Sex Sex Sex Sex Sex
Oh, and penis vagina gay straight top bottom fun love ecstasy sweaty hot lickable delicious, with a nod to my brother-
There’s a moment, toward the end of Kinsey, when the sex researcher — by this point half-
That bit made me snort, shake my head, and wonder just what the hell is wrong with people anyway. This attitude — that if we don’t talk about things, they don’t exist — is the same one that drove all those groups with “Family” in their names to protest Kinsey the film, but pretending that Kinsey and his work never existed, never had any impact upon our culture, is about as effective as pretending that any sex apart from heterosexual missionary-
Probably they’re pissed at Kinsey cuz he demonstrated — with facts and figures and statistics and boring unsexy stuff like that to back it up — that hardly anyone is doing sex the way we’re “supposed” to, so that all we end up with all kinds of guilt and uptightness about things that are normal anyway, but the “Family” people think that is the proper response because they want to define “normal” rather than, say, letting reality define it for us. And they’re pissed at Kinsey, maybe, because it shows how, once the man got past his terribly repressed Methodist upbringing — John Lithgow (Shrek 2, Don Quixote), as Kinsey’s preacher father, paints an acutely sad portrait of a man so buttoned-
Oh, and also, the point of Kinsey is that Liam Neeson is totally hot even as a dorky, repressed zoologist who likes bugs better than people.
If they could get past that “smashing socially dictated ignorance” thing, the “Family” people would see that this is not just a movie about being frank about how masturbation will not, in fact, make you go blind (my vision is still 20/20, at least), it’s also a funny and tender depiction of people trying to figure out the sex thing without going crazy or feeling like complete idiots. Oh, wait, the “Family” people want us to feel like complete idiots about sex… Well, for the rest of us, there’s so much that’s surprisingly tender and sweet and awkward and lovely here, like how society on the whole figuring out that sex isn’t such a bad thing after all is a giant metaphor for how we as individuals figure this out, cuz even for someone like me, born after Kinsey and after the Pill, there were still centuries of shame and mortification and such to get past. (Kinsey needed to do another study about how coming of age with AIDS in the foreground was a real passion killer; forget nice-
I’m sort of surprised that the uptight “Family” people didn’t get their panties in a bunch over Closer, cuz it’s about precisely what they complain (and not entirely without justification) is the result of our overly sexualized culture: people who seemingly have never encountered the magic of passion, who are clueless about romance, and who can’t even have a good meaningless fuck, for fuck’s sake. (The “Family” people might not put it that way, but that’s what they’re saying, even if they don’t realize it.)
Man, you’d expect a movie with this much sex talk in it to be, well, sexier. That’s ostensibly the point, probably: Look how cold contemporary relationships are! Certainly Jude Law (Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, The Aviator), Julia Roberts (Mona Lisa Smile, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind), Clive Owen (King Arthur, Beyond Borders), and Natalie Portman (Garden State, Cold Mountain) are lovely to look at and more than up to the task director Mike Nichols (Primary Colors, Wolf) sets before them, sliding through their sleek London lives, cheating and lying and hurting those they purport to love. Those of you who know my history with Julia Roberts may not believe me, but I’m delighted to see her playing a real woman, as fucked up as she is, and she’s actually really good here — I’d almost do her, she’s that good. Jude Law is as incomprehensibly godlike as always, not that he’s not a seriously amazing actor to see ply layers of messy reality but you just can’t believe that men that look like that actually exist. And of course Natalie Portman is so delicious you want to eat her up, though I think she’s even better in Garden State, but she doesn’t get nearly naked in that one, so here she can be cheered for her bravery and dedication to her craft here when really it’s just about you going oh my god she’s gorgeous when she’s slinking around in those fuck-
But all that said… even this incredibly impressive and unbearably sexy cast can’t keep sitting through the film from feeling like a chore. They look fabulous but they’re miserable, rotten people, and no one wants even a quick meaningless fuck with a miserable rotten person. Who wants to spend two hours with empty, unpleasant people who are unable to form a single genuine connection to a fellow human beings (and neither, by design or accident, to the audience)? One imagines that playwright Patrick Marber, adapting his own stage play, sees this as a modern drawing-
And that’s really, really tedious. You want to tell them to just grow up already.
And then there’s Vera Drake, which is the past, and the future, if the “Family” people have their way and outlaw abortion again: you’d think that it wouldn’t be possible to be both anti-
So Vera (the goddess Imelda Staunton: Chicken Run, Shakespeare in Love) is this kindly mother hen who wanders postwar London, helping girls who are “in trouble,” and you know what that means. What’s extremely cool about Vera Drake is that director Mike Leigh (Topsy-Turvy) kept it a secret from the rest of the cast — the actors playing Vera’s husband and grown children — just exactly what Vera has been up to all these years, so that when she finally and inevitably gets caught, they’re really actually stunned. And half of that, surely, is the stunned-
And Vera Drake is about nothing if not how the realities of women’s lives don’t always intersect with men’s — read: those who make the “rules” — understanding of reality. When Vera sees that a nice guy in the neighborhood isn’t eating enough, she invites him round to tea. Vera hums happily while scrubbing the floors of those so much better off than her that she can’t even contemplate living like them. And when Vera learns about a woman who unexpectedly — and un-
But Leigh, with his typical sly directness, sees more than Vera does. He knows that issues like abortion are never about morality but about money and access — though it seems at first that he is going to be drawing a typically familiar, and wrong, black-