Thursday, November 29, 2012

Sexual Chronicle of a French Family, 2012, NR

Why do the French seem so comfortable about sex? Having traveled to France I have witnessed the many nude and topless beaches, the open display of erotic marketing and the beautiful women who yes, refuse to shave their armpits and elsewhere. This film continues the story of how the French are comfortable with their sexuality.

This is a stylish, high definition, erotic, explicit and romantic film with enough storyline to keep your intellectual interest. The explicit nature of the film certainly will keep your erotic interest. The characters are fresh. There is ample nudity and many real scenes of sexual intimacy. The story is about a 3-generation family whose members are each dealing with sexual discovery. The mother played by Valerie Mais is the center of the family. Her focus is to encourage members to accept their sexuality as something healthy. The issues of family members include prostitution, bi-sexuality, loss of virginity, masturbation, fantasy role playing, group sex and much more! This would seem chaotic yet the film’s storyline manages to hold these themes together. These issues are addressed honestly and with much explicate content. This is a good film but definitely not for children. 11/15/12

Conception, 2011, NR

This is a painfully funny film about the complexity of couples in love trying to have sex and either trying to become pregnant or trying not to become pregnant. The film follows 9 very different couples. It documents that sex often is so exciting during romance and then later becomes a chore. Sometimes it is even worse than a chore as it becomes the background for battle. The film is a catalog of events and conflict that drain sex of pleasure. However, they are all so painfully real. Connie Britton from Friday Night Lights, is excellent in this film. This is a funny, entertaining and provocative film. I recommend it. 11/15/12

Hope Springs, 2012, PG-13

Meryl Streep, Tommy Lee Jones; Directed by David Frankel

Crediting the value of sex by its absence is the basis of Hope Springs, but there’s warmth, and, eventually, slow passion in this film that a friend concisely calls “cute, awkward, and predictable.” A couple (Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones), married thirty-two years in a life that has become humdrum, are insistently coaxed, prodded, and provoked by a prominent sex and marriage counselor and author (Steve Carell) toward regaining intimacy. They come to see, that it is both essential to vitality and legitimately theirs to thrive on.

I completely agree with “cute, awkward, and predictable.” This film is recommended if you are not in a frame of mind for nuance, depth, glamour, or sexual tension and release. What’s left then? The humor of Streep and Jones to fit in their characters, sensory comforts combined with a reminder that simply co-occupying a long-term relationship can erase the erotic and passion of the heart.

Reviewed by DR 11/15/12

I enjoyed the film. It was predictable. But maybe trying to get sex back into a 31 year marriage is never really predictable. The film was heartwarming and romantic. These are good things that should not be reserved only for young couples.
Paul 12/24/12

Monday, July 16, 2012

Sex in Film: MAD MEN, season 5

Emmy and Golden Globe drama winner MAD MEN (AMC TV, Matthew Weiner exec. producer and large principal cast), in its 5th season, follows a New York City advertising agency in the1960s. The writing is smart, the characters well developed, the settings and situations plentiful and accurate. Personal and societal brilliance, shortcomings, quirks, and sometimes quick, but more often painfully slow personal growth figure throughout.

MAD MEN draws much of its dramatic energy from the charismatic, polished, urbane, and enigmatic Don Draper (Jon Hamm), and his male colleagues, but each season shifts more emphasis on the women. What they are seeing, doing, feeling and struggling with determines much of what we see on screen. They grew up being told that the man they became dependent upon would define them. Their struggle to recognize this fact and respond to it in their individual lives makes for dramatic tension. The women created by Weiner and his writers are not stereotypes, but archetypes. In 43 minute weekly episodes, their inner lives cannot be told so well as in a full length film, but their experience of sex is a central story element of MAD MEN.

