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Unhappily ever after? 10 great films about struggling romances

The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby is about a couple, but it isn’t necessarily a love story: Eleanor (Jessica Chastain) and Conor (James McAvoy) are happily married until a tragic event shakes them and separates them. It’s no Blue Valentine, but it’s no The Notebook either—the movie depicts two people united by marriage and trauma dealing with their grief in very different ways.

That plot alone might not sound entirely intriguing at first glance, but director Ned Benson created three separate films out of the story to create three different experiences. There’s Them, which opens Friday and weaves together both Eleanor’s and Conor’s stories, then Her, a film that focuses in on Eleanor’s perspective, and finally, Him, a movie that zones in on Conor’s experience.

This film is one of many that tell the story of a struggling relationship in an original way—there’s 2004’s sci fi-tinged Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, for example, and 2012’s unsympathetic Take This Waltz. Here’s a list of 10 of those films that stand out from the past 10 years. READ FULL STORY

Parents Television Council issues 'stern warning' to New York theater admitting teens to 'Blue is the Warmest Color'

The Parents Television Council isn’t pleased with a Manhattan movie theater’s decision to let teens in to screenings of the sexually-explicit, NC-17 French film, Blue is the Warmest Color. The coming-of-age film wowed critics at the Cannes Film Festival, where it won the top prize and universal praise for its depiction of a teen lesbian’s struggle with identity and her sexual awakening. (It’s also been extremely controversial, especially after its lead actresses expressed regret over filming some of the scenes.)

Recently, the IFC Center announced that it would ignore the NC-17 rating — a voluntary guideline — and admit teens. “It is our judgment that it is appropriate for mature, inquiring teenagers who are looking ahead to the emotional challenges and opportunities that adulthood holds,” the Center said it a statement.

The PTC, which typically focuses its grievances to television issues — since the government regulates the airwaves — but has often chimed in on matters of the MPAA and cinema, isn’t happy about the IFC Center’s decision. On Wednesday, in an open letter to IFC executive John Vanco, the organization issued a “stern warning” and called on the theater to enforce the MPAA rating and prohibit minors from seeing the movie:

“Simply put, you and the IFC Center are in no position to determine which children are ‘mature’ enough to view explicit sexual content without the presence of a parent or guardian. Whether a child should view explicit sexual content is a decision best left to parents and families, and we strongly object to your theaters’ usurping of their appropriate role. READ FULL STORY

'Blue is the Warmest Color': NYC theater will let teens watch sexually explicit NC-17 movie

Curious teens sure have it easy these days. Count sneaking into sexy French films as something of the distant, buttoned-up past.

Blue is the Warmest Color, which opens in select theaters today, garnered an NC-17 rating by the Motion Picture Association of America for its graphic sex scenes. Usually this rating bans anyone under the age of 17 from viewing the film, but one New York theater, the IFC Center in Greenwich Village, is ignoring the rating and allowing high-schoolers to watch. The New York Times first reported the news.

“This is not a movie for young children, but it is our judgment that it is appropriate for mature, inquiring teenagers who are looking ahead to the emotional challenges and opportunities that adulthood holds,” said John Vanco, senior vice president and general manager of the IFC Center, in an official statement.

“The MPAA rating is a voluntary guideline that we as a theater are not obligated to enforce. In this case we feel it is unnecessarily restrictive and we will indeed admit high school age patrons to screenings of this perceptive and moving film at the IFC Center,” added Vanco.

Blue is the Warmest Color, about a young girl who falls in love with a female art student, generated intense controversy after it’s Cannes Film Festival premiere. There was spirited debate over its sexually explicit scenes, in addition to the public feuding between its stars, Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux, and director Abdellatif Kechiche.


'Blue Is the Warmest Color': The (sexy) controversy continues

By the time Blue Is the Warmest Color won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival last May, the three-hour French lesbian coming-of-age drama, with its deliriously explicit and extended sex scenes, was mired in controversy. But not because of the usual conservative fuddy-duddies (the ratings board, the Catholic Church). The movie was under siege from more progressive forces, including the author of the graphic novel on which it was based. I always expected the controversy to follow Blue Is the Warmest Color to America. Yet now that the film is finally set to open (this Friday), I was shocked to see the debate spill over into an open war between the film’s director, Abdellatif Kechiche, and his two lead actresses, Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux, all of whom had been in seeming solidarity just a few months earlier. Clearly, this is a movie not just to watch but to fight about. In that spirit, I thought I’d rerun my original post on the controversy, which first appeared on June 8. Here it is, just as it ran then: READ FULL STORY

'Blue is the Warmest Color' trailer: Young love with a French twist -- VIDEO


Blue is the Warmest Color has been the subject of controversy ever since it premiered at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. And you can’t even get past the MPAA green-screen intro to its new trailer, with its giant lurking NC-17, to see why: “Explicit Sexual Content.”

The French-language film from Tunisian director Abdellatif Kechiche drew gasps at Cannes for its explicit — and extensive — lesbian sex scenes that capture the passionate romance between a French teen (Adèle Exarchopoulos) and her first same-sex lover (Midnight in Paris‘ Léa Seydoux). But it also took home the festival’s top prize and won scores of critical accolades — accolades that are featured prominently in the new trailer. “Magnificent,” reads a rave from Steven Spielberg, the Cannes’ jury president. “We were under the spell of the film and its wonderful actresses.”

Click below for a perfectly chaste teaser of a trailer for the film, accompanied by the Beach House song “Take Care.” Blue opens in the U.S. on Oct. 25. READ FULL STORY

Are the sex scenes in 'Blue Is the Warmest Color' artful? Or are they 'male gaze' porn?

There’s something almost reassuring about the fact that in 2013, a movie sex scene could still be controversial. This time, however, the controversy isn’t coming from the forces of conservatism — from a clampdown by the ratings board or from family newspapers that don’t want to advertise a film they deem indecent. This time, the clampdown comes from the forces of the liberal-left. (That’s very 2013.) When Blue Is the Warmest Color played last month at the Cannes Film Festival, the three-hour French lesbian drama, with its lengthy and explicit scenes of bedroom intimacy, received a mostly rapturous response. There were instant cries that the movie would win the Palme d’Or, and it did. But there were also murmurs of discontent. In The New York TimesManohla Dargis wrote a dissenting view, arguing that the film raised troubling issues about the depiction of female sexuality on screen; she said that the film’s explicitness wasn’t so much artful as it was a case of pandering to the male gaze. READ FULL STORY

Cannes 2013: 'Blue Is the Warmest Color' is a seriously sexy French lesbian love story

There’s a first time for everything. At a Cannes showing of Blue Is the Warmest Color, a three-hour French drama about a young woman who falls into a romance that digs its hooks in and won’t let go of her, the audience sat raptly as Adèle (Adèle Exarchopoulos), a quietly precocious 17-year-old Paris high school girl, goes to bed with Emma (Léa Seydoux), the painter and Fine Arts graduate student she met at a lesbian bar. It’s Adèle’s first experience with another woman — but ever since the late ’70s, there have been plenty of lesbian-awakening dramas, most of them on the soft and dewy side. In this case, when the sex scene was over, after what felt like it must have been 15 minutes of writhing, moaning erotic hunger, people in the audience burst into whoops of approval and applause — something I have never in my life seen happen after a sex scene. It’s not so much that the audience was being cute, attempting to acknowledge that the scene was “hot” (although yes, it seriously was). What they were applauding was the authenticity: the fact that the heat was real, and thus the heat had become the drama. Very Last Tango, except minus the perversity. READ FULL STORY

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