3 posts categorized "BDSM"

June 16, 2014

VENUS IN FUR

COLE SMITHEY

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Kinky Boots
Roman Polanski Gives Takes Venus All The Way

Venus-in-FurRoman Polanski’s 20th film is an exquisite deconstructionist articulation of a quicksilver sadomasochistic tug-of-war between a middle-aged theater director and an enigmatic actress auditioning for a role in his upcoming play “Venus in Furs.”

She just might be Venus incarnate.

As he did with his last film, “God of Carnage” (2011), and his 1994 film “Death and the Maiden,” Roman Polanski returns to the theatre for inspiration. David Ives’s theatrical adaptation of Austrian author Leopold von Sacher-Masoch’s 1870 novella “Venus in Furs” already contained subtle thematic threads common to Polanski’s oeuvre — think “Bitter Moon,” “Rosemary’s Baby,” and “The Tenant.”

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Obsession with sexual domination, confined spaces, and an unreliable protagonist are all on display. Here is an energizing spoonful of soup-to-nuts fetishism, with teasing desert courses strewn throughout.

Venus in fur

From a gloriously long tracking shot down a rainy Parisian boulevard, we are inexorably lured into a private theatrical vortex by a sudden crack of lightening. A playful musical score (by Alexandre Desplat) sets a mood of percolating voodoo. The disused set for an ostensibly failed production of an adaptation of John Ford’s “Stagecoach” sits on the stage of the rundown theater where director Thomas (Mathieu Amalric) wraps up his day of auditions for the character of Wanda von Dunayev. An unusually tall prop cactus provides a strangely appropriate phallic symbol for the action that follows.

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Thomas complains on his cellphone in misogynistic terms about the actresses he has seen. A lack of “sexy-slash-articulate young women with some classical training and a particle of brain in their skulls” has left Thomas feeling dejected. Vanda (Emmanuelle Seigner) arrives like a bolt of feminist Goddess lightening when she bursts through the theater door. Cursing like a sailor in a low class French accent, Seigner’s Vanda insists her agent sent her, although her name is nowhere to be found on the call sheet. Dressed in a leather corset and sporting a dog collar, Vanda has come prepared — very prepared — she has memorized every line of the play. Still, Thomas remains skeptical. Only when Vanda convinces him to read opposite her as the character of Severin von Kusiemski does her resolute skill as an actress convincingly transform her into the archetypal 19th century dominatrix for his play.

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The story-within-a-story-within-a-movie teeters on the ambiguous tight wire dance that Thomas and Vanda perform. Emmanuelle Seigner’s performance is cleverly delicious. Her effortless transition between the four nesting-doll types that she plays (gypsy, consummate actress, feminist sophist, and Venus) creates a hallucinatory effect that pushes the drama in multiple directions at once. The dialogue is as intellectually sharp as it is sensually perceptive.

Vanda and Thomas mime their characters’ actions on stage in the same way that student actors are want to do when working without props. With five weeks of rehearsal under their belts, Polanski’s actors connect with such precise execution that the constant shifts between their self-reflexive characters are seamlessly exact.

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Constant kicks of irony exhort audience laughs as the dueling pair keeps up the charade of an audition process where Thomas is the patriarchal judge to Vanda’s hopeful ingénue. Along the way the polarity of power switches back and forth between them. When Vanda commands Thomas to dress her in a pair of dominatrix knee-high boots, his quest for “annihilation” in her service takes shape.

With a Tony Award nomination under its belt, and the dubious honor of being America’s most produced play in the 2013-14 season, “Venus in Fur” represents another S&M signpost of our ongoing global societal clampdown.

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There is a reason that “50 Shades of Grey” hit a popular nerve. Willing humiliation under the lash of omnipresent corporate-political-totalitarianism could be construed a logical path for some. Audiences have every reason for their curiosities to be piqued over what Roman Polanski can do with such ingeniously loaded material.

Not Rated. 96 mins.

5 Stars

Cozy Cole

Cole Smithey on Patreon

March 08, 2014

NYMPH()MANIAC: VOLUME I

COLE SMITHEY

Groupthink doesn't live here, critical thought does.

This ad-free website is dedicated to Agnès Varda and to Luis Buñuel.

Get cool rewards when you click on the button to pledge your support through Patreon. Thanks a lot pal! Your generosity keeps the reviews coming!

