This week the controversial and universally panned film Brown Bunny was released on DVD. The movie—directed by Vincent Gallo (Buffalo 66), who spent his promotional tour recommending moviegoers don’t see it—contains one particularly graphic scene with former Academy Award-nominated actress Chloe Savigny. The infamous act, which is still technically illegal in some states and better associated with Hustler than Sundance, is not the sort of thing you necessarily want to view over popcorn and Snowcaps. In fact, some people would get down on their knees, so to speak, and beg for a bit more decorum and class. So, we pay homage to Savigny’s, er, performance in Brown Bunny by pointing out a few other sexual cinematic moments with noteworthy stars who revealed just a little more than we really wanted to see.
Color of Night (1994)
In this psychological thriller, Bruce Willis plays a therapist who simultaneously takes over his murdered friend’s counseling practice, tracks down the murderer and becomes friendly with a mysterious young woman (Jane March). It’s the latter love connection that leads to Willis and March in an underwater sex scene, including flashes of Willis’ “leading man.” It’s an image that dies hard, and makes you wonder why Willis didn’t at least request the pool be heated.
The Specialist (1994)
It’s hard to quantify the humor in this Sylvester Stallone/Sharon Stone erotic thriller (that sentence alone makes me smile inside). But let’s start with Stone’s breathy, phone sex banter to Rocky—“I heard that you control your explosions, that you shape your charges”—as she tries to seduce the bomb expert and get him to carry out a hit. Then there’s the fact that the first thing Stallone cuddles in the film is a stray pussycat; he later asks the kitty for advice on whether he should take Stone’s job offer. Eric Roberts and his hair also have leading roles (the mind boggles).
But nothing else in the film compares to the comedy of watching Sly and Ms. Basic Instinct in some sort of Calvin Klein ad-inspired splish-splash shower scene. Stone, who looks to be at least six inches taller than Stallone, melts into his muscles and succumbs to the power of a cheesy soft-porn soundtrack and—well, maybe it’s worth noting here that she’s actually double-crossing him.
Last Tango in Paris (1972)
For something a little more serious, there’s Bernardo Bertolucci’s completely strange Last Tango in Paris. Marlon Brando plays a distraught widower who solves his emotional problems by chirping like a monkey, growling like a rabid dog and talking dirty (he says “schlong”) with Maria Schneider in this freaky and fetish-laden affair. When the film was released in Europe, Bertolucci, Brando and Schneider were all accused of making porno by an Italian court. I don’t know about that—there’s very little sexy about the film, let alone coherent, especially considering Brando is already in his pudgy Godfather phase.
Requiem for a Dream (2000)
Darren Aronofsy (Pi) directed this adaptation of Hubert Selby, Jr.’s novel about multilayered drug abuse: there’s Ellen Burstyn (her performance garnered a Best Actress nomination from the Academy) playing a desperate woman in a retirement home getting jacked on diet pills; her son (Jared Leto) and his best friend (Marlon Wayans) haphazardly dealing drugs to fuel their own heroin addiction; and Jennifer Connelly (she won an Oscar as Best Supporting Actress in A Beautiful Mind) as the son’s girlfriend, an artist who resorts to extreme measures to maintain her own drug habits. It’s an uncomfortable film to watch just based on the grotesque drug content (Aronofsky uses a dizzying array of recurring still shots and rapid-fire editing to depict each character’s high—a manic and entrancing way to get sucked into this depressing film), but Connelly’s character takes things too far at the end. She’s wearing leather in a room full of cheering businessmen and then there’s some other stuff and…I’d rather just move on. (I’ll say this: Connelly’s last scene manages to be more oogey than Leto’s simultaneously decomposing arm.)
Crash (1996) and Secretary (2002)
Any intimate scene with James Spader has to immediately be considered over the line, and it’s as if the former Pretty in Pink star realized this and decided, to hell with it, I’m not only going to do films one notch above Red Shoe Diaries, I’m going to do the most outlandish ones I can find. So the dude follows Sex, Lies and Videotape (not nearly wrong enough to make this list) with Crash, a film where a bunch of sexually confused people get off on making out during violent, high-speed auto collisions. In Secretary, he proceeds to spank Maggie Gyllenhaal while she reads his memos and makes her pose like a horse under a saddle on his office desk, among other oddities. What could Spader possibly do next now that he’s cornered the fetish film market? Who knows, but I suppose he gets credit for doing this artsy stuff rather than following the lead of Pink co-star Molly Ringwald’s adult role in the truly awful Malicious (1995). Anyway, thank goodness Spader is spayed on network TV’s “Boston Legal.”
The Crying Game (1992)
Had to mention this overhyped film for providing easily the most disturbing sex scene in the history of cinema. Perhaps it could have been worse—you know, if Spader had landed the leading role, or Stallone, or Willis, or…