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#191944 - 11/19/07 08:52 PM Film - Mysterious Skin
CarnagedOntology Offline
New Here

Registered: 11/12/07
Posts: 13
Loc: California
Mysterious Skin

This film was horribly triggering, but it is an amazing film. I don't know how to explain it without sounding strange, but I love this movie. There were times in the film that I had to push stop and take time to cry. I relate to this story in more ways than one. It was as if it were torn out of the pages of my youth. What I admire most about this film is the truth behind the story. Only those who have experienced sexual trauma first hand, would truly understand the toll. I felt it was made for us. If you do not want to relive the pain, do not watch this film.

_________________________
"Living well is the best revenge."

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#191951 - 11/19/07 10:10 PM Re: Film - Mysterious Skin [Re: CarnagedOntology]
Jarrad Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 10/27/06
Posts: 1071
Loc: arizona
it is a great movie. its based on a book. the movie is way better than the book tho.. and i dont ususally say that about books turned into movies.


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#192007 - 11/20/07 06:00 PM Re: Film - Mysterious Skin [Re: Jarrad]
GateKPR4 Offline
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MaleSurvivor

Registered: 10/28/07
Posts: 955
Loc: North Carolina, USA
There is a trailer on youtube I watched last night. I could identify many of the looks in the child's eyes as well as the expressions on his face. I would like to watch the whole movie. May have a lot of triggers but it may also teach me something.

_________________________
I'm a normal person dealing with abnormal experiences.
The greatest discoveries we will find within ourselves.
Ricky
__m_ô¿ô_m__
|| || || || || || |

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#192062 - 11/21/07 05:36 AM Re: Film - Mysterious Skin [Re: GateKPR4]
roadrunner Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 05/02/05
Posts: 22045
Loc: Carlisle, PA
*****Triggers*****

Guys,

I am writing a book on the way CSA of males is portrayed in world cinema, and the chapter on Mysterious Skin is one I have finished. Here it is, for those who are interested. The formatting has gone all kaflooey, of course, but never mind.

*****

41

Mysterious Skin



Overview


Director: Gregg Araki
Writers: Scott Heim (novel)
Gregg Araki (screenplay)
Company: Desperate Pictures
Release date: 2004
Country: USA, Netherlands
Language: English
Color: Color
Run time: 99 minutes
Certification: Argentina, 13; Australia, R; Brazil, 18; Canada, R (Alberta, British Columbia), 18A (Manitoba, Ontario), 16+ (Quebec), Finland, K18; Germany, 18; Ireland, 18; Italy, VM14; Netherlands, 16; New Zealand, R18; Portugal, M18; Singapore, R21; Sweden, 15; Switzerland, 16 (canton of Geneva), 16 (canton of Vaud); UK, 18; USA, NC-17, unrated (DVD).
Main cast:
Young Brian George Webster
Young Neil Chase Ellison
Neil McCormick Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Brian Lackey Brady Corbet
Coach Bill Sage
Eric Jeffrey Licon
Wendy Michelle Trachtenberg
Mrs McCormick Elisabeth Shue
Mrs Lackey Lisa Long
Mr Lackey Chris Mulkey


Synopsis

The film, based on the novel of the same title by Scott Heim, introduces us to two teenagers, Brian and Neil, living in or near Hutchinson, a small Kansas town and in fact Heim’s hometown. The two boys were members of the local Little League baseball team and were sexually abused by their coach at the age of 8. Their reactions to the abuse are very different. Brian has blocked out his memories; he recalls only that he was sitting on the bench as a baseball game was called because of rain, and then five hours later he was in the crawl space under his house with a nosebleed. But the attack changes his life. He becomes a shy, nervous, awkward boy who fears the dark, wets his bed, and has terrible nightmares of being touched and handled. His social skills are very limited and he is afraid to relate to the world around him. His developing sexual feelings horrify him, and he finds it impossible to date or relate to girls emotionally or sexually.

Neil, on the other hand, remembers everything. Continuing to think as the manipulated and betrayed child, he cherishes his memories of “Coach” and views their relationship as one in which he was special to and loved by an adult he respected and admired. Once deprived of that relationship he gradually comes to feel emotionally empty and unlovable and becomes rebellious and callously indifferent to those around him. Desperately lonely and yearning to find meaning in his life in a world that seems to offer him nothing, he begins to seek sexual contacts with adult men in an effort to recreate the relationship he had with Coach.

The turmoil shaping the lives of the two teenagers, who no longer know each other, takes them to emotional and dangerous extremes. Brian becomes fascinated by outer space and the idea of alien visits to earth. He meets an older woman with similar interests and becomes increasing convinced that abduction by aliens explains his blackouts and dreams. But this only brings him face to face with his inability to relate to the woman sexually, and his dreams become more intense and he begins to experience flashbacks. He feels there is another boy with him in the dreams, but he cannot identify him. Neil, meanwhile, still desperately seeking to use sex to regain his old feelings of belonging and worth, collapses emotionally and becomes a hustler proud of the fact that there is no customer in town whose needs he hasn’t serviced. The two boys experience the two extremes of the continuing impact of child abuse: Brian is tormented by his inability to remember, Neil by his inability to forget.

The two boys, each unaware of the other’s existence, both pursue answers to their questions in ways that will ultimately bring them together. Brian’s dreams of being touched by aliens begin to focus on a face he recognizes from the group photo of his Little League team. Having identified this boy as Neil, he begins to search for him, certain that he must know the truth. Neil, on the other hand, has gone to New York, where his life as a hustler exposes him to increasing levels of dehumanization, danger and violence. Brutally raped and beaten in one especially horrific incident, he discovers at last that the meaning for which he searches will never be found in prostitution. Allowing himself to feel his pain at last, and acknowledging the danger to which he has been exposing himself, he returns home for the Christmas holidays, knowing that Brian has been looking for him.

At the climax of the film the two boys meet on Christmas Eve and Neil immediately recognizes Brian as one of the other boys Coach had abused. Neil finally realizes that he was never special to Coach: the adult simply used him for his own gratification and as a prop to attract, reassure and confuse other boys. He reveals all to Brian, and the two, having guided each other to the truth at last, cling to each other in shocked silence as the film ends.


Critique

This film is a coming-of-age tale that some would have regarded as doubtful from the start. The director, Gregg Araki, had been responsible for a series of much-criticized gay productions, and his leading actor, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, was best known before this film for his role as “Tommy” in the American sitcom “Third Rock from the Sun”. What emerges from this collaboration, however, is nothing short of a cinema classic.

Araki proves himself a director of deep compassion and sensitivity who is able to deal with the horrific dimensions and consequences of child abuse, directly and without compromises, while avoiding the temptation to vulgarize and cheapen his subject. But the show is entirely stolen by Gordon-Levitt, whose portrayal of Neil brings to cinema a harrowingly tragic and accurate image of the devastation a molested boy can suffer for years after the abuse ends. Brady Corbet also gives an excellent performance of the character of the vulnerable and sensitive Brian, and accurately conveys some sense of the confusion and apprehension that would be typical of an abused boy who has lost memories of what happened to him but still senses that something is terribly wrong.

The basic subject matter of the film – the cruel and treacherous abuse of two eight-year-old boys by a coach they should have been able to trust – is handled with sensitivity and compassion, and tension is allowed to build as the lives of the two youths develop and they come closer to discovery of the truth. Sexual scenes involving Neil range from caring to callous to brutal as his own journey of discovery draws to its climax. The supporting cast does an excellent job of filling in the social context and the overall effect is that of a film that conveys its characters as real people rather than as stereotypes. Araki deftly avoids, for example, the temptation to present the residents of Hutchinson as “hicks” and rednecks, while allowing the frustrated teenage characters to vent their own view of the place as a “piss-ant town”.


Survivor Issues

Mysterious Skin is an important film for its portrayal of two contrasting characters: the abused boys who differ so dramatically but are really very much the same. The theme of abuse by a trusted adult the boys know is well developed, and Neil’s emotional disintegration and acting out, as well as Brian’s withdrawal form the world and stunted social development, will ring true for many survivors. The abuse scenes convey with brutal accuracy the insidious way in which curious but innocent boys are lured by pedophiles using strategies of enticement and confusion. Coach’s home is full of games, snacks and fun things to do, and he seeks to put the boys at ease by bringing himself down to the emotional and social level of his victims.

