?

Log in

No account? Create an account

Previous Entry | Next Entry

 

 

I love Hard Core Logo.  Like true loves sometimes do, it hid from me in plain sight.  For almost 12 years, but I’m not bitter.  I like to find a bright side and I can think of two. No three, I just thought of another one.  1) I didn’t see it after reading reviews, or in the company of others whose opinions might have tainted mine, or at the insistence of a punk-fan friend who loved it.  I was minding my own business (renting everything Callum Keith Rennie has ever been in) and bumped right into it.  Biased though I was by a certain actor’s presence in the movie, I think that watching it on my own, with few expectations, helped me love it more honestly.  2)  Being late means there’s a lot of good stuff waiting for me.  Articles, pictures, a book, discussions.  3)  I showed up just in time for the sequel(s), apparently.  I don’t have 13 years to wait, maybe just one. 

 

Noel S. Baker was the screenwriter of Hard Core Logo.  He was intimately involved in the making of the movie and he chronicled the experience in his book, “Hard Core Road-Show.” 

 

Because I’m about to pick a fight with him, I should first say that I love his book.  I like his writing style, the choices he makes.  He knows how to tell a true story and make it funnier, by adding just a thin layer of ironic commentary.  I was even fascinated by his tales of the money problems and the production issues --- if he can do that for me, I salute him.  And I’m not even speakin’ of the great screenplay he wrote, to create one of my favorite films.  And I ain’t even talkin’ bout the fact that he wrote a book that lets fans behind the scenes during the making of the movie!  I mean, we get all the delicious details of the casting…the genesis of the ending…the creation of critical scenes and plot points.  If you're a fan of a movie, that kind of thing is gold and I will whisper Noel’s name, in gratitude, with my dying breath.  (Well…there will be a list.  But he’s on it.)

 

Having said all that, I was struck by how much some of my thoughts and feelings differed from parts of Noel’s account. 

 

Here’s Noel:

 

Some observations about our actors three days into shooting.  Hugh’s performance is far more powerful than I ever would have thought.  The guy has an ego the size of King Kong and it stands him in good stead here, since he’s essentially playing himself.  He is fearless, likes to challenge other actors and the camera.  Joe Dick on paper is an angry guy.  Hugh’s Joe Dick is angrier still, uglier, but also perversely funny.  Far funnier than I thought he’d be.  Hugh plays it like he’s got nothing to protect or lose.  He’s a rocker, not an actor.  He’s going on tour with the Headstones as soon as the movie is finished.  He’s not worried about future acting jobs.  He doesn’t need to worry about being typecast as an asshole.

 

This isn’t the only time he characterizes Hugh or Joe as aggressive, dominant or angry.  That’s how he defines both the actor and character.  From Hugh’s performance as Joe, I totally get the dominance --- he’s very clear that he wants to be the leader and that he is the leader.  And there are tons of outwardly angry and aggressive behaviors.  Spitting, shoving, shouting people down, pointing, and copious profanity.

 

But the thing I get most strongly from Joe is…dare I say, sweetness?  Damaged sweetness.  Am I just being such a girl here?  I don’t know, but hear me out.  He is very emotional and, if you listen, he actually expresses all of those emotions --- out loud and quite literally.  Again and again.  He’s honest with Billy, he’s honest in interviews.  Ignore the attitude for a second and listen to his words.  He tells everything.  He lays out his wants and needs, which makes him vulnerable and, ultimately, sad.  He’s also self-destructive (the hookers taking their money, the blown record deal, the final scene of the movie).  And he wants something he can’t have (Billy by his side, for good).  He’s tragic.

 

Joe’s story is the story of him risking everything to get Billy back in his life.  He’s defined by love.  The first time I watched, and even before I got to the end, I felt so touched by him.  (In my recent travels, I found a wonderful essay from brooklinegirl where she says, “Joe Dick.  I’m sorry, he is SUCH a giant woobie.”  Ha.  I agree completely.)

 

I even see his stage name as a sad thing.  It is, at once, a too-obvious rejection of society, a little-boy phallic reference, and a self-criticism.  That’s not a fun game.  And Hugh Dillon, in interviews…come on.  To whatever extent Joe Dick is Hugh Dillon, he’s a darling boy. J 

 

Really, if you had none of the words and story points I mentioned above, you would still have the face that Joe Dick and Hugh Dillon share.  Look at Joe Dick’s face.  Look at those eyes.  Yeah, I know, he’s saying “fucking fucking fucking cunt.”  Whatever, mute the TV.  Look. At his. Face.

 

So I see that he's intense and he's a powerhouse on stage, I'm just not feeling the scary.  And, while we’re on the subject of how aggressive and dangerous Joe is:  “anal rape”?  Here’s Noel again, after writing the movie game scene from the van.

