A Single Man (Tom Ford, 2009)

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david hare
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A Single Man (Tom Ford, 2009)

#1 Post by david hare » Fri Jul 09, 2010 5:01 am

I am astounded there's no entry yet on this. Does nobody like it?

I rented it and then bought it (on Blu). A rare double expense for me, but the constantly "so-so" reviews" including Glenn Kenny's made me nervous about having to watch an overly, fussily decorated picture with too much manufactured "Beauty". Frankly I dont think Ford takes a step wrong. There may (or may not) be some issue with Julianne's character - I dont think there are as he saves her up for the big dinner for two scene in which Colin Firth finally laughs, and she seems totally consistent with the way he's constructed the whole screenplay. She's a flawless "Sloanie" avant la letre.

I absolutely love the desaturations and resaturations and over saturations, but most importantly I am completely knocked out by the way Ford threads his own impeccable taste into the visual texture, choice of locations, general production design of course, but the way he turns it into a lively mise en scene. I kept thinking of Cukor - there's even a Don Bachadry lithograph on the desk in one of the first shots when he first wakes up (like a sly ref to the first Candice Malibu party scene in Rich and Famous.) . I think the entirely Zen notion of living life or at least experiencing life in an eternal present could not have been more skillfully rendered, and this by a neophyte director! The word gay is not spoken once, nor is the word or even the concept faghag (in relation to Julieanne who is so much more than I expected) The whole excercise feels nothing like anything that's been made in the USA for at least 15 years. The sheer taste is far too refined. And robust.

An absolute knockout. I started fretting that I was maybe having too good a day and had come to the viewing with rose colored glasses, but in fact I had just come back from two hours of fucking root canal and the fucking narcotic was wearing off.

I really crave some other responses to this film.

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Re: A Single Man (Tom Ford 2009)

#2 Post by Gary Tooze » Fri Jul 09, 2010 7:47 am

Agreed David,
From my BD Review:
"If you aren't aware - this is a magnificent film. I had a highly impressive viewing on Blu-ray. Once again I see some middling critical response but I, personally, consider this close to a masterpiece with Firth's performance worthy of an Oscar (he was nominated but did not win). I also love Julianne Moore. Sony have given the film some justice with a great a/v Blu-ray transfer and the commentary adds further value. I wish all films I reviewed were this good - I give a very strong recommendation."

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Matt
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Re: A Single Man (Tom Ford, 2009)

#3 Post by Matt » Fri Jul 09, 2010 11:28 am

I just watched this last night. I had some problems with the film, mainly the editing. I felt there was too much cutting, too much hopping between angles when a single long take would have been more effective. It seemed as if either Ford or his editor didn't trust the material and the performers enough to keep viewers involved so he felt he had to cut away to unnecessary inserts (yes, I hear the phone ringing while he's on the toilet, I don't need you to cut to a shot of a phone) or to different angles (particularly irksome during Firth's performance after he hangs up the phone after that phone call).

I liked the fluctuations in saturation when they were more subtle, such as when the color gradually and slightly becomes more saturated when Firth is talking with the little girl in the bank, but I thought they were a little jarring when they were used to denote flashbacks. I know the fluctuations had a purpose (to indicate his level of engagement with life) beyond style, but I still wish they had been more subtle at times.

Those relatively minor grievances aside, I thought Ford's adaptation (with David Scearce) was very good, as were all the performances (though the American accents from the Brits and vice versa were often distracting - they were mostly good enough to "pass," but then a single weird pronunciation would snag my ear and take me out of the film). Colin Firth was particularly excellent. I haven't seen Crazy Heart, but I can't imagine Jeff Bridges deserved the Best Actor Oscar over Firth.

The set decoration, costumes, makeup, and hair were, of course, all impeccable as one would expect from an aesthete like Tom Ford. It's all probably a little too "designed" to be believable as a recreation of November 30, 1962, but I actually enjoy films that create an aestheticized version of the real world.

David, I wonder if you've seen Love and Death on Long Island, a film that this one put me in mind of that features a magnificent performance by John Hurt. It's got more humor than A Single Man, but shares some similar themes.

