Chinese or Pizza?
by ALEX CARNEVALE
dir. James Gray
Ah, yes. The choice between the wealthy shiksa and the wealthy Jew betch. It is the choice that every young Jewish man (Joaquin Phoenix???) must make at one time or another. It is the choice at the heart of James Gray's Two Lovers, which takes place in Brighton Bay.
I have a friend who is currently dating two women. He was upset this film was released, and so am I. The deepest desire of the male Jew must not be exposed at all costs. We are a secretive breed of hairy animals that live purely for black and white photography and rooftop intercourse with privileged white women.
The shiksa in question is the famed acting virtuoso Gwyneth Paltrow playing Michelle, a troubled blonde temptress who lives in the same building as an unsuspected Jewish family with an older. troubled son. Watching women age is always a kind of justice, and even more so since that American Express commercial proved for a fact that Gwyneth is a larger tool than her fair trade husband. To be fair, she actually looks good in this movie, proving more women should wear hoop earrings and take drugs when they're pregnant.
"I'm so lost, Leonard," Michelle is constantly saying. She's seeing a married man, the absolutely awesome Elias Koteas. She never makes you forget for an instant who exactly she is, rendering the entire situation a tad unbelievable. But that's okay, because we want to know Leonard has no business caring about her just because she's a tasty little blonde treat. Gwyneth's idea of acting is saying Leonard a lot. She also shows her left tit, but only once, and you more feel sorry for her than anything. This is something like reality. Every time I see a left tit, I tend to feel quite upset afterwards.
At one point Leonard says, "You think if I got to know you I wouldn't love you, but I already know you and I love you even more." I laughed my balls off. The rest of the theater was not as amused. Really Leonard loves his mother (Isabella Rossellini) but he's unable to marry and wed her: his damnable laundry-owning father already has. My non-Jewish reading audience will never understand just how annoying this is — their mothers don't look like Rossellini, and they shop at Pottery Barn.
Amidst the slight tremors of anti-Semitism, Leonard's father encourages him to date the daughter of a rival Jewish launderer, even sending her to fuck Leonard in the man's own home. Soon enough Sandra (Vinessa Shaw) is telling Leonard that she'll take care of him, that she loved him ever since she saw him ask his mother to dance. If I even could recall how often people have told me that.
Like most Jewish males, Leonard believes himself to be one f'd up little piece. If I had seen this movie in the mid 1990s, I could have saved myself a lot of trouble. Leonard's implausible backstory is that he dated a woman for whom he was a Tay-Sachs match, so her family broke it up. (This is probably in itself a fake sad story to appeal to new women, but a lie is a fashion by which the Jew is able to procure a shiksa, and it makes for a convincing story when Leonard tells it by rote.)
The second lover, Sandra, is a made to order Yiddish female, notable more for what doesn't distinguish her than what does. She's a pharmaceutical rep for Pfizer, and she bores poor Leonard to tears. Played by the stunning Shaw, I immediately tracked down this woman's Maxim gallery after the film was over.
The Jewish female is typecast to me, but a revelation to other people who might not have the extensive, priceless information I have learned by rote in how Jewish woman view marriage, sex, and their respective future. I would just as soon marry a Jewish woman as stick a knife in my arm, an inevitability that Leonard has already accomplished, with a CGI scar to show for it.
Choosing between the shiksa and the Jew betch is finally one onerous process, let me tell you. Since my father is Sicilian, he doesn't understand this dilemma. You can't really understand a Jewish woman unless you're a Jewish man. You came from her. It doesn't get any more real than that.
It's unfortunate that being slightly more believable than the incredible implausibilities of most movies now accounts for realism. Does anyone even watch Cassavetes or Rohmer? Nevermind. This is the only movie out I would ever dream of seeing. I'm just a sucker for Jewish fantasy stories. It's why I love E.T.
Alex Carnevale is the editor of This Recording. He tumbls right here.
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