 

The other issue is romantic:  Joe’s inability  to think of a cool film that starts with a Y (as in “Why”) leads him to choose a 1950s Technicolor romance about a self-destructive musician who goes to the brink of death for love, but is delivered unto a happy ending with Doris Day (a weirdly idealized Billy Tallent).  Billy’s scorn for Young at Heart warns Joe not to expect any happy ending to his renewed “courtship.’

 

Following up on this romance theme, I dropped a bomb into one of John’s fragile monologues, suggesting that the real source of the Joe-Billy tension lies in the fact that Joe once anally raped Billy, creating what the critics will doubtless call a tense homoerotic subtext. 

 

Noel wrote the thing, so I’m very hesitant to contradict his characterization.  But I just don’t see the truth of that running through these characters.  Not the sex, necessarily --- I actually don’t have an opinion on whether or not they had sex.  I’m talking about rape.

 

Look how utterly dependent Joe is on Billy.  Noel points out that Joe essentially traded his idol (Bucky) for a chance to get Billy back.  Joe spends the whole movie coaxing Billy back into his life. Trying to get Billy close and keep him close.  Yes, Joe punches Billy in the end.  But in the real end?  He hurts himself, not Billy.  There is zero doubt in my mind that if Joe wanted Billy, sexually, and Billy said “Stop”, Joe would have stopped. Look at his face at the end of the final fight.  Joe doesn’t want to hurt Billy, even when he wants to hurt Billy, you know?  Joe wants Billy’s love and his presence.

 

As for Billy, I see no rape survivor.  I see no fear, no lack of intimacy.  He says he loves Joe.  He gives Joe a hundred open, soft smiles.  He laughs at Joe’s stories and his jokes.  He stays up late to keep Joe awake as he drives.  Watch him lean in close to Joe and grin. 

 

Look at Billy’s posture in the black-and-white group interview by the roadside.  It’s really hard to see; the bottom of the frame fades to black on black.  But watch Billy and Joe’s hands, and you’ll see what I mean.  You’ll see where Billy’s legs are, in relation to Joe.  I think Billy is sitting on top of a picnic table, and Joe is sitting on the bench.  Billy is very close to Joe, above and behind him, legs apart, with one along either side of Joe, so Joe is sitting between his legs.  During the interview, he alternately rests an arm on one leg, then another, circling Joe with his long self.  (uhhhh, sorry, I need a minute…….…ok, back.)  I’m saying it’s intimate, it’s protective, it’s a fucking hug.  Look at Billy’s face in that scene; he couldn’t be happier.  There is no scary weirdness here.  During the film Billy’s angry at Joe, but in a big-picture way.  He’s angry because he loves Joe and Joe can’t be who Billy needs him to be.  Not because Joe perpetrated some horrible violence on Billy. 

 

Now a lot of the evidence I’ve presented is not dialogue, it’s performance.  So maybe Hugh and Callum simply chose to play something other than what Noel intended.  (There’s certainly a basis for that, in the book.  The two actors apparently created a real-life relationship, they reworked scenes, they were very involved in shaping these characters.)  Maybe even Noel would agree that what’s on the screen doesn’t fit his initial definition of the sexual encounter. Or maybe “anally raped” was just a poor choice of words on Noel’s part.  I mean, in the excerpt above, he says he’s following up on the “romance theme”.  (Rape:  It’s Not Romantic.  My new PSA.)  In any case I’m just saying that, other than its appearance in John’s list of possible sex scenarios, there is no rape evident in this movie.

 

I’m not even challenging the possibility of sex between these two --- I’m fine with it.  I’m saying that, if it happened, it wasn’t violent.  And that, by the way, Joe is SO the girl. J

 

Callum is grooming himself for the bigtime, for stardom, though he’s too cool to broadcast this openly.  You can see it in his roles choices, though:  hipsters, loners, outsiders, rebels, charmers.  He doesn’t look like someone who would take a goofy or unsympathetic character role, because like most people who want to be stars, he understands the connection between the role and the actor’s own persona.  If he is difficult about dialogue it is because he doesn’t want to appear foolish.  And he’s right.  Any good-looking enough screen actor who wants to go all the way should take this kind of care from the beginning.  I this guy, the way I always like people who know what they’re doing and where they’re going.

 

Later:

 

Callum Rennie is constantly looking for ways to boil his role down to a single essence, to simplify, to say less while being more.  He may have been very candid about certain things when I first got to know him last May, but with the film in production I find him impenetrable (not that I have any interest in penetrating him).  Billy has Callum’s own remoteness, that sense of being preoccupied with the future, of constantly strategizing, calculating, looking ahead to a big-time that might await if only the right moves are made now.  The single essence Callum seeks for Billy is, I think, the single essence he is seeking for himself, where person and persona commingle.  It’s an apprenticeship in The James Dean Way and it’s fascinating to watch, on and off the set.  Callum’s two primary cool actor gestures:  he points to people with his ring finger and this signifies many unspoken things (hello, goodbye, you’re cool, I’m cool, fuck you, touché), he runs his hand through his hair, his head tilted down, when he looks harried or put-upon.  It’s the simplicity of his signifiers that makes him so effective as a screen actor.

