Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Mr Messy Pulls It Off

It's perfect cycling weather this morning, not too hot, not too cold, a little wind but not too much and no rain. Yet.

Son has his delayed college interview today and I have all my fingers and toes crossed for him. Will he get the courses he wants or will he end up doing BTEC Painting and Decorating?

L tells him to look smart to impress the interviewer... he turns up in jeans, a Mr Messy t-shirt and with his laces undone. Although L informs me, because she's there with him, that there are girls there with skirts up to their armpits. Damn, I knew I should have gone with him. As I said, dress to impress the interviewer.

Despite the outfit, it appears to go well and Mr Messy pulls it off. So he's back at college, on a more literature based course this time. L gives him a bit of a lecture, pointing out what a lucky young man he is and that he needs to learn from his mistakes. Moreover, if he doesn't and messes it up again, she'll kill him.

He has to read the Wasp Factory for Monday. Which is a great book, we never got to write about such fun things when I did English. He's also got to do Faustus but he best ask L about that one.

There are loads of black clouds as I leave work but no rain yet, I just wish it would decide whether it was going to rain or not, so that I can get my kit right. A couple of miles in to my ride home, it does start to rain. Boy, does it rain. I pull in to shelter and get my waterproofs on. The roads are quickly awash. The worst conditions I've ever been out in apart from one torrential storm last winter, oh and that time in the blizzard.

I get home and the car's gone. L's been a wimp and not walked to Pilates. Tut tut. Neither of the dogs seem very keen to go on the park, although MD does leg it outside to savage my bike despite the downpour. Doggo just watches in bemusement from the sanctuary of the doorway.

Eventually the rain eases and we hit the park. Although I don't fancy kicking the ball through the wet grass, so we have a stick session instead. This keeps MD's attention and therefore he doesn't leg it after the other dogs. Perhaps this is the way to go.

L has been reading Virginia Woolf's Orlando and tells me she didn't enjoy the book very much. Not matter, she still says that she'll be putting me through the film, which apparently looks better. The film adaptation is by Sally Potter, a brave lass, because I think she's tried to film the unfilmable.

It's all a bit Shakespearean to me with a touch of Ian McEwan. Although as L points out Ian McEwan's usually have a plot. If Virginia Woolf had one when she started out, she soon lost it. From the moment Jimmy Somerville appears as a falsetto angel, you know this is going to be hard work.

Orlando is a young noble man during Queen Elizabeth I's reign. Tilda Swinton plays Orlando, a woman playing a man. Quentin Crisp plays Queen Elizabeth I, hmmm, but he's more convincing as a woman than Tilda Swinton is as a man. This, as I know that during the film Orlando becomes a woman, rather gives the plot away in the first few seconds.

Orlando is offered a house and land by the Queen, if he can stay forever young. The film follows Orlando as he moves through several centuries of British history, experiencing life along the way, and during this time, impossible as it may seem, he doesn't age a day.

He falls in love with a skater during the winter of the Great Frost, the skater is Sasha, a Russian Princess. A young woman who also dresses as a man and as unconvincingly as Orlando does. She toys with his feelings and one night, when they plan to run away together, she fails to turn up. The cow.

Throughout his amble through the centuries, Orlando bumps into people briefly before moving on. Many historical figures appear but aren't properly introduced. So, if you didn't know the story you'd miss them, such as when Nick Greene and other poets, show up. Luckily, I have L to fill in the gaps for me. All the monarchs of the passing years are briefly mentioned.

At some point Orland falls into a coma and when he awakes, he's become a woman. Yes really. Orlando doesn't look unduly bothered or even surprised. Suppose we'd all like to try it but I'd like an assurance that there was a way back. There was a previous scene where Orlando also appeared to have a long sleep and I had thought he'd already gender hopped because with Swinton in the lead, it's hard to tell.

This transformation causes him to lose his grand house. Firstly, because he is legally dead but also because he's now female and this amounts to much the same thing. Women were not allowed to own property.

Orlando continues to be unlucky in love and things get no better when he/she falls off his/her horse and is rescued by Billy Zane. They promptly jump into bed but ultimately, he/she is dumped again.

A quick rush through the twentieth century and then we are in the present day, where Orlando is handing his/her memoirs to a publisher. The film closes with Orlando and his/her child back at the house she acquired centuries ago.

They say it's not the getting there but the journey. Hmmm, I'm not convinced. A truly strange film, to say the least. Rambling and largely plotless. It's allegedly a film about self-discovery but Orlando's character seems to learn little throughout the years. You feel he/she's somewhat wasted his/her time. I suppose Orlando learns that each gender has its faults, no matter what century it is, but despite amassing several centuries of experience, he has little to show for it.

In 1941, Woolf committed suicide by filling her pockets with stones and wading into the River Ouse near where she lived. She probably couldn't find her real self either.

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