Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Quote of the Day

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I'm loathe to re-open this can of worms because I think we've all made up our minds on the subject at this point - having seen the film seventeen times in the theater I think you can assume safely that I am pretty set in stone when it comes to it! - but Oscar-winning Call Me By Your Name screenwriter James Ivory went and grabbed the can of worms and jumped up and down on it in his latest interview with The Guardian (where else) and so I'll go ahead and share in the interest of fairness:

One aspect that does still rankle with him is the absence of full-frontal male nudity. Ivory’s screenplay specified that Elio and Oliver would be shown naked, a detail overruled by clauses in the actors’ contracts. “When Luca says he never thought of putting nudity in, that is totally untrue,” says Ivory. “He sat in this very room where I am sitting now, talking about how he would do it, so when he says that it was a conscious aesthetic decision not to – well, that’s just bullshit. When people are wandering around before or after making love, and they’re decorously covered with sheets, it’s always seemed phoney to me. I never liked doing that. And I don’t do it, as you know.” In Maurice, his 1987 film of EM Forster’s posthumously published gay love story, “the two guys have had sex and they get up and you certainly see everything there is to be seen. To me, that’s a more natural way of doing things than to hide them, or to do what Luca did, which is to pan the camera out of the window toward some trees. Well …” He gives a derisive snort.

If you haven't read my long-form piece on this very topic at The Film Experience please go and read that before leaving any comments here - I don't want to wade through y'all's opinions if you haven't read that, please. I considered putting a poll up here to gauge everyone's opinions but who's going to vote against more sex and nudity in the film? Even I would have a difficult time voting against that. I would love that! 

The real question is "Does the movie work without more sex and nudity, as it is?" and... I have seen the movie seventeen times in the theater and named it the best film of the year; clearly I think the movie works. I just think, when faced with such a beautiful film, that this continued conversation is the dumbest possible conversation to be having and honestly it disappoints me, that this is the conversation. That this is what people want to keep talking about. How exquisitely maudlin. 


14 comments:

Ryan T. said...

This film seems to have two camps against it--the camp wanting it to be more overtly sexual with nudity, etc., and the camp that thinks the age difference is too much between the characters and/or the actors. I *do* think Luca/the actors erred on the safe side to appease the expectations of the general audience and the latter camp, but a) I don't think they did it for any malicious reasons and b) it's still a beautiful, sexual film. Dragging this out is a bit gauche on Ivory's part, but maybe it's positional for the next film.

Anonymous said...

The lack of explicit sex between Elio and Oliver seems strange in contrast to the scene before it when Elio is having sex with Marzia. I would be fine with the way the sex was shot with Elio and Oliver if that scene with Marzia was similarly composed. I suppose that one could make the artistic point that her nudity and vulnerability is sad because she is in the relationship in a way that Elio isn't, but Elio looking at his watch established that clearly without having to show Marzia in that way. It comes across as weirdly exploitative of the actress instead.

I love the movie, but that contrast in the sex scenes remains my one constant "...but" with the movie.

MovieNut14 said...

I'm agreeing with Anon's comment on the contrast between the Elio/Marzia and Elio/Oliver sex scenes. It does seem odd that Marzia figuratively and literally exposes herself to Elio when he doesn't feel the same way about her as she possibly does for him.

And I also agree with Ivory on the whole nudity stance, especially when he talks about Maurice. Why hide from the person you were just consensually intimate with? (It does seem a bit hypocritical on Guadagnino's part to not have nudity play a crucial part in Call Me By Your Name when all four leads of his previous film A Bigger Splash were completely naked at one point or another for no real discernible reason.)

Jason Adams said...

"Why hide from the person you were just consensually intimate with?"

Oliver & Elio don't hide their nudity from each other though. Their bits are hidden from us, the viewers yes, but the two of them are laying there naked side by side, you can see enough to know that.

Anonymous said...

I think the movie is soooo beautiful it still would be beautiful with or without sex. The problem is that any of the other movies that have gay sex this year really shows gay sex: God's Own Country, 120 BPM (and Aids sex no less!), Beach Rats and even The Ornithologist. All of them have more nudity and more daring sex scenes. So, you can't argue that the case of CMBYN is because we're living more prudish times to those of Maurice, even if it's true. It's not that we have to compare all the gay movies, I love this abundance of LGBT stories, they are so different and honest, but it's weird after having seen those other movies. Just right here in the gif up there, the way the camera moves to hide Hammer's head is telling.

The love story is beautiful in the same way that many classic movies without sex scenes were. The scenes between Bacall and Bogart in The Big Sleep are incredibly sensual and electric and there are no sex scenes at all, and so are the scenes between Chalamet and Hammer. But back then, they couldn't shoot those kind of scenes, now they can they choose not to. Now it's because of contractual demands of the actors, which is honestly what bothers me most about this issue.

And again, I want to start every paragraph praising the movie because I love it inconditionally and Chalamet's performance is one for the ages. The third problem is that the first script really had that nudity and it was written by no other than Ivory, who has filmed some of the most casual and natural nudity scenes, and he's outspoken. He's entitled to remind everyone in every interview that nudity was supposed to appear in the film and it was an issue for the actors not for Luca G.

Does the movie work without those scenes? Perfectly well, and if time is kind with this movie, and I think it will, this conversation will have been long forgotten.

iggy

Jason Adams said...

I just find all the talk about "actor's contracts" so fucking boring. I want to talk about what is in the movie, what the movie itself says. I don't have time for what it isn't, this mythical thing that people are projecting onto it, and what their agents haggled over regarding inches of pubis. That was what my piece was trying to get at. What the film itself, the series of shots we actually see and not what's in the book or in the script that got left out, says to me. Like you say at the end, iggy, hopefully all of this outside crap will fall away eventually and we can judge the film on its own merits.

Anonymous said...

Same anon as above

What I think is ultimately the saddest is that it's becoming increasingly unlikely that Ivory will be involved with the next one, which is a damn shame. CMBYN would not be the wonderful thing that it is (despite my one complaint) without his script, and I was really hoping he would be looped into the sequel that Guadagnino has in mind.

JimmyD said...

So... what I'm getting from MANY of the comments above is:
It's not legit unless cock is shown.
Gay men only respond to movies where cock is shown.
No cock? Not valid.
Cock cock cock cock cock
Bottom line?
Not enough cock for you? Make your own fucking movie.
You want COCK? There's an entire Internet full of cock for you.
Cock cock cock cock cock cock cock cock cock cock cock cock cock cock cock cock cock cock cock cock cock cock cock cock cock cock cock cock cock cock cock cock cock cock cock cock cock cock cock cock cock

Kenneth Michaels said...

In Merchant Ivory's classic, "Maurice," the actors go front frontal. Roger Ebert memorably said that theirs was a primarily physical relationship, so the nudity makes sense. Maurice actually belonged with Hugh Grant. Still a great movie. James Ivory's argument is valid in regards to that film. But Elio and Oliver's relationship transcends the physical into all the (insert superlatives). It's apples and oranges, and as much as I'd love to see Armie and Timmy naked (Armie definitely), this was not the film.

NealB said...

Hammer missed the mark playing Oliver. Full frontal wouldn't likely have changed that fact but it was fun to watch Hammer give it a go. Seems clear to me that was enough for Guadagnino; Ivory saw the character differently but Hammer wasn't up to it. And as much fun as it was to watch Hammer stumble through it, I think Ivory is right (though he politely didn't call him by name) that he was wrong for the role.

Oliver is possibly and impossible role to pull off successfully. Another actor, a more courageous actor, might have done the nudity, and the rest of it as well, but still, what is that character's story really? A more graphic depiction of the sexual attraction between them would have answered the question--and all the heartbreak that follows their separation would have made more sense as a result.

Kenneth Michaels said...

Nudity can take you out of the story. In "The Shape of Water," Sally Hawkin's nudity was a distraction. As a gay man, I can say she has a beautiful body, but it's a love story between a woman and a fish. In book form, your mind fills in the blanks. Timmy and Armie's bodies are on full display throughout the movie. Timmy goes shirtless in every other scene. We don't need a graphic sex scene to show love. The actors conveyed it beautifully in their expressions and connection. Love isn't about dicks and ass, it's more. It's connection. A dick is a dick. Would it have connected more if you saw Armie's raging hard on or Timmy giving really it to the peach? Absolutely not. No visual could have done what the mind can do filling in the blanks. As for the Marza sex scenes, the graphic nature works because Elio is trying to shock the gay out of him. As a character, she is being used, something she forgives him for at the end. Sorry. I will defend Luca and his choices until the end. It's that perfect of a movie.

Jason Adams said...

Don't ever say "sorry" for sharing tremendous thoughts like those, Kenneth -- you gave me a new way to think about something in CMBYN! Thank you! I hadn't thought about Marzia's body being put on display in front of him (and if you think of the film's gaze as being that of the gay male, which I think you should, by extension her body being put on display for us) as a challenge to the viewer. As if the film is saying, "Here is this beautiful young woman, giving you her everything... no, doesn't do anything for you? Huh. Wonder what that means." Very nice, KM. Thank you for that.

JimmyD said...

Kenneth and Jason... I love what both of you bring to the discussion.
HOWEVER!
I wish people would stop calling the amphibious creature a fish! He's clearly humanoid!!
:)
(Do we need to see his cock too??)

Jason Adams said...

PS conversation is closed for assholes, whose comments get deleted unread