Posts Tagged ‘sex’

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A film 50 years past its expiration date?

I got the feeling that this didn’t translate well, and that the main draw was in the poetic language of the prose. The characters are dismal and pointless for the most part. The plot is slim to none.

What the book is famous for is opening up new possibilities to the squares of the early 50s. It was a stifling time of conformity and blinkers. Kerouac is credited with going the opposite way and pushing the boundaries of what people expected America to be. Obsessed with jazz and inebriation, he made an homage to this counterculture in the form of a rambling poem/journal.

Kerouac was apparently smitten with his friend, a charismatic grifter type who felt no responsibility to anyone or anything, named Dean Moriarty. The story seems to take a perspective on Moriarty, painting him as an immature sociopath.

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Only, it’s not enough to keep this thing interesting. I may be jaded in the modern age where a lot of shit happens on screen. In that I’m not alone. This story was simply aimed at another time and another place. The revelations weren’t particularly shocking or poignant. The statements made weren’t particularly groundbreaking.

What’s more it felt episodic and repetitive. A lot of driving around the country, endless miles, but why? A pointless randomness guides these people, and that was once hailed as revolutionary or unique, but it seems more lame and wasteful now. I don’t mind the idea of going out exploring, but these characters don’t find anything, not anything noteworthy. Their little lives are sad perhaps, but not the stuff of legend.

So in the end it felt like much ado about nothing.

2/5

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The pacing and plot lacked.  Despite a beautiful and talented lead, and the talents of Heather Graham and James Franco, this melodrama didn’t really deliver especially, in terms of plot and story execution, anyway.

This slow character study is filmed gorgeously, but a lack of urgency or strong motivation leaves it a bit flat (no pun intended).

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On later reflection though, it has a method to its madness.  The theme involves the legitimacy or illegitimacy of stripping and of pornography.  It tries to locate where lines should be drawn and how society falls back on reactionary Puritanism, despite being impure itself.

Some obvious choices, and the expected character study beats.  It does get a bit interesting as it changes venues up to San Francisco.  The introduction of Heather Graham takes the story to new areas and considerations.

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I can’t help but think on how reactionary Puritanism is wielded like a bludgeon in the real world, by opportunists.  I can’t help but remember James Bamford’s (mostly obvious) revelations: NSA “exploiting” U.S. Citizens’ online porn viewingThis ties into blackmail, as revealed by NSA Satellite Analyst Russell Tice.  As NSA becomes more pervasive, targeting not just the powerful and noteworthy, but also lower and lower levels of unfriendlies (or even unfavored business competitors), the pornography card will be wielded against targeted individuals.

So back to About Cherry, the narrative seems to have been produced and supported by known name stars because of its underlying message: there are lines of course, but porn is decidedly a legitimate racket.

The film actually comes up a bit ambiguous on even that point, but the question remains and lingers.  The repercussions of this question, this avenue for blackmail and pressure to apply to people across the society, are serious.  Political leverage is always a serious business.  The nature of the Age of Surveillance itself is now metastasizing before us.  Now that’s not in the movie, and it came from my own experience and knowledge of these matters.  What came from the movie is whether our adult daughters should be photographing other adult daughters, if they want to do it?

And then what?

3/5

 

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“People get rich complaining about this shit.  Complaining is a respected industry.”

This is a mockumentary about the fashion industry, that’s rather edgy in its black comedy.  (A different film of the same title was released in 1999.)  A new top fashion model endures the depravity of the business, but not so well it turns out.  She dies right in the middle of her biggest photo shoot.

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With her death the centerpiece of the film, the nutty and exploitative cast of characters are confronted about what they do and why.  This is not a well-loved film, and yet it was far more interesting in concept than the Robert Altman fashion industry film Ready to Wear (Prêt-à-Porter).

Many issues are touched upon, including the nature of for-profit documentaries themselves.  Everyone has an angle to play, especially when the dead model is used to sell clothes, post-mortem.  Turns out that supermodels are worth more dead than alive.

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The blitzkrieg of artsy bullshit and rationalization which follows calls into question not just these industries, but the consumers who are ultimately responsible for them.  That includes the movie audience.  It’s discomforting by design, intended to disturb.  That’s probably why it remains under the radar…

 

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I rent a lot of indie attempts.  This one takes on sex addiction, and it looked like it might have enough laughs to sustain it.  The trailer seemed tepid and slow, but I gave it a shot anyway.

It is definitely slow paced and lacking action.  Talk is the driving factor, and this does grate.  The opening is not going to appeal to generation ADHD.

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Good news is that it gets more interesting with the arrival of Pink and a couple complications.  More serious, with higher stakes, the story still meanders a bit, but at least it’s not a crawl.