Cole Smithey on Patreon

 

Nymphomaniac Just as with Harvey Weinstein’s famous mistake of splitting Quentin Tarantino’s “Kill Bill” into two parts, the producers of Lars von Trier’s 240 minute film have seen fit to split it in two, rather than deliver the movie as the filmmaker intended. Big mistake.

The result is exactly what you would expect, that of watching half of a movie. It is not a fair way for an audience to screen the film, much less an acceptable format for a critic to judge and contextualize it by. To make matters worse, there will also be a 5.5 hour director’s cut that will demand interested viewers cover old ground if they are invested enough to want to see von Trier’s entire film. Meh. Pshaw. 

Nympho

Volume I establishes the character of Joe (Charlotte Gainsbourg), a self-hating nymphomaniac rescued from the cold ground of a brick-wall-surrounded courtyard by Seligman (Stellan Skarsgård), a thematically-charged character whose sole purpose — in Volume I at least — is as a human sounding-board and harmonizing influence for Joe's litany of sexual transgressions.

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Seligman is a lonely guy, a bit too pleased to have in his company a piece of female damaged-goods who wants nothing more than to spill the beans about her life of wild and naughty sexual diversions — indeed her sexual experiences are many and varied. Joe is one carnally voracious girl. The titillation dial is stuck on ten.

Nymphomaniac

The film opens on a black screen. Water tinkles. The viewer is left to imagine its source. Is someone taking a leak? No. Snow is falling, and melted ice drips down a tin drain.

A passed-out Joe lies bloodied on the pavement of a well-concealed courtyard outside of Seligman's apartment. Seligman awakens her. He offers to call an ambulance or the police. Joe threatens to run off if he does. It’s tea that she wants. He invites her inside his sparsely appointed place and puts her in bed. The defenseless Joe begins to recount her sexually adventurous life that led up to her present wounded condition — possibly from some act of revenge or semi-public bit of BDSM.

Stacy Martin - Nymphomaniac - Volume I - Director's Cut - 15_1-500

Seligman not only isn’t judgmental about Joe's checkered past, he finds all sorts of reference points from his own life — related to things such as fly-fishing. He sees similes in her troubled tale of bedding as many as ten men per day. Seligman is a dilettante counselor who is patient, and effete enough to listen to Joe’s outrageously erotic stories without becoming visually aroused or making a pass that would surely be easily received.

Nymphomaniac

Not all of Joe’s flashbacks are sexual. She fondly remembers walking though a winter forest with her doting father (Christian Slater). Joe’s erotic journey is broken into chapters — four for each film. “The Compleat Angler” is the first section. Joe recounts playing a sexual conquest game with her best friend, in which the two teenage girls would compete for a bag of candies by seeing how many men they could seduce during a train ride. Joe gets extra points if she can extract a load from a married man on his way to impregnate his ovulating wife. His cock does indeed find its way into Joe’s hungry mouth. No surprise how that scene ends.

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Joe’s flashback description of losing her virginity — at her own request — to Jerôme (Shia LaBeouf), a local London boy with a moped, brings up the fact that he "humped her three times in the front, and five times in the back." Seligman identifies Joe’s “most humiliating numbers” as following a Fibonacci series. Von Trier steals a page from Peter Greenaway when he superimposes graphic onscreen sub-titles and diagrams of the way Fibonacci numbers are used. Referenced is the way they approximate the natural order of a seashell. The numbers themselves flash on the screen as Jerôme pumps away at a younger version of Joe (played by a fearless Stacy Martin).

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As Joe’s personal tales of knee-jerk seductions go on, the sex scenes become gradually more graphic, and the sideline humor more sly. During the film’s third chapter “Mrs. H,” Uma Thurman plays the vengeful and curious wife of the man who has left her in order to be with Joe. Neither Mr. nor Mrs. H has any idea that they are interrupting a busy evening of carefully timed assignations that Joe has planned with various men.

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Nymph()maniac is a sly piece of anti-slut-shaming cinema aimed at demystifying female carnal desire. It is a character-study of an ostensibly rare type of sexually ravenous woman. Von Trier creates a new breed of social satire that is equally daring and tame. While the film is fiercely pornographic, it does not represent pornography per se.

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“Love is the secret ingredient” that Joe denies and yet secretly seeks. Her loss of the ability to orgasm coincides with her father’s imminent death. Volume II promises to follow Joe’s experimentation into fetishized BDSM. 

To be continued...

Not Rated. 117 mins.

4 Stars

Cozy Cole

Cole Smithey on Patreon

May 20, 2013

FREDDY GOT FINGERED — CLASSIC FILM PICK

COLE SMITHEY

Groupthink doesn't live here, critical thought does.

