Sunday, May 20, 2012

Sex at 16 — Are All Men Pedophiles? — Julien Dubuque Int'l Film Festival

Do you find me attractive? Answer: why yes! So says biology and nearly all civilizations in human history. And most men (if they are honest). 

Editing: 5
Narrative: 5
Research/Content: 4
Production: 5

Demand on Viewer: Moderate-High (mature/difficult theme)
Overall: Very needed for discussion

Pedophilia is both a dangerous and widely misunderstood phenomenon. How to make sense of it? Such is the task of this remarkable film, one of the unsung successes screened at the Julien Dubuque International Film Festival.

Director Jan-Willem Breure   bravely swims upstream against conventional wisdom in this close and fine-tuned examination of human sexuality and the complex body of knowledge under the simple heading "pedophilia." With interviews of professionals in the field as well as perpetrators and victims of pedophiles, a solid and wide-ranging portrait of this fascinating problem is painted.

Among some of the more thought-provoking lines:  "Mary was 12 or 13 when she had Jesus" and "Pedophilia [the post-pubescent kind] will eventually come to be accepted."

The best distinction this film makes is that pre-pubescent children and post-pubescent children are dramatically different, and should be categorized as such when trying to understand the biological phenomena of sex, including readiness for sex as well as attractiveness to (normal) opposite sex. The number 18 is shown to be an arbitrary starting point for legal consensual sex. 
Consider the following analysis from PRWEB on this film:

We live in a society that condemns pedophiles, though biological instinct and world cultures throughout history suggest that an attraction to adolescents is as natural as it is unavoidable. The fashion industry on the one hand sexualizes ever-younger girls while those who act on these instincts are reviled. According to Jan-Willem Breure, the apparent hypocrisy at the heart of society forces the question: What do we mean when we talk about Pedophilia? Are All Men Pedophiles?

Where do you draw the line? Your answer might be blurry after seeing this well-made and thought-provoking visual essay. 

Thanks to JDIFF and the screening team for allowing this one through, it was edifying and provoked much discussion afterward. This film proves that only rational thought, not following the herd morality, can lead us to better, safer, more compassionate humane world.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Change of Fate — Adjustment Bureau

Can our passions change fate? Will God change his mind and "adjust" the plan because we feel passion? These are age old questions put to good use in Adjustment Bureau.


OVERALL: Recommended for date night or "mindless" entertainment

Three things are great about this film:
  1. Yankee stadium accessible from a random door. Every kid's dream!
  2. Male-female chemistry between Matt Damon and Emily Blunt (who is about as elegant and desirable as can be in this film), and
  3. John Slattery (best known as Roger Sterling on Mad Men). Slattery's casual and debonair style is entertaining and quite subtle, a nice feature in the film that sadly disappears toward the end.

When the senator (Damon) discovers he must stop seeing a girl because a group of dapper-suited men say so, he discovers a layer to existence most of us never get to see. 

These angels mean for him to follow The Plan, but it turns out that even they are being tested, by the "chairman." 

See this film for its discussion of free will vs. fate, and its affirmation of the way a powerful love can turn the tides, even after years of mistakes, separation and even the gods trying to get in the way!  

Monday, May 7, 2012

Infusion of Romance and Chemistry — Je T'aime, I Love You Terminal — The Julien Dubuque International Film Festival

View the trailer to this film and you'll be hooked! This is the first film on this blog to be awarded 5's in all categories!


DEMAND ON VIEWER: MILD (Very easy on the eyes and mind! A welcome change of gears.)

OVERALL: Highly Recommended

An infusion of romance, chemistry and light-hearted fun into the bloodstream, Je T'aime, I Love You Terminal explores the mysterious way life guides with synchronicity and teaches us about priorities and ethics in love, all worn lightly and sprinkled with plenty of mischievous humor and delight. It will make a good first date movie, or in my case, a nice way to spend an evening alone enjoying someone else's happiness vicariously.

Most people are uncertain before a decision, but what about afterward? Ben has made a decision to ask his girlfriend Hillary to marry him, but it is the plucky and charming Emma who comes into his orbit on the way. A delayed flight sets the stage in Prague for a day of romantic tension, as Emma teaches Ben to dance the dance of spontaneity.

She takes him on a kind of miniature odyssey, from trying on a dress to visiting a family member (an unforgettably funny scene), to buying a ring for Hillary and pretending it is for herself, to enjoying boxing video games and amusement park rides together. While Emma is clearly wide-eyed and thrilled by the whole encounter, Ben alternates between bemusement and utter confusion.

This kind of interaction with a woman is clearly something Ben has been missing. For a few blessed hours he comes out of his heavy-hearted and pensive relationship with Hillary, and though he can't quite let go of his current trajectory (and who could after all?), looks through a window into another universe, sees a possible life for himself there. What if this is the real one? As accidental as it seems, as irrational as it would be to follow it, perhaps this path is the true one.

"Cheating is bad, except when you've found the one you're supposed to be with." Emma's philosophy, quite firmly stated, makes us laugh. It seems self-serving, but herein is the brilliance of the film: we are laughing at something all too true. We poke fun at Emma's maxim at our own expense. Je T'aime gets us to look a little more honestly at our own ethical assumptions about love.

Director Dani Menkin's Je T'aime, I Love You Terminal is a remarkable achievement, for its natural feel, its earthy humor, its male-female dynamic, and its international flavor. Along with his lighter counterpoint to his other film in the JDIFF, Dolphin Boy (see review here at Deeper Film), Menkin completes a kind of portrait of beauty and profound love in unusual and painful circumstances.
Alas, it is a "terminal." The story leaves us to wonder how it will finally resolve. The romantic tension comes precisely from the fact that these two characters are dwelling in possibility. Whether or not their lives will be spent together, their spontaneous dance holds out a tantalizing potential. An unsatisfying ending to some perhaps, but to me, their goodbye was the seal on a finely wrought story, not soon to be forgotten.