Cranky Hanke’s Screening Room: What offends you?

Earlier this week I was talking to an old friend about movie ratings. He mentioned that on military bases movies were rated in pre-MPAA rating days—something with which I was unfamiliar. I don’t recall the rating system (though he detailed it for me and since he did spend some time growing up on such bases, I figure he knows this stuff first-hand), but I was interested to note that one of the “forbidden” movies was David Swift’s Under the Yum Yum Tree (1963). What slightly surprised me was my immediate response, “And so it ought to have been,” and the realization that I find this movie offensive.

Oh, sure this film version of a pretty popular Broadway play raised some eyebrows 46 years ago when it came out—mostly on the grounds that it depicted an unmarried couple (Carol Lynley and Dean Jones) living together before marriage. That’s old hat now and it certainly has no bearing on what offends me about the film with its story of a womanizing lanlord (Jack Lemmon) attempting to satisfy his libido by renting to hot girls. Even that doesn’t enter into my distaste for the movie. No, it’s mostly a question of tone.

I say “mostly” because a different part of my brain is offended in quite another way by the ghastly early 1960s production design and I don’t think I’ve ever sat through anything with a Frank DeVol musical score where I wasn’t cringing with almost every note—at least those scores that are meant to be comic. This, however, is an equine of a different hue. What offends me far more is the leering, smarmy, smutty tone of the whole thing. There’s something distasteful about the way it reduces sex and sexuality to 110 minutes of blue joke that hasn’t the courage of its convictions to be openly vulgar.

See, I have no problem with the openly vulgar or the overtly sexual—hey, I gave five stars to John Cameron Mitchell’s Shortbus (2006), a film that includes hardcore pornography. And let us not forget I was upbraided for recommending (also with five stars) Pedro Almodovar’s Bad Education (2006) and thereby trying to corrupt innocent Hendersonvillians by promoting a movie that was “non-stop sex between two men.” (I would be interested to see the film the reader saw, because it sounds a lot more rooty tooty than the one I saw.) This in fact gave rise to that fine phrase “We are not all Cranky Hankes”—something for which we should all be grateful.

The difference with a movie like Under the Yum Yum Tree—and, for another random example, the Bob Hope picture I’ll Take Sweden (1965)—is a sense of adolescent sneaky-mindedness of the hubba-hubba school that makes sex and sexuality feel “dirty.” It’s like Beavis and Butthead laughing and saying, “He said ‘penis.’” In another sense, it reminds me of Helen Broderick in 50 Million Frenchmen (1931) commenting that she’s already seen some supposedly risque Parisian nightspot by saying, “That wasn’t shocking, merely biological.” 

I realize that this is an unusual kind of being offended. Most people bump into these movies on TV and think nothing of them, but they genuinely offend me. Knowing this, I passed the question over to Justin Souther and asked what offended him. His response? “Will Ferrell movies.” OK, I can see that, though I’ll exempt Melinda and Melinda (2004), Stranger Than Fiction (2006) and, to some degree, The Producers (2005), but I think a distinction needs be made between “Will Ferrell movie” and “a movie Will Ferrell is in.” Regardless, it wasn’t the answer—or the type of answer—I was looking for.

I’ve watched various levels of offense over the years where movies are concerned. I remember the 1967 reviews for Casino Royale were liberally peppered with charges of vulgarity and tastelessness. I saw a woman who was offended to her very soul by the sight of Julie Andrews and Paul Newman in bed in Hitchcock’s Torn Curtain (1966). Why? She found it indecent that the woman who played Maria von Trapp in The Sound of Music (1965) should be depicted in this manner. (And people wonder why the tough-talking, drinking diva Andrews of Star! in 1968 was a box office disaster?)

I once saw four people get to their feet (one gasping, “My God!”) and storm out in a body the minute the 10-foot-penis showed up in Ken Russell’s Lisztomania back in 1975. (A movie that Rex Reed assessed on a talk show with, “It’s got full-frontal nudity and everything. It is filthy.”) Me, I was astonished that anyone dared to do this—and a lot of other things—in a movie that was playing in multiplexes. I was also delighted by its daring and creativity. And I was not in the least offended. While I admit that I didn’t actually ask the folks who stalked from the theater—perhaps they’d just remembered a mah-jong tournament they were missing—I feel moderately safe in assuming that they were not pleased.

More recently, there were massive (and to my mind wholly deserved) walkouts by offended patrons during the Tom Green atrocity Freddy Got Fingered (2001). (In fact, its tag line, “This time you can’t change the channel,” overlooked the rejoinder, “No, but I can walk out of the theater.”) And even more recently, I saw numerous people bail on the Coen Brothers’ remake of The Ladykillers (2004)—and not because they were offended by any transgressions it made on Alexander Mackendrick’s original 1955 film. No, they were horrified by the language—which mostly means they were horrified by Marlon Wayans (which might be understandable in a different way).

Yesterday I saw four people—two groups of two—depart District 9 because they found the movie “disgusting.” That’s an assertion that leaves me scratching my head, but in both instances that was the reason.

I was once castigated for giving Kung Fu Hustle (2004) a recommendation. Why? Well, because it was “disgustingly violent.” I was then assured that others had felt the same and had walked out. This doesn’t jive with any experience I had observing audience response, but he was offended enough for everybody, I guess. The fact that all the violence in the film was deliberately cartoonish and modeled after the sort of thing you see in an old Warner Bros. cartoon either escaped his notice, or it cut no ice with him.

On the other side of the coin was one of my favorite encounters with a reader—probably because it didn’t play out at all the way I was expecting. A very well-dressed woman—business suit, stylish coiffure—came up to me and wanted to ask me something about my review of Y Tu Mama Tambien (2001). Judging by the way she was dressed and everything, I figured I was in for it over my five star review, but what could I do. Then she asked me, “Why do you think the two main characters couldn’t stand to be around each other after they wound up in bed with the same woman?” I was almost too stunned to answer, but replied that I thought it was because they’d crossed a line with each other that they were uncomfortable with, and that seeing each other reminded them of this. She thought about it for a minute and said, “Must be a guy thing. When I was in college that sort of thing would happen with women and no one thought anything of it.” This lady immediately became a friend.

Clearly what appalls one person is no big deal to someone else. The thing that most baffles me are parents who want to know if a movie is OK for their offspring. On more than one occcasion—after trying to dodge this question, since I don’t know their offspring—I’ve explained that a movie is very violent, that there is a lot of gore and gruesomeness, etc., only to be asked, “But is there any sex or nudity in it?” When apprised that, no, there isn’t, they’re completely satisfied that its alright for their kids to watch it. This seems a bit twisted to me, but there you are.

So I throw the question out for general discussion—what offends you in movies?

 

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About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress from December 2000 until his death in June 2016. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

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111 thoughts on “Cranky Hanke’s Screening Room: What offends you?

  1. Dionysis

    The rip-offs that inevitably follow on the heels of any moderately successful film offend me (usually), and sometimes sequels of decent films that are hastily thrown together and are often patently insulting to even the cerebrally deficient. The list of examples is virtually endless.

  2. Jim Donato

    When it comes to tone, nuance is everything. Back in the heyday of Saturday Night Live, Franken & Davis performed a scathing skit called “Porno for TV.” They set up the sketch by explaining that you can’t show actual pornography on television, but they skirted this issue by substituting back scratching for any form of sexual congress. The resulting sketch was as leeringly smarmy as possible.

    Many years later, I happened across a made for TV movie on the Lifetime channel (I think it was a network repeat showing up there) starring Rock Hudson. The movie in question was called The Star Maker and (I just looked it up) it came out in 1981 originally. It was a chilling realization of the Franken & Davis sketch. The half hour I saw of it before I switched it off made “I’ll Take Sweden” seem like fine art!

