Everybody does stupid shit like this, but still, I can’t help but feel a bit guilty. I rented Enough and My Big Fat Greek Sitcomand so many others. I even watched a few seconds of “Are You Hot?” Meanwhile, the whole time, Hedwig sat at the video store waiting for me. Worse than that, my library has Hedwig on DVD, I could have seen this gem for free instead of renting Fear Dot Com for four bucks.
So the keen reader might have inferred by now that, in my humble, yet objectively correct opinion, Hedwig is an excellent film. I’d go so far as to say that it’s better than Enough and “Are You Hot?” combined. It’s so good that after seeing it, I headed for rottentomatoes.com to ee if I could find critics who disagreed and figure out the personal defects that caused them to do so.
There were two, negative, professional reviews. One was from Rex Reed. Who cares? The other was from the Village Voice. Amy Taubin. I remember Amy. She didn’t like You Can Count on Me because she found the film to be politically conservative. It’s a
sympathetic portrayal of a pot-smoking, single mom who has simultaneous affairs with two men, one of whom has a pregnant wife, with no intention of marrying either. The film is “conservative” because it suggests that boys look up to men and because the protagonist’s boss is an asshole and the women in her office, who are onscreen for maybe 5 total minutes, don’t come together and stand up to him. It’s the
dumbest review of anything I’ve ever seen anywhere.
Taubin’s at it again. She thinks that Hedwig is a bad film because it doesn’t focus enough on Hedwig’s castration. No shit.
Hedwig features one of the best sets of original songs ever featured in a
film. So many rock movies fail because they supposedly depict
successful bands, but when the bands start to play, that the songs just
aren’t good enough to warrant popularity. See, for example, Spice World.
Hedwig and the Angry Inch play six or seven songs in the film, all of
which are either plausible hits or too good to be hits. Forget movies,
you’ll rarely hear a real album this consistent. Heil Stephen Trask,
who is responsible for both the music and the engaging and clever
lyrics. Unfortunately, only one of the songs focuses on castration.
What a cop out.
The non-musical parts of the film are nearly as good. Hedwig starts off as a gay, East German boy. A manly American Sergeant falls for him. The two marry, necessitating the castration, and run off to Kansas. That’s a taste of a plot that abounds in
originality and excitement. The movie is funny, visually appealing,
well acted and nicely directed by a first-timer. All of this is for
naught, of course, because the subject of the protagonist’s castration
comes up, perhaps a half-dozen times at most.
Seriously, the weirdest thing about Taubin’s criticism
is that the castration is integral to the film and is the source of
much thematic content, not to mention the title. Hedwig ponders her
wholeness, as it pertains to both her genitals and her self. She is
touted as the wall separating man from woman. She wonders if she can
become whole by unifying with another person. (East Germany. Berlin
wall. Separation. Unification. Pretty clever, eh?) Don’t let me mislead
you, this is basically a light film with good songs and good jokes, but
it has a substantive core that radiates throughout. One of the best
films of the year! Well, the year before last. Oh yeah, what’s wrong
with Taubin? I’ll lay you 10 to 1 that while in college, she studied
identity politics, or some other trendy bullshit.
Comentaires, deleted scenes, blah blah blah. Listened to some of the
commentary, which was basically your usual “It was cold this day;” “So
and so’s a great actor;” “This took twenty takes;” type stuff.
Special Ruthless Ratings:
- Number of minutes into the film that you figured out what was… unusual about the band’s second singer: 35
- Number of times you hesitated to be attracted to an acress, fearing that she might turn out to be male: 2
- Number of times the movie was paused to do something else: 0
Ideal number of beers to drink while watching movie: 2