The implicit ending message of the film is that the healing of both Brian and Neil requires that they come to terms with the truth of what really happened to them. The book upon which the film is based in fact ends on a negative note, but Araki abandons this tack and produces a genuinely compassionate conclusion of his own. As Neil holds the trembling and traumatized Brian on Christmas Eve, having revealed all to him, he silently ponders their situation:

"As we sat there I listened to the carollers and I wanted to tell Brian it was all over now and everything would be okay. But that was a lie. Plus I couldn’t speak anyway. I wished there was some way for us to go back and undo the past, but there wasn’t. There was nothing we could do. So I just stayed silent and tried to telepathically communicate how sorry I was about what had happened. I thought of all the grief and sadness and fucked-up suffering in the world, and it made me want to escape. I wished with all my heart we could just leave this world behind and rise like two angels in the night and magically…disappear."

The idea of the abused boy as an “angel” is a charged one: this is the way Coach referred to Neil when he was abusing him.

The film leaves ambiguous the question of Neil’s sexuality. He thinks he is gay, but it can as easily be argued that he is acting out the abuse scenario of his childhood, seeking to recover not only the feelings of closeness he had with Coach, but also a sense of control over his body and sexuality by re-enacting the abuse in settings where he – and not the abuser – dictates what happens and with whom. Neil’s sexual liaisons are always with customers, never with dates, and he does not, for example, respond to the interest that his gay friend Eric shows in him. In one scene the two return to Neil’s house after a night out drinking; Neil offers Eric marijuana to smoke and a porn video to which he can masturbate, but then lays down on his bed and goes to sleep. The character of Brian is lumbered a bit by the idea that he fears aliens had abducted him. A coping mechanism of this sort is not what one would expect from an abused boy, though graphic and even highly symbolic nightmares are common.

As in many films, this one fails to indicate that there is hope for survivors and prospect for recovery. As the film ends one is left with the impression that while Neil and Brian now at least have each other, they are doomed to their trauma and pain as continuing and defining features in their lives.


Use of Underage Actors

The characters of Neil and Brian as eight-year-olds were played by Chase Ellison, who was ten when he played the role of young Neil, and George Webster, who was nine when he played the role of young Brian. Ellison is an experienced child actor with many credits in television, while Webster appears to have been a newcomer.

The film’s producers stressed that the boys were not shown the complete>
_________________________
Nobody living can ever stop me
As I go walking my freedom highway.
Nobody living can make me turn back:
This land was made for you and me.
(Woody Guthrie)

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#192067 - 11/21/07 06:18 AM Re: Film - Mysterious Skin [Re: roadrunner]
GateKPR4 Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 10/28/07
Posts: 955
Loc: North Carolina, USA
Thank you for sharing this.
Although I was never brutally raped and my abuse was mild compared to what I have read here, I never the less still have the same emotional trauma from csa. I do remember almost all the abuse.
Even though we all have our own stories the one thing I am learning is that emotionally we all have many, many things in common.
love & light
Rick

_________________________
I'm a normal person dealing with abnormal experiences.
The greatest discoveries we will find within ourselves.
Ricky
__m_ô¿ô_m__
|| || || || || || |

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#192088 - 11/21/07 09:22 AM Re: Film - Mysterious Skin [Re: GateKPR4]
Jarrad Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 10/27/06
Posts: 1071
Loc: arizona
hey larry,
really interesting. there is a great line that the neighborhood friend, not the girl but the gay one who finds neil's voice tape in his drawer. (cant remember his name.) he makes a comment about neil and i can't remember the quote but i think its like "i think you are gay because you aren't queer like me" or something. so that might be something else to look into. if i could remember the exact line it i could tell you more what i mean, but that line for me was important.


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#192145 - 11/21/07 08:19 PM Re: Film - Mysterious Skin [Re: Jarrad]
roadrunner Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 05/02/05
Posts: 22045
Loc: Carlisle, PA
Jarrad,

That's Eric, a kind of neglected but important character in the film. It's interesting that he finds genuine friendship with the asexual Brian, but not with Neil. That strikes me as significant, but I haven't been able to figure out what Heim (or Araki if it's not in the book - I don't recall) is trying to get across with that one.

My feeling is that Eric is the one who's gay; sexually Neil is just an utterly lost and traumatized soul. Perhaps that's why I identified so strongly with Neil when I first saw the film; that was pretty much me when I was a teenager.

Much love,
Larry

_________________________
Nobody living can ever stop me
As I go walking my freedom highway.
Nobody living can make me turn back:
This land was made for you and me.
(Woody Guthrie)

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#192148 - 11/21/07 08:27 PM Re: Film - Mysterious Skin [Re: roadrunner]
MemoryVault Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 03/01/07
Posts: 693
Loc: NJ
I loved what the movie did with Eric. In the book, he's more troubled, but mainly just a narrator, a voice to tell Neil's story. He and Wendy never meet. In the movie, he's a genuinely loving character, the person Neil gets to protect, the only person Brian would ever spontaneously hug. Even Neil's and Brian's mothers like him, dyed 1990 hair and all!

I guess I also appreciate the movie's highlighting a healthy gay character, just so the audience doesn't assume that Neil's life is all that being gay could be.


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#192187 - 11/22/07 09:46 AM Re: Film - Mysterious Skin [Re: MemoryVault]
roadrunner Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 05/02/05
Posts: 22045
Loc: Carlisle, PA
David,

In the movie there's even a question - at least for me - as to whether Neil is gay or just acting out. As I said in my comments, the film shows him as never dating, just servicing male customers. As a boy he does seem to be infatuated with Coach as a virile male symbol, but that never seems to come to anything. As Coach grooms him he doesn't have any idea what's going on.

You guys are making me think more about the function of the "Eric" character in the film. My thought for right now is that he's a vehicle for contrasting Neil and Brian, which just develops what you are saying, David. That is, Eric is a fun, caring and sensitive guy who would love to be Neil's boyfriend, but can never even approach the closed-down Neil emotionally. But with Brian, who isn't a sexual person in any way, he manages to connect; and as you say, he's the first person Brian ever hugs as a spontaneous act of affection.

Much love,
Larry

_________________________
Nobody living can ever stop me
As I go walking my freedom highway.
Nobody living can make me turn back:
This land was made for you and me.
(Woody Guthrie)

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#192410 - 11/24/07 02:19 AM Re: Film - Mysterious Skin [Re: roadrunner]
Jarrad Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 10/27/06
Posts: 1071
Loc: arizona
larry, neil is gay. he's not just acting out. haha at least, to me he is. like you identified with him, i did too. but because i know i am gay, i just automatically make him gay too. (so i'll totally hate you forever if in your book you label him as soley "acting out."
\:\)


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#192414 - 11/24/07 03:09 AM Re: Film - Mysterious Skin [Re: Jarrad]
roadrunner Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 05/02/05
Posts: 22045
Loc: Carlisle, PA
Hi Jarrad,

I see him as acting out because that's all he does in the film. He has opportunities to relate to Eric, for example, but is too closed down emotionally to take a chance with him.

I need to go reread the book. I know Scott Heim (author) paints a much darker picture of Neil than Gregg Araki (screenplay) does.

Much love,
Larry

_________________________
Nobody living can ever stop me
As I go walking my freedom highway.
Nobody living can make me turn back:
This land was made for you and me.
(Woody Guthrie)

Top
#192424 - 11/24/07 05:24 AM Re: Film - Mysterious Skin [Re: roadrunner]
alexey Offline
Moderator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor
Registered: 08/16/05
Posts: 1674
Loc: Moscow, Russia
Larry,

I think your book is a really great idea. I have seen this movie too. In fact, seen it couple of times. It is triggering and made me cry.

Alexey

_________________________
(\__/)
(='.'=)
E[:]|||||[:]3
(")_(")
--------
When you feel all alone and unhappy, turn to you Inner Child and talk to Him.
You will see He can comfort you like nothing else!

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#192456 - 11/24/07 11:28 AM Re: Film - Mysterious Skin [Re: alexey]
MemoryVault Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 03/01/07
Posts: 693
Loc: NJ
Hey, Larry --

I'm not offended, but I do want to offer a challenge: if a survivor who identified as straight acted out in unhealthy ways with women, would anyone question his heterosexuality?

