Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Brown Bunny (2004) UR and The Door in the Floor (2004) R

Depression & Sex- two reviews. William Styron, author of "Sophie's Choice" died recently after a lifelong struggle with depression. In an interview with Terry Gross he could not take his own life because he could not write the perfect suicide note. This is a painful statement from an artist about depression.

I was depressed about a year ago. We sold our house of 10 years and moved to an apartment. Our daughter was also struggling with a major illness (but has since recovered). The feelings from these events caught me by surprise. I had no appetite for my favorite foods and could not get an erection. Depression and sex do not mix. When depressed, the last thing in the world we want is sex and yet we sometimes seek sex to again feel alive.

Vincent Gallo's film The Brown Bunny provides a stark, graphic film about depression and sex. We follow Bud Clay on a cross-country journey as he tries to get the death of his girlfriend out of his mind. It doesn't work. He is haunted by her death. Her ghost visits Bud and among other things performs oral sex. The scene is graphic. We see everything. She looks up after performing fellatio and asks why things had to turn out the way they did. It is all-imaginary, so in fact Bud has no answer for her question. Vincent Gallo directs this film and also plays Bud Clay. However, it gets even weirder. Chloe Sevigny plays Bud's girlfriend, who in real life is his ex-girl friend. So art reflects reality and then reflects art, or something like that.

Jeff Bridges and Kim Bassinger (from 9 1/2 Weeks fame) star in the film, The Door in the Floor. The film is by Tod Williams and adapted from John Irving novel, "A Widow For A Year". The movie is dark, but totally honest of how a dysfunctional family copes with the death of two sons. A couple living off Cape Cod takes in a summer live-in student as a means to replace the loss of their sons. The father encourages the boy to have sex with his wife. The wife teachers the student how to make love, yet we all understand she is really loving her dead son. The couple reveals vulnerabilities and real human complexity in both subtle and dramatic ways as they use sex with a young stranger to replace the loss of their sons.

These two films are actually very good but you need to be prepared to see depression. Both films capture the moods and surrealism of sadness. Depression in these films is not the usual sad scenes we see in movies that make us cry and then somehow we feel better. Depression here is the absence of feeling. It's being numb. These are not the films to watch if you're anticipating an erotic turn-on. Nonetheless, the films have very explicit and realistic sex scenes that are more sad than erotic. They capture the real pain of the loss of a lover and family member. They also captures how in the middle of feeling such loss a person may think that they will never love again.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Delta of Venus (1995) NC-17

In Delta of Venus, Elene, played by Audie England, is on a quest to watch and document erotic adventures. There are three very erotic scenes in this excellent film by Zalman King. Elene is asked to pose nude for an art class. Her body is positioned in full contact with a male model. She is asked for hours not to move as the students paint. However, we hear her thoughts and her mind is anything but still. In a second scene, Elene seeks out a prostitute known for her erotic appetite and her "sexual knowledge." The women after some negotiation hides Elene in a closet where she can watch her receive passionate sex under the hypnotic spell of an African King. In a third scene, Elene is invited to a sex party in the house of a wealthy older couple. This couple plays a sex game where the wife wears only a blindfold and a necklace of pearls and has sex with a stranger the husband has picked up on the street. Furthermore, this all happens before a house full of strangers. These three scenes and the many other sexual scenes are very erotic, explicit and beautifully filmed.

You now have guessed correctly that the theme of this film is voyeurism. Zalman King, the producer of The Red Shoe Diaries erotic series, based this film on Anais Kin's novel of the same name. The story is set in Paris in the pre-war years of 1939. The streets are full of political, sexual and artistic passion. Elene is a struggling writer who falls in love with another writer Lawrence, played by Costas Mandyler. Lawrence pushes all the boundaries in a campaign for artistic expression. When he is called to war, he secretly hires Elene to write eroticism. The film is a story about Elene's quest to find content for her writings. Throughout the film, passages of Anais Kin's erotic verse from her novel move us from one scene to another. This film is about enjoying erotic pleasure three times: once during the event, twice by a writer capturing the event for others and third by a reader enjoying the erotic descriptions. A gift that keeps on giving.

