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Author Topic: Alma & Lureen  (Read 141887 times)

Offline bb

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Re: The other tragedies: Alma & Lureen
« Reply #60 on: January 06, 2006, 06:10:13 PM »
I've always heard it said that a woman knows how to compete with another woman for her man, but not another man...

Offline sotoalf

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Re: The other tragedies: Alma & Lureen
« Reply #61 on: January 06, 2006, 06:25:14 PM »
I want to bring up something interesting about Alma. She divorces Ennis who is the epitome of the rugged, Marlboro man cowboy: quiet, tactiturn, not afraid to whoop some ass. She then marries Monroe, who is by far the most effeminate man in the movie. This is especially true when one juxtaposes the two Thanksgiving scenes. In one, the "stud duck" stands to carve the turkey with a real knife and "real men" watch football. In the other, the man of the house sits down and carves the turkey with an electric knife (after his wife nods her permission for him to do so), watches Ice Skating after the meal (I think that was what was on TV), and sits meekly while he wife is under attack in the kitchen. Heck, Monroe even knows what condiments are. I think it was a very interesting choice by Larry and Diana to show Monroe in this light. What does the choice of Monroe, especially after divorcing one's gay husband, say about Alma (and I see something more positive in her choice and how it relates to the idea of the Old/New American West and the stereotype of the American cowboy)?

(BTW, IMO, those two Thanksgiving scenes are classic works of film making. They almost pitch perfect mirror one another and offer some of the movie's best insight into the two women and their perceptions of and relationships with masculinity and the classic Western male/cowboy. Jack and Ennis both respond violently when their masculinity is threatened, and in doing so, emasculate the "real" men both Lureen and Alma look to for protection. There is even more contrast in the children's interactions with their fathers, and in the wives disparate responses to Jack and Ennis asserting their masculinity.)

Bleh. The more I think about those two scenes (especially the one in the Twist household), the more they seem like cheap and unfair. So Monroe uses an electric knife...presumably unlike He-Man Ennis, who can rip the turkey to bits with his hands cuz he's a Real Man.

jiml

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Re: The other tragedies: Alma & Lureen
« Reply #62 on: January 06, 2006, 06:32:14 PM »
Bleh. The more I think about those two scenes (especially the one in the Twist household), the more they seem like cheap and unfair. So Monroe uses an electric knife...presumably unlike He-Man Ennis, who can rip the turkey to bits with his hands cuz he's a Real Man.
I like them...especially the knife. The thing that bothers me though is that Monroe is just too stereotyped. His character works for me until Heath's explosion in the kitchen. The fact that Monroe would still be sitting in the chair unfazed strains credibility.

Offline Scott88

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Re: The other tragedies: Alma & Lureen
« Reply #63 on: January 06, 2006, 06:36:50 PM »
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The fact that Monroe would still be sitting in the chair unfazed strains credibility.

We do see him getting up from his chair, alarmed.  I agree it might have been slightly delayed, but it didn't bother me too much.

lynn

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Re: The other tragedies: Alma & Lureen
« Reply #64 on: January 06, 2006, 07:25:33 PM »
Alma choosing Monroe for husband #2 says to me... economic security for her and especially her little girls. A very common reason for marriage, or re-marriage, especially in that time period. Recall her conversation with Ennis about not supporting new babies. Now she is pregnant again and living in a nice house.

I loved the knive symbolism, and I think the whole contrast of Jack and Ennis with the other men was another of Ang's ironic touches: the most "masculine" men in these scenes are gay (or homosexual, or whatever term you prefer....)

lynn

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Re: The other tragedies: Alma & Lureen
« Reply #65 on: January 06, 2006, 07:27:15 PM »

We do see him getting up from his chair, alarmed.  I agree it might have been slightly delayed, but it didn't bother me too much.