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Re: A Single Man (Tom Ford, 2009)

#4 Post by mfunk9786 » Fri Jul 09, 2010 11:37 am

I found this one utterly ridiculous. From the device of changing from cool to warm tones every time there's a human connection, to the fact that there are zero unattractive people in the film's universe (check out that classroom!) to the fact that all it took to cheer Firth's character up was having Efron-lite fall asleep on his couch. It was a shallow glamour-shoot of a film, and left me feeling empty and rolling my eyes.

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Re: A Single Man (Tom Ford, 2009)

#5 Post by Matt » Fri Jul 09, 2010 11:43 am

mfunk9786 wrote:all it took to cheer Firth's character up was having Efron-lite fall asleep on his couch.
I think
SpoilerShow
he's actually cheered up that someone thought enough of him to try to prevent him from suicide by taking the gun,
but I had pretty much all the same thoughts as you did. I guess that Firth's performance and my acceptance of the over-aestheticied world were enough for me to get past them.

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Re: A Single Man (Tom Ford, 2009)

#6 Post by mfunk9786 » Fri Jul 09, 2010 12:07 pm

I don't mean to sound like I'm approaching this with some recurring assumption of a double-standard, because I've only ever had this thought when it pertains to this film - but imagine the same plotline with a straight lead character, and Megan Fox [or whoever people think is hot these days] in the role of the kid at the end. There would be absolutely no accolades, this movie would be critically blasted for being a mysogonist masturbatory male fantasy, with a shallow message that a hot chick showing up when you're feeling low makes everything better. The fact that the main character of the film is gay has lent it some sort of credibility with the average "art film" goer, unless you're like me and see a film having a gay character as no different than one with a straight character (and I think the mixed reviews come from a lot of critics looking at it the same way that I did). The flip-flopping color tones and moods of Firth's character made it perfectly clear that this movie was just an exercise in visual artistry with no backbone to back that up.

Frankly, I was most immersed in the film during the darkly comedic moments when Firth's character is
SpoilerShow
trying to commit suicide, but is letting his OCD and attempts to present a perfect corpse get in the way.
Last edited by mfunk9786 on Fri Jul 09, 2010 3:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Matt
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Re: A Single Man (Tom Ford, 2009)

#7 Post by Matt » Fri Jul 09, 2010 1:05 pm

I think your criticisms are fair. It is, in many respects, a very shallow film, and it absolutely is a fantasy. I'm no Colin Firth, but never in my life have I been stalked by a hot, perpetually naked college student, cruised by an even hotter Spanish hustler, or had Julianne Moore try to seduce me, let alone all in the same day. Shit, I'd be happy just to have Colin Firth's glasses. But there is also, absolutely, a double standard. This little subgenre of film--an older man's life is made worth living by the arrival of a hot young piece in his life--is actually pretty popular these days (Venus, Elegy, I'm sure there are others I can't remember), and I'm glad to see a "gay version." I cannot tell you what a wasteland gay cinema is right now. It's never been particularly robust, but for a film like this to come along that is well made and features a sympathetic portrait of a gay man in 1962 without being about THE HORRORS OF THE CLOSET is something to be celebrated.

I do think you're misreading the ending, though. It's not the fact that someone hot shows up at the end and that makes everything better. It's that someone George can see himself loving and being loved by shows up at the end and it gives him a small reason to continue living, to stop dwelling in the past and to consider the possibility of the future. True, this is made problematic and slightly opaque by the hotness of the guy, the vast age difference, and the whole icky student-teacher relationship, but those are really beside the point.

I don't particularly LOVE the film (I'd rate it 3.5 out of 5 stars on Netflix, if that were possible), and maybe I'm still just pleased at having my low expectations exceeded, but I'm happy the film exists. If I had to make a time capsule containing a contemporary mainstream gay film, I'd pick this over Milk or Brokeback Mountain - films about homosexuals for heterosexuals.

