Author Topic: Love, Simon: easy, wholesome cliche or stealthy, groundbreaking bliss-out? Yes.  (Read 5752 times)

Offline Aloysius J. Gleek

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Love, Simon  is a different proposition in pretty much every respect. A gay teenage romcom from mass-market TV titan Greg Berlanti, it’s affecting and heartsore in all the right places, but comforting above all: you leave it with the same light wine-spritzer buzz you get from Bridget Jones’s Diary  or 13 Going on 30, though its adolescent target audience shouldn’t even be that inebriated. Like Call Me By Your Name, it tells the story of a winsome 17-year-old boy awakening to his alternative sexuality, but where Luca Guadagnino’s louchely sensual film was made for festivals and arthouses, Berlanti’s clean-cut, decidedly un-queer one was made for malls and multiplexes: it’s largely sexless, edgeless and no peaches were harmed in the course of its production.

(....)

Others might well greet it with a shrug, but that may itself be a kind of victory, or at least a turning point. If, years from now, cornball feelgood crowdpleasers about LGBT characters are commonplace in our multiplexes, and Love, Simon  is remembered – if at all – only for having preceded the lot of them, then Berlanti’s gratifyingly, unchallengingly adorable film will have done its job.





https://www.theguardian.com/film/2018/mar/13/how-gay-comedy-love-simon-breaks-boundaries-by-playing-it-safe



Love, Simon
How gay comedy
Love, Simon
breaks boundaries by playing it safe
There’s something surprisingly subversive about the glossy crowd-pleasing commercialism
of a teen movie with a coming out narrative


By Guy Lodge
@GuyLodge
 
Tue 13 Mar 2018 09.41 EDT



Nick Robinson in Love, Simon.
Photograph by Ben Rothstein


At three separate points in my screening of Love, Simon, a sizeable portion of the audience united in a collective “awwwww” – a satisfied, soft-hearted sigh, as if we had gathered for a big-screen showing of a YouTube cat video montage rather than a movie. I may have involuntarily joined in a couple of times: an unabashedly contrived story of a sweet, “straight-acting” high-schooler (lovable dreamboat Nick Robinson) drawn out of the closet when he strikes up an anonymous email friendship with another secretly gay schoolmate, Love, Simon  is entirely adorable.

“Adorable” is not a word we often use when discussing LGBT cinema, even at its most swooningly romantic. Films like Carol, Moonlight  and Call Me By Your Name  may make our eyes well up and our hearts beat a bit faster as their onscreen lovers come together, but there’s an undertow of tragedy – latent or narrowly averted – to their stories of love across (or against) social boundaries that staves off the “awwwwws”, that cuts deeper than cuteness, that leaves you thinking as much of loss and loneliness as romantic gratification when you leave the cinema.

Love, Simon  is a different proposition in pretty much every respect. A gay teenage romcom from mass-market TV titan Greg Berlanti, it’s affecting and heartsore in all the right places, but comforting above all: you leave it with the same light wine-spritzer buzz you get from Bridget Jones’s Diary  or 13 Going on 30, though its adolescent target audience shouldn’t even be that inebriated. Like Call Me By Your Name, it tells the story of a winsome 17-year-old boy awakening to his alternative sexuality, but where Luca Guadagnino’s louchely sensual film was made for festivals and arthouses, Berlanti’s clean-cut, decidedly un-queer one was made for malls and multiplexes: it’s largely sexless, edgeless and no peaches were harmed in the course of its production.

So why does Love, Simon  feel, in its own uncool, milk-and-Oreos way, momentous – more so, if anything, than Guadagnino’s Oscar-winner? Partly, of course, it’s a matter of simple precedent, or lack thereof: the Fox release is the first major-studio film ever to centre on young gay romance, not an insubstantial milestone at a time when Hollywood, made dizzy by talk of black panthers and inclusion riders, is being forced to reassess its standards of representation.

