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Movie Forums Squirrel Jumper
All movies I can think of that take place primarily in the Southern US, I have to endure a steel guitar or banjo in the score.



I'm not going to deny that he slaps her and she's knocked on the floor. But my argument is that is not why she decides to change. It's rather after Falk's character says, "I'll kill you, I'll kill these sonsabitchen kids..." and their children run away from their father and go to her that she finds strength and resolve. At which point, he finds a resolve and says to his family unit: "What can I say, they want to know if your alright..."

However, through all this conversation, you kind of illustrated my point from the above post. No matter the "point" in which Mabel finds her resolve, (I happen to believe it's the love of her children that save her), bottom line is things are left very ambiguous, which I enjoy. You're entitled to believe your opinion and I'm not going to say you're entirely wrong here because, (like most Cassavetes films), you may end up being right. After all, when the film first screened the audience booed Falk's character as a Chauvinist-pig, (which they were entirely right, really). Then a decade later audiences where siding with him when a more Conservative current started taking root in the American conscience.
I don't have a problem with a film portraying a husband assaulting his wife, but it's what happens after it that's the problem for me with A Woman, since we're given a peaceful moment as Nick & Mabel contently prepare for bed together, a moment that, at the end of a film that's generally been very harrowing emotionally, feels like it was intended as an unambiguously happy, relieving ending, one that the film shouldn't be making me feel after I just witnessed a husband physically assault his wife to get her to calm down, and with the knowledge that he may do it again in order to calm her down later (and why wouldn't he try, since it seemed to work the first time?). I know it's not the only factor at play in that scene, but it's one of them, and I think it sends the wrong implication when it's paired with the final moment of the film.



I don't have a problem with a film portraying a husband assaulting his wife, but it's what happens after it that's the problem for me with A Woman, since we're given a peaceful moment as Nick & Mabel contently prepare for bed together, a moment that, at the end of a film that's generally been very harrowing emotionally, feels like it was intended as an unambiguously happy, relieving ending, one that the film shouldn't be making me feel after I just witnessed a husband physically assault his wife to get her to calm down, and with the knowledge that he may do it again in order to calm her down later (and why wouldn't he try, since it seemed to work the first time?). I know it's not the only factor at play in that scene, but it's one of them, and I think it sends the wrong implication when it's paired with the final moment of the film.
Again, your illustrating precisely the reason "why" I enjoy this film, (and films like it). To me that is not the implication of the film's ending, but this film's got us talking now doesn't it?

I really do hate such films, (as Terry Gilliam so pointed out with Spielberg films...):



Don't get me wrong, there's always a time I want to "mentally check out" and leave "my brain at the doorstep." We all do I think, but that's not my life's modus operandi.

To me, what I see within the ending of A Woman Under the Influence is the change of both wife & husband within that family unit. By:

1) Mabel's resolve to be strong for her children.
and, 2) Nick's ability to not answer the ringing phone at and around the time of credit roll as they are making their bed to sleep. He has changed, too, because he realizes he needs to change his ways, and be strong and supportive for his wife. Even if it means not taking odd-hour work/construction calls. (Which prior to all this happening, he did, at the complete cost of neglecting his spouse.)

But again,

We're "talking" and coming up with interpretations. I have complete respect for yours, I'm not saying you're wrong. I'm saying you're completely entitled, but I disagree.
__________________
Imagine an eye unruled by man-made laws of perspective, an eye unprejudiced by compositional logic, an eye which does not respond to the name of everything but which must know each object encountered in life through an adventure of perception. How many colors are there in a field of grass to the crawling baby unaware of 'Green'?

-Stan Brakhage



Registered User
Husband and wife are estranged. The crisis of an action/disaster movie serves as therapy to help them work through their issues as they must pull together to save themselves and the kids. Cuck replacement husband is often conveniently killed off to make this happen.



Movie Forums Squirrel Jumper
Husband and wife are estranged. The crisis of an action/disaster movie serves as therapy to help them work through their issues as they must pull together to save themselves and the kids. Cuck replacement husband is often conveniently killed off to make this happen.
This also happened in Die Hard as well, but I guess that wasn't a disaster movie?



Welcome to the human race...
Hence why Corax wrote "action/disaster movie".
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I really just want you all angry and confused the whole time.



Movie Forums Squirrel Jumper
Oh yes, I interpreted it wrong, I thought he meant action and disaster movie . This is one of the reasons why I thought Die Hard was overrated is because it just follows the estranged married couple cliche, but maybe it wasn't so much of a cliche at that time?



