Whether its Viggo Mortensen drunkenly preening in front of a mirror or illicit threesomes in France and Spain, this week's Reelist takes a walk on the sexy side, talking about films that you shouldn't watch with your parents. When it comes to full frontal nudity in film, well, in this case, (and the results will SHOCK you)—Europeans do it better.
Dir. Sean Penn (1991)
Full Frontal Genre: Viggo Mortensen Will Strip Down For His Art
Mortensen memorably naked-fought-in-a-Russian-Spa his way to a Best Actor nomination last year in Eastern Promises, but he has given us the full monty before. Based on Bruce Springsteen's song "Highway Patrolman," The Indian Runner is an intense and bleak look at two working-class brothers, the rebel and the good son, who clash with each other in a working-class town in the 70s. Mortensen stars as Frank, the roguish, drunken, and disturbing Vietnam veteran brother of small-town sheriff Joe (David Morse), and the hunky actor has no qualms about hanging out naked, a cigarette dangling from his mouth, in front of his uptight, wracked-with-guilt brother. Some consider the film a classic, while others decry its heavy-handed art; still, Sean Penn (making his debut as a writer/director) has gone on to make other well-received, character-driven films (The Pledge, Into the Wild), and Mortensen and Morse are still two of the best actors working today.
Honorable Mention: In another case of exposing yourself for your art, Emily Mortimer, playing an insecure actress in Nicole Holofcener's Lovely and Amazing, has an intense scene in the nude where she asks her paramour (Dermont Mulroney), post-sex, to point out her body's flaws. It's a raw, uncomfortable scene and may say something true about female neurosis.
Dir. Nicolas Roeg (1973)
Full Frontal Genre: Possibly the Best Sex Scene Ever
Attention filmmakers: the reason why Don't Look Now is continually cited as one of the most haunting and sexy films—despite the fact that Donald Sutherland's hair is pretty 70's fly—is its context. A sex scene gets its power from story, drama, and caring about characters. Sutherland and wife (Julie Christie) are lost in Venice and mourning their daughter who has (apparently) drowned in a recent accident (although they see visions of the little girl, clad in her famous red coat, wherever they go). When they make love in the middle of their grief, interspersed with Roeg's cutting to scenes of the couple getting dressed and going about their day—the scene resonates.
Dir. Alfonso Cuarón (2001)
Full Frontal Genre: Sexy Films With Something To Say
It's easy to have affection for Y Tu Mamá También
, as it takes a hoary genre—the coming-of-age road trip—and turns it on its side, exploring the joys of teenage sexuality and the ways that people use it against each other in a sensual, smart film. It's graphic and it's sexy and it introduced the world to Gael García Bernal, Diego Luna, and the genius of Cuarón (further realized in Children of Men
). If this movie was American, it would have gross-out jokes about bodies; rather, this film respects sexuality and carnality and the lovely messes that come out of (again) making love.
: The daffy, super-sexy Sex and Lucia
(2001), where various gorgeous Spaniards make love and grieve for lost love and bike on an island paradise. One of the rare movies with explicit sex scenes that has a little bit of weight.
Dir. Bernando Bertolucci (2003)
Full Frontal Genre: Sexy Creepy Films about Sexuality
Perhaps it is a gross generalization, but American directors don't particularly excel in this genre. Rather, you need a guy like Bertolucci to make erotic life both somewhat sexy and a little weird. The setup for this film is simple: in Paris, a loving
brother and sister (Louis Garrel
and Eva Green) meet an American student abroad (Michael Pitt), and they hole up in the siblings' apartment with the 1968 student riots raging on in the background. They all copulate in various permutations, take baths together, and discuss film mania. The result is beautiful, strange, and distant.
: Wayne Wang's The Center of the World
, where computer geek Peter Sarsgaard takes stripper Molly Parker to Vegas, and they talk—a lot—about sex and sexuality. (Miranda July contributed to the script.)
The Pillow Book, Peter Greenaway's disturbing and sexy take on original blogger Sei Shonagon's classic tome, which involves a girl who writes calligraphy on her lovers' bodies, a naked Ewan McGregor, and an evil publisher.
What are some of your favorite sexy films?
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