A Dangerous Method

I finally watched A Dangerous Method – a little movie about psychoanalyst  Karl Jung and how he helped contribute to the growing study of talk therapy towards the beginning of the 1900s.  Spoiler alert for anyone who doesn’t want details of this movie revealed to them.

The movie opens with a crazy lady being brought against her will in a carriage to this beautiful compound where Jung does his experimental work.  Now, when I say crazy, I mean fucking bitch-be-cool crazy.  This crazy Russian lady and real person, Sabina Spielrein, is played very hauntingly and skillfully by Keira Knightly.

Jung immediately takes a liking to this woman and tells his wife that he wants to begin his experimental treatment on her – psychoanalysis.

He sets up two chairs facing the same direction, has her sit in the front one, and he explains that he’s going to ask her questions while sitting in the chair behind her, so as not to distract her, even though all it does is freak her out at first.

These scenes of talk therapy were fascinating to me, because the woman presented as a person who had been terrorized as a child and was now suffering from severe PTSD, and she was hysterical to boot.  Her lower jaw jutted out, her body jerked and shuddered, and her uterus was clearly stuck in her madulla ablongotta.  I had her diagnosed after a few short minutes. *wipes dust from hands*

She confessed to being beaten by her father.  Made sense.  The kicker was that she confessed to being sexually excited by it, even at the early age of four.  (Is this even possible?, you ask.  In Crazytown, Switzerland in the time of the Great Chauvinists of Yore, they left no O-face unturned, I say.)

Enter Jung’s friend and mentor, the father of psychoanalysis everyone loves to hate: (Viggo Mortenson as) Sigmund Freud.  Based on one story involving Patient Crazypants and feces that I will not go into detail about (you’re welcome), he diagnosed her as being stuck in the anal stage of development (sound familiar?) and prescribed some good, old fashioned raunchy S&M sexytimes with her therapist.

To further make his point, Freud referred a client to Jung, and this client (also a therapist himself, pictured rubbing blow on his gums before strolling into an appointment) spends his therapy hour talking about how freeing it is to have sex with his clients and how Jung should do it too.  All the cool therapists were doing it, apparently.  Pun intended.

“I think that Freud’s obsession with sex probably has a great deal to do with the fact that he never gets any.”

Sidenote:  I went to a Jungian therapy training about a year ago, and people still worship this guy.  They still have yearly trainings pilgrimages to his chateau in Switzerland where they have orgies in padded rooms filled with cigar smoke in his honor.

In addition to the fact that I am insanely jealous that these Jungian therapists somehow make enough money to go to the Swiss Alps once a year, I like this guy’s ideas.  The dude made sense to me, for the most part.

As I sat watching, I liked this portrayal of Jung, too.  He was smart and dedicated to his work and to this exciting, emerging field.  He was painted as this logical, scrupulous scholar and clinician who wanted to make a difference in the world, one crazy lady at a time and I was like, YES!  He helped to create my destiny, you guys.  This was turning into a spiritual experience for me.

And then Jung caves and decides to not only bang his sexy, miraculously cured patient, but to flog her with a paddle.  Hard.  I felt like I was watching the movie adaptation of Fifty Shades of Grey already, minus the butt plugs (thankfully).  Along with Jung’s dignity went most of my admiration and respect for this movie representation of him, right down the toilet.

What Jung did maintain in this movie was a healthy skepticism of Freud’s obsession with everything sexual.  In this portrayal, Freud saw most normal problems in sexual terms, interpreting everything as such.  Sure, we’re sexual beings, but that doesn’t mean everything has to be conceptualized through that lens.  In this space, Jung and I continued to jive.  And I guess I should give him props that he did eventually regain his senses and broke things off with his Russian mistress.

The one thing missing from this movie was more cocaine.  I thought I read somewhere that Jung and Freud had a few gentlemanly get togethers that included cigars, brandy, and doing enough lines to kill a small horse.
Now that’s a movie I’d like to see.