    Another jaw-dropper in terms of smarmy sexism is the Dean Martin Matt Helm movie “The Ambushers.” I swear every line out of Dino’s mouth is a double entendre! You’ll need a shower before it’s over! While Martin is on my mind there’s also Billy Wilder’s “Kiss Me Stupid!” I’m still not sure if that movie’s an early stab at post-modernism vis-a-vis Dean’s self-hating portrayal of his public image or just an ugly, crass attempt at “sex comedy.” Either way, it’ll knock the wind out of you. For what it’s worth, I absolutely hated the 1st Austin Powers movie, as soon as the pastiche intro stopped and the film began in earnest.

    Mostly, though, I’m offended by empty, visual spectacles. Films featuring computer graphics, in particular. I’m also offended by films where Satan was the casting director (see: Con-Air). That’s to say, I’m offended when actors I like appear in dross. Con-Air stands apart because never before had so many of my favorite actors cashed the same Bruckheimer paycheck!

  3. luluthebeast

    I really don’t get offended by movies, but find many to be stupid and tasteless. I get offended by many things in real life, such as hypocritical religious and right wing views and any sort of discrimination. I don’t get offended by these things in movies as I think they should be shown there.

    But then Will Ferrell comes real close…..

  4. Dread P. Roberts

    I saw four people—two groups of two—depart District 9 because they found the movie “disgusting.”

    Weird, I witnessed the EXACT same thing at the screening that I went to. In fact, one of the couples were sitting right next to me. The wife got up halfway through the movie, and informed her husband, in a rather angry tone, that she was disgusted and would be waiting outside. He then very briefly pleaded with her to stay, but she ignored him, and he then left a few minutes later, never to be seen again. I looked at my wife and felt thankful.

    I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again, “In the Company of Men” offends me.

    I’ve explained that a movie is very violent, that there is a lot of gore and gruesomeness, etc., only to be asked, “But is there any sex or nudity in it?” When apprised that, no, there isn’t, they’re completely satisfied that its alright for their kids to watch it. This seems a bit twisted to me, but there you are.

    Yep, I’ve got into some rather heated discussions with people over this. My theory is that it’s a twisted religious sanctity of the body thing. I see this as being very ironic – “so, God doesn’t mind the destruction of life, but rather the act of creating life?”…hmm

  5. Ken Hanke

    often patently insulting to even the cerebrally deficient.

    What a terrific comment. I may appropriate it some day. Actually, I’d like to see it as a breakout quote on a DVD case.

    Really, though, this business is more “movies that insult me” than offend me. A minor distinction, but a distinction.

  6. Ken Hanke

    made “I’ll Take Sweden” seem like fine art!

    I trust you realize the enormity of that statement.

    Another jaw-dropper in terms of smarmy sexism is the Dean Martin Matt Helm movie “The Ambushers.” I swear every line out of Dino’s mouth is a double entendre!

    Funny thing is I can’t remember if I’ve seen that Matt Helm picture. I clearly remember seeing The Silencers with my parents at the old Ritz Theater in Winter Haven, FL. But I wonder if I mostly remember that because of the “This gun shoots backwards” gag with George Raft in Casino Royale, which is based on the viewer having seen The Silencers.

    While Martin is on my mind there’s also Billy Wilder’s “Kiss Me Stupid!” I’m still not sure if that movie’s an early stab at post-modernism vis-a-vis Dean’s self-hating portrayal of his public image or just an ugly, crass attempt at “sex comedy.” Either way, it’ll knock the wind out of you.

    I have read several defenses of this movie. They don’t do anything to make me like it better. I can’t decide if it’s the smarminess or the overall depressing aura of desperation.

  7. Ken Hanke

    I get offended by many things in real life, such as hypocritical religious and right wing views and any sort of discrimination. I don’t get offended by these things in movies as I think they should be shown there.

    Depending on how they’re depicted, I wouldn’t argue that point.

  8. lisi russell

    Nothing human offends me. I don’t think I’ve ever walked out of a film, though some have been extremely tedious, especially the modern ones with too many quivering, severed limbs and buzz saws, which relates only to my poor showing in biology classes
    and not any moral perspective . (I love a film when the limbs are sewn back on, when they’re sewn back, as in Frankenstein and Man with Two-Heads.) I’m sure I would cringe at the wink-wink style of certain early ’50’s movies now. Our Ms Brooks from TV made me apoplectic with its simpering. Carry On films are not my first choice, either, but I like Kenneth Williams because I’m perverse. What offends me? Not much. I get offended when rocket scientists are portrayed by 20 year old fashion models, or the killers turn out to be the gorgeous lesbians who like to have sex with men. But I don’t walk out. A completist to the core.

  9. Thinking back through my life, I really that pretty much nothing has offended me.

    Except one. Hong Kong cinema was going for broke in the late 80s and early 90s, perhaps with the knowledge that China would censor after 1999. Category III films went all the way, and I saw many of them with no problems. THE UNTOLD STORY stars Anthony Wong as a lunatic that kills a restaurant owner (and family). He then uses the bodies to make pork buns. There is humor, but even so it is repulsive to watch, and I felt dirty afterwards.

  10. Ken Hanke

    I looked at my wife and felt thankful.

    For your wife or for the other couple departing?

    I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again, “In the Company of Men” offends me.

    Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately), I’ve not seen this.

  11. Ken Hanke

    THE UNTOLD STORY stars Anthony Wong as a lunatic that kills a restaurant owner (and family). He then uses the bodies to make pork buns. There is humor, but even so it is repulsive to watch, and I felt dirty afterwards

    Sounds more than a little like Sweeney Todd (any version you care to name).

  12. Dread P. Roberts

    For your wife or for the other couple departing?

    Both. I was just one big grateful cinema spectator.

    Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately), I’ve not seen this.

    I’m a little surprised by this, considering I had watched it in a film class in college. Supposedly (according to my movie professor) it was part of the ‘essential art’ movies, but I’m not buying into that. In fact, we were supposed to write a critical analysis on the damned thing, and I respectfully asked to write about another movie (that’s how offended I was). Fortunately my professor was fine with that, even though he thought I was just being silly about the whole ordeal.

  13. Tonberry

    Just mention “Terminator Salvation” and I will just get angry, plain and simple. Really angry. I hate that movie (it bears repeating.)

    Besides that, I find certain trailers to be more offensive than anything else. Mostly the horror ones where you know exactly how the ‘scare’ is gonna play out, but they do that loud, grating, screeching, cymbal crashing noise that forces you to jump anyway. It offends me because it is so played out!

    And speaking of “District 9,” I do remember a young female sitting behind me saying in a low tone that she ‘didn’t like this movie,’ during the part where they’re testing out the alien weapons. I thought it was a really powerful and tense scene, I guess she wasn’t prepared for a sci-fi movie to grab you by the throat.

  14. Asheville Dweller

    I really don’t get offended by movies, but find many to be stupid and tasteless. I get offended by many things in real life, such as hypocritical Athiests (If you don’t believe why do you harp about god on a regular basis, even more than evangicals) and left wing views and any sort of discrimination. I don’t get offended by these things in movies as I think they should be shown there.

  15. Ken Hanke

    I’m a little surprised by this, considering I had watched it in a film class in college.

    Well, it came out in 1997 — by then I was long past college filmgoing.

    Supposedly (according to my movie professor) it was part of the ‘essential art’ movies, but I’m not buying into that

    An essential art movie, huh? How old was this movie at the time? It really sounds like something that was at the moment hot, but whether it could be called an essential is another matter. I reckon it’s a matter perspective.

  16. Ken Hanke

    Just mention “Terminator Salvation” and I will just get angry, plain and simple. Really angry. I hate that movie (it bears repeating.)

    But are you actually offended by it? (I don’t even think it’s important enough to hate.)

  17. luluthebeast

    I am offended by Cialis commercials. What’s with those two separate tubs???

