7 posts categorized "Erotic"

November 24, 2017

Maîtresse — CLASSIC FILM PICK

MaitresseFetish aficionados will find much to admire in Barbet Schroeder’s groundbreaking depiction of a BDSM dungeon ruled by Bulle Ogier’s emphatically charismatic dominatrix Ariane in this satisfying romantic drama. Released in 1976, Schroeder’s exploration of a behind-the-scenes life of a professional dominatrix features one of Gerard Depardieu’s debut film performances. Bulle Ogier is stunning, and Depardieu is fully formed. This movie is hot.

Barbet Schroeder’s use of real lifestyle subs adds a dramatic scene of kinky CBT with a [highly skilled] stand-in dominatrix, lends the story an air of undeniable authenticity. The shocking sequence caused the film to be banned in some countries upon its release.

Nestor Almendros unfettered cinematography drinks in the unity of opposites that exist between the casual brutality of the real world as contrasted with the hyper-sensualized acts of humiliation and physical abuse that Ogier’s psychologically confident dom inflicts on her slaves.

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Crucial to Schroder’s non-judgmental treatment of sadomasochism is Roberto Plate’s fascinating production design that separates Ariane’s duplex apartment via a sliding coffee table that opens to reveal a retractable staircase descending into her well-equipped dungeon. The boundaries of Ariane’s lifestyle are clearly delineated. With the aid of her ‘secretary,’ Ariane dresses in a tight corset, costume, and make-up to transform into a cruel mistress capable of executing the most painful of punishments on her willing clients.

Maitresse

At its heart, Maîtresse is a love story about two free-spirited lovers whose relationship kicks off at the deep end of the psycho-sexual spectrum, and must backtrack from there into a mutual understanding of respect while maintaining their thirst for adventure.  

Rated X. 108 mins. (A-) (Four stars — out of five / no halves) 

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February 10, 2016

THE DUKE OF BURGUNDY

Duke of BurgundyWriter/director Peter Strickland (“Berberian Sound Studio”) explores the power dynamics involved in a lesbian sadomasochistic relationship. This is an erotic drama for adults. Leave “50 Shades of Grey” to the kiddies.

Sidse Babett Knudsen plays Cynthia, a butterfly expert who resides alone in a lush country mansion somewhere in Europe. Cynthia’s fulltime maid Evelyn (wantonly played by Chiara D’Anna) seems to take payment for her frequently spotty work, in staged punishments that her mistress doles out with stern deportment and appropriately black fetish attire. A purposely-unwashed pair of Cynthia’s soiled panties gives cause for a human-toilet golden shower session behind closed doors that leaves Cynthia hungry for more.

Strickland’s visual touches of stylistic homage to softcore masters such as Jess Franco give the film a sustained sense of erotic and dramatic tension, but he allows the racy narrative to go flat. Evelyn’s outré desire for humiliation drives the relationship. The coquettish submissive seems to gain more pleasure than her older dom from their sessions together. Sad. 

Duke of Burgundy

The film’s hook rests with the couple’s bottom-topping paradigm, which proves to be the key to the women's complex sensual connection. Evelyn leaves specific handwritten instructions for Cynthia to fulfill. The submissive is calling the shots. This self-scripted method for Evelyn to achieve her desired fetishistic scenarios has intrinsic limits. Although it’s clear that Evelyn is working up to serving as a full-duty human-toilet to her more mature mistress, Strickland inexplicably reneges on the dirty motivation. What could have given the film a truly shocking aspect evaporates when romance deposes the fetishistic elements of the women’s unique bond. Rather than a toilet chair, Evelyn has to settle for a trunk where she is imprisoned overnight.  

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“The Duke of Burgundy,” with its perfectly disguised title, could serve as a compass-marker for other (more daring) filmmakers to follow in the footsteps of. Mainstream cinema and pornography continue to overlap.