A Twenty Year Old Lie

I have mixed feelings about today.  On the plus side, after I got dressed I realized that my tank top and my underwear match quite perfectly on accident.  It makes me want to frolic pants-free.  On the downside, I think all the pollen and dust from the surrounding ag fields was pumped into my apartment overnight by the giant maid-shaped spaceship in Spaceballs, cuz I woke up gasping for air and my nose still won’t clear up.  Just pretend that the soggy tissues scattered around me are remnants of the fact that I finally sat down and watched The Bodyguard last night for the first time.

I’m assuming it’s common knowledge by now, 20 years after this film came out, about what happens and how it ends.  At least I thought it was.

A few years after the movie came out, I remember one of my little peers (I totally don’t remember who this was…but it was one of those little peers I hung out with) commenting on how everyone who was getting married these days was picking I Will Always Love You as their first dance song, and how stupid this was. 

Stupid?  I thought, How could that be?  Was it because of the forbidden love?  She was employer, he the employee?  He was the protector and she needed protecting?  He was white and she was black?  Her career gave us I Wanna Dance With Somebody, I Will Always Love You, and I’m Your Baby Tonight and he went on to give us…Waterworld?

I asked my friend why she thought this was stupid.

Her response: Because the guy totally dies at the end.

So on I went with my life, thinking that The Bodyguard ended that way.  Every time I heard that song on the radio, I felt sad for him, since he had died, and sad for her, since her employing him had probably caused him to die.  And sad for all those schmucks whose marriages had been doomed right from the start for picking such a sad, sad dooming song.

All these years, I had blamed the rising divorce rate on this movie and this song.

I guess I owe all you guys an apology.  I am sorry I misjudged you for your (falsely) horrible choice in wedding songs.  I should have judged you for your choice to get married at all.  For that, I apologize.

So imagine me last night – there I was, just waiting for poor, doomed Kevin Costner to die.  And it felt like I was waiting a long time.  I got antsy towards the end, and then checked the Netflix sleeve, and it said that this movie was over 2 hours long.  TWO HOURS? I thought,  This was pre-Titanic.  I thought all movies before Titanic couldn’t be more than, like, an hour and 45.

This movie was breaking all the rules.

When we finally got to the climactic scene where the crazed gunman is revealed, and Kevin jumps in harm’s way to save dear Whitney, I thought, This is it!  With relish.   I was tired of feeling so anxious, waiting for what I knew was coming.  I just wanted to get it over with so I could go on judging people and feeling smug about it.

Whitney’s character kept saying, “Stay with me, stay with me…”  And I wanted to help prepare her for the inevitable.  He was going to leave her, and then she would sing about how much she loved him (always) for giving his life to save hers.  Because that’s what the song was about.

But he didn’t die, and I was mad.  Mad that my expectations had been violated.  Mad that one of my friends gave me false information.  Mad that I believed that false information.  Mad that I can’t for the life of me remember who this friend was!!

After a bit, I felt relieved that Kevin had lived, that the movie (and thus my anxiety) was over, and that I now knew the truth.

And if you, or someone you know of, went around telling cruel, heartless, damaging lies about the ending of The Bodyguard, please have that person contact me.  Thanks.

Review: Hunger Games left me hungry for more

I am a purist in the sense that, when I see a movie that’s based on a supercool book, I want the movie to be as close to the book as possible.  You hear that, movie makers?!

Now, I can understand that movie makers often need to cut out parts of a book in order to fit the whole thing into a movie or in order to make the movie flow, and I get that.  That’s permissible.  But when the screenwriters go changing the plot of the book and adding scenes that indeed never took place, that’s when I get angry all up in my grill.

That being said, Hunger Games was the closest book-to-movie adaptation I have ever seen (that I can think of here on the couch in my Hunger Games induced hangover).  I chalk this up to the fact that book author Suzanne Collins was both co-screenwriter and executive director.  Overall, it was freaking awesome and I wants me a second helping.