  18. Tonberry

    But are you actually offended by it? (I don’t even think it’s important enough to hate.)

    Yes. The whole tone of the movie offends me. You’re right that the movie isn’t important, so I fully admit, it’s my inner fan boy screaming at it.

  19. Ken Hanke

    I’m sure I would cringe at the wink-wink style of certain early ‘50’s movies now

    Interesting point — I wonder if I would have cringed at these things when they were new? Most of the movies I’ve complained about I saw long after their original release or I saw when I was too young to get the blue jokes. (I guess I saw I’ll Take Sweden on its original TV airing, so I was in high school when I found that leering quality offensive.) Had I been older when these were new would I have found them daring? I kind of doubt it, but you never know.

    Carry On films are not my first choice, either, but I like Kenneth Williams because I’m perverse.

    Check out Paul Morrissey’s Hound of the Baskervilles where he’s Sir Henry to Peter Cook’s Sherlock Holmes and Dudley Moore’s Dr. Watson.

    I get offended when rocket scientists are portrayed by 20 year old fashion models

    See Tara Reid in Uwe Boll’s Alone in the Dark — a classic of this kind.

  20. Ken Hanke

    I am offended by Cialis commercials. What’s with those two separate tubs???

    They tactfully cut away before the trained seals are brought in.

  21. Not much gets me but I’ve had people flip out on the following films :

    Falling Down – I am howling with laughter as my date and 2 other friends go home.

    Barbarella – five adults flipped out over the nudity – had to be turned off after 8 minutes.

    Cloverfield – happily chomping popcorn in the 4th row as the girlfriend is nauseated in the bathroom. There were 12 people in the aisles at that point.

  22. Not much gets me but I’ve had people flip out on the following films :

    Falling Down – I am howling with laughter as my date and 2 other friends go home.

    Barbarella – five adults flipped out over the nudity – had to be turned off after 8 minutes.

    Cloverfield – happily chomping popcorn in the 4th row as the girlfriend is nauseated in the bathroom. There were 12 people in the aisles at that point.

  23. I don’t recall ever having been offended by a film, except in the sense that I felt like my intelligence was being insulted. I’m constantly amazed by the outrage inspired in some people by what seems to me, relatively innocuous stuff.

  24. john r

    The stereotypical picture of women as being so bereft of common sense that I wonder how they survived in the world as long as they have (P2 was an example of this-and I walked out, and demanded a refund).

  25. Ken Hanke

    Barbarella – five adults flipped out over the nudity – had to be turned off after 8 minutes.

    You must know some incredibly sensitive people!

    Cloverfield – happily chomping popcorn in the 4th row as the girlfriend is nauseated in the bathroom. There were 12 people in the aisles at that point

    But does this count as offensive or merely cases of motion sickness induced by the shaky-cam?

  26. Ken Hanke

    I’m constantly amazed by the outrage inspired in some people by what seems to me, relatively innocuous stuff.

    I guess one man’s innocuous is another man’s crime against humanity.

  27. Ken Hanke

    The stereotypical picture of women as being so bereft of common sense that I wonder how they survived in the world as long as they have (P2 was an example of this-and I walked out, and demanded a refund).

    This isn’t necessarily limited to women or to crap horror pictures. I’d successfully dodged seeing Kramer vs. Kramer for years — simply because nothing about it interests me. Well, I let it run when it cropped up on TCM a while back. I made it till it hit a scene where Dustin Hoffman is depicted as being too stupid to know (or be able to figure out) how to make coffee or perform any other basic kitchen task. That was enough. I didn’t need to see a movie made by people with this mindset.

  28. Barbarella – five adults flipped out over the nudity – had to be turned off after 8 minutes.

    You must know some incredibly sensitive people!

    Yeah Got stuck with some fundamentalist Enemies of Fun – to me it is just goofy fun.

    Cloverfield – happily chomping popcorn in the 4th row as the girlfriend is nauseated in the bathroom. There were 12 people in the aisles at that point

    But does this count as offensive or merely cases of motion sickness induced by the shaky-cam?

    Shaky-cam for sure …

  29. brianpaige

    In all fairness I screwed up and left a coffee maker on earlier today.

    I tried long and hard to think of a film that truly offended me. It was difficult. But I think I have the one film that truly made me go off on a massive rant: The Randolph Scott/Budd Boetticher western Decision at Sundown.

    Seriously. I’m a fan of pretty much every other Scott/Boetticher movie, but this one and the hideous, awful way it ends sent me on a rant that lasted half an hour.

    Ken, have you seen this movie and if so did you too go off on a rant at how bad it sucked?

  30. Ken Hanke

    Yeah Got stuck with some fundamentalist Enemies of Fun – to me it is just goofy fun.

    I don’t even remember the nudity being particularly rampant. Good heavens, there are some movies that might have just killed them if this so offended them.

  31. Ken Hanke

    Ken, have you seen this movie and if so did you too go off on a rant at how bad it sucked?

    I can’t say that I’ve seen this, but I’m not all that fond of westerns in general, so that’s not surprising.

    Now, I have a friend who’s good for at least five minutes of rant if you even mention The Village. I bet I can easily go that long on Forrest Gump, come to think of it (and I’d rather not).

  32. Dread P. Roberts

    How old was this movie at the time? It really sounds like something that was at the moment hot, but whether it could be called an essential is another matter.

    This would have been in 2003, so it was six years old. I don’t know that it was even really ‘hot’, and it most certainly is not – or never will be – essential. It’s just that my professor was a fan.

    I guess one man’s innocuous is another man’s crime against humanity.

    *sniff*…that is such a true and wonderful quote.

    Good heavens, there are some movies that might have just killed them if this so offended them.

    Oh, I wouldn’t be surprised if at least one or two of these individuals was a surreptitious porno addict, who’s not comfortable seeing such profane evil with company.

    I can’t say that I’ve seen this

    You really need to get out more and watch some movies (just kidding).

    Now, I have a friend who’s good for at least five minutes of rant if you even mention The Village.

    Don’t you have another friend, who frequents himself on these posting boards, who is rather fond of talking about John Waters’ “Pink Flamingos“? I’m a little surprised that hasn’t come up yet.

  33. Jim Donato

    The oral sex scene in Pink Flamingos is the only part of that film that offended me. And judging from recent comment, Waters himself as well. He regrets putting that scene in as it was a reference to Deep Throat porno chic that was current, but he did not think it stood the test of time. But the scene in Female Trouble where the stepdad tries to get Taffy to fellate him is perhaps my favorite scene in all of Waters movies for its scathingly hilarious dialogue.

    All this talk of rants has reawakened my disgust at Se7en; a film I despised for its facile and unremitting nihilism. It is the one movie I wish I had walked out of in retrospect for its philosophical offensiveness.

  34. Ken Hanke

    Don’t you have another friend, who frequents himself on these posting boards, who is rather fond of talking about John Waters’ “Pink Flamingos”? I’m a little surprised that hasn’t come up yet.

    Interesting definition of friend. Actually, the many-times-banned (not for his antics on the movie section) poster once known as Nam Vet and subsequently known as about 30 other names resurrected one of his old names not so long ago and went on a Waters rant that never made it through moderation.

  35. Ken Hanke

    All this talk of rants has reawakened my disgust at Se7en; a film I despised for its facile and unremitting nihilism. It is the one movie I wish I had walked out of in retrospect for its philosophical offensiveness.

    That actually seems like a pretty fair assessment to me.

  36. smithmillcreek

    Unexpected gratuitous violence & sadism.
    I felt this way about Blue Steel w/ Jamie Curtis and a rash of Reagan era films late 80’s/early 90’s.

    I wouldn’t feel this way about Reservoir Dogs (which I won’t see)- I’m forewarned.

    I was deeply offended by Fargo.
    The next morning, however, I addressed a letter (mass political mailing) to a guy whose brother had been shot point-black, a few feet from the mailing party, months before. The thief, a scholarship student with a better life, used the stolen credit card at his workplace and was caught a few minutes later.
    So, sometimes life is offensive.

