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Film Club Discussion: Compliance 
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Post Re: Film Club Discussion: Compliance
JackBurns wrote:
Thanks for jumping in Pete!

PeachyPete wrote:
It's not shown because doing so, to me, would border on exploitation.


I think it shows how close the film comes to exploitation. The filmmaker takes the time not to linger to long on the situation because in doing so it would be flat out exploitation. To me, this shows the the film does in fact have exploitative aspects, if it didn't why would there be a need to work around it? Again, I'm not saying its exploitation, but the aspects are there--woven into the context.


While I understand that rationale, it's not something I agree with. Subject matter alone isn't enough to consititute something being exploitative - that part is all in the presentation. So, coming close to exploitation isn't really a term I fully grasp. To me, either it's exploitative or it's fine. Sure, some of the things in Compliance have been exploited in other movies, but their inclusion in this one doesn't automatically make them "exploitative aspects".

The film doesn't present anything just for the sake of presenting it, or to pander to an audience who only cares about tits and gore. These risque elements are part of the story the movie is telling, but they aren't lingered on or made a big deal of. The reason these things are worked around is because if the film were to become exploitative, then it ceases to be taken seriously.


Wed Feb 06, 2013 2:43 pm
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Post Re: Film Club Discussion: Compliance
PeachyPete wrote:
While I understand that rationale, it's not something I agree with. Subject matter alone isn't enough to consititute something being exploitative - that part is all in the presentation. So, coming close to exploitation isn't really a term I fully grasp. To me, either it's exploitative or it's fine. Sure, some of the things in Compliance have been exploited in other movies, but their inclusion in this one doesn't automatically make them "exploitative aspects".

The film doesn't present anything just for the sake of presenting it, or to pander to an audience who only cares about tits and gore. These risque elements are part of the story the movie is telling, but they aren't lingered on or made a big deal of. The reason these things are worked around is because if the film were to become exploitative, then it ceases to be taken seriously.


Those are solid points Pete. Subject matter isn't enough to be fully exploitative, but without the subject matter its hard to be exploitative period. So subject matter does come in to effect. The film is about a girl being sexually humiliated. Plain and simple, and it happens to have a theme of authority. You take that theme away, and it all seems a little different.

The filmmaker is clearly working around these aspects. He knows this film has these aspects, thats why he works around them IMHO (thats what I mean by being close to exploitation). I understand that these elements are all apart of the story, and are all based on real events. That's all fine and dandy, but the vibe of exploitation was something that was always there for me.

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Wed Feb 06, 2013 3:12 pm
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Post Re: Film Club Discussion: Compliance
To me, what defines a film as exploitative is the filmmakers intention, which then transpires into his work. Subject matter could be everything from horror, cannibalism, race, nudity, car crashes, big monsters, bikes, or anything, but what makes it exploitative is the intention of the filmmaker to put any of those things in your face just for the sake of it, for 90 minutes, with little to no "artistry"... and I was looking for another word instead of "artistry" cause I know that opens another can of worms regarding what's art and what's not, but that's not my point. My point is that the craft, care, and taste that Craig Zobel showed during the filming of Compliance is not tantamount to an exploitative film.

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Post Re: Film Club Discussion: Compliance
Thief12 wrote:
To me, what defines a film as exploitative is the filmmakers intention, which then transpires into his work. Subject matter could be everything from horror, cannibalism, race, nudity, car crashes, big monsters, bikes, or anything, but what makes it exploitative is the intention of the filmmaker to put any of those things in your face just for the sake of it, for 90 minutes, with little to no "artistry"... and I was looking for another word instead of "artistry" cause I know that opens another can of worms regarding what's art and what's not, but that's not my point. My point is that the craft, care, and taste that Craig Zobel showed during the filming of Compliance is not tantamount to an exploitative film.


I never said that Compliance was an exploitation film, or that it was a bad film. It's certainly not great.. But I have said that it has "exploitation elements", intended or not, and that's how I see it.

The director has to handle the film in a caring way because of these elements. If you want to deny that and the elements that have to be worked around then that's fine, your opinion, and there's no arguing that.