First of all, gotta love me some strong female lead character!!  I love Katniss.  She’s smart, she’s caring, she’s stubborn, and she’s downright kickass!  While I liked the casting choice of Jennifer Lawrence, whose amazing job in Winter’s Bone proved she was pretty close to perfect for this role, I really would have liked to see her more gaunt and lean.  She still has that cute baby fat on her cheeks, as well as curves on her body, and because of that, I had a hard time believing that she actually was hungry.

Not only that, but they didn’t really play up the whole hunger part of the Hunger Games.  Katniss and Peeta were supposed to dig into the food on the train to the capitol and we barely saw them touch their plates.  Also omitted was Katniss’ favorite part of the capitol when asked by Flickerman: lamb stew.

In looks, Peeta was not how I had pictured him.  He was supposed to be one of a few from District 12 who got enough to eat everyday, and so he was supposed to look healthier, bigger, a bit fatter than Katniss and he didn’t.  He was tiny.  And in the words of Liz Lemon, I wanted to look at him and just know that his arms would smell of freshly baked bread…but they were rather moldy.  In addition, I thought that book Peeta was far too whiny, sappy, and clumsy.  He annoyed the hell outta me, especially when all he was was a liability to Katniss.  I wanted Katniss alive and home with her Gale, where she belongs.  So, I was much more satisfied when movie Peeta turned out to be much less whiny, less sappy, and much less of a liability.  A definite improvement over book Peeta.

Let me just say that Elizabeth Banks was amazing.  She melted right into her role as Effie Trinket.  Indeed, she wasn’t even visible behind the caked makeup.  I loved the comic relief banter between her and Haymitch.  The only thing missing was a short scene or comment from her after the games showing how happy she was that she’d now get some recognition for her work.

Haymitch was pretty good, although I would have liked to see him fall off the stage at the reaping.  That would have been too good.  Casting for Flickerman and Snow were right on in my mind.  Very well done.  You just can’t beat Stanley Tucci with blue hair, grinning at the cameras like a hyena.

And Lenny.  You know, when I read your name on imdb, I was very skeptical, to say the least.  Cinna was one of my favorite characters, and I didn’t know if you could pull it off.  But bravo, my friend.  I think you proved me wrong.  All the way down to your beautiful gold eyeliner.

And Gale.  My dear actor person who played Gale in the movie – Since Katniss clearly has other priorities, please consider me as your companion with whom to run away and start a family of miscreant, rebellious wanderers.  Here is a list of some of my post-apocalyptic skills for you to review.  *Call me*

The scene of the reaping.  It was so well done.  It made my heart pound with nervousness, and in that pounding I could feel the hollowness.  From Effie, from the Peacemakers, from the propaganda film, the cruel intent was fake, hollow, thinly veiled.  To see the drab-colored District 12 residents, and that their only mode of resistance was the absence of applause.  Whoa.

They struck an interesting balance with all the child-on-child violence.  I assume that they wanted to keep the movie PG-13 to keep the younger audience (and their money) coming.  I must admit that there is this primal side of me that actually wanted to see all the brutal violence on-screen, just as it was described in the book.  There is also another side of me that is happy the movie was done the way it was, by portraying a good portion of violence in indirect ways.  I appreciated the artsy, frantic yet slow-motion way the first few minutes of the games were portrayed.  Music was all you heard as you watched through shaky, first person point of view camera angles as the bloodbath began.

I wondered how they would convey all the information book Katniss gave to us via her thoughts.  The answer was that we got to see previously behind-the-scenes scenes with President Snow and Seneca Crane, the other gamemakers, and with Caesar Flickerman.  Even though these scenes violated my previously stated standards against adding information to a movie that wasn’t in the book, these were very well done, interesting, and I imagine (hope) they came straight from Collins’ brain as what she had in mind all along.  In the book, all we see is the games from Katniss’ perspective in the arena, and these extra scenes gave the movie more depth without having to do something like give Katniss a running inner monologue so that the audience would know what the hell was going on.