This film has well deserved its positive reviews. The photography is rich and the costumes are beautiful. Audie England is subtle and sexy in her excellent portrayal of a woman exploring sexual boundaries. I loved a scene where she licks the fingers of her lover and states, "I so enjoy tasting me." Though filmed in Prague it has the real life feel of pre-war Paris. The music is beautiful. I searched unsuccessfully for a sound track of the film. I settled for a DVD copy as much for the musical score as the eroticism. This is a film I strongly recommend.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Lady Chatterley's Lover (1981) R

I recently had the opportunity to again see the classic erotic film Lady Chatterley's Lover. The film is one of the three classic erotic films produced by Just Jaeckin. His other two are The Story of O and Emmanuelle. Lady Chatterley's Lover, despite its age, continues to be one of the best-filmed stories with a real plot and real erotic scenes.

The movie is an adaptation from a novel by D.H. Lawrence. The story mixes two classic themes. This first is a devote wife's sexual adjustment to a war injured husband and the permission she receives to satisfy her erotic needs outside the marriage. The second classic theme is her erotic affair turning to love, and love with a man "beneath her class." The wife played by Jaeckin?s favorite actress Sylvia Kristel, is caught between her devotion to her paralyzed husband and her erotic lover. The lover, a husky gamekeeper played by Nicholas Clay is torn between his passion and class rules of proper relationships. D.H. Lawrence mixes both story line taboos in a story woven with explicit erotic content. The story remains controversially today. Just Jaeckin takes the full story and adds excellent costumes for turn-of -the century England and his trademark superior on-location filming.

Many people ask for an erotic story with a real plot. This film delivers in both areas. Though at times the film drags a bit (as did Gone with the Wind), the photography, costumes and set keeps the audience engaged. Then there is the sex. Probably the most famous sex scene is a long segment where the Lover places one flower after another down the body of Lady Chatterley. Each small flower fills the screen. We watch as the flowers move past her breasts and to her genitals. Lady Chatterley is filmed with full frontal nudity though the male Lover is usually film nude from the back. Nonetheless, the filming was ahead of its time both in sensual filming and erotic content.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Girl’s Play (2004) NR

I love the movie "A Christmas Story' by Bob Clark and watch it nearly every holiday season. This comedy is about a family in the 1940's and a 9-year-old boy that wants a BB gun for Christmas. I particularly enjoy how the main character talks directly to the audience and reveals how he understands the Santa Clause scam, the hidden motives of sales clerks and the failed attempt of his father to seduce his mother through a Christmas gift of lingerie. Girl's Play is a similar film. Girl's Play, a low budget independent film by Lee Friedlander, follows this same comic cinema style. However, instead of a 9 year old at Christmas, the film presents two lesbian girls talking directly to the audience about the pros and cons of an affair with each other.

As described in a Netflix review, "The film is really like a verbal blog, of two women who meet during a Play and fall in love. The relationship issues they faced -- leaving long-time partners, fear of messing up again, how and if to reveal what you really feel -- have been done before, but they manage to pull it off with humor and much heartfelt energy. Based on the true story of stand up comedians and actresses Robin Greenspan and Lacie Harmon, who both play their own characters."

The film has tasteful but graphic erotic scenes of the two women making love. However, the most erotic scene is a publicity photo shoot for their Play at a point where the actresses are just beginning to feel an attraction. The Play's producer asks that the two young women to be photographed in a topless embrace. We hear the women's thoughts of embarrassment about their nudity give way to fascination with the feel of their nipples touching that then gives way to erotic abandonment. The film shoots a close-up of their nipples touching as we hear their thoughts. The scenes comic script is well written and highly erotic.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Brokeback Mountain (2005)- R

Brokeback Mountain is simple an excellent, beautifully filmed, movie. It is so much more than a painful story of sexual love between two men. It is a story about being bi-sexual. It is a story about secrets within two families. It is a story of sex not just between two men but also between the men and their wives. It is a story about fathers loosing the love of their children. It is a story about sex. At its heart, it is a story about how the love you cannot have, tragically separates you from the love you have.

Two cowboys Jack Twist and Ennis Del Mar (Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger) are hired to heard sheep in the Canadian Rockies. They are provided with few supplies including only one small tent. Though the men have little conversation and slow less emotions, once inside the tent there is an eruption of erotic passion. This summer of erotic passion ties up these two men for the next twenty years. We follow the men through these twenty years. The men marry and have children. They struggle with in-laws and employment. They struggle with parenting. Throughout these twenty years they continue their secret love affair through “fishing trips” back to Brokeback Mountain. The secret is revealed at least to Ennis wife (Michelle Williams) who sees the two men kissing. Though not confronting Ennis until years later after their divorce, the fact of the secret leads to estrangement of the men, their wives, their children and in-laws.