I'm just wary about where this is going because society's>


Edited by MemoryVault (11/24/07 11:44 PM)

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#192554 - 11/25/07 01:25 AM Re: Film - Mysterious Skin [Re: MemoryVault]
roadrunner Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 05/02/05
Posts: 22045
Loc: Carlisle, PA
David,

Thanks for your thoughts. I hope I haven't given the impression that I think there's something wrong with gay guys or their sexuality. For what it's worth, I think sexuality is part of who a person is and not a choice he makes. If someone is gay, that's it - fine by me. And even if it were a choice, that's also fine so far as I'm concerned.

My thoughts on Neil's sexuality are just based on what Neil does in the film, and clearly I should watch it again with this issue in mind. I don't recall him saying he's gay, so it looks like I missed something that could be important.

On your challenge, okay, I'll look at that a moment:

Originally Posted By: MemoryVault
if a survivor who identified as straight acted out in unhealthy ways with women, would anyone question his heterosexuality?


My answer would be no, I wouldn't question his heterosexuality, and I wouldn't question Neil's homosexuality if I saw him as a guy who identified as gay and acted out in unhealthy ways with men. But that's not what I see in Neil. That is, I don't see him as identifying as gay (but as I just said it looks like I missed something important), and I don't see him as just acting out in unhealthy ways with men.

What I see in Neil is an abused boy trying to recover the feelings of being special, wanted and important that he got from being with Coach. He could have pursued this as a gay guy with other gays in his own peer group, or with different guys of different ages. But he doesn't. As you say, guys his own age don't work for him; he's got to have older men. Araki could have written this up in any number of ways, so surely his choice is significant. As I see it, focusing on older guys shows again how Neil is trying to recapture the special feelings he had with Coach as a boy.

Also, Neil relates sexually only with customers, never with partners, dates or boyfriends. Why not? Again, Araki could have done other things with this - don't we have to ask why he takes this approach? I see this as a control issue. If Neil only relates with other guys as a hustler, never as anything else (and Araki could have showed us other aspects if he wanted to), then he is in total control - or so he thinks. He decides who, where, what, how much, and so on. No commitment, no emotional danger or risk. That's why the final sexual encounter, where he is beaten and raped, is so important; it shows Neil that in reality the control he thought he had was just an illusion.

In the film that Araki gave us I think the real issues are abuse issues and not those of sexuality. Neil doesn't relate to Wendy sexually, true, but he doesn't relate to Eric in that way either; and more importantly, he doesn't relate to his friends emotionally either. I see the character of Neil as primarily a teenager emotionally devastated by abuse.

That said, I take your point that he could be gay and still unable to relate sexually to anyone except older male customers. That's something I have to re-examine by watching the film again.

Damn! I wish I could sit with you and Jarrad and work through the film frame by frame. You're bringing a perspective to my thinking on this one that I lack.

Much love,
Larry

_________________________
Nobody living can ever stop me
As I go walking my freedom highway.
Nobody living can make me turn back:
This land was made for you and me.
(Woody Guthrie)

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#192589 - 11/25/07 09:19 AM Re: Film - Mysterious Skin [Re: roadrunner]
MemoryVault Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 03/01/07
Posts: 693
Loc: NJ
Hey, Larry --

No, you didn't give me the impression you thought something was wrong with being gay...I guess it's a tribute to Araki's film that you, Jarrad, and I all are so invested in Neil and his meaning.

In an early scene with Wendy, Neil's voice-over says something like "If I wasn't queer, we'd have ended up having sloppy sex, turned out a couple of kids..." I'm also thinking of him doing the baseball announcements, commenting to Eric about the older guys batting..."Heck, I'd do him for free....Ass of the gods." Eric says, "Are you joking?" It's one of the few moments in the movie where Neil expresses desire.

I had one other thought about the movie and how it deals with memory. The promo says, "One boy can't remember. The other can't forget," which always bothered me. I think it's more about two kinds of not remembering. In the early scenes with Neil, his voice-over speaks with reverence about what's happening with Coach, but what we actually see is very different--Chase (Ellison?) is clearly upset and confused when things get sexual. Neil remembers the details, but there's a disconnect between the feelings he describes and what we see.

Brian, on the other hand, remembers the feelings perfectly, but loses the facts. He translates the feeling of being invaded and abducted, the strangeness of it, into UFOs. That feeling is the missing piece he has to offer Neil at the end--it's not just a one-way revelation.

Conclusion--I've seen this one too many times!

Take care,

David


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#192608 - 11/25/07 11:15 AM Re: Film - Mysterious Skin [Re: MemoryVault]
Hauser Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 11/12/05
Posts: 2962
Loc: United States
I would like to point out that one of the best qualities of this film is the haunting music in the background. It is constantly dark, foreboding, and gives you, the viewer, during this entire viewing experience, that something is wrong, VERY wrong.

In every instance where the victim's lives veer towards self-defeating/self-destructive behaviors, that melancholy music starts, it is perfectly sequenced. In the realm of artistic merit, the soundrack gets a huge thumbs up from me.

I guess what I'm really saying is that every time I heard the eerie tracks being replayed, I find myself.......looking at my own abuse experience in a sobering and realistic way, which is something I have a hard time doing being as which I'm not the inexperienced/vulnerable boy I once was.


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#192635 - 11/25/07 01:20 PM Re: Film - Mysterious Skin [Re: Hauser]
Jarrad Offline
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MaleSurvivor

Registered: 10/27/06
Posts: 1071
Loc: arizona
i think that none of the characters really have outside relationships. for example, wendy isnt shown as having a boyfriend but no one questions she is straight. and becaus neil doesnt show interest in eric doesnt mean he is just acting out. i mean really... eric is ugly. i wouldn't want to do him either. and like rule number one is never do yoru friends. so, to me, thats a null point. if neil had a boyfriend it would complicate an already complex plot. the dynamics of the characters already are important to throwing in "side stories" would weaken the>

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#192651 - 11/25/07 04:45 PM Re: Film - Mysterious Skin [Re: Jarrad]
MemoryVault Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 03/01/07
Posts: 693
Loc: NJ
Congrats on 500 posts, Jarrad!


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#192685 - 11/26/07 12:10 AM Re: Film - Mysterious Skin [Re: MemoryVault]
roadrunner Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 05/02/05
Posts: 22045
Loc: Carlisle, PA
Ditto on the 500 posts Jarrad! \:\)

_________________________
Nobody living can ever stop me
As I go walking my freedom highway.
Nobody living can make me turn back:
This land was made for you and me.
(Woody Guthrie)

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#192689 - 11/26/07 12:40 AM Re: Film - Mysterious Skin [Re: roadrunner]
roadrunner Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 05/02/05
Posts: 22045
Loc: Carlisle, PA
I guess I keep coming back to the point that Araki is making specific decisions when he turns the book into a film. All of these decisions are his and they are significant - they mean something.

For example, in the book Wendy and Eric never meet, but in the film they are brought together to develop the central character of Neil. In the book the "five-dollar game" has a very negative and callous ending, stressing Neil's emotional "deadness", while in the film that is dropped and a very compassionate ending is substituted for it. In the book Neil sleeps with Eric while in the film he doesn't. All these are decisions by Araki and they mean something.

So for me it's significant that Neil is made to relate sexually only to older male customers, never guys his own age and never dates or bfs.

You know what? The more we talk about this, the more I see that the film is really about Neil - not Neil and Brian. Maybe it's just a matter of how Joseph Gordon-Levitt steals the show in his portrayal of Neil...

And David, FANTASTIC point about what the "aliens" business is all about. That one has been bothering me since I first saw the film and I think you're absolutely right.

Much love,
Larry

_________________________
Nobody living can ever stop me
As I go walking my freedom highway.
Nobody living can make me turn back:
This land was made for you and me.
(Woody Guthrie)

Top
#192692 - 11/26/07 12:47 AM Re: Film - Mysterious Skin [Re: roadrunner]
Jarrad Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 10/27/06
Posts: 1071
Loc: arizona
whoo hoo. 500 posts. where's my prize?

and.. neil's still gay.


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#192738 - 11/26/07 04:49 PM Re: Film - Mysterious Skin [Re: Jarrad]
CarnagedOntology Offline
New Here

Registered: 11/12/07
Posts: 13
Loc: California
WOW! I didn't expect such a great response from posting about this film and/or book. I am thrilled that so many of you are interested. It is nice to have other survivors input and views on films/books such as this one.

P.S., Neil isn't Gay.

