Reviews written by registered user
|33 reviews in total|
A previous reviewer of this film suggests that people under the age of
35 might find this film difficult. However, i felt the opposite, that
people over 45 would find this film blows away what they have
To the older generations raised on the explosive challenges of the post war decades of a cinema which raged against both repressive censorship laws and out-moded social norms, their sense of history is invested in what is understood to be a participation in an iconic sexual revolution among other things.
So many of the films of the 60s and 70s both punctuated a sense of historical change and ushered in a new permissiveness. Yet none could stand today against what we see in this essentially small film.
Today's youth are emerging and sex is still central to the radical. Not one of the great classic works of cinema which created a chime with sexual liberation depicted the level of explicit sex which is slowly becoming the norm in new independent cinema. It is in many respects an extraordinary shift in the language of cinema.
This new and overt form of sexual language is not a reaction against repressive norms as it was in the 60s, but rather reflects the effect on a generation of unbound exposure to pornography via the internet from early childhood. The younger generation are so sophisticated in their understanding of sex, that it is quite the norm to extend into the language of their cinema the digital habits which are available to them in private.
To an older generation this may come as a shock. We're not used to such a sense of ease with the genitalia. The male penis has been a heavily censored object in cinema until very recently, though largely through the prudish choice of a director-base which was essentially male and heterosexual. Surprisingly, considering the militancy of the feminist movement, depiction of the clitoris was associated very much with male exploitation of women and has never previously been celebrated as such in cinema. These old types of restrictions, essentially generated through the dialogues of the cultural liberators of the 60s, 70s and 80s appear to have had their day.
It is true that France, and Europe historically have been much more relaxed about the depiction of sex in cinema compared with for example the US and the UK. However this film really brings right up to date that natural licence and we move into a new territory of depicted sexual intimacy.
All of the films emerging which depict graphic sex and i could name at least half a dozen off the top of my head, are not dabbling in pornography. Rather, what is emerging is a new world, a new honesty, a new openness, a new level of maturity, of truth, a language of signs and symbols well beyond the old order of the avoided, couched, suggested and coded.
In this new utopia, the liberation has in some sense already been long around via the advent of the internet culture. Cinema needs to catch up. The old sexual reality are no longer contain the issues of the day. Sex now becomes a way of intensifying the present tense and claiming life through a sensuality finally contextualised by a pure kind of democracy. We can all see ourselves as sexual beings. We can all live, we can all have what we need. Because we all are anyway.
Sex has always been linked in some sense to the arrival of the revolutionary. Certainly this new level of sexually explicit toleration blows away the old struggles which turn out to have only come so far in the end. In other films of this kind, the ease with the sexually explicit has usually been attributed to the emerging younger generation. This film breaks the mold by suggesting that everyone has nothing to hide, both young and old. it's a good development and a generous form of inclusion. Until now one had the impression that the younger generation were only able to celebrate their own interests. This film confirms that this is no longer the case and both the curiosity and technology of the young is capable of transforming and touching the lives of all generations.
I was having problems with this film. It sagged heavily half way
through. However it did continue to produce flashes of originality, the
main points i list below:
1. Whilst struggling to stick with the film (see below), in an attempt to scrape the bottom of the barrel, i was gratefully amused for the slogan 'lesbian bed death' - referring to the condition of the cessation of sex in long term relationships.
2. The film documents a kind of fin de siecle moment for a San Franciscan gay generation who interestingly are not particularly defined by any significant notion in the political struggle for gay rights; a detail which is startling for the fact of it's final appearance after effectively 60 years of multiple generations entirely defined by successive phases of political struggle. The film also focuses on the twilight of youth, where the protagonist, Jesse, sensing his impending maturity into full adulthood seeks to return to the place of his youth and to leave the city which has defined the first part of his young adult experience. It is a timeless right of passage and small details capture that strange sense of change and reappraisal with a quiet sophistication.