Neither entirely frustrating nor satisfying, here is an enjoyable erotic film populated with only women. As such, it affords the audience a much-needed break from male influence, albeit from the director himself. It would be interesting to see how a more daring [female] filmmaker would follow the story’s fetishized elements toward their logical trajectories. Perhaps then, Evelyn could achieve the transformation into a human-toilet that she desires. What then?

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Not Rated. 104 mins. (B-) (Three Stars — out of five / no halves)


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March 21, 2015

BITTER MOON — CLASSIC FILM PICK

Biter MoonA be-all-and-end-all example of erotic drama, Roman Polanski’s co-written adaptation of Pascal Bruckner’s novel is fraught with romantic and sexual tension. The picture bristles with a sensuously dark humor steeped in experience.

Situated on an ocean cruise liner en route to India via Istanbul, the binary storyline connects two married couples in an extended game of seduction whose rules and goals are movable. Uptight Brit Nigel (Hugh Grant) and his deceptively suggestible wife Fiona (Kristin Scott Thomas) are at an impasse in their marriage of nine years when they meet Mimi (Emmanuelle Seigner) and her wheelchair-bound husband Oscar (Peter Coyote). Polanski’s impeccable casting choices create a boundless sense of dramatic energy that alternately simmers and boils.

Oscar, a failed author, invites Nigel back to his private room (Mimi has her own room) for daily talks to divulge his long and troubled relationship with the exotic Mimi, to whom Nigel is obviously attracted. Oscar holds nothing back. His graphic description of his many and varied sexual encounters with Mimi make Nigel visibly uncomfortable, but excite his carnal desires for Oscar’s mysterious wife.

Polanski’s beautifully composed flashback sequences of Oscar’s and Mimi’s relationship illuminate Nigel’s remembrances about how meeting Mimi on a bus in Paris led to his obsessively attempting to find her. Dreams fulfilled can turn into nightmares.

Bitter MoonWhat begins as an ideal romantic relationship for Oscar and Mimi, filled with unbridled sexual exploration including BDSM, descends into abuse and dysfunction when Oscar begins to hold Mimi in unfounded contempt. Oscar’s unfathomable cruelty will earn him a cold dish of revenge served up on a daily basis.

Psychological and physical twists culminate in an unpredictable display of misplaced passion that makes good on a story about confused people acting on primal impulses. “Bitter Moon” is a suspenseful adult movie about the discrepancies between love and lust, and between loyalty and communication.

Bitter Moon

Rated R. 139 mins. (A+) (Five Stars - out of five/no halves)


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June 16, 2013

Far Out Isn’t Far Enough

Far Out Isn't Far Enough“Far Out Isn’t Far Enough” is everything a good documentary should be. Captivating, informative, shocking, and entertaining, Brad Bernstein’s dynamic exposé traces the lifelong struggles of multi-disciplined artist Tomi Ungerer — a man brimming with so much charisma, you can’t help but fall under his spell.

At one time the most famous children’s book author in America, Ungerer’s twisting path — from a child growing up in Nazi-occupied Alsace, France to becoming an enormously successful illustrator, political cartoonist, and author in ‘50s and ‘60s New York — Ungerer’s remarkable artistic output in so many fields practically ensured his eventual exile from America.

His gift for erotic drawing — he published many imaginative books of erotica — became a sticking point for puritanical American critics who effectively blacklisted him overnight when his “multiple activities” were exposed at a children’s book convention for the American Library Association where Ungerer was invited to speak. Members of the crowd physically attacked the artist, prompting him to give back verbally the pain that was inflicted on his body. The damage was done. Even his supporters — including such luminaries as Jules Feiffer and Maurice Sendak — were unable to prevent Ungerer’s children’s books from being pulled from American libraries.

Few artists have so fiercely and eloquently tilled the soil in the “no-man’s land between good and bad” as Tomi Ungerer. Here is a bold cinematic portrait of one of the most honest and talented artists you could ever hope to meet.