_________________________
"Living well is the best revenge."

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#192930 - 11/28/07 07:43 AM Re: Film - Mysterious Skin [Re: CarnagedOntology]
roadrunner Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 05/02/05
Posts: 22045
Loc: Carlisle, PA
CO,

Originally Posted By: CarnagedOntology
P.S., Neil isn't Gay.


Hey, wait a minute! You can't just say that and leave us hanging. Why not? Why isn't he gay? ;\)

L.

_________________________
Nobody living can ever stop me
As I go walking my freedom highway.
Nobody living can make me turn back:
This land was made for you and me.
(Woody Guthrie)

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#192931 - 11/28/07 07:48 AM Re: Film - Mysterious Skin [Re: Jarrad]
roadrunner Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 05/02/05
Posts: 22045
Loc: Carlisle, PA
Originally Posted By: Jarrad
whoo hoo. 500 posts. where's my prize?


Bruuuuuuuuu-noooooooo.......





L.

_________________________
Nobody living can ever stop me
As I go walking my freedom highway.
Nobody living can make me turn back:
This land was made for you and me.
(Woody Guthrie)

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#192948 - 11/28/07 09:08 AM Re: Film - Mysterious Skin [Re: roadrunner]
Jarrad Offline
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haha


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#192952 - 11/28/07 09:23 AM Re: Film - Mysterious Skin [Re: Jarrad]
MemoryVault Offline
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Jarrad --

That's what you get for asking Larry to give you a prize for 500 posts! He manages 500 posts before his system's fully booted up.




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#193000 - 11/28/07 01:27 PM Re: Film - Mysterious Skin [Re: MemoryVault]
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I always wondered what "booted" really means. Well-heeled?

L.

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Nobody living can ever stop me
As I go walking my freedom highway.
Nobody living can make me turn back:
This land was made for you and me.
(Woody Guthrie)

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#193003 - 11/28/07 01:32 PM Re: Film - Mysterious Skin [Re: roadrunner]
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Channeling my inner wonk:

The first thing your computer does when it's turned on is remind itself how to be a computer, so it's "pulling itself up by its bootstraps," or "booting."

This is my favorite tech term derviation: digital cameras, scanners, etc. used to be called TWAIN sources.
It literally stands for "Technology Without An Interesting Name."


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#193022 - 11/28/07 03:51 PM Re: Film - Mysterious Skin [Re: MemoryVault]
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Hey L - I was just being facetious...haha, but I do consider the possibility of Neil not being "gay". The only reason I say this is from similar experiences. When I was in my teens and up through my early 20's, I acted out in ways that people would be considered to be "gay". This is my question, if one man is attracted to another man strictly on sexual terms and fails to find any emotional attachments or "feelings", does this make him "gay"? I have been in traditional "gay" relationships, but I have always found my emotional bond with women. I also find women very sexually attractive, so it's quite the conundrum, but a conundrum I am slowly learning to accept. I am who I am, and I HATE labels! I don't know, just a thought.

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#193125 - 11/29/07 09:24 AM Re: Film - Mysterious Skin [Re: CarnagedOntology]
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CO,

Originally Posted By: CarnagedOntology
I don't know, just a thought.


But an important thought, which I address back to the gay guys who are interested in this thread. Do you think that sexual acts are enough to identify someone as gay? That is, are you a gay man if you have no feelings about what you are doing or who you are doing it with?

I think this is relevant to Neil, because, after all, he is so totally closed down emotionally.

Much love,
Larry

_________________________
Nobody living can ever stop me
As I go walking my freedom highway.
Nobody living can make me turn back:
This land was made for you and me.
(Woody Guthrie)

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#193136 - 11/29/07 10:55 AM Re: Film - Mysterious Skin [Re: roadrunner]
MemoryVault Offline
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Hey, Larry --

That's a complex question. The easy answer is that only the individual gets to determine their identity, but let's put that aside. The real problem is that sexual orientation can mean four different things (at least):

Basic orientation -- who do you desire/fantasize about/long for consistently? Who makes your heart stop when they pass you on the street?

Activity -- who are you actively in sexual/romantic connection with? What do you do?

Personal identity -- How do you define yourself in your mind? What words do you use? How important is your sexuality as part of your identity?

Public identity -- How do you define yourself to others? What identities do you take on? What battles do you fight over sexuality?

Neil seems to get turned on by older men -- not emotionally -- the memory of "Coach" has his emotions locked up, but his desires are there -- in the porn mags he has hidden in his drawer (in the book, he had child porn!), etc.

I think the larger question you're asking, Larry, is "are you a sexual being at all if your emotions are shut down or locked away?" A straight man who desires women but cannot connect to another human being beyond the hydraulics is still straight, but is missing a whole dimension of sexuality. I'd say the same thing about a gay man.

I do think it's possible for someone who desires one sex to compulsively act out with the other, which doesn't alter their basic orientation. But most people end up connecting emotionally with the gender they desire -- it's hard to be in love with someone you don't desire at all, after all.


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#193144 - 11/29/07 11:54 AM Re: Film - Mysterious Skin [Re: MemoryVault]
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David,

Here's my mantra when guys ask me about sexual confusion. I propose to them that they look at what they are doing now and ask themselves these three questions:

1. Am I being totally honest with myself about my sexual feelings?
2. Am I being responsible in the way I relate to others with whom I have sexual contact?
3. Do I feel sexually fulfilled?

I figure that if any guy can answer "yes" to all three questions, hey, carry on with whatever it is he's doing that allows him to be so positive about himself sexually. If he can't answer all three in the affirmative, then perhaps he has some work to do.

I worked out this viewpoint maybe two years ago, so long before I had seen this film. But if I apply these questions to Neil, I see the answers as follows:

1. Uncertain. I don't think Neil is even thinking about sexual feelings.
2. No.
3. Probably not, not because he's in bed with the wrong gender but because he's searching for a chimera.

But perhaps those are the wrong questions for this kind of case. If we apply your four questions, the answers I see are entirely different:

1. Men/Coach/replacement for Coach
2. Gay.
3. Gay.
4. Gay.

Sooooooo.....does the whole discussion depend on the point from which you start?

Just a thought. I feel I have a lot of work to do on how I am framing this whole issue. Thanks for your insights.

Much love,
Larry

_________________________
Nobody living can ever stop me
As I go walking my freedom highway.
Nobody living can make me turn back:
This land was made for you and me.
(Woody Guthrie)

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#193156 - 11/29/07 01:05 PM Re: Film - Mysterious Skin [Re: roadrunner]
MemoryVault Offline
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I like your questions, Larry! I think we're asking about different things. I'm looking at ways to position your sexuality in all its complexity, and you're looking at sexual quality of life -- the universal things that make sexuality healthy and empowering across all categories.

Poor Neil doesn't do too well on your test, and Brian hasn't even picked up his #2 pencil (so to speak).


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#193208 - 11/30/07 01:34 AM Re: Film - Mysterious Skin [Re: roadrunner]
CarnagedOntology Offline
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Larry - I think if there is no emotional bond or attachments, how can one claim to be "gay"? There is more to being homosexual then "sex". It's kind of like the theory behind sexual encounters among men during "war", or in prison, or just plain and simple...complete isolation from the opposite gender. We are all sexual by nature and as men, I think we tend to justify gratification when "convenient". It's interesting, so many of my male friends have all had some type of same sex experimentation. Does this make them "gay"? I really don't think it does, but some would disagree. All this is very hard to explain, sexuality is one complicated SOB.

J

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#193222 - 11/30/07 09:21 AM Re: Film - Mysterious Skin [Re: CarnagedOntology]
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when i have sex i have no emotional bond or attachment with guys. im still very gay.


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#193238 - 11/30/07 12:37 PM Re: Film - Mysterious Skin [Re: MemoryVault]
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DAVID,

Originally Posted By: MemoryVault
Poor Neil doesn't do too well on your test, and Brian hasn't even picked up his #2 pencil (so to speak).


Indeed! Poor Brian doesn't even show up for the test!

I wonder if we're missing something by leaving Brian out of the picture. Araki changes the way the character of Brian functions in the film, as opposed to how he functions in the book, but what's he trying to tell us? Or if - as I am starting to think - Brian is a secondary character intended to tell us more about Neil, WHAT is he contributing to our understanding of Neil?

