Reel Sex: 5 Sizzling Summer Films For 2011

In the past, I have used this space to examine the cultural implication of sex in cinema, the hotness of naked people, and even exploited some of my own personal going-ons. After last week’s titillating BDSM discussion and the official welcoming of summer, I chose to approach some lighter fare this time around.

We all love sex in its many forms (unless for some, I’m sure, reasonable reason you do not), and more importantly we are all fascinated or turned-on by sex on film (for artistic purposes, surely). With summer upon us we have at least a fistful of sexy films whetting our appetite before September 20th. I have done some preliminary dirty work to present to you, fair reader, a double stuffed list of films tailor-made for the erotica lover.

Leap Year

Let’s start with this month’s release of the 2010 Cannes Film Festival Camera d’Or winner Ano Bisiesto (Leap Year). This intense and simplistic Mexican film looks like it will fit perfectly on the shelf next to Secretary and 9 Songs, and with its award-winning streak it may even pan out to be more than just a skin-flick. Directed by new-comer Michael Rowe, Monica Del Carmen stars as the single, sexy, and sad Laura who chooses to engage in random stranger sex with men she meets at her local bar rather than stay at home alone each night with her feelings.

This set-up is common in indie dramas, however as our heroine goes through men like lollipops the tone starts to shift. Laura meets Arturo (Gustavo Sanchez Parra) at a particularly vulnerable moment and discovers quickly that what makes this man overwhelming also makes him enticing. The couple engages in extreme back and forths while the truth behind Laura’s sadness unravels around them. Choking, slapping, safe words, and intense eye contact all make appearances in the trailer, and hopefully this isn’t a case of “all the good stuff was in the previews” for Leap Year. This film just looks too good to miss.

Friends With Benefits and Crazy, Stupid, Love

Now for some lighter sexual deviation, July offers up two explorations of alternative sex coupling with the Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis-lead Friends with Benefits and the adult coming-of-age sexy Crazy, Stupid, Love. it could be argued that we have already seen these films in the past year, starting with August 2010’s release of Going the Distance, November’s Sex, Love, and Other Drugs, and January’s No Strings Attached, but those films were missing two key elements: Ryan Gosling and Justin Timberlake. Yeah, yeah, I know that really isn’t the best argument for seeing either of these films, just bare with me. Timberlake proved himself a strong actor in his fourth film The Social Network and Gosling is arguably one of the strongest performers this side of Matt Damon, and both of these roles demand powerful chops. I’m talking Brando levels here, people! Oh, fine. They mainly require both actors to be at least a little “feelings” inclined and a lot naked.

Friends with Benefits follows this new formula of anti-romantic comedy reflective of the Generation Me singles who say they want commitment-free sexual relationships, but deep down inside still want to be loved. Dylan (Timberlake) and Jamie (Kunis) seem to spend so much time talking about how neither of them get how feelings are associated with sex, but we all know the end result will be their inevitable love (this is still Hollywood). No Strings Attached worked as a fantasy because it was the woman who had to learn she deserved to be in love, FWB looks as if it will focus more on the sex and less on the personal growth of the characters. I’m not quite sure how I feel about the FWB lovers ending up together, as a part of me truly wants to see one of these films represent the couples who don’t make it past fun buddies. But at the same time, a romantic comedy needs a happy ending, even if the audience questions the route the couple takes to get there.

Speaking of naked-time, Crazy, Stupid, Love leans more towards the dramatic end. I normally only like romantic movies where the two leads die in the end, but having that happen would be such a waste of a naked Ryan Gosling. Cal (Steve Carell) and Jacob (Gosling) are two men in very different stages of their lives; they experience the same existential crisis of love when one of them tries to reconnect with his bored ex-wife and the other, a confirmed loather of commitment, finds himself falling in love with a free-spirited manic pixie dream girl.

Both characters’ stories interweave as they lean on each other to get through their own personal issues, awkwardness and tears sure to follow. I guess it’s only fair that Carell be as naked as Gosling, you know, for the bear lovers out there.

One Day

Anne Hathaway really, REALLY, wants us to think of her as more than just a pretty princess (not happening, Annie), that’s why she keeps showing her boobs and exploiting a lady’s natural desires in almost every film she’s made in the last 5 years. Even if she’s not having sex on screen, she does not shy away from playing a character who likes sex. And amen for her! Her newest offering is the highly anticipated adaptation of David Nicholl’s novel One Day.

Here Hathaway and Jim Sturgess play lovers who-should-have-been-but-are-now-just-best-friends-but-who-are-still-totally-in-love-with-each-other. Following a particularly saucy one night stand, with breakfast, Emma and Dexter realize their post-college lives will take them in opposite directions. They part ways, but run into each other a year later, sparking their future decades-long friendship. While they communicate as regularly as two busy creatives can, they meet once a year to canoodle, reminisce, and talk about what-should-have-been. We all know they are in love, and despite constant attempts at romance, the two crazy kids just can’t seem to get their timing right. The film promises lots of guilty sex, dirty sex, and feelings sex.

Straw Dogs

Finally, for all the fans of violent rape revenge films and unnecessary remakes, September’s Straw Dogs is just the ticket. A controversial film that escaped the wrath of the burgeoning current ratings system in 1971, Straw Dogs seems tame by today’s standards. It’s incredibly disturbing, both for its depiction of violent sexual assault and the sexification of that assault. Due to the success of the I Spit on Your Grave and The Last House on the Left remakes, it makes perfect sense that this film would get a second life.

Now, I’m not saying it’s going to be terrible, but I am saying it’s highly unneeded to reshoot this film. They have cast the incredibly beautiful Alexander Skarsgard as the villainous Charlie whose designs on David’s (James Marsden) wife Amy (Kate Bosworth) can only mean someone is going to get an axe in the head, and his sexual charm is brilliant alone in the fact that he is both sexy and creepy—something a true predator needs to be. Just like in I Spit on Your Grave the lead deviant needs to be devilish in both charm and action, causing the audience to awkwardly shift in their seats as the disgusting nature of Charlie reveals itself. I’m fairly certain I will need to watch days of True Blood just to make the images of Eric the Vampire less rapey.

In the end, the summer promises to help us bide our time while we wait for the delightful spankings of Michael Fassbender in A Dangerous Method this November. Or, we can just watch Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 for the eighth time.

Avoid cooling off with more Reel Sex

While Gwen Reyes has only briefly been a film critic and columnist, she's long been telling people what movies they should drop dollars on, regardless if they are listening to her or not. Based out of Dallas, she wants to live the dream by watching movies all day and drinking vodka gimlets all night. She graduated from Sweet Briar College with a surprisingly handy degree in Philosophy and Film Studies--it explains why she spends so much time analyzing the murderers in sexual thrillers (yes, dear reader, that's her excuse!)--and she loves anything to do with gnomes, pot-bellied pigs, and beards. But most importantly, Gwen likes movies about sad people, funny people, naked people, and bearded people.

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