Actually, this REALLY bothered me. His wife is SCREAMING in the other room and he is passively sitting there. I think that was intentional, once again to show a contrast between the vibrant, masculine Ennis and the soft, lazy, citified Monroe.

jiml

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Re: The other tragedies: Alma & Lureen
« Reply #66 on: January 06, 2006, 07:32:01 PM »
Lynn, I agree with you about the intent. I think if he had just gotten up a bit sooner it wouldn't have bothered me. He could still have been totally clueless about how to intervene. It would have shown him as ineffectual but not quite such a cutout figure.

kumari

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Re: The other tragedies: Alma & Lureen
« Reply #67 on: January 06, 2006, 07:36:38 PM »
Bleh. The more I think about those two scenes (especially the one in the Twist household), the more they seem like cheap and unfair. So Monroe uses an electric knife...presumably unlike He-Man Ennis, who can rip the turkey to bits with his hands cuz he's a Real Man.

Not so fast.
I think even this scene challenges our beliefs about masculinity. Ennis is sitting at another man's table for Thanksgiving wearing a bolero tie with gel in his hair. Not exactly the Marlboro man. Another man is raising his children and Alma is pregnant again. "I'd have em if you'd support em." Seeing Alma's swollen belly is a slap in the face to Ennis. Munroe may be a grocer who uses an electric knife, but he can afford kitchen gadgets and more kids. I don't think Ennis comes off as the real man AT ALL in this scene.
Alma totally deconstructs his years of lies in the kitchen and he STILL can't tell her (or himself) the truth.

lynn

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Re: The other tragedies: Alma & Lureen
« Reply #68 on: January 06, 2006, 07:40:08 PM »
Kumari, good points. It's like those Russian Dolls where you open the head to find a smaller one, then another one and so on... layers and layers of masculine symbolism... now I'm a bit confused as to what Ang was really saying here!

Offline Scott88

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Re: The other tragedies: Alma & Lureen
« Reply #69 on: January 06, 2006, 08:00:53 PM »
Quote
Actually, this REALLY bothered me. His wife is SCREAMING in the other room and he is passively sitting there. I think that was intentional, once again to show a contrast between the vibrant, masculine Ennis and the soft, lazy, citified Monroe.

Actually, I would submit this was one of the few examples of a plot contrivance in BBM.  It would have detracted from intensity of the scene between Ennis and Alma had Monroe intervened earlier, so they delayed his reaction.

I just don't see the filmmakers attempting to portray Monroe as "citified" by not having him jump to his wife's rescue.  Any decent man would have done so, or at least attempted to do so.  Furthermore, if that was their intent, why have him leap up out of his chair at the end of the scene?

Definitely plot contrivance, IMO.

kumari

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Re: The other tragedies: Alma & Lureen
« Reply #70 on: January 06, 2006, 08:04:31 PM »
Kumari, good points. It's like those Russian Dolls where you open the head to find a smaller one, then another one and so on... layers and layers of masculine symbolism... now I'm a bit confused as to what Ang was really saying here!
Yes Lynn, exactly like those nesting dolls.
And I think confusion is good.

Offline andrew

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Re: The other tragedies: Alma & Lureen
« Reply #71 on: January 07, 2006, 06:05:47 AM »
Quote
Actually, this REALLY bothered me. His wife is SCREAMING in the other room and he is passively sitting there. I think that was intentional, once again to show a contrast between the vibrant, masculine Ennis and the soft, lazy, citified Monroe.

Actually, I would submit this was one of the few examples of a plot contrivance in BBM.  It would have detracted from intensity of the scene between Ennis and Alma had Monroe intervened earlier, so they delayed his reaction.

I just don't see the filmmakers attempting to portray Monroe as "citified" by not having him jump to his wife's rescue.  Any decent man would have done so, or at least attempted to do so.  Furthermore, if that was their intent, why have him leap up out of his chair at the end of the scene?

Definitely plot contrivance, IMO.

I will have to pay close attention to this scene when i go again, but I just don't think their voices are loud enough yet for Monroe to hear with the television on with some rather loud music (was it Rimsky-Korsakoff's Capriccio Espagnol? Again, I'll have to listen).  She threatens to yell but she doesn't.  Just the feelings are screaming until the last moment.  The television is not in the written screenplay, it must have been added to explain why the others are distracted while the scene in the kitchen plays out.

