Nigel started us off this week with a series of short YouTube videos called “Epic Rap Battles of History”. They’re…well…historical figures rapping at each other. There’s no better way to describe than to just simply link them, so here they are (language warning, like if you’re thinking about showing these to your kids or something):
Our feature presentation, Steven Shainberg‘s Secretary, was brought to us by Cristeta – who now has the distinction of presenting to my recollection the only two Cinema 1544 films to feature Cyndi Lauper’s “She-Bop” (if you know what I mean) in two consecutive showings.
Ths film is, unsurprisingly, about a secretary, played by Maggie Gyllenhaal.
Although you wouldn’t know it from perusing google image search, Maggie spends most of the film being cute and vulnerable and clothed, kind of like above. So why does the internet focus on the other stuff? Let me tell you about the film.
Maggie plays Lee Holloway, a young woman who has just emerged from a stint in a mental institution (for cutting herself – a habit we find she has not abandoned), devoid of self-confidence and hoping to make her way in the world. She strikes up a tenuous and shy relationship with former schoolmate Peter, learns to type, and seeks out work as a secretary. Enter James Spader as Mr. Grey.
Things seem to go all right at first (despite a bizarre interview), but they quickly devolve into a non-sexual BDSM relationship, Mr. Grey turned on by Lee’s submissiveness and she turned on by his dominance. This leads to some bizarre goings-on at the law office…
Lee’s constant typographical errors, which occur more and more frequently and more and more on purpose, lead to some serious spankings that take the place of her cutting habit.
However, Mr. Grey begins to back off just as Lee is falling deeply in love with him, and she resorts to the unique desperate measure of mailing him a worm squashed in his own letterhead to bring things to a head.
Unfortunately, Lee’s hopes of consummation go unfulfilled, and Mr. Grey fires her. She tries internet dating with freaks, but it doesn’t go nearly as well and she succumbs to Peter’s offhand marriage proposal. It’s only when she gets into Peter’s mother’s wedding dress that she snaps, and returns to Mr. Grey’s office.
Mr. Grey, to make certain that this is what she really wants, forces her to put her hands and elbows on his desk, her feet on the floor, and he leaves her there, occasionally watching through the window, as her family and friends finally figure out where she has run off to and try to talk her out of…whatever it is that she’s doing. She sticks it out for a whole weekend before he relents.
Then the whole relationship turns into this weird full-frontal fairy tale, where he takes her upstairs (at the law office) to a prepared bedroom, bathes her in a copper tub and makes sweet, tender, non-kinky love to her. They live happily ever after, with days full of dominance and nights full of submission.
I really don’t know what to make of the end of this film. It’s unexpected, and not particularly fitting, but the balance of the movie is so interesting that it doesn’t really matter.
And as long as we’re on the subject of spanking…