I have neglected this blog heinously, which is truly shameful because I have way too much to say about way too many movies. I really need to figure out a writing schedule.
For now, I list the top ten most emotionally scarring movies I have ever seen. IE, these are the movies that left me wondering whether or not I should have watched them, movies that altered the way I view the world, movies that I've probably seen only once but still think about. Movies that actually BOTHERED me-- and for someone who watches pretty much every movie that comes along, that's saying alot.
The absolute number one spot goes to Mysterious Skin, a movie I was aware was going to be dark, but good God. Whenever I enter into the eternal (usually internal) debate about artistic responsibility. Generally I feel that if it exists, we should be able to make a movie about it. However... that doesn't mean that what we put out into the world isn't dangerous, and isn't there a line between illustrating/educating/enlightening and terrorizing? I'm not sure where that line is when it comes to DRAMA (as opposed to horror/gorefests, which one can easily gauge where the filmmakers went off the tracks into exploitation land) and the human experience. I DO know that I was profoundly, PROFOUNDLY disturbed by Mysterious Skin, the exploration of the lives of two young men who had been molested/raped at a very young age and the affect of that attack on their lives. Each responded differently, one blotting it out and replacing it with fantasy, his fear mixed with awe and a quest to find out what really happened, the other fully remembering every last detail and blurring evil with love. Their lives are fucked up. We get to see how, in fact, fucked up their lives are. There's not much hope, really, but I suppose in the end the truth is finally spoken and that is a positive thing.
Interestingly, this movie was made by a famously homosexual director, and he explores a character that the homosexual community does not seem to be fond of (the gay kid/flagrant hustler who was molested by a dude). From what I understand the gay community doesn't dig allegations that one is turned gay due to trauma (prompting one to question if the abused are really homosexual or not, or in their case is it a choice? sidetrack...), but this director doesn't really care about or focus so much on the hustler's sexual preference so much as his damaged sexuality and persona in general. He is brave to show the ugly side of homosexuality as well as humanity.
The scenes in here were apparently carefully shot, and though the scenes involving the child actors do not *show anything* they are absolutely mortifying. Mortifying. Even more mortifying is the idea that THIS HAPPENS ALL OF THE FUCKING TIME. This film is brilliant in its illustration of the domino effect of pedophilia not just in the lives of the victims but the community of victims as well. The victimized tend to love their abuser, seek to imitate them in some way, and, as we all know, a high percent of molesters were once molested. The cycle just goes on and on and on.
Another thing I really appreciate about this film is that there is no attempt to make the lead character (JGL in a FEARLESS performance. cheesy to say but utterly true) terribly sympathetic, other than the insight that we are given into his abuse. He is hurtful to everyone around him, he is prickly and exhausting to watch, and as we finally find out he has continued the cycle of distorted sexuality and abuse from the age of eight.
I think about this movie alot. Not just the absolutely dreadful abuse scenes, but the general tragedy contained within. It hurts me to think about, and it brings me back to thoughts I've had in the past about becoming, much much later in life, a psychiatrist/psychologist/counselor for those struggling with pedophilia/those rehabilitating. Of course it is probably the most difficult, taboo subject, and not one that I can fully wrap my mind around, but it is something that deeply troubles me. Watching films like this, Little Children, and The Woodsman makes me wonder if such things should really be floating around, perhaps into the wrong hands, like people twisted enough to see these films as confirmation that pedophilia is not so inhuman, or people who are rendered completely helpless by them. They cannot think or discuss what they have seen, they can only be horrified. That is not good, either, and I do believe that sometimes a film that could enlighten is sometimes even worse than observing trauma or a victim firsthand-- it is less tangible, it is only in front of you but not with you, and yet you cannot get rid of it. That is very bad for some people. Probably for most normal people.
But for me-- not to say that I'm this extra-special exception or whathaveyou that just UNDERSTANDS these things, I still feel sick and helpless and dirty when I see them, however-- I think I can filter it. I think I can do something with it, rather than putting it in a too-small box ready to spill into my nightmares later.
Also, sidenote, the fact that JGL got almost ZERO recognition for this role is INSANE. IN. EFFING. SANE.