  37. Ken Hanke

    I wouldn’t feel this way about Reservoir Dogs (which I won’t see)- I’m forewarned.

    So I take it that you’re put off by violence in movies in general, but your objection is when it catches you off-guard?

  38. Ken Hanke

    Also, like most people here, not much offends me either. Bad Education and Y Tu Mama Tambien are two of my favorite films, I admire John Waters, and as far as things like torture porn are concerned, I find it repetitive and plot-less and, therefore, insulting to my intelligence

    I’m interested and impressed by the fact that almost no one who has posted here seems to be offended in any of the traditional ways. Indeed, most seem to be more in the “insulting to my intelligence” realm than anything else.

    I’m their target audience. I love a good romance, and I like happy endings. But my choices grow more limited each year. Made of Honor? Sex in the City? Fool’s Gold? ARGH. The only places I get a decent love story anymore are through foreign films (Once, Priceless), fantasy (Stardust), period pieces (Becoming Jane), or independent films like (500) Days of Summer.

    You know, I’m trying to think of a good Hollywood romantic comedy of recent vintage and I’m not doing so well. While films like Love Actually, Easy Virtue, Miss Pettigrew and Bridget Jones’s Diary come easily to mind, they’re all in the Brit realm. In its quirky — and probably indie — way, I could add The Brothers Bloom. Otherwise, I’m picking things like Two Weeks Notice and Music and Lyrics — both with a Brit import star and neither exactly great (though I have to admit I really like the latter).

    I suppose it’s because women traditionally spend less money on movies than men, but maybe we’d spend more if we had something better to spend our money on.

    You’d think the fact that the first (read: good) Bridget Jones played for months might clue them in on this, but when Sex and the City raken in a fortune, I guess all bets — and any demand for quality — were off.

    Also, the following don’t offend me, but if they dropped out of cinema, I’d be a happy, happy girl: the Wayans brothers, Larry the Cable Guy, Cuba Gooding Jr., and the Sherwood Baptist Church

    Well, I think the Cable Guy and Cuba Gooding have more or less been dropped out. It’s a start.

  39. Ken Hanke

    the nipple in one of the above photo disturbs me beyond words

    Then you shouldn’t stare at pictures of Gael Garcia Bernal with his shirt off.

  40. T.H.X. Pijonsnodt, Esq.

    Blood makes me wince, but I can’t say it offends me, and I can name plenty of films in which it was necessary. I think I’d be offended by a war movie without graphic violence. (Valkyrie I thought was tame to the point of compromising its impact, despite a couple of incongruously stylish scenes, like the spinning shot around the record.)

    I used to be anxious about watching movies with Sean because of his Christian faith, but I can’t recall him ever making an issue of anything. Actually, he was the one who introduced me to Y Tu Mamá También.

  41. Ken Hanke

    I used to be anxious about watching movies with Sean because of his Christian faith, but I can’t recall him ever making an issue of anything.

    To be honest with you, I only ever remember this aspect of him when he brings it up.

  42. Brian Postelle

    Always getting into this conversation late but anyway…

    Being a horror fan, I always wondered where my threshold for graphic violence fell.

    The French film Irreversible found it. Turned the DVD off mid-movie and spent the next few days trying to unsee it.

  43. Dread P. Roberts

    Being a horror fan, I always wondered where my threshold for graphic violence fell…The French film Irreversible found it.

    I’m often curious and intrigued when I read comments like this; so I stopped by Wikipedia to see what (if any) controversy or other publicly documented negative reception might be. This was a rather interesting bit of info that I stumbled across:

    “The first 30 minutes of the film has a background noise with a frequency of 28Hz (low frequency, almost inaudible), similar to the noise produced by an earthquake. In humans, it causes nausea, sickness and vertigo. It was the main cause of people walking out of the theaters during the first part of the film in places like Cannes and San Sebastian. In fact, it was added with the purpose of getting this reaction.”

  44. Ken Hanke

    In fact, it was added with the purpose of getting this reaction

    Yeah, that’s what I’d want my movie to do — induce nausea. Larry the Cable Guy can do that without benefit of low frequency sound.

    Actually, till Brian posted about it, I’d never heard of this movie altogether.

    Curiously, part of the soundtrack for Rouben Mamoulian’s Jekyll & Hyde (1932) involved such manipulations as a gong being struck and the sound played backwards (minus the actual impact), and a candle flame being photographed and turned into an optical soundtrack. Of course, these were used only briefly during the bigger transformation scenes.

    Ken Russell’s Altered States (1980) also had some sound manipulation that I think had to do with rubbing the edge of a cymbal.

  45. Dread P. Roberts

    Actually, till Brian posted about it, I’d never heard of this movie altogether.

    I hadn’t heard of this either, but after reading that it primarily is about revenge over rape, I have no interest whatsoever.

    Things like rape and torture porn don’t necessarily ‘offend’ me per se, so much as they just annoy me, and are in no way entertaining to me. I didn’t really have any interest in watching “The Hills Have Eyes” anyway when it came out, but when I heard from someone else that it involves a lot of rape, I was really turned off. I think my distaste for this sort of thing might have started after initially watching “A Clockwork Orange“. But that was a little different for me, because at least there seemed to be a message being made. In all seriousness, if there is no moral message to be made, and the movie is meant to be nothing more then mindless (supposedly fun) bloody entertainment, then what the hell is the point of extreme sadistic violence? I LOVE a good horror movie, but I despise a stupid slasher movie – especially the torture porn sub-genre that has spawned forth, for the sake of being more ‘edgy’ – and there is a huge difference in my mind.

  46. Ken Hanke

    what the hell is the point of extreme sadistic violence? I LOVE a good horror movie, but I despise a stupid slasher movie – especially the torture porn sub-genre that has spawned forth, for the sake of being more ‘edgy’ – and there is a huge difference in my mind.

    In the main, I probably agree with you — and I certainly dislike torture porn — but I’m a little careful in this area, because there’s so much flexibility in determining sadistic, it seems. (At the same time, I have no problem tagging the Saw sequels, the Hostel films, High Tension, the remade Hills Have Eyes movies, the remade Chainsaw Massacre pictures and Passion of the Christ as torture porn.) A great many slasher pictures, on the other hand, merely strike me as dumb and bloody, but not particularly sadistic.

    Of course, there was a time when the 1935 The Raven was considered disgustingly sadistic. In fact, it more than anything else — moviewise — brought about the horror moratorium in 1936. Yet I first saw The Raven on broadcast TV when I was about nine.

  47. Dread P. Roberts

    …I’m a little careful in this area, because there’s so much flexibility in determining sadistic, it seems.

    It’s funny that you say this, because after posting my last comment line, I started to think that maybe I am offended by torture-porn. But then I started thinking about some of the movies I’ve seen like this in the past that I kind of enjoyed (at least in part). In fact, I kind of thought that the recent THE Final Destination actually looked like some cheesy fun. I sort of enjoyed some of the past installments (again, in part). So does this mean that I might in fact be being hypocritical? I’m not entirely sure, it’s all a bit confusing to me. Maybe the supernatural element of the Final Destination series somehow makes it excusable and enjoyable to me. After all, I’ve always been MUCH more fond of Freddy (Nightmare on Elm St. series) than Jason (Friday the 13th series). I will say that, as I had touched on previously, the presence of excessively gratuitous, graphic rape in movies like these, is a pretty good ‘draw-the-line’ determinant for me. It would probably be fair to say that this is something I find offensive.

  48. Ken Hanke

    So does this mean that I might in fact be being hypocritical?

    I don’t think so. We’re looking at a difference in tone, I think. The Final Destination movies are more in the splatstick realm of bloody comedy than sadistic in the sense of movies that linger over pain for its own sake.