Not Rated. 98 mins. (A-) (Four Stars - out of five/no halves)



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December 14, 2012

CALIGULA - CLASSIC FILM PICK

CaligulaIf ever there was a cinematic guide to Roman debauchery — real or imagined — “Caligula” is it. That this bizarre and unforgettable film was directed by Italian softcore master Tinto Brass (“Salon Kitty”) and includes performances by some of Britain’s finest actors (Malcolm McDowell, John Gielgud, Peter O’Toole, and Helen Mirren) adds to the salacious aspects of this infamous movie. Penthouse magazine publisher Bob Guccione produced the film with an eye toward generating a new genre for mainstream pornography, though his vision proved to be doomed.

The rise and fall of Emperor Gaius Caesar Germanicus (a.k.a. Caligula – played by Malcolm McDowell) is presented in an epic theatrical manner befitting a modern-day —pornographic — stage performance. Tinto Brass’s enthusiasm for sparsely appointed grand-scale sets lends an airy atmosphere to the sexually charged political environment of the story.

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A quote from the Bible introduces the theme. “What shall it profit a man, if he should gain the whole world and lose his own soul.”

McDowell's brief voiceover narration plants his snide retort to the small-minded biblical premise: “I have existed from the morning of the world, and I shall exist until the last star falls from the heavens. Although I have taken the form of Gaius Caligula, I am all men as I am no man and so I am a god.”

Still referred to by his childhood nickname “Little Boots,” McDowell’s Caligula is a spun-off version of the hedonistic sociopathic character he incarnated as his stock-and-trade for such films as “A Clockwork Orange,” and “If…” With easy entre to his cunning historical character, McDowell’s smirking love god defiles all he touches. Not least of which is his sister Drusilla (Teresa Ann Savoy), with whom he maintains an incestuous bond.

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Called upon to visit his syphilis-suffering imperial grandfather Tiberius (Peter O’Toole) on the island of Capri, Caligula observes the orgiastic lifestyle to which he will soon aspire. Tiberius tutors Caligula in the art of meting out fatal warrantless punishments. A soldier is made to drink copious amounts of wine before being gutted so his intestines spill out.

The emperor instructs Caligula while a bevy of satyrs and nymphs carry on various sexual acts around them. Tiberius’s “speaking” statues fornicate and masturbate continuously. The filmmakers present a formal interpretation of Grand Guignol sexuality across a three-tiered stage. Giant gold phalluses adorn the area where sexual performers frolic. Some are deformed. Witness the man with four legs, another with two faces and three eyes.

Tiberius explains the distorted logic with which he rules. “Every senator believes himself believes to be a potential Caesar, therefore every senator is guilty of treason — in thought if not in deed.”

Caligula

The quick-study Caligula soon turns Tiberius’s lessons on his master, enabling the murder of the emperor and usurping his role as leader of Rome.

However distracting the film’s titillating use of nudity, and outrageous set pieces of sexual conflagrations, “Caligula” remains true to the historical nature of its text. It also remains a towering example of erotic cinema.  

Caligula 08

Not Rated. 156 mins. (A-) (Four stars — out of five / no halves)


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May 01, 2012

9 ½ WEEKS — CLASSIC FILM PICK

9 1:2 WeeksWith its tantalizing title suggesting an ideal timeline for a fetishized affair, Adrian Lyne’s beautifully stylized adaptation of Elizabeth McNeill’s novel is a milestone of mainstream erotic cinema. Finished in 1984, but released in 1986 — one year before Oliver Stone’s milieu-similar “Wall Street” — the Manhattan-set story centers around a sadomasochistic relationship that develops between financial district arbitrageur John Gray (Mickey Rourke) and SoHo art gallery hot shot Elizabeth McGraw (Kim Basinger).

John is a master seducer for whom money is no object. His SoHo penthouse apartment is a study in ‘80s modernist minimalism. Every glossy surface is black or gray. He is a sexual adventurer well equipped to draw the classy Elizabeth into his polite game of master and servant. Rourke’s implacable charmer temporarily presents himself as the latter, giving Elizabeth gifts he subtly uses to manipulate her into her new role as his personal sex slave. A gold watch he gives her comes with the request that each day at noon, when she looks at the timepiece, she thinks of him touching her.

