There’s certain things that films do really well and the number one thing is sex. In fact, it’s so good that there’s an entire industry dedicated to doing just sex films. There’s not an industry dedicated to, I don’t know, eating scenes or arguing scenes or even action scenes (maybe video games qualifies for that).
Good film sex is hard to beat. Sure, real sex is better, usually, but film sex is clean and even when there’s orgasm, you never have one (unless you’re beating off in the theater), so it’s all sizzle and no steak. It’s always going to leave you wanting more, and what better feeling can you have as an audience member.
It’s easy to film a cliche sex scene. You know how they go, the kiss gets a little more passionate. The music turns up. Breathing gets heavy. Lights get dim. Girl rolls on top in a passion play, but really so we can get a good shot of her tits. Backs arch. Hands clench sheets. It’s always, as they used to say in Penthouse Forum, a “simultaneous orgasm”. The actors are beautiful. The cameraman makes them look good. You can’t fuck this stuff up.
Except, you would think there’d be a little more variety in the sex scenes we’re served. I’m not talking about different positions, although that helps. I know that the first time a man and woman have sex, they’re not going to reinvent the wheel. But, there’s a lot of talk about these scenes before they’re shot. Actors and actresses want to know exactly what to do. They’re excited about it, usually. Rules are set with the crew about who’s allowed to watch. What body parts they show is usually discussed. So, with all that talk, you’d think that they would come up with something a little better than that scene I was talking about.
Obviously, there’s some puritanism going on. Women don’t want to be exploited, and who can blame them. Men don’t get to show anything except their ass. There’s a fine line between acting sex and having sex, and actors have their own feelings about how far they want to cross that line.
And there’s the audience too. I can’t stand people who say they don’t want to see sex in their films (or bad language). Or people who say that sex was gratuitous, as if sex wasn’t an important part of the character’s lives. I’ve heard, or read, people say that a film was pretty good, except all that sex. These people must live in Disney World.
It’s funny too, when a filmmaker decides to make his sex film, or when you see a film about sex how awkward this can be. The first mistake to watch out for is the over-serious sex movie. I always get turned off by films without humor, and I like to have fun with whoever I’m in bed with, so these movies always strike me as silly. Then there’s the variety sex movie, where each sex scene gets it own sequence and theme. Like the food sex scene and the leather sex scene or the outside sex scene. Anyway, films that are all about sex are generally uninteresting unless you really have something interesting to say about it, like Catherine Breillat.
It’s much more interesting to have your sex scenes mixed up in your romantic films. Films like Annie Hall and The Man Who Loved Women have easy, meaningful sex scenes. The orgasms are kept mostly off screen, but you still know what’s going on. They’re treated in an adult way and they’re still fun.
But those films were from the 70’s and, while the French are still laid back about these things (and have better sex scenes), America has regressed to the point where a sex scene is a political act. All the more reason for it to be there, and for it to be good.