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Re: A Single Man (Tom Ford, 2009)

#8 Post by perkizitore » Fri Jul 09, 2010 3:04 pm

mfunk9786 wrote: Frankly, I was most immersed in the film during the darkly comedic moments when Firth's character is
SpoilerShow
trying to commit suicide, but is letting his OCD and attempts to present a perfect corpse are getting in the way.
I never laughed that much with a scene from a dramatic movie! :P

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Re: A Single Man (Tom Ford, 2009)

#9 Post by R0lf » Fri Jul 09, 2010 3:24 pm

I disagree completely. If I had to pick the hetero equivalent of this movie I would maybe choose In The Mood For Love which still stands up to critical response. Of course in that situation you just replace the word "gay" with "Chinese" and after recasting with Megan Fox we have the same situation again.

Also maybe it is just my opinion but I felt the ending wasn't about him recovering after meeting a hot piece but it opening him to the possibility of the future. The movie didn't intimate to me that they had sex or that Firth seriously considered that but more that he was finally able to have fun and feel young again.
SpoilerShow
Story wise I had a bit of a problem with him dying at the end after trying to commit suicide but I found this easy to forgive because it was handled in a touching way. I was told later that he dies in the book and the suicide was made up for the movie.

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Re: A Single Man (Tom Ford, 2009)

#10 Post by Matt » Fri Jul 09, 2010 3:28 pm

R0lf wrote:
SpoilerShow
Story wise I had a bit of a problem with him dying at the end after trying to commit suicide but I found this easy to forgive because it was handled in a touching way. I was told later that he dies in the book and the suicide was made up for the movie.
SpoilerShow
I had the same "Irony!" problem, but I figured it was in the book (which I haven't read). Though, honestly, my first thought was "Aww, what a waste. He should have fucked Kenny if he was just going to up and die."

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Re: A Single Man (Tom Ford, 2009)

#11 Post by mfunk9786 » Fri Jul 09, 2010 4:02 pm

It was seventh-grade short story irony, and was as predictable as can be. Whether it's in the book or not.

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Re: A Single Man (Tom Ford, 2009)

#12 Post by R0lf » Fri Jul 09, 2010 4:11 pm

mfunk9786 wrote:I don't mean to sound like I'm approaching this with some recurring assumption of a double-standard, because I've only ever had this thought when it pertains to this film - but imagine the same plotline with a straight lead character, and Megan Fox [or whoever people think is hot these days] in the role of the kid at the end. There would be absolutely no accolades, this movie would be critically blasted for being a mysogonist masturbatory male fantasy, with a shallow message that a hot chick showing up when you're feeling low makes everything better. The fact that the main character of the film is gay has lent it some sort of credibility with the average "art film" goer, unless you're like me and see a film having a gay character as no different than one with a straight character (and I think the mixed reviews come from a lot of critics looking at it the same way that I did).
Actually the more I think about it I don't think this is a valid argument because it specifically hinges on gender politics and the gender politics in question do not exist between two men. If you saw no difference between the gay and the straight character there would be no assumption the woman is being degraded.

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Re: A Single Man (Tom Ford, 2009)

#13 Post by david hare » Fri Jul 09, 2010 6:10 pm

mfunk9786 wrote:I don't mean to sound like I'm approaching this with some recurring assumption of a double-standard, because I've only ever had this thought when it pertains to this film - but imagine the same plotline with a straight lead character, and Megan Fox [or whoever people think is hot these days] in the role of the kid at the end. There would be absolutely no accolades, this movie would be critically blasted for being a mysogonist masturbatory male fantasy, with a shallow message that a hot chick showing up when you're feeling low makes everything better. The fact that the main character of the film is gay has lent it some sort of credibility with the average "art film" goer, unless you're like me and see a film having a gay character as no different than one with a straight character (and I think the mixed reviews come from a lot of critics looking at it the same way that I did).

Actually the more I think about it I don't think this is a valid argument because it specifically hinges on gender politics and the gender politics in question do not exist between two men. If you saw no difference between the gay and the straight character there would be no assumption the woman is being degraded.
This is both fatuous and beside the point. To supplant the boy with a female actor is to totally ignore the fact the entire film is grounded in the homosexual experience. You're trying to exchange gestalts, and I take offence at the notion. Stick to gender studies if that's what you want to do.