    Maybe the supernatural element of the Final Destination series somehow makes it excusable and enjoyable to me. After all, I’ve always been MUCH more fond of Freddy (Nightmare on Elm St. series) than Jason (Friday the 13th series).

    Perhaps, though the literal-minded part of me insists on pointing out that Jason becomes supernatural in Part VI. Again, it may be a question of tone, since there’s more deliberate comedy in the Nightmare pictures (at least after the first and maybe the second).

  49. chubbycubnc

    I was so offended by “The Butterfly Effect” that I couldn’t watch beyond the first 20 minutes or so… a man who videotapes his own children having sex was pretty offensive. The son of the “sin-ematographer” (did you like that one?) burning a dog trapped inside a burlap sack was so beyond offensive that I couldn’t watch any more of this dreck. Any film that can combine child abuse and animal cruelty deserves to be not only avoided, but also treated as an indicator of sociopathic behavior by the American Psychiatric Association.

  50. brianpaige

    I’m actually surprised that The Raven was a post code movie, since it was released in 1935. The feel of it is that of a totally pre code film in a lot of ways. Wasn’t that banned in the UK though, and as a result Universal declared a moratorium on horror movies until their business was so god awful bad by 1939 that they went back to the well?

  51. Ken Hanke

    Any film that can combine child abuse and animal cruelty deserves to be not only avoided, but also treated as an indicator of sociopathic behavior by the American Psychiatric Association.

    I’m not particularly defending the film, but it is worth noting that the film — distasteful as it may be — isn’t presenting these as anything other than appalling things.

  52. Ken Hanke

    Definitely, Maybe was cute, but not enough for me to watch more than once.

    It has a British company — Working Title — behind it, too.

    Thought of one that I liked a lot — Confessions of a Shopaholic — then realized it has at least one Brit writer, an Australian director, an Scots-Australian leading lady and a Brit leading man.

  53. Ken Hanke

    I’m actually surprised that The Raven was a post code movie, since it was released in 1935. The feel of it is that of a totally pre code film in a lot of ways. Wasn’t that banned in the UK though, and as a result Universal declared a moratorium on horror movies until their business was so god awful bad by 1939 that they went back to the well?

    Not sure if it was banned in GB (Island of Lost Souls was), but it caused a big fuss over here and may have been part of GB instituting the “H” certificate. The moratorium’s actual effectiveness is debatable, because it played into the hands of “New” Universal’s head of production Charles Rogers. He personally despised horror films and was happy to have an excuse to pull the plug on them. Then after a couple years of low-returning B pictures and Deanna Durbin as their only money-maker, Rogers was out and horror returned.

  54. brianpaige

    From what I recall The Raven had a part in horror films in general being banned in the UK. Come to think of it the years 1936-38 are fairly dreary years for films and a lack of decent horror movies in the “New Universal” era might be a part of that. In fact most of the genres of the early 30s were petering out:

    –Warner Bros. musicals hit the wall around 1936 or so.
    –The gangster genre was hurt by Cagney leaving Warners for a while, before returning for Angels With Dirty Faces and Roaring Twenties.
    –Horror as noted was banned and not featured by Universal.
    –Most of the major comedians of the 30s were petering out…Marx Bros. were running out of steam after Day at the Races, WC Fields was on the outs with Paramount and was a drunk, Joe E. Brown left Warner Bros., Wheeler & Woolsey had a string of lesser outings in 1936-37 before Woolsey died.

    Actually now that I think about it, I change my mind about the 30s. The early 30s was way better than the late 30s, haha.

  55. For fans of IRREVERSIBLE check out Gasper Noe’s previous film I STAND ALONE. Yikes! His wife made the amazing INNOCENCE, which might have a place in my top 10 for the decade.

  56. chubbycubnc

    re: I STAND ALONE… I bought this on VHS when the video store on Broadway was selling out it’s inventory… pretty disturbing flick in it’s own right!

  57. bobaloo

    I hadn’t heard of this either, but after reading that it primarily is about revenge over rape, I have no interest whatsoever.

    Things like rape and torture porn don’t necessarily ‘offend’ me per se, so much as they just annoy me, and are in no way entertaining to me. I didn’t really have any interest in watching “The Hills Have Eyes” anyway when it came out, but when I heard from someone else that it involves a lot of rape, I was really turned off.

    In the interest of fairness, Irreversible is far from torture porn. It is undoubtedly unsettling and meant to be so, but is isn’t even in the same realm as The Hills Have Eyes (or it’s ilk that Ken mentions) for many reasons, not the least of which is the intention of the film maker.

  58. Dread P. Roberts

    The Final Destination movies are more in the splatstick realm of bloody comedy

    Spatstick…what a great word. I’m guessing you didn’t make this up, and now I’m wondering why I’ve never heard this before. Maybe I can use this the next time I’m trying to better explain the merits of “Kill Bill” to my dad. Speaking of which, here’s of funny fact – he hates Tanantino’s movies, and refuses to watch them, but he went to see “Inglourious Basterds and really enjoyed it. Of course, I had ‘failed’ to mention beforehand that it was a Tanantino movie, otherwise he probably wouldn’t have watched it.

    Perhaps, though the literal-minded part of me insists on pointing out that Jason becomes supernatural in Part VI.

    I’ve only seen the first three movies (well, and Jason X, but that doesn’t count) so I didn’t even know about this. However, I do have a friend how says that Part VI is his favorite.

    In the interest of fairness, Irreversible is far from torture porn.

    It was not my intent to imply that it was, and I apologize
    for any sort of misunderstanding. Like I said, I haven’t seen the movie, so I plead ignorance; but I will say that it doesn’t ‘sound’ like something that would offend me, so much as just make me uncomfortable, perhaps. The reason I say this is because of this line I read that I like:

    Film critic Roger Ebert has argued that the film’s structure “makes it inherently moral; that by presenting vengeance before the acts that inspire it, we are forced to process the vengeance first, and therefore think more deeply about its implications.”

    Now, how this all actually plays out is another matter altogether. One that I know nothing of.

  59. Ken Hanke

    I just looked at my DVD shelf and came up with nothing made in the last decade.

    Considering the complete chaos of my shelves, I’ll have to get back to you with a comparison, but I suspect I’ll have little more success than you did.

  60. Ken Hanke

    WC Fields was on the outs with Paramount and was a drunk

    In all fairness, he was a drunk before that and most of what was going on at this time had to do with illness (look at how much he’s doubled by another actor in Poppy). Because it was easier work, a lot of his energies during this period were channeled into radio.

    Wheeler & Woolsey had a string of lesser outings in 1936-37 before Woolsey died.

    They’re certainly lesser, but I’m surprised by how high the production values remained on those movies.

    Actually now that I think about it, I change my mind about the 30s. The early 30s was way better than the late 30s, haha.

    See? I think a lot — an awful lot — of this has to do with the increasing assembly line approach to filmmaking. It was slicker and all, but there seems so little room for a personal touch to most of the later 30s movies by comparison.

  61. Ken Hanke

    Spatstick…what a great word. I’m guessing you didn’t make this up, and now I’m wondering why I’ve never heard this before.

    No, it’s been around for a while. (The only thing I’ve ever made up that’s stuck in any broad sense is calling those pictures Lugosi made in the 1940s at Monogram, “The Monongram Nine.”) I don’t know where it originated. I’m pretty sure you’ll find it in an old “Screening Room” about gore movies, though.

    I’ve only seen the first three movies (well, and Jason X, but that doesn’t count) so I didn’t even know about this. However, I do have a friend how says that Part VI is his favorite.

    He makes a wise choice. I would like to claim that the only reason I’ve seen all of them is because I was a contributing “splatterologist” to John McCarty’s Official Splatter Movie Guide, or because I wrote a chapter on them in A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series. And while these things are both true, I have to admit I’d almost certainly have watched them anyway.