Much love,
Larry

_________________________
Nobody living can ever stop me
As I go walking my freedom highway.
Nobody living can make me turn back:
This land was made for you and me.
(Woody Guthrie)

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#193571 - 12/03/07 11:08 AM Re: Film - Mysterious Skin [Re: roadrunner]
MemoryVault Offline
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Poor Brian…He fades into the background because that’s what he’s supposed to do. (The commentary on the DVD points out just how much work they did to get the right bland, colorless look for his costumes.) Neil’s the person people watch.

In a way, though, Brian’s the active character in the story…the protagonist. He begins the movie by describing what he’s lost (“five hours”) and it’s he, not Neil, who goes on a quest to find it. He’s much more typical of the media’s portrait of a survivor: shut down, fractured memories, nightmares, physical symptoms, sexually inert.

But if Neil’s covering up his inner emptiness, Brian’s covering up a fertile imagination – his art covers the pages of the books he never shows people—we only get glimpses of it. He wants more: his answer when Neil asks him why he’s raking it all up now, is perfect: “Because I want to dream about something else.”

In some ways, he’s way ahead of Neil. Brian comes to understand that the roots of his pain go beyond the abuse. He has it out with his negligent father; Neil never comes to challenge his mother.


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#194332 - 12/08/07 02:31 AM Re: Film - Mysterious Skin [Re: MemoryVault]
roadrunner Offline
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David,

Originally Posted By: MemoryVault
Poor Brian…He fades into the background because that’s what he’s supposed to do. (The commentary on the DVD points out just how much work they did to get the right bland, colorless look for his costumes.)


That reminds me of the priceless scene where Eric gets Brian drunk on his birthday and gives him a lame-looking sweater...and of course Brian is overjoyed! \:D And meanwhile there sits Eric with his hair in six colors and wearing black lipstick.

This truly is an amazing film. There seems to be no end to what one can get out of it.

Much love,
Larry

_________________________
Nobody living can ever stop me
As I go walking my freedom highway.
Nobody living can make me turn back:
This land was made for you and me.
(Woody Guthrie)

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#194333 - 12/08/07 02:37 AM Re: Film - Mysterious Skin [Re: Jarrad]
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Jarrad,

Originally Posted By: Jarrad
when i have sex i have no emotional bond or attachment with guys. im still very gay.


I guess I wonder if one has anything to do with the other. That is, if I have no emotional feelings when I have sex, does that say anything about my sexual identity? When I was going nuts in San Francisco I don't recall feelings of any sexual identity at all, just feelings of personal worthlessness. In fact, it didn't even occur to me this was prostitution until earlier this year - so almost 40 years after the fact.

Oh well....

Much love,
Larry

_________________________
Nobody living can ever stop me
As I go walking my freedom highway.
Nobody living can make me turn back:
This land was made for you and me.
(Woody Guthrie)

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#194418 - 12/08/07 01:11 PM Re: Film - Mysterious Skin [Re: roadrunner]
Jarrad Offline
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i think sexuality is fluid. it can shift change and adapt depending on the situation. but neil's still gay. haha. i feel i need him to be.


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#194423 - 12/08/07 01:21 PM Re: Film - Mysterious Skin [Re: Jarrad]
roadrunner Offline
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Jarrad,

Okay, okay...here's an early Christmas prezzie for you:


Neil is gay !!!!!!!!! \:\)


Much love,
Larry

_________________________
Nobody living can ever stop me
As I go walking my freedom highway.
Nobody living can make me turn back:
This land was made for you and me.
(Woody Guthrie)

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#194425 - 12/08/07 01:23 PM Re: Film - Mysterious Skin [Re: roadrunner]
Jarrad Offline
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haha THANK YOU.


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#194427 - 12/08/07 01:26 PM Re: Film - Mysterious Skin [Re: Jarrad]
roadrunner Offline
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But now I demand you print this out, cut it out, and put it on your tree!

L.

_________________________
Nobody living can ever stop me
As I go walking my freedom highway.
Nobody living can make me turn back:
This land was made for you and me.
(Woody Guthrie)

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#194447 - 12/08/07 03:20 PM Re: Film - Mysterious Skin [Re: roadrunner]
Jarrad Offline
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haha it will be the only thing on it. which would be funny. haha


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#194451 - 12/08/07 03:38 PM Re: Film - Mysterious Skin [Re: Jarrad]
MemoryVault Offline
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We converted him to our belief sysetem! Mwah-hah-hah-hah! Tomorrow the world!


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#194452 - 12/08/07 03:39 PM Re: Film - Mysterious Skin [Re: MemoryVault]
Jarrad Offline
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haha. i love it.


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#194463 - 12/08/07 04:17 PM Re: Film - Mysterious Skin [Re: Jarrad]
Logan Offline
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I don't wanna stir up the hornets nest, but in the book, Neil finds a porno mag. under his moms bed and it is of guys and he masturbates to it in the bathtub.

to me, that points towards homosexual, but later on in New York, his acting out probably had very little to do with his sexuality regardless.


The reason I never commented on this post before is because both the Book and Movie Triggered the HELL out of me.

Logan





Edited by Logan (12/08/07 04:19 PM)
_________________________
"Terrible thing to live in Fear"-Shawshank Redemption
WOR Alumnus Hope Springs 2009
"Quite a thing to live in fear, this is what is means to be a slave"
-Blade Runner

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#194468 - 12/08/07 04:26 PM Re: Film - Mysterious Skin [Re: Logan]
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How old was he when that happened Logan? I've only been through the early part of the movie (maybe first 15 minutes) and could not go on any longer with it. But I was a bit disturbed and releaved to see a kid at that age masturbating to what he was seeing. "Disturbed" because its so sad a kid at that age is that sexualized. "Releaved" because I did it at the same age too and always thought I was alone on that aspect of my life.

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#194472 - 12/08/07 05:31 PM Re: Film - Mysterious Skin [Re: Still]
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***** triggers *****

Rob,

I don't have my copy of the book to hand, but in the film Neil is eight when he masturbates at the window while he watches his mother giving her boyfriend oral sex on Neil's swing-set in the back yard. Neil has his first ejaculation and can hardly wait to go show Coach.

All that aside, my friend, you are so NOT alone on this business of masturbating at a very early age. You hit it right on the head when you point to the problem of a kid being sexualized when he is too young to handle it. Imagine, for example, setting a bowl of chocolates out in front of a 6-year-old, and then telling him "have fun" as you walk out the door and leave him alone.

In the mind of a child there just isn't any appreciation of what sex is and means. Things like masturbation are just ways of having fun.

On seeing Mysterious Skin, I wouldn't suggest it until you are in a pretty safe and secure place about your own issues, and even then I think it would be best not to watch it alone. The first time I saw it I was alone downstairs late at night and I was utterly blown away. I had no idea what was coming, and after a point I guess I figured I needed to see it through to the end. When Andy (FormerTexan) and I were talking about it one day he referred to it as "Trigger City", and man, was he ever right!

Much love,
Larry

_________________________
Nobody living can ever stop me
As I go walking my freedom highway.
Nobody living can make me turn back:
This land was made for you and me.
(Woody Guthrie)

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#194473 - 12/08/07 05:33 PM Re: Film - Mysterious Skin [Re: Jarrad]
roadrunner Offline
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Originally Posted By: MemoryVault
We converted him to our belief sysetem! Mwah-hah-hah-hah! Tomorrow the world!


Originally Posted By: Jarrad
haha. i love it.


<<<<<sulks>>>>>

_________________________
Nobody living can ever stop me
As I go walking my freedom highway.
Nobody living can make me turn back:
This land was made for you and me.
(Woody Guthrie)

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#194476 - 12/08/07 06:08 PM Re: Film - Mysterious Skin [Re: roadrunner]
Jarrad Offline
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i think for me that neil has to be gay because he is me. like.. when i was watching the movie (and then reading the book after) i was blown away how much we paralell each other. i had this sick infatuation with him because it was like i was reading about myself. if neil is meerly acting out, what does that say about me? up until this point i dont really think that i "act out" but rather, am just a slut. when neil was in new york, i dont consider that acting out either. that was a job. he used what he knew to make money. how is that acting out? he learned a skill and used it to his advantage.

as for him trying to recreate the feeling he got from coach... is that wrong? that he wanted to feel needed and appreciated?

if he's not gay, then people can say i'm not gay... because we are the same. its funny but no one has ever questioned me on it. kids know they like guys or girl at a really early age. neil obviously was attracted to the coach when he first met him. the scene when his mom drops him off at practice.. you can tell. i think his thing with the coach made him like older guys with bushy mustaches. brawny men, i think he calls them. i think its possible the the abuse he went through shifted what his ideal "mate" would be, but not did not switch his pefrence for men versus women.

p.s. larry, when we take over the world, you can be a honorary 'mo.