I don't have a problem with a film portraying a husband assaulting his wife, but it's what happens after it that's the problem for me with A Woman, since we're given a peaceful moment as Nick & Mabel contently prepare for bed together, a moment that, at the end of a film that's generally been very harrowing emotionally, feels like it was intended as an unambiguously happy, relieving ending, one that the film shouldn't be making me feel after I just witnessed a husband physically assault his wife to get her to calm down, and with the knowledge that he may do it again in order to calm her down later (and why wouldn't he try, since it seemed to work the first time?). I know it's not the only factor at play in that scene, but it's one of them, and I think it sends the wrong implication when it's paired with the final moment of the film.

If we are going to extrapolate and try and guess what happens to these two after the films ends, I think you are right, I think Nick will almost certainly hit his wife again at some point. I think the dramas of this particular day will play out similarly over and over again throughout the course of their relationship. As complicated as their feelings are for eachother (and at times I would argue it is one of the most deeply human relationships in the history of American film) they are not role models. They are both almost irretrievably broken people. The film does not disguise this. Just like it does not disguise the attachment they have to eachother, which is built out of dysfunction, co-dependence as well as legitimate love. This film is telling us nothing more thann the story of these very particular people. It is not a film that ever talks about solutions as to how they fix the problems in their relationship. You seem to be interpreting the solace in the final moments as absolving Nick of what he's done. That things have been 'corrected'. But they haven't been and it doesnt absolve anything. He still hit her. It was still wrong. And while in the moment they may believe they are putting this behind them (they are going to bed in a good mood after all) all of the violence and arguing that fills their lives is going nowhere. It will be there as soon as life intrudes again.


There is an entire culture of film, especially older film, that absolutley does reinforce terrible ideas about how men should negotiate their relationships with women. Woman Under the Influence is way too decrepit of a narrative to reinforce any sort of belief system. It is nothing but a depiction of how certain people live on certain days. No one wants to grow up to be a Nick or Mabel. No one think they are reflections of any greater society beyond the company they keep between the walls of their own home. While Nick is almost certainly a chauvanist, the audience does not need to be as well to sympathize with his life.Or learn from his story. Or feel the despair of all the walls that are crumbling in on his wife. There is still more than enough room to condemn him in our own time, even if the narrative does not.



There is an entire culture of film, especially older film, that absolutley does reinforce terrible ideas about how men should negotiate their relationships with women.
Is negotiation needed? Mutual respect is all thatís required. A man who hits a woman is the lowest form of pond life.
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Iím here only on Mondays, Wednesdays & Fridays. Thatís why Iím here now.



Is negotiation needed? Mutual respect is all thatís required. A man who hits a woman is the lowest form of pond life.

There are all sorts of films that are about people we don't like. Who are less than pond scum. While some of these films seem to reinforce or condone this kind of bad behavior, and others clearly reject it, there are also some films that simply choose to document it without direct comment. To trust the audience to not accept it on their own terms. Women Under the Influence is one of these. It shows a life where domestic violence very well may be a part of the daily ritual of some relationships. In many ways, this allows it to be more shocking, and allow us to see it in a clearer light, since we may find ourselves otherwise empathizing with the characters who behave this way. The violence as a result becomes more pronounced. While I get why some may want such a film to make it clear it is distancing itself from this kind of bad behavior, not all films need to moralize to make us understand what is happening is wrong.



It shows a life where domestic violence very well may be a part of the daily ritual of some relationships.
We clearly saw this in HBOís Little Big Lies where one of the couples engaged in physical violence. The wife posited that she did it in self-defense, but it wasnít at all clear that this was always the case. Very disturbing.



If we are going to extrapolate and try and guess what happens to these two after the films ends, I think you are right, I think Nick will almost certainly hit his wife again at some point. I think the dramas of this particular day will play out similarly over and over again throughout the course of their relationship. As complicated as their feelings are for eachother (and at times I would argue it is one of the most deeply human relationships in the history of American film) they are not role models. They are both almost irretrievably broken people. The film does not disguise this. Just like it does not disguise the attachment they have to eachother, which is built out of dysfunction, co-dependence as well as legitimate love. This film is telling us nothing more thann the story of these very particular people. It is not a film that ever talks about solutions as to how they fix the problems in their relationship. You seem to be interpreting the solace in the final moments as absolving Nick of what he's done. That things have been 'corrected'. But they haven't been and it doesnt absolve anything. He still hit her. It was still wrong. And while in the moment they may believe they are putting this behind them (they are going to bed in a good mood after all) all of the violence and arguing that fills their lives is going nowhere. It will be there as soon as life intrudes again.