This is not a film about gay people, it's about a homosexual man, and the entire contemporary construction of gay is also irrelevant. You might also note that part of Colin Firth's/George's dynamic since his lover's death is to decline any sexual contact with anyone, as is also obvious with the student. The fact they haven't had sex is unambiguously presented.

Considering the film is also anchored in notions of beauty which themselves are presented in epiphanic reveals with extreme slow motion, saturations and so on, this is also the core the Ford's (and Isherwood's) concern that life throws up moments of revelation, and opportunity which it is your right to acknowledge, and seize, if you can even perceive them. The whole reason I had put off watching this was the suspicion gleaned from most reviewers that this was going to be another hideous "gay" film with everything and everybody in it set up to be as shallow and mindlessly vacuous as in fact most modern gay life is. And of course we all know what shallow queens those fashion designers all are. It was Gary's review that tipped me over to actually get it, and what I find amazing and revelatory is that the very theme of beauty and revelation is something Ford works into the texture of the film, just as it's part of his whole "theme. He gets everything pitch perfect. The formal visuallization of hyperreal beauty, even in tactilit things like patting the dogs seesm to me to be the key to Ford's visual language.

If I were to cite company for A Single Man it would indeed be pictures like In the Mood for Love or Julian Hernandez' superb Mexican film Broken Sky. Or Scott McGehee and David Siegel's The Deep End. But Ford appears to have constructed a style and method and mise en scene that is entirely his own.

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Re: A Single Man (Tom Ford, 2009)

#14 Post by "membrillo" » Sat Jul 10, 2010 12:25 am

I have to put in my 2 pesos.

Tom Ford gets a A for (A)Effort and an F for Failure. Stick to fashion design.

For me this film was completely heavy handed and predictable. The oversaturation was over the top to say the least. It just did not work.

On the surface it just had the semblance of a series of fashion ads beat into the most recent edition of Atomic Ranch magazine intermingled with Amy Winehouse and friends, a very poor mans version of BB, spanish model, blah, blah, blah...underwater I could not find much more. (Excuse the pun)

While I respect the opinion of the film being "grounded in the homosexual experience"' I'll stay away from commenting on that because I cant.

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Re: A Single Man (Tom Ford, 2009)

#15 Post by Rowan » Sat Jul 10, 2010 2:33 am

David, I had a very similar reaction to this a few months ago. The critical reception in the UK has been a lot more positive; raves all round on the ‘Review Show’ convinced me I had to see it. Nevertheless, I fully expected a soulless retro fashion show (a la Mad Men) and maybe even a cringefest. But how surprising was Firth (who I’ve never been fond of) and even more, the thoughtful, vivid mise en scene!

I’m still a little torn though. It’s hard to separate the sense of loss and melancholy from the fantasy aspect, and I’m not sure I bought it emotionally. What I DID find very moving was George’s aesthetic isolation; his heightened moments of perceiving. It’s something that cuts him off, removes him, but also pulls him back from the brink.

The score was also very forthright and tastefully done. There was a Herrmann homage in there that made me think of Vertigo, and that kind of exigent, absorbed looking that Hitch does so well.

As of now, this is only available here on DVD! No Blu in sight..

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Re: A Single Man (Tom Ford, 2009)

#16 Post by david hare » Sat Jul 10, 2010 3:44 am

Rowan, there is indeed a clear ref to Hermann's Vertigo score, and Kim Novak in the green dress, when Firth sees the little girl in her blue dress in the bank.

Do you feel, perhaps, this tension between melancholy and flat humor, and revival is managed by Ford into the restructured narrative, with George's outburst about "invisible" enemies and fear at the classroom, and the direction Ford takes generally to direct the screnplay past Isherwood's basically entirely interior monolgue construction. Hence those differences in mise en scene between stillness and action. And varying levels of saturation, and multiple cutting around a shot.