 

Noel sees Billy (and Callum) as primarily driven by a cold desire for fame.  I see it as a more fundamental struggle.  I see Billy as trying to define himself outside the sphere of his youth, which was Joe and Hard Core Logo.  I see him as trying to save himself from a fate tied to Joe’s, because he believes Joe is self-destructive.  And, because he loves Joe so much, this has been a monumental challenge for Billy.  I see the distance, the remoteness that Noel talks about --- I do.  But I don’t find Billy hard or shallow, I find him self-protective. 

 

Just watch him struggle with himself as Joe asks him, each time, to stay.  There’s a pull in two directions.  Now, we understand the pull of the fame and success, right?  Are we knocking Billy for wanting to be successful?  I hope not.  He’s 34.  As he says in the bathroom interview, he’s making money for the first time in his life.  Its lure is obvious and understandable.  But what’s the pull in the other direction?  The van?  The hookers?  The music?  (No, presumably Jenifur plays good music.)  It’s Joe.  He loves Joe.  He says he loves Joe, and more than anyone he’s met since they became friends at 13. 

 

(You could argue that Billy agrees to play with Joe only when he finds himself with no other options.  But a) his love for Joe is clear, and b) Ed Festus, on voicemail, points out that Billy blew the first chance at a Jenifur contract by leaving the states to play and then tour with HCL.  “Shoulda stayed in L.A., man!” he says.  This has an “I told you so” tone to it --- I infer that Ed told Billy not to go to play the benefit in the first place.)

 

When Billy agrees to stay and play with Joe, each time, listen to him talk.  In the tiki bar.  “Ok, I’ll go.  I’ll go go go go.”  Then he asks for hotels and a promise that he can leave after the tour.  Then he puts his head in his hand.  Last day, at the club.  Joe says the two of them should agree to stay together.  Billy:  “So you want you, me, you, me.”  He agrees to stay with Joe, asks Joe to lay off the drugs, then playfully slaps him. 

 

I see the funny, repetitive talk and the request for conditions and even the little slap as a struggle with himself as much as with Joe.  It’s part of Billy telling the other part, “It’s ok.  I can do this on my terms.  I can do this and then walk away.  I can stop anytime I want.”  The thing that pulls him to Joe is his love for Joe and the thing they have when they’re together.  And opposing that is the determination to stay strong, stay the course, follow the plan, to save himself.  It’s not callous, it’s a desire to survive.

 

As for Callum, Noel says he’s trying to be cool, in this role and in life, so he can be a star. In fact, Noel seems to use Hugh as a counterpoint, saying that Hugh can afford to play an unattractive character because he doesn’t want another acting job.  (Heh, so much for that.) 

 

I don’t know Callum, I only know Billy.  But there is evidence to the contrary.  While Callum might well have wanted stardom, I can think of many roles that directly contradict the “creation of the cool persona” theory of the CKR career plan.  Though his range is huge and his career is varied, he’s played many ugly, violent, crazy, unflattering characters.  So either Noel was wrong or Callum has changed his strategy since then.

 

We shoot Billy’s radio interview scene from Edmonton  Billy silently shows him the fax from L.A renewing the Jenifur offer.  The interviewer reads the fax and gets excited, wants to talk about it on air.  Billy refuses to finish the interview, and he even asks Bruce the director if he’ll be cool and not tell Joe.  This suggests that Billy has not made up his mind about leaving Joe yet.  But why show up for a radio interview and then refuse to talk?  The scene doesn’t make sense unless Billy drops the bomb on-air.

 

I discuss this for several minutes with Callum, who is dead-set against playing the scene as written, with Billy callously telling the world he’s leaving HCL for good after tonight’s show because he’s got a better offer somewhere else.  I suspect Callum doesn’t want his character to openly betray Joe here for fear of looking like an asshole.  Like any other movie star, he knows he “is” his role in the eyes of the public.  When we shoot it, the point of the scene comes across, but it could have come across stronger if Billy had stabbed Joe in the back on-air.

 

Ok, I’m going to have to take this apart: 

 

  • ..why show up for a radio interview and then refuse to talk?  He showed up for the interview before he had the offer from Jenifur.  That might not be how it was originally written (where, according to the commentary, the band was staying at a hotel, and the fax arrived there), but as it plays in the movie, Billy just got the fax “five minutes ago.”  When the interviewer asks about his future with HCL, Billy shows the fax because he’s excited!  He’s simply in-the-moment.  He wants to tell somebody, anybody!  He refuses to talk about it on-air because he doesn’t want to hurt Joe in that way.  He’s got two opposing emotions at once:  the thrill of his dream coming true, and the fear of hurting his best friend unnecessarily.  So as the interview turns to HCL’s future, Billy finds he has nothing truthful he can say.

