Time for sexual healing
Like any good scientist, Alfred Kinsey was simply looking for facts when he began his landmark study of human sexuality. What he found, in addition to a wide range of responses to the comprehensive survey he and his assistants administered, was a degree of controversy he could not have imagined.
Bill Condon's Kinsey shows just how controversial those findings were. A man of science, Condon's Kinsey (Liam Neeson) is dedicated, to a fault, to finding out why we behave as we do sexually. His clinical approach proves a double-edged sword:
His tenacity and dedication yield new insights, but his tunnel vision leads him to treat volunteers for his study in a cold, dispassionate manner.
Raised in a strict, religious household, Kinsey grew up in an era when the fewer the questions asked about sex, the better. Ignorance and repression ruled the day, as Kinsey learned when he volunteered to teach a course on sex and marriage at Indiana University in 1937. Realizing that he didn't have answers for his students, Kinsey suggested that they contribute their own sexual histories as a means of identifying common factors and reaching conclusions. That simple class project led to a massive undertaking that eventually included more than 11,000 interviews and resulted in the publication of two groundbreaking works, Sexual Behavior in the Human Male (1948) and Sexual Behavior in the Human Female (1953).
The film introduces Kinsey by interviewing him in the manner in which he grilled the subjects of his study. We explore Kinsey's marriage to Clara McMillan (Laura Linney), one of the professor's students, and meet Kinsey's father (John Lithgow), a bitter man who, after agreeing to an interview, reveals to his son a secret about his own sexuality that is seen as a contributing factor to his antisocial behavior.
Compelling in structure and graphic in its presentation, the film is also a treasure trove of wonderful performances. The strength Neeson brings to the screen is put to good use here. Linney delivers her usual solid performance, and Peter Sarsgaard, Timothy Hutton, and Chris O'Donnell provide critical support as Kinsey's assistants. In the end, though, it is a brief performance by screen veteran Lynn Redgrave, as one of Kinsey's interview subjects, that provides the key to the film and the researcher's work.
Also in theaters this week. . .
The Aviator [PG-13] Bio-pic of billionaire Howard Hughes (Leonardo DiCaprio), tracking his early career, his romances with Hollywood actresses, and growing power. Parkway Pointe
Darkness [PG-13] Teenager (Anna Paquin) moves to an old country home with her family, only to find the gloomy place hides a horrifying secret. Parkway Pointe
Fat Albert [PG] Girl is amazed when cartoon characters, Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids, step out of her TV and into her world. Hey, hey, hey. Parkway Pointe, ShowPlace East
Finding Neverland [PG] A fictionalized story about author J.M. Barrie, who wrote Peter Pan. Parkway Pointe
Flight of the Phoenix [PG-13] Their plane crashes in the Mongolian desert so they decide to build a new one while struggling to survive the elements and each other. Parkway Pointe
Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events [PG] Three kids are sent to live with a distant relative (Jim Carrey). Trouble is, he's an greedy guy intent on getting their family's fortune. ShowPlace West, ShowPlace East
The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou [R] Bumbling oceanographer Steve Zissou (Bill Murray) sets out to destroy the shark that killed his partner. He rallies a crew that includes his estranged wife, a journalist, and a man who may or may not be his son.ShowPlace West
Meet the Fockers [PG-13] Things get hairy for Greg Focker (Ben Stiller) when his future in-laws, Jack and Dina Byrnes (Robert De Niro and Blythe Danner), meet his weird parents (Dustin Hoffman and Barbra Streisand). ShowPlace West, ShowPlace East
Ocean's Twelve [PG-13] Daniel Ocean (George Clooney) must find one more conspirator before he can pull off heists in Paris, Rome, and Amsterdam. Sequel to 2001's Ocean's Eleven. ShowPlace West, ShowPlace East
The Phantom of the Opera [PG-13] Andrew Lloyd Webber's take on the story of a disfigured musical genius who hides in the Paris Opera House. Parkway Pointe
Spanglish [PG-13] Flor (Paz Vega) knows no English, moves to L.A. with her daughter, and gets hired as a housekeeper by an eccentric couple (Adam Sandler and Téa Leoni). Parkway Pointe
White Noise [PG-13] A man (Michael Keaton) is contacted from beyond the grave by his murdered wife. ShowPlace West, ShowPlace East