I just finished watching this movie and was pretty impressed. The screenplay was mediocre (the gathering of spectators at the end providing little but some cheap humor and detracting from the spirit of the film) but Spader (like Sandler in Punch-Drunk Love) got the role he’s been waiting his whole career for and he treated it that way. Minus some weak reaction shots Gyllenhaal’s performance was very good and the writing for the most part was spot-on. The directing could have used a LOT more style… it was filmed too straight-up. This leads into my criticism below…

Of highly questionable status is making this movie a comedy and a heart-warming tale. Much more could have been done if this material was treated without regard to Hollywood audiences.

Still a fine movie on its own terms. A movie about two very ambitious people who see little of value around them and everything of value between them. And so they will make and live in their own shared world. Pity the fools outside of it.

Yeah. I was very impressed by the movie as well.

However, I have to disagree that Maggie’s performance was weak. I felt she was stunningly brave.

I also felt that the directing, while it might have been pedestrian on average, might easily have overwhelmed the movie if overdonw.

Finally, I really didn’t detect much Hollywoodization of the ending or the rest of the movie. It was very sobering at first, and then truly heartwarming on its own terms. Never has a movie mad so clear to me how much two people can NEED each other and come so close to not realizing it.

I’m going to have to pick on you. I’m getting VERY tired of being misrepresented and I’m going to become increasingly harsh with people who do so.

Is English your second language or is monitor glare your excuse for treating my comment as saying her performance was weak?

Perhaps. The best you can say about the directing however was that it was conservative.

Here’s the Hollywoodization…

These are people who have built up all kinds of barriers between themselves and the rest of the world. Their actions are meticulous and insular. They are shy since they want to protect themselves.

However, the movie isn’t about this. It isn’t about, say… WHY they want to protect themselves… what they have to protect. It isn’t about the process in which they build the barriers. It isn’t about the bittersweet feelings inherent.

No… its a LOVE STORY. A story of “finding each other” amid hiding from others… a story of NOT hiding for the first time.

This is a Hollywood story through and through. That you don’t see it as that implies just how sad the state of Hollywood is today in so many ways.

I am reminded once again of laughing at the man who regaled me with his tale of the glory of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. I told him my story of the adventurers and the dragon and how only after 99 adventurers had died did the 100th one slay the dragon (and partially because the previous 3 warriors had tired and sated it). I treat the 99 dead adventurers just as seriously as I do the 100th temporarily living one. I then called Frodo “amazingly lucky” and the man stalked off in a huff.

Since humans stride upon corpses and endeavor pathologically to ignore it I am there to point their heads downward to see. And they are always angry.

And so I continue walking down my usual unusual street…

I luv U Brian Koontz. I am going through some heavy crunch time here at work and this is exactly the sort of thing I need to get me through the day. It’s so nonsensical and random that it does some sort of right-brain/left-brain whallop that allows me to solve problems. For example, this just helped me with an annoying BSOD issue. Thanks again, Brian!

WHOA! Put the gloves back on! I’ve never seen such a tongue-lashing!

I thought Secretary was awesome. I didn’t think it was Hollywoodized at all. Both lead performances were outstanding (so was the boyfriend–very nice performance from the “Cloak and Dagger” kid. I don’t know why he doesn’t get more roles. I can’t think of anything he did other than C&D and “Suicide Kings”). I thought the movie went too over-the-top at the end (before they get married), but overall it was excellent. It’s great to see someone tackle this sort of subject matter in a non-sniggering way, and it was a terrific character exploration. Thumbs way up.

While I can’t make sense of much of what he says, I think in this case the analogy is clear. In fantasy the story is about the hero who through the intervention of Fate (blind luck) manages to accomplish an almost impossible task and become a True Hero.

The stories are never about the implied vast majority of would-be dragon-slayers who become dinner. In ‘reality’ there’s nothing special about the hero who succeeds, he is simply crowned after the fact as the ‘true’ hero.

Similarly, I gather that the movie tells a story about two people who are all about shutting others out of their lives, but though the intervention of Fate (blind luck) manage to find each other and experience True Love. Left unmentioned are the vast majority of such people who are never fortunate enough to have Fate intervene.

So why do story tellers like to focus on the unlikely outcomes of a person’s character and actions?

As for the walking over bodies, that’s just Brian’s own type of rhetorical flourish.

Damn… that is a GOOD analysis! I’m not used to those… I’m far more used to idiotic (aka “I understand nothing”) replies as issued so eloquently this time by Qwijybo.

{1-Minute Standing Ovation to Mike Jamieson}

But to correct you/clarify my position…

There sometimes IS something special about the hero versus the corpse. Sometimes, something. But we cater to this “sometimes, something” as if we are clinging to our last meal. And we always focus on individual elements of the hero when the reason he IS a hero is often very different (like luck, circumstances, etc).

And more importantly, the braver the human, the more bold, the more dangerous his actions, the MORE FREQUENTLY he becomes a corpse. I’m interested in corpses precisely because those are the humans who undergo some endeavor… adventurers become corpses time and time again. The regaler of Lord of the Rings is interested only in glory… UNLIKELY glory. And he becomes angered when I move his head downward to see the corpses. He is so desperately desirous to maintain his illusion that he runs… anything to preserve the glorious nothings.

100 adventurers… should we ignore 99 and focus all attention on 1? Shall we miss the great warrior who ALMOST killed the dragon single-handedly in favor of the 100th good warrior who found the dragon tired and sated?

