Women’s breasts appear in a lot of movies. A lot. Usually, they’re gratuitous. Gratuitous, pneumatically enhanced and phony, fetishized dangling orbs meant to entice, designed for ogling. There. I’ve got your attention and I didn’t even have to unbutton my blouse. The breasts featured prominently in these two Smackdown contenders are all real and as far from exploitation as one could imagine. In the startling opening frames of “Please Give,” a series of disembodied, wordless and vulnerable milk glands get gently slapped, manipulated, and arranged under the harshest fluorescents. Readied for their respective mammograms, these random fleshy bundles of ducts and veins and possible disease are hardly ready for their decisively, definitively, defiantly unglamorous close-ups, and the tone is set. The bar is raised. In the remarkable French documentary “Babies,” mothers’ breasts appear frequently and utterly without the usual fanfare and sexual context. We’re on sacred ground, people. These movies weren’t made for teenage boys and the arrested men they’re destined to become. These films celebrate the human condition with honesty, integrity and very rare courage indeed.
Cookie cutter romantic comedy satisfies a too-easily edified audience. No matter how formulaic and tepid the sausage, the factories grind out more product to feed the gaping maw; indie films usually attract a more marginal fringe-ier crew, on the hunt for the original, the untold (or even oft-told) story told in fresh new ways. Pitting a humble little indie versus a major studio wide release makes for an inherently unfair fight and one with a foregone conclusion at the box office, but ticket sales won’t sway this Smackdown. As “Leap Year” bounds onto virtually every available screen and Quirky Indie-That-Could “Youth In Revolt” limps onto a fraction of that number, ask yourself: Is bigger necessarily better? Does conventional beat quirky?