Ive just watched it for a third time, and I remain entranced. I bought this book (And still have the first edition) in 1964 when I had just not only come out as a 14 year old but also knocked off the cherry, so to speak. This was the first thing I had ever READ about being the other that was not some sort of tract about abnormal psychology. I frankly owe my life to books like this, and Huxley's. It was one of the most influential things in my life. In later years (Im now over 60 and 10 years older than Tom Ford) I can re-read the Isherwood and see serious deficencies and imbalances of judgment in style in the book. Indeed later Isherwood suffers generally from this, particularly something like Down There on a Visit or The World in the Evening. But - more and more - I think Ford has entirely solved the problem of those "emotional" tensions in the film's screenplay. I didn't realize this until this afternoon but Ford does another Isherwood/Bachardy hommage in the scene of Firth's first arrival at college when he greets the two older professors. One of them is Ford's husband of 23 years and the other slightly older gent is Bachardy!

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Re: A Single Man (Tom Ford, 2009)

#17 Post by DanV » Sat Jul 10, 2010 7:00 am

Rowan wrote:David, I had a very similar reaction to this a few months ago. The critical reception in the UK has been a lot more positive; raves all round on the ‘Review Show’ convinced me I had to see it. Nevertheless, I fully expected a soulless retro fashion show (a la Mad Men) and maybe even a cringefest. But how surprising was Firth (who I’ve never been fond of) and even more, the thoughtful, vivid mise en scene!

I’m still a little torn though. It’s hard to separate the sense of loss and melancholy from the fantasy aspect, and I’m not sure I bought it emotionally. What I DID find very moving was George’s aesthetic isolation; his heightened moments of perceiving. It’s something that cuts him off, removes him, but also pulls him back from the brink.

The score was also very forthright and tastefully done. There was a Herrmann homage in there that made me think of Vertigo, and that kind of exigent, absorbed looking that Hitch does so well.

As of now, this is only available here on DVD! No Blu in sight..
There you are, boyo. http://www.amazon.co.uk/Single-Man-Blu- ... QPHP5ZK94Z" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

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Re: A Single Man (Tom Ford, 2009)

#18 Post by CSM126 » Sat Jul 10, 2010 8:39 am

I have to admit, I'm pretty much with mfunk on this one. I wanted to like this film just because of how sincere Firth's performance is, but good grief the whole thing is just an exercise in style over substance. The color shifts are obvious and silly and frankly are about as blunt a tactic as the laughable red coat girl scene in Schindler's List. Considering how outrageous and creative most fashion shows are, you'd think a fashion designer could do something more original with his visual stylings in a film, but Ford is a dreadfully obvious artist. "He's sad now, make everything look gray. He's happy now, make it colorful! Genius!". And I have to agree with the littler niggling bits, like showing the phone after it rings (as if we're too dumb to know what that noise means?), and that long close-up on the spanish guy's lips was like someone's pathetic attempt at replicating the way Gus van Sant films the Mexican boy in Mala Noche or something (the scene reflected on the Criterion cover). It was just silly here. You could easily (And more subtly) convey the idea by just showing George eying the guy. The whole movie's like that; it could have been subtle but instead it just went for blunt. Sad.

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Re: A Single Man (Tom Ford, 2009)

#19 Post by perkizitore » Sat Jul 10, 2010 10:47 am

Do you mean stylistically subtle? Because, content wise it is subtle (except if you regard male nudity as 'blunt') :-k
My major complaint is the pseudo Philip Glass score and the variety of methods used in flashbacks (B&W, slow motion fantasy), but i loved the sets and costumes.

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Re: A Single Man (Tom Ford, 2009)

#20 Post by Rowan » Sat Jul 10, 2010 5:34 pm

DanV wrote:There you are, boyo. http://www.amazon.co.uk/Single-Man-Blu- ... QPHP5ZK94Z" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
Thank you! I haven't seen it in the shops and for some reason my amazon search produced only these http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/search/ref=s ... =383379011" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; :-s
david hare wrote:Do you feel, perhaps, this tension between melancholy and flat humor, and revival is managed by Ford into the restructured narrative, with George's outburst about "invisible" enemies and fear at the classroom, and the direction Ford takes generally to direct the screnplay past Isherwood's basically entirely interior monolgue construction. Hence those differences in mise en scene between stillness and action. And varying levels of saturation, and multiple cutting around a shot.
I really need to rewatch this! I was in two minds after my first viewing, even though I enjoyed every minute. There’s something very ‘straight forward’ about the saturations and slow mo, but they’re deployed with such control, an ever-present care and precision - in composition, cutting, and in Firth’s performance – that, honestly, I haven’t seen in the cinema for ages. Yes, the glamour of it all might be a little cloying (especially when Carlos is bathed in golden light and in lingering close-up), but it’s offset by an equal number of ‘down to earth’ scenes - lolling about on the floor, gawky dancing – and the humour, as you say. These tensions depend so much, I think, on our identification with George.