But there are a number of ways Love, Simon  could have been made and styled, and Berlanti opts for the safest, bringing to it the slick, brightly lit, hugs-and-tears sensibility of his TV empire – with less darkness even than his current hit Riverdale. It’s full of soapy conflict and teaching moments; as Simon’s parents, Jennifer Garner and Josh Duhamel both get to deliver dewy-eyed monologues on the preciousness of love and acceptance and family that resemble Michael Stuhlbarg’s climactic Call Me By Your Name  speech as filtered through Chicken Soup For the Soul, and leave you dewy-eyed in turn. Even its soundtrack is produced by Jack Antonoff, current hitmaker for the likes of Taylor Swift: its hoody-wearing hero might fancy himself an offbeat rebel for listening to The Kinks, but the film is pure pop down its Converse-clad toes.

And yet there’s something strangely defiant – subversive, even – in that safeness: an assertion of mainstream identity that says LGBT storytelling has earned the right to be as naff and as conventional and as unconflicted as its fluffiest straight counterpart. Love, Simon  is not entirely blinkered to the daily challenges and hostilities faced by the LGBT community even in a more enlightened age – bullying tenses up its narrative at cruelly direct and micro-aggressive levels – but – but it’s a film more preoccupied with happiness, togetherness and the rush of a first kiss, just as countless teen date movies have been for eons now. Most interestingly of all, it feels produced and packaged for an audience that won’t necessarily credit it as a milestone, for which its love story should feel as normal and unremarkable as its popcorn-movie presentation.

Berlanti has attempted to normalise the gay romantic comedy before, albeit with a more mature target market: 2000’s middle-of-the-road The Broken Hearts Club, centred on a circle of amiable gay friends in West Hollywood, was unusual at the time both for the casual familiarity it presumed of its audience, and for the relatively wholesome portrait it painted of a culture still largely depicted in Hollywood as sexually deviant and Aids-shadowed. But it remained a niche item, confined to the arthouse circuit despite being scarcely edgier than an episode of Ally McBeal  and grossing just £1.5 million worldwide.

Love, Simon, meanwhile, will be getting a wider release than Berlanti’s first film could ever have dreamed of, and it remains to be seen if children of the 21st century will even rally around it: it might be that the film seems more essential or remarkable to a generation of gay men that, like Berlanti, didn’t have any Love, Simons to mirror their own adolescent crises growing up. Writing for Time, Daniel D’Addario wondered if the film has missed its cultural moment: “Kids like Simon, in 2018, already have a good shot of fitting in. They don’t need this movie.”

That might be over-idealising a world in which youthful homosexuality still meets with ugly opposition in many cultures, and underselling the personal difficulty of coming out even in the most favourable circumstances, which Love, Simon  depicts with some clarity and compassion. As Simon tells his digital penpal in voiceover, he ultimately knows his friends and family will embrace him either way, but that still doesn’t make it a cinch. I’d like to think some nervously closeted high-schoolers will go to see Love, Simon  and feel seen in turn, and maybe a little emboldened by its pat happy ending – one that follows a run of recent films, including Carol  and God’s Own Country, in reversing the tragic arc that was once standard in LGBT cinema, but with fewer compromises and qualifiers in its hero’s sparkly future.

Others might well greet it with a shrug, but that may itself be a kind of victory, or at least a turning point. If, years from now, cornball feelgood crowdpleasers about LGBT characters are commonplace in our multiplexes, and Love, Simon  is remembered – if at all – only for having preceded the lot of them, then Berlanti’s gratifyingly, unchallengingly adorable film will have done its job.


Love, Simon is out in US cinemas on 16 March and in the UK on 6 April


"Tu doives entendre je t'aime."
(and you know who I am...)


Cowboy Curtis (Laurence Fishburne)
and Pee-wee in the 1990 episode
"Camping Out"

Offline Jeff Wrangler

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As Wonder-bread wholesome as Love, Simon sounds to me, I'm not sure I could take this film. I'm not saying I might not like it. I am seriously saying I might not be able to take it.
"It is required of every man that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellow-men, and travel far and wide."--Charles Dickens.

Offline Aloysius J. Gleek

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As Wonder-bread wholesome as Love, Simon sounds to me, I'm not sure I could take this film. I'm not saying I might not like it. I am seriously saying I might not be able to take it.



