As the temperatures turn just the slightest bit colder and the fall colors settle in the landscape (if you’re lucky enough to live near trees), we should start directing our film focus to the fall movie season. We love summer for its mind-numbing fun, but the last season of the year tends to offer some of the most vulnerable, honest, and captivating films (you know, just in time for that other “big O”).
Fall supplies films meant to scandalize our minds and even our naughty bits, and there is nothing wrong with that. But with so many films and film festivals to choose from between now and December, it becomes overwhelming to sort through all the goodness being dispensed our way. Lucky for you, my love of highlighting full-frontal male nudity and questionable sexual conduct happens to pay off for a change. Below you’ll find a helpful collection of five sultry features sure to stimulate your brain and your nethers.
Martha Marcy May Marlene
It’s not easy for me to call John Hawkes sexy. It’s also not easy for me to say a cult leader who preys on weak-minded girls is sexy. But the combination of the two just work so well in this week’s Martha Marcy May Marlene. A film about the uncertainty of memory, Martha Marcy May Marlene features more than one awkwardly sexy moment (those tend to be so delightful to watch unfold) while using a mixture of flashbacks and present time scenes to tell just what happened to runaway cult member Martha (Elizabeth Olsen). She is seduced by the allure of Patrick (Hawkes) and his Urban Outfitters catalog-inspired commune, choosing to toss aside societal norms of gender equality and embrace the power of earth living. But confusion and chaos meet her instead.
Director Sean Durkin painstakingly shows the intimacy, desire, and possible destruction of those enamored by Patrick and his patriarchal commune. Durkin does not fear showing the harsh sexual realities and traumas many women go through, and even unmasks how those very disturbing moments can in fact rewire a person’s approach to physical intimacy. Martha Marcy May Marlene is an inspired launch to the fall movie season.
This summer may have been all about Ryan Gosling (Drive, hello), but the fall is Michael Fassbender’s time to shine. He stars in two sexually charged films making the rounds in the next few months, one of which we are are fortunate enough to see his Fassboner (please don’t eviscerate me, commenters, I like puns about dicks). Shame, due in theaters November 11, follows wealthy New Yorker Brandon (Fassbender) as his cancerous need for sex sends him into a seedy tailspin eventually causing him to confront the emotional disconnection he craves from multiple pleasure partners. While Brandon denies he has a problem, everyone around him – including his visiting sister Sissy (Carey Mulligan) – begins to suspect his lack of focus, narcolepsy, and general moodiness stems from something more than stress.
Shame premiered at The Toronto International Film Festival and will continue to make appearances at both this week’s Austin Film Festival and the AFI FEST in Los Angeles later this month. If the trailer is anything to go by, and the early buzz about what’s in Fassbender’s pants, Shame looks like a treat for erotic thriller fans who have always wished for a film that pushed sexual boundaries. I’m holding my breath until November.
A Dangerous Method
Now to part two of our Fassbender appreciation meeting. On November 23rd, lucky moviegoers will have a chance to see Fassbender and Viggo Mortenson play Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud, respectively, as they both straddle the line of sexual ethics by getting a little too involved with their lady patient Sabina (Keira Knightley). The promise of spankings, pushing sexual limits, and using the good ole Shrink Couch for more than the Talking Cure should only whet your saucy appetite. Paired with a fictionalized biographical story, A Dangerous Method already looks like a mus- see.
I do have to point out Knightley looks hungry all the time, but maybe that will only enhance her afflicted mental patient character. She is not an actress known for her sexual appeal, rather her ability to tremble her bottom lip oh so beautifully in closeup, however I hope her performance surprises. Otherwise, maybe we’ll all just spend the two hours fantasizing about Fassbender and Mortenson smashing their moustaches into each other.
Festival Circuit Options: Sleeping Beauty and Hysteria
As Sesame Street hammered home, one of these is not like the other. One film provides viewers with a queasy (in a good way?) feeling while we watch a college student sell her immobile, drugged body to men seeking the ultimate sexual power. The other celebrates the ultimate female sexual empowerment tool – the vibrator. The dichotomy of sexual submission and the acknowledgment of female pleasure in Sleeping Beauty and Hysteria leave me asking only one question: why must we be teased so?
Unfortunately, these two offerings are in distribution limbo and await official release dates for our local art houses. But, I’ve been tingling with anticipation since I saw their accompanying trailers. Sleeping Beauty’s plot is simple enough. A young English college student, in need of money, finds herself involved with a classy sex trade specializing in the bizarre. Rather than your normal brothel, this one drugs its girls so the men can completely dominate them, with the caveat that these girls are willing participants. Lucy (Emily Browning) is doe-eyed and petite, but there is a hint of strength in her. The possibility that maybe she enjoys the power she has over the men who think they’re in control.
Meanwhile, Hysteria stars Maggie Gyllenhaal as Charlotte Dalrymple in the film adaptation of the Broadway play about the invention of the vibrator. Ladies get all kinds of crazy, and in the late 1800s some genius doctors put on their thinking caps to try to figure out a solution – as men do. In this one instance, this was a good thing, as the resulting find was a handy, in office treatment for hysteria. The play the film is based on is quite funny, and based on the trailer the bumbling doctors paired with moaning and pleased women patients only looks like a cinematic treat. Cheeks are guaranteed to get rowdy just thanking about it.
Mark your calendars for the films coming near you and Film School Rejects will keep you updated when these last two finally hit locally.