Seitz Unseen

by robbiefreeling
November 18, 2005 5:34 AM
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pluto5.jpg

Now, I know that Gary Indiana recently, hilariously, called the New York Press “fishwrap,” and I know that when I carry it around the streets of New York I have to hide my head in shame behind my collar, and I also know that at RS, we’ve been trying to refrain from bad-mouthing other film writers, BUT Matt Zoller Seitz’s Breakfast on Pluto review was too much to bear this morning. We’ve all lamented his word-count-indulged, “I’m just a guy who watches movies like you, dudes” layman schtick, and the issues I take with Seitz’s words on Neil Jordan’s wonderful new film are probably more appropriate for a letter to the editor, but who am I kidding? Nobody reads it.

Well, nobody reads us either, so I might as well go ahead: Hey Bonehead, you wrote this: “If Jordan was making the point that Kitty is too artificial, too consciously self-constructed, too much a theatrical/psychological construct to ever feel complete and happy and satisfied—if he were, in a sense, a gender-bending human Pinocchio prevented by his upbringing and society's prejudices from ever becoming "real," that would be a valid and satisfying point of view.” I’m glad that would be valid and satisfying for you, but the point of the film is that Kitten’s constructed identity is a complete, whole, valid entity. She is not hampered by society’s ill will, but more importantly, she is NOT confused about who she is. This is a stunning notion for a main character in mainstream cinema—sexual identity, miraculously, becomes beside the point in Breakfast on Pluto.

But wait, Seitz also says: “He starts and ends the movie as a mesmerizing collection of mannerisms that never solidify into a complete, credible person, in the way that, say, Candide or Joe Buck or Forrest Gump did.” Ah, the old Gump trump card. Zemeckis’s trashy best picture winner is an ahistorical historical piece that conservatively floats over tumultuous history by remaining completely inactive in the face of adversity. I’ve heard many compare Kitten to Gump….as if Kitten’s ability to remain an individual despite constant political turmoil somehow makes her comparable to that 65-IQ’d numbskull. Gump was a conceit, Kitten is a full-fledged individual. So by this rationale, transvestite equals retard?

While it would make the whole film easier to swallow for Kitten to lament her sad, sorry state of being of indeterminate gender, Jordan’s film, to put it in more simplistic, Oprah-ready terms, is all about the joy of knowing exactly who you are. And that joy is infectious to the film’s glorious, colorful rhythms. Expect more on the film from Reverse Shot next week, because we’d hate to see middling reviews consign it to the Alternative Lifestyles video bins at TLA.

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