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November 12th, 2012 / 4:30 pm
Film

Seated Man

Ingres’ The Valpinçon Bather (1808) was originally known simply as “Seated Woman,” but was eventually come to be known by one of its 19th century owners Valpinçon, a bow to patronage’s constant finger in history. The painting may be seen as a more mature and restrained follow-up to Woman Bathing (1807), whose side-view titty shot and pronounced sexual imminence is argued, with many others like it, to have been the porn of that day. With the Valpinçon version, we only have the plush concavity of the sheets, barely burdened by her, caving in to her calm neutrality. Whether she looks elsewhere, or concedes to our gawk, is unknown. Baudelaire is to remark on her serene chastity, a contradiction to the overt sexuality of the rest of his female subjects. We are taught what is extreme by the very boundaries meant to be straddled, us sliding down the wrong side. Pornographic images essentially commemorate that such events actually happened; the fantasy is not contingent on its possibility, but actual manifestation. (I am a keen on outdoor sex by railroad tracks, preferably in Eastern “fallen” Europe, or the Balkans, whose culmination requires paper towels that are never around.) Shame (2011) follows an emo sex addict with a python dong who likes to jog to Bach and breaks down and cries, all under the Picasso blue period tint of lower Manhattan. He follows women home from the Metro and fucks them in the presumable pooper. He slams them against the glass wall panels in lush condos overlooking the Hudson. Through a disappointing homophobic lens, to convey just how fucked up he has gotten, our protagonist (Michael Fassbender) gets punched in the face and winds up in mysterious “gay underworld” lit by fuchsia lights, blowing or being blown, the up-close crooked handheld camera mimicking head bobbing motions. The secret to this laptop, and yours, is before facebook, nytimes, and weather channel, it’s the sad honesty of complete strangers fucking with more feigned professional conviction than real relationships could ever propose, or would ever dare to. This is the beauty of our kidnapped gaze. This morning, my legs splayed across a black Pier 1 dining chair, I saw a Japanese girl blow a fisherman (yeah, right) in the bait shack, his resuscitated dong under the costume of scintillating pixels, her lips exposing each solemn purple inch as she slowly withdrew with his child in her. Sex addiction is like saying food addiction: the biological need can easily justify the adandoned insanity of its consumption. My favorite scenes were of Fassbender on his pristine bed, the minimalist camera trusting the viewer enough to barely move, stoically wanking it to his black Dell laptop, whose averted screen, like Valpinçon’s face, begins to tell the story of what can’t be told.