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#194495 - 12/08/07 08:14 PM Re: Film - Mysterious Skin [Re: Jarrad]
Still Offline
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A couple of questions for ya'll...cuz I'm wondering if I can find some "me answers" in this story.

1) Would the book be less triggering?
2) Is there any good that comes from reading or viewing this?

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#194506 - 12/08/07 09:20 PM Re: Film - Mysterious Skin [Re: Still]
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Rob,

I read the book awhile back, and my recollection is that the book is very triggering too, but in different ways. The director of the film has taken some liberties with the text.

Have you seen my account of the film a few pages above? That might give yo an idea what to expect. I think the film is a masterpiece, but still, VERY triggery. If you're not in a safe place it will stick a lot of graphic images in your head.

On the "me answers", well, I can say seeing the film was a kind of breakthrough for me because it showed me how much like Neil I was when I was a young man. Facing those issues was a big step for me.

Much love,
Larry

_________________________
Nobody living can ever stop me
As I go walking my freedom highway.
Nobody living can make me turn back:
This land was made for you and me.
(Woody Guthrie)

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#194508 - 12/08/07 09:23 PM Re: Film - Mysterious Skin [Re: Jarrad]
roadrunner Offline
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Originally Posted By: Jarrad
p.s. larry, when we take over the world, you can be a honorary 'mo.


What about Bruno?

L.

_________________________
Nobody living can ever stop me
As I go walking my freedom highway.
Nobody living can make me turn back:
This land was made for you and me.
(Woody Guthrie)

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#194514 - 12/08/07 10:05 PM Re: Film - Mysterious Skin [Re: roadrunner]
Logan Offline
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Rob. For me the movie also reminded me of me and my nabor when I was 7, only it brought back a flood of bad memories.

I had new material to fuel my nightmares, which it did.

I guess if I was in a safer place at the time, maybe It would not have been as bad, but I don't plan on seeing it again anytime soon.

the answer to Q # 1 is a little less
at the time #2 would be NO! but now I don't know

Here is a suggestion and I am not sure if it is a good or bad one. Goto youtube and type in Mysterious Skin in search and watch the trailer-I just watched it and its only 5 min. long. I thought that it was a little triggering, just the imagery, even though there is no sound. Then see if you still wanna see it.

Larry, if you don't mind, can you do this before Rob does to make sure it is OK?

Logan

_________________________
"Terrible thing to live in Fear"-Shawshank Redemption
WOR Alumnus Hope Springs 2009
"Quite a thing to live in fear, this is what is means to be a slave"
-Blade Runner

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#194521 - 12/08/07 10:44 PM Re: Film - Mysterious Skin [Re: Logan]
Logan Offline
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No. I take that back. I found the trailer to be very triggering. Maybe it is because I have already seen the movie and it reminded me of it.


Logan

_________________________
"Terrible thing to live in Fear"-Shawshank Redemption
WOR Alumnus Hope Springs 2009
"Quite a thing to live in fear, this is what is means to be a slave"
-Blade Runner

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#194522 - 12/08/07 10:45 PM Re: Film - Mysterious Skin [Re: Logan]
Jarrad Offline
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larry, of course bruno too. he is already gay remember? him in his boa?


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#194525 - 12/09/07 12:53 AM Re: Film - Mysterious Skin [Re: Still]
MemoryVault Offline
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Originally Posted By: Robbie Brown
1) Would the book be less triggering?

I don't think so, Rob. The book is all first-person narratives from different people--the action is pretty immediate and in-your-face. In some key ways, it's darker than the movie.

Originally Posted By: Robbie Brown
2) Is there any good that comes from reading or viewing this?

I got a lot out of it that I think was good, but that was because I was in a place where I wasn't feeling much of anything, and getting hit with the feelings was something I needed. It makes sense if it's not what someone else needs now. Later, seeing it again, I was able to use it to make sense of a lot of how I've lived my life.

It is a good movie -- It's not sensational, it's not TV-movie-of-the-week, and it's very true to what happens to a lot of survivors. It also doesn't tack on any easy answers or hopeful endings, and in many ways, it's the opposite of a feel-good movie. It is depressing as hell, but yeah, that's it--that's what it's like.

If you saw it, Rob, you'd absolutely identify with one, maybe both, of the lead characters. But it's basically a two-hour flashback.


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#194543 - 12/09/07 07:24 AM Re: Film - Mysterious Skin [Re: MemoryVault]
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The trailer already hits home hard on the theme of violated innocence. It just goes to show how triggering the film as a whole is - even the trailer is something survivors should watch out for.

Looking back at what I said above, I guess what really helped me in seeing this film was that it showed me very clearly how even an older teenager or young adult who is supposedly old enough to "take care of himself" can fall apart and re-enact all the scenarios of the broken boy he was in his childhood. It helped me to see that while I had to take responsibility for repairing the damage now, in the present, I didn't have to do that by accepting blame for things that childhood abuse set me up for when I was 20.

Much love,
Larry

_________________________
Nobody living can ever stop me
As I go walking my freedom highway.
Nobody living can make me turn back:
This land was made for you and me.
(Woody Guthrie)

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#194545 - 12/09/07 07:38 AM Re: Film - Mysterious Skin [Re: MemoryVault]
Still Offline
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Originally Posted By: MemoryVault
But it's basically a two-hour flashback.


THAT's all I need to hear (to stay away from it). I own it on DVD and think I'll just leave it in storage (out of reach of children)

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#194556 - 12/09/07 10:53 AM Re: Film - Mysterious Skin [Re: Still]
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Rob,

For the time being I think that's an excellent idea!

_________________________
Nobody living can ever stop me
As I go walking my freedom highway.
Nobody living can make me turn back:
This land was made for you and me.
(Woody Guthrie)

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#194569 - 12/09/07 12:46 PM Re: Film - Mysterious Skin [Re: Still]
Jarrad Offline
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so after this post, i decided to re-read the book. i am more familliar with the movie. i forgot that he finds the porn mags under the bed before coach is in the picture. he is already attracted to men but at that point doesnt know what it means. in the movie tho, i think he finds the porn after? the book paints a clearer picture of his sexuality. thats the moral of the story. haha and yes i already have the neil's gay banner printed out. but i just wanted to share.


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#194603 - 12/09/07 07:28 PM Re: Film - Mysterious Skin [Re: Jarrad]
Logan Offline
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Registered: 04/05/03
Posts: 1238
Loc: NY
I think thats a smart play, Rob.

MemoryV, You nailed it on the head, it is not a feel good movie, it is depressing; an accurate de>
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#194842 - 12/11/07 05:51 PM Re: Film - Mysterious Skin [Re: Jarrad]
roadrunner Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 05/02/05
Posts: 22045
Loc: Carlisle, PA
Jarrad,

Originally Posted By: Jarrad
so after this post, i decided to re-read the book. i am more familliar with the movie.


Me too. There have been WAY too many times when someone has commented on some aspect of the book that I had entirely forgotten. But one thing we have to remember is that Gregg Araki creates his own "Neil" through the ways in which he deviates from Scott Heim's book. All those changes are conscious decisions and reflect a vision of Neil that Araki wants to convey.

Much love,
Larry

_________________________
Nobody living can ever stop me
As I go walking my freedom highway.
Nobody living can make me turn back:
This land was made for you and me.
(Woody Guthrie)

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#194854 - 12/11/07 07:24 PM Re: Film - Mysterious Skin [Re: roadrunner]
Jarrad Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 10/27/06
Posts: 1071
Loc: arizona
larry, totally agree. i love reading and analysing shit. i was a kick ass thesis writer in school. i miss it. this post is kinda like that. the best books are open ended enough to draw your own conlusions and allow you to argue the shit out of it \:\)


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#194866 - 12/11/07 08:09 PM Re: Film - Mysterious Skin [Re: Jarrad]
roadrunner Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 05/02/05
Posts: 22045
Loc: Carlisle, PA
Jarrad,

That's what makes a great book, or a great film - it's ability to speak to many different people and points of view, even in different places and different times.

The film version of Mysterious Skin is indeed something I would call great, but I'm not sure about the book yet.

