Felt like I'd bump this thread for the hell of it. There's something to be said about a well-made art film that portrays either sex or violence in an interesting, compelling way. There lies the intrigue, and when it works, it's memorable.
The thing to note is, very rarely will you find sex being portrayed as a good thing in America, or violence as a positive thing, well, anywhere else. That's how backwards our country is. But then again, you have to wonder about certain other countries, and realize that we all have our hangups, especially after seeing a film as bad as Gojitmal (Lies). Seeing this film did a few things for me - reminded me of the wonderfulness of The Dreamers, even if it was clunky in places, and the horridness of Ai no corrida, and reminded me that man, some Asians are into freaky shit. And sadly, if you see Lies, you'll learn that when I say "shit," no pun is intended.
The film centers around a relationship between a 38-year-old man and an 18-year-old schoolgirl. Their relationship gets closer, they have phone sex, meet, have sex in various hotels, and engage in S/M. The film lacks any sort of real plot other than their escapades and attempts to avoid the girl's brother. Most of the time is spent concentrating on them beating each other with the homemade tools they've fashioned -- whips, twigs, sawed-down broom handles, etc. It's all just very boring, and really serves no point. The director made the film based on a novel which was also banned in South Korea, just like this film. He almost got charges brought against him. He wanted to challenge their way of thinking, but offered nothing to think about. There's manic camera movement, inserts of audition tapes to lend to a feel of reality, along with the fact that these two are amateurs, as well as voiceovers from the man, who is reading from the novel the book is based on. This all serves no purpose
The question I pose here is, why? Why make a film like this, giving credence to the belief that sex in cinema is boring, pointless, and too salacious to ever have a valid reason in showing, and why even post about such an awful movie anyway? Other than The Dreamers, let's face it, I've never seen a movie with sex as a focus that really did a good job at entertaining. Boogie Nights doesn't count because it dances around the more graphic elements quite nicely, and I think that is the heart of the issue really. You can't have it both ways - you can't have this suspension of disbelief and then bring such realistic elements into a film such as graphic human sexuality. At least -- I've never seen it work too well.
Like I said, in America, people are afraid of sex. Violence is rarely portrayed as a good thing anywhere, and when it is, it's usually satirical as in American Psycho. Go down the list of films rates NC-17 for another, and the violent ones you can usually write off as exploitative or just not very good. Ditto for the sexual-based ones, save maybe Happiness. Then again, the sexuality in that film didn't have all that much to do with the body, but with ideas that were too dangerous for the MPAA to let pass, and with good reason - a woman sleeping around, a pervert calling women and "coming" up with new adhesives, a boy learning to masturbate, and a father with a serious "Michael Jackson"-level problem, to put it lightly.
The difference, I think, is in a movie like Scarlet Diva, which, while it may be no Citizen Kane, it is admirable in its own right, because the lead bore her body and soul (irony not being lost on us for Anna's comment that she doesn't want to be an actress as she's constantly asked to show her tits), and was able to even talk with her family about it. It shows the differences between American and European cultures - how they're comfortable with that kind of sexuality, and we simply are not.