Archive for the ‘Brokeback Mountain’ Category

So How Do You Feel About Vaginal Penetration?

June 15, 2009

Okay, so that is a quite a headline. I think I’ll tag ‘vaginal penetration’ in the labels for this post and watch the hits per day skyrocket for about twenty-four hours. But it caught your eye, did it not? I’m going to try to be a mature adult about this situation, despite how humorous anything is when you add ‘vaginal’ to it.

Slashfilm posted an interesting article about the differences in the American Rating System (MPAA) and the UK’s rating system. The reference film they used for this is the upcoming horror/drama Anti-Christ, which is supposed to be a great film, but one that pushes a lot of boundaries. Did I say push? I’m sorry, I meant ‘masturbate to climax’ all over, since that’s one of the scenes depicted in this movie. Along with that scene, it is reported that the film shows unsimulated sex. That is, the act hinted at in the headline, actual insertion of a male phallus into a female chalice, a rhyme so perfect it can’t be coincidence.

Despite these scenes, along with some others (a woman gives herself a clitoris-ectomy, making me wonder how much Satan was actually involved in this film), the British rating system is giving the film a distributed release with a rating of ’18,’ which means nobody under 18 is allowed in the theater. It’s analogous to the NC-17 rating in the U.S., except we never see those ratings because theaters won’t show the films for fear of a loss of profits. In the UK, however, no fear exists and these films do just fine. For instance, Hostel was released as 18 in Britain, which meant nobody under 18 could get in, regardless of a parent of guardian’s presence. In the U.S., any dumb-ass dad was allowed to bring in his three-year-old son and scar him for life with images of torture and self-castration, something I’m sure way too many parents actually did.

But to the point! This film is getting released because the only reason for holding it back would be if it were to display ‘sex acts’ that are deemed ‘pornographic.’ The BBFC has decided Anti-Christ has no such scenes, but is a serious drama not meant to illicit any sort of sexual response.

First off, I’m not going to get into the artistic philosophical debate of “Does it matter when penetration is shown?” This is similar to the point the South Park creator Trey Parker makes when he notices that when they swear for comedy it’s seen ‘garbage,’ but when a serious drama does it it’s ‘art.’ For the sake of brevity, I’m going to avoid the whole pornographic/serious drama argument, partly because I can kind see where they’re coming from. But I still commented on the article, saying how I find it completely unnecessary to show penetration and that it was done for a cheep shock value, regardless of the movie’s dramatic tone. Thus began a sort of minor debate, where I predicted the first response would be, “Well what if the director wanted it to be shocking?”

Well no shit. You don’t show the snake go into the cave if you’re not trying to make some sort of statement. My point was that it is a cheap way to shock people, and one that is completely misguided. The shock will be seeing, on a megaplex screen, mind you, a close up of a gigantic erect penis doing what it was meant to do. This is not what the ‘shock’ in ‘shock value’ should be. This image would be shocking if seen anywhere, Billboards, pamphlets, on the side of the Mcdonald’s Happy-Meal box, it’ll surprise you regardless of context (unless, of course, you’re seeking it out). The shock should come from the situation, the characters involved, the emotions they have, their motivations, etc. etc. etc., none of which require me to squirm uncomfortably in a theater while two people engage in the most private of activities. (Hasn’t anybody read Brave New World?)

If this were, perhaps, an unusual (ahem) penetration… That is, if there is something that just cannot be implied subtly, maybe that would justify this. Otherwise, it’s just showing regular old penetration, for the sake of being ‘daring,’ so the audience can say, “Oh, wow this director showed penetration. How artsy.” So I’m going to guess it’s showing penetration just for the sake of showing it, which is something that does not need to be exposed. I’ve written about the art of subtlety before, and how too many sex scenes forget the word even exists, but this is an example of someone that really needs to brush up on the skills needed to be implicit rather than explicit. I don’t need to see such “privileged access,” I know what’s going on down there, thanks.

I also feel like it’s going to detract from the movie, much like the sex scene in Brokeback Mountain. What’s the first thing most people think about when that movie is mentioned? Cowboy tent-sex. Was that the point of the movie? No. But Ang Lee wanted to be revolutionary and put in something that most people haven’t seen before. But now instead of thinking about what is actually a pretty tragic and moving love story, we think about the late Heath Ledger using spit for jiffy lube. I understand the motive here, but perhaps less would have been more in that first foray into mainstream gay cinema. Such will be the case with this sex scene in Anti-Christ. Too many people will be saying, “Can you believed they showed that, OMG?” than actually considering the larger points of the movie. Remember Dr. Manhattan’s blue penis? And that was computer animated and not done for shock value, but as part of the character, and way too many imbeciles couldn’t stop talking about it, while making ‘blue balls’ jokes that were never funny.

