Monday, October 11, 2010

The Rant, How Far is Too Far?

As I have said before, Monday is always a good day for a rant. Maybe I should call Monday Rant Day. So here goes. Do you think filmmakers have a responsibility to the public? Do they sometimes go too far or cross the line by depicting excessive violence or sexuality. Is there such a thing as good taste? If there ever was a recent example that makes the case for crossing the line, the filmmakers in the name of being edgy, provocative or controversial crossed that line in the 2010 film, The Killer Inside Me.

I realize there are plenty of other films that offer up more violence and sexuality than this film, but it is the nature and how it is presented in The Killer Inside Me that is totally unacceptable. And I am not the only one who makes this case. Several reviewers of the film feel that the film is exploitive in it’s depiction of violence toward women. Two scenes in particular absolutely destroy this film. I don’t have a problem with violence or exploring the darker side of the human experience, but there is a way to do it in good taste that respects the audience.

Director Michael Winterbottom had a lot going for him. This film is stylish and mesmerizing in its use of film noir in recreating the early 1950s of West Texas. Casey Affleck is outstanding in the role of Lou Ford, the town deputy, who also is a killer and sociopath that nobody expects. But the filmmakers destroy the noir atmosphere by excessive and unnecessary violence and sexuality. They indulge in it to the point of sickening the audience. I frankly don’t understand the point. What’s so frustrating is they potentially had a good character study. Why, why, why throw it all away?

The Killer Inside Me was made for about $13 million. The numbers tell you everything you need to know. In the name of art, the filmmakers decided to do it their way. It debuted in January 2010 at the Sundance Film Festival. It was sold to IFC for only $1.5 million and made only $600,000 at the box office. Looks to me that the investors will never see their money.

It’s time to send a message. I don’t advocate censorship or banning movies, but I do think we need to have a good dose of common sense. There’s no need to depict this type of brutality and voyeurism. In fact, one could make the case that the filmmakers wanted us to enjoy the experience because it went on and on. Maybe other filmmakers should complain and object and say there is a line you do not cross, and we do have a responsibility to the public. Let’s not make the mistake by justifying what they did as artistic expression. Here’s one film I suggest you skip.

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