Reel Sex

Reel Sex

Ladies and open-minded gentlemen, this is the weekend for which we have been waiting ever so patiently. Years of watching our fellow sisters remove clothing and undulate for the good of “story” has finally paid off, and we will have our day in the sun. Our fearless prince, director Steven Soderbergh, has reached into the depths of his vast (yet dwindling) bag-o-tricks and presented us with a simple masterpiece that has been on the tip of wagging tongues for months. Magic Mike is the product of a genius, and while it isn’t a perfect film, Soderbergh’s dedication to objectifying his male cast is reassuring and welcomed. It is about time ladies get a fluff movie that isn’t about shopping, shoes, or relationships, but instead two hours of glorious female gaze. These men are hotter than this Texas drought I’m currently suffering through, and I appreciated every moment I had with them. But what makes Magic Mike something of dreams is the film’s playful self-awareness that it is, in fact, meant to be a sort of man droolfest. Soderbergh knows what he’s doing, and instead of alienating his audience he embraces them, offers up a beer, and presents six sexy, shirtless men on a platter for the world to see. I’m sure a discussable plot is in there somewhere (and I will leave that to our film review), but I am more interested in reflecting on a handful recent films that paved the way for this glorious moment of shirtless wonderment.

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Reel Sex

It only takes five minutes to realize Snow White and the Huntsman is going to be a storytelling disaster, and then another ten minutes to accept that short of taking a nap or switching your ticket out for the next showing of What to Expect When You’re Expecting that you are stuck watching as the fairy tale of your childhood is ripped apart in the most unsettling of ways. Normally, the twisting of classic stories for new audiences thrills me to no end, and I have to admit regardless of how terrible the trailers looked, I couldn’t wait to see Huntsman. A world where Snow White rejects her meek personality by embracing battles and carnage sounded better than Christmas.

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Reel Sex

If you’re like me and have slumped into a mind-numbing semi-sleep for the past five Sundays thanks entirely to the comings and goings of Westeros, then you have probably woken up with a jolt halfway through your Khal Drogo (Jason Momoa) dreams to discover yourself staring down the barrel of a gun. And that gun is HBO’s freshman series Girls, a show so fraught with first world problems and entitlement it’s nearly impossible not to experience polarizing feelings. On the one hand, Girls is an engaging slice of life dramedy revolving around the personal and (maybe) professional lives of three recent college graduate lady friends (and one still-in-school cousin). Setting Girls apart from most shows currently broadcasting is creator and head writer Lena Dunham’s dedication to exposing the warts and imperfections of her four post-Sex and the City women while they each navigate the troubling landscape of sex, love, feelings, and career in New York. It’s just that her women, like their HBO godmothers, are living in a New York that doesn’t exist for most city dwellers.

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Reel Sex

To turn a phrase from my favorite family of Northerners, “Summer is Coming.” And by coming, I mean today. After waiting what felt like an eternal Westeros winter, Marvel Studios will finally reward us with the release of Joss Whedon’s take on The Avengers. If you haven’t already, take a moment to read our review of the film, re-watch the trailers, and then meet me back here for some fireworks and sno-cones. People have been saying for weeks now that the film is pretty great, and thankfully that is true. Whedon built a rich world for these Marvel characters; putting so much detail into their stories and their lives that it’s virtually impossible not to get wrapped up in the battle trickster Loki (Tom Hiddleston) wages with his brother Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and the rest of the Avengers gang. But there is one surprising element lacking from The Avengers—pivotal women sharing scenes. Shocking considering Whedon has always been an advocate for female role models and has fought TV and film studios for years over the way he prefers to portray women in his cannon. Yes, he had huge pressure on his shoulders to craft a stellar superhero film, but of all the things Whedon could have done wrong why did he have to separate his two major women characters from each other? It’s a bit troubling to say the least.