3. Characteristic of this generation's gay themed cinematic work, perhaps because of a diminishing sense of identity rooted in oppression and struggle, lies a problematic vacuum. Films such as this and also for example, The Lost Coast, also set in San Francisco, evoke a genre, which though not so much narcissistic, display a lack of capability or willingness to dream up a relationship with the future and consequently portray an intense over involvement in the experience of the present. This creates a genre which has a tendency to over dramatise what could be undeserving issues. Relatively minor events in the path of life are over magnified and their importance exaggerated with a post/adolescent preoccupation whose departure is at times long overdue. One is left with a sense of a potentially lost and tragic generation, who have been entirely defined by a profoundly conservative free-market ideology and show no sense of having engaged in any real spirit of rebellion. What we see is reassuringly quotidian, but also lacking any connectivity to a wider social context.It's essentially stuck at the inward looking. Jesse's departure offer's no sense that this wider malaise is due for a change. It's frustrating to sit through, because cinema in the past has been so much more than this. It raises the question, where are we headed as this generation comes to power ?
4. Something the new generation do offer and which is seen extensively in this film is the growing trend to show explicit sex as an extension of the cinematic language of emotional intimacy. This film raises the bar and pushes that to greater heights than the plethora of recent films which have exploded with a laid back approach to cinematic (gay) sex. However, because the last third of this film is literally saturated in sex it did raise an interesting question. As i gagged and squealed my way through the images i wondered if sex in cinema was like sex in literature; namely incredibly hard to do well. It's not enough just to show the whole ugly load. You need to do something cinematically. Certainly i would not say this is manufacturing moments of porn. But it was also uncertain what it's intention was other than to revel in a new found freedom to let it all hang out. period. That's just not enough. It's immature because as happens in this film, it detracts from the essential flow of energy in the work as a whole, especially for a film whose story is so incredibly thin on the ground. What happens is the sex becomes just another symptom of the portrait of a generation who don't really have anything to say for themselves at all and remain largely undefined and invisible as an entity.
5. Regarding the title, 'I want your love', the meaning is ambiguous on inspection. Certainly the protagonist Jesse, spends the film contemplating the cessation or diminishment of his emotional bonds in general. He may be sensing a future to come where the definition of love is going to have to be far broader than his previous assumptions. The title could also refer to the short-sightedness and frustration of emotional bonds and sex in young adult groups in general. The people we meet here stand in contrast to the old 1970s and 80s San Franciscan gay 'communities' defined by a celebration of hyped up promiscuity as a mark of liberation and also the more recent era preoccupied with AIDS and death. But either way, it remains unstable as a title. It speaks more of insecurity, of a need unfulfilled rather than a love successfully acquired. To this extent it supports the idea of a new generation who remain undefined and occupy a vacuum, despite ironically, finally inheriting the legal right to fully love in public. Is this a depiction of a generation in shock at the arrival of the 'you are now normal' identity and it's options ?
I gave this film 4 because i do remain impressed with this new breed of actor who is willing to share their body so intimately. I also gave points for the 'lesbian bed death' slogan. But i remain concerned at the appearance of yet another film which portrays an emerging generation caught in a sense of unarticulated and broody crisis about their sense of purpose.
While watching this i became acutely aware of the generation gap
between the new arrivals and my own who are most probably their parents
or at least their uncles and aunts.
So i wondered how my niece or nephew might enjoy this film as a right- of-passage film which reflects their age group. For myself i felt a mixture of impatience and boredom mixed with reminiscence for an early adulthood which has truly past for me at least. To this extent, whilst needing something to think about, I was struck watching the film that humans are destined to rediscover the same universe with each new generation. The same rite's of passage, the same movement from childhood to adulthood, the same fumbling, the same moments of fascination and self absorption. I'm doing it even now, aged 48, where i find one is still fumbling forward in some sense but in a different sense to the age portrayed in this film.
That said, i did find the film almost painfully whimsical. Whimsy is the great undoing of youth. As an adult, there is little patience for such foibles, though again I was struck at how reflective of my own experience the furtiveness captured really is for the age-period of life portrayed. It was however, with great relief that having stuck out the ins and outs of this trio of characters, the film all but completed with what was a compelling, riveting and sensual threesome between the actors. Beautifully shot, a startling musical score and intense with a prospect of a director who finally might well have something to say. I could easily have done without most of what had gone before. The symbolism of fairy tale worlds,childhood, and so forth was all in keeping with it's thematics but left me still essentially bored and wondering if the film might be pointless.
I wondered if the car exploding was something which had really been earned by what we had witnessed ? It was slightly an inverted Zabriskie Point moment. Only with Zabriskie Point, the explosion metaphor stands as a symbol for absolute patriarchal rejection. Here, perhaps it stood for the end of what had gone before, but i still felt that the furtive post adolescent exploration of boundaries of which the film mostly consists, just aren't as significant or interesting as they may have felt at the time.
