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Grumbling, Kinsey, and The Sea Inside

Our house has been beset with a plague. First I came down with it Saturday, and now Kathy’s got it too. It’s probably not the flu, although for the first day it makes the thighs and hamstrings feel tight, as if you haven’t stretched for years; and there’s no reports that I’ve found of a nasty cold virus sweeping the area. That there are no reports doesn’t mean there’s nothing because such is the nature of public health reporting that the imminent avian flu pandemic has got our R1 hospital putting out press releases about that rather than what all else might be happening. Of course, because both of us are currently unemployed, going to see any doctor is largely out of the question. There are public health clinics if things get too bad, but other than waking the dead with a hack to rival Fortunato’s, I think my health, at least, is already improving. I haven’t been able to jog in a week, but that will come in due time.

In our convalescence we’ve watched movies. Both turned out to be good movies with really outstanding male-lead performances. First, we watched Kinsey, which includes a really awkward kiss between Liam Neeson and a naked Peter Sarsgaard. Neeson, of course, was the standout. The story is a biopic of Alfred Kinsey, whose two reports, Sexual Behavior in the Human Male (1948) and Sexual Behavior in the Human Female (1953), sought to quantify what men and women actually thought and did about sex. I don’t know how well the film sticks to Kinsey’s life. It has a Freudian plot in which Kinsey rejects his father (John Lithgow, who played the same role as a domineering, sexually-repressed reverend 20 years ago in Footloose) and gains his PhD in biology. First he studies wasps, then he discovers none of the students at the University of Indiana knows how to have good sex. So he teaches a marriage class. The marriage class leads to the collection of sex histories, which leads to statistics, which leads to popular books, which leads to obscenity hearings on Capitol Hill—which, of course represents government’s best (yet ineffective, because it’s too little, too late) efforts to curb social deviancy. It’s a movie that’s worth watching once because it poses the same questions that Kinsey did and thereby seeks to discover (in us?) the unspoken limits of sexual behavior.

But yesterday we watched a jewel: Mar Adentro in which Javier Bardem expresses more and deeper emotions with his eyes than Tom Cruise has shown in the past ten smirky years using his whole body (and that includes divan diving on Oprah!). Act with his eyes he must because he plays the paraplegic poet Ramón Sampedro, stuck in his bed for 26 years, wanting to die. And really, that’s the whole movie. Sampedro wants to die, and people around either want to help him die or not. The Sea Inside is a biopic, too, and it is a social commentary, but it comes at the commentary more lovingly than Kinsey. Perhaps that is a function of the kinds of men they were, or at least of the kinds of men their movies made them out to be: Alfred Kinsey studied things that happened to be people; Ramón Sampedro never forgot that people were loving, suffering individuals. The Sea Inside is a beautiful film.



i seem to remember that jeremy posted a really nice review of The Sea Inside a while back, but it does bear repeating that this is a lovely film. I would highly recommend Kinsey as well…i wish i’d seen both of these movies when they were in the theaters.

The Sea Inside is (now) my wife’s favorite film. Her research covers Galicia and she spent 3 summers there in grad school studying/working at the university in Santiago De Compostela. I think it’s one of the most beautiful places in Europe – kinda like Ireland, but with tapas. Mar Adentro really conveyed that well, I thought.

I like that, “Like Ireland, but with tapas.” I think I’ll start saying that in passing.

“You live in Iowa? What’s it like?”

“Oh, you know. It’s like Ireland, but with tapas.”


i don’t think we have the tapas quite yet, but i’m told they’re coming soon…

a famous three-dog night song goes…

well i’ve never been to eire but I’ve been to compostela.

if you two have never had barnacles percebes
(assuming you do shellfish) they are a true delicacy…should you return to the land that God created when he rested from his labors