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Reel Sex

As any The Hunger Games fan already knows, the director who took on the challenge of bringing the first book in Suzanne Collins’s seminal series to life has stepped away from the sequel, Catching Fire. While many critics and fans have spent the past month arguing Gary Ross’s handling of the film, it is beyond a doubt going to be one of the most financially successful films of 2012 if not of all time. The trilogy came in with a built-in fan base, something which Ross respectfully acknowledged with his adaptation but that didn’t stop him from adding his own creative flourishes. Who would have ever thought a character that is mentioned three times in the novel would go on to steal the film with his steely blue eyes and amazing follicle art work? For giving us Seneca Crane, Mr. Ross, the pogonophiles of the world thank you. However what we face now is a three-fold issue: who will take over Catching Fire from Ross, does the next director need to keep the same aesthetic of the first film, and is there a responsibility to appoint a female director to take on the challenge of continuing the story of one of the strongest heroines in 21st Century literature?

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Reel Sex

The past few weeks have been incredibly exciting for anyone following the curious case of Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele, the sexually adventurous stars of E.L. James’s erotic romance e-book Fifty Shades of Grey. What started off as a Twilight fan fiction has turned out to be at the center of an American literary explosion not seen since James’s own inspiration was up for auction at Little, Brown, and Company in 2007. Now the foreign erotica import has not only been snatched up for seven figures by a literary arm of Random House Publishing known as Vintage (I am shocked, honestly), but as Kate Erbland mentioned Monday it has also been optioned by Focus Features and Universal. This has been a very busy month for the British author, and I don’t even have the heart to hate her for it. As an unabashed fan of erotic romance novels, I was taken aback by the fervor this bondage novel has caused, but not for the reasons many of my colleagues and friends share. Although I do tend to favor BDSM in cinema, bondage in erotic literature has never been my favorite. I’ve often felt it to be far-fetched, overly clinical, and even a bit stale. I mean, as clinical and stale as sexual power play, leather cuffs, and object insertion can possibly be when story and character development take a back seat.  This isn’t to say something like Fifty Shades of Grey couldn’t change my mind, because it instantly intrigued me […]

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Reel Sex

Woosh! You hear that sound? That’s the air finally making its way back into my brain after 10 days of the taco-eating, famous people elbow-rubbing, beer-chugging, and back-to-back movie-watching one happens to experience at South by Southwest. I’m sure you’ve been reading the Rejects’s extensive coverage of the all-encompassing festival of exhaustion (even I have some opinions to share shortly), and have been living a bit vicariously through each of us. Let me tell you now, it was just as great as you would imagine. Being a Texas native, SXSW is one of my absolute favorite film festivals, and I’m lucky that I’ve had the opportunity to watch it grow to some pretty epic proportions over the past eight years. SXSW Film prides itself on having a bountiful lineup of films from the tiny directorial debuts to the star-laden big budget features audiences stand in line for over two hours to see. While it does succeed at being a taste marker for new talent, the festival does have a tendency to execute lackluster panels. Of course, this isn’t a huge priority for the over 20,000 people attending, but for a lady obsessed with sex-positivity in cinema I have to admit I was over the moon thrilled when I discovered the fest had finally booked a sexy-time movie panel. Brought together by the fabulous Lisa Vandever, director of the all erotica film festival Cinekink, the “Bringing Sexy Back: Where’s the Line Today?” panel introduced me to a pair of directors who […]

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Reel Sex

Last week the Academy Award-nominated Polish film, In Darkness, expanded its small limited release from LA and New York to a suburban art house near you following the award show’s exposure for the Anne Frank meets Caligula World War II drama. Leopold Socha (Robert Wieckiewicz) was a real man who hid and protected a dozen Jewish refugees in the sewers of Lvov from 1943 to the end of the war, all while trying to keep his own reluctant do-gooding a secret from his wife and the Nazi soldiers inhabiting his city. Unlike previous films which share similar plots to In Darkness, this one registers as little more than a dirty sex film. Not to say the film’s constant depiction of sex is particularly pornographic, but rather it is dirty due to its location—a sewer.

