Films of All-Time
|Film Title/Year, Director|
Henry & June (1990)
The first major studio release rated NC-17, this arty biopic featured a guilt-free menage a trois, nudity and Uma Thurman in a lesbian kiss.
Director Philip Kaufman's frank and bold treatment of sex was based on the diaries of author Anais Nin. It was the first major studio feature film to be released with the new and revised NC-17 rating by the MPAA (due to an explicit yet simulated scene of lesbian oral sex) - a rating designed to distinguish erotic-and-serious adult films from pure hard-core X-rated pornography.
It had the second highest box-office gross of all-time at $11.6 million, about half of the #1 NC-17 film of all time, Showgirls (1995) at $20.3 million. For awhile, it was banned in South Africa.
The sexually-provocative biodrama with themes of voyeurism, partner-swapping, three-way sex, and both hetero- and homo-sexuality told about a love triangle between three individuals in 1930s Bohemian Paris:
The controversial film included these scenes:
In another scene, Anais described an hallucinatory "nightmare" dream-fantasy of sex with June (and Henry's blonde whore) in an upper loft, experiencing 'abnormal pleasures' ("I begged her to undress. I asked her to let me see between her legs. As she lay over me, I felt a penis touching me..."). Anais also had a climactic love-making scene with Henry after he had finished his novel 'Tropic of Cancer' - while Hugo was downstairs. [Note: "Tropic of Cancer" was published in 1934, and banned in all English-speaking countries for 27 years.]
In the concluding scene, Anais and June got together for love-making (while Henry was asleep in another room of the house) after which an accusatory June confronted Anais about her manipulative and self-serving affair with Henry:
Anais broke off her relationship with both Henry & June and returned to her husband Hugo. As she drove away with him, she lamented (in voice-over) her lost loves, although Henry and Anais remained "life-long friends and supporters":
Henry & June
Henry's blonde whore
Anais' & June's dance-kiss
Anais with June
Oliver Stone's complex, provocative conspiracy thriller was attacked for legitimizing a crackpot theory about JFK's assassination.
Director/co-writer Oliver Stone's complex, provocative docu-film thriller was a controversial, speculatively revisionistic, historical epic surrounding one-time New Orleans DA Jim Garrison's (Kevin Costner) investigation of the John F. Kennedy assassination on November 22, 1963. Its intriguing interpretation was based on the well-publicized and alleged conspiracy theories of the obsessed attorney about the mystery of the death, and on the testimony of a number of unreliable witnesses.
The film masterfully assembled and merged, like a jigsaw puzzle, various sources of material (newsreels, photos, black and white, color, 8 mm, 16 mm, etc., minature models, and re-enactments) into one film to create a semblance of truth, but not necessarily real history. However, Stone was attacked and dismissed by the American media, CBS, The New York Times, Time, Newsweek and The Washington Post, for deliberately combining factual and historical footage with hypothetical footage to make it appear to be one seamless, objective and truthful record of events. In response, Stone released the screenplay, annotated with its factual sources.
The courtroom trial scene in the last half of the film featured three very memorable segments to disprove the idea that assassin Lee Harvey Oswald (Gary Oldman) acted alone:
animated musical included lyrics that the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination
Committee claimed perpetuated racist stereotypes.
Another conflict arose, following protests from the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), regarding the lyrics in one of the verses of the opening song "Arabian Nights." The original lyric about the film's Arabian setting ("Where they cut off your ears if they don't like your face/It's barbaric, but, hey, it's home") was censored/dubbed out and changed to "Where it's flat and immense and the heat is intense/It's barbaric, but, hey, it's home" for subsequent video releases in 1993 and for the re-released soundtrack.
Sharon Stone's turn as a seductive, bisexual murderess made her a star, but the movie raised hackles for its misogyny and salacious depiction of lethal lesbians.
Screenwriter Joe Eszterhas created this exploitative, soft-porn, excessive, controversial film known for its negative portrayal of lesbianism, offensive violence, initial X-rating, and voyeuristic, sensational, gratuitous sex. The film was criticized for its permissiveness, steamy content (scene of cunnilingus), unnecessary nudity, its depiction of lesbian characters, and its scenes of bondage (especially with reversed roles).
Threatened with an NC-17 rating, and reduced to R rating (with cuts), this flashy film was then released with a more explicit 'Director's Cut' version for the video market, with the extra-steamy scenes. It gained its greatest notoriety for the film's interrogation well-known scene. Frank and raw dialogue, such as this much-quoted line reprised at the end of the film ("How about we f--k like minks, raise rug rats, and live happily ever after"), was woven throughout.