However as a symbol of a generation who usher in a new inter-sexuality which is indeed new, the opening and finale may yet still stand. Moving beyond the old order of straight, gay and lesbian, we are entering the dawning of multi-dimensional notions of both loving and gender. Certainly when new configurations of social sexuality emerge they are indeed socially explosive and one is left speculating if the three characters are coming to new conclusions or simply replicating the timeless experimentation of ages past. The gender politics portrayed was pretty conventional. The hansom 'straight'male, confident, at ease with nudity, the furtive more reticent 'gay' male, a little closeted, lacking confidence and quietly desiring the straight male body of his girlfriend's lover, the self absorbed enigmatic woman discovering her female 'power' - all standard non-boundary pushing portrayals. However the increasing representation of bisexuality in cinema is refreshing though reflective of that group's current emergence as a psycho-sexual cultural discourse.
Refreshing to the new generation though is a lack of prudishness about filming genitalia as an extension of the expression of intimacy.The camcorder shaky aesthetic also characterises freshness, though at times here was a little reminiscent of The Blair Witch Project in it's proximity to the sinister aspect of the woods.
I gave this film 4 and then 5 largely because i think it over rated the rites it portrayed but also then to acknowledge the bravery of the degree of nudity the actors were prepared to give of themselves. With regards the acting, it was difficult to give credit where it might be due, largely because of an absence of a script of any notional interest. The film was heavily reliant on a kind of 'pure' cinema with a stripped down plot mostly concerned with manifesting emotional tension above all else.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This movie is fine until the last 15 minutes.
Some people here have said that the film could never capture the subtleties of the book. That may be so but the film does stand on it's own merit...until the very end.
I found the last fifteen minutes absurd and a difficult swallow. (No pun intended.)
Are we really to believe that Ray is willing to risk everything for a blow job in close proximity to his very straight and butch comrades ?
Are we really being compelled to believe that Nathan, who has obviously suffered sexual abuse from his father now dies whilst being raped by one of Ray's butch friends. Sorry, but it looks all too ridiculous on film.
Then the ending is fudged. Do they leave the body in the house undiscovered ? Did they show it to the father ? Did anybody find out ? Does Ray realize his blow-job has cost his lover Nathan his life as well as make his straight buddy a raping murderer ?
Do we assume it's Nathan's ghost that haunts Roy in the final sequence or that everything is back to normal and nothing actually happened ?
It all gets a bit Twin-Peaks at best with a big emphasis on the subject of being haunted, very muddled and confused and unbelievable for everybody else.
That's a shame as it had a thing going for it for the first 3/4s of the movie.
This film is of a portrait of man's desire in relation to another man.
However, from a post modern point of view, the portrait sits on a historical crossroads.
A cynical appraisal of the story might tell of a bored, married, city commuter who is tied to the conventions of an office job and a marriage that has stagnated. The commuter seeks distractions from the hum-drum of his life and makes the mistake of falling for a bit of rough trade he picks up at the road side. The more he sees of the anarchy of the hustler's life the more he lets himself go. However, everything in the film want's you to believe in Etienne's (the city commuter) attempts not to see the situation in this way, but rather to share and perceive Etienne's ideas about spiritual love and redemption from suffering. In Etienne's delusions he is a Christian hero bringing salvation and peace by following the purity of his natural propensity to love. But from a Freudian perspective Etienne is a latent bi/homosexual in a state of contradictory denial and personal crisis characterised by self destruction.
From a post queer era perspective, actual verbal reference to 'homosexuality' is noted to be almost laughably absent from the film despite a repeated inference to a homosexual underworld which provides a good part of the setting of the story as much as an explicitly declared same gender love. It's a queer (in the old sense of the word) contradiction, meaning, it is rather 'odd'.
Anything gay is unmentionable and this cinematic convention towards omitting reference sets up typical devices which are left to carry any notions of 'gay' queer themes present. Devices like, the blurring of definitions, the creation of ambiguities, the muddling of religious ideas with social inferences and even ironically,the necessity of asserting a 'gay gaze' to negotiate the existence of all these devices. Perhaps the most classic of these devices is the untimely demise of the character who embodies the taboo emotions. Sadly, this film does present that cliché. The use of such cinematic techniques to undermine the subject to which it refers to, that is, sexuality, is nothing new, but the overt assertion of same gender love portrayed to such an obsessive degree does feel edgy and remains exciting.