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Reel Sex

As we approach Valentine’s Day (yes, it’s just a few days away) I think it’s only fitting that the topic of romance come into play in anticipation of the day meant to celebrate all things feelings. I’m not sure about you, but I have actually never celebrated Valentine’s Day with a loved one not related to me. Instead I spend the day (or week) loading up on conversational hearts, Reese Peanut Butter cups, and a collection of melodramas so depressing I become skeptical that love can actually end in anything but death. Regardless of my tendency to eat my feelings while crying over the tragic love found in Douglas Sirk films, I do enjoy happy love stories and tend to pair the sadder movies with some of my must-have romances. In honor of the big V-Day, I’d like to share my favorite 14 romantic scenes and also open it up the floor to hear your suggestions as well. Here are my concluding seven romantic scenes to last week’s first half of this list. Bring out the smelling salts; you might need them after all these swoons.

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Reel Sex

As we approach Valentine’s Day (yes, it’s just a few weeks away) I think it’s only fitting that the topic of romance come into play in anticipation of the day meant to celebrate all things feelings. I’m not sure about you, but I have actually never celebrated Valentine’s Day with a loved one not related to me. Instead I spend the day (or week) loading up on conversational hearts, Reese’s Peanut Butter cups, and a collection of melodramas so depressing I become skeptical that love can actually end in anything but death. Regardless of my tendency to eat my feelings while crying over the tragic love found in Douglas Sirk films, I do enjoy happy love stories and tend to pair the sadder movies with some of my must-have romances. In honor of the big V-Day, I’d like to share my favorite 14 romantic scenes and also open it up the floor to hear your suggestions. Today is my bottom seven romantic scenes, and next week we’ll post the remainder. I like to keep you all on tenterhooks.

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Reel Sex

People were up in arms Tuesday after the announcement of nominees for the 84th Annual Academy Awards. So many seem to forget that every year they are disappointed with the nominees and every year there is some film or performer who was left off or included on the prestigious list. I may have spent the final weeks of 2011 lamenting my utter ennui with last year’s films, but I never in a million years expected some of the Oscar outcomes. No Supporting Actor nomination for Albert Brooks, whose performance in Drive unnerved audiences to the core? Or the blatant disregard for solid documentary filmmaking in The Interrupters, Buck, or Project Nim, three entries into filmmaking that will forever impact the way we view the world around us? No, the Academy seemed to forget the impressive and daring offerings in favor of an adorable dog in a silent film. What is this, 1920? Last I checked The Jazz Singer pushed us into the land of the talkies. I could spend all day gnawing my tongue over which films shouldn’t have been included in this year’s awards recognition, but just like arguing the virtues and evils of the MPAA, our time is better used talking about some of the sexy pieces of work that the Academy felt were too provocative to include (for reasons I have completely made up in my mind. Hey, they have their prerogative, I have mine.). Going along with the Academy’s new voodoo math rules of deciding the […]

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Reel Sex

A few weeks ago I decided to shirk some of my home responsibilities by hunkering down on my family’s couch with a cup of scalding hot coffee and a huge slice of cake (chocolate, naturally) to watch what Netflix promised to be one of the more sensual erotic thrillers Australia had to offer in 2011, Jon Hewitt’s X. Sexy Australians running around Sydney hell bent on killing and/or not getting killed; prostitutes trying to get out of the game but getting pulled back in for one last gig? That sounded like a good time to me. I know we all feel hot and cold when it comes to Netflix and their questionable suggestion algorithm, however I was feeling lucky and honestly the DVD really needed to make its way back to my local distribution after three months of gathering dust. So, why not give what would have been considered a conventional Cinemax after-hours sexy time (but since it’s Australian it’s art) a try?