9 1:2 weeks

Elizabeth imagines herself falling into a conventional, albeit well-funded, relationship based on love more than lust. If Elizabeth’s sensual awakening is every woman’s fantasy of sexual fulfillment, the subtext demands a bank account deep enough to provide for it. Cold irony lurks. Perhaps she really is the seducer after all.

Adrian Lyne establishes the film’s moody soft-core parameters during an iconic sequence wherein Elizabeth masturbates in the art gallery basement while watching a slideshow of artworks. Fragmented projector beams of clouded light cut across Elizabeth’s blonde hair, candy-apple red lips, and luxurious white blouse. Pedestrians walk across the shadow-riddled sidewalk grate that hovers over her head. Voyeuristic New Yorkers are always nearby.

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Lyne celebrates the effortless sexual chemistry between Basinger and Rourke, who each give exquisitely authentic portrayals. A centerpiece erotic sequence of foreplay involves John feeding the shut-eyed Elizabeth various foods while the couple sits in front of an open refrigerator. The sequence, along with one in which Elizabeth does a striptease in front of a blinded window, went on to inform a generation of music video filmmakers.

A noirish gloom hangs over the palpable ecstasy in “9 1/2 Weeks.” Cinematographer Peter Biziou masterfully exploits the dramatic potential of every carefully constructed composition to create a world of erotic suspense. Although the film flopped during its theatrical release, and was widely panned by critics, it has come to be recognized as a well-crafted example of soft-core eroticism.

9:1WEEKS.colesmithey.com

Rated R. 117 mins. (A) (Five stars — out of five / no halves)


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September 16, 2010

Last Tango in Paris - Classic Film Pick

Last_tango_in_paris

Born of one of Bernardo Bertolucci's fantasies about carrying on a purely sexual affair with a complete stranger, Marlon Brando's Paul and Maria Schneider's Jeanne meet regularly in an empty Parisian apartment for unbridled sexual trysts. Paul insists that neither one reveal their names or express any elements of their lives outside their insular world. Theirs is a relationship built purely on carnal intention and experimentation. The stark atmosphere that Bertolucci creates allows for sensual realism to thrive.

Jeanne doesn't know that Paul is coping with his wife's recent suicide. Paul knows nothing of Jeanne's obsessive filmmaker boyfriend Tom (Jean-Pierre Léaud) who is on the brink of proposing to Jeanne.

Written with assistance from Franco Arcalli and Anges Varda, Bertolucci plays liberally with dualities to address deep-seeded emotions that can only be expressed indirectly. Even the filmmaker’s noir-influenced image system plays with angles.

For the first time, Paul drinks with Tom, his wife's neighbor and former lover, who wears the same robe as Paul. The over-enthusiastic Tom represents an outwardly preoccupied inversion of Paul, who tests Jeanne's temperamental boundaries in similar but altered ways. 

After revealing his identity and troubled situation, Paul tells Jeanne, "When something's finished, it begins again." He breaks the carefully guareded code the lovers have adhered to up until now. Paul's sudden turn from cynic to optimist (late in the story) must be punished. His refusal to adhere to his own rules is unacceptable. Not everything is permitted.

Last_Tango_in_ParisFor all of the critical and public controversy about “Last Tango” being a pornographic film at the time of its release, the movie is a painstakingly theatrical mood piece that relies heavily on judiciously coded musical cues from Gato Barbieri's repeated motifs.

Significant is Philippe Turlure's bold art direction that draws on the work of the artist Francis Bacon. Two of Bacon's paintings introduce the film during its opening credit sequence. They influence the look of the movie’s saturated color scheme for the interior of the apartment where much of the story takes place. A two-foot high rust colored waterline surrounds the interior walls as if to suggest that the apartment had been submerged in a mixture of blood and water for an extended period during its storied past. The ravages of wars fought have left their mark here.

“Last Tango in Paris” is a masterwork of post-modern existential angst that attempts to reconcile a depth of social existence through its sexually liberated characters. 

 

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