Nov. 1st, 2006

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UPDATE (12:05 AM, 1 November): Edited since I'd not recognized at the time just what a good bottle of Fuller's London Porter will do to my writing style. (Hi Andy!)

I bought a brioche from the Asian bakery in the mall where i work this morning. The brioche is, of course, famous as the subject of the infamous line falsely attributed to Queen Marie Antoinette of France, "qu'ils mangent du broiche," or "Let them eat cake." I didn't particularly like the brioche. Yes, it was pleasant to eat, but it lacked any particularly distinguishing taste.

The same can't be said of Sofia Coppola's film Marie Antoinette, which I caught on the weekend with J. Coppola, as a director, might be caught up on the theme of making films about young women trapped on the cusp of maturity in an unforgiving world, and certainly I got, in Coppola's film, a sense that the French royal court in the late 18th century was pretty much like high school in modern North America, the significant difference being that the nobles caught in the court were caught up in this for their entire lives.

The more that I watched the film, caught up in Kirsten Dunst's convincing portrayal of the desperate young woman of the title and Jason Schwartzman as her ineffectual but well-meaning husband Louis XVI, filmed with a rather nice supporting cast with skilled on Versailles' grounds and given extra force by a rather nice soundtrack composed of 1980s popular music that helped anchor the film in a contemporary mindset, the more that I liked it. It might not be good history sensu strictu but it is good enough. It's certainly a good film.

(See here for another, certainly more learned, opinion, courtesy of [livejournal.com profile] charlemagne77.)
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I went to Hallowe'en celebrations in Church and Wellesley with J. last evening. Church Avenue was blocked off between Wellesley and Alexander, leaving the core of the village entirely exposed to the crush of people looking for characters. Marilyn Monroe was there, as were Evie and V (V for Vendetta), as was the Pope, as was the Wicked Witch of the West, and as were many others. The makeup was really, really good. I saw and even spoke with the actually existing Enza Anderson, a well-known transsexual media personality in Toronto most notable for coming third in the 2000 Toronto municipal elections and contending in the 2003 race for leadership of the now-defunct Canadian Alliance.

From what I've been told,Hallowe'en in the Village seems to have attracted a fairly broad crowd, much broader than in previous decades. I can attest to the
fact that the sizable contingents of heterosexual families with children and Asian tourists were almost as numerous as the non-heterosexual component of
the crowd. It's interesting to see how, like Pride, this once transgressive and still carnivalesque festivity has been nicely mainstreamed. Chalk one up for Bakhtin.
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Thanks to the auspices of [livejournal.com profile] finfin, I and some others have been watching episodes from the Japanese anime Fullmetal Alchemist on a weekly basis. My one-word reaction to the plot? Ow.

One thing that struck me about the anime was what I might call its Occidentalism, its construction of a Europe-like environment that got the details right but mixed them up rather incongruously, with Hanseatic-looking cities in the shadows of Alpine mountains which border on burning hot deserts but are populated by people with English last names. I like it, don't get me wrong, but it made me wonder just how much of the Japan-related elements of popular culture that I've heard of has been similarly falsely constructed.
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