There is an entire culture of film, especially older film, that absolutley does reinforce terrible ideas about how men should negotiate their relationships with women. Woman Under the Influence is way too decrepit of a narrative to reinforce any sort of belief system. It is nothing but a depiction of how certain people live on certain days. No one wants to grow up to be a Nick or Mabel. No one think they are reflections of any greater society beyond the company they keep between the walls of their own home. While Nick is almost certainly a chauvanist, the audience does not need to be as well to sympathize with his life.Or learn from his story. Or feel the despair of all the walls that are crumbling in on his wife. There is still more than enough room to condemn him in our own time, even if the narrative does not.
My fundamental problem with the ending isn't that it could be intrepreted as taking an "ends-justify-the-means" stance when it comes to its portrayal of the aftermath of Nick hitting Mabel (although I would say that portraying domestic violence with such potential moral ambiguity is probably just not a great idea right off the bat), it's that, given the overall context of the film, it feels like an inappropriately upbeat ending, when Cassavetes should've gone for a different tone with it, one that felt less relieving. Anyway, as for the interpretation that their dysfunction is going to keep returning in a never-ending cycle, I don't see much supporting evidence for that anywhere in the film, and especially not during those last few minutes; the final image of them peacefully preparing to go to bed together isn't at all comparable to Travis Bickle glancing up sharply at something perturbing in his rear view mirror, after all. Not that it matters either way, though, as, whether Mabel has finally been "cured" for good as a result of the assault, or whether Nick periodically keeps hitting in order to temporarily calm her down, neither outcome jives for me, at least not with the tone of those final moments.



My fundamental problem with the ending isn't that it could be intrepreted as taking an "ends-justify-the-means" stance when it comes to its portrayal of the aftermath of Nick hitting Mabel (although I would say that portraying domestic violence with such potential moral ambiguity is probably just not a great idea right off the bat), it's that, given the overall context of the film, it feels like an inappropriately upbeat ending, when Cassavetes should've gone for a different tone with it, one that felt less relieving. Anyway, as for the interpretation that their dysfunction is going to keep returning in a never-ending cycle, I don't see much supporting evidence for that anywhere in the film, and especially not during those last few minutes; the final image of them peacefully preparing to go to bed together isn't at all comparable to Travis Bickle glancing up sharply at something perturbing in his rear view mirror, after all. Not that it matters either way, though, as, whether Mabel has finally been "cured" for good as a result of the assault, or whether Nick periodically keeps hitting in order to temporarily calm her down, neither outcome jives for me, at least not with the tone of those final moments.
Because I can't resist Cassavetes talk, you're getting more. I imagine Takoma has opened another one of my firehoses with her Fassbinder talk in the Recently Seen thread. But because I have (just enough tact) not to disrupt the flow of that particularly communal thread, you're getting the full on Cassavetes spray here. If you're already bored with the conversation, no need to reply. I understand. I'm just very bored.

1) The moral ambiguity is a result of Cassavetes choosing to simply observe his characters, and let us come to our own conclusions about their behaviour. We haven't come to A Woman Under the Influence to teach us how to live. God help us if we did. If a Cassavetes film offers anything, it is to capture the lives of marginalized people, in both their best and worst moments. To require him to introduce some narrative element, or nod to the audience that he doesn't want us to be like Nick, is one of the many elements of narrative artifice he doesn't want anything to do with. They are not important in his world, because he wants to confront us with the actions of his characters and let us wrestle with the moral implications on our own.

2) The only evidence I need that they will continue living as they have been over the course of this film, is that Cassavetes makes me come to view them as people, not characters. Characters require narrative arcs. They seek (knowingly or unknowingly) moments of illumination where they come to learn all the expectations the audience has for them, and eventually (hopefully) live up to them. Real people are not like this though, and instead Cassavetes wants us to view them as real people. Real people repeat their mistakes, break their promises, never truly understand eachother, behave badly and don't realize it, and live inside an ever repeating purgatory of both their good and bad decisions. Just like real people. This is why when Nick and Mabel come to a truce after an argument, they aren't necessarily changed, or have learned any lasting lessons. That bed is not a symbol of their life going forward. It's at most a symbol of one good nights sleep. Then it will start all over again.