 

  • This suggests that Billy has not made up his mind about leaving Joe yet.  No it doesn’t, it suggests that Billy wants to tell Joe in person.  He’s made up his mind, but he doesn’t want Joe to find out listening to the radio!  Or from anyone but him.  And he’s dreading having that conversation; he doesn’t even want to think about that part yet, he just wants to enjoy this moment of triumph.

 

  • I suspect Callum doesn’t want his character to openly betray Joe here for fear of looking like an asshole.  Like any other movie star, he knows he “is” his role in the eyes of the public.  I disagree.  First, Billy’s motivation makes perfect sense, as played.  Billy loves Joe.  Why would he want to humiliate him like that?  Callum was right about his character.  Second, see my point, above, about Callum not wanting to play an unattractive character.  If that was true at one time, he’s apparently changed his mind.  (In fact, though he plays good characters so beautifully, he seemed, for a time, to be the go-to guy when your show needed a small-time killer or a violent, misogynist ex-boyfriend.)  I see no vanity in his career or in his choices for that scene.

 

Ok, I’m done.  Anybody have any thoughts? 

Comments

( 45 comments — Leave a comment )
Page 1 of 2
<<[1] [2] >>
aunt_deen
Sep. 2nd, 2008 04:22 pm (UTC)
Okay, you wrote a lot. And it's been a long day and I can't read all of it now. So I just read until I wanted to say something back to you and stopped. I'll read the rest tomorrow.

So.

There is zero doubt in my mind that if Joe wanted Billy, sexually, and Billy said “Stop”, Joe would have stopped. Look at his face at the end of the final fight. Joe doesn’t want to hurt Billy, even when he wants to hurt Billy, you know? Joe wants Billy’s love and his presence.

I'm iffy on this. My impression of Joe is that he is totally capable of lashing out violently at someone he loves. We saw it at the end of the movie and Billy didn't seem shocked by this at all. He fought back, he sneered, but even when Joe started smashing up the guitar Billy didn't seem to be surprised. It definitely hurt him, but he was more angry and resigned than anything else.

That said, I agree that every shove, every spit, every punch that Joe landed on Billy came from love. But Joe is utterly unable to rein in his emotions and when he's feeling angry and betrayed by the one person on the planet he loves more than anyone else, he gets abusive.

As for the "rape," John seemed to think it was possible that Billy was passed out and Joe just did it and then they fought about it the next day when Billy woke up sore and sticky. (I was about to change that to something less graphic but we're talking about fucking Hard Core Logo. So deal.) I can completely see this happening. Joe is frustrated and horny and and he loves Billy so much and it might have felt like a way to be closer to Billy.

Also, I can believe that Joe & Billy did have a sexual relationship before it happened, and even after. It's possible that they had done things but hadn't gone as far as penetration. So maybe Joe thought he could and Billy, after the fact, was like, "What the fuck?" and was furious with him.


As for Billy, I see no rape survivor. I see no fear, no lack of intimacy. He says he loves Joe. He gives Joe a hundred open, soft smiles. He laughs at Joe’s stories and his jokes. He stays up late to keep Joe awake as he drives. Watch him lean in close to Joe and grin.

I absolutely agree with this one hundred percent. Billy is completely comfortable with Joe. Lots of affection and humor and an utter lack of fear. There's not even any apprehension or wariness. This is not a rapist and his victim. No way.

Technically, if Joe penetrated Billy without consent, it's rape. But that doesn't mean that Joe felt like a rapist when he was doing it, or that Billy felt like a rape victim afterward.

And I would normally disregard the feelings of the perpetrator entirely. (I don't give a shit what your twisted, assholish mind thought it was, buddy. You had sex with someone without permission and you are scum.*) But when I combine the loving, self-punishing intent of the "rapist" with the fact that the victim never felt that it was rape at all, I am willing to let the victim's feelings guide my reaction.

More tomorrow.

*speaking to a random rapist here, not Joe.

Edited at 2008-09-02 08:23 pm (UTC)
mary_the_fan
Sep. 2nd, 2008 06:09 pm (UTC)
Well, we can agree to disagree about what Joe is capable of.
IMO, Joe's only real show of violence is when he's at his absolute (and literal) end. It's the last stop before killing himself.

Interestingly, to me anyway, I think there's a point of view that says Billy is more prone to violence than Joe. You know, he pushes, he smashes a chair. He holds down a goat. #:-)

If John hadn't said the thing to Mary AND if John didn't hold the truth so sacred, I never would have assumed any kind of sexual relationship between Joe and Billy. What I see, throughout the rest of the movie, is intimacy, not sexual attraction.

