18 June, 2008

Final Movie Nudity

This is the last of my binge.

Maslin Beach

This was a very entertaining film about a day at an Australian nude beach. It doesn't try to be a masterpiece, but it certainly does succeed at having fun. It follows a number of different groups of people at the beach and explores the theme of love in various contexts, while mixing seriousness with humor (even bordering on parody in at least one case). Many different outlooks are represented, and the nudity is very unselfconcious - this is definitely the most nudist-friendly film I've seen. There's even a character that doesn't get into the nudity thing - she only goes to the beach because her boyfriend likes it, and at one point she explains that she never takes her swimsuit off because she thinks the body is private, to be shown only to someone special. That seems to be a popular viewpoint among people, although I don't really see the point of it.

Near the beginning of the film, when this particular couple arrives at the beach, the guy says that it must be the most beautiful place in the world, and the girl responds, "it's just a beach, full of lumpy nude bodies and pervy men." And she's only partly right. The film certainly doesn't avoid sexuality, which is a good thing since it spends so much time exploring the concept of love, but it absolutely succeeds at keeping the nudity independent of the sexuality - but without having to explicitly keep them separate, which is a problem that some overprotective nudists have. As for the type of bodies represented in this film, there's a healthy variety, from lumpy to well-shaped, male and female, just like real life.

I'd definitely recommend this film to any and all nudists, anyone who might be interested or curious about nudism, or anyone who wants to understand a little better what nudism is like or about, for example if they know someone who's a nudist but don't quite get why. But you don't have to be a nudist to enjoy this film - provided you don't mind the naked people, I would also recommend this movie to anyone who's looking for an entertaining story that examines the meaning of love, set on a beautiful beach in Australia.

La Belle Noiseuse

This is a one-of-a-kind film. French, if you didn't get that from the title (roughly translated - The Beautiful Troublemaker). The plot is this - a young artist persuades his girlfriend to be the model for a master artist in the hope that it will get the master out of his creative slump. The girlfriend is reluctant at first, and knowing that she'll have to pose naked, she basically considers her boyfriend to have sold her body to the master, but she reluctantly accepts the challenge. Over time, she becomes more committed to the project, but when the piece is finished, she realizes that she wasn't prepared to face the truth of her soul/personality that the master was able to bring out onto the canvas. I have to admit the ending was kind of confusing without a bit of afterthought, compounded by the fact that you never actually see the masterpiece - presumably because creating the sort of masterpiece it is depicted as would be impossible, although possibly also because it's supposed to be this "unknown masterpiece" that nobody has ever seen.

It's a 4 hour film. Although, expecting this, I didn't feel that it was overlong. Just know what you're getting into when you decide to watch it. What this allows for, though, is long scenes between the artist and his model, that feel very realistic. You get to watch as the artist sketches lines on his pad, and they slowly form into a figure - very fascinating. And you get a real feel for the kind of work it is for the model to hold a pose for so long. The nudity is almost completely non-sexual in this context, as expected - indeed, it's almost as if the artist doesn't see a naked person, but merely the lines and contours of the flesh. And though the model is very selfconcious about posing nude at first, she gradually gets more comfortable being naked. Although she never quite becomes a nudist, and my expectations of her being liberated by her very personal experience with art are kind of shattered by her ultimate reaction to the final piece and its effect on her. I can't say that it's a negative effect, because though she is disgusted with what she sees, you can at least view it as a positive that she has been faced with that truth and is better equipped to deal with it in the future. But it's not the happy ending you might expect, which in itself is refreshing, even if it leaves you with a slightly bitter feeling.

Anyway, amazing depiction of the process of art, like I've never seen in a film before. If you have any interest in sketching, painting, or posing - nude or otherwise - I'd say this film is worth a look. Or if you like debating about art-related philosophical topics like what does it take to create a masterpiece, can art change a person's life, how do you capture the total essence of a person in a single portrait, and things of that nature, this film raises the questions and offers some possible answers to consider. One of my favorite moments was partway into the modeling process, after the master has painted a number of duds, and in a flash he sees part of the model's actual personality, and he says "Now I'm beginning to see you. Just beginning." And this is considering that she's been standing there naked for hours.

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