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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
It's enough to make you break out the cutlery, cotton balls, and Iodine. The first half of this sado-Cinderella story registers as a seminal excursion into the sexual/psychological subconscious. How sad that there were no 'safe words' to restrain director-slash-writer Steven Shainberg from serious, self-inflicted wounding of the story arc, character logic, and dramatic trajectory in a scatter-shot second act.


Oh, butt what an employee-of-the-month this little masochistic missy is for the first fifty five minutes or so! Spader and Gyllenhaal are pitch perfect in a heady, hyper-real worker/woman/dominate/submit that goes straight to the lizard brain. A real gender/office political palindrome. The central image of Maggie peevishly peeking over her shoulder at a derriere stare or rump rap can be said to encapsulate the entire nature of her character...there's surprise, shock, confusion, but also acquiescence, self-recognition, carnality.


There's also some very clever and creative flourishes afoot:


- Like his exotic blossoms, boss James cultivates Maggs as a hothouse flower within his tyrannical terrarium, alternately inoculating her with busque, dissmissive patriarchy, or sensitive, moderate mentoring.


- This boss never conducts a job interview - it's an audition.


- After a particularly withering berating by the boss, Gyllenhaal sits meekly marooned at her desk with the plaque 'reception' prominently centered in the shot.


- Grey's hallway gradually becomes a portentous, carpeted 'Green mile' of menace for poor Maggs - lined with columns, potted plants, lamp fixtures, and the bosses' dungeon-like door.


- One of the egregious typos made by secretary Lee is "Sincerelee".


It doesn't make sense that neither Lee nor any of her shrinks make even a half-hearted attempt to isolate her from her poison parents. Plus, boss Grey's sage advice and understanding of Lee doesn't extend to his own pathological emotional alienation.


And before anyone sends Gloria Steinem over to knee me in the groin, I've never seen any actor really whap the living crap out of an actress like Spader does to Gyllenhaal in that spanking scene...and my girlfriend loved this film cover to cover(!?)


As for screenwriter Shainberg...I want you to bend over the desk and get your face very close and read the script aloud...


Sigh...another hard day at the orifice...
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Muchos gracias Kris. I donno, maybe I'll try to float a few boats over there. All they can do is delete 'em ;)
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Yeah, Cary despite it's flaws - don't miss this one. See it with a friend and don't forget the sadle, rope, restraints, and Cortaid.
 

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Just finished this one.

Interesting to say the least, Spader and Gyllenhaal couldn't be any better in these roles. Once again Spader shows us he's one of the best at working the bent, off centered character...his screen presence is usually dead on, this performance is no different.

To bad the transfer is so bad, however I enjoyed it anyway.

I'd have never rented it, if they every do a better transfer I'll buy it, thanks for the heads up.
 

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I'll resurrect this thread - this DVD was just released in Germany, so watched it last night with a friend (female).


It affected her a bit differently than it did me, mainly because she spent some time in a woman's psychiatric/therapy hospital, and while her issues were different, she personally knows women with self-injuring behavior similar to that of Lee Halloway. Her first comment: "they didn't give her enough scars..."


Super comments nowknown: I was pondering the significance of Mr. Grey's horticultural hobby, your theory nails it IMO.


On the interview/audtion point, I see it a bit differently. Its more of a probe inter her situation, "Where do you live? with whom? married?" and then after seeing her with that loser guy, he sits her down and asks "were you on a date? did you have sex?". Same purpose in both lines of questioning: he's gauging her answers and reactions to the questions, painting a mental picture of her, so he can best mold her into the willing, masochistic secretary he dreams of.


We also watched the included interviews with Spader and Gyllenhall. Gyllenhall's insight into her character and their relationship was remarkably thoughtful and revealing, especially compared to Spader's inarticulate and inane rambling about what a "funny" film it is... he and Georg W. must have taken the same public speaking course.


Extraordinary film all around. Also of note is the withholding of any explicit sexual/nude scenes (discounting the unsettling part where Mr. Grey, uh, forces Lee to make a trip to the dry cleaners after work), until the end where we are treated to a full-frontal shot of Gyllenhall, scars and all. Nice to see a holleywood movie that uses nudity not in a gratuitous way (not that there's anything wrong with that), but as a real plot device.


Of course there's the larger issue of self-mutilation - surely its more widespread than most people realize. I hadn't given it much thought but surely its all around us. Scary stuff...


Kurt
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Quote:
Originally posted by kedelbach

It affected her a bit differently than it did me, mainly because she spent some time in a woman's psychiatric/therapy hospital, and while her issues were different, she personally knows women with self-injuring behavior similar to that of Lee Halloway. Her first comment: "they didn't give her enough scars..."
I found these words quite sobering, touching, and resonating. Dammit man - stop outdoing me! ;)
Quote:
Super comments nowknown: I was pondering the significance of Mr. Grey's horticultural hobby, your theory nails it IMO.
Your Kurt comments are gratefully received.


Your resurrection also gave me the opportunity to tighten up my review yet again (damn you). Much improved though methinks, so, thanks for that too.


Regards,
 
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