Don Jon

Don Jon Film Review; Gay Mayor Atlantic City NJ

Gay Mayor Atlantic City NJ

In what many are calling the beginning of changing times, the new mayor of Atlantic City, New Jersey was recently sworn in and there are several significant facts about him worth mentioning. One, he’s gay. Two, he’s Republican. And three, he’s interested in the concept of giving free land to the poor. He’s also the first Republican mayor there in 23 years.

Don Guardian was sworn in as the resort city’s 49th mayor amid a brutal slowdown that has seen it lose its place as the nation’s second-largest gambling market, with casino revenues falling more than 40 percent and thousands of jobs being lost in the past six years. The 60-year-old Guardian warns of challenging times ahead as his administration tries to turn things around.

Not only does this erase several stereotypes, it also shows the world that New Jersey is nothing like you see it portrayed on TV and in films…which of course is highly significant to my film review of Don Jon, below.

You can read more here.

Don Jon Film Review

Over the holidays, I ran across an article I thought was interesting about authors insulting readers by not taking the time to research basic (important) details. This particular article discussed historicals and how some authors ignore historic details to the extreme…at the risk of insulting readers who might know more than the author. When I wrote A Young Widow’s Promise I remember researching power mowers, among many things, because I’d set the story during the civil war and the main character turns her front property into a burial ground. I didn’t want the main character mowing her front property with a John Deer from Home Depot. That would have been stupid on my part, and because I don’t write historical fiction often I tend to take that kind of research to extremes. I also did this same kind of research in the story I wrote for the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic (can’t remember the title of that one right now). I spent a couple of days researching corsets worn during the Edwardian period, among other facts I thought were important to get right. Because if you don’t get these facts right, at least in the most basic sense, you’ll wind up with a film or book like Don Jon filled with misconceptions and stereotypes.

This review contains spoilers, so you’ve been warned. Frankly, there aren’t enough surprises in the film to even care about spoilers. The reason it contains spoilers is because I think everyone should know, in this case, what they are getting into before they spend their hard-earned money. We see the money issue a lot in book circles, and some book reviewers even mention book prices in reviews, but we never see it with film reviews and I don’t think that’s fair…especially when you consider how privileged those like Joseph Gordon-Levitt are to be garnering millions of dollars at the expense of hard working people, with films like Don Jon. I watched Don Jon on demand and paid 5.99. That’s six bucks I’ll never see again. And if this film had been an e-book on Amazon I would have returned it that same night. Unfortunately, we can’t return films on demand; just books. If it had been a DVD, Tony would have stepped on it.

I had been looking forward to this film because I’ve been writing erotica for many years and I thought  Gordon-Levitt would treat the subject of porn addiction well. Unfortunately, the film begins with a voice over through the main character’s POV (Don Jon) and I had a bad feeling when I heard the overly clichéd outer borough New York accent. But things only devolved from there. As it turns out, the main character is from New Jersey, and the accent turned out to be more like something you’d expect to hear from someone mocking New Jersey accents without knowing a thing about New Jersey or the millions of people who live there. I’m from New Jersey and I don’t have that accent, nor do I know anyone in New Jersey with an accent like that. Evidently, no one’s told Gordon-Levitt New Jersey is the home of Princeton University. And even in those few sections of northern New Jersey where you might find a hint of the accents in Don Jon they are so highly exaggerated I thought this film might be a parody at first. But it’s not a parody. It’s supposed to be deep and meaningful, ahem. And if I go any further about how deep and meaningful it is I’ll be writing a parody right now.

As the film tries to move forward, the main character is portrayed as a dumb fuck with too much testosterone who spends his time working out at the gym, hunting for pussy, and jacking to free porn clips. But there’s nothing sexual about it, not one single scene. And I think if you’re going to get into porn addiction this way you should at least know and touch certain topics lightly. In other words, this main character is so into porn he views and jacks multiple times a day, however, he does this sitting at his desk, in his clothes, into a tissue. I’m not joking here. That’s the extent to which his addiction goes, and there’s no mention of online interaction or web cams, or anything else many people with porn addictions are doing these days. Young men like the character Gordon-Levitt portrays can’t wait to show off their bodies with web cams…even if they are more voyeuristic. But this idiotic portrayal of a porn addict didn’t even come across as remotely believable because it lacked so much of what triggers excitement in most porn addicts. If they had made him a lame porn addict that would have been different. But they just made him a porn addict in general. Again, there’s nothing sexy about the movie either. So if you’re thinking of seeing this film to get a glimpse of the body Gordon-Levitt worked so hard to get for this film you’ll wind up even more disappointed. There was one scene where he’s wearing low-rise jeans that make him look hot, but that’s not even realistic because those jeans cost so much the main character would never have been able to afford them in the first place.