That gets back to the distinction between what Noel wrote and what the actors played. I think there is one. A distinction, I mean. I think the actors found the truth of the characters and played that. I don't think the truth of the characters, these characters, was about sex (even if they did have sex, you know?)

But I know there's plenty of slash fic out there, so YMMV and a lot of other peoples does too. :-)

Anyway, I'll post tomorrow about HCL from another angle. Maybe we can talk about something less contentious and...sticky. :-)
mary_the_fan
Sep. 2nd, 2008 07:08 pm (UTC)
Ooh, deen, I almost forgot. While we're on the subject of sex...

Did you notice, in the commentary, that one of them (I think it was Bruce) as the John/Mary conversation was coming up, said, "Here's the part where..." And he described it as mutual. That "they" did it with "each other". So that's the it-happened-but-it-was-consensual POV.

The it-never-happened POV is based on John being schizophrenic and, therefore, not credible. And the fact that he says, "It's fake." at the end of the story. (That line always sounded weird to me, but maybe it's just supposed to be some cryptic/poetic John thing.) And the fact that he's a little picked on and might not mind spinning his memories against the two leaders of the band.

The other thing that I didn't see mentioned in the book or the commentary was the fact that, at the end of their conversation, John asks Mary who she is. She says, "I'm Mary..." even more confused than she was already. There's no good reason for John not to know her --- she was around the band enough to have a seemingly very close relationship with both Billy and Joe, and she slept with both of them. So John not knowing her does go to his state of mind.

My favorite line of the commentary, around that scene, was when somebody (Bruce or Hugh) said "Yeah, we're really big in Chelsea."

Edited at 2008-09-09 04:13 pm (UTC)
aunt_deen
Sep. 3rd, 2008 06:42 am (UTC)
(I have to get a CKR icon or two. I have very little that is edgy enough for this discussion.)

IMO, Joe's only real show of violence is when he's at his absolute (and literal) end. It's the last stop before killing himself.

You know the movie far better than I do, so I will concede to your interpretation. We only saw true violence at the end of the movie, as you say. But I'm mostly thinking of Billy's reaction to that violence. It definitely took him by surprise, but he didn't seem shocked by it, which leads me to believe it wasn't the first time something like that happened. I don't think Billy even realized how serious it was for Joe until the guitar thing happened. Remember how Joe was glaring at Billy onstage and shoving him roughly away every time Billy shared his microphone? I don't think Billy was reading Joe very well that night and even though they were rolling around on the floor trading punches, Billy's attitude was more along the lines of "yeah, it's just Joe being an asshole and losing it again."

As for the sex, I don't see attraction there either. I see intimacy, I see love, but neither one of them is ever checking out the other one's ass or breathing harder when the other one gets close. If there's sex going on, I think it's an occasional, stress-relief sort of thing. Really, Joe & Billy define the term "fuck-buddies" better than any other pair I've seen.

Edited at 2008-09-03 03:47 pm (UTC)
mary_the_fan
Sep. 3rd, 2008 10:27 am (UTC)
No, I think you should keep using those icons. It's sorta hilarious. :-)

As for the sex, I don't see attraction there either.

Right. I mean, there's intense attraction, but it's not sexual. I feel like it's bigger than that --- which is sorta why I don't care whether they had sex, you know?

I would care if they were gay, but I don't think they are. If they were essentially a gay couple, I would care a lot whether or not they had sex. But their relationship, which is one of my favorite relationships on film, isn't about that. I don't see sex as some sort of higher level for them, so I don't really care. (Not that I wouldn't watch...oh, sorry, did I type that out loud?)

It definitely took him by surprise, but he didn't seem shocked

Yes, I see what you're seeing. I can't draw a line from that to rape, but I do see what you're seeing. I think it's very logical to conclude that Billy's non-reaction is due to Joe having a pattern of violence.

When I watched, my first reaction was that it was more of Billy being Billy. In my opinion Billy's reactions to Joe are...dampened. Either this is just part of his personality or he has developed this as a response to Joe. Joe's the clown, Joe's the funny guy, Joe's the one with all the words and the intensity and Billy just can't be on that rollercoaster all the time, so he just takes it all in. He watches and smiles, watches and smiles.

And sometimes gives a little back. Positive: look how he gave Joe that little gift of the time travel game. Billy came out to play, and Joe couldn't have been happier. Negative: Joe loses their money and now the next gig is off and Billy loses it and yells at Joe.

But mostly, it's a measured and/or delayed reaction, if there's any at all. Look at him at Bucky's dinner table. He's just found out that the whole reason he came back to HCL was a lie told by Joe. But he just drinks his martini and looks at Joe.

