Tag Archives: Violence

The Real Problem With ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’

When a woman is screaming, crying and shouting at you to stop, I think there are at least a few indicators that she stopped enjoying it quite some time ago.

In recent additional controversy surrounding the sexually shameless movie 50 Shades of Grey, a recent sexual assault case came out linked with the motion picture. A 19 year-old University of Illinois at Chicago freshman was arrested for sexually assaulting a female he was formerly romantically associated with. After entering his dorm room and stripping down to her bra and underwear, the student proceeded to tie her wrists and legs to both edges of his bed, stuff a necktie in her mouth, blindfold her, take off her clothes, then viciously beat her with his fists and a belt before holding her hands behind her back and forcing her to have sex with him.

The excuse he told police when he was arrested? “He was re-enacting scenes from Fifty Shades of Grey.”

And people have the nerve to say the movie is as harmless as B-grade pornography (it’s actually C-grade, for those who were wondering).

Unfortunately, sexual assault is nothing new to America. According to a study conducted by the White House Council on Women and Girls, women make up the majority of victims, with one in five women reported to have been raped in their lifetimes. 98% of the perpetrators are male, with most of the victims previously knowing their assailants before they were assaulted.

However, the issue exists deeper than what can be printed on paper: it exists in the messages that the media is sending.

Take 50 Shades of Grey as an example. In the movie, the male character is a smooth-talking masculinist that angrily domineers over his sexual partner. The female character is an overly passive dimwit who is supposed to (literally) bend over and tend to her male master’s every desire.

Sex isn’t treated like a romantic act in 50 Shades of Grey. It’s treated like a service.

With that in mind, what message does the movie send to the masses that can’t think and act for themselves? One: that men are entitled to sex and that women should provide it to them because it is their role in life, and two: that if women don’t serve in this role, they deserve to be physically and verbally punished for their actions. It doesn’t matter what the filmmaker’s intentions were: what messages were viewers receiving when they saw a man being sexually aggressive and the woman enjoying it?

I am not placing the blame on either the man or the movie. What I am saying is that the gender stereotyping has to stop. Whether it’s in a movie theater or in a bedroom doesn’t matter. Women have the right to say “yes” or “no” just like any man does. We need to learn to respect that and acknowledge that so we can move on and improve the shabby society that we live in.

And before you say anything, yes, I am saying this as a 21-year old male college student. Look more at the words and less at the person writing them.

– David Dunn

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“TRANCE” Review (✫✫✫1/2)

The pocket watch is mightier than the magnum.  

Trance is a fantastic art film, a mesmerizing and fascinating thriller that uses twists, turns, hallucinations, and narrow corridors as its tools to build suspense, and dialogue and performances to form sympathy for its characters.  Its surreal, twisted, strange, nonlinear, and non-conventional, but to dust with conventionality.  This is a great picture.

As the film fades in, we are introduced to Simon Newton (James McAvoy), an art auctioneer who takes us through the ropes of what his job entails.  He tells us of the extensive steps it takes to reserve a painting, the protocols his employers tell him to do when putting a painting up for auction and what steps he must take if a robbery takes place.  Their most valuable item is a painting by Francisco Goya called “Witches In The Air”, and his employers gave him precise instructions on how to preserve the painting if thieves do happen to come into the auction in an attempt to steal it.

Sure enough, thieves break into the auction and attempt to steal the painting.  This troop is lead by one named Franck (Vincent Cassel), and he is determined and headstrong into getting that painting.  Right before Simon puts the painting away, however, Franck cuts him off, a brief struggle happens between them, and Simon is knocked out, with Franck leaving with the stolen painting in tow.

When Simon wakes up, he realizes he lost his memory from the past two weeks.  When he’s finally released from the hospital, Franck pays him an unwelcome visit.  Turns out, all that Franck got on the day of the heist was just the frame of the painting, whereas the real article itself was transported to an alternative location.  Torturing him by peeling back his fingernails, Franck comes to find out Simon truthfully does not remember where he put the painting.  So he tries a different method of extracting information, one that involves psychology and hypnotherapy at the hands of one named Dr. Elizabeth Lamb (Rosario Dawson).  Together, they attempt to probe Simon’s mind, and begin their search for the painting Simon has kept hidden from them.

Here is a film that knows what it wants, a movie that knows its characters, their motivations, its story, and precisely how to tell it.  Director Danny Boyle, who is nearly a master at experimental cinema (if you don’t believe me, look at his hallucination sequences in Slumdog Millionaire or 127 Hours) does something very rare here: he intertwines and meshes characteristics of a narrative film with that of art and experimental cinema, making a truly absorbing, gripping, and fascinating experience.

Let me make something clear here, however: I hate experimental cinema.  Nine times out of ten they don’t make any sense, they seem relevant only to those making them, and they elicit a confused response rather than an emotional one from its audience.  Here though, the result is much different.  Everything is crystal-clear and fluid, the visuals dynamic and expressive, the editing cut together neatly and crisply. It’s like a mind game of cat-and-mouse, except the cat is willing to seek out help and the mouse is more lethal than both cats are lead to believe.

Oh believe me, my attention was unadverted throughout the entire picture.  While I didn’t understand everything immediately in the film, I understood what I needed to in the moment and the plot filled in the rest for me as time went on.  And what did I understand, more than anything else?  That these are sinful characters, decrepit criminals that lie, cheat, and connive their way to success and to financial gain.  Cassel was aggressive and talented as Franck, and while his character was despicable and loathsome at first, a softer side of him was later revealed so that the audience could come to terms with his character.  Dawson is as beautiful and motivated as ever, and while she too was at first a sympathetic figure, she later reveals a darker side to her character that even I didn’t expect.  I’m not even going to go into James McAvoy.  His performance was so specific and so wide-ranged that I was compelled to care for his character while at the same time hating him.

And yes, in case you didn’t pick up on it, the movie is deserving in its R rating.  It is violent, bloody, disturbing, graphic, and it has its vast share of nudity and sexuality, with some of the violence and sex combining in many gruesome scenes.  If this were any other picture, I would take off points for that.  But like Pulp Fiction and Taxi DriverTrance is a film that uses its bleak content as a tool to tell a story and define character, to show an encompassing yet tragic story of three fatally flawed individuals who will torture, manipulate, and kill to get whatever they want.  You have to watch a movie like this long enough to realize the point when it stops being a thriller and starts forming into something greater: when it starts forming into art.

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