So, Don Jon’s addicted to sitting in his small apartment while jacking to porn, he spends his free nights cruising bars with straight brainless buds mocking and degrading women in a way that resembles a rape culture mind set, and goes through a string of one night stands without emotion because he prefers porn and tissues to the real thing. Then along comes Hollywood’s Missy Right to save the day, he falls batshit crazy in “love” with her, and tries to change his evil porn addict ways. But Missy Right is not only a manipulating, controlling woman with a limited intellect who baits him with sex, and she’s such a bad stereotype of all young women she could set feminism back hundreds of years. There’s one scene where he’s literally panting for sex with her, but she refuses to indulge him and will only let him dry hump her out in the hallway of her apartment building while they are both still fully clothed. I swear I’m not joking about this either. It’s the kind of WTF-ery you don’t see often. He actually climaxes by dry humping her from behind, both remain fully clothed, and it was the one scene in the film where I actually felt sorry for the main character. But all in all, he deserves what he gets.

While he’s seeing Missy Right, he continues to jack at his desk to cheap free porn clips. She eventually catches him, the shit hits the proverbial fan, and she creates this weird scene where it looks more like he screwed her sister instead of watching free porn. She really goes ballistic on him, ultimately dumping him in a following scene just like this one when she catches him a second time by snooping through his browsing history. And while I get the basic premise behind this, scenes like this do nothing for women or the fact that women also enjoy visual erotic fulfillment, too, sometimes. In this film it’s as if only men enjoy adult entertainment and anything resembling Fifty Shades of Grey is “mommy porn.” There have been articles and rants about this kind of double standard for women and I’m not going into too many details now. The point is the film seems to promote the stereotype that only men watch porn, and women want nothing but emotional stimulation and to watch Dr.Phil. Or worse, that it’s wrong for women to enjoy porn. But that’s not where the insult to women ends.

Before she breaks up with him, Missy Right talks Don Jon into taking a course. A course will save his life. She has plans for him, oh yes, and she holds sex over his head the entire time to get him to do whatever she wants him to do. Of course he does it. His family loves her, which goes into another cliché of the good woman standing behind the evil porn watching man. While he’s taking the course, he meets a slightly older woman who is “different.” I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the kind of course he’s taking is never mentioned, what kind of school he’s attending is never mentioned, and his goals are never once mentioned. He’s just taking a “course,” you know, like the boy goes to college kind of thing to turn his life around. Ugh! I wasn’t even certain he’d graduated from high school! In any event, he meets the older woman and she notices him watching porn on his phone. At this point, I thought there might be hope. I thought this might be the relationship that will turn the film into something important and make all the fresh hells I’d suffered through worth while.

But the older woman who had so much potential as a character who can help Don Jon evolve only turns out to be as dysfunctional as Don Jon and they wind up in a creepy relationship that’s based on sex, emptiness, and this strange brand of sexual schadenfreude that left me with the feeling they both actually do deserve each other and Missy Right was smart to dump him in the first place. And not because he watched porn, but because he’s just a creep.

And if all this isn’t enough, the film insults Catholics, too. In an attempt to absolve his sin of watching free porn clips, the main character never misses mass on Sundays (with his family) and he goes to confession once a week. He tells the priest in this old fashioned confessional how many times he jacks to porn, how much pre-marital sex he has, and the priest gives him his penance. I’m also Catholic. I went to twelve years of Catholic school. That’s not how it works in 2014.

There are a few scenes with the main character’s family and they also portray New Jersey families with the same kind of stereotypical nonsense that’s so consistent throughout the film. Tony Danza is in these scenes, and he never seems to leave the dining room (except for church, I think) where there’s a huge flat screen TV set up over the buffet so he can watch football in his undershirt, scream like a madman, and insult his son with the same inauthentic New Jersey accent.

It could have been great. It could have been something worthwhile, and I think that’s what bothered me the most about this movie. But it turned out to be insulting and immature and I don’t think Gordon-Levitt would have done it quite the same way if he’d been older. I think HE should take a course somewhere. Unfortunately, there are a lot of people who won’t know this when they see the film and once again a bad film will slip through the proverbial cracks because most people won’t know any better. Some reviews have been good, more than a few others mimic what I just wrote. I know it’s all subjective. But you can’t make details and facts subjective. That just doesn’t work for those who do know better.

Internationally, the film has grossed over thirty million dollars.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt Self-Censors Sex Scenes

Actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt is making (and starring in) a film titled Don Jon and the way he’s self-censored a few of the sex scenes in the film has been getting a lot of attention. Although no one has gone into any great detail about this, and it’s hard to really grasp what they consider graphic sex scenes from the limited information out there, Gordon-Levitt stated he’s cutting the sex scenes so the film can get an R-rating in the US.

 BERLIN – Joseph Gordon-Levitt will cut out the most graphic sex scenes from his directorial debut, Don Jon’s Addiction, in order for the film to qualify for an R rating in the U.S., the actor-director said Friday.