I don't know, Jeff--the Guardian  is on a roll, it wants  you to be charmed!   :laugh:





Martin (Logan Miller) isn’t supposed to be a bad guy, just desperate, but his temporary blackmailing nastiness is something that the film has to finesse, reasonably successfully. It all rolls up to a happy ending that feels entirely deserved. What a thoroughly intelligent and good-natured film.




https://www.theguardian.com/film/2018/apr/05/love-simon-review-nick-robinson-gay-romance



Love, Simon
Love, Simon
review – heartwarming gay romance
In this fun, engaging and intelligent drama, a teenager’s anonymous
email conversation leads to complications – and love

★★★★
By Peter Bradshaw
@PeterBradshaw1
 
Thu 5 Apr 2018 01.00 EDT
Last modified on
Mon 9 Apr 2018 07.55 EDT



A smart spin on the straight romcom …Nick Robinson in Love, Simon.
Photograph by Ben Rothstein


With its sheer warmth, openness, likability and idealism, Love, Simon  won me over. It takes all the corniness and tweeness of the coming-of-age genre and transplants new heart into it. A high-school kid is about to come out as gay. This is Simon, played by 23-year-old Nick Robinson, and his story puts a smart new spin on straight romcom classics such as The Shop Around the Corner  and You’ve Got Mail, with their anonymised romances.

This movie’s storyline does come carefully encased in an unassumingly small-c conservative plot superstructure, and in the real world not everyone in Simon’s situation has such a well-off home, sophisticated and pricey vinyl collection or impeccably liberal, non-bigoted family and circle of friends, whose reactions are never in doubt. Here the hostility is carefully quarantined to a couple of obviously homophobic boys, whose narrative function is to be trounced and then tacitly forgiven. The only other out gay kid in the school is almost impossibly witty and well-adjusted, nearly middle-aged in his droll composure. In real life, things are a bit more muddled than that. But what a smart, fun, engaging film.

Simon’s personal life comes to a crisis when he starts having an anonymous email conversation with a boy known only as “Blue”; he calls himself “Jacques”. They fall in love. But who is Blue? The mystery becomes trickier when drama-club nerd Martin (Logan Miller) discovers Simon’s secret and agrees not to publicise it in exchange for Simon’s help in his doomed mission to impress the hottest girl in school, Abby, played by Alexandra ShippStorm from X-Men, Apocalypse.

Martin isn’t supposed to be a bad guy, just desperate, but his temporary blackmailing nastiness is something that the film has to finesse, reasonably successfully. It all rolls up to a happy ending that feels entirely deserved. What a thoroughly intelligent and good-natured film.

"Tu doives entendre je t'aime."
(and you know who I am...)


Cowboy Curtis (Laurence Fishburne)
and Pee-wee in the 1990 episode
"Camping Out"

Offline Jeff Wrangler

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I don't know, Jeff--the Guardian  is on a roll, it wants  you to be charmed!   :laugh:

This is probably not the place to go into my idiosyncratic suppositions. I probably shouldn't have brought it up here, anyway.  :(
"It is required of every man that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellow-men, and travel far and wide."--Charles Dickens.

Offline Aloysius J. Gleek

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I don't know, Jeff--the Guardian  is on a roll, it wants  you to be charmed!   :laugh:



This is probably not the place to go into my idiosyncratic suppositions. I probably shouldn't have brought it up here, anyway.  :(



Sorry Jeff! In the meanwhile, as I said, the Guardian  really IS on a roll (as it was with Call Me By Your Name--good for them!) and definitely wants someone  to go and see. As for me, I will try and go as soon as my new (replacement) hip mends!