  62. Sean Williams

    I can’t recall him ever making an issue of anything.

    That’s generous of you — rather too generous, in fact, since I recall walking out on Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star.

    I only ever remember this aspect of him when he brings it up.

    I think this comment was intended as a compliment. In any case, I choose to interpret it as such.

    I’m not sure I can easily define what offends me. In general, I care more about the manner in which the material is presented than about the material itself — i.e., that sex be treated delicately rather than crudely.

    But I can think of exceptions. The vulgarity in Y Tu Mamá También serves a purpose. So does the blood violence in Sweeney Todd.

    In point of fact, I can think of instances in which I found tasteful implications more offensive than explicit content. When I first read Twilight, I was simultaneously rereading Lolita and was shocked to realize that I found Twilight far more vulgar despite its chaste use of ellipses to avoid even the word “sex”. (“Have you ever…with anyone else?”) My distaste in that regard was probably analogous to Mr. Hanke’s for Under the Yum Yum Tree. On the other hand, I like the coy Freudian symbolism in Cocteau’s Belle et la Bête.

    So how do I distinguish bad-tasteless/good-tasteless or good-tasteful/bad-tasteful? I have no idea, except that that distinction is essential to my opinions about cinema.

  63. Ken Hanke

    When I first read Twilight

    Please tell me this is not meant to imply a second reading took place?

    My distaste in that regard was probably analogous to Mr. Hanke’s for Under the Yum Yum Tree.

    I suspect it is very close to identical.

  64. Sean Williams

    Please tell me this is not meant to imply a second reading took place?

    Believe me, one reading was more than enough. I’ve had enough vampire snuggling to last a lifetime.

  65. cleov

    Brief detour from blood and torture:

    I’ve learned to stay away from romantic comedies that were made immediately after World War II was over, because of what I call the “capitulation” scene. I’ve several light comedies (Bette Davis’s “June Bride” if I have the title correct, was one) where you had a smart, hardworking, successful “careerwoman” (cue: The sneer on the face of person using the word) who gave it all up in the last reel for Her Man.

    (I suppose that was part of the big plan to chase all the women back into the kitchen after the vets came home. No, I haven’t read “The Feminine Mystique” yet.)

    The “capitulation” scene generally came at the last moment and efficiently wrecked the rest of the movie for me. I’d sit there, seething, successfully conned out of two more hours of my life, tricked into watching antifeminist propaganda AGAIN.

  66. DrSerizawa

    I don’t know if I will call it being offended since I don’t get offended about much. Except anything by Michael Bay. We use Pearl Harbor for our little MST3K getogethers.

    Seriously I am more disgusted with the rise of senseless torture porn. This sort of brainless torture for the sake of torture is seriously impacting my basic confirmed libertarianism. That in in itself frightens me because if there’s anything I religiously oppose it’s censorship. I’ve always subscribed the idea that I would defend to the death anyone’s right to their opinion (or entertainment), but torture/rape porn is something I wouldn’t mind being excised. Where is it going? What’s the next step? Extreme immorality tends to create a violent backlash, as one can see from history. I don’t want to see that. But if the movies keep going further and further over the top, impossible as it sounds today, some sort of reaction will occur.

  67. Ken Hanke

    I’ve learned to stay away from romantic comedies that were made immediately after World War II was over, because of what I call the “capitulation” scene. I’ve several light comedies (Bette Davis’s “June Bride” if I have the title correct, was one) where you had a smart, hardworking, successful “careerwoman” (cue: The sneer on the face of person using the word) who gave it all up in the last reel for Her Man.

    I can watch this in a 60 year old movie and put it in perspective, though June Bride is a particularly ghastly example — Bette Davis not only gives it up for Robert Montgomery, but she stands there ready to carry his luggage. However, you might be horrified to know that the dynamic is alive — if not exactly thriving, considering the box office — in Post Grad, which came out two weeks ago.

  68. Marcie Ellis

    “And let us not forget I was upbraided for recommending (also with five stars) Pedro Almodovar’s Bad Education (2006) and thereby trying to corrupt innocent Hendersonvillians by promoting a movie that was “non-stop sex between two men.” (I would be interested to see the film the reader saw, because it sounds a lot more rooty tooty than the one I saw.) This in fact gave rise to that fine phrase “We are not all Cranky Hankes”—something for which we should all be grateful.” ~ Ken

    Ken, pay no mind to these Christian types that hide behind their supposed morality. I have Baptist neighbors. They go to church every Sunday, but they do the same stuff we all do. They drink on Saturday night. I can overhear some of them screaming at each other in drunken fits. And my next door people have a gay son. The mother goes ballistic when he brings his boyfriend home. I can hear her now “Jimmy quit bringing that yankee f—– home! This is Jesus’ house and we don’t want any sodomites here”. Can you believe anybody thinking this way in these modern days?

    Ken, the movies I don’t like are the ones with too much violence. It does my caring soul harm to see some of the wanton violence these days. I had to leave during “No Country For Old Men” because of it. Please tell us plainly when there is gratuitous violence in a film that you review. I don’t care how well acted or directed it is. If it has too much violence I don’t want to see it. Thank you for your reveiws. I don’t find you cranky at all. In fact, you’re kinda cute.

  69. Ken Hanke

    Where is it going? What’s the next step?

    I think that’s both the problem and the solution. Where can it go? It’s a dead end. The failure of Hostel 2 pretty much told that story — and the recent yawns that greeted The Collector endorsed it. Now, if only Saw VI will tank — but it probably won’t because it will be the only horror picture around at Halloween.

    Extreme immorality tends to create a violent backlash, as one can see from history. I don’t want to see that. But if the movies keep going further and further over the top, impossible as it sounds today, some sort of reaction will occur.

    The sad thing about this is that these movies — that should be a cause for concern — seem to ruffle far fewer feathers than films that are overtly sexual.

  70. luluthebeast

    ” Please tell us plainly when there is gratuitous violence in a film that you review.”

    But what is gratuitous?

    I thought that the violence in “No Country For Old Men” fit with the story. Mary doesn’t like violence in movies, so I simply tell her that the movie has it and she usually decides not to see it. It has nothing to do with the movie, but she lived through a period of violence and has no desire to see it on tv or in a movie. I have lived through violence myself, but have no problem seperating the real life and movie life. Ken says when there is violence in a movie, so I think you should take him at his word.

    Most of the movies Mary and I see at theatres are family type or silly romance (what I put up with!) or comedies or TCM at home and I see all the fun, bloody stuff on my own.

  71. Ken Hanke

    Ken, pay no mind to these Christian types that hide behind their supposed morality.

    I was, in any case, more amused than not. A friend of mine on a message board adopted “We are not all Cranky Hankes” as his signature for about 6 months, and someone else sent me an e-mail saying, “You said the movie was disturbing and it disturbed her, so I don’t get the complaint.”

    Can you believe anybody thinking this way in these modern days?

    Unfortunately, I can.

    I had to leave during “No Country For Old Men” because of it. Please tell us plainly when there is gratuitous violence in a film that you review.

    This gets tricky, because I wouldn’t call the violence in No Country gratuitous, since it’s inherent in the material. I did note that the Coens are “unflinching in their realistic (albeit somewhat stylized) depiction of violence,” and the rating noted “strong graphic violence.” Of course, any time you’re in doubt about such content, you can always ask me. The only trick is that my threshold of the depiction of violence mayn’t be yours. (I’m still astonished that anyone would be offended by the cartoonish violence of Kung Fu Hustle.)

    I don’t find you cranky at all. In fact, you’re kinda cute.

    Well, thank you — that’s not something I hear every day.

  72. brianpaige

    I haven’t seen Hostel 2, but did check out Hostel 1. It’s pretty much the definitive torture porn style horror flick. It’s sick stuff, yet if you look beneath all that there actually IS some social commentary about Eastern Europe in the film. Once was enough there however, I had no desire to see a Part 2.