Womens' groups called the film misogynistic, and gay-rights groups in San Francisco (including The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD)) called it stereotypically-homophobic and gay-bashing. They charged that the main murderess suspect in the film was a denegrating portrayal since she was a mentally-unstable, psychotic lesbian and bi-sexual that was potentially homicidal. Activists groups such as Queer Nation and ACT-UP protested at multiple San Francisco shooting locations, chanting "Hollywood, you stink" and they attempted to disrupt filming.
The opening scene of a naked couple engaged in rough sex in a mirrored boudoir included views from all angles (and a reflection in a ceiling mirror) of a couple making love - the unidentified female was atop rock star Johnny Boz (Bill Cable), and elements of S&M were revealed when she tied his arms to the bedpost - before stabbing him to death with an icepick. Sharon Stone starred as bisexual authoress Catherine Trammel who became a murder suspect (known for using an ice pick in her writings), and was investigated by detective Nick Curran (Michael Douglas).
The sexually-charged film featured the taunting femme fatale predator with an insatiable sexual appetite and possibly homicidal tendencies. She matter-of-factly flirted and manipulatively toyed with the libidos and sexual appetites of the middle-aged men in a police station room. The suspect brazenly talked about sex, smoked (in a no-smoking area), and uncrossed and re-crossed her legs while wearing a short white mini-dress (without panties). She tersely revealed her past sexual activities with the victim and played sex games with their minds. After admitting to cocaine use with the dead Mr. Boz, she surprised the audience by directing a provocative, follow-up question toward Nick: "Have you ever f--ked on cocaine, Nick?" She smiled and revealingly uncrossed her legs (removing her left leg from atop her right leg), flashing her panty-less private parts at him. And then she re-crossed her legs in the opposite direction, crossing her right leg atop her left.
At her home, Catherine Trammel flaunted her bisexuality when she introduced her lesbian girlfriend to Nick. She kissed her consort Roxy (Leilani Sarelle), fondled her nipple, and then stood with her arm around her, asking: "You two have met, haven't you?" Then came a provocative three-some scene at a crowded nightclub disco (between the lesbian lovers Catherine and Roxy) - and an aroused Nick voyeuristically watching them as they touched and French-kissed and then also watched them from outside a nightclub toilet stall.
Later on the dance floor, Catherine (with a beguiling look) turned with her back toward Roxy, permitting her female lover to touch her breasts. In an instant, Catherine left Roxy, presumably to provoke and enflame the jealousy of her female lover. Catherine's live-in lover must resort to dancing with a black man. Catherine became Nick's dance partner - he rubbed her butt against his crotch. He turned her, suddenly grabbed her ass, pressed her toward himself, and then started kissing her on her neck and lips. Feverishly, they consumed each other in the middle of the writhing, turning bodies of other dancers.
The scene immediately transitioned to the infamous, intimate, graphic, roughhouse sex scene between Nick and Catherine in her mansion in San Francisco. Afterwards, he was astonished to learn that Roxy had been encouraged to watch Catherine's heterosexual couplings with men.
The film was also criticized for its rough, forceful near-rape sex scene between detective Curran and his police psychologist 'girlfriend' Dr. Beth Garner (Jeanne Tripplehorn) when he ripped off her clothes and took her from behind. Back at Beth's apartment in her living room, Nick took out his sexual aggression against her. He immediately forced himself on her, pinning her arms up on the wall, kissing her forcefully, and ripping her dress open in the front. In the misogynistic, near-rape scene, he lustfully pushed his hands under her bra, scooped out her breasts, and kissed her even harder. Then he aggressively draped her over the sofa as she protested: "Nick, stop, no!" He pulled off his own pants and animalistically entered her from behind, climaxing quickly.
Although it appeared that the case was solved and Dr. Garner was implicated (although she might have been framed?), the final scene extended the ambiguity of Catherine's murderous instincts. As Nick and Catherine made love in his bedroom, they kissed each other, and she rolled atop him. As in all their other amorous couplings, she straddled him, stretched back, and began rocking back and forth on his hips. As she climaxed, she reached back, and then suddenly came down on top of him - her whole body stretched across his - he remained motionless. Was he alive? Had he been pierced with an icepick? Not yet. As Catherine and Nick kissed with more and more passion, the camera slowly descended down her side of the bed. When it lowered to the floor, the camera came to rest with a close-up of the murder weapon - a thin, steel-handled icepick.
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