Friday, October 05, 2007

Behold one of the best screen kisses I've seen in a long time. It was tender and bittersweet, and the couple is gorgeous. From one of the best movies of the year--I think--Eastern Promises. Just came out last week. Loved the sexual tension between the two characters, but it's not a Romance. It's probably the most violent movie I've seen in a while. But, okay, I went for Viggo. If he's in the cast, I'm there.

So I open the Friday Entertainment section of the paper this morning, and I see that Hollywood is pumping up the raunchy sex for the holiday season, citing the latest Ben Stiller/Farrelly bros collaboration, Heartbreak Kid. They did There's Something About Mary, which I loved. But the trailers for this one don't interest me. I could be wrong. But the premise doesn't seem to go with 6th grade boy humor, which I enjoyed in Knocked Up and 40-Year Old Virgin, but the premise of HK doesn't sound like it would work for me. According to the Strib, "There's never been so much sex and skin in theaters." Graphic violence seems to be hitting a new high, too. For me, theses are elements that only work in the hands of a master storyteller. Otherwise, it's just titillation, which, on its own, pretty much turns me off.

I want character, and Eastern Promises has it in spades. Viggo plays the "driver" for a Russian mob boss's son. He's wonderful. I don't know whether he's actually fluent in Russian, but I was convinced. He plays this mysterious character with such restraint that you can't take your eyes off him lest you miss some nuance. You know he's dangerous, but it's more about what you're conviced he could do than anything he actually does. Well, until those thugs attack him in the steam room. Yep, that's quite a scene. Yep, the full monty. But it's not gratuitous. It's ... you have to see it. I looked away from a couple of parts of this movie, but not this part. Not that I considered the violence gratuitous, but I'm a wimp when the bloodletting looks real. But when the story is this gripping, I can look away for a few seconds and appreciate the fact that this is about real people caught up in a real-world situation that ain't pretty.
But they have their pretty side, their good side.

Can we talk about personal boundaries regarding sex and violence in our entertainment? Any examples of popular stuff that just didn't work for you? Anything that really (and maybe surprisingly) did?

14 comments:

Helen Brenna said...

Okay, I'll be honest. I can't wait to see Viggo naked. (Good thing my mom isn't computer literate!)

He speaks Spanish and Danish, fluently, and I read he learned a little Russian for this film, but he's not fluent.

As far as boundaries go - I hate rape scenes. I especially hate rape scenes where they try to make it look like the woman likes it. If she likes it, it's not rape, so don't screw around with me.

Anonymous said...

I can't watch rape scenes either. Even if the movie is based on a book I've read and I know it's coming I can't watch it.

Liza

Kathleen Eagle said...

I'm more squeamish about some body parts than others. Eyes. I hate graphic violence to the eyes.

Debra Dixon said...

Yeah, I don't like the eye gouging. I don't like people pulled apart. I had trouble with the Speilberg WWII movie where they were dying left and right on the beach, being blow up. Great movie but once I knew how graphic that opening was I just looked away until we were mostly done.

"Good" bad violence might be when Bond (Daniel Craig) was naked in that seatless chair and the bad guy was pounding his...um...boys by swinging the knotted end of a rope up under there. Youch!! That made me wince but it was cutting someone up.

flip said...

I don't get why anyone would go to a slasher movie. The commercials for these movies make me ill. I am a person who grew up on Hitchcock films. While those films were scary, they were not grossing people out.

Sex depends on the situation. I let my teen daughters watch A Dangerous Beauty in which the sex had a purpose in the film. The heroine was forced by circumstance to be a prostitute but she refused to ashame of herself. On the other hand, I find so much sex in teen movies inappropriate. You have 20 something actors and actress acing like sex is just a commonplace experience for teens.

True story...my 12 year old daughter was complaining loudly about not being allowed to watch R-rated movies. She was leading a protest with her older brother and younger brother. I was explaining that I would make a movie by movie decision on what movies they could watch. Amber informed me that she knew all about sex. I explained that my objection was to inappropriate sex scenes. Shane chimed in, "I know when sex is appropriate." I asked when? He stated: "During private time."

Kaitlin said...

Violence doesn't bother me, but gratuitous sex does. If the sex really doesn't have anything to do with the plot, then it drives me batty.

That and excessive cussing. Do you know anyone who talks like most characters do? I do, but they're usually young 20's or teens, not fully grown adults.

