexual and romantic, sure; but also artistic and social), people struggling with their own self-definitions, people struggling to figure out where they fit in in the world and what things are most important to them.

There's quite a bit of humor, but it's understated and flies right by with no fanfare. Like the scene in which the character who has been learning to cook is getting a bit of help from the local grizzled cowboys, and we see -- just very quickly -- that one of the cowboy-hat-wearing old guys has learned to carve radishes into roses to help decorate the dishes. In fact, these old cowboys who hang around the general store provide quite a bit of the humor, just through these unexpected juxtapositions.

The only thing I don't much like about the movie, sadly, is the last 5-10 minutes. Collapse )