  73. DrSerizawa

    I don’t know if I will call it being offended since I don’t get offended about much. Except anything by Michael Bay. We use Pearl Harbor for our little MST3K getogethers.

    Seriously I am more disgusted with the rise of senseless torture porn. This sort of brainless torture for the sake of torture is seriously impacting my basic confirmed libertarianism. That in in itself frightens me because if there’s anything I religiously oppose it’s censorship. I’ve always subscribed the idea that I would defend to the death anyone’s right to their opinion (or entertainment), but torture/rape porn is something I wouldn’t mind being excised. Where is it going? What’s the next step? Extreme immorality tends to create a violent backlash, as one can see from history. I don’t want to see that. But if the movies keep going further and further over the top, impossible as it sounds today, some sort of reaction will occur.

  74. Ken Hanke

    But what is gratuitous?

    That is indeed the question. Is A Clockwork Orange violent? Yes. Is it gratuitous? I’d say no.

  75. Ken Hanke

    some social commentary about Eastern Europe in the film

    Proof positive in any case that a few bags of candy goes a long way with Slovakian street kids.

  76. Sean Williams

    I wouldn’t call the violence in No Country gratuitous, since it’s inherent in the material.

    I would tend to agree, although I suppose that violence is inherent in torture porn, too — sadism being an inextricable component of serial murder.

    In any case, I think that it’s psychologically productive to be offended — if one analyzes the reason for one’s reaction.

    But what is gratuitous?

    Or to take the inquiry one step further, When is gratuitous wrong?

    For instance, I generally object to sensationalized rape, but not when the rapist is dragging a pair of grand pianos piled high with rotting mules.

  77. Rilee

    First of all, I find offensive anything-violent-and/or-exploitatively gratuitous. Yes,I know, that’s difficult to define, but my personal definition is, “could you have gotten the same point across without bludgeoning me with it?” On the other hand, I guess some movies I’d just plain rather not have gotten the point at all, Se7en being among them, just because of their, as Mr. Donato put it “philosophical offensiveness”.

    Another thing I find offensive is anything that insults my intelligence. I happen to be a continuing fan of children’s films, and I love them when they don’t insult children’s intelligence. One that does, and therefore offends me greatly, is “The Bear” (I never saw the whole thing – couldn’t sit through it. I thought of it just now because I saw the teaser for an outtake from it over on the side of a You Tube vid I’d just watched). The baby bear making sounds like a human child was simply more than I could stomach.

    Going back to the violence issue, in a realm where violence interfaced with children (although in movies that were NOT FOR children), two movies come to mind where I didn’t find the violence at all gratuitous: Pan’s Labyrinth and Let the Right One In. Neither of these films would have been able to get their points across without the amount of violence they each chose to use, I think. It was the violence depicted which made the choices each protagonist made believable in the end. Another in that category that I didn’t care for so much: Terry Gilliam’s Tidelands. My issue with this last was that Jodelle Ferland just wasn’t a good enough actor for the part of Jeliza Rose. Gilliam said in a brief commentary at the beginning that he had found his own inner child in the film and that “she is a little girl”. I’m disappointed that he couldn’t find more depth in the portrayal of that little girl. It’s a shame too, because I thought the premise at least held some promise. It dealt with an issue that those of us who experienced less-than-golden childhoods usually hold in the depths of our psyches (particularly those of us who really WERE little girls). We take what we have and try to make something of it that can give us some joy, some hope. I don’t generally cut movies the same slack I cut my life, at any rate!

  78. luluthebeast

    I would not put torture porn in the offensive category, but the stupid and boring category. All the filmmaker is trying to do is gross-out a continually more jaded audience. Same with rape scenes. Now in real life, rape (whether against a woman or a man) is about as disgusting, degrading and offensive as you can get, but in a movie it’s meant to titillate and shock.

    Now take a movie like CANNIBAL HOLACAUST, the rape, murder, torture and cannibal scenes in it didn’t bother me a bit, but the scenes where they tortured, abused and killed live animals did. So I guess you could say that part of that movie I did find offensive.

    Now Phillip Garrido and Sarah Palin I find offensive!

  79. Yeah I’m on the side of Hostel was just stupid. The first half is a soft euro porn mated to a badly done snuff film for the second part. “The Passion” was a better snuff film if you like that kind of mind numbing violence.

    “Cannibal Holocaust” Ruggero Deodato’s masterpiece film – banned in 53 countries with a production story that reads like Hostel. A film that would always stay in my Top 50 of all time. Always visually interesting, the real horror of this film was what upstanding educated civilized people do to the animals and local peoples they encounter.

  80. I’ve explained that a movie is very violent, that there is a lot of gore and gruesomeness, etc., only to be asked, “But is there any sex or nudity in it?”

    Opening weekend the family was going to see Godfather III – check out the parents guide at IMDB
    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0099674/parentalguide

    By the way use the parental guide for all films you question.

  81. Dread P. Roberts

    Just to clarify for those that might not already know – an actual “snuff film” is a genre that depicts the actual death or murder of a person or people, without the aid of special effects, for the express purpose of distribution and entertainment or financial exploitation. None of these main stream movies actually fall into this category; in fact, it has been argued that real, authentic snuff films are an urban legend, but I don’t know this for a fact. Personally, I’m don’t think that either Hostel or The Passion would even fall into the ‘fake’ (or false) snuff category.

    Supposedly Ruggero Deodato was once called before a court in order to prove that the murders of humans depicted in his film Cannibal Holocaust had been faked.

  82. luluthebeast

    “Supposedly Ruggero Deodato was once called before a court in order to prove that the murders of humans depicted in his film Cannibal Holocaust had been faked.”

    Apparently Deodato and the rest of the people were amazed that the girl who appeared in the film’s most iconic shot could sit perfectly still for so long on the little bicycle seat they had set up for her.

  83. Ken Hanke

    two movies come to mind where I didn’t find the violence at all gratuitous: Pan’s Labyrinth and Let the Right One In. Neither of these films would have been able to get their points across without the amount of violence they each chose to use, I think. It was the violence depicted which made the choices each protagonist made believable in the end.

    Interestingly enough, I had a fairly lengthy correspondence with a reader who was appalled by me raving over Pan’s Labyrinth because the violence — notably that first killing — had so disgusted him that he couldn’t even remotely like the film.

  84. Ken Hanke

    Supposedly Ruggero Deodato was once called before a court in order to prove that the murders of humans depicted in his film Cannibal Holocaust had been faked.

    Oh, for God’s sake, am I going to have to break down and watch this thing? I’ve successfully avoided doing so for years because it sounds perfectly appalling.

  85. brianpaige

    I wasn’t entirely thrilled with Pan’s Labyrinth either though not due to being offended. It just wasn’t quite what I thought it would be. As in there was too much reality and not enough fantasy scenes.

    It’s odd too since I really like Del Toro’s other work that I’ve seen. Yet his most acclaimed film left me cold.

  86. Dread P. Roberts

    Oh, for God’s sake, am I going to have to break down and watch this thing? I’ve successfully avoided doing so for years because it sounds perfectly appalling.

    I’ve avoided watching this one as well, but I can understand the allure of curiosity when it comes to things like this. Also, I’m somewhat proud to admit that my only exposure to Eli Roth was Cabin Fever. Even though I didn’t like the movie, I have to admit that I found the violence to be very overrated at the time. My decision to avoid watching his other movies after that wasn’t based off of being at all disturbed by Cabin Fever, but rather a distain for Eli, as well as his silly “upping-the-ante of torture equals better horror” philosophy.

  87. Yeah Ken I’d say see it for sure. Try to have your art movie glasses on for it. It makes far too much social commentary to be viewed a a typical “horror” film.

  88. Rilee

    “the real horror of this film was what upstanding educated civilized people do to the animals and local peoples they encounter.”