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Reel Sex

One of my greatest loves, besides full-frontal male nudity in films, is a beard. Normally I would get up on my soap box and spout out tributes to the greatness of male facial hair, how it can instantly make a baby-faced boy look tough and intimidating. Or take a scrappy young man and make him appear soulful or whimsical. Facial hair can even play as much importance in telling the difference between a hipster or a homeless person (a game that is one of my favorite past times). And while I like to think more people share my love of male facial muffs, I’ve come to realize many audiences see facial hair as a costume or accessory meant to show a level of untrustworthy or roguish manliness that a clean-shaven character lacks. This is unfortunate as any level of facial hair can really mean more than just good versus evil on screen. I have spent many years disappointing my parents with my choice in men and their accompanying facial hair, starting from the celebrities I chose to crush on (90s teen boy bands aside) to the men I brought home for Sunday night dinners. I have long been cursed with a love of beards I cannot deny myself. And as I have spent years writing about and stroking them (research!) it is about time Hollywood takes note of the diversity in beards and how they aren’t just for the bad guys anymore.

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Reel Sex

Most people, as they recover from seasonal snacking comas and hangovers brought on by liquid medication for too much concentrated family time, spend these last few weeks of December reflecting on the year past. While fellow Reject Landon Palmer pointed out earlier today that 2011 has already been lauded as a “quiet” year by many of our peers, I would like to address how cinematic sex and relationships embrace this quietness through an enveloping theme of sadness. As base as it might sound, a lot of tragic shit went down in 2011; from the Arab Spring to the Occupy Oakland riots to the honoring of ten years post-9/11, this year was a study in human perseverance. And as great art always succeeds at doing, film mirrored the world’s rising tension, air of tragedy, and sense of loss time and time again.

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Reel Sex

Last week we delved into the top layer of sexy films out this past year, suggesting that 2011 might have been one of the bolder years when it came to honest portrayals of sex in cinema. In 2011 we saw characters dealing with sexual violence, sexual addiction, and sexual curiosity, all in the most brutal and thoughtful ways possible. It’s years like this that we are reminded film is art that not only speaks to our souls, but also to our real life experiences while captivating us in intense and engaging 90+ minute periods. But as you’d expect for all the good we saw this year, there was also awkward, ridiculous, uncomfortable, and even maddening sexual depictions. We could spend the next four paragraphs discussing the “sharting” scene in Hall Pass or attack the universally despised wet dream that is Sucker Punch (despite how much I enjoy the latter film), however the really disgusting cinematic sexual moments this year actually said something about a film’s characters while making the audience squirm with disgust. While there are a few films I have yet to see before next Sunday ushers in the beginning of a new year, I have seen enough this year to offer up a varied selection of some of the worst sex moments in 2011.

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Reel Sex

If we assume the past twelve months in film reflect the time we’re living in now, then it would be easy to claim the year has been all about kinky sex and full-bodied sadness. Now, before you start preparing your arguments against my simple summation, let me clarify what I mean. On the surface the great films garnering attention (that masterpiece Jack and Jill aside) right now are in our consciousness more for the depiction of pretty people having crazy sex, rather than how the films are trying to expose the troubling nature and consequences of sex. Yes, we all know sex has consequences outside of disease and pregnancy, but the shear amount of filmmakers willing to show more than the grey, Hollywood sexual consequences (the above, plus violent Law and Order: SVU style stranger-rape) has been substantially small until this past year.

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Reel Sex

Over two days in the winter of 2010 I read Julie Klausner’s hilarious and intimate memoir, I Don’t Really Care About Your Band. As someone who spends just as much time loving guys as I do movies, Klausner’s welcome invitation to her past dalliances touched me in a way I so craved at the time. When I wasn’t conflicted over the similarities between her love choices and mine, I was laughing because “thank god!” she experienced some of these situations and not me. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve read my fair share of twenty-somethings struggles with love and life creative non-fiction offerings. But with each turn of the page I wondered if Klausner and I were the same person, each separately living the same life experiences. By the time that book ended up in my hands, I had suffered through two consecutive heartaches and was stumbling headfirst into a year of life changes I wasn’t sure I could handle. With a year’s perspective, I can assuredly say the life lessons in I Don’t Really Care About Your Band directly contributed to me not losing my boy-crazy mind. Early in the book Klausner shares her first relationship “ah-ha” moment. She reflects on the personal damage of her first celebrity crush and how that man unconsciously embodied all the men she would shack up with through her formative teen and adult years. This man wasn’t the conventional Brat Pack heartthrob frequently fantasized on by ladies of the 1980s, but rather a tiny green […]

