Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Spread Watch: News on Screening in Seoul, Plus a Reflective Review

Several pieces of news today regarding David Mackenzie's "Spread." First the film is now due to screen in Seoul, South Korea at the Chungmuro International Film Festival on August 28th and 30th; more info/tickets here.

Second, longtime Sigma reader and blogger Anna has written another reflective and thoughtful review on "Spread," which you can read on her excellent blog here. As usual Anna writes with clarity and clearness on the film, notably the much ballyhooed sex scenes as follows:

The result is – in many respects – vintage Mackenzie. A marker of a David Mackenzie film is that sex is not a uniting but rather a dividing force between couples. If sex ever seems to make anyone “happy” it is only ever fleeting at best. For the most part, the characters in his films are desperate for sex to mean something though they are incapable of making it so. Such is the case in SPREAD – a comedy that satirizes the sex trade & culture of Los Angeles. To drive home his Mackenziesque thematic approach to sex, Mackenzie chose to film the sex scenes in SPREAD in blunt, graphic, startling fashion – all eliciting a laugh from me – appropriately enough since this is a satire. The sex scenes – for all the publicity uproar – are very brief. What is startling about them is that Mackenzie does not lead into them with any semblance of romance or foreplay – kissing is rarely in evidence. Gentleness is even rarer. Rough, aggressive grabbing, thrusting etc. etc etc suddenly appears on the screen mid-intercourse – in a colorful array of positions - & then, just when we begin to take in the image of what the coupling couples are doing, Mackenzie quickly cuts away to the next scene. I suspect that in the hands of another director such scenes would have been all about lengthy moaning, groaning & orgasmic gasping & not nearly as pointedly clever &, thereby, satiric

I personally thought the film had great potential, but after I saw it, I was left feeling as empty as the vacuous shallow empty life Nikki leads. I truly wanted to like that character more, was hoping for more character development in the script, but alas it wasn't there and despite some really good moments-Anne Heche best part of film and a nifty clever ending- I felt like I was peering in through a distorted glass where reality is gone and there is nothing left but plastic perfect people leading shallow perfect lonely lives. The sex was just part of the scene didn't really fuss me either direction, I just wanted HEART in the film too and saw none, despite Nikki wanting to love Margaritas character. The thing about the shallow beautiful people made me sad too , for earlier I made a post about the super hot people needed for this movie and it left me truly dismayed for presto bingo, there they were. Good for them I guess but bleh is this really good entertainment? Really folks? (Meh, I guess Im terribly old school or that boring southern person in me rises to the fore again but I think we can do better- say like the films of Sigma or maybe the upcoming Advance Party II but I digress) Anyway.... that is the whole point of this film, agree Anna, a satire-or at least I hope. Press comments never really reflected that, and so many of the audiences remark on how SEXY and HOT it is,but still the film got horrible reviews esp here in the us and I truly doubt it will go into wider distribution. Shame thou for there are some great moments but still, not as much as I had hoped.

In her review, Anna had a final sentence that read: "A final note of thanks to David Mackenzie - as always - he manages to film sex scenes in an egalitarian fashion - without unequally long, lingering, lusting shots of female curves etc. without equal attention to the bodies of their male partners."

Again, I quite agree. David is always unflinching with his camera in both directions ie women AND the men. Plus, David never has made a film yet I dont think, where sex is between two people who genuinely love and care about each other, not really or as noted is just fleeting .
Random thoughts now: I wonder if he will ever make a film where the couple who have been together for years and they both have wrinkles with she of cellulite and stretch marks and imperfect looks and non-gleaming white teeth, and the guy is slightly greying/ balding, has a scruffy beard he has to shave every day, and actually has hair on his back too or is super skinny bonny or worse has a bit of belly and wobbly knees. Look at the great Peter Mullan and Brenda Blythen in One a Clear day-they didnt show them having sex but there was a clear and rather interesting relationship story between a long established couple floating around in that film. Anyway rant rant blather blather, and most certainly its not just David though I would love to see him make a film with an honest romance in one of his character study pieces-perhaps not as they antagonists, but part of the story. No, I suppose the demands on making films where this is the case just isnt there or all that interesting I suppose, pity. (This rant brought on in part by having just watched time travelers wife-yet another romance with two impossibly beautiful people AGAIN, book is MUCH better btw. Ok Im done now)


  1. Oh my goodness Sue! You and I are SO different - yet still both admirers of DM's films!

    I loathe romantic films for the most part - avoid them like the plague. But if DM ever makes the film you envision I will of course watch. So I take it you didn't agree with my lack of appreciation for the SPREAD beach scene!!! I am a brutal (perhaps sometimes cynical) realist, I confess. It's not that I don't believe in romance but I don't like pre-packaged romantic idealism. Life just ain't like that - at least not in my world.

    In my own world of theatre I have often been "accused" by friends of gravitating towards the "dark side" - relishing brutually frank, aggressive plays. This is what attracted me to DM's films way back when.

    (I shudder to think what this comment says about me.)

    As for wishing for a romance with real body-typed characters - that is a film I would appreciate, Sue - an inspired idea - and it won't be made by hollywood for sure.

    Thanks for mentioning my post.

    Best to you,

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  3. Hi again Anna lol
    Will write you long email, but thanks again as always for your great thought provoking views on films. I never fail to learn or to ponder on something from a different perspective after reading your blog!

    Thanks again as always for your classy, intelligent blog and comments (even if you do stray once in a while to the dark side teehee)