This movie is a first in Sex in Film in a number of ways. First, despite the popular press depicting the film to be about gay cowboys, it is really a film about bi-sexual men. The film shows the men having erotic pleasurable sex with both men and women. This is very different than popular sexual trends that glorify bi-sexual women yet ignore bi-sexual men and become hysterical about gay marriage. We ignore what I believe is the more common male gay experience, namely being bi-sexual. Second, I believe this is the first critically acclaimed film that shows real erotic affection between men. A number of films have shown men kissing. However, Brokeback Mountain shows men with real love, affection and erotic passion for each other. As a heterosexual male, I found the scenes loving and tastefully done. Brokeback Mountain truly deserved the Best Picture nomination and I highly recommend it.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Friends & Lovers, Sex and Interviews with Real Couples (2005) X

Blowfish Video from San Francisco has produced this erotic and beautifully filmed explicit video. The film is purchased from their web site for $29.95. The film interviews three couples and then films them making love. All three couples are either married to each other or are in a permanent relationship with each other. Each interview is about 10 minutes and shows that the couples are really in a relationship with each other. In fielding the questions the couples joke with their partner, disagree at times but work towards consensus. What is interesting is not the answers but the process. By the style of their answers, the viewer sees a man and women in a committed and loving relationship. It is then so erotic when we get to see the couple make love. The couples are not having sex they are making love. It is highly erotic. It is also very real. Penises don't always stay erect, women don't always have orgasms, bodies are not perfect models and sometimes positions seem clearly uncomfortable. However, the couples laugh about it, whisper jokes to each other, look into each other's eyes and direct their partner to more pleasurable actions. Their real relationships are what make the film erotic. The photography is also so clear and real that it feels live. I only wished the couples were in their 40's or 50's rather than late 20's.

I found this video to be erotic and enjoyable. Frequently, the quality of erotic videos are poor. One of my favorite web sites is because of the high quality of erotic writing. The site recently posted an article by a Chris Bridges titled "Help! I'm turning Into an Anti-Porn Activist", that sited the poor quality of erotic videos. Here are Chris's suggestions on how they can be improved.

1. Normal looking people who at least look like they're having fun.
2. No one looking at the camera.
3. No movies that describe the women as sluts, whores, or bitches, or use the words "molest" or "gang" on the cover.
4. No anal, please. Nothing against the act itself, but it's not particularly aesthetically pleasing. Not a big fan of the camera-between-the-legs shots anyway, or the extreme, can't-get-any-closer-or-she'll-swallow-the-camera close-ups. I'd rather see the whole body and the lovers' growing arousal.
5. Woman-woman scenes that looks like they might be enjoying it. You know, with kissing and maybe even some foreplay before they whip out the 20-inch double-headed dildo or try to go up to their elbows.
6. An entire movie without silicone or implants of any kind. Try it, I dare you.
7. Women who don't feel obligated to stick their entire tongue out of their mouths whenever they kiss or lick anything.
8. Look, if you show me a guy pulling out of a woman's ass and moving around to her mouth, which seems to be the trend these days, you've lost me. Forget it, I'll turn the thing off and go watch cartoons. I mean, eww.
Women that aren't made up to look underage or like an 80's hair band groupie
9. Guys that look like someone you might not run away from on a dark night. Or a sunny afternoon.
10. Lighting that makes the actors look soft and sexy instead of plastic and poorly shaved.
11. Sounds that weren't dubbed or forced. I'm sorry, no one moans with ecstasy while they're giving a blowjob.
12. People grateful to get oral sex instead of standing there looking haughty and all conquerors.
13. Movies that don't have the same sex acts, in the same order, every time.
14. And, hardest to find of all...playfulness! I have absolutely no interest in watching people fuck that look too fake, too insensitive, too shallow, or too scary. Don't fun people fuck? In front of a camera, I mean?