This is a story for older people, and the actors involved are aging noticeably.  Tim Robbins has gone full grey, and Mark Ruffalo shows his wear and tear.

The writer/director is a first-timer.  He’s not such a visual wizard, but simply shoots the drama of the script.  It’s a passable film, but you might find better picks elsewhere.

3/5

 

[I didn't know about this, and I have praised Allen's films in the past (not him personally).  It is only right to hear this side of the story.]

 

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Dylan Farrow

What’s your favorite Woody Allen movie? Before you answer, you should know: when I was seven years old, Woody Allen took me by the hand and led me into a dim, closet-like attic on the second floor of our house. He told me to lay on my stomach and play with my brother’s electric train set. Then he sexually assaulted me. He talked to me while he did it, whispering that I was a good girl, that this was our secret, promising that we’d go to Paris and I’d be a star in his movies. I remember staring at that toy train, focusing on it as it traveled in its circle around the attic. To this day, I find it difficult to look at toy trains.

For as long as I could remember, my father had been doing things to me that I didn’t like. I didn’t like how often he would take me away from my mom, siblings and friends to be alone with him. I didn’t like it when he would stick his thumb in my mouth. I didn’t like it when I had to get in bed with him under the sheets when he was in his underwear. I didn’t like it when he would place his head in my naked lap and breathe in and breathe out. I would hide under beds or lock myself in the bathroom to avoid these encounters, but he always found me. These things happened so often, so routinely, so skillfully hidden from a mother that would have protected me had she known, that I thought it was normal. I thought this was how fathers doted on their daughters. But what he did to me in the attic felt different. I couldn’t keep the secret anymore.

When I asked my mother if her dad did to her what Woody Allen did to me, I honestly did not know the answer. I also didn’t know the firestorm it would trigger. I didn’t know that my father would use his sexual relationship with my sister to cover up the abuse he inflicted on me. I didn’t know that he would accuse my mother of planting the abuse in my head and call her a liar for defending me. I didn’t know that I would be made to recount my story over and over again, to doctor after doctor, pushed to see if I’d admit I was lying as part of a legal battle I couldn’t possibly understand. At one point, my mother sat me down and told me that I wouldn’t be in trouble if I was lying – that I could take it all back. I couldn’t. It was all true. But sexual abuse claims against the powerful stall more easily. There were experts willing to attack my credibility. There were doctors willing to gaslight an abused child.

After a custody hearing denied my father visitation rights, my mother declined to pursue criminal charges, despite findings of probable cause by the State of Connecticut – due to, in the words of the prosecutor, the fragility of the “child victim.” Woody Allen was never convicted of any crime. That he got away with what he did to me haunted me as I grew up. I was stricken with guilt that I had allowed him to be near other little girls. I was terrified of being touched by men. I developed an eating disorder. I began cutting myself. That torment was made worse by Hollywood. All but a precious few (my heroes) turned a blind eye. Most found it easier to accept the ambiguity, to say, “who can say what happened,” to pretend that nothing was wrong. Actors praised him at awards shows. Networks put him on TV. Critics put him in magazines. Each time I saw my abuser’s face – on a poster, on a t-shirt, on television – I could only hide my panic until I found a place to be alone and fall apart.

Last week, Woody Allen was nominated for his latest Oscar. But this time, I refuse to fall apart. For so long, Woody Allen’s acceptance silenced me. It felt like a personal rebuke, like the awards and accolades were a way to tell me to shut up and go away. But the survivors of sexual abuse who have reached out to me – to support me and to share their fears of coming forward, of being called a liar, of being told their memories aren’t their memories – have given me a reason to not be silent, if only so others know that they don’t have to be silent either.

Today, I consider myself lucky. I am happily married. I have the support of my amazing brothers and sisters. I have a mother who found within herself a well of fortitude that saved us from the chaos a predator brought into our home.

But others are still scared, vulnerable, and struggling for the courage to tell the truth. The message that Hollywood sends matters for them.

What if it had been your child, Cate Blanchett? Louis CK? Alec Baldwin? What if it had been you, Emma Stone? Or you, Scarlett Johansson? You knew me when I was a little girl, Diane Keaton. Have you forgotten me?

Woody Allen is a living testament to the way our society fails the survivors of sexual assault and abuse.

So imagine your seven-year-old daughter being led into an attic by Woody Allen. Imagine she spends a lifetime stricken with nausea at the mention of his name. Imagine a world that celebrates her tormenter.

Are you imagining that? Now, what’s your favorite Woody Allen movie?

