the land, © The
The irony about
L.I.E., Michael Cuestaís frank depiction of, well, pedophilia,
is that, because of its NC-17 rating, the very kids it concerns
wonít be able to get in to see it ó at least not legally. Co-writer
Steve Ryder, a gruff but erudite ex-cop ( " Wanna see my scars?
" ), decries what he calls " homophobia, pure and simple ó the shallow
prejudice of a bunch of bored housewives in Orange County. These
people remind me of Joseph McCarthy, who was a reprehensible drunk.
Blacks and Jews and Communists and gays have already been demonized
in this country, and the next group to represent pure evil is pedophiles.
Brian Cox, whose
terrifying performance as Big John will no doubt be compared to
Dylan Bakerís similar portrayal in Todd Solondzís Happiness,
says, " You can have Mark Wahlberg attached to a dead prosthetic
in Boogie Nights, or you can have the young girl with the
older guy in American Beauty, and that is somehow acceptable.
So this is clearly part of a hysterical witch hunt, a de facto rejection
of homosexuality by a group of mindless, middle-aged morons. "
Does Cox think
the lack of explicit sex is somehow more damning to this pictureís
Itís because there is no explicit sex that theyíve given it this
NC-17 rating. Because for the people censoring it ó and it is
censorship ó less is more. They are afraid of what they imagine
to be happening. Itís an American disease. It is mind-boggling that
some singer [Elvis] fucks a 14-year-old girl and he gets his head
on a stamp, but when it comes to boys, itís a taboo subject. "
Cox uses a culinary
analogy to explain the filmís balance. " This film had a little
too much red meat at first, I felt, " he says, digging into a heap
of French fries, to the amusement of Cuesta. " Originally we had
Big John giving Howie a blow job. "
In the final
version, two of the filmís most memorable scenes are less graphic
exchanges between Big John and 15-year-old Howie, including one
where Howie kisses Big Johnís hands only to be gently rebuffed.
" Thatís a magical scene, " proclaims Billy Kay, who plays pansexual
bad boy Gary. The other scene is where Big John shaves Howieís peach-fuzzed
chin. I point out that some have found this threatening.
" Whaaat?? Thatís crazy! " Cox shakes his head and says, " I have
no idea what would make someone think that, " then nods toward actor
Paul Franklin Dano, whose quiet manner belies the power of his screen
debut. " Tell you what, though ó this young man has a lot of courage.
" When asked how he coped with such a demanding role, Dano is humble:
" I really just tried to do what Michael asked for in each scene.
And how does
Cox respond to questions about Big Johnís sympathetic qualities?
" It all comes down to the individual watching. They all bring their
prejudices to it. This character is a human being; he has a dark
side, which is not acceptable and not accepted, and I donít think
we shy away from that. We see him using very, very explicit language,
but then we see him performing acts of altruism. " Cuesta adds,
" This guyís got a mom. He makes breakfast for Howie and enjoys
it! I think it is refreshing to see that this guy is just a guy.