Billy even supports this at one point, by explaining that he's not angry anymore because he "chooses not to be." Because then he'd just be "Bitter Man."

*rummages for her point* Oh yeah, it's that ONE interpretation of Billy's relative calm onstage that last night is that pattern of subdued response. Billy's just used to saying to himself, "There he goes again. I wonder what this is about? I'm sure I'll find out soon enough." So even if he's surprised by Joe's violence, we might not expect to see it right away.


Edited at 2008-09-09 04:14 pm (UTC)
aunt_deen
Sep. 3rd, 2008 12:00 pm (UTC)
ONE interpretation of Billy's relative calm onstage that last night is that pattern of subdued response. Billy's just used to saying to himself, "There he goes again. I wonder what this is about? I'm sure I'll find out soon enough." So even if he's surprised by Joe's violence, we might not expect to see it right away.

That makes sense. He had no clue that this was more than just Joe being Joe. Because as I said, he didn't seem to be noticing anything was wrong onstage even though there were bells and whistles going off all over the places from our perspective on the couch.

And on to other things...

"This suggests that Billy has not made up his mind about leaving Joe yet." No it doesn’t, it suggests that Billy wants to tell Joe in person. He’s made up his mind, but he doesn’t want Joe to find out listening to the radio! Or from anyone but him. And he’s dreading having that conversation; he doesn’t even want to think about that part yet, he just wants to enjoy this moment of triumph.

There might have been a little bit in there of Billy wanting someone to know because he got ragged about losing the Jenifur thing before. So now when they wanted him again he was all, so how do you like them apples?

But yes, he totally wanted to tell Joe himself. He knows how much Joe wants them to stay together and he's not cruel enough to announce it on the radio or let some third party (like an asshole of a moviemaker) tell him.


"I suspect Callum doesn’t want his character to openly betray Joe here for fear of looking like an asshole. Like any other movie star, he knows he “is” his role in the eyes of the public." I disagree. First, Billy’s motivation makes perfect sense, as played. Billy loves Joe. Why would he want to humiliate him like that? Callum was right about his character. Second, see my point, above, about Callum not wanting to play an unattractive character. If that was true at one time, he’s apparently changed his mind. (In fact, though he plays good characters so beautifully, he seemed, for a time, to be the go-to guy when your show needed a small-time killer or a violent, misogynist ex-boyfriend.) I see no vanity in his career or in his choices for that scene.

That has to be the most boneheaded thing the guy says, period. Even within the HCL role, this doesn't strike me as true. The writer talks several times about how invested Callum was in the role, right? Did he intend the character of Billy to be an asshole? Because really, Billy comes off through the whole movie as anything but, so for Callum to want to keep it consistent doesn't seem, you know, completely out of left field to me.
mary_the_fan
Sep. 3rd, 2008 12:51 pm (UTC)
Yeah, Noel on Callum is a very weird thing. He has a really funny lens on Callum, IMO.

Read this, from Noel:
He may have been very candid about certain things when I first got to know him last May, but with the film in production I find him impenetrable (not that I have any interest in penetrating him). Billy has Callum’s own remoteness...

Then watch this -- it's really short. Watch how Callum is with Bruce, during the making of the movie:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_qXCbx-tX88

Brrr, yeah. That's one cold bastard.

I am way out of line here, but I conclude that Noel and Callum had a very different relationship than Callum and Bruce. I could elaborate, but I'd feel like a ridiculous fangirl wanker. (I'd feel MORE like a ridiculous fangirl wanker.)


Edited at 2008-09-03 04:52 pm (UTC)
mary_the_fan
Sep. 3rd, 2008 12:55 pm (UTC)
There might have been a little bit in there of Billy wanting someone to know because he got ragged about losing the Jenifur thing before. So now when they wanted him again he was all, so how do you like them apples?

Almost forgot to say....Yes, and I hadn't even thought about that angle. I think that's very likely.

Edited at 2008-09-09 04:15 pm (UTC)
misreall
Sep. 4th, 2008 11:49 am (UTC)
Ok, wow, lots of stuff to address. Go away for a day or and Bam!

I am just going to give some of my thoughts rather than address specific points right now, but I will come back to that.

First of, I must admit that I didn't like Joe. I refuse to duck, spit and throw shit, I am a punk rock girl and I can take it. But saying I don't like him doesn't mean I didn't love him, which I imagine means that Billy and I have a lot in common.

Hugh Dillon deserves a lot of credit for taking what was probably vast experience with druggies and bringing it all home with Joe. Addicts are very manipulative and aren't good at consequences, particularly when they have spent most of their lives (as Joe would have) around other addicts or people who think their shit is cool. When they are charming and lovable it is just worse. When they are talented and have created a lifestyle out of what they perceive as rebellion, it is impossible.