Kathleen Eagle said...

The rape scene that bothered me most of any movie was the one at the beginning of "Thelma and Louise." I almost left the theater.

Kathleen Eagle said...

Deb, the Bond torture didn't bother me that much. I couldn't really fell it, you know?

But remember the dentist in "Marathon Man"? That's a good example of masterful filming. You didn't have to see much. All you needed was the sound of the drill. Man, I could feel that right down to my toes.

I hate it when they rip off fingernails. And the recent George Clooney torture in "Syriana." If they can get you with the anticipation it's so much more effective than guts and gore. I think.

Kristina Wright said...

Hi, ladies! Love your blog (and I have a convertible, too!)

What was the Mel Gibson movie where they taped his eyelids open? Ewww... hated that.

The violent sex (don't think I'd call it rape) scene in A History of Violence (also starring cutie pie Viggo) was painfully raw and emotional to watch. I know some people didn't think it belonged, but there was something compelling about it that convinced me it was an integral scene to that movie. (Which was violent enough that I had to turn my head a couple of times.)

Kathleen Eagle said...

Kristina, I agree with you on the scene in "A History of Violence." That's a movie that really makes you think about human nature. Man is the deadliest of all animals, they say, and we nod. That movie makes you do more than nod. And it's based on a graphic novel.

Kristina Wright said...

Kathleen, I only recently discovered it was a graphic novel and it put the movie in a different context for me. The stark violence is intense, but it works when played against the layered character development.

~Kristina

Anonymous said...

I don't go to movies very often, and when I do, I want to be entertained. I HATE graphic violence, constant swearing (if I don't hang out with friends who say F this and F that, why pay money to be around it?)and I refuse to see a movie that includes rape or children being hurt. Life is too short to sit through a movie and have to ENDURE, rather than enjoy, it.

Sex, in context, doesn't bother me. I loved most of LOVE, ACTUALLY, and there was plenty of sex in that, but it made sense in the story.

I think the old movies were much sexier, because they had to imply a lot. The scene in TO HAVE AND TO HAVE NOT, "You know have to whistle don't you Steve....." WOW

That said, I don't think most movies today are being made for 40 something mid-western moms like me, or there would be more love, less sex, and the violence wouldn't be there for the sake of it--there would be a reason, and it would be limited.

Are you sorry you asked, Kathleen?

Betina Krahn said...

Kathy, I really, really liked this movie... Eastern Promises. It was violent, but it was also human and Naomi was good-- if a little too stupid to live sometimes. But Viggo was beyond fabulous! He seems thinner than he was in other roles, but zowie, the action was eye-popping. And cringe-inducing.

His quiet strength and menace were wonderful to behold. But I found myself waiting for violence to erupt and when it did in the bath-house scene, I was squirming.

I was really put off by the "rape" scene in the movie History of Violence. Thought it really wasn't necessary and went on waaaay too long. Man on woman violence in films makes me sweat and cringe.

Interestingly, I saw In The Valley of Elah Friday night and it contains some of the same themes. Very disturbing in a different way; very real in dealing with the issue of training men to fight and putting them into fearsome and violent situations and putting them through hell. . . then bringing them back to their families and homes, where they can unleash some of that same violence. Scary.

I recommend it highly. But expect some tough thinking about it afterward. Tommy Lee Jones and Charlize Theron were masterful in this movie!

Kathleen Eagle said...

Anon, not at all sorry for asking. If everyone has the same opinion, what's to discuss?

Betina, I have "Elah" on my list to see.

But I disagree about the necessity of the rape scene in "Violence." When the character reverted to his violent ways, that was part of it. It wasn't just shooting people. The last scene is all the mosre chilling because of that scene. He's back with his family, and there's quiet acceptance of his presence, but underlying tension. Who is this man? He can keep us safe from outside evil--we know that now--but now that we know what he's capable of, are we safe with him? A far cry from Romance, the tension increases steadily, then goes back under the surface, fade out.

It's a fascinating statement, I think. How many war vets are willing to tell their families what they did? They live with it, deal with it in various ways, and we can never know because we weren't there. To some extent we have to look violence in the eye because it's part of the human experience, which is why I applaud a movie that makes me cringe and makes me think. I hope I never have to experience it other than vicariously, but people close to me have, and I need to try to understand how awful it must be.