More specifically, it was incredibly moving to get to actually see the rebellion starting in District 11 that begins to set the tone for the rest of the story.  That made the tears flow.

Scared the absolute crap out of me when the mutts arrived.  I wish they would have gone the extra mile to make them look like the dead tributes, though.  Ah, well.

As for the ending – it could have been…punchier.  More dramatic.  I expected more than that.  I liked Snow’s warning comments to Katniss; gotta set the tone of fear and paranoia.  Very nice touch with Crane locked in a room with the berries.  It was just Snow’s style.

I could go on nitpicking the details and giving the account about how much I cried when dear little Rue died…those big brown eyes…sigh.  But I won’t.

All I ask is – what will quell this hunger of mine until the next movie comes out?  I might have to make do with berries and dead squirrels in the meantime.


Kicking Ass and Taking Names (in more ways than one)

Since the boyman has been hunkered down in his hole working on his thesis, the two of us haven’t been to many (any) movies recently. So now that he’s all good and gradumacated (pause for applause), we’re going hog wild!!

Basically, we struck a deal. I love women kicking ass and taking names, and Brian loves history and war where men are kicking ass and taking names. This means we went to go see Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and War Horse.

SPOILER ALERT! I reference a few details of these movies, but I don’t spoil any endings. Hopefully you’ve either already seen these movies cuz you’re superfly, or you don’t care about them being minorly spoiled because, hey, it’s better than getting your toes gnawed off by a rabid clown.

TRIGGER ALERT as I reference events of sexual violence.

Both of these movies are about wild, spirited creatures who are being controlled by others more privileged than they are. Both of these movies involve intense violence, perseverance, devotion, and justice. It’s very possible that this is where the similarities end, although if I was in a pinch I could probably drag this on for a few more paragraphs.

Have you ever wanted to watch a movie so moving, so beautifully stunning, so captivating, but still have that constant reminder that you’re in a movie theater surrounded by cranky old people??! Then see War Horse!

I don’t understand why older folks feel it’s ok to talk through movies while at the theater. Do they even realize they are doing it? Do they realize it and not give a fuck? It was all I could do not to turn around and ironically ask them if their parents had ever taught them any manners.

Not only did these cranky-pants folks comment throughout the movie, the things they said were in no way contributing to the richness of the entertainment (although, now that I think about it, unless you’re at Rocky Horror, commenting at the screen will in no way improve the experience). The asinine comments can be placed neatly into 3 categories. Some examples:

1. My personal life and hopes and dreams should be heard by everyone

“My arm hurts…it’s been hurting me all day.”
If you keep talking, more than just your arm will hurt, sister.

“This movie has been everything I had hoped for.”
That’s nice, lady. I had hoped for a movie free of bitching and moaning, but I guess we can’t both have what we want now can we?

2. Captain Obvious to the rescue!

“Whoa, there’s the horse!”

“Ooh, he’ll be competition!”

“Oh look, they’re in love!”

Let’s see if I understand. Either you don’t quite get what’s going on and you’re attempting to confirm your current comprehension level by indirectly asking for input from your fellow moviegoers, or you very much do understand and you are selflessly translating the difficult content so that those around you can catch up. Either that or you have no filter and can’t keep your trap shut. Not sure, though.

3. Maybe if I yell loud enough, Spielberg will hear me

“No, don’t kill him!”

“He’s not dead, he just needs medicine!”

Ok, so that last one was from Lord of the Rings, but still, I admire your sentiment and I actually agree with you that the horse still had more life left in him, but hows about we give the cute horse our moral support in controlled, mature silence?

[Edit: contrary to popular belief, these last two statements do not give away the ending of the movie.  It’s the kind of movie where you’re left guessing til the end.]

Bottom line is that if people want to talk during a movie, then STAY THE FUCK HOME and wait for Netflix.

