all sorts of reasons why they make their art. Maybe it's ego, or
unrequited love, or just this itchy feeling that there's something
in your brain that you need to get out on paper or clay or in music.
I don't really understand most artists, but I know that whatever
drives them comes before money. When art succeeds, man, it hits
you like a ten-ton truck, and when it fails you can at least respect
the effort. I mean, it's pretty fucking hard to get mad at a guy
for making sculptures out of elephant shit if he wasn't trying to
rip you off.
I'm an artist, and I'll tell you why. I got no interest in being
a businessman, wearing uncomfortable shoes and being all polite
to shitty people just so they'll give me money. I'm an artist because
I am driven by my obsession with immortality. Not a literal immortality,
you know, because I faint at the sight of my own blood, let alone
drinking someone else's. Besides, I don't want to be deprived of
the chance to scare the shit out of people when my bloated, pasty
corpse rises to the surface of a tranquil pond some misty morning.
I want all this
shit in my head that I need to say to live forever. I don't dream
getting wealthy through what I write. That's what the lottery and
delirium tremens are for. Rather, I fantasize that in a hundred
years, or a thousand years, schoolchildren everywhere will be assigned
my novel and read the Cliff's Notes of it. Nobody will talk about
Sylvester Stallone's Driven without also mentioning me. I
want to be alive through my words, and for my children, my grandchildren
and my great grandchildren to still receive angry e-mails pointing
out my typographical errors.
is art. I don't say that because it's beautiful, although to me
it is, but because director/Writer Steven Shainberg sure as hell
didn't think he was gonna get rich retelling Mary Gaitskill's short
story about a self-mutilating, submissive and naïve girl who
falls in love with her dominating boss. I don't know what his motivation
is, or what demons are chasing him, but I don't give a rat's ass.
All I know is he loves this story. You can tell in every shot because
he refuses to cheapen his characters or his story. This is one fantastic
movie, full of thick, sticky morals and confused characters. He
takes the time to develop these people, to push past the icky parts
of the sadomasochistic relationship and to where I could understand
them. It's dark, but not to be fashionable, the way Igby Goes
Down tries to be. It's dark because it's how these characters
is funny but the humor isn't forced and the characters aren't fabrications
plugged into the story just to be shocking and funny. They're warty,
fucked-up people who ultimately just want to be loved. That could
be corny, but it isn't. The characters' humanity is never lost,
and anyone whose ever dropped a dollar bill on the floor of the
Arvada Tavern knows how hard it can be to protect basic decency.
is Lee Holloway, a meek young woman out of a mental institution
just in time for her sister's wedding. To escape the reality of
her parents' collapsing marriage, her father's drinking and her
lack of self-esteem, she regularly cuts herself. She's methodical,
always drawing blood on her inner thigh because it feels like the
only way to let out the pent-up pain. Gyllenhall has no idea what
she wants but she takes a job as a secretary for lawyer James Spader
to escape hr mother's smothering attention. He has a one-man law
practice in a nondescript building from the outside. Inside, though,
it has the oppressive, meticulous coldness of a David Lynch movie.
There're red curtains, dim lights, oriental wallpaper, ancient intercoms
and typewriters, dark walls, long halls and baroque doors. It feels
like a well-decorated dungeon. Which, really, it is.
and new, Gyllenhall makes mistakes, and Spader becomes more assertive
in disciplining her. He circles the errors with a red Sharpie and
punishes her for each and every one. The punishments become more
severe: first a tongue-lashing, then putting her over his desk and
spanking her, and later jerking off and coming all over her back.
The fiercer he is, the more she likes it. The more she likes it,
the happier she is in life, and the more she is able to express
he is, the more he hates himself. Spader is so ashamed of his behavior
because he assumes he's just an aberration, and nobody should like
to be abused. He hates himself for being a sadist, until the end
when he and Gyllenhall finally have the courage to express their
feelings, and to finally understand that every masochist needs a
sadist. And vice versa.
is so fucking good because I cared about two characters I thought
would be the same old shit. Oh, great, another disenfranchised young
person played by a Gyllenhall. Terrific, Spader is playing another
prick. But, I was wrong. Or as Fonzie used to say, "Wurrrroo...
wruuuuuuu..." She's not just another miserable snot but a lonely
girl without the ability express herself. Spader isn't an asshole,
but an extremely shy and self-loathing man because he can't explain
his desires. That they find each other is genuinely touching and
The point is
that, sure, these two people are freaks, but they found each other
and filled in the other's needs. If you see people like these out
in public, you should certainly make fun of them, because our ability
to feel superior is the only thing that separates us from deviants.
But, no matter how weird their fetishes are it doesn't diminish
their humanity and their need to be with someone. Look at Mrs. Filthy
and me. I'm sure somewhere some upper-crust snooty-toots look down
on what they call our "co-dependency." I call it mutualism.
I need someone to keep me from eating vaseline or trying to remove
warts with broken glass while I'm drunk. My beautiful wife needs
a waif to pull to her ample bosom, an adult to mother and protect.
If we hadn't found each other, I'd be dead and she'd probably some
really successful businesswoman.
very good. She does a hell of a job transitioning from the indie-standard
glum youth to a much more interesting, decisive and attractive person.
Hell, at the beginning, she 's gray and dull. By the end, she's
sort of hot with all that confidence. Mind you, I'm not really into
bondage shit, not since I ordered Candy Bottom's New Year's Spanktacular
on pay-per-view. Red asses get sort of redundant, you know? Spader
is really fucking good. He starts as just a series of quirks and
tics, like that guy that always spits up peas at my retard cousin
Larry's assisted-living home. The character grows, though, and Spader
underplays him perfectly, even pulling off a few of the script's
writer and director, stumbles in a few places. He uses the tired-ass
framing device of showing us a piece from later in the story as
the opening. I suppose this is to let us know not to leave after
the slow beginning because it gets racy later. The problem is that
it doesn't help tell the story any better. The ending also sort
of falls apart. Maybe because the characters are so real, it feels
cheap to wrap everything up all neat and clean, with a big bow.
is really fucking good; Four Fingers. It's art, for sure,
and I'm glad Shainberg has demons to wrestle. The manager at the
pretentious Landmark Esquire spoke on a microphone before the movie
and congratulated the crowd for having such good taste. Fuck him.
If I want to hear someone tell me I have great taste, I'll drink
less so I can listen to myself. If the manager does this at the
theater you go to, throw something at him.
to tell Filthy Something?