Love, Simon is an anomaly in that it is receiving the support of a studio, and I’m sceptical about whether its success will trigger a wave of support from others on stories centred on gay characters. There remains a fear that a film centred on a gay character will be classed as a ‘gay film’, only of interest to gay people. People hoped a change would come with Brokeback Mountain  but here we are 13 years later, asking if the change will come again.”




https://www.theguardian.com/film/filmblog/2018/apr/10/love-simon-russell-t-davies-and-more-on-why-the-gay-teen-movie-is-a-glorious-victory



Love, Simon
Love, Simon
Russell T Davies and more on why the
gay teen movie is a 'glorious victory'
With a lead whose sexuality isn’t a gimmick, this high-school drama
may prove that film has caught up with its audience


By Anna Smith  
Tue 10 Apr 2018 04.00 EDT



‘A well-rounded character whose sexuality is only part of his identity’ …Nick Robinson as Simon in Love, Simon.
Photograph by Ben Rothstein


From his clean-cut good looks to his inner angst, the titular character in Love, Simon seems like your average American high school movie hero. Except for one thing: he’s secretly gay. The story of Simon’s journey out of the closet drives this sweet, funny and in many ways conventional teen comedy-drama that’s doing brisk business in the States.

What’s more, Love, Simon  is produced by 20th Century Fox, which makes it the first major studio teen movie with a gay hero. While arthouse and LGBT cinema have long explored the coming out story, queer characters have been minor players in films such as Mean Girls  and Clueless. Indie comedies But I’m a Cheerleader  (1999) and GBF  (2014) put LGBT characters at the centre, but in the studio movie playground, the words gay and lesbian are insults spat out by prom queens and jocks. Occasionally, the butt of their joke is actually gay, such as Les in Bring It On  (2000). But often this is directed at our straight hero or heroine, who must have a makeover and prove their heterosexuality in order to gain acceptance from both peers and audience.

“When mainstream teen movies began to incorporate LGBT characters more regularly in the 1990s, they almost always came in the form of wisecracking cis men,” says Charlie Lyne, director of Beyond Clueless, a documentary on the 90s satirical teen comedy. “And even then, they were routinely sidelined and desexualised, as in the case of Damian from Mean Girls, who we’re told is ‘too gay to function’, but who never once expresses any attraction to other men. They’re often great characters in other ways but they’re deeply limited.”

Based on the novel by Becky Albertalli, Love, Simon  bucks many of these trends. Simon (Nick Robinson) is a well-rounded character whose sexuality is only part of his identity – and whose makeover is heading in a completely different direction. Also, he’s not alone in high school. Along with the jocks, nerds and cheerleaders, there’s one openly gay student, as well as at least two in the closet: Simon’s hesitant online flirtation with an anonymous pupil keeps the audience guessing.

“The treatment of LGBT issues in teen cinema has definitely progressed in line with wider cultural attitudes,” Lyne adds. “If anything, teen movies have typically been a few years behind actual teenagers, who are usually among the earliest in society to sense a changing social tide. As recently as the early 00s, while queer teenagers built vast online communities at the very heart of mainstream platforms such as YouTube, teen movies continued to relegate LGBT characters to the sidelines.”

Compared to cinema, television has been much quicker to catch up, notes Russell T Davies, who brought a gay teen to Channel 4 in Queer As Folk  (1999). “The brilliant gay teen in My So-Called Life  was 23 years ago,” he notes. Davies says that Love, Simon’s director has championed gay characters in many TV shows, from Dawson’s Creek  to The Flash:Greg Berlanti is a TV man through and through. He’s got acres of successful gay stories behind him. To see him bringing that into the multiplexes is a glorious victory.”

So why has it taken film so long to catch up? The answer, says Davies, is simple. “It’s our old friend, that lumbering beast, the white, straight man. But it comes down to money in the end. Television can be more nimble because it’s cheaper: you’re looking at roughly $1m for an hour of drama. But if a movie costs, say, $30m, then there’s 30 times the caution, 30 more levels of bankers being scared, 30 times the arguments. Thirty more idiots, in the end. And if you increase the sums, if you go up to blockbusters costing $100m, then you have a hundred times the fear. That’s why a vast empire like the Marvel Cinematic Universe is devoid of gay characters. And that’s why Pixar has only managed the horrific camp of the Ken Doll in Toy Story 3.”

The money men need only look to recent awards seasons to see that gay stories have wide appeal. Moonlight, God’s Own Country and Call Me By Your Name  featured young gay characters who have become beloved by audiences beyond the LGBT demographic, winning Oscar-nominated Call Me By Your Name  star Timothée Chalamet a wealth of obsessive female fans.

