What you need to know to engage in vaguely informed cinema-centric bar talk this week:
The American drama of sexual abuse, played out almost weekly in hysterical terms on "To Catch a Predator," has very little room for the larger continuum of the sexual interactions between adults and youth suggested by [Alan] Bennett‘s play… NBC uses "reality" TV to fictionalize child sexuality as much as Bennett or Nabokov or any other author. But works such as Bennett’s and [Augusten] Burroughs‘s, and even the transcripts of the [Mark] Foley exchanges, suggest that there is a lot more to be learned about how sex is negotiated — especially between adults and youth who are almost adults — than American popular culture is quite ready to acknowledge.
From Tim Lott at the Guardian, that real mental illness is dreary and awful and not romantic at all and goddammit, why is it taking us to long to portray it that way in movies?
The idea was becoming fashionable that mental illness was a creation of, and a response to, social control – and the apotheosis of this idea was Ken Kesey‘s seductive One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, filmed by Milos Forman in 1975. The message of both book and film was unequivocal: mental patients, in this case specifically male mental patients, were the products of a combination of a repressive social system and domineering and dysfunctional mothers, represented by the icy and controlling Nurse Ratched. What they needed was a good dose of untrammelled id, or Jack Nicholson‘s Randall McMurphy, to set them free. But the system would do everything it could to prevent that happening. It would crush the glorious rebel. It would ensure the mad stayed mad for its own psychologically malign purposes.
The Maya at the time of Spanish contact are depicted as idyllic hunters and gatherers, or as genocidal murderers, and neither of these scenarios is accurate. The film represents a step backward in our understanding of the complex cultures that existed in the New World before the Spanish invasion, and it is part of a disturbing trend re-emerging in the film industry, portraying non-Western natives as evil savages.
From Ann Hornaday at the Washington Post, that "the supply chain" is the new movie evil â€” recent "SC" (catchy!) films include "Fast Food Nation," "Black Gold" and "Blood Diamond." Also on the topic, from (ahem) Rush and Molloy at the New York Daily News, "Blood Diamond"’s director Edward Zwick has started a "feud" (fueled, it seems, entirely by the gossip columnists themselves) with Russell Simmons over Simmons’ support of the current state of the diamond industry:
Take Simmons’ conclusion that the sale of "conflict diamonds" – used to finance the continent’s bloody wars – has dropped to less than 1% since the Kimberley Process was set up in 2003 to stop the vicious trafficking in those gems.
"That’s a funky number," Zwick said at his movie’s Hollywood premiere. "That number comes from diamonds that are mined in countries that are ‘war-declared.’ Conflict diamonds are also mined in countries where there is not a ‘declared war.’ If you want to know about conflict diamonds, you don’t go to Botswana and South Africa. You go to Sierra Leone and Angola. â€¦ Russell Simmons is being embarrassed."
"This film turns out, much to my surprise, as a mirror in which people see their own feelings projected," [director Stephen Frears] says. "So people say completely contrary things, like, ‘Oh, you’ve become a monarchist’ and ‘Oh, you’re so critical of the Queen’. I don’t know why that’s happened. I don’t think it’s happened on any other film I’ve made. Maybe it’s because we get it sort of right, so people see what they want to see."
One Hundred and One Dalmatians (1961)
Message A few points to make. First, this is a bit of a dual-issue film, virulently anti-fur, passionately anti-smoking. And yet, there are some interesting financial undertones. Cruella de Vil is Ms Moneybags; she tries to buy Pongo’s puppies, and the other 84 have been legitimately bought from pet shops. The message is that money isn’t power, or certainly shouldn’t be – that just because you have the wherewithal to pursue your will, if that will is malign, it shall not prevail.
The overall impression is puppies cannot be bought. They will rise up, and anyone underestimating the intelligence of the puppy will come a horrible cropper. There’s a potent message of direct action. It’s probably the most radical cartoon of its era.
+ The Instructive Message of ‘History Boys’ (Washington Post)
+ Losing the plot (Guardian)
+ ‘Apocalypto’ does disservice to its subjects (SF Chronicle)
+ A Spike in Supply-Chain Muckraking (Washington Post)
+ Bad ‘Blood’ between Simmons and Zwick (New York Daily News)
+ We are most bemused (The Australian)
+ Political animals (Guardian)