Welcome to a countdown of the greatest sex films ever made about the small but preoccupying part of the human experience known as sex - from coming-of-age lesbian dramas to gritty portrayals of sex addiction to, erm, loincloths. Put simply: these are the sex movies with the most to say about doing it, charting a history of how our attitudes towards sex and nudity on the big screen have shifted through the decades.
This is not your typical Hollywood romance though: rather than swooning and sweet nothings we get mousetraps, whips and an array of erotically-charged humiliations. Inspired by the way My Beautiful Laundrette had normalised gay relationships within mainstream cinema in the Eighties, Shainberg has said he was attempting to do something similar with fetishism. The first Hollywood film to feature a man being sexually pleasured with a hollowed-out peach?
Meet slick corporate titan James Wheeler Mickey Rourke. He likes helicopters, cars, motorbikes, boardroom takeovers and having complete erotic control over submissive women. He was abused as a child, doesn't like to be touched, and in almost every other way possible he articulates the character template for Fifty Shades of Grey 's Christian Grey.
He even speaks in that same halting, slightly sick-making, so-pervy-it's- sexy yeah, right prose beloved of …Grey creator EL James. When she asks him what's up, he simply smiles, super cool, half-winking at the boys in the audience, and sighs, "I just like watching you walk! And yet the eerie prescience of Wild Orchid is not what makes it great, or why it is one of the definitive moments in the history of movie sex.
No, the film, written and directed by Zalman King, demands our attention because it is the literal, and chronological, highpoint of Eighties Hollywood erotica. But Wild Orchid topped them both. For with its lurid Latin setting Wheeler is in Buenos Aires to buy a hotel, as you do , rampantly fornicating locals and the suggestion that, if you opened the window of your limousine you were likely to get hit by flying spunk, it had the edge on the competition.
Best of all, it boasts a closing sex scene Wheeler and Emily in lotus, shot mostly from above, sparing no blushes so protracted and explicit it troubled the censors the film was originally rated X.
You know? Doing it for real? Do you have any idea how many people were standing around? It was mortifying! Art house movies. We get it. They do sex. That's their thing. From Swedish nudes in Summer with Monika to the butter-based penetration of Last Tango in Paris to crazy irascible beach-side sessions in Betty Blue , nothing screams "art house" more than a smartly directed and gamely acted sex scene. Then came Blue is the Warmest Colour. The film, which won the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival in , wiped away everything that had gone before it.
The hideous rape of Monica Bellucci in Irreversible ? The grimly determined humping from Japanese classic In the Realm of the Senses? All gone.
Faded in comparison. Plus, it was gay sex. So it made the cutesy girl-on-girl action in Bound and Mulholland Drive seem dubious and cheap. And the boy-on-boy action in Brokeback Mountain ? Just lame. Looks are exchanged, picnics are arranged, kisses are traded and then everything grinds to a halt at approximately one hour and 11 minutes into the movie, when director Kechiche and his two lead actresses deliver the type of jaw-to-the-floor sex scene that has subsequently raised the movie-sex bar to insane heights of verisimilitude and has pushed the literal definition of "simulated" to breaking point.
For here, over seven long breathy, sweaty, brightly-lit minutes, we run the unapologetic gamut of licking, sucking, squeezing, fingering, rimming, ramming, slamming, and general slithery, grindy, intercrural mayhem. The scene has many detractors including the actresses themselves, who famously rounded on their director: Seydoux said making it was "horrible" and she would "never" work with Kechiche again.
Once the film began sweeping up during the awards season, however, they recanted and said that they were "happy" with it. And yet, look at the scene now, within the movie, and away from the hype, and it doesn't play too well. It's crudely lit. It's brazen, and yet also crass. And what it says, in its many nipple shots, arse close-ups, and vaginal teases, is that perhaps all sex scenes, no matter how well-intended, or how groundbreaking and profound, are inherently, well, kind of sleazy.
Tarzan is lying on the sand in his trademark loincloth and, oddly, a funky headband. Undeterred by the outfit, Jane starts touching. Tarzan, clearly uncomfortable with the whole date-rapey vibe, leaps back into action dragging the movie through a series of strange, breast-based set-pieces that climax in a quirky "native jungle village" actual location: Sri Lanka.
