Sex, Drugs, and Rock & Roll

In the past few days I’ve seen two main­stream films with very explic­it sex scenes. By “main­stream” I don’t mean Hol­ly­wood, they are both def­i­nite­ly art­house films with inde­pen­dent stu­dios and dis­tri­b­u­tion. But both want to be tak­en seri­ous­ly as art and car­ry the NC-17 rat­ing rather than the untrade­marked ‘X’ or ‘XXX’. These films are: “The Brown Bun­ny” and “Nine Songs”. Oth­er than the explic­it sex, the only thing that these films have in com­mon is that they are ter­ri­bly boring.

“The Brown Bun­ny” at least looked as though there was some theme that Vin­cent Gal­lo was try­ing to express. Sure, there were seem­ing­ly end­less scenes of the dri­ve across Amer­i­ca, but slow­ly, some things actu­al­ly hap­pened. Then at the very end, the ten­sion is bro­ken by the final scene which pret­ty much explains every­thing. Pro­ta­sis, epi­ta­sis, cat­a­sta­sis, cat­a­stro­phe, denouement.

“Nine Songs” was only 65 min­utes long and it felt like 165. The sto­ry? Boy Meets Girl, Girl Moves Back To Amer­i­ca. It won awards for Best Cin­e­matog­ra­phy from some film fes­ti­val, and Sun­dance loved it, I think. The cam­er­a­work and light­ing were often very good, but there was­n’t much sub­stance to the film. The for­mu­la seemed to be: live con­cert footage from some dar­ling indie band (Franz Fer­di­nand and Black Rebel Motor­cy­cle Club are the two I remem­ber), then show the two leads hav­ing sex. Repeat.

“Nine Songs” is mild­ly shock­ing for hav­ing lots of explic­it unsim­u­lat­ed sex, but com­pared to most porn, it’s tame and taste­ful. If there were a plot to go along with it, or some char­ac­ter devel­op­ment, it might have been a mas­ter­piece. It made me think of the rumor I’d heard that “Body Dou­ble” was a script that DePal­ma had want­ed to film as a big-bud­get porn movie, except with bril­liant cin­e­matog­ra­phy and pro­duc­tion val­ues. But “Body Dou­ble” had a script and mys­te­ri­ous plot twists. “Nine Songs” just seems point­less and aimless.

“The Brown Bun­ny” has only one scene. “Nine Songs” shows many more sex acts—“The Brown Bun­ny” has one. “The Brown Bun­ny” is notable for not hav­ing that much nudi­ty, but well, there is that one infa­mous scene.

OK, “The Brown Bun­ny” both­ers me. First, it’s shock­ing because instead of some unknown actors, this is a well-estab­lished and respect­ed Oscar-nom­i­nat­ed actress fel­lat­ing the lead. And even hav­ing heard all the con­tro­ver­sy, I still thought that it must be a lot of prud­ish peo­ple freaked out about a half-sec­ond of male nudi­ty and some pan­tomimed sim­u­lat­ed sex. I was wrong, and shocked (not offend­ed exact­ly, but sur­prised and unset­tled) to see sev­er­al min­utes of clear­ly unsim­u­lat­ed action.

OK, so that shocked me. Big deal, it was prob­a­bly the whole point. But here’s what both­ers me about it: Vin­cent Gal­lo was the direc­tor, writer, pro­duc­er, exec­u­tive pro­duc­er, and star of the film, and the recip­i­ent of Ms Sevi­gny’s oral atten­tion in the infa­mous scene. Basi­cal­ly, he paid to have the film made, so Chloe Sevi­gny’s pay came out of his pock­et. He paid for his own blowjob. That seems to me like a line has been crossed.

Vin­cent Gal­lo may have made a most­ly unin­ter­est­ing film, but he clear­ly proved that if the price is right, you can shoot footage of an Oscar-nom­i­nat­ed actress suck­ing you off and have it shown at Cannes. It makes me won­der why more rich peo­ple aren’t doing this all the time. If Gal­lo could get away with it, so can many who have deep­er pock­ets and bet­ter lawyers.

In oth­er news, I also recent­ly watched “Unleashed” which I expect­ed to be anoth­er stinker of a Jet Li movie. I like Jet Li a lot, but with some notable excep­tions he’s been in a bunch of real­ly lame films. OK, any time you have the good guy pick up a gun in a mar­tial arts film you’ve lost the bat­tle with me. I wan­na see that Kung Fu fight­in. “Unleashed” deliv­ered in a pret­ty big way. It was beau­ti­ful­ly filmed, well-script­ed and act­ed, emo­tion­al­ly res­o­nant and excit­ing. I did­n’t know before rent­ing it that it was writ­ten and pro­duced by Luc Besson, who I think does good things with film.

My only ques­tion: has Luc Besson ever been involved in any project that did­n’t involve some roman­tic inter­est between a girl younger than twen­ty and a man old­er than forty? I guess that’s just his trade­mark or some­thing, but I got­ta start to won­der about Mon­sieur Besson, y’know?

6 Replies to “Sex, Drugs, and Rock & Roll”

  1. Per­haps you should watch
    Per­haps you should watch some old movies like Casablan­ca. They all had decent act­ing, decent plot, etc. with­out being vul­gar. (The spe­cial effects may not be up to today’s stan­dards, though. )

    If you want to watch porn, watch real porn.…


  2. I had­n’t heard any­thing
    I had­n’t heard any­thing about either of these noto­ri­ous films before now (beyond just the men­tion of the name), so I looked around a bit, and one of the first things I saw was a review that called The Brown Bun­ny “one of the most pro­found­ly ego­ma­ni­a­cal and obnox­ious films in the his­to­ry of Amer­i­can inde­pen­dent cinema.”

    When it comes to road movies, for some rea­son I’m real­ly look­ing for­ward to see­ing The World’s Fastest Indian.

  3. I can’t believe you actu­al­ly
    I can’t believe you actu­al­ly rent­ed ‘The Brown Bun­ny’, and admit­ted in a pub­lic forum that you watched it.

    That’s like say­ing you bought a copy of ‘Bat­tle­field Earth’.

  4. Wow…that was a bit harsh,
    Wow…that was a bit harsh, fun­ny, but still, Gal­lo is no where near Hub­bard in pop­u­lar cul­ture. I real­ly enjoyed “Buf­fa­lo 66,” so I can’t imag­ine “Brown Bun­ny” suck­ing on the lev­el of “Bat­tle­field Earth.”

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