In the Dark

Plymouth Rocked

Far From Heaven
Produced by Clear Blue Sky Productions
Written and Directed by Todd Haynes
Distributed by Focus Features and USA Films

Auto Focus
Produced by Propaganda Films
Directed by Paul Schrader
Screenplay by Michael Gerbosi from Robert Graysmith’s book
Distributed by Sony Pictures Classics

Todd Haynes’ Far From Heaven and Paul Schrader’s Auto Focus would make a perfect double feature.  They are two sides of the same dour coin.  Each, in its own way, exhibits America’s puritanical response to unruly sexual impulses.  While Far From Heaven genteelly lectures us on the tortures of repressed libido in the 1950’s, Auto Focus scolds the 1970’s libertines who traded in their parents’ inhibitions for a full-throttled pursuit of in-discriminate sex.  Cole Porter got it right in “Anything Goes,” when he blithely summed up the extremes of American moralism and licentiousness:

Times have changed

Since the Puritans got a shock

When they landed on Plymouth Rock.

If today

Any shock they should try to stem


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