I say this about the characters in Secretary… IF their personalities are justified (which the movie never tells us) they are honored not because they “found each other” but because they didn’t sell out to a LESSER love. They never compromised their principles. And even if the odds happened and they become corpses by NOT finding this love, they are honored. Or as I said… they are AMBITIOUS.

But culture, which ONLY honors heroes and never corpses, cannot accept this reality. Hollywood wants its improbable love stories, glossing over the reality of the characters.

No, its descriptive. The 100th dragon-attacker walks over the corpses of the 99 who proceeded him.

When a man attacks a mathematical paradox he walks over the corpses of the men who tried and failed to resolve it.

Like other adventurers, the mathematician and the warrior will likely fail. The greater the quest, the greater the chance of becoming a corpse. To intentionally ignore corpses is an INSULT to those, like what the characters in Secretary would have become in the absence of a large amount of luck, who have the bravery and resolve to become a corpse.

It can be said about me that I honor not the Hero, but rather the Adventurer (who occasionally becomes a Hero).

Just saw Secretary last night and I agree that it was really good. I thought the direction was adequate (if a little rough), but the content more than made up for it. It was pretty amazing to see a high-visibility (for an indie) film address the such a tough issue so honestly. And God I completely agree about Maggie Gyllenhaal; what a brave and open thing to do.

Jeremy Davies, the boyfriend, was in a good indie film from the early 90s called “Spanking the Monkey,” as well as “Saving Private Ryan.” His most recent role besides “Secretary” was in Soderbergh’s “Solaris,” playing a character with the same funny hand-gesture affect. He was also in “Ravenous” and “CQ.”

Oh, and Koontz – When you learn to communicate with other people on some sort of middleground instead of casting down your unnecessarily baroque and superior opinions from your mighty Tower of Ego, we can talk. Until then, your “increasing harshness” is like a soothing scratch behind the ears. Meow.

Saving Private Ryan! How could I forget him in that? He was excellent there too. I hope he gets more work.

Tsk, tsk. I love it when people are arrogant… it makes my own destruction of them all the more pleasurable.

Your idiocy is inhibiting you.

DAMN!!! You were fucking destroyed, Lutes!!1! Someone stop this crazy motherfucker before he forces all his detractors to commit suicide!

Can we get Jeremy Davies to play Brian Koontz? I think it would be brilliant casting.

BTW, I wasn’t too crazy about CQ, and you kind of have to know Italian cinema to ‘get’ it, but I thought Davies was great in that movie.



Man… you guys are REALLY fucking stupid.

I’m only going to say this once. Any slack jaws, droning sounds from mouths, and glassy eyes will be ignored…

Jason Lutes wrote:
Oh, and Koontz – When you learn to communicate with other people on some sort of middleground instead of casting down your unnecessarily baroque and superior opinions from your mighty Tower of Ego, we can talk. Until then, your “increasing harshness” is like a soothing scratch behind the ears. Meow.

Brian Koontz wrote:
Tsk, tsk. I love it when people are arrogant… it makes my own destruction of them all the more pleasurable.

Your idiocy is inhibiting you.

I love it when people are arrogant, etc… THEREFORE I am arrogant in order to give my successful attackers the same pleasure.

Its disgusting to attack a humble man. They are not worthy of it.

Hmph. It was so much more satisfying when you used flat-out invective that I could understand. The above was hitting the spot until that confusing bit at the end about a humble man and whatnot. I suppose it’s just my idiocy-inhibited brain that keeps me from finding the pleasure in those two sentences, but it makes me feel, I dunno… left in a lurch. I guess I have no choice but to go rub up against Cleve now.

[size=2]But at least I’ll always have the fact that I was a “successful attacker.” Thank you for that, Brian. Thank you.[/size]

I haven’t really been keeping up with Brian’s posts, since my prose machete has been dulled by hacking through Cleve posts, but I just wanted to chime in to congratulation Jason Lutes on mounting this successful attack that I’ve heard so much about. It’s always nice to hear good news from the front!


It’s the feel good S&M comedy of the year, folks!

Not to dig up old posts, but…

Based on the recommendations from this thread, we added Secretary to the old Netflix cue and it showed up this weekend.

What can I say? Just a great movie that maintained the personality of the characters throughout the entire film.

Watching the evolution of Maggie’s character was great too. You could feel her puzzle coming together as the pieces she didn’t even know were missing were put in place. The script does a great job within the first 5 minutes of establishing that she is only happy when she is being controlled. Once the structure of the institution is removed, she has no idea how to handle the real world.

And Grey… a classic dominant personality who is so ashamed by how he feels that he has always thrust himself into the submissive role. He’s so frightened of his urges that all he can do is drive away people in a bid to “protect” them for him. But here he is with this woman who isn’t responding the way he’s used to. She isn’t running away, telling him to stop, crying when he tries to push her away with humiliation. She’s actually accepting what he’s offering, and that scares the crap out of him.

The whole “3 day hunger strike” thing felt a tacked on and out of place. The only part of that scene that I thought belonged was where her father comes in and tells her that while he doesn’t approve of what she’s doing, he is proud that she is her own person and he wll stand by her no matter how things turn out.

All in all, a great movie that i would recommend to anyone with an open mind. Oh, and if you can, watch it with your wife or girlfriend. Makes for a fun discussion afterwards.

A fun discussion?

Well… there is talking involved. Along with a sharing of ideas.