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Re: A Single Man (Tom Ford, 2009)

#21 Post by david hare » Sat Jul 10, 2010 6:55 pm

In the sole extra, the "Making of" doco, and again in the commentary track Tom Ford, who's as dry as they come, quotes Coco Chanel to the effect that the art of surprise is concealing your sources, hence innumerable pinches from Wong via Wong's composer Shigeru Umebayashi, the house itself built by FL Wright's student John Lautner, the hommages to iconic photgraphs and artwork - like Matthew Goode's bloodied face and Firth's dream kiss. And the Strunk Family posed in a tableau to match Life's Cuban Missile era Bomb shelter front page (Which is itself a parody of Whistler.)

Ford could have added the apocraphyl quote from Ford (John) or Walsh, when you steal, steal from the best.

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Re: A Single Man (Tom Ford, 2009)

#22 Post by aox » Sat Jul 10, 2010 9:32 pm

david hare wrote:
mfunk9786 wrote:I don't mean to sound like I'm approaching this with some recurring assumption of a double-standard, because I've only ever had this thought when it pertains to this film - but imagine the same plotline with a straight lead character, and Megan Fox [or whoever people think is hot these days] in the role of the kid at the end. There would be absolutely no accolades, this movie would be critically blasted for being a mysogonist masturbatory male fantasy, with a shallow message that a hot chick showing up when you're feeling low makes everything better. The fact that the main character of the film is gay has lent it some sort of credibility with the average "art film" goer, unless you're like me and see a film having a gay character as no different than one with a straight character (and I think the mixed reviews come from a lot of critics looking at it the same way that I did).

Actually the more I think about it I don't think this is a valid argument because it specifically hinges on gender politics and the gender politics in question do not exist between two men. If you saw no difference between the gay and the straight character there would be no assumption the woman is being degraded.
This is both fatuous and beside the point. To supplant the boy with a female actor is to totally ignore the fact the entire film is grounded in the homosexual experience. You're trying to exchange gestalts, and I take offence at the notion. Stick to gender studies if that's what you want to do.

This is not a film about gay people, it's about a homosexual man, and the entire contemporary construction of gay is also irrelevant. You might also note that part of Colin Firth's/George's dynamic since his lover's death is to decline any sexual contact with anyone, as is also obvious with the student. The fact they haven't had sex is unambiguously presented.

Considering the film is also anchored in notions of beauty which themselves are presented in epiphanic reveals with extreme slow motion, saturations and so on, this is also the core the Ford's (and Isherwood's) concern that life throws up moments of revelation, and opportunity which it is your right to acknowledge, and seize, if you can even perceive them. The whole reason I had put off watching this was the suspicion gleaned from most reviewers that this was going to be another hideous "gay" film with everything and everybody in it set up to be as shallow and mindlessly vacuous as in fact most modern gay life is. And of course we all know what shallow queens those fashion designers all are. It was Gary's review that tipped me over to actually get it, and what I find amazing and revelatory is that the very theme of beauty and revelation is something Ford works into the texture of the film, just as it's part of his whole "theme. He gets everything pitch perfect. The formal visuallization of hyperreal beauty, even in tactilit things like patting the dogs seesm to me to be the key to Ford's visual language.

If I were to cite company for A Single Man it would indeed be pictures like In the Mood for Love or Julian Hernandez' superb Mexican film Broken Sky. Or Scott McGehee and David Siegel's The Deep End. But Ford appears to have constructed a style and method and mise en scene that is entirely his own.
Thank you for this post.