Combined with Love, Simon’s success, does this add up to a brighter future for high school movies with gay leads? Director Joe Stephenson (Chicken, McKellen: Playing the Part ) isn’t sure. “Love, Simon is an anomaly in that it is receiving the support of a studio, and I’m sceptical about whether its success will trigger a wave of support from others on stories centred on gay characters. There remains a fear that a film centred on a gay character will be classed as a ‘gay film’, only of interest to gay people. People hoped a change would come with Brokeback Mountain but here we are 13 years later, asking if the change will come again.”

Davies is similarly cautious. “I think we should be very careful if we imagine these changes are permanent. It’s been almost 20 years since Queer As Folk  but still, every time I write a gay character, someone somewhere complains, and someone somewhere says, ‘This is new!’ It’s not one battle, it’s a constant fight.”

And the fight isn’t just about representation, but narrative. Says Stephenson, “My hope is that gay characters can finally start existing in mainstream films without their sexuality being the key character trait. Straight people in mainstream films don’t have to deal with their sexuality constantly, neither does their sexuality have to be a ‘reveal’. How nice it would be for a character to be gay and it be of no consequence to the plot or their mental health at all.”



"Tu doives entendre je t'aime."
(and you know who I am...)


Cowboy Curtis (Laurence Fishburne)
and Pee-wee in the 1990 episode
"Camping Out"

Offline SaraB

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This is probably not the place to go into my idiosyncratic suppositions. I probably shouldn't have brought it up here, anyway.  :(

Well, now I’m really intrigued, Jeff!


I enjoyed it, Simon was a sweetie, I’m glad it’s being shown in mainstream cinemas. But nothing more than that.

Offline Jeff Wrangler

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Well, now I’m really intrigued, Jeff!

I really need to address this on my blog ASAP.
"It is required of every man that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellow-men, and travel far and wide."--Charles Dickens.

Offline Aloysius J. Gleek

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I enjoyed it, Simon was a sweetie, I’m glad it’s being shown in mainstream cinemas. But nothing more than that.



Oh dear!   ::) :laugh:

Not damning it with faint praise, I suppose, but it might be like the British phrase:

"I QUITE liked it."


 ;D
"Tu doives entendre je t'aime."
(and you know who I am...)


Cowboy Curtis (Laurence Fishburne)
and Pee-wee in the 1990 episode
"Camping Out"

Offline Sason

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Thank you so much, Sonja! It was an unexpected shock, quite a blow. I was certainly NOT planning on wasting a perfectly good hip, not for another twenty years at least!  ::)

Despite the calamitous aspects, I was very lucky also. A complete stranger helped me the instant I fell and it was clear I had been badly hurt; he called for an ambulance and very kindly waited with me until I was carted away. The ambulance brought me (by happenstance or otherwise?) to the ER attached to HSS, the Hospital for Special Surgery, "the #1 Orthopedic Hospital in the Nation" (or so it says itself). Amazing friends rallied around (in New York I always say--who needs family when you have friends?   :laugh: ) and all I have to do now is eat, exercise (gingerly) and heal. Actually, it's hard work, takes a lot of effort. On Thursday I grabbed my rollerator/buggy and got a badly needed haircut, Friday, with some strategizing, I did some laundry, and today, I'm taking the day off--I needed it! Next week I have to start thinking about the next stage, finding a nearby center for Outpatient Therapy. Who knew how complicated this would be? Anyway, wish me luck!   :) :-*  



Wishing you the best of luck!  :-*

Glad you got help from the stranger, and that your friends are there for you.

It's good that you're able to move around and get out of the house on your own.

Yes, healing and exercising is hard work, it takes all your energy.

So, be kind to yourself and concentrate on recovering.  :-*

Hope you find a good and nearby center.

Düva pööp is a förce of natüre

Offline SaraB

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Oh dear!   ::) :laugh:

Not damning it with faint praise, I suppose, but it might be like the British phrase:

"I QUITE liked it."


 ;D

LOL, no it was more than quite. :D