Do I have specific evidence of this in the text of the film. No. But maybe, instead of looking for evidence they don't ultimately change, you should ask yourself if you think the day you've watched over the course of this film is any different than any day that recently preceded it? Or why you would come to think anything would be any different on the day that follows it? While looking at this film through the lens of a conventional narrative, we might reflexively assume this day was chosen as the moment where everything was at its worst, and this will be when they finally pivot towards the light. But what about Cassavetes style makes you think this is what he wants to do? If anything, Cassavetes ignores nearly every sign post you'd expect him to follow if he had any real interest in telling the kind of story that leads to some kind of great revelation. It's more likely than not, that this is simply just another day like any other, and we just happened to peek in on them going about business as usual.

All of these expectations that we find in most stories is a result of the corruption of narrative I'm always going on about. Cassavetes is not a narrative director, if that wasn't already obvious. He is instead primarily obsessed with simply observing what is happening. Letting it unfold. Riding the crest of emotions that arises as his characters interact. He doesn't want us looking for clues that telegraph where these people are going. He doesn't want us getting ahead of them, because that would remove us from the moment. And Cassavetes is all about the moment.

Most filmmakers give their audience the priviledge of knowing more about their characters than these characters know about themselves. This can act as a balm for those watching, because this allows us to predict their behavior as well as root for a specific direction we want them to go. It allows us to know what to do with these characters, and let's us know what they mean to us. It is what leads us to believe we can view something like a bed being made as being a signifier of things to come, because this type of storytelling allows us to peek into the future after the cameras stop rolling. This is helpful in some films, because it allows for a reduction in tension.It gives a definable shape to what we are watching.

But Cassavetes inverts this. His characters know more about themselves than we ever will. This puts us in a position where all we can do to understand them is decipher the behavior they show us. Which, as it is in life, is an incomplete way to learn what is going on beneath the hood. While we can connect as many dots as we like, there will always be elements of them outside of our reach. And sometimes these will be absolutely essential elements we aren't privy to. We can't even be entirely sure by the end of my film what specifically is wrong with Mabel, and this is almost the very core of the film. Is it substance abuse? Evidence of a mental illness that has always been a part of their relationship? Or is this a recent breakdown that they have only started to contend with and are now at a loss how to navigate? While even they may not have all of the answers, they certainly know more about their history together than we do. We only can learn through watching, and as a result, experiencing their lives in real time, without the interference of narrative preconceptions.

And that is kind of where the beauty in his films lie. Even if the people he is showing us are flawed and dirty and awful some of the time.


3) There is no reason Nick continuing to bully and abuse should jive with anyone. It's one reason why it's understandably a movie a lot of people are not going to like. Nick, while a compelling character, isn't terribly likeable for a variety of reasons. But there is a difference between not liking Nick, and as a result maybe not liking the film, and wanting this film to resolve its issues like so many other films that are already out there. One of the great lures of the films of Cassavetes is his monomania in getting one very specific thing on film: the fire of living. He shows us anger, love, violence, cruelty, understanding, over excitement, intoxication, and understands that to start explaining or giving his opinions on the goodness or badness or these characters, dilutes that fire. He seems to believe all of us live with those angels and devils on our shoulder, and that the beauty of people is to be found in their complexity and not necessarily their goodness.

That is why you need to look at Cassavetes as your savior Stu! He is telling you to drop those narrative crutches and walk! Into the light! The moral ambivalence will not corrupt you, if you stay pure at heart! And if your conscience starts weighing you down, I'm sure you can find some Scotch around here somewhere. Cassavetes always keeps his bar well prepared for the guilt ridden.



Registered User
Because I can't resist Cassavetes talk, you're getting more. I imagine Takoma has opened another one of my firehoses with her Fassbinder talk in the Recently Seen thread. But because I have (just enough tact) not to disrupt the flow of that particularly communal thread, you're getting the full on Cassavetes spray here. If you're already bored with the conversation, no need to reply. I understand. I'm just very bored.

1) The moral ambiguity is a result of Cassavetes choosing to simply observe his characters, and let us come to our own conclusions about their behaviour. We haven't come to A Woman Under the Influence to teach us how to live. God help us if we did. If a Cassavetes film offers anything, it is to capture the lives of marginalized people, in both their best and worst moments. To require him to introduce some narrative element, or nod to the audience that he doesn't want us to be like Nick, is one of the many elements of narrative artifice he doesn't want anything to do with. They are not important in his world, because he wants to confront us with the actions of his characters and let us wrestle with the moral implications on our own.