So I guess that was my review for War Horse. I recommend it, especially if you like horses or war. And the story is an Odyssey story, in that it follows the horse through the war and through various owners, places, and predicaments. My only caution is if you have this rare disease where you’ll die from overactive tear ducts, then don’t see it. And also, if you’re like me and you can’t stand to see animals in pain, then there will be one heart-wrenching scene where you’ll have to look away while your body is heaving with sobs. Needless to say, I felt very cleansed and vulnerable in the aftermath. My therapist would be proud.


Now for Dragon Tattoo.

I read the books, saw the Swedish movies, and now I am licking my chops for the American versions.  I am a huge stickler for staying true to books in the movie versions, and any significant deviation from the original plot warrants a strongly worded letter in my book.

I thought Noomi Rapace’s Swedish performance as Lisbeth in the original movies was pretty well done, and I was skeptical that any second attempt could improve on the character, especially when left in the hands of Americans.  David Fincher  and Rooney Mara did not disappoint!  In fact, I thought that Lisbeth was indeed made much more three-dimensional, we could see a few more layers to her, and there was even some time devoted to giving a peek into her traumatic past, tidbits of the story yet to unfold.  Yes, Lisbeth sometimes chooses violence, but she does so only when she’s provoked and only when she sees no other option.  When we see Lisbeth mugged on the subway, she first hesitates and then runs after the guy and fights only to get her bag back and then runs away.  After her escape, we see her heave a sigh of relief and not one of satisfaction.

In my personal opinion, Lisbeth suffers from severe PTSD (post traumatic stress). The books describe her ability to cut herself off from all emotion and often stare back blankly when she chooses not to answer a question (that choice is yet another way she is able to fight back against her imposed narrative of being victimized and having power taken away from her).  I feel that this vital piece of Lisbeth’s behavior hasn’t been expressed fully enough in either movie version.  The American version did a slightly better job in that Lisbeth avoids eye contact and physical proximity, but the Swedish movies had Lisbeth responding with too many quips, too normal, too wordy, too talkative.  I wish some director out there would have the balls to put that gut-wrenching silence up on screen.  Let her eyes and that defiant silence do the talking.

I very much preferred Daniel Craig as Blomkvist to the actor in the Swedish version for the same reason as Mara – Craig was more human, more 3D.  In this version, Blomkvist was warmer, sweeter and less stoic than in the Swedish version.  He was also a bit more passive and humble.  His reaction when Lisbeth first comes on to him in her no-nonsense fashion was endearing, with his wide-eyed, stammering, chivalrous concern.  And plus, Daniel Craig is an awesome piece of ass to look at.  Thank you, casting director!

Another concern going into this movie was how Americans might portray the rape and sex scenes.  On one hand, I appreciate Europeans being able to portray sex and sexual violence with more transparency, rawness, and in graphic detail.  The books were certainly in graphic detail, and so there’s that part of me that wants the movie versions told as closely to the book as possible.  The American scenes were not as graphic as the Swedish ones, and maybe it was because I have already seen the Swedish scenes that I didn’t feel like anything was lacking from the American scenes.  The fear and pain and anger were all still there.

In closing, an ode to Lisbeth.  I fucking love Lisbeth Salander. She is a tortured soul who doesn’t play the victim.  She uses violence only when she doesn’t see any other options, but when she does use violence it’s with awesome warpaint that would scare the shit out of Hitler, let alone pathetic rapist pigs.  She’s not a maneater or oppositional-defiant in a negative clinical sense.  She’s not empowered by the violence she inflicts, she merely wants to level the playing field that has been tipped against her favor even before she was born.  People like me relish watching her take her power back from her abusers in any creative way she can think of, like tattooing their heinous acts on their chests.  She does the things that I sometimes wish I could do and she says the things I sometimes wish I could say.  She doesn’t abide by gender norms or sexual norms, she does what she wants, when she wants, and basically just asks people to leave her the hell alone.  My inner angsty-feminist teenager squeals with pleasure when Lisbeth comes on the screen.