Monday, May 18, 2015

Venus in Fur --French film about dark desire

The original French title of this film is  "La Venus a la Fourrure" and it was directed by Roman Polanski and based on the play by David Ives.

Thomas, played by Mathieu Almaric, is casting a play based on the German novel Venus is Furs by Leopold von Sacher-Masoch. He's having a difficult time filling the part of Vanda.

There's a thunderstorm and suddenly a woman enters the theater. This woman who also happens to be named Vanda, played by Emmanuelle Seigner, has come late to audition for the play. Thomas has had a difficult day and resists her but he finally relents and agrees to do the reading with her.

I don't want to say too much more about the plot or I might spoil it for you but the lines become blurred between fiction and reality. I found it quite interesting and compelling. A film with only 2 actors and no fancy special effects. How about that!!

Some quotes from this film:

"And the Lord hath smitten him and delivered him into a woman's hands."---from the Book of Judith in the Bible

"Your Venus seems as well-thumbed as your book .Is she faithful?"---Vanda

"To love and be loved.
Ah, what bliss.
Yet there exists a greater joy.
The torment of that woman's kiss.
Who makes of me her slave.
Her cur, her toy, I speak of her,
My goddess, my dictator, my Venus in fur."---poem quoted in this film

"The love of fur is innate. It's a passion that Nature gives us all. To caress a thick, soft fur. That peculiar tingle, that electricity."--Thomas as Kushemski

"Life makes us what we are in an unforeseen instant."---Thomas as Kushemski

"Poor? She taught me the most precious thing. ...That nothing is more sensuous than pain. Nothing more pleasurable than degradation."---Thomas as Kushemski

"You are quite unique, Herr Kushemski. If I were you, I'd be careful. Your ideal woman may be crueler than you care for."---Vanda

"Nothing is crueler than a woman's infidelity."---Thomas as Kushemski

"In our society, a women's only power is through a man. I'd like to see what woman will be when she becomes man's equal. When she becomes herself. Little Vanda's way ahead of her times."---Vanda

"You sold your soul for alliteration."---Vanda

"I give you all power over me, eternally. Unconditionally. Do with me what you will. Dominate me. Beat me if you like."---Thomas as Kushemski

"Nothing like some quiet copulation to help you relax. But a voice rumbles in the back of your mind, calling for something else."---Vanda

"Any other director would have jumped me by now."---Vanda

Here are some scenes from this film:

Here is the trailer:

Monday, April 27, 2015

The Pervert's Guide to Ideology

Director Sophie Fiennes (who's also the sister of actor Ralph Fiennes) did this very interesting documentary with Slavoj Zizek, who is a philosopher and psychoanalyst.

He uses clips from a number of interesting films to illustrate different concepts related to ideologies including  films like They Live, Jaws, Titanic, A Clockwork Orange, Taxi Driver, Full Metal Jacket, Brazil and The Sound of Music.

He talks about how many different groups with different ideologies have used Beethoven's Ode to Joy:

He also talks about Nazism and relates it to Heavy Metal German rock group Rammstein.

Overall I found this film interesting, thought-provoking and even sometimes amusing. I enjoyed the way Zizek sometimes found himself on what seemed to be the sets of some of the films he discussed.

Here are some quotes from this film:

"I already am eating, from the trashcan, all the time.The name of this trashcan is ideology. The material force of ideology makes me not see what I am effectively eating. It's not only our reality which enslaves us. The tragedy of our predicament, when we are within ideology, is that when we think that we escape it into our dreams, at that point we are within ideology."---Zizek

"The basic insight of psychoanalysis is to distinguish between enjoyment and simple pleasures. They are not the same. Enjoyment is precisely enjoyment in disturbed pleasure. Even enjoyment in pain. And this excessive factor disturbs the apparently simple relationship between duty and pleasures. This is also a space where ideology up to, and especially religious ideology operates. This brings me to maybe my favorite example, the great classical Hollywood film The Sound of Music."---Zizek

"My psychoanalytic friends are telling me that typically today patients who come to the analyst to resolve their problems feel guilty not because of excessive pleasures, not because they indulged in pleasures which go against their sense of duty or morality or whatever. On the contrary, they feel guilty for not enjoying enough. For not being able to enjoy."---Zizek

"Every violent acting out is a sign that there is something you are not able to put into words. Even the most brutal violence is the enacting of a certain symbolic deadlock."---Zizek

"On the other hand, it's interesting to note that Fidel Castro, who loved the film (Jaws), once said that, for him, it was obvious that Jaws is a kind of leftist Marxist film and that the shark is a metaphor for brutal big capital exploiting ordinary Americans."---Zizek

"Is is precisely if there is God that everything is permitted to those who not only believe in God, but who perceive themselves as instruments, direct instruments of the divine will. If you posit or perceive or legitimize yourself  as a direct instrument of the divine will, then of course, all narrow, petty moral considerations disappear. How can you even think in such narrow terms when you are a direct instrument of God?"---Zizek

"But in a radically atheist universe, you are not only responsible for doing your duty, You are also responsible for deciding what is your duty."---Zizek

Here are a few scenes:

Here's the official trailer: