I interviewed a couple of therapists specializing in sexual issues
about these movies for KCRW’s Press Play. Take a listen!
From “Teflon” Bill Clinton to former San Diego Mayor Bob Filner, the after-effects of bad sexual judgement is constantly popping up (sorry) in the headlines, and then disappearing just as quickly. But the subject seems to have stuck in the craw of a few movie makers.
Last year, Steve McQueen’s powerful “Shame” went deep inside the psyche of a man who cannot stop sexually “acting out.” Now, two more films centered around sexually obsessive/compulsive behavior are arriving in theaters, each with their own, very different, takes on the devastating effects of sex addiction*.
“Don Jon” is a hilarious, slightly over the top comedy written and directed by and starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Don Jon, a slightly greasy New Jersey playa’ and Scarlett Johansson as the high-heeled, big-haired woman who might just take him away from his beloved porn. Both stars are just incredibly fun to watch (as is Tony Danza as Jon’s wife-beater-wearing father), but the I wonder if the message that true love can save you from addiction might be a little misguided.
“Thanks for Sharing” is a more dramatic look at the effects of sex addiction (and addiction in general) on our ability to connect with one another. This is a movie that seems to get the core issues of sex addiction right, and while it bogs down a bit in details of life in a 12-step program (staring with the name), the central relationship between the ever-appealing Mark Ruffalo and shiksa goddess Gwyneth Paltrow is worth the price of admission.
Also in theaters (or opening this weekend) and very much worth seeing:
If you like Nicole Holofcener (“Please Give”), you’ll love “Enough Said,” the laugh-out-loud funny but still very touching comedy of error (sic) featuring two slightly gun-shy divorcees trying to connect. Julia Louis-Dreyfuss relies a little too much on her sitcom chops but is still adorkable, and James Gandolfini is 250 pounds of love in one of his last roles. What a loss.
“After Tiller“ follows a few of the limited number of doctors left in the country who provide late-term abortions after the assassination of Dr. George Tiller in Kansas in 2009. While this is a film told from the point of view of these doctors, it still manages to capture them dealing with the moral ambiguity of the work that they do.
When foreign directors are lured to Hollywood their work typically suffers, and Canada’s Denis Villeneuve (“Incendies“) has not escaped this trap. But while “Prisoners” suffers under the weight of its all-star cast and an occasionally head-scratching script, the story about how hate and fear turns us all into prisoners is great by studio standards.
Haute Cuisine - This “based on a true” story of the personal chef to French president François Mitterrand is slight, but the sumptuous smells and sights of Cuisine Francaise will leave you very hungry for Lapin A La Cocotte.
*Note – Sex addiction has yet to be admitted into the standard criteria for the classification of mental disorders like dependance on drugs and alcohol. But it’s said that the only difference from those addictions and this terrible, debilitating disease is that the meth lab is in your brain and the pipe is in your pants. At some point, sex addition will have its Betty Ford and emerge from the darkness.
If sex is ruining your life, click HERE.