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Wed Feb 06, 2013 6:09 pm
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Post Re: Film Club Discussion: Compliance
JackBurns wrote:
Thief12 wrote:
To me, what defines a film as exploitative is the filmmakers intention, which then transpires into his work. Subject matter could be everything from horror, cannibalism, race, nudity, car crashes, big monsters, bikes, or anything, but what makes it exploitative is the intention of the filmmaker to put any of those things in your face just for the sake of it, for 90 minutes, with little to no "artistry"... and I was looking for another word instead of "artistry" cause I know that opens another can of worms regarding what's art and what's not, but that's not my point. My point is that the craft, care, and taste that Craig Zobel showed during the filming of Compliance is not tantamount to an exploitative film.


I never said that Compliance was an exploitation film, or that it was a bad film. It's certainly not great.. But I have said that it has "exploitation elements", intended or not, and that's how I see it.

The director has to handle the film in a caring way because of these elements. If you want to deny that and the elements that have to be worked around then that's fine, your opinion, and there's no arguing that.


Yeah but come on, by that logic Schindler's List has exploitative elements

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Wed Feb 06, 2013 6:43 pm
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Post Re: Film Club Discussion: Compliance
I guess I'm starting to get a little confused what your point it now.... It has somewhat exploitative elements that are tastefully handled such that the film never verges on exploitation. I think we all agree on that. What's your larger point beyond this statement? I feel I may have lost it in the process of this discussion....


Wed Feb 06, 2013 7:11 pm
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Post Re: Film Club Discussion: Compliance
JamesKunz wrote:
Yeah but come on, by that logic Schindler's List has exploitative elements


I already said that a while ago James..you could make the case for a bundle of films. With that said Compliance isn't Schindler's List, and isn't handled with a bleak, sometimes unbelievable tone.

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Wed Feb 06, 2013 7:27 pm
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Post Re: Film Club Discussion: Compliance
Awkward Beard Man wrote:
I guess I'm starting to get a little confused what your point it now.... It has somewhat exploitative elements that are tastefully handled such that the film never verges on exploitation. I think we all agree on that. What's your larger point beyond this statement? I feel I may have lost it in the process of this discussion....


I don't think the film is exploitation. I do think it has exploitation elements. People are outright saying this comes nowhere near exploitation, and I think it verges near exploitation as a whole--so I'm just expressing my opinion. Theres no larger point. I'm not make a statement about the meaning of life, I'm just saying how I feel about the film.

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Wed Feb 06, 2013 7:29 pm
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Post Re: Film Club Discussion: Compliance
JackBurns wrote:
Awkward Beard Man wrote:
I guess I'm starting to get a little confused what your point it now.... It has somewhat exploitative elements that are tastefully handled such that the film never verges on exploitation. I think we all agree on that. What's your larger point beyond this statement? I feel I may have lost it in the process of this discussion....


I don't think the film is exploitation. I do think it has exploitation elements. People are outright saying this comes nowhere near exploitation, and I think it verges near exploitation as a whole--so I'm just expressing my opinion. Theres no larger point. I'm not make a statement about the meaning of life, I'm just saying how I feel about the film.


Haha, I know we're not talking about the meaning of life. I just kinda lost track of what you were arguing for. I guess I was wondering how these exploitation elements affect your opinion of the film. Whether they're there on not doesn't really matter I suppose, since you believe they are, and that's all that matters in your reading of the film. I guess that's what interests me more. I can see both sides of the 'does it approach exploitation?' argument. What interests me are the implications of answering 'yes' or 'no' to that question.


Wed Feb 06, 2013 7:52 pm
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Post Re: Film Club Discussion: Compliance
Awkward Beard Man wrote:
Haha, I know we're not talking about the meaning of life. I just kinda lost track of what you were arguing for. I guess I was wondering how these exploitation elements affect your opinion of the film. Whether they're there on not doesn't really matter I suppose, since you believe they are, and that's all that matters in your reading of the film. I guess that's what interests me more. I can see both sides of the 'does it approach exploitation?' argument. What interests me are the implications of answering 'yes' or 'no' to that question.


I was just joking about the meaning of life thing. Just a bit of sarcastic humor :)

I'm just arguing for the elements of exploitation. I don't think Compliance is a bad film, I thought it was a solid 3/4. I just think its does come close to exploitation in nature. I understand the filmmaker had to stay true to the events, and I'm fine with that. I would much rather have it be true to the events than skirt around them. Its just that the film as a whole gives off the vibe of an exploitation film to me--perhaps the real story in general has an exploitative feel ( I don't want to get hit for the 3rd time by someone saying they feel exploitation is what a director intends it to be. Thats fine,thats their opinion, and I would agree to that the vast majority of the time. However, I think films can be/become things that the director doesn't necessarily intend, take Annie Hall for instance).