The film works best if the audience is moved towards a state of intellectual enigmatic-ism. However moving away from this comfortable position and trying to provide answers to questions concerning the characters' actions feels like a decidedly queer task. At the heart of the question of the love portrayed in the film, it must be asked, what language best describes what has happened and who these people have been to each other ? This void in language is as relevant today to unfixing constraints and coming to a process of knowing as it has ever been. It's not a matter of labels but rather language. But at the same time this does not mean avoiding altogether reference to the obvious or major themes portrayed in the film.
Brutal to the point of pointless. The over-repeated ring of bones
crunching, snapping and breaking is what you shall take away with you.
A wasted opportunity, considering the time, place and people in history
are much neglected by western cinema.
The violence, which hogs everything, even itself becomes dramatically repetitive. The whole, inevitable, boring thing underscored by a vaguely religious male choral electronic musical voice which becomes camper and camper as the violence becomes more absurd.
The landscape is all but ignored. The people largely reduced and the protagonists used to synthesize the maker's own indulgent idea of tragedy and masculine beauty. Sadly,the taught notion that thoughtless brutality is somehow elevating when contrasted with the prettiness of youth (or is it meant to be the other way around?) just felt immature rather than informed or emotionally meaningful.
Such a waste. Just to add in it's favour, that the leads did bring good performances.
Standing back from the time of the 70s as we all do now, Allen's
'Interiors' does appear to fill a void by an unexpected style of
turning inwards upon American representation, a particularly European
intellectual sense of reality and successfully inhabiting along side
the usual forms of representation, a deep, alternative yet compatible
contribution to the received images of America.
The foreignness of the faux-style which was so criticised in it's day, it is fair to say, does resonate with the experience of loss and evocation which forms part of the language of the settled European immigrants who have made the landscape of New York, if not indeed the whole of America their own for generations.
The piece, therefore, and it's European influence as well as it's 'weakness' of fauxness proves to be an utterly authentic representation of the Euro-descendant American condition. It is precisely through this authentic synthesis, the piece becomes elevated to something Great.
Aside from the debate about the film's standing as a whole, It can be argued that the wedding dancing scene in the last third of the film is one of the greatest character portrayals of cinematic awkwardness ever produced. It is a mini but major triumph of agony, tragedy, and denouement and stands out as one of Allen's best from his Canon.
I think this film will continue to receive the revisionism it needs in proportion to the degree to which it has been overlooked and in the end could well be judged as one of the greatest of Allen's films rather than the one that just got through.
The reviews here aren't yet terribly informative concerning what you
will see in this film. Though thanks to stimablue above for some
information on Francois Sagat.
The film is typical in style of the trend in French 'cottage' gay cinema film making current today. Taking the philosophy of the 1960s 'Nouveau Vague' movement's distrust for artifice, french cinema is concerned with finding new forms which don't uphold fantasy, make believe or 'Hollywood' style pretences. The many approaches characterises much which constitute's the typical French film today.
France continues to produce a steady stream of significant gay films, more so than nearly all other countries except America. Also, a recent general trend for films released in the the gay film world sees an increase in hand-held, DIY, everyday mocumentary styles and Homme au bain is no exception.
So what do we have here ? The story is a novel reversal of expectations where a couple who obviously have a passion for each other are facing a split. It's not sure if the rift is intentional or simply because one partner is going away but the film portrays what happens during the period when this separation occurs. The title - 'A man takes a Bath' is a french idiomatic expression referring to the idea of a man who suffers a loss of standing.
The french setting is a gay sub-community existing in a French suburban housing project environment. These landscapes are more conventionally portrayed in France as the problematic zones of racial division & social exclusion. The film draws attention to the fact that a multi racial gay life also exists in such places. It shows a 'ghettoised' portrayal of a variety of gay characters where the main impetus for existence is negation and exploration of one's sensual desires. No other clue of how these people exist in the wider world is given. So the idea of a loss of standing is expanded by the narrowness of what we see.
The New York sections also focus on the same narrow selection of ideas. However, 'Cinema' itself, as a theme is self referentially added where Emmanual's (Francois Sagat) ex-partner & visitor to NYC is the one filming all the American sections from within the story and also where the purpose of his trip is in part to visit the showing a friend's (graduation ?) film. However, enactments of sensual desire dominates the action we see in NYC too. The body and love, longing and comfort remain ever present.