A follow-up note from another reader listed these recommendations.
1. A semi-believable plot for at least the first half of the movie.
2. Realistic positions, changed frequently
3. No more cutting and splicing the explicit scenes just to stretch out the movie
4. Women in the movies? Please. Kick off those damned high heels. Yes you have pretty legs and dainty feet and we've all seen them - now be real.
5. Lingerie ladies! Naked gets boring very quickly
6. HUMOR! I saw an X-rated western once that was great. I'd rather watch porn that has some quality humor in it than the best of what passes for porn today.
7. Can't be stressed enough - get real, especially females. Tone down the makeup, let your hair actually move and get messy, walk and move like real people, not wannabe models, and stop acting like semen is a precious Gift From The Gods.
8. How about men and women in their 40?s to 60?s

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Anatomy of Hell (2004) UR

Anatomy of Hell is an explicit, complex and at times shocking film by Catherine Breillat. The film has many themes, but certainly a central topic is the women’s menstrual cycle or more specifically having sex during menstruation. Breillat asks why is this a curse, why do men avoid sex during menstruation and why is women’s blood “unclean” and Jesus’ blood redemptive? As with all her films the plot deals with women and their sexuality. However, the sub-plot in this film is sex and Christianity. I believe only Catherine Breillat could direct and produce this film.

Catherine Breillat is a French film director and producer. She is a woman who admits that all of her films are about sex. Critics say that she is uniquely concerned with a women’s understanding of her own sexuality. She focuses on women and sex with such explicit and graphic detail that she is known as “the auteur of porn.” In all of her films the actors have real sex. Breillat believes that a “visual display of sex is inseparable from the representation of the consciousness of her female characters.” Translation, her actresses have to have real sex to play the roles and the audience has to see real sex to understand her films. And yes Martha, we see real sex and much more.

The sub-plot of this film is society’s, specifically religion’s prejudice against menstruation. That, of course, brings me to Jesus Christ and menstruation. The Pulitzer Prize author Garry Wills in his recent book “What Jesus Meant,” argues that Jesus publicly broke Jewish religious laws to demonstrate that God lives “within our hearts, not through religious rules.” Wills illustrates this point by Jesus’ actions towards menstruating women. Wills traces the gender separation in Islam, Judaism and Christianity to the belief that menstruating women are impure and untouchable in “God’s eyes.” Since religious leaders cannot tell which women are having their period, complex and elaborate rules are created to either segregate woman from sacred locations or to separate menstruating women from men. Wills teaches that Jesus purposely and publicly violated Jewish rules regarding menstruating women. He sites the story of Jesus and the women at the well. Jesus asks for her to give him a drink in spite of her warning him that she was unclean (menstruating). Jewish laws forbid menstruating women to serve food or drink. Wills also noted that Jesus draws attention to the women who touched him in a crowd. The women sought healing from a menstrual flow that would not stop. Despite Jesus’ teaching, it took less than 200 years after his death for the Christian “fathers” to reinstate Jewish type laws segregating women particularly during menstruation. The paradox of Christianity is that the blood of Christ is what redeems mankind and is “drank” at each communion service. This paradox is not lost on Catherine Breillat.

The film’s story centers on a women played by Amira Casar. The woman invites a gay man home and pays him to accompany her for four nights. She undresses and is nude throughout the rest of the film, nearly 90 minutes. The woman at first invites the man to watch her in various erotic poses. The gay man becomes more and more curious to explore every part of her body (and we really mean explore, as in an ob-gyn exam). He is surprised by his erection, which is not left to the imagination. They have sex. She begins to menstruate at the end of day two. Sex is only part of what the couples does during day three and four. Among other things, Amira teaches her suitor and the viewer all the details of replacing her tampon. I will hold back describing all the details, but you clearly get the idea.

Throughout, Catherine Breillat shoots the film from views of Jesus on the bedroom wall. Part of the sex scenes turn into a worship services including communion (I will let you figure out whose blood is drunk). The film at times is erotic but mostly is an explicit curiosity. Nonetheless, I really liked the film. I really like Catherine Breillat’s films however many would find them too shocking. I like her bold, unblinking study of women and sex. As she puts women under a magnifying glass, men become in better focus. Amira gay paid suitor ends up “converting” to heterosexual love. Catherine Breillat and Jesus therefore both teach to touch women when they are “untouchable.”

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Watching You (2003)- NR

I was recently in a hot tub in Maine with 8 other nude men and women. The topic on the table (on the water) was lesbian love. Well to be honest, the topic was broader than lesbian love; it was more like the erotic flexibility of women. The question was how is it that nearly all of us (women and men) enjoy the affection, nurturing and erotic touch of a woman. Conversely, why does it seem easier for many women we know to extend attention, affection and erotic pleasure to both genders? The group did not see a similar trait in most men, including those in the hot tub. I reasoned that the answer may relate to the fact that nearly all of us were pleasured and nurtured by our mothers and that mothers are “flexible” to nurse and touch both sexes. The “hot tub 8” came to no consensus regarding this mystery and moved on to other topics. Maybe some questions raised in a hot tub are not meant to be answered.

