Saturday, November 10, 2007

slap shot

if you can get past some vicious anti-gay slurs, slap shot is kinda hot. not just because michael ontkean (later of making love + twin peaks) goes shirtless + pantless at the end of the movie in a way tame strip scene that's supposed to be shocking. not just because paul newman, as the coach of a washed-up hockey team, still looks dashing in his early 50s.

part of the hotness, for me anyway, derives from the 70s-style grit of the movie. it's of course phony hollywood grit, but it makes me nostalgic for an era in which human skin still had pores, bars + diners were still sort of mom+pop (with no strategic product placements), + a certain amount of unapologetic rudeness (or political incorrectness, if you prefer) could be tolerated, if not endorsed.

watching the film recently on dvd, i could almost smell the sweaty t-shirts, factory city smog, raw onions + mustard, diesel fumes, + stale beer.

the hanson brothers, three brutish siblings who room together + tour together with their toy trucks + racecars, + have no apparent interest in women, but megaloads of aggro attitude + worshipfully homosocial team spirit, are a big reason the movie's kinda hot. overgrown bully boys with long hair + matching hornrim glasses may just be a fetish of mine. i wish the movie had a scene of them in their threadbare skivvies snapping towels at each others' asses + roughhousing in their dingy motel room--now that would have been a 'deleted scene' worth including on dvd.

overall, slap shot is the kind of movie i remember as 'the norm' in the 1970s, so perhaps it just reminds me of my youth, + regrettably that quality also involves substantial disrespect for things gay. newman's character especially uses a character's reported homosexuality to coerce information from him + later insults a kid (i.e. a child) for having homosexual tendencies.

but, given the film's time frame + target audience, it's not all bad. some attempt is made to instill a feminist subtext to a film whose main selling point is its boyish fascism. there's a likable lesbian character, + even while strong-arming a presumed gay man, newman's character declares his openness to new sex norms, + later, when an opponent taunts him by saying he sucks cock, newman's blue eyes twinkle as he replies, 'all i can get.'

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