Thursday, December 13, 2007

Legitimate and porn


It's certainly not the only, or even the first, to bring up the point, but Boogie Nights has a running subplot about director Jack Horner, played by Burt Reynolds, continually struggles to make a "legitimate porn", a "real movie" interspersed with hardcore sex.

In real life, any number of attempts have been made to do something similar, from Behind the Green Door to Alice in Wonderland to Caligula with varying degrees of success. Part of the problem is that, whether hardcore or Cinemax thriller, pornographic sex scenes stop narrative momentum dead.

It's possible to do, Body Heat stands out as having sex scenes in which the story continues during the sex. Frankly, the sex scenes in Devil in the Flesh are not only hot, they have more narrative and character momentum then most of the rest of movie, a format repeated in The Brown Bunny, which concludes its ponderous journey by becoming the cocksuckingest Lifetime movie ever!


The most successful attempt at blending the two that I've seen is Shortbus, bringing a greater sexual intimacy to the front through the hardcore sex, but not stopping the story in order to show characters moving from one position to another.

Potentially, hardcore sex could be a valuable moviemaking tool in the right hands. Many sex scenes in movies are caught up partially because of lack of creativity, but partially because their arsenal is fairly small, not having any erect penises or even idle contact with the other person's genitals. Mind you, Star of David: Beauty Hunting, in fact, showed that there are rarely used tools to imply more than moviemakers have had the imagination or courage to attempt.

The world we're stepping into, in which Internet savvy youth no longer require cinema for their titillation has many possibilities. Thus far, it's led to a movie-going audience that's increasingly willing to ignore any dramatic exploration of sexuality on film. And, loathe as I am to admit it, I think the possibility of the T&A romp making any comeback at all is dead.

But grown-up explorations of sexuality, made from a world in which the average person has chosen to watch filmed footage of consenting adults having sex to the point where it should be shocking to no one. It won't happen by itself, but it could develop.


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