Watching You is a collection of short films that in fact picks up on this question and does attempt a meaningful answer. All 9 short subject films have a lesbian theme. The films are from all around the world. They range in length from 5 minutes to 25 minutes. They are all excellent.

In one hilarious film a women interviews potential lovers similar to a job interview. The film has superb editing. One interviewee for instance will stumble with one question (“how do you spell cunnilingus”) only to be rescued by editing of another interviewee. In another very funny film a women attending a party instructs the viewer on “the dos and don’t” of attracting a lover. Stereotype lesbian women attend the party. Our guide periodically freezes the film to point out the strengths and weaknesses of each woman’s approach. The film is an excellent comic parody not only on gay women but women in general. In a third film we watch the surprise of a gay man when he becomes aroused while watching two women make love. In a forth film one partner asks, “what do you miss most about loving a man?” Her partner replies, “the long periods of silence.” One short film is Israeli. It was filmed in Tel Aviv and is about a single mother that secretly photographs an attractive neighbor. The film is a good study of jealousy.

The short films mix humor, explicit eroticism, stories of jealousy and stories of friendships. However, similar to the HBO series Sex in the City, all the films teach us more about women and why we love them than about lesbian love. This is a very enjoyable collection of short stories for both a gay and straight audience. The eroticism is at times explicit and arousing yet it is presented in the context of very interesting stories.

All films reviewed in this blog, unless noted, are available from Netflix.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Before Sunrise -R (1995) and Before Sunset -R (2004)

We remember our first love affairs. I don’t mean the girl we kissed in second grade playing spin the bottle, or the boy in high school we made out with, or even the college co-ed we lost our virginity too. We of course remember those events too. I mean the first people we really fell in love with. These events hold special memories. Sandra Leiblum and Judith Sachs in their book, “Getting the Sex You Want,” says this person makes us feel attractive, makes us feel loved and understood, appreciates our mind and desires our body. This person listens when we talk and we want their opinions. We tell them nearly everything. The conversation is as intimate as the erotic touch. This is particularly true when we are young and it happens for the first time. We often focus on our first time having sex as a sort of benchmark to adulthood. Perhaps a more important marking is when we first shared our soul.

Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy play Jesse and Celine in a two-part love story about a first love affair. The story (Before Sunrise) begins as two young people meet on a train in Europe and fall in love. The first movie is about their meeting and the 12 hours that they spend together. The second movie (Before Sunset) is 9 years later and follows the couple’s reunion, again for about 12 hours. The two films were produced exactly 9 years apart with the same actors, who have aged in real life 9 years. This fact, though unique, is not the reason to see these two films. The reason to see these movies is to again experience falling in love.

In both films Jesse and Celine talk. They talk a lot. They talk about religion and then talk about their first experience with sex. They talk about food and then talk about deaths in their families. They talk about reincarnation and then talk about what makes them afraid. They talk but also listen. As in the near cult film, “A Dinner with AndrĂ©,” the couple takes each other’s comments seriously. They take each other seriously. Their love grows not from physical passion but from conversation and before sunrise this love grows to erotic passion. Before Sunset follows the couple 9 years later. They again meet in Europe and spent 12 hours together. Events repeat themselves. This time the talk is about their 9 years apart. They talk about politics and their marriages. They talk about the other loves in their lives and how life would have been different if they would of married each other. They fall is love again.

The films reminded me of the intense conversation in my first love affairs. These affairs do not always end in marriage and sometimes do not even include sex. They do include erotic passion. The memories of conversation are what make the affairs important, and it is particularly memorable when we are young. It is the first time we explore another’s souls as we explore another’s body.

These two films are wonderful. They will remind you of the joys and intensity of your first experiences with love. The dialog is what makes these films special. The two stars Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy wrote the screenplay of Before Sunset. It feels unscripted, natural and free flowing. It is also technically brilliant. We walk with Jesse and Celine for 7 minutes of uninterrupted conversation through the streets of Vienna. Before Sunrise and Before Sunset are films that should not be missed.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Tipping The Velvet (2002)- NR

I have had the erotic privilege of watching two women make love. For many reasons, this is a tremendous turn-on for most men. For many of us men, lesbian love is synonymous with heterosexual pleasure.

