It's June, which means the countdown is on until the cute little rugrats and tempestuous teens get released from school to wreak havoc in the home and on the streets. That means that there is not much time left to make use of the long nights of studying, the friendly sleepovers, and the hours at school. In some places, school's already out, and the mayhem has already begun!
So, tonight's double feature is all about getting a night of sweet silence and cinematic sexiness with your partner of choice. There will be no Mulholland Drive, because a few moments of supreme sexiness don't make up for the overall feel. Instead, this is about movies that have more than one saucy scene, and should get you in the mood for post-film shenanigans. Obviously, it's pretty much impossible to pick the best of, because there are so very many good examples -- Bliss, Sex, Lies, and Videotape, Nine 1/2 Weeks, The Story of O, Basic Instinct, Dangerous Liaisons, Crash, Like Water for Chocolate...
But I'm going to go with a little bit of bondage, and a little bit of literature. I give you: Secretary and Henry & June.
And this is your obvious warning: What follows has sexual and adult content and language.
With a plate that holds a scoop of mashed potatoes and four peas, and maybe some paper and sharpies prepared for the journey, we start with Secretary. Maggie Gyllenhaal's Lee Holloway is a young woman with a sweet heart, but also inner struggles that she is trying to control. However, instead of the story being presented as a dark and troubling account of instability and sexual pressure, Steven Shainberg's film is light, fun, and quirky. Lee gets a job as a secretary for James Spader's E. Edward Grey, and finds the confidence and comfort she'd been searching for.
There's not a lot of nudity and gratuitous sex in the film, but the theme is prevalent right through to the end, and shows the sexiness mostly without the skin -- making it the perfect cinematic foreplay. It's devilish, playful, and a perfect primer.
TRIVIA: Gwyneth Paltrow was originally set to play Lee.
Working while shackled -- the film's opening.
Glued to his chair in her wedding dress.
I find that the best intermissions are the ones filled with laughter and mirth, which makes the perfect intermission for this double feature -- Isabella Rossellini's Green Porno. Go here to watch it.
Henry & June
And then comes the romance and sexiness of words, and more importantly, to top off a night of partnered sexiness -- the first film to receive the NC-17 rating.
It was inevitable that any treatment of Henry Miller would push the boundaries of expectation and challenge the notions of deviant behavior. While he wrote many pieces based on life and travel, the man was known for his unabashed accounts of love and sexual behavior that led to public outcry and obscenity trials (Tropic of Cancer, etc). This film comes from Anais Nin's account of her times with Miller and his wife, June -- a triangle that involved the threesome in all the ways you might imagine.
According to Wikipedia, the film's high rating, which would have been X had NC-17 not come into play, was due in part to the postcard Nin looks at during the beginning of the film -- Hokusaki's The Dream of the Fisherman's Wife, which displaced a naked woman in the throes of sexual passion with two octopuses.
Juan Luis Banuel plays his father, Luis Banuel, in the film's opening scene.
Alec Baldwin, of all people, was originally set to play Henry, until he pulled out two weeks before filming began.
June and Anais' night together.
"I had a dream..."
Siskel & Ebert discuss Henry & June's NC-17.
And of course, some time should be given to the man himself, Henry.
Miller in New York.