The movie is before anything else the clash of two worlds, first in a literal sense, but also as an image. Bill and Angela represent these two worlds: he was raised in a traditional, conservative American family devoted to success and power; she was raised in a political environment, a mixed-race person left to herself, but immersed in culture. One represents the principal of reality and the other the principal of pleasure. While Bill always thrived for more and lost, Angela was happy with what she had and was able to find a way to remain positive and move forward. Bill feels that he is at the end of his life: he is drowning in the "tragedy he made for himself."

It's also the story of these two worlds: one full of soul, solidarity and humanity which Angela represents: she works as a volunteer in a free clinic for illegal immigrants during the day and is a waitress at night in a Central American restaurant that feeds poor people and even assists with their paperwork when they need help. She listens to world music, enjoys the flavors of Latin-American food, and of course any sexual experience is always welcome. While Bill, the international trader who made "hundreds of millions" buying and selling the futures of emerging countries (like Algeria where Angela's mother came from or Nicaragua) still seeks more.

It is the story of a world where we see violence where we see violence in all forms everywhere, in everywhere, in every piece of entertainment but where sex is hidden and taboo.

Downtown Los Angeles, where the movie takes place, also represents these two worlds. Angela lives on the terrace of a transient hotel and from there "you can see all levels of society." As she explains to Bill, "on one side you can see the skyscrapers with the most powerful banks and corporations in the world, on the next side are the middle class in their condo apartments with their big screen TV's, and the last side has the poorest people."

Angela teaches Bill about world politics and new philosophy of life. She makes him realize that the way he lived his life was maybe not the right one; that perhaps he didn't fully understand what life was about and that he'd spent too much time living in the future when the only thing that we have is "now" not "later." She will teach him through sex and other worldly pleasures that the source of life is "in the body not in the mind" she will bring him back to life.

The film is about translating these two philosophies into images and sounds. Making sex and all of its components (erection, ejaculation, masturbation, as well as any and all forms of sexual pleasures) as natural as eating food, listening to music or simply enjoying life. Angela will teach Bill not only how to enjoy sexual pleasure but also how to be comfortable with nudity and his own body. As an activist, I am trying to bring back sex in entertainment as a natural part of life as much as politics and philosophy. It is a film in which we reverse the usual way to depict sex and violence. Here we show the sex and only talk about the violence. As Wilhelm Reich says: a sexually repressed society will resort to violence.

The film is seen through the eyes of the characters. We are discovering downtown Los Angeles and Angela through the eyes of Bill; we are seeing Bill's redemption through the eyes of Angela. The camera always stays at the level of the characters without trying to make some "cinema" where we are dealing with matters of life. The images and sounds of the city play a major part and collide with the room where Angela lives and where Bill will find refuge. The city is cold and aggressive and her room is warm, colorful and therefore peaceful.

Philosophers and sociologists should have something to say about this film. I studied philosophy for many years at La Sorbonne in Paris and NOW & LATER is in part inspired by the work of Wilhelm Reich and a reflection on the war in which America found itself embroiled.

Specifically Reich's work on sexuality and politics explained that, in societies where natural sexual impulses or instincts are repressed, there is more violence. He analyzes various societies to show that a sexless society lives in violence, most famously Nazi Germany. At an individual level, Reich showed that sexual instincts start at a very early age and to repress these instincts will cause frustration. This in turn will transform frustration to inhibitions and violence. It is interesting to note that the United States is probably the only country in the world where teens go to school with guns and shoot their friends.

More generally Freud explained that people and society live based on two different principals: pleasure and reality. A child begins his life based on pleasure but the difficulties of living in a society immersed in repressive cultures will force him to switch to a different reality: a reality that requires him to compromise and repress his natural instinct.

Does this then mean that US culture is more geared towards reality than pleasure? Definitely. We should remember that in many primitive and even some very advanced societies like the Greeks sex was something social, enjoyable and with very few limitations. It was part of life and accepted by all. Consenting teenagers had sex with adults of both sexes and such acts included a sophisticated courtship system. The Judeo-Christian monopoly on religion and culture changed all that.

The idea for this film began when I first moved here: I was shocked to see that while everything about sex is banned in the media and more generally in American entertainment should I say culture? everything about violence, even extreme violence, is available for everybody to see 24/7. Why is it that something that is natural and life creating is never portrayed at least realistically in film and television? And how can we accept that serial killers, bloodthirsty monsters, angry aliens and leading men wielding big guns are widely accepted instead?

I understand that parents who are raising children want to protect them from "bad images" that could somehow damage them. If I had the choice between showing my kids sex or violence, I would definitely chose sex, which I'd hope they practice with a lot more vigor than violence.

I was raised in Europe where sensuality and sex are much more accepted in life and our entertainment. In my doctoral studies at Sorbonne, I was intrigued by Reichian principles which I have applied cinematically to sexual repression as leading to violence. Sexuality in cinema has mostly originated from Europe or elsewhere in the world and has historically challenged the Production Code or the MPAA. any of these films pushed open the way for others to follow: Bertolucci with "Last Tango in Paris", "Sheltering Sky" etc., Chereau who introduced male frontal nudity and homosexuality in high quality films, Ferreri who studied the source of human perversions: "La Grande Bouffe", "Tales of Ordinary Madness" etc., Oshima "In the Realm of the Senses," etc., to the more recent "Humanity" by Dumont, "9 Songs" by Winterbottom to the less interesting "Baise Moi" by Despentes or "The Story of O" and the "Emmanuelle" series. All of these are films that are produced from outside American borders.

Even if "all characters are purely fictional," they are based on real people that I met and real situations I had the chance to experience. The world is full of Bills and Angela's, I wish every Bill to meet his Angela. The film is, before anything else, their story.

Philippe Diaz, Los Angeles 2011

 

 
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