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You have me curious about what you think is violent and what isn't. I guess I also equate violent with scary, and Pan's Labyrinth certainly had its scary and implicitly violent moments. Horror I never watch because that is all it is: violence for violence's sake. For me, however, war is the most violent, not just in the large scale but also on an individual basis. I cry just at the thought of what every soldier goes through in war. I especially grieve daily for the child soldiers in this world, and I think our young men and women, still in their teens, qualify as child soldiers. I also think about movies like "Sophie's Choice," with its implicitly violent themes, or, even something that seems benign like "Remains of the Day," which I think is one of the saddest movies I've ever seen, but also contains a theme of self violence because of personal inability for opportunities not taken. They all have to do with a kind of violence of the individual if not violence in general.

Julie in Boise

Oh yes, IdahoRocks, I agree there is a wide range of violence in films - implicit and explicit, internal and infernal.

I have to disagree that the violence in Pan's Labyrinth was all implicit. There was plenty of quite explicit violence in an otherwise beautiful film, but then there was plenty of implicit violence, too - both implied as in "not seen" and implied because the main character was so emotionally abused.

But it's the blood-and-gore stuff that I really hate. As I get older, I have an increasingly hard time watching people get shot, tortured, etc. Several of the movies I mentioned above have torture scenes I just couldn't watch, though the films as a whole were still very much worth seeing.

I don't mind a small bit of violence in service of the plot (as in The Last King of Scotland), but some of the stuff in Pan's Labyrinth seemed egregious to me. And from what I understand, the violence in The Departed is more of the bloodbath variety, rather than quick cutaway shots of violence.

I know some people view cinematic violence a la Peckinpah or Tarantino or Scorsese as somehow balletic and beautiful, but I can't buy that. "Gangs of New York" was very, very hard for me to watch. There's a fine line over which a moviemaker steps where he or she stops using violence to advance the plot and starts using it to provoke a visual, visceral sensation. The more of that we see, the more desensitized we become.

I am not a big horror movie fan, either. I think the last really gory horror movie I saw was "Shawn of the Dead," which was so over the top that I guess I laughed a little (and the music was good).

Overall, give me small movies about people fighting against the odds (In America, Freedom Writers, To Kill a Mockingbird, Akeelah and the Bee, All the President's Men), or offbeat stuff (Little Miss Sunshine, American Beauty, Being John Malkovich, Stranger Than Fiction) or fun comedies (School of Rock, This is Spinal Tap).

Julie in Boise

I just read a review of The Departed by Mick LaSalle of the SF Chronicle, one of my favorite critics. His last paragraph:

As "The Departed" wears on, it becomes more exciting, more grimly funny and more nihilistic -- and that nihilism has a lasting impact. When I walked out of "The Departed" and left the San Francisco Centre, Mission Street looked like a very evil place. In fact, everything looked evil and dangerous, until I went home and had a drink.

I think that sums up my beef with ultraviolent movies: Aside from being difficult to watch, they make us feel like the world is a lot more violent than it really is. And it's not a leap to say that the violence we continually experience - not in real life, but in movies, video games, and on TV - makes us less likely to decry institutionalized violence (that is, war) as a way to solve our problems.

Irwin Horowitz


Are you going to the "Step It Up" planning meeting tonight? If so, can you tell me about how many you think might show up? I only ask because I plan to be there and want to pass out my new business cards for the solar PV business I joined as an independent sales associate a few weeks ago and want to make sure to have enough cards with me.

Julie in Boise

Irwin, sorry I am seeing this late - and no, I didn't go! I have meetings galore this week, and as interesting as it sounds, I am not personally taking part in the planning. Good luck with your new biz.

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