There are zipless fucks in good supply: Draper’s wife Betty (Joan January) enjoying the vibrations of her automatic washer, or standing up in a hallway alcove coupling with a new male acquaintance. Elisabeth Moss’ character, Peggy, AWOL at a movie after an office catastrophe, brings to climax a man who offers her a joint in the almost empty theater. Draper’s glamorous mother-in-law briefly leaves the table at a business awards dinner and takes in her mouth Draper’s business partner. The camera eye, from a distance, is that of Draper’s 12 y.o. Daughter. At work, couches, or at least desks to lean on as soon as the office door is locked, accommodate sex.  By contrast in season 5, Draper’s new wife Megan (Jessica ParĂ©), is a force of sexual voracity, brains, and heart, devoted entirely to him. In several memorable scenes, he seems to find it unfathomable that he now feels the like toward her. The Don Draper of season 5 brings to mind Mr. Jones, in Bob Dylan’s Ballad of a Thin Man. He sees something happening here, but doesn’t know what it is.

The sexual scenes are strongly instrumental to theme and plot, but are new ground for a popular 8:00 PM cable TV serial. They entice, transgress, and reflect angst over gender and governance. I’ve been amused, embarrassed, discomforted, excited, piqued, and encouraged by Mad Men. It’s edgier than, say, Friday Night Lights, and less clear as to character and emotions, but just as true.  Recommend.
Reviewed by DR

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Easier With Practice 2009- NR

We often think of “coming of age” films as stories about 16 year olds. This movie is a “coming of age” film about a 28 year old. Davy (played by Brian Geraghty of The Hurt Locker fame) is a struggling short story author who is depressed and without purpose -- until an unexpected phone call from stranger Nicole leads to life-changing phone sex. Davy learns to be honest with himself and learns when to be dishonest with others. “Coming of age” very often, not sometimes but often, means giving up an unrealistic sexual fantasy for a true relationship of meaning. These meaningful relationships are sometimes erotic, sometimes not, but always soulful. This is an excellent independent film about lonely people finding companionship. 2/5/12

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo 2011 – R

Swedish author Stieg Larsson left unpublished a sequence of three novels after his death in 2004. The first, Men Who Hate Woman (translation via Wikipedia) came out as The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo in 2005. A Swedish language film of the same name followed in 2009, and, in 2011, a U.S. production in English. I’ve seen both films and will concentrate on the second, though unavoidably with the first in view. The same Wikipedia contributor offered that, when a youth, Larsson failed to intervene in a gang rape of a young girl named Lisbeth, the name given to his tattooed and damaged principal character.

Sexual energy is prominent in the main and primary supporting roles but no one smiles about it, and all have other, pressing business. The plot is complicated. Lisbeth, reflecting abuse by caregivers, perhaps, seduces woman and man expeditiously, with a strong physical presence. But only a short time previous (the film jumps around), she is mercilessly raped and sodomized by her legally appointed guardian in a frank and brutal scene, one of several. She manages later to systematically return the favor and attendant blackmail. Though Rooney Mara as Lisbeth and Daniel Craig as journalist Mikael Blomkvist are picturesque in coupling, they are only weakly intimate. They manage just a tentative reaching out and, at the same time, satisfy an appetite only just arisen. Even in Mikael’s long-term affair with married business colleague Erika (Robin Wright), intimacy gets shorted.

If there’s a sexual theme, it’s the weakening of eroticism and intimacy. The backgrounds and circumstances of the characters are poor soil to nourish affection. Despite very good cinematography and acting, I find the colder, darker, less heroic Swedish version and its more furtive, desperate and hasty characters – and sex - more genuine, but the brutal scenes are comparable. Be prepared.

I recommend the film. Its cinematic and narrative qualities are strong, including sexual intimacy pinched in two lives dominated by retribution. I don't recall Mikael and Lisbeth kissing. Mid stride during intercourse, she on top, they exchange ideas about the investigations that form most of the plot. Lisbeth postpones the talk just long enough for her orgasm. Sexy, yes, but painfully lean in interpersonal comforts.
  Reviewed by David R. 2/5/12

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Room in Rome (2010) - NR

Room in Rome is a beautiful and very erotic film. It is the story of two young women meeting for a single night erotic encounter. But the film is so much more. The director Julio Medem captures all the subtle shadows of two beautiful naked women in a dimly light exotic Rome hotel room. Through the women remain nude throughout the film; the erotic shadows lessen as the past painful secrets of the women are revealed. The haunting soundtrack from Russian Red with the hit single “Loving Strangers” creates a perfect mood for this film. 1/6/12