There is in fact, a whole other lesbian experience. “Tipping the Velvet” is a look at another experience. The film is a romantic film is the classic definition. It presents a story of a very romantic lesbian relationship. In this film romance means faithfulness, monogamy and emotional commitment in good times and bad times. It expects unswerving devotion, and when that trust is broken the very meaning of life is questioned. Tipping the Velvet is an excellent romantic film that happens to be about two women.

The film is about a young women Nan, played by Rachel Sterling, in England in the 1800’s. She falls in love with a traveling actress who whisks her away from her rural home to London where we follow her through many adventures. The film is divided into three 1-hour segments that were originally presented as a BBC mini-series. The film has a number of beautifully filmed erotic scenes.

There are three reasons to see this film even if you do not like romance. First, the period costumes and set design deserve an academy award. Second, the photography is simply beautiful. One love scene consists entirely of a close-up of the two women’s lips. This is a very erotic kissing scene! Finally, there is a Shakespeare “spoof” in the second hour segment that should not be missed. Nan, a woman, dresses as a young boy and gives homosexual men blowjobs for money. The men think they receive a homosexual experience but actually receive a heterosexual experience, but from a homosexual women. This series alone is reason to see this film.

One Night Stand (1997)- R

How can sex be exciting? Actually, we probably do not want it always to be exciting. Most times we want sex to be comforting, familiar and even nurturing. However, occasionally we want it to be exciting, new and maybe even a little scary. Having an affair is one way to make sex very exciting but it often also makes sex very dangerous.

Wesley Snipes stars in the 1997 film, One Night Stand. Snipes is on a business trip and is caught in Manhattan without a hotel room. Circumstances lead to his sharing a room with Nastassja Kinski. Both Snipes and Kinski are married, but passion prevails and the couple make love. The night is passionate, exciting but terrible disturbing for Snipes. He returns to his wife and is unable to disclose the event and it gradually erodes their marriage. This event plus the death of a close friend who has AIDS leaves him frustrated and angry.

One hour and ten minutes through the film it appears we are viewing a conventional story about illicit sex. The sex scenes were erotic and we are stimulated by the fantasy of passionate love making with a stranger, for only one night. However, the price we are expecting to pay for this pleasure is a ruined marriage. Here the film takes a very unconventional twist and is why I recommend this movie. Through another series of odd events, Snipes and his wife played by Ming-Na Wen, reconcile and re-energies their relationship through exciting sex. The sex however for each is with another partner, and with the full knowledge and permission of each other.

One Night Stand offers an option for couples to re-energies their sex, and maybe their marriage, without an affair. This option is not without danger and is not for all couples (see my review of the documentary film The Lifestyle: Swinging in America). It is also not the only way to add exciting. However, it is one option. One Night Stand is not a perfect movie, but it is well photographed and well acted. It is a very good film for couples to see together and talk about afterwards.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Romance- Director’s Cut (1999)- NR

On the Daily Show last month there was a skit that did a parody on the word "paradox." Jon Stewart said "isn't it a paradox that the word paradox must be used so often by seemingly intelligent people?" I looked it up. Paradox is "when opposite truths seem to simultaneously exist." Here?s an example. A woman finds genuine caring, affection, erotic nurturing and affirmation in a sadomasochistic relationship when she is tied-up in painful bondage. Marie, played by Caroline Ducey in "Romance", later remarks that her lover "ties me up without tying me down."

Romance is a remarkable film. It contained arguable one of the most erotic and explicit sex scenes in a non-X rated film, a full 3-minute scene of an actual birth (we get to see everything) and a full 15 minutes segment of an anal compulsive sadomasochistic lover trying again and again to get his knots tied just right. Romance is about a sexually frustrated women in a very dysfunctional relationship. She pleads for her partner to simply remove his undershirt in bed, seeing that this is as close to erotic affection as she will get. She therefore seeks other lovers. She eventually finds love from an older man who loves ropes, handcuffs and bondage.

Let's go back to the "paradox" word. The film is directed by Catherine Breillat, one of a number of women in film that are exploring erotic pleasure from (their words) a female prospective. The paradox (sorry) of the film is that from this highly successful women's prospective, the beautiful young males in this film are sexually dysfunctional. However, the older man with obvious flaws is more attractive. You no longer need to wonder why I like this film!

