Friday, February 5, 2016


Year 8, Day 36 - 2/5/16 - Movie #2,237

BEFORE: I have to draw the line somewhere, to decide what constitutes a "romance" film.  Some films are more than one thing, of course, the way that "Pretty in Pink" is both a romance film and a high-school film.  I put this one on a DVD with a similar film that recently aired, "Fifty Shades of Grey".  But that film links to nothing else on the list, as far as I can tell, and for this one, James Spader carries over from "Pretty in Pink" - so this one is in the February line-up, and that one is out.  I'll circle back for it later on, OK?

Tomorrow is Saturday, so there are no more excuses - no reason to NOT tune it to the TCM "31 Days of Oscar" programming, featuring 360 Degrees of Oscar Separation.  The Feb. 6 line-up:

From "Merrily We Live", Billie Burke carries over to
"The Young Philadelphians", with Brian Keith carrying over to:
"The Wind and the Lion", with Sean Connery carrying over to:

"The Man Who Would Be King" with Christopher Plummer carrying over to:
"A Beautiful Mind" with Judd Hirsch carrying over to:
"Running on Empty" with Christine Lahti carrying over to:
"Swing Shift" with Holly Hunter carrying over to:
"Broadcast News" with Jack Nicholson carrying over to:
"Easy Rider" with Dennis Hopper carrying over to:
"Rebel Without a Cause" with Natalie Wood carrying over to:
"The Star"

All right, I've seen 5 out of those 10 (#3, 4, 7-9), that's half!  So I'm up to 22 seen and 46 unseen, with 1 more now added to the list.  I'm right at 50% for the month so far, so I'm feeling good.  And I just now noticed that the same actor or actress has never carried over twice - geez, I wonder if they found a way to keep that going for the whole month!  If they do, I'll be very, very impressed.     

THE PLOT:  A young woman, recently released from a mental hospital, gets a job as a secretary to a demanding lawyer, where their employer-employee relationship turns into a sexual, sadomasochistic one.

AFTER: Honestly, I was a little uncertain if this would fit the theme - and I figured this would be the first of the February films that others might question.  And since this only links to one other February film, causing indirect linking to tomorrow's film, the temptation certainly was there to drop it from the line-up.  But I feel justified in including it, because it does claim to portray love, perhaps not a type of love that you or I are comfortable with or could fully understand, but still...

I'm quite a bit out of my depth here, way off the reservation, watching a film that deals with S&M or bondage issues, which I think know the sexually liberated among us prefer to call "dominant/submissive".  If I read between the lines, I get that the lawyer wants to be the dominant, but there's an implication that he was once on the other side of things, I think.  A woman comes to his office for a meeting, and I couldn't tell if she was supposed to be his ex-wife or his dominatrix (maybe both) and that woman seemed very surprised to learn that he had a submissive secretary working for him.  She picked up right away on the vibe in the room, so clearly she was some kind of expert on that lifestyle.  

But if he was the submissive in a previous relationship, can he make the move to being the dominant one?  Is that even a thing, can you cross the lines of the established roles like that?  From what I've heard about the dominant/submissive relationships, some people say that the submissive one has all of the power, but isn't that a contradiction in terms?  Again, there's so much about this that I don't know.  Sometimes I think the whole thing just wouldn't work - one of my favorite jokes is: The masochist says, "Hurt me!" and the sadist responds, "No."  (think about it...)   

The title character is seen before taking the secretarial job, engaging in activities like cutting herself, burning herself with a hot kettle, and then there's the reason she was in the institution in the first place.  There's a strong indication that all of this stems from an uncomfortable family life, with her father being an alcoholic and her mother being a doormat, plus her sister has the nerve to get married and be all happy and stuff.  OK, I get that women are complicated creatures and some suffer from depression and hurt themselves, but this all still seems like an oversimplification of a larger issue.

And who's to say that whatever void that Lee is trying to fill by injuring herself is exactly the same one that can be satisfied with bondage and discipline?  What if those are entirely different issues?  It's rather coincidental that the discipline of a job for a tough boss turns out to give her exactly the motivation she needs to curb the desire to do harm to herself.  And that seems a bit dangerous, when someone's take-away from the film could be:
"I have low self-esteem, I have suicidal thoughts, I can't be around sharp objects - I know, I'll find a demeaning job and get the boss to spank me."  

And what about a safe word?  There was never any mention of one in this film - so I take it that an amateur found her way into the lifestyle, but to depict this on film with no checks in the system, well it seems very irresponsible to me. 

NITPICK POINT: This is a variation on my typical gripe with films about writers, who ALWAYS seem to favor old-timey typewriters and tend to stare for long periods at blank pages, then manage to keep the only copy of their long typed-up manuscript balanced on a rickety chair next to a lake or a pool, or too close to an open window or electric fan.  The office here is run by a lawyer who demands that his secretary use an old-fashioned typewriter, rather than a word processor or PC.  This was filmed in 2002, but even so, I think that 99% of offices then were computerized.  But the plot here requires that the secretary make mistakes that can't be easily corrected, because that triggers the punishment and discipline, and for that you need the old Select-o-matic Rotating TypeBall 2000.  Necessary for the plot, but far-fetched in the grand scheme of things.  

I just wonder why the typewriter hasn't gone the way of the payphone in current movies.  I can see a typewriter in a film about a writer or screenwriter set in the past, but there's just no place for one in a modern-day film. 

Also starring Maggie Gyllenhall (last seen in "White House Down"), Jeremy Davies (last seen in "Solaris"), Lesley Ann Warren (last seen in "Jobs"), Stephen McHattie (last seen in "Immortals"), Jessica Tuck (last seen in "Super 8"), Amy Locane, Osgood Perkins,

RATING: 5 out of 10 mousetraps

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