Much love,
Larry

_________________________
Nobody living can ever stop me
As I go walking my freedom highway.
Nobody living can make me turn back:
This land was made for you and me.
(Woody Guthrie)

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#194867 - 12/11/07 08:11 PM Re: Film - Mysterious Skin [Re: roadrunner]
Jarrad Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 10/27/06
Posts: 1071
Loc: arizona
i think the book is great only because it speaks to me. not because it is a great piece of literature.


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#283032 - 04/10/09 12:29 AM Re: Film - Mysterious Skin [Re: roadrunner]
king tut Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 02/13/08
Posts: 2469
Loc: UK
Originally Posted By: roadrunner
*****Triggers*****

Guys,

I am writing a book on the way CSA of males is portrayed in world cinema, and the chapter on Mysterious Skin is one I have finished. Here it is, for those who are interested. The formatting has gone all kaflooey, of course, but never mind.

*****

41

Mysterious Skin



Overview


Director: Gregg Araki
Writers: Scott Heim (novel)
Gregg Araki (screenplay)
Company: Desperate Pictures
Release date: 2004
Country: USA, Netherlands
Language: English
Color: Color
Run time: 99 minutes
Certification: Argentina, 13; Australia, R; Brazil, 18; Canada, R (Alberta, British Columbia), 18A (Manitoba, Ontario), 16+ (Quebec), Finland, K18; Germany, 18; Ireland, 18; Italy, VM14; Netherlands, 16; New Zealand, R18; Portugal, M18; Singapore, R21; Sweden, 15; Switzerland, 16 (canton of Geneva), 16 (canton of Vaud); UK, 18; USA, NC-17, unrated (DVD).
Main cast:
Young Brian George Webster
Young Neil Chase Ellison
Neil McCormick Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Brian Lackey Brady Corbet
Coach Bill Sage
Eric Jeffrey Licon
Wendy Michelle Trachtenberg
Mrs McCormick Elisabeth Shue
Mrs Lackey Lisa Long
Mr Lackey Chris Mulkey


Synopsis

The film, based on the novel of the same title by Scott Heim, introduces us to two teenagers, Brian and Neil, living in or near Hutchinson, a small Kansas town and in fact Heim’s hometown. The two boys were members of the local Little League baseball team and were sexually abused by their coach at the age of 8. Their reactions to the abuse are very different. Brian has blocked out his memories; he recalls only that he was sitting on the bench as a baseball game was called because of rain, and then five hours later he was in the crawl space under his house with a nosebleed. But the attack changes his life. He becomes a shy, nervous, awkward boy who fears the dark, wets his bed, and has terrible nightmares of being touched and handled. His social skills are very limited and he is afraid to relate to the world around him. His developing sexual feelings horrify him, and he finds it impossible to date or relate to girls emotionally or sexually.

Neil, on the other hand, remembers everything. Continuing to think as the manipulated and betrayed child, he cherishes his memories of “Coach” and views their relationship as one in which he was special to and loved by an adult he respected and admired. Once deprived of that relationship he gradually comes to feel emotionally empty and unlovable and becomes rebellious and callously indifferent to those around him. Desperately lonely and yearning to find meaning in his life in a world that seems to offer him nothing, he begins to seek sexual contacts with adult men in an effort to recreate the relationship he had with Coach.

The turmoil shaping the lives of the two teenagers, who no longer know each other, takes them to emotional and dangerous extremes. Brian becomes fascinated by outer space and the idea of alien visits to earth. He meets an older woman with similar interests and becomes increasing convinced that abduction by aliens explains his blackouts and dreams. But this only brings him face to face with his inability to relate to the woman sexually, and his dreams become more intense and he begins to experience flashbacks. He feels there is another boy with him in the dreams, but he cannot identify him. Neil, meanwhile, still desperately seeking to use sex to regain his old feelings of belonging and worth, collapses emotionally and becomes a hustler proud of the fact that there is no customer in town whose needs he hasn’t serviced. The two boys experience the two extremes of the continuing impact of child abuse: Brian is tormented by his inability to remember, Neil by his inability to forget.

The two boys, each unaware of the other’s existence, both pursue answers to their questions in ways that will ultimately bring them together. Brian’s dreams of being touched by aliens begin to focus on a face he recognizes from the group photo of his Little League team. Having identified this boy as Neil, he begins to search for him, certain that he must know the truth. Neil, on the other hand, has gone to New York, where his life as a hustler exposes him to increasing levels of dehumanization, danger and violence. Brutally raped and beaten in one especially horrific incident, he discovers at last that the meaning for which he searches will never be found in prostitution. Allowing himself to feel his pain at last, and acknowledging the danger to which he has been exposing himself, he returns home for the Christmas holidays, knowing that Brian has been looking for him.

At the climax of the film the two boys meet on Christmas Eve and Neil immediately recognizes Brian as one of the other boys Coach had abused. Neil finally realizes that he was never special to Coach: the adult simply used him for his own gratification and as a prop to attract, reassure and confuse other boys. He reveals all to Brian, and the two, having guided each other to the truth at last, cling to each other in shocked silence as the film ends.


Critique

This film is a coming-of-age tale that some would have regarded as doubtful from the start. The director, Gregg Araki, had been responsible for a series of much-criticized gay productions, and his leading actor, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, was best known before this film for his role as “Tommy” in the American sitcom “Third Rock from the Sun”. What emerges from this collaboration, however, is nothing short of a cinema classic.

Araki proves himself a director of deep compassion and sensitivity who is able to deal with the horrific dimensions and consequences of child abuse, directly and without compromises, while avoiding the temptation to vulgarize and cheapen his subject. But the show is entirely stolen by Gordon-Levitt, whose portrayal of Neil brings to cinema a harrowingly tragic and accurate image of the devastation a molested boy can suffer for years after the abuse ends. Brady Corbet also gives an excellent performance of the character of the vulnerable and sensitive Brian, and accurately conveys some sense of the confusion and apprehension that would be typical of an abused boy who has lost memories of what happened to him but still senses that something is terribly wrong.

The basic subject matter of the film – the cruel and treacherous abuse of two eight-year-old boys by a coach they should have been able to trust – is handled with sensitivity and compassion, and tension is allowed to build as the lives of the two youths develop and they come closer to discovery of the truth. Sexual scenes involving Neil range from caring to callous to brutal as his own journey of discovery draws to its climax. The supporting cast does an excellent job of filling in the social context and the overall effect is that of a film that conveys its characters as real people rather than as stereotypes. Araki deftly avoids, for example, the temptation to present the residents of Hutchinson as “hicks” and rednecks, while allowing the frustrated teenage characters to vent their own view of the place as a “piss-ant town”.


Survivor Issues

Mysterious Skin is an important film for its portrayal of two contrasting characters: the abused boys who differ so dramatically but are really very much the same. The theme of abuse by a trusted adult the boys know is well developed, and Neil’s emotional disintegration and acting out, as well as Brian’s withdrawal form the world and stunted social development, will ring true for many survivors. The abuse scenes convey with brutal accuracy the insidious way in which curious but innocent boys are lured by pedophiles using strategies of enticement and confusion. Coach’s home is full of games, snacks and fun things to do, and he seeks to put the boys at ease by bringing himself down to the emotional and social level of his victims.

The implicit ending message of the film is that the healing of both Brian and Neil requires that they come to terms with the truth of what really happened to them. The book upon which the film is based in fact ends on a negative note, but Araki abandons this tack and produces a genuinely compassionate conclusion of his own. As Neil holds the trembling and traumatized Brian on Christmas Eve, having revealed all to him, he silently ponders their situation:

"As we sat there I listened to the carollers and I wanted to tell Brian it was all over now and everything would be okay. But that was a lie. Plus I couldn’t speak anyway. I wished there was some way for us to go back and undo the past, but there wasn’t. There was nothing we could do. So I just stayed silent and tried to telepathically communicate how sorry I was about what had happened. I thought of all the grief and sadness and fucked-up suffering in the world, and it made me want to escape. I wished with all my heart we could just leave this world behind and rise like two angels in the night and magically…disappear."

The idea of the abused boy as an “angel” is a charged one: this is the way Coach referred to Neil when he was abusing him.