I’m also wondering if the penis we’re going to be seeing so much of will be Willem Defoe’s. He’s so creepy looking he just might do it, but I don’t think I’ll enjoy watching him jerk off with his Green Goblin frown and evil eyes…

So what, am I just prude? I don’t think you can say, since ‘penetration’ is found way too often in this article. But what are your thoughts on artistic sexual acts? Sometimes needed, or too gratuitous?

In other news, this is theboxofficejunkie’s 200th post! What better way to spend in than talking about vaginal penetration? 

Why Can’t Kate Winslet Keep Her Clothes On?

April 3, 2009

I’m going to say this despite the harsh criticism I’m going to take for it: watching Jack Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger “go at it” in Brokeback Mountain made me uncomfortable. “Why?” You ask angrily, “Why is it okay to show HETEROsexual people having sex but not HOMOsexual people having sex, hmm? Is it less beautiful? INTOLERANCE!”

I don’t know what just happened, or why you’re yelling at me. The thing is, I am uncomfortable in a lot of sex scenes. I find it very strange, sitting in a crowded theatre and watching two people share what should be a private intimate moment. “Prude!” I hear you say. “It’s art!” And again, I’ll retort: it CAN be art, but it isn’t always. If the mere act of showing consummation were art, Debbie Does Dallas would be a modern day Mona Lisa. There’s a time and there’s a place for sex scenes, and a lot of the times they aren’t use properly.*
There’s also an art form known as subtlety, which is what is vanishing in today’s love scenes. I remember watching In Harm’s Way starring John Wayne. To make it clear that he and this woman were about to get their freak on, it showed her smile and take off one shoe. That might be an extreme in the other direction, but it still gets the point across. Would it have been better to show their bodies entangled in a three minute love scene? Do I really lose a sense of the romance in Titanic when all I can see of the sex between Jack and Rose is a hand print on a steamy window?

Which brings me to the star of the article: recent Academy Award winner for Best Actress, Kate Winslet. Many actresses have a no-nudity clause in their contracts; I think Winslet’s has a nudity-requirement. The chick can’t star in a movie without stripping down. I saw The Reader recently, and for the first third wondered if she won the award for having the most frequent, uncomfortable sex scenes imaginable. If you have seen it, you might know what I’m talking about, and I defy you to tell me they were all necessary. We get it, the young man and the older lady have a lot of sex. Like a lot. Like so much sex it makes Pamela Anderson jealous.
But we really don’t need to see it. And here’s the thing, the rest of the film absolutely thrives on subtlety. And it’s incredible. The second two-thirds of that movie, where there is an actual plot and not just incessant boning, presented some of the best scenes I’ve ever… seen (damn Homophones…). You could have cut fifteen minutes of the film without it losing anything. And to assuage Kate Winslet we can still have her get naked. I’m not saying NO sex scenes, I’m just saying it became incredibly absurd when every four minutes another one pops up (no pun intended… I made it worse, didn’t I?)
It’s a fine line, and I’m sure there are many opinions on the subject. I think it can be done right, and it can be done wrong. The Reader‘s were a little frequent. If it’s a comedy, it damn well better be hilarious or it will come off as insanely awkward (see: Knocked Up). I might argue (I’d have to mull this over) that a sex scene must show more than love, lust, or passion, because those can all be conveyed other ways, and if it is used to show those things it must be very careful. I’m sure there will be disagreements, go ahead and post them!

*To Brokeback fans, I know what the point was. It was to make all those people comfortable with heterosexual love scenes be confronted by a homosexual one. I maintain it wasn’t necessary to tell the story it was trying to tell, or that it could have been done differently. In fact, I think it took something away from the movie, as it is now primarily remembered for it’s ‘shocking’ sex scene than for the love story it actually told.

**Kate Winslet has recently said she will no longer be nude as her children are getting to that age when it’s awkward. Evidently she forgot about DVDs and the internet…

We’re Sad To See You Go, Heath

January 23, 2008

     It’s always a sad day in Hollywood when a truly great actor is lost, and on Tuesday, we lost one of our most promising actors.  Heath Ledger was found dead in his New York apartment yesterday, and I’m sure you’ve seen the story on the news by now.  Say whatever you want about the man’s personal life (he had a few issues), but he could act, and since he kept a low profile, he was always most notable for his acting skills than tabloid fodder.  Whether belting a ballad from the bleachers in 10 Things I Hate About You, fighting for his brother and country in The Patriot, or mourning his unfulfilled love of Jack Twist in Brokeback Mountain, Heath Ledger took chances and impressed audiences everywhere.  I can say, without a doubt, that his performance as Ennis Del Mar in 2005’s Brokeback Mountain will go down as one of the riskiest, restrained, powerful performances of our time.  Presently, Heath can be seen portraying Bob Dylan in He’s Not There, and this summer, he can be seen in his final role as the Joker in The Dark Knight.  Heath Ledger was just 28 years old, and he will be terribly missed.  Rest in peace.