The film has a slight narrative plot. What we see is very quotidian but the film remains loyal to it's chosen select meditation and one or two of the scenes glimpsing the intimacy and humanity of ordinary acts of desire are unexpected, startling and fresh even in their simplicity.
The over-all message is reassurance through the portrayal of how key emotional moments actually take place in our daily life. For example, New York is highly accessible but seen to be a closed-in and over looked place in which to manifest private intimacy and it's not glamorous and unobtainable. It could very easily be the viewer in those scenes. Despite a somewhat grungy portrayal of desire which could be interpreted as exploitative and even anti climatic, there is in fact hope in this film, with a farewell speculation as to the lasting effect of the main couple's split and the actual strength of their love for each other.
1. It obviously sits comfortably within the tradition of a particular kind of dramatic telling that comes straight out of Theatre. It feels very theatrical and has obvious connections to certain kinds of confessional drama such as Who's afraid of Virginia Woolfe & Albee.
2. It's got a cinematic lineage too. Not withstanding the Polanskisms with emphasis on a certain kind of claustrophobia and in this case explicit nausea expressed through interesting choices of camera lenses and at times shimmering and sharp angled camera work.This is evocative of Polanski's film Repulsion as well as Rosemary's baby. There's also a slightly Hitchcokesque feel to the style and appearance of both the set and opening titles drama sequence where we see the event of the confrontation between the two boys and this announces very clearly that this is cinema (and not a play) and it's also a certain kind of drama. (comedy not withstanding)
1. Do where really care for or like these people ? Are they interesting & is their apparent unravelling drawing us in ? What in theatre would come across as a highly stylised linguistic device (as in the works of Pinter) has a different sense in cinema. The type of thinking an audience must make when watching a film is different from seeing a play in the theatre and I fear we're left with essentially not enough information to really connect us to these people. Though admittedly, there will be a lot of people who will see themselves in these characters.
2. It sets up these stylised cycles of conversation and it never really leaves them. The unravelling of stuffy, trumped up, polite, controlled, virtuous & sensible middle class manners is the subject here. Looking at what's underneath all this good behaviour isn't a new idea. Yes we see are broad range of American middle class symbolised in these 4 people. Yes we observe the distances and tensions between them as they deal with themselves and each other. My feeling is, considering the historical dramas of out own times, that this is all underhand and that what we see doesn't really add up to so much a confrontation within the classes as a portrayal of paralysis which finds it hard to give out anything at all.
In that sense perhaps the film does capture what has happened to the middle classes in reality where they have become stretched but mean, well meaning but frustrated by their lack of language, altered social position or acquired forms of power. I would have preferred a drama that would have found the ingeniousness and courage to proffer a (much needed) articulation rather than suffocate itself for effect.
Meek's Cut off works on a couple of levels.
1. It's a kind of revisionist western movie, at odds to show the real kind of people moving through the continental landscape and odyssey immortalised in old style westerns. These people were poor, religious, often clueless but fortified by their simplicity and determination to seek a fortune. The Indian presence highlights a tension and paradox for early settlers and their guides, where they were reliant on Indians and Indian knowledge to complete their journey. 2. The over all feel of the movie is one of hardship and breakdown of trust. It's about chance and gambling of one's life. Now this serves to emphasise a kind of truth about the risk early settlers took but it also reflects the traumatic journey the real Steven Meek took when he guided settlers through the Oregon desert back in the 19C. The film tweaks certain portrayals. Steven Meek is portrayed as a rough-neck, hard drinking never-do-well chancer who was quite capable of being a cold killer. This may well have been true for the guides like these who led the way through for the first settlers. But Meek was in real life a local fur trapper, who was married and both he and his wife worked hard to rescue the settlers they he had inadvertently led into adversity on that trip. Also to add that the native Indian who accompanied them was not a prisoner and came along specifically to make sure the party could keep near a good supply of water. The disastrous trip saw the loss of perhaps more than 1/10 of it's members but up to 1000 did finally reach safety which was in fact due to Meek's raising the alarm at a near by settlement. Much of the loss of life was due to camp fever and a shortage of supplies. Also the bringing of too many livestock helped to compete with grass and water supplies along the way. Meek was guilty of not knowing the landscape where he had indicated he did and this promoted despair and agitated the fatality rate. But to give him his due, the land at key sections had been utterly changed in appearance by drought that year and it was this that caused him to lead the party to near total disaster.
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