This ad-free website is dedicated to Agnès Varda and to Luis Buñuel.

Get cool rewards when you click on the button to pledge your support through Patreon. Thanks a lot pal! Your generosity keeps the reviews coming!

Cole Smithey on Patreon

 

Freddie Got FingeredIn this sadly unloved comedy, class clown extraordinaire Tom Green brings his anti-establishment performance art comedy to a recurring boil with a movie that combines a punk rock esthetic with acted-out cartoon abandon.

Where teen gross-out movies like the recent "Say It Isn’t So" or "Tomcats" sink in their own toilet humor, "Freddy Got Fingered" soars because of Green’s sincerely committed imagination, curiosity, and irony-free execution of comic stunts that frequently involve oral fixation, word play, or Green’s bizarre take on large animals' naughty appendages.

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Non sequitur comic gags involving skateboard ramps, salamis, a British Bobby uniform, and a cordless phone play out behind cartoon animator hopeful Gord Brody’s (Green) attempts at finding his niche in society, thereby making his father (Rip Torn) proud. Green masterfully achieves his goal of ‘confusing audiences enough to enjoy’ his signature brand of demented comedy with a heart of gold. It’s a movie that works perfectly on its own terms, much like a Swiss watch in a doghouse overrun by bees and monkeys.

Cole smithey

Tom Green is a comic genius. Audiences familiar with his MTV show already know the twisted magic that pops out the lanky prankster with unrelenting regularity. As director, Green layers songs from punk music standard bearers The New York Dolls and The Sex Pistols to fuel his irreverent vision while subtly commenting on the scene at hand. The Pistol’s song "Problems" becomes an opening power chord statement for the movie as Gord skateboards through a shopping mall while being chased by irate security guards. Gord pulls off a few skating flourishes to show mocking grace under pressure before catching up with his parents who are waiting to see their boy off to Los Angeles to pitch his cartoon ideas and make something of his life.

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Dad and mom surprise Gord with a blue convertible Le Baron that instantly becomes an award of favoritism that the 28-year-old Gord flaunts over his 25-year-old brother Freddy. Freddy is as straitlaced and dull as Gord is unpredictable and wild. It’s a classic sibling rivalry that goes beyond crisis when, after Gord’s dad Jim ruins his skateboard ramp, and Gord responds by accusing daddy of ‘fingering Freddie’ to a family counselor. In this way, Gord pits authority on itself and wins a victory over his brown nosing brother and his overbearing father. Sure it’s a last ditch mean-as-snakespit thing to do, but Gord seizes the opportunity like the underestimated no holds barred man-boy that he is. Gord doesn’t want to be taken seriously, he just wants to be taken (as in accepted).

Colesmithey.com

After meeting with failure in getting a top L.A. television executive to hire him, Gord returns home to Portland to further incubate in his parent’s house. On a day that Gord is supposed to be out looking for a job, Jim returns home to find Gord wearing one of his suits backward while holding a briefcase in front of a full length mirror and repeating a ditty to the effect of, ‘I’m a backward man, I’m a backward man.’ The scene is loaded with humor as Gord lies about having secured a job with a computer company to his overjoyed father before going back to his self entertaining mirror act.

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The character that the movie turns on is Gord’s adorable love interest Betty (Marisa Couglan), a paraplegic nymphomaniac who also happens to be an amateur rocket scientist. Betty can’t get enough of having Gord cane her lifeless legs or letting her give him oral sex. It’s through Betty’s bottomless inspiration that Gord is able to turn his personality crisis into a successful career as an animator and finally reconcile the differences he has with his dad.

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By that time Gord has perhaps fondled one too many animal penises (once while repeating "I’m a farmer, I’m a farmer"), and spent a little too long getting intimate with an umbilical cord (by duct taping a piece of umbilicus to his navel that gets discovered by Betty), or a roadkill deer (which he guts and wears on his head).

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What’s important is Tom Green’s priceless comic delivery, quick to the mark timing, and daredevil sense of humor. When Gord tries to impress Betty at a nice restaurant by pretending to be a stock market consultant, he uses an out of date cordless phone with a tape recorder to fill in as a cell phone. Gord’s haiku rendition of the stock market is in a league of its own. For every person who walks out of "When Freddy Got Fingered," there will be two hundred others howling in laughter.

Rated R. 92 mins.

5 Stars
Cozy Cole

Cole Smithey on Patreon

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