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Censored from the history books…

GUARDIAN VIDEO

 

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I indulge some guilty pleasures, stuff from Showtime and HBO, as many do.  It’s usually more engrossing than the network TV universe, with naked people and bad behaviors.  I’ve gone in for the L-Word, The Tudors, Weeds and recently gave a shot to Californication, starring David Duchovny and Natascha McElhone.

This hyper-real often silly show spouts dialogue that is so over the top and accelerated that no one really talks that way.  Stuffed with sarcasm, allusions, metaphors and anger, the show combines the ridiculous with a deeply flawed and dramatic main character arc.   People like watching others self-destruct, and David Duchovny makes a sport of it.

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I had to keep watching because Hank Moody’s family struck a relevant chord with my own experiences.  Not the steady stream of sex and alcohol, unfortunately, but the female members of his on-screen family unit.  Moody’s situation is one of an exceptional and often estranged middle-aged father trying to keep his family together as their teenaged daughter matures and drifts away.  His relationship with his wife Karen is epically strained, and no woman in her right mind would ever return to Moody.

That’s one of the weaknesses of the show.  Karen is pulled around like a puppet, constantly.  She lacks the agency needed for this to be taken seriously.  They try to put Karen in the driver’s seat, but it’s always a response to Moody’s crass infidelities.  Duchovny’s voodoo hold over womankind is taken to laughable extremes.  He’s a philanderer, an arrogant loudmouth and a drunk.  His excesses push farther than viewers might expect.

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I think Californication is a bell-wether of our nihilistic, self-absorbed age.  As in Wolf of Wall Street it’s our culture, and it’s real enough.  We are the new Romans drowning mindlessly in our excess and depravity.  There isn’t much to redeem these characters.  Human, yes.  Heroes?  Not on your life.

 

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No spoilers.

Amazing, nothing short of amazing.  Dicaprio’s tour de force performance helps lay bare the moral depravity of Wall Street better than Michael Moore could dream of doing.

Wolf of Wall Street is a black comedy about an anti-hero who represents the ultimate ugly American.  He’s the cornerstone of an ugly empire, in this case a Wall Street trading firm that does what Wall Street trading firms do: take money from suckers and put it into their own pockets.

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As an up and comer, a nobody, not born to the manor, Dicaprio’s guy might just be fair game, a sacrificial lamb to draw attention away from the rest.  In its totality, Wolf is a smart, meaningful, sexy, groundbreaking piece of American cinema that lays bare the obscenity of Wall Street rape and pillage.  Scorsese tops Wall Street films that have come before and goes balls out, full bore.

I’m really glad we made it to the opening day of Wolf.  Some scenes had me laughing my ass off — and not everyone at the packed house got it.  Some stunned faces, some grumbling.   Great movie.

Continued:

Wolf: Scorsese’s Best Film?

 

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MPAA now in the crosshairs…

Soloway directed this year’s Afternoon Delight, a story about a housewife, played by Kathryn Hahn, who discovers she likes to get it on far more and in different ways than she’d previously thought. In a discussion of her film, Soloway reveals that to get the film the R she promised to her distributors she had to cut the scenes depicting women enjoying having sex…

The MPAA is happy to give a pass to “boys being boys,” but any picture that portrays a woman taking pleasure in sex on her terms should be treated like obscene material.

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Strong performances from all involved, and an unexpected turn elevate this biopic.  Linda Lovelace’s story of coming of age and rising to stardom is worth noting for a couple of reasons.

She became an icon, largely the result of being in the right place at the right time.  Taboos were fading fast, and oral sex was suddenly out of the closet.  Now that it was suddenly permissible to mention it in the media, the wave of success swept up Lovelace unexpectedly.

Across the spectrum this sexual discussion became a joke, a source of ridicule and even a symbol of liberation and empowerment.  The idea of empowerment through porn is exposed during the film when set against the reality.  It was a disempowering experience, in the extreme.  A strong patriarchal oppression runs throughout both her home life and in the larger society.

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Her life and the narrative take a hard turn because of a particular party, the pimp whom she married.  The film has a real bad guy, and he’s the central focus.  The story is based on Lovelace’s telling in her book, and events are filtered through her.  She may not be a completely reliable narrator, and then again the filmmakers may not have included enough of the story for it to make several points clear.  They did keep the movie moving along pretty well though, and the look and feel are fluid and cinematic

What is clear is the abuse that she suffered at the hands of her husband, and that he was the motivating factor to push her into that world.

 

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Article complains that sex, violence, torture and rape are allowed on US television, but not a girl masturbating.  Explanations?  (I don’t watch TV.)

Why female pleasure — not sex — is the real taboo on primetime television