    BrianK, I think this reasoning could be seen to be rather facile, since Deodato engaged in the very brutality he supposedly was condemning (unless you don’t think the suffering of animals counts. Personally I do). From what I’ve read, even his actors were repulsed by his filming methods, and his callousness about the animal killings.

  89. Ken Hanke

    It’s odd too since I really like Del Toro’s other work that I’ve seen. Yet his most acclaimed film left me cold.

    On this one, we will definitely have to merely disagree. Not that it left you cold — you can’t be wrong about that — but in the assessment of the film. Personally, a lot of what appealed to me about it was that it wasn’t what I expected from the trailer, which promised more fantasy that I was looking forward to.

  90. Ken Hanke

    my only exposure to Eli Roth was Cabin Fever. Even though I didn’t like the movie, I have to admit that I found the violence to be very overrated at the time.

    I didn’t think much of Cabin Fever, but it has one unique aspect. It’s the only movie where I ever saw someone come out of the theater and head straight for a payphone to call his friends and tell them not to bother going to see it.

  91. Ken Hanke

    Yeah Ken I’d say see it for sure. Try to have your art movie glasses on for it. It makes far too much social commentary to be viewed a a typical “horror” film.

    We’ll see. I have the same problem with the film that Rilee addressed in the post beneath yours, which may make me a cinematic wuss. (I have the same problem with El Topo.) Also, I have to admit I am not a huge admirer of Italian horror of any kind (Cemetery Man being the notable exception), and the only Deodata film I’ve seen, The House on the Edge of the Park, I didn’t like at all. Still, I admit to a degree of curiosity.

  92. luluthebeast

    “Oh, for God’s sake, am I going to have to break down and watch this thing? I’ve successfully avoided doing so for years because it sounds perfectly appalling.”

    You haven’t missed much. It’s a curiosity, but not a very good one.

  93. BrianK, I think this reasoning could be seen to be rather facile, since Deodato engaged in the very brutality he supposedly was condemning (unless you don’t think the suffering of animals counts. Personally I do). From what I’ve read, even his actors were repulsed by his filming methods, and his callousness about the animal killings.

    Oh there certainly is some irony about the filmmakers going into the jungle to create a movie about these atrocities only to commit some of them themselves. One of the points he tried to make in the film was that in order to get sensationalistic journalism the crews will set things up to be more exciting. Jacques-Yves Cousteau did this when he filmed as well occasionally killing off an animal or two …

    Keep in mind though that it is Deodato’s job to screw with your head. The accounts of any incident related to the film only serve as more bait to make it look more tempting (maybe you’ll buy another copy :))

  94. Ken Hanke

    One of the points he tried to make in the film was that in order to get sensationalistic journalism the crews will set things up to be more exciting. Jacques-Yves Cousteau did this when he filmed as well occasionally killing off an animal or two …

    Well, that’s hardly a great revelation, since documentarians have always cheated outrageously. Even the much-revered father of the documentary Robert Flaherty did this — if he didn’t find what he wanted, he created what he wanted. By the time Deodato made this film, it was rather late in the day to be reacting to sensationalized journalism or documentary filmmaking.

    Keep in mind though that it is Deodato’s job to screw with your head. The accounts of any incident related to the film only serve as more bait to make it look more tempting (maybe you’ll buy another copy

    That’s not screwing with your head, that’s marketing.

  95. Rilee

    Good point. However, I still think the ethical issue has been sidestepped here, if mentioned only as an “irony”. Is the implication of the statement that a director above the constraints of ethical behavior, beyond that which impacts on human beings directly? I remember the same discussion taking place heatedly when I was in Art School, with the professor and a number of students coming down on the side of an artist being beyond normal human ethical constraints, and other students coming down on the side of all people being subject to the same ethical constraints, no matter who. (Interestingly, the argument broke down almost entirely along gender lines [guess who was on which side?]) It is interesting, as well, to stretch this a little further, to note that industrialists and CEOs make the same argument regarding their conduct, but I guess that brings us back to the central point, since of course filmmaking has arguably been affected by corporate hands to a much greater extent than any other art form (at least in the modern western world). I would personally hope that those who are claiming to be more purely artistically motivated would also hold to a higher ethical standard. I personally don’t hold with the argument that /producers/directors/artists are beyond the usual ethical constraints, any more than corporate entities are.

  96. Rilee

    Good point. However, I still think the ethical issue has been sidestepped here, if mentioned only as an “irony”. Is the implication of the statement that a director above the constraints of ethical behavior, beyond that which impacts on human beings directly? I remember the same discussion taking place heatedly when I was in Art School, with the professor and a number of students coming down on the side of an artist being beyond normal human ethical constraints, and other students coming down on the side of all people being subject to the same ethical constraints, no matter who. (Interestingly, the argument broke down almost entirely along gender lines [guess who was on which side?]) It is interesting, as well, to stretch this a little further, to note that industrialists and CEOs make the same argument regarding their conduct, but I guess that brings us back to the central point, since of course filmmaking has arguably been affected by corporate hands to a much greater extent than any other art form (at least in the modern western world). I would personally hope that those who are claiming to be more purely artistically motivated would also hold to a higher ethical standard. I personally don’t hold with the argument that /producers/directors/artists are beyond the usual ethical constraints, any more than corporate entities are.

  97. Ken Hanke

    the professor and a number of students coming down on the side of an artist being beyond normal human ethical constraints

    Isn’t this the path to Leopold and Loeb? Or have I just seen Rope and Compulsion too often?

  98. Rilee

    Hmmm, Our prof’s favorite examples were Gaugin and Picasso: Gaugin and Nietzche were contemporaries, and Picasso was a little later on the timeline. I know Nietzche’s influence was pretty pervasive, so I suppose we could throw all of these guys onto the Nietzchian bandwagon along with the fascists and L & L. Ok, sorry. I don’t know that there’s much of any resolution to this issue, as ethics are, I suppose, ultimately a matter of faith even taken separately from any religious question. There’s no absolute, empirical proof that ANYTHING is ethical/unethical as the case may be. Ok, I can’t go on with this thread, or I’ll get entirely off the track of the original question (well, maybe not entirely: I guess I guess for the most part (bad acting/aesthetics complaints aside), most of what I generally find objectionable in films is pretty much based on ethical issues. Even that gets complicated for me at times, but I could write about that for weeks (although only with someone who a) WANTED to discuss it, and b) I knew pretty well, anyway. I have precisely two friends that I can talk about these issues with. So, I’m going to shut up now! See you on another thread, sometime!

  99. Ken Hanke

    most of what I generally find objectionable in films is pretty much based on ethical issues

    Putting aside aesthetics and having your intelligence insulted, ethics are about the only thing left, unless religious scruples (which could be viewed as ethical concerns, I guess)are brought in. I suppose philosophical issues might count, too. I am philosophically opposed to Forrest Gump on about three or four levels, but I’m not sure that’s the same as ethics.

  100. Rilee

    I can relate. I don’t think anyone could [afford to] pay me to sit through that film again. I don’t know if it would be the same three or four levels, but certainly the top of my list would be just gross oversimplification.

  101. Ken Hanke

    I don’t think anyone could [afford to] pay me to sit through that film again.

    Unfortunately, I prove almost every week that you can indeed pay me to sit through almost anything — and, in many cases, at bargain rates, considering some of these crapfests.

    I don’t know if it would be the same three or four levels, but certainly the top of my list would be just gross oversimplification.

    One day when I’m feeling up to the task — which would, I fear, require sitting through it again — I might take up the subject of Gump in earnest.

  102. Rilee

    I would probably be interested in reading that mainly because your commentary would likely be much more profound than the film [;~>]

  103. Ken Hanke

    I would probably be interested in reading that mainly because your commentary would likely be much more profound than the film

    A Uwe Boll movie would be more profound than that film.

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