Regardless those elements are there for me at least. It may not be the most logical form of thought or opinion as some are trying to say, but it's just how I feel about the film.

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Wed Feb 06, 2013 8:27 pm
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Post Re: Film Club Discussion: Compliance
I understand what Jack is saying about exploitation elements, but I think it's something that can be said about any movie with sex, or violence, or anything slightly risque. I'm not sure I understand what kind of value there is in pointing that out given that these elements are so common in so many films. I guess I'm just confused as to why you would hold that against this movie, since there are so many other movies with these exploitative elements that you likely don't hold against those movies.

If anything, the movie should be praised for not veering into exploitation territory when it so easily could have.


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Post Re: Film Club Discussion: Compliance
I'm about halfway through it as of last night, guys (I know, I suck)...but I couldn't help myself to read the excellent discussion going on here.

My wife happened to catch a bit of it with me last night when I put it back on. She seemed pretty disgusted by it...the strip search and all (which was all she saw). She had that look on her face like the house smelled like poop. I get the feeling that if I didn't tell her that these events actually happened, she would have dismissed the movie as stupid, and "Why are you watching this?". Now, just the people are stupid. Gotta say that I sort of feel the same way so far...but I want to post more thoughts when I get through it.

I did notice up front was the film establishing Sandra as not the smartest person, thinking she could go the shifts with little bacon, pickles, what have you...blowing $1500 in food. "You're fucked without bacon. I'll tell you that." That and the conversations she's trying to have with the girls up front.

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Post Re: Film Club Discussion: Compliance
PeachyPete wrote:
I understand what Jack is saying about exploitation elements, but I think it's something that can be said about any movie with sex, or violence, or anything slightly risque. I'm not sure I understand what kind of value there is in pointing that out given that these elements are so common in so many films. I guess I'm just confused as to why you would hold that against this movie, since there are so many other movies with these exploitative elements that you likely don't hold against those movies.

If anything, the movie should be praised for not veering into exploitation territory when it so easily could have.


I know it can be said for many films. It's just Compliance, as a whole, feels more on the verge of exploitation than other films that I can think of. I mean the film is built around a girl being sexually humiliated, so perhaps that's playing into my opinion. The film is built solely around this situation, and regardless of the real life events, it feels a bit on the verge of exploitation to me.

Perhaps Compliance would have worked better as a documentary, I'm not sure. It would make for a good discussion. Couldn't we know about these events and the disturbing things that happened without having to sit through the cringing dramatized details? I think so.

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Thu Feb 07, 2013 3:01 pm
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Post Re: Film Club Discussion: Compliance
JamesKunz wrote:
I think it's very valuable that we see how his character is presented. Not just the "normal family man" stuff, since that's been done before, but the de-sexualized nature of his actions. He isn't masturbating. He isn't breathing heavily. He's just laughing quite a bit about what he's getting away with. He's not a pervert, he's enjoying the power.


Sorry for taking so long to respond to this, but it's something I've thought about for the last few days. You're right that the "de-sexualized nature of his actions" is an important element to be shown. It sort of ties back to the connection with the Milgram experiment. He takes a cold, clinical approach towards his actions. In the film, it's presented almost as a sociological experiment. I have trouble believing that there wasn't at least some sort of sexual element to his actions in reality, however.

I guess my problem with his reveal is that, at least for me, the negatives outweigh the positives. I've already mentioned the "normal family man" cliche, but his reveal leads to other moments that strike false notes. There's that really out-of-place thriller moment when he has to dash back in to his house to get more minutes for his call. The point of that scene is to show how exactly he's getting away with the calls without being tracked down, but it seemed like a really odd and artificial way to show that.

It also feels weird to me that the final ten minutes or so of the film is devoted to the police tracking him down. It almost seems like it's there to give audiences some sort of positive emotional moment, that the guy eventually was exposed. Of course, if you go online afterwards, you find out that he was eventually acquitted of all charges relating to his actions. That makes the final ten minutes before the interview scene seem fairly manipulative in retrospect. I recognize that, as a dramatic reconstruction of events, the film is not necessarily obligated to go into detail about all the facts. But with Compliance, even though most of the film portrays events accurately, the filmmakers especially near the end start to get more selective with what they're presenting, and I think that brought the film down somewhat in my mind. It's not that big of a deal though; I still think it's a good film that raises plenty of interesting questions about human nature, but it's not without its little problems that I have trouble getting past.