This is the second movie reviewed on this blog that I strongly recommend it to be seen in the NR "Director's Cut" version. I reviewed "Y Tu Mama Tambien (2001)" with the same recommendation. These films from Blockbuster in R versions are stripped of not only key scenes but also the scenes that truly make the films erotic.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Y Tu Mama Tambien (2001) – UR “And Your Mama Too”

A common theme of films is a young person “coming of age” through their early sexual experiences. This web site has already reviewed 3 films dealing with this subject. Many of the films are quite erotic. Y Tu Mama Tambien staring Diego Luna, Gael Garcia Bernal and most importantly Maribel Verdu is another coming of age film, but it is also so much more.

So why is this subject so interesting and erotic? For most of us, the late teens and 20’s were not erotic times. I personally struggled with guilt well into my 30’s as I tried to reconcile religion and sex. My best, most erotic sex is happening now and certainly was not happening when I was young. I believe my experience is common. So then, why is there such a focus in film on the teens and early 20’s?

In Y Tu Mama Tambien, we witness the ranging hormones of two teenage boys. The boys’ ultimate sexual fantasy will be experienced. An older, beautiful, attractive married woman will spend a holiday with them on a deserted Mexican beach teaching them the ways of lovemaking. One of her most memorable instructions to the boys was “you have to treat the clit as your friend.” The film has a very erotic three-some scene with an unanticipated ending. The boys become men sexually but are gifted with much more experiences along the way. The experiences lead the now men to make choices. We are taught throughout this film by a narrative, that life’s experiences lead to choices that lead to our character. So, maybe here is the answer to my question. We are drawn to coming of age erotic stories because they are a metaphor for how we continue to choose our character. Our choice in sex parallels our choices in life…. Or, maybe it’s only for the young bodies.

Y Tu Mama Tambien is an excellent, much talked about film, which was nominated for Best Foreign Film in 2001. Apart from the erotic story, the film’s cinematography captures the paradox of the beautiful yet impoverished Mexican coast. I strongly recommend this film. However, it is important to see the “UR” version rather than the “R” version. The erotic scenes cut from the “UR” are key to understanding the boys’ later life decisions. The “R” rated film not only cuts the erotic scenes but also some of the most explicate dialogue of sexual instruction.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Therese and Isabelle (1968)- UR

For me, the recent film “My Summer of Love” was a disappointment. Films of young girls coming of age through a love affair carry a classic erotic story yet often turn out to be poor in story line or erotic content. The nearly 40 year-old film, “Therese and Isabelle” is an exception. This black and white film is very erotic in truly a unique way.

The story is about a woman who returns to her boarding school for a visit. The school is on semester break and therefore she wanders the castle-like facility alone remembering her adolescents. Her memories are of her lover, Isabelle. What makes this film so erotic is not the brief nudity or pictures of their lovemaking. It is rather the narrative. At the point where she remembers an erotic encounter with Isabelle the film shifts to a third person narrative that is part poetry, part sonnet, but fully explicit and very beautifully erotic. This erotic narrative plus gorgeous back and white cinematography makes this classic film well worth seeing.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Eyes Wide Shut (1999)- R

Have you ever imagined your partner (spouse, lover) in the arms of someone else? Have you then, ever felt aroused by the idea but then also scared by the idea? Sometimes the very hidden sexual secrets and wishes we hold become a toxic mixture of desire and nightmare. These very hidden fantasies we hold can feel like an addiction that crosses the line from pleasure to painful obsession. This sounds like a sermon from the conservative Christians. Actually, it is the theme of "Eyes Wide Shut," a riveting and yes, highly erotic film of Stanley Kubrick staring (who else but) Tom Cruse and Nicole Kidman.

Nichole Kidman starts the movie with a full screen nude scene displaying her now famous statuesque body as she dresses for a party. She ends the movie by whispering into the ear of her husband played by Tom Cruise, "you know really what we need to do immediately?.., we just need to go fuck." Between these two scenes we are treated to 2 hours and 36 minutes of real and imaginary sexual tension. The film follows a wealthy New York doctor and his wife as they deal with infidelity. The story starts with flirtations at a party that then leads to the discloses of past secrets and then to nightmare erotic / life threatening experiences. However, maybe the nightmares were only imaginary.