So Joe decides to lie, and lie big, potentially (and then actually) throwing away a relationship with his hero, and possibly facing jail time and complete alienation from his peers, in order to get back his partner. He is able to pull his shit together enough to set up a big concert, advertise it, and call in outside help, but he was never able to sit down and know that in the long run, once he gets caught, he will have fucked up his life perminantly. Part of him clearly believes he will be able to get himself out of any trouble he gets into. Or, more likely, that Billy will do it for him...

At the time our story starts Billy has gotten out. He knows it is time to grow up, and that he can't do that with the boys. Especially Joe. Joe is his youth with all of its glories and fuck ups embodied in a charasmatic, spitting package. And what makes it worse is Joe dotes on him. Joe thinks he is the bees knees. I can only imagine how hard it must have been for him to pull himself away the first time, so it is natural that he keeps a certain distance, a certain coolness, however much he may want to throw his arms around Joe and his past.

When Billy agrees to go on the tour-lette he is, I think, figuring this is the last hurrah for that part of his life. A chance to say a proper goodbye to all of the people and places he knew when. Or that is what he tells himself. He has to suspect that this might be a bad idea, as far as Jenifur is concerned. But playing with the band was so fun. Making up with his oldest and dearest friend, the person he never has to explain his jokes to, was fantastic. The high of playing was still high and not some studio controlled session with stops and starts and bottled water at hand.

He tries to create rules, even though he doesn't seem deluded enough to believe anyone is going to follow them. He gets annoyed, but he then he takes care of things and cleans up the mess. Which I am sure it has happened many times before. When he finally lets go, in the acid scene (the only misstep in an otherwise pretty perfect movie) he really lets go. You know you have some steam to let off when you help sacrifice a goat.

More later...consequences, radio shows and anal rape.
mary_the_fan
Sep. 4th, 2008 12:04 pm (UTC)
Ha. misreall, if you wrote all that without reading my post, which I suspect you did (it's what I do) then I have a brain you can borrow anytime you need a spare. We see a lot of the same things. Especially about Billy growing up and being self-protective and the push and pull that he's experiencing.

Though I do love Joe, and I can't say that I don't like him, because I love him so much, you know? What I'm reacting to is.....like, he takes his heart out of his chest and lays it in front of you. And then gives you the finger. I don't care about the finger.

(Oh, and remember to track the thread. I don't do "reply", so you won't get an email when I talk back to you. "Reply" is just a pain because you have to dig into everybody's subthreads to read the whole conversation. I have no patience.)

Edited at 2008-09-09 04:16 pm (UTC)
tomfoolery815
Sep. 4th, 2008 03:14 pm (UTC)
Hi everybody. Jesus! This is the price one pays for coming in so late, I guess. :-)

When John first said it that Joe had raped Billy, I certainly thought it was possible. I still do, given John's compulsive honesty. It also doesn't seem out of the realm of possibility for Joe, given his love for Billy and his propensity for "Those are YOUR rules" behavior.

As for Billy, I see no rape survivor. I see no fear, no lack of intimacy. He says he loves Joe. He gives Joe a hundred open, soft smiles. He laughs at Joe’s stories and his jokes. He stays up late to keep Joe awake as he drives. Watch him lean in close to Joe and grin.
Mary, this *points directly upward* is a good case for it not having been rape.

Look at Billy’s posture in the black-and-white group interview by the roadside ... Joe is sitting between his legs.
I agree that that's where Joe was sitting. Which obviously suggests a comfortable level of intimacy with Joe.

But there is that third possibility, that the sex was consensual. I see that you don't think they're gay, Mary; nor do I. But, while I never did so myself, my understanding is that same-sex experimentation does happen when people are in their early 20s. It's usually presented as happening at college, but I get the impression these guys didn't go to college. Well, maybe Billy did.

Billy even supports this at one point, by explaining that he's not angry anymore because he "chooses not to be."
I wrote that one down, because it's certainly the fork in the road for Joe and Billy in so many ways. (Since Joe's still angry.) Is it possible that one of the ways is that Billy let go of the anger he might have had about Joe taking their relationship someplace Billy didn't want it to go?

(Rape: It’s Not Romantic. My new PSA.)
Of course. I could, honestly, believe that it was rape, that it was consensual or that it didn't happen at all. That it was a manifestation of John's jealousy of the Billy-and-Joe relationship.

tomfoolery815
Sep. 4th, 2008 03:23 pm (UTC)
Because I seem to always have a Bruce McCullough connection when I join a CKR discussion ...

Billy's answering-machine message: " ... I'm eating corn chips and masturbating." It feels like a shout-out to McCullough or "Kids in the Hall." (CKR and McCullough went to high school together. But I suspect a lot of people here already knew that.) McCullough said "You know those mornings when you just wanna watch TV, eat corn chips and masturbate?" in the "Terrier Song."