Offline andrew

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Re: The other tragedies: Alma & Lureen
« Reply #72 on: January 07, 2006, 06:36:40 AM »
What does the choice of Monroe, especially after divorcing one's gay husband, say about Alma (and I see something more positive in her choice and how it relates to the idea of the Old/New American West and the stereotype of the American cowboy)?
We don't really know since Monroe has so few speeches in the film, but my feeling is that with her second choice she has gone for someone who she knows actually resembles her enough that they can live in harmony.  They have the same soft, serious, sincere, well-intentioned vibe.  Like a lot of women Alma is discovering how nice it is to have a partner who is likely to agree without a fuss, think the same way, be as reasonable as they are. 
Think about how disappointed so many women are that their husbands or dates are not reacting to this very film the way they are!

I'm quoting myself here, but it's because I really want to know if anyone else picks up this hint of Alma-and-Monroe-are-soft-spiritual-buddies vibe.  I don't think the film is taking a pot shot at Monroe, he is just another symbol of the new West.  I think the knife is a meant as a mildly droll period touch, consistent with Monroe who undoubtedly likes neat, civilized looking slices.  A very nice contribution of the props people since it is not so specified in the screenplay.  Alma probably likes it too because it is not anything someone is going to come after her with.  Monroe cares about what Alma wants -  economically, socially, sexually, emotionally.  He probably would not object if she wanted to continue working after marriage whereas there are two scenes which showed Ennis unappreciative or unhappy about her working - the grocery, where it was interfering with her role as babysitter, and the swing scene where he was yelling at her running off to work because she 'took the extra shift' and so can't serve them up their supper (as if cooking it and leaving it on the stove weren't enough).  It's just conventional Hollywood films that take pot shots at less 'masculine' men - less masculine by dominant conservative male standards, not by female standards. 

People always begin reacting to extraordinary films as if they were looking at ordinary, manipulative ones.  They laugh where they think they're expected to laugh until it starts to break through to them that they are being given the opportunity to respond to this film as individuals.  Hence the titters, so quickly suppressed, when Alma sees Ennis and Jack the first time on the landing.
« Last Edit: January 07, 2006, 06:44:56 AM by andrew »

Offline evie

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Re: The other tragedies: Alma & Lureen
« Reply #73 on: January 07, 2006, 08:12:50 AM »
from Lynn:
Alma choosing Monroe for husband #2 says to me... economic security for her and especially her little girls. A very common reason for marriage, or re-marriage, especially in that time period. Recall her conversation with Ennis about not supporting new babies. Now she is pregnant again and living in a nice house.

You got it Lynn, I couldn't agree more! Alma had a hard life before. With Monroe, she probably even has a washing machine for laundry! Ennis had stopped sleeping with her, held a series of crappy low-paying jobs and had a thing going with another man. That marriage was going nowhere! We know that Alma wanted economic security from the scene where she urged Ennis to apply for a job with the power company.

PS -- I think Monroe was scared of Ennis and thus didn't respond sooner to any ruckus in the kitchen. Come on -- the tv wasn't that loud!

PPS -- The hair gel and bolero tie that Ennis wore for Thanksgiving were his respectful way of neatening up for the occasion.
Let 'er rip and snort boys

lynn

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Re: The other tragedies: Alma & Lureen
« Reply #74 on: January 07, 2006, 08:22:26 AM »
I don't think the film is taking a pot shot at Monroe, he is just another symbol of the new West.

Andrew, thanks for reminding me that one of Ang's themes is Old vs. New West, so I agree that Monroe represents the New. However, given that Ang layers every scene and image with so much meaning, I still think it was also a sly comment on Monroe's masculinity.

Eviegirl
, yes to your PS and PPS! Monroe was afraid (rightly so) and poor Ennis was just trying to fit in with Alma's fancier new setting. I noticed how horribly awkward he looked at that table.