2) The only evidence I need that they will continue living as they have been over the course of this film, is that Cassavetes makes me come to view them as people, not characters. Characters require narrative arcs. They seek (knowingly or unknowingly) moments of illumination where they come to learn all the expectations the audience has for them, and eventually (hopefully) live up to them. Real people are not like this though, and instead Cassavetes wants us to view them as real people. Real people repeat their mistakes, break their promises, never truly understand eachother, behave badly and don't realize it, and live inside an ever repeating purgatory of both their good and bad decisions. Just like real people. This is why when Nick and Mabel come to a truce after an argument, they aren't necessarily changed, or have learned any lasting lessons. That bed is not a symbol of their life going forward. It's at most a symbol of one good nights sleep. Then it will start all over again.

Do I have specific evidence of this in the text of the film. No. But maybe, instead of looking for evidence they don't ultimately change, you should ask yourself if you think the day you've watched over the course of this film is any different than any day that recently preceded it? Or why you would come to think anything would be any different on the day that follows it? While looking at this film through the lens of a conventional narrative, we might reflexively assume this day was chosen as the moment where everything was at its worst, and this will be when they finally pivot towards the light. But what about Cassavetes style makes you think this is what he wants to do? If anything, Cassavetes ignores nearly every sign post you'd expect him to follow if he had any real interest in telling the kind of story that leads to some kind of great revelation. It's more likely than not, that this is simply just another day like any other, and we just happened to peek in on them going about business as usual.

All of these expectations that we find in most stories is a result of the corruption of narrative I'm always going on about. Cassavetes is not a narrative director, if that wasn't already obvious. He is instead primarily obsessed with simply observing what is happening. Letting it unfold. Riding the crest of emotions that arises as his characters interact. He doesn't want us looking for clues that telegraph where these people are going. He doesn't want us getting ahead of them, because that would remove us from the moment. And Cassavetes is all about the moment.

Most filmmakers give their audience the priviledge of knowing more about their characters than these characters know about themselves. This can act as a balm for those watching, because this allows us to predict their behavior as well as root for a specific direction we want them to go. It allows us to know what to do with these characters, and let's us know what they mean to us. It is what leads us to believe we can view something like a bed being made as being a signifier of things to come, because this type of storytelling allows us to peek into the future after the cameras stop rolling. This is helpful in some films, because it allows for a reduction in tension.It gives a definable shape to what we are watching.

But Cassavetes inverts this. His characters know more about themselves than we ever will. This puts us in a position where all we can do to understand them is decipher the behavior they show us. Which, as it is in life, is an incomplete way to learn what is going on beneath the hood. While we can connect as many dots as we like, there will always be elements of them outside of our reach. And sometimes these will be absolutely essential elements we aren't privy to. We can't even be entirely sure by the end of my film what specifically is wrong with Mabel, and this is almost the very core of the film. Is it substance abuse? Evidence of a mental illness that has always been a part of their relationship? Or is this a recent breakdown that they have only started to contend with and are now at a loss how to navigate? While even they may not have all of the answers, they certainly know more about their history together than we do. We only can learn through watching, and as a result, experiencing their lives in real time, without the interference of narrative preconceptions.

And that is kind of where the beauty in his films lie. Even if the people he is showing us are flawed and dirty and awful some of the time.


3) There is no reason Nick continuing to bully and abuse should jive with anyone. It's one reason why it's understandably a movie a lot of people are not going to like. Nick, while a compelling character, isn't terribly likeable for a variety of reasons. But there is a difference between not liking Nick, and as a result maybe not liking the film, and wanting this film to resolve its issues like so many other films that are already out there. One of the great lures of the films of Cassavetes is his monomania in getting one very specific thing on film: the fire of living. He shows us anger, love, violence, cruelty, understanding, over excitement, intoxication, and understands that to start explaining or giving his opinions on the goodness or badness or these characters, dilutes that fire. He seems to believe all of us live with those angels and devils on our shoulder, and that the beauty of people is to be found in their complexity and not necessarily their goodness.

That is why you need to look at Cassavetes as your savior Stu! He is telling you to drop those narrative crutches and walk! Into the light! The moral ambivalence will not corrupt you, if you stay pure at heart! And if your conscience starts weighing you down, I'm sure you can find some Scotch around here somewhere. Cassavetes always keeps his bar well prepared for the guilt ridden.

I miss walls of text. Good 'ole RT memories.



I miss walls of text. Good 'ole RT memories.
She sure smelled like ass but I sure do miss her.



Two more tropes that have been worn to death: inmates are all given a daily pill. Tongue out, pill has been swallowed. Until we see that it hasn’t.

Men who can’t tie a tie, but their woman can. How many times do we see this in movies.

Saw both of these in Silver Linings Playbook last night.