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wB1eQrCBw0k

It's at the 2:01 mark.

(I'll come back and read -- well, I'll commit to skimming -- everybody's posts. But I have to get going.)
mary_the_fan
Sep. 4th, 2008 03:55 pm (UTC)
Hey, Tom's here! Thanks for coming by! You're not late, we just have a lot to say. :-D Pop in whenever you can. Christina and gatz are on their way, or so they say.

But there is that third possibility, that the sex was consensual. I see that you don't think they're gay, Mary; nor do I. But, while I never did so myself, my understanding is that same-sex experimentation does happen when people are in their early 20s. It's usually presented as happening at college, but I get the impression these guys didn't go to college. Well, maybe Billy did.

Yeah, just to be clear, I don't think they're gay, but I absolutely do think consensual sex between them is a possibility. I sorta lean against it, just because I don't see the sexual attraction between them. But I think it's a close second, in my mind, in terms of possibilities.

And the young people experimenting angle that you raise does fit my idea of how it could have been consensual, so ITA.

Look at those tiny black and white clips of the two of them at 13. First you see Joe singing, and Billy sort of looking over at him. (I loved how Bruce got even the young actors to fit right into the dynamic that Joe and Billy have as adults.) Then you see Joe sort of playfully pushing and jumping on Billy, who I think is on the couch. That gave me ideas. That, to me, is the source of the sexual relationship, if there is any. My fanwank would be that they just got so close, right as they were entering puberty, that some stuff, you know, happened. And that, because they have such an intimate relationship to this day, they might sometimes slide sideways back into something. I can see the rare sexual thing being something that is just between them and that maybe that's where they put it in their heads. I wouldn't think they'd had sex with any other men. But, like I said, I'm way out on a limb here.

...my understanding is that same-sex experimentation does happen when people are in their early 20s.

And I just had to recopy this because I absolutely love the careful wording, hon. ;-) Yes, that is what people say, isn't it? (Please understand, I'm not challenging you, just loving how you phrased it. :-D)

McCullough said "You know those mornings when you just wanna watch TV, eat corn chips and masturbate?" in the "Terrier Song."

Oh, excellent find! Yeah, the connection is pretty likely, huh?

Oh, and if you want another Leoben or HCL icon, feel free to snag one from me. (Credit the author, of course.)
mary_the_fan
Sep. 4th, 2008 04:08 pm (UTC)
When John first said it that Joe had raped Billy, I certainly thought it was possible. I still do, given John's compulsive honesty.

Oh, and I forgot to say...I agree with you, Tom, that John's honesty is absolutely the strongest argument for the rape scenario. Also remember that John listed it as one of several possibilities. I think it's a really interesting and complex little thing.

John was testifying that sex happened and admitting that he had no idea why it happened, so he listed what were in his mind the possible scenarios: a competition (isn't that what he said?? ha. I'd buy tickets.), a bet, or rape. He saw them fighting and he connected that, in his mind, to the sex the night before. And he didn't consider the possiblility that it was consensual. I think that there's a lot of John's filter in there, no matter how truthful he's trying to be, you know?
misreall
Sep. 4th, 2008 06:11 pm (UTC)
A quick word about potential non-consensual sex. In a word, I don't see it rape here, either. And if that was meant to be gospel then I think that the director and the actors were never informed of it.

During the height of first wave punk in the 70s it was not uncommon for punks to experiment with homosexuality as another way of spitting the face of the conventional world. It would not surprize me if true believers like our lads had done likewise at some point. And, as Bucky seems truly polymorphous in his sexuality, it would not be impossible to imagine a younger, more impressionable Joe doing as his hero has done strickly for the experience, and a younger, more impressionable Billy going along with it for the sake of punk rock.
All of which could then lead to some relationship confusion down the road, as well as some misunderstanding on Joe's (probably somewhat muddled) part as to when it is appropriate to have sex with someone that he has had sex with before.

Billy seems to have enough sense of self-worth to not coming back to someone he would see as an abuser.

As far as John's testimony, while he is a truth-teller, or wants to be, he is also a schizophrenic, which can muddle intent and sense of reality, no matter how pure the intent or the speaker. And, as I get the impression that the working meds are a more recent part of John's life, he himself may not know what he is remembering.

That said, I think that the true muddle is probably on the part of the author!
mary_the_fan
Sep. 4th, 2008 06:40 pm (UTC)
breaking my reply rule...but the other thing your post made me think of is Bucky's line (paraphrasing) "There must be something interesting that five really talented guys and a great filmmaker can think of to do. Mmmm, Bryce?" So yeah, Bucky's all about creativity.

Edited at 2008-09-09 04:17 pm (UTC)
Page 1 of 2
<<[1] [2] >>
( 45 comments — Leave a comment )