Article Title:Die Mommy Die!
Category:Movies
Author or Credit:Chris Banks
Published on:8th June 2004 - 12:00 pm
Published by:GayNZ.com
Story ID:279
Text:DIE MOMMIE DIE! Dir: Mark Rucker, USA, 2003, 35mm, 90 mins Faded singer Angela Arden has money, fame and passionate affairs with many different men, but she is trapped in a gilded cage. Manacled to a has-been producer, despised by her daughter, there's nothing to do all day in her Hollywood mansion except wear outrageous costumes, make grand entrances, and be lit perfectly when walking into rooms. Yes, “Die Mommie Die” is a spoof, a homage (call it what you like) of so many pre-60s Hollywood melodramas starring the biggies; Joan Crawford, Bette Davis, Lana Turner…but what elevates this above pure schtick is the genius of Charles Busch, quite possibly one of the best drag actors ever. Many reviewers have talked of Busch's “channeling” of these divas of the past, but he has a style all his own (proved in the similarly entertaining and campy “Psycho Beach Party”) that is wonderfully post-modern. He manages to poke fun, pay tribute, and create something new all at the same time…it's hard to imagine, Production Code notwithstanding, Davis or Crawford being caught out in a spit-roast. Busch does the unexpected, always taking the audience by surprise. Dramatic moments and lines are thrown away with gay abandon, while he milks seemingly insignificant moments with killer reactions and hilarious line delivery. Every element of the production draws you into the world being created; fantastic music, costumes, lighting… and all this for a movie apparently made in only twenty days. Supporting characters include Angela's gay son, expelled from college for instigating an orgy in the common room; her bitchy daughter who seems a little too much of a Daddy's girl, her struggling producer husband who has a chronic constipation problem, her switch-hitting love interest who likes to keep it all in the family (played by Beverly Hills 90210's Jason Priestley), and the devoted maid with a Bible quote for all occasions (Frances Conroy from Six Feet Under). Some of these other characters do hang in Busch's shadow, but it's due to the strength of his performance rather than the weakness of any others. Everyone's stepped into just the right melodramatic gear, playing the genre for all its worth. Like all good camp, it's totally sincere, and totally hilarious. Often claimed as a drag diva, Busch deserves to be claimed as a diva – and comedic talent – for all persuasions. American reviewer Roger Ebert believes Crawford and Davis would have been insulted. I think he's missed the point. Chris Banks - 8th June 2004    
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