A Time Of Change

On top of Mystic River and Million Dollar Baby, Clint Eastwood has surely now overridden (for my generation) his iconic cowboy identity with that of a brilliant director, as his new movie The Changeling hits the UK box office, a film that also secures Angelina Jolie as the focused and serious actress that she clearly wants to be, hopefully putting her ridiculous Lara Croft, big-lipped, Brad-bagging, Africaphilic media persona to rest.

The Changeling is much darker and far-fetched than anyone was expecting. Even those familiar with the true life story of Christine Collins could not have expected the dramatic sepia-tinged scenes of savage child murder, face-wrenching electrocution, scream-fuelled public hanging and two-faced police sadism that are delivered. The film moves in slow waves, the plot devices gradually trumping themselves in succession until the wide cooling pools of Jolie’s eyes are our only sanctuary in what becomes a horrific and sinister psychopathic tale of multi-levelled crime and punishment.

Socially and politically The Changeling explores a lot of territory: faith in authority, women’s rights, religion as a reactionary force, legal procedures and generally the human condition. Still, there is something oddly nouveau-puritan about the film’s message, promoting maternal domesticity, chivalric masculinity, God’s infinite levels of forgiveness. The media is refreshingly represented as a philanthropic and illuminating force, as is the pastor played by John Malkovich.

Robert Hanks suggested in The Independent that Clint Eastwood’s “rather syrupy music” was perhaps relied upon too much to give The Changeling its sense of melodrama. I disagree here. The soundtrack is effectively harrowing as it often emerges unexpectedly during otherwise quite passive moments. The film’s major composition has minimal, creeping crescendos and a melody that is strikingly similar to the strings arrangements on Justin Timberlake’s What Goes Around, contributing for a younger audience towards the eerie ways in which The Changeling successfully strokes the perimeters of contemporary Hollywood parallels.

The ending attempts to be ethereal but is dissatisfactory as Angelina Jolie claims to have felt a kind of catharsis built on the hope that her son may still be alive, despite the overwhelming odds that he has either starved to death or been brutally axe murdered in a chicken pen. She walks away as the credits begin to rise, a changed and newly-confident woman, but in reality Christine Collins was an innocent and level-headed mother who the police emotionally damaged and physically abused beyond repair.
The seemingly low-minded and erratic killing of the boys for me operated as a microcosm of the wider portrayal of crime and punishment, the hypocritical injustice of the death penalty and the figurative violence of selfish bureacracy.
Watch the trailer for The Changeling:
Words: Jack Cullen

Princess Andy Warhol Wraps Himself Around Naked French Rugby Stars

I laughed out loud yesterday when Stade Francais came out (onto the pitch…but almost in all senses) in their third snazzy jersey from Adidas. Everyone thought the bright pink lilies kit was pushing the masculinity boat out, but things just got inconcievably more gay:

An Andy Warhol inspired multicoloured image of Blanche de Castille, a 13th century French queen who was married to the flambuoyant and frivolous Louis VIII, her mysterious passive expression evokes a level of sensitiviy and romance while her large crown is like a prop from an Elton John ball . The border material is a sort of cowgirl denim print, reminiscent of Madonna’s Don’t Tell Me phase. Andy himself would be absolutely delighted if he knew his artistic legacy was strapped around the vessel-like chests of France’s most major rugby team, if not a little jealous of this close proximity between his work and his fantasies.

French rugby stars have challenged masculine codes for a while now, perfectly exemplified through their Dieux Du Stade naked calendar series, an annually bestselling erotic publication that blends the neoclassical with male fitness ideals, aristocratic settings and gay porn. Football stars have been doing this sort of thing for decades, with Beckham being on shoot almost as much as he’s on the pitch.

To see the papers all buzzing about a new rugby kit is a really exciting development in sport, I’ve never bought a rugby kit for casual wear but now I am suddenly tempted, it will be interesting to see if the hairier and more beer-prone end of France's rugger buggers will be brave enough to dare such an outrageous design. Adidas have continued to smash high street boundaries with their radical colour schemes, international inspirations like the popular Kingston Jamaica range, and collaborating with top end designers like Stella McCartney. Rugby has very traditional and muddy British origins, so it is pleasing to see worldwide liberality and vintage American pop art glamour making its mark on the sport. Suddenly red and blue kits seem terribly passé.

England now needs to rise to this sartorial challenge. I’m thinking Vivienne Westwood, blown up images of a tiara-clad Diana, with a fluorescent yellow and hot pink Sex Pistols background. What do you reckon?
Down Below: Some shots from a Dieux Du Stade calendar. A nice little earner for the gym-addicted frogs, somehow I can't picture Phil Vickery or Jamie Noon making it a sideline career yet.

Words: Jack Cullen - owgigi@hotmail.com