Stanley Kubrick films are mixtures of detailed cinematography (remember the spaceship in "2001" and the milk bar in "Clockwork Orange") and wandering plots. His plots raise more questions than they resolve. So it is with "Eyes Wide Shut," we are unsure if the terror from infidelity was real or a panic attach. What we know is that we are left with an excellent film about sex and eroticism. We are also left with some of the most explicit nude scenes of a top box office star, Nicole Kidman.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

The Lifestyle: Swinging in America (2000)- Documentary

This film has received significant press reviews in the commercial newspapers. Some reviews note that the documentary portrays swingers as “often times lonely people that value their marriage relationships, people who are oftentimes overweight and oftentimes over 50.” It is for these reasons that I recommend this film, particularly for couples considering the lifestyle.

The fact that people are taken back with how average and flawed swingers are, reflect more on our notions of sexuality than on this alternative lifestyle. We, of course, see HBO specials and PLAYBOY Channel specials where young models romp from “group sex room” to “group sex room” at swinging resorts. However, I think the source for the misconception about the swinging lifestyle is not from media coverage but from our own “heads”. Rather that this being a group of beautiful self-actualized people, it turns out these are people who simple enjoy a variety in sex partners and also tend to be older. In our “heads” we struggle to understand sex with older, not so beautiful, people.

The film is not erotic. If anything it inaccurately minimizes the erotic pleasure couples gain from swinging. However, it does tell real stories of couples through an interview format over a 16-month period. The film shows some couples that report their relationships were hurt by swinging. The film then shows other couples that report their marriages were saved by swinging. Some couples thoroughly enjoy their new freedom to be nude, erotic and very sexual with others without threatening their marriages. Other couples are visibly disturbed when faced with the reality of watching their marriage partner sexually intimate with another. To this end, the film accurate reflects this lifestyle.

Emily and I have been active in this lifestyle for over 15 years. We have gained wonderful life long friends. Oh.., and by the way, the sex has been good too.

Better than Chocolate (1999)- R

"Better than Chocolate" Rated R, 1999 102 minutesI have never seen a food movie I haven't liked and have enjoyed chocolate movies best of all. This is the sexiest funny movie (and the funniest sexy movie) I have ever seen. Maggie is a beautiful young woman living in a gay/lesbian neighborhood, who is trying to come out to her mother, but just can't quite figure out how to do it. Her mother is at the end of a bad relationship, desperately needs a place to live, and invites herself and her high school age son to live with Maggie and her new lover. There is evidence everywhere, but her mother takes forever to catch on. Maggie's brother, on the other hand, catches on right away and fully appreciates that his life has suddenly become more interesting. This movie is a demonstration of my theory that no one has a "normal" sex life. My favorite supporting character is the transsexual (played by the straight actor, Peter Outerbridge) who falls for Maggie's lesbian boss, and who sings the ever popular "I'm Not a Fucking Drag Queen" at the Cat's Ass club. The director's notes indicate that most of the cast and crew are from the lesbian community, so all the odd situations and humor are done with an insider's eye in a respectful way. There are some very sexy but tasteful scenes. Colorful sex toys are used in this film in much the same way as daffodils might be used in a Jane Austin movie. Highly recommended.

This is a fun and very enjoyable film. I found it less erotic than "Like Water for Chocolate (1992)", but in many ways more fun. I agree with Doug and would highly recommend it.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

The Joys of Erotic Massage (Educational)

This is a highly glossy “how to” video. The film follows three couples through the steps of giving and receiving erotic massage. The couples, though young and attractive do not seem like actors but rather like real couples enjoying the sensual delights of erotic pleasure. One particularly erotic sequence demonstrates how hair, breasts and other “non-hands” body parts can be used for erotic massage. The video can be purchased for under $40. A note about the Sinclair Institute. They offer many other erotic videos, vibrators and other lovemaking aids. Generally, their quality is high, however their erotic fiction video seems more “clinical” than erotic. The video can also be purchased through one of my favorite web sites .
Holisticwisdom in addition to offering a full line of sex products and videos, provides a excellent resource for information about sex.

Emmanuelle (1974)-NR

The Joys of a Woman; The original Emmanuelle produced in the 1970’s still remain some of the most erotic filmmaking produced. The original erotic classic stars sultry Sylvia Kristel in the title role of the love-starved and sexually frustrated wife of a French embassy official in Thailand. Emmanuelle always follows an odyssey to explore--and shatter--the frontiers of her sexuality with a variety of male and female lovers. Joys of a Woman stars Laura Gemser, Sylvia Kristel, Caroline Laurence and Umberto Orsini. In French with English subtitles or dubbing. One of the most classic erotic scenes is the erotic massage sequent where the stars receive erotic body massages from Thai women. These films are shown late night on cable or rented at the local video store.