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Today People Magazine unveiled their annual “Sexiest Man Alive” winner, crushing the hopes and dreams of thousands of starving beautiful men who thought, maybe just this once, they could have been a contender (better luck next year boys). While Bradley Cooper is a tasty, if not boring, morsel of man, as far as I know he has yet to perform in a movie sex scene. Making him completely of no interest to me in regards to this column. Please correct me if I’m wrong in the comments, as I will for sure need to brush up on my Bradley Cooper sexy-time if it does exist. But enough about my personal disappointment in People Magazine’s cornering of the Sexiest Man Alive market, for today is also the day before the night before the opening of the fourth movie in the Twilight Saga, Breaking Dawn: Part I. Now this little tween fantasy is definitely of interest to me for more than its loose definition of what constitutes child pornography. I have (like almost all women in need of a good train wreck) annually paid good money to the Summit gods for the Twilight experience, and this Friday will be no different. Fans of the sparkly vampire series have (im)patiently waited through the first three films for two Breaking Dawn scenes, one completely contingent on the other. If the press tour mumblings of the film’s stars are anything to believe, Twi-hards should already prepare themselves for some hot and heavy action during Bella […]

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“Deep down inside, you’re dirty. Do you hear me, dirty? You’re damaged goods, and this is a fire sale.” These vile sentences shouted out by modeling agency owner Mr. Lang (Lawrence Aberwood) during the heated climax of Herschell Gordon Lewis’s 1963 nudie-cutie Scum of the Earth reflect not only the understandable fear felt by naïve model Kim (Allison Louise Downe) who is begging the depraved Mr. Lang for her naked pictures, but also the real life fear of being exposed against your will. Exploitation films of any era depict society’s underbelly, offering viewers a voyeuristic look at a frightening world. Just like with horror, these films show truly discomforting subject through a lens of entertainment. The exploitation films of the 1960s toyed with taboos and boundaries in a way never seen in films before or since. With the evolution of cinema road shows and drive-ins, teens and adults had more freedom when it came to viewing films out of the reach of the slowly imploding Hays Code. This was the time of gore, sex, drugs, and unabashed pleasure in film. The country was coming out of the Cold War and heading straight for Vietnam. This was the time for society reflection, and filmmakers were more than happy to give violence-hungry audiences something to chew on.

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The other day, while I was supposed to be in the middle of working on a major project, I found myself eyeball-deep in a friendly conversation covering many years of terrible sex decisions. My buddy and I went back and forth sharing stories that spanned from high school to last Tuesday, each adventure something we were both proud and ashamed of. Just like sticking your hand on a hot stove will teach you to never do that again, these individual moments in our collective history were lessons we learned from—even if they were decisions we’d make more than once. The whole sordid affair got me thinking the next day: “wouldn’t it have been easier to learn from a movie that sleeping with a man on his friend’s makeshift innertube air mattress was probably not the best choice?” I mean, isn’t that what films are supposed to do? Provide audiences with entertaining life experiences that seem too exaggerated to be real? I’ve always appreciated films that present sex as both art and entertainment, but what sometimes makes an onscreen sexual moment memorable is when both the characters and the audience can learn from it. Thankfully for us (well, me), there have been a few films in recent memory that offer pertinent life lessons when it comes to bedroom activities.

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published: 12.17.2014
B+
published: 12.15.2014
B
published: 12.12.2014
D+
published: 12.05.2014
C+


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