The film leaves ambiguous the question of Neil’s sexuality. He thinks he is gay, but it can as easily be argued that he is acting out the abuse scenario of his childhood, seeking to recover not only the feelings of closeness he had with Coach, but also a sense of control over his body and sexuality by re-enacting the abuse in settings where he – and not the abuser – dictates what happens and with whom. Neil’s sexual liaisons are always with customers, never with dates, and he does not, for example, respond to the interest that his gay friend Eric shows in him. In one scene the two return to Neil’s house after a night out drinking; Neil offers Eric marijuana to smoke and a porn video to which he can masturbate, but then lays down on his bed and goes to sleep. The character of Brian is lumbered a bit by the idea that he fears aliens had abducted him. A coping mechanism of this sort is not what one would expect from an abused boy, though graphic and even highly symbolic nightmares are common.

As in many films, this one fails to indicate that there is hope for survivors and prospect for recovery. As the film ends one is left with the impression that while Neil and Brian now at least have each other, they are doomed to their trauma and pain as continuing and defining features in their lives.


Use of Underage Actors

The characters of Neil and Brian as eight-year-olds were played by Chase Ellison, who was ten when he played the role of young Neil, and George Webster, who was nine when he played the role of young Brian. Ellison is an experienced child actor with many credits in television, while Webster appears to have been a newcomer.

The film’s producers stressed that the boys were not shown the complete>
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"...until lambs become lions"

I love you, little lewis, and i will never leave you. We are the same. You brighten my day, and i will make sure that i brighten yours. Hugs and kisses.


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#283049 - 04/10/09 04:19 AM Re: Film - Mysterious Skin [Re: king tut]
myboyhoodfears Offline


Registered: 03/13/09
Posts: 457
.



Edited by myboyhoodfears (08/31/09 10:52 AM)
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#283060 - 04/10/09 07:56 AM Re: Film - Mysterious Skin [Re: myboyhoodfears]
ComicBookGuy Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 02/08/09
Posts: 443
Loc: London, England
I watched MS when disassociated in 2006 and have to credit it with being the film that helped break down the barriers - though at the time it was just another movie to watch on my cinema sub>


Edited by ComicBookGuy (04/10/09 08:40 PM)
Edit Reason: missing words
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#289614 - 05/30/09 11:58 PM Re: Film - Mysterious Skin [Re: ComicBookGuy]
Riley Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 01/11/09
Posts: 597
Loc: USA
I just moved into my new apartment yesterday. I decided to stop at the dvd store and see what movies I could find since I no longer have cable. I found this in the cheap used bin and decided to get it. I happened to stumble upon the trailer a few months ago and found it very triggering, but one of the reasons I decided to move was the fact that I had to hide any emotion tied to the abuse whatsoever.

Anyway, what I'm getting at it is I was curious to see what it would bring up. While I had to pause and collect my thoughts several times, I found the most triggering scene to be when the guy is making the kid swear into the microphone. My brother used to make me swear for his entertainment and it just brought back all those memories of swearing to get attention at home but then being scolded everywhere else.

Anyway, I thought it was a good movie.


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#290604 - 06/07/09 08:37 AM Re: Film - Mysterious Skin [Re: Riley]
Timmy Offline


Registered: 09/24/08
Posts: 2
i watched this movie yesterday i was killing myself crying, it is too difficult to watch, i wish i hadn't watched it


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#290717 - 06/07/09 11:52 PM Re: Film - Mysterious Skin [Re: Timmy]
pufferfish Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 02/26/08
Posts: 6875
Loc: USA
I saw this one about a year ago. It was a bit difficult to watch because of the CSA content. But because the abuse was not similar to what I experienced, it didn't trigger me very much.

Allen

pufferfish whistle


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#291001 - 06/09/09 09:16 PM Re: Film - Mysterious Skin [Re: pufferfish]
Matt0487 Offline


Registered: 05/29/09
Posts: 27
Loc: Houston, TX, USA
Mysterious Skin is a brilliant film indeed. I find it interesting that most people in this thread/forum seem to relate to Neil. When I was watching the film, Brian's story was especially triggering. The memory blackouts and the emotional withdrawal were very poignant for me. I would also say that Neil and Brian are me at different stages through my life. At one point I was Brian (still am partially)...lost in a fog that abuse has taken me. For a time I was asexual...like him. Everyone else could see the pain...but I couldn't feel it myself. Now, I am more like Neil (Especially before therapy but still today as well). I start to feel affection from a guy and I feel like the only way I can get it is through sex. Like Neil, I objectify myself and try to dodge my feelings through orgasm. I think I am in control. But like Neil, I am falling apart when I succumb (luckily I havent acted out with sex in a year...almost did last night but didn't)

To me...Brian and Neil represent two stages of my dysfunction.

Matt


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#291022 - 06/10/09 02:31 AM Re: Film - Mysterious Skin [Re: Matt0487]
coaster Offline


Registered: 04/02/09
Posts: 18
I also just rented a film called Swimming Upstream, about an abusive father and his family in Australia. A couple of really triggering scenes, but a powerful film because the boys 'win'.

Coaster


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#359328 - 04/11/11 01:59 PM Re: Film - Mysterious Skin [Re: coaster]
Fissy Tsickens Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 09/23/08
Posts: 466
Loc: Bassett, Virginia
Okay, I'm very late coming to this thread, but anyway...

Yesterday my wife and younger daughter went up to my older daughter's college to bring her some stuff, and my son was over a friend's house, so I was home alone. I decided it would be a good time to watch "Mysterious Skin," which was posted in 8 parts on youtube.

Today I'm still a little shell-shocked, I think. I was glad it was broken down, so I could take breaks throughout and process. I actually threw up twice watching it, once during the scene where Neil is beaten and raped; it was very triggering for me. Though not beaten, the rape and abusive comments and names were so much like what I experienced, the last time I was abused at 15. It's weird; it was so horrible, but I'd watch it again, I think. Maybe not right away.

Still processing...

Peace,

John

_________________________
Wish that I could cry
Fall upon my knees
Find a way to lie
About a home I’ll never see

It may sound absurd...but don’t be naive
Even heroes have the right to bleed
I may be disturbed...but won’t you concede
Even heroes have the right to dream
It’s not easy to be me

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#359362 - 04/11/11 09:23 PM Re: Film - Mysterious Skin [Re: Fissy Tsickens]
Riley Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 01/11/09
Posts: 597
Loc: USA
Hey John,

All and all I think it's worth watching. I personally found it healing once the shell shocked passed.

And for what it's worth, I tool have puked during triggering movies.


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#359460 - 04/12/11 07:12 PM Re: Film - Mysterious Skin [Re: CarnagedOntology]
Jbt419 Offline


Registered: 04/12/11
Posts: 4
Loc: fl, usa
i love that movie

_________________________
"I'm nobody who are you?" "Do you know what it's like to feel so in the dark?" "its no good at all to see yourself and not recognize your face out on my own its such a scary place the answers are all inside of me all i got to do is believe" "Bruises fade but memories last forever"

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#359495 - 04/12/11 11:39 PM Re: Film - Mysterious Skin [Re: Jbt419]
pufferfish Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 02/26/08
Posts: 6875
Loc: USA
I watched this again several weeks ago. This time it was very triggering. I got very involved with it emotionally. I think it was more triggering to me because my defense system has come down a whole bunch. This is good for me but it leaves me more vulnerable to stuff.

Allen


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#360448 - 04/22/11 05:35 AM Re: Film - Mysterious Skin [Re: pufferfish]
Still Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 02/16/07
Posts: 6601
Loc: FEMA Region 1
I own the DVD. I've watched it twice and came to the same conclusion each time. Its brutal, parts are dreadfully real, its a major trigger-fest, and at the end, all I'm left with is tears, fears and hate. I find no progressive therapy in that.

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#361023 - 04/29/11 08:43 AM Re: Film - Mysterious Skin [Re: Jarrad]
jerrylewis Offline


Registered: 04/29/11
Posts: 3
ya,i have heard about this movie but never watched it.but i have a book related to this.the book is very amazing.


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#361111 - 04/30/11 03:52 PM Re: Film - Mysterious Skin [Re: jerrylewis]
Gnuff Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 03/28/11
Posts: 13
Loc: Switzerland
huh... this film is very special to me. my abuse was totally different. as were the aftereffects of it. but Neils prostitution scenes really brought some memories of my acting out to mind. And I'm still waiting for the right moment to show it to some special people, just to pause at some certain points, point at Neils facial expression and say. "That is what I mean, that is what I talk about!"

It is definitely a strong movie!


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