“Yes, we expect we have to do that, and I’ll be getting started on it as soon as I get back,” Gordon-Levitt said at a press conference at the Berlin International Film Festival, where Voltage Pictures’ Don Jon’s Addiction is screening in the Panorama section.

Questions about whether the at-times graphic romantic comedy — in which Gordon-Levitt plays a modern-day Lothario addicted to pornography — would have to be toned down for U.S. release have been swirling since the film premiered in Sundance.  You can read more here.

In addition to self-censoring the sex scenes the film also received a new title in what seems to be an effort to mainstream it even more so. It was originally titled Don Jon’s Addiction. Here’s more on that. I’m linking and not commenting because that’s basically all that’s out there. The film won’t be released until later this year.

In this article at Huff Po Gordon Levitt said this:

“I never wanted to make something that was overly provocative, I never wanted to shock people,” Gordon-Levitt said. “I wanted this to be a pop movie, a mainstream movie.”

So he’s shooting for average? I honestly don’t know what to make out of this statement because I’ve never actually seen anyone do or say things like this. We usually hear that a film like this is supposed to be provocative, it’s supposed to shock people, and no one ever offers any apologies at all. I have no comment on whether it’s good or bad, and I’ve always enjoyed Gordon-Levitt’s work. I just find it interesting. But more than that, the film hasn’t been released to the mainstream yet, but it’s been shown at festivals. To me making changes like this reminds me of when a self-published author releases a book, waits for reviews to come in, and then takes the book down and makes changes according to how the book was reviewed with the thought of pleasing everyone. If you notice, people rarely write a review that says: “There’s not enough sex in this book.”

I don’t think it’s possible or realistic to please everyone with creative content, especially when it comes to books or movies with strong sex scenes. When I released my book, Chase of a Dream, in two versions, I self-censored the abridged version because I thought I was giving people choices. I also wanted to show that an erotic romance can be self-censored by the author and it won’t lose anything in the storyline. At first I thought all those who have always claimed I write too many strong sex scenes in my erotic romances would be thrilled that I’d done this for them. In the same respect, I thought the readers who enjoy reading sex scenes in erotic romance would be content that I hadn’t left them out either.

What I found was interesting. The unabridged version of CoaD with the sex scenes sold basically the same way all my other erotic romances sell, and the self-censored version without sex scenes barely did anything significant. And the storyline was exactly the same in both books. The only difference was I edited 7,000 words and removed the sex scenes in one. Those who have reviewed my books and commented I write too much sex never said a single thing about the sexless version. They went dead silent, and I wasn’t completely surprised about that. It was a great experiment in writing and publishing erotic romance, and the only regret I have is that I had to exchange a few books for readers who had made the wrong purchase. They bought the sexless version by mistake and I gladly gave them a new digital copy of the unabridged book.

I doubt I’ll see Don Jon when it’s released in theaters because of the way Gordon-Levitt self-censored the film, unless they are offering two versions. I’m not against self-censoring, but I wish he’d cut the sex scenes before the film was viewed at festivals. Another thing I’ve learned from writing erotic romance all these years is that it takes a hell of a lot to shock people. I’ve learned never to underestimate my readers. They vary in ages, lifestyles, and there’s not much I can write they haven’t already seen (or done) before. To suggest anything less would be almost insulting to some. So I highly doubt that anything that was removed from Don Jon would have shocked people all that much. In fact, I’m always looking for something with a little shock value because I think people want that.

I do understand the reasoning behind why Gordon-Levitt decided to make the changes. I also understand what it’s like to listen to all kinds of opinions and get confused sometimes. I once released an anthology that I’d collaborated on with another author and we wanted the title of the book to be In Love with the Boss. The publisher insisted on In Bed with the Boss. The publisher won. I don’t have any complaints about that. It’s the same book no matter what the title is. The only reason I wanted In Love with the Boss was because I wanted readers to know it contained love stories with sex scenes, and that the love was the focus, not the sex. But in the end I don’t think it mattered all that much. 

I also think that if you’re writing a book, or producing a film, or even painting a portrait, you should own that work at all times, and whether or not you shock a few people shouldn’t come into play. Especially with a film like Don Jon that has a theme that seems to revolve around a guy who is addicted to porn. Some of the best films in history have been those that have shocked us in one way or another.

I do hope that when the film reaches on demand there are two versions offered for those of us who can handle a little shock once in a while. But I haven’t seen anything mentioned about that, so I might have to wait until it finally reaches cable to see the toned down version. I will watch it then. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Gordon-Levitt film I didn’t like. I just wish they would all give us more credit sometimes when it comes to sexual content in films, and offer us choices. I also understand that the R-rating is important, but then again that could be debated because this isn’t Spider Man or Harry Potter, where we don’t expect sex scenes.