The film, of course, is genius. No, really. Because it parlayed over 20 years of Russ Meyer sexploitation flicks see Faster, Pussycat! And what an event! There was a much-hyped lawsuit from Tarzan creator Edgar Rice Burroughs' estate, orders for nudity cuts from the studio, and publicised cries of "censorship! Something happened with sex scenes around the millennium. They went from being slightly tawdry Angel Heart , , titillating Risky Business , and tacky Porky's , to dramatically satisfying and, ultimately, Oscar-worthy. Nowhere is the switch more evident than in Monster's Ball , where former B-list actress Halle Berry snagged the Best Actress Oscar partially because of the "bravery" she displayed during the terrifying sex scene.
He's a prison guard who meets her in a diner. She's grieving for her dead son. He takes her home. They drink whiskey. She starts blubbing. Thornton puts a nervous hand on her shoulder. Then, wham, she pulls down her top and starts chanting, "Make me feel good! Can you make me feel good? Naturally, he goes for it good man, Billy Bob! Thus follows five minutes of raw therapeutic ramming, artfully intercut with close-ups of hands freeing a birdie from its cage hang on! I think I get this metaphor! Give me a second! Is it to do with freedom?
Director Forster said: "When I spoke to Billy Bob and Halle, I told them it was important that these two emotionally repressed characters start the sex scene raw and animalistic. They express everything that has been repressed for years. So did the Oscar voters. The film, in which he stars as a lawyer in rainy Portland, Oregon, defending a part-time gallery owner and full-time dominatrix Madonna charged with murder-by-vagina, is generally derided as a giggle-inducing, all-time cinematic low.
Perhaps typically, or not, Dafoe had much to defend in the film. He liked playing the bitch to Madonna's butch. He was disappointed with the marketing hype that revolved around Madonna's nudity.
And mostly, he felt that Madonna became an unhelpful "symbol" for the bad buzz around the film. And in the end, it was one of those cases where the symbol of the movie began to matter more than what the movie actually was, even for those people who hadn't seen it. And certainly, re-watched today, Body of Evidence is not any more preposterous or poorly acted than, say, Sea of Love , Basic Instinct , Sliver , Disclosure , or any one of the vapid, push-button Hollywood flesh-fests that came before or after it although you possibly haven't lived until you've seen Madonna square up to Dafoe and hiss, "Have you ever seen animals make love, Frank?
It's intense! Instead, what remains in Body of Evidence , and very much so, is a profound sense of the ridiculous "That's what I do, Frank. I fuck! Kids is pretty much in its own category. For the questionably voyeuristic child-sex genre is, thankfully, a limited business, and mostly limited to the films of Larry Clark — see also Bully , Ken Park and Wassup Rockers It doesn't help that, with Kids — a day in the life of teenage New York skaters, dossers, drinkers, stoners and shaggers — Clark shoots his subjects via a "documentary" style that borders on creepy cinematic stalking, where every lifted limb is captured, every naked profile, every panty flash noted.
And yet. It's hard to dismiss Kids. And there's certainly a sense that the cinematic world is a more complex and intellectually rigorous place because of its existence. Listen, for instance, to Clark himself questioning the validity of the film's NC rating. And every fucking movie now, has this sex scene in it, you know the guy's laying on his back and the girl's wiggling on top of him, he's got her breasts, and it's this stylised fake shit.
But they're not NC Everything in that movie is in my film. It's about a teenage girl who's looking to lose her virginity. There's pot-smoking and drinking, and a scene where she walks out of a party and she's stepping over bodies and people are throwing up in the swimming pool. It's a lot of the same stuff that's in Kids , but it's done in the stupidest way, and everyone just finds it so fucking funny because it's so cute.
Nobody puts that movie up to the standards that they're putting me up to. People say they find Kids depressing. I find something as fake as Clueless depressing. Stay with me. Casino Royale. Think about it. The greatest sublimated sex scene in film history.