*Just as a quick side note, the film is now available on Netflix Instant for those who haven't seen it yet.*

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Fri Feb 08, 2013 6:41 pm
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Post Re: Film Club Discussion: Compliance
Blonde Almond wrote:
JamesKunz wrote:
I think it's very valuable that we see how his character is presented. Not just the "normal family man" stuff, since that's been done before, but the de-sexualized nature of his actions. He isn't masturbating. He isn't breathing heavily. He's just laughing quite a bit about what he's getting away with. He's not a pervert, he's enjoying the power.


Sorry for taking so long to respond to this, but it's something I've thought about for the last few days. You're right that the "de-sexualized nature of his actions" is an important element to be shown. It sort of ties back to the connection with the Milgram experiment. He takes a cold, clinical approach towards his actions. In the film, it's presented almost as a sociological experiment. I have trouble believing that there wasn't at least some sort of sexual element to his actions in reality, however.

I guess my problem with his reveal is that, at least for me, the negatives outweigh the positives. I've already mentioned the "normal family man" cliche, but his reveal leads to other moments that strike false notes. There's that really out-of-place thriller moment when he has to dash back in to his house to get more minutes for his call. The point of that scene is to show how exactly he's getting away with the calls without being tracked down, but it seemed like a really odd and artificial way to show that.

It also feels weird to me that the final ten minutes or so of the film is devoted to the police tracking him down. It almost seems like it's there to give audiences some sort of positive emotional moment, that the guy eventually was exposed. Of course, if you go online afterwards, you find out that he was eventually acquitted of all charges relating to his actions. That makes the final ten minutes before the interview scene seem fairly manipulative in retrospect. I recognize that, as a dramatic reconstruction of events, the film is not necessarily obligated to go into detail about all the facts. But with Compliance, even though most of the film portrays events accurately, the filmmakers especially near the end start to get more selective with what they're presenting, and I think that brought the film down somewhat in my mind. It's not that big of a deal though; I still think it's a good film that raises plenty of interesting questions about human nature, but it's not without its little problems that I have trouble getting past.

*Just as a quick side note, the film is now available on Netflix Instant for those who haven't seen it yet.*


I suppose those last 10 minutes are there to give some sort of closure to the film while letting us know what happened with each character. Most of us have read about the true story, but that might not be the case with a casual viewer. So not having it there could've been too abrupt an ending, not to mention bitter.

As for the "phone card" moment, it kinda worked for me. I felt like it gave the film a slight jolt of adrenaline.

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Sat Feb 09, 2013 12:02 am
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Post Re: Film Club Discussion: Compliance
Could I add a couple of cents?

I exchanged an email with golden forumite PeachyPete about this movie. I had this to offer:

Back to 'Compliance' for a moment. Irrespective of my opinion (I liked it a little bit, more than average), I realized something while I watched it: working retail is a nightmare.

A CEO of an average-sized corporation gets paid, say, $300,000 a year. While at work he may make personal phone calls on what could be called "company time", surf the internet for guitar tabs, may even have a meeting on a golf course. Work gets done, both directly and through delegation, but this CEO (or maybe not even a CEO but some mid-tier executive) isn't expected to work at 95% capacity 100% while he's in the office.

Retail, freak environment that it is, pays about $16,000 for the bottom of the pyramid (and this assumes a full-time position... not likely at a Wendy's) and about $24,000 (high end) for the merchandise controllers. The minimum-wagers are expected to work at 95% capacity 100% of the time they're there ("if you don't have a customer, clean the fry trap!") and are rewarded with perhaps $0.25/hr when the reviews come up. In this environment, it is entirely possible to be coerced (over the phone) into blowing some strange dude that's dating the manager.

Now, call me a sociopath, but the entire situation within 'Compliance' is so absurd as to tip over into the unfortunately comic. And I realize there are victims, that people suffered, but the loudest message I took away is "Retail sure is terrible". Only in an environment so painfully low-stakes and mediocre (employees are, at best, resources and are completely disposable) could a strange guy get blown by a teenager thanks to manipulation by some bored phone-card using demon. Also, the movie frequently went away from the main action to follow the caller whilst he takes out the trash and makes a sandwich. Surely the filmmakers knew this would read as at least somewhat comic.

UPDATE 2014: forgive me the last paragraph. It really reads as if I had a laugh at the movie when I didn't. That's the kind of hyperbole that gets people beaten. I stick by the other two paragraphs, however.

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