My girlfriend and I just watched this begrudgingly, and were completely taken aback by how wonderful it was. We are still talking about it hours later. I hate to do this, but I might as well since all of the best posts I would post have been taken by those already lauding the film: to me, this was the film that everyone thought Brokeback Mountain was, but wasn't. It hardly deserves the comparison just because both deal with homosexuality, but these films of this magnitude are rare unfortunately (I hope they become more common). I like BM, but I made the exact criticisms about it as MFunk made about this film. However, I felt at the end, this film, transcended gender. There is more to it than that. There was a tender approach here that I felt really encapsulated 'love' and....... loss. That is what is important here which I think many forget; this film is about loss. Firth is incredibly dynamic while subtle.

Technically too, I loved the hues that mirrored Firth's emotions. I loved the jump editing (though, it did annoy me during one of the first flashbacks when they are kissing in the kitchen), and I thought the score was adequate.

I can't believe that this film is flying under the radar and has the potential to be forgotten. It's incredible.

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Re: A Single Man (Tom Ford, 2009)

#23 Post by CSM126 » Sun Jul 11, 2010 2:10 pm

perkizitore wrote:Do you mean stylistically subtle? Because, content wise it is subtle (except if you regard male nudity as 'blunt') :-k
My major complaint is the pseudo Philip Glass score and the variety of methods used in flashbacks (B&W, slow motion fantasy), but i loved the sets and costumes.
Blunt both stylistically and content-wise. Seriously, the whole plot of this movie is "I'm alone. Aw, that makes me sad and the world seems dark. Hey, someone's talking to me! I'm happy and everything is so cheery now!". Lather, rinse, repeat for 100 tedious minutes. A child could write that plot. Just because Colin Firth gives it some life with a good performance doesn't mean the screenplay was any good to start with - truly good or great actors could make a Cannonball Run script written by Hal Needham seem subtle and intelligent with the right delivery.

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Re: A Single Man (Tom Ford, 2009)

#24 Post by karmajuice » Sun Jul 11, 2010 4:08 pm

I guess I'm stuck somewhere in the middle here. My initial impressions were good, but as soon as the movie ended my regard for it started to decline. The hue shifts I liked at first -- they were so slight they were only just perceptible. But soon they became grossly overused and redundant. The editing really struck a chord in a few instances, especially when Firth goes to visit Moore for drinks, and the film cuts to the memory of him running to her door in the rain, crying; in a few seconds it speaks volumes about their relationship and what he thinks of her. Unfortunately the technique is inconsistent. This is an issue I had with much of the film -- while Ford may "steal from the best", I don't believe for an instant that he fully digests these techniques and influences into a distinctive and consistent whole.

At the same time, I also don't really buy into the notion that, "Tom Ford should stick to fashion design, because obviously he's incapable of creating truly meaningful art". I think the film is a far cry from perfection, or even greatness, but Ford is competent and occasionally compelling, and I think he could improve as a filmmaker if he kept with it. At least it's better than the other gay prestige flicks of recent years.

As for the content of the story, I have mixed feelings. On the one hand, the performances are good and carry some genuine emotional weight. On the other, the presentation is problematic and rather simple. Everyone in the film -- everyone, including the little girl who brightens his day -- is obnoxiously beautiful. At some point it starts to feel like a sort of parody. I'm not entirely sure I buy into the second half, the night of fun and renewal with the student, but I'm not as eager to dismiss it, either. I know for a fact that my day improves considerably if I'm around an attractive person who is both fun and clearly interested in me. You can call that simple-minded and shallow if you want, but it doesn't make that emotional impact any less real. After all, this boy isn't the be-all end-all of his salvation. He's merely a bright sign that things aren't as bleak as he feels they are.

I also don't think the ending has much to do with irony. The ending reminded me very much of In Bruges. Obviously the two films are very different, but they both use unexpected deaths (or the possibility of death) to underline the significance of a renewed interest in life. Whether the film pulls that off is debatable -- I think In Bruges uses the conceit much more effectively -- but I think brushing it off as irony is wrong-headed.

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david hare
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Re: A Single Man (Tom Ford, 2009)

#25 Post by david hare » Mon Jul 12, 2010 12:00 am

You know you've got something right when the loathsomely unrepentantly worthless David Thomson writes this

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