Comfortable and Furious

Spread Your Legs For Daddy: Part 2

Last Tango in Paris (1972)

The story: In a cause celebre the Godfather tries a little anonymous humping. Bloody hell, now he’s the Prodfarther.

Does it make me wanna incorporate anything into my sex life? “You don’t have a name and I don’t have a name, either,” Brando tells Maria Schnieder early on. “No names her… I don’t wanna know anything about you.” Whaddya think, folks? This could be an interesting experiment in which all love, tenderness and affection is removed from coupling, reducing the act to its bare physicality. Oh, wait a sec, I think most of my relationships have already been like that.

What did I learn about the ladies? They can orgasm running down a hill.

Most unbelievable bit: The first fuck. It comes out of nowhere. The voluptuous Schneider passes an ageing, disorientated Brando on the street; by sheer coincidence they both end up looking at the same apartment two minutes later. With his disheveled hair and paunchiness, Brando is more hobo than Romeo. Neither does he wow her with his charm or sense of humor. In fact, he’s barely coherent, a mumbling weirdo that nice ladies would surely cross the street to avoid. No matter, he just picks her up, snogs her and rips her panties off so violently you hear them tear, a series of events that gives me hope that age, personal grooming and social niceties are irrelevant when it comes to banging twenty-year-old totty.

How bad is it? Look, I think it’s arty, pretentious, drawn-out, ridiculous, solemn and unintentionally funny. There’s some contrived film-within-a-film stuff, a scene in which our star-crossed lovers pretend their names are a series of animal grunts and groans, and dialogue such as: “My childhood was made up of smells.” I mean, there is some sort of interesting idea at Tango’s core in that Brando essentially wants to construct a safe place. The apartment represents not so much a clean slate, but a sterile one where the possibility of emotional attachment, pain and grief cannot come into being. Or as Brando concisely puts it: “Everything outside this place is bullshit.” He wants uncomplicated physical pleasure and nothing else, a desire many of us may have flirted with after a traumatic break-up or the loss of a loved one. Unfortunately, such a promising concept runs out of gas almost immediately. I never believed this is how people talk and act. It’s one of those flicks where I ended up thinking that actors can be a bunch of right silly fuckers.

Shame (2011)

The story: Brandon (Michael Fassbender) is a good-looking ladies’ man. He’s also a porn addict, rampant masturbator, sex toy devotee and promiscuous, big-dicked fuck machine. Not the cheeriest chap, though.

Does it make me wanna incorporate anything into my sex life? This is the sort of slow-burn flick that I think a fair few men can occasionally relate to. Many go through a sex-obsessed stage during which numbers matter as women are viewed as little more than a collection of orifices. Penetration, conquest and possession are the name of the game. Some grow out of it and some don’t. I’m older now and Shame enabled me to at least pick up on shards of my younger self’s attitude, if not behavior (although I can’t ever recall clogging a work computer with hardcore porn). You don’t want to be like Brandon. He’s not a rapist or a pedo, but from the first scene of him lying in bed dazedly staring at the ceiling this one is all about sex’s amazing ability to make you miserable. They say obsession is an attempt to fill a void and it’s clear that Brandon’s life is bereft of anything meaningful. The guy has no friends or hobbies while his austere, colorless flat reflects his emotional core. Is there even a picture on the wall?

All he has is the next fuck, using women like they’re a knotted rope to try to haul himself away from the spiritual hell he inhabits. Problem is, he doesn’t even seem to derive any joy from dipping his wick. Promiscuity is not the answer yet he can’t imagine being in a relationship, either. Or as he tells a date: “I don’t understand why people wanna get married, especially these days. I don’t see the point.” Worse, when he meets a gal that he appears to see as a real human being rather than a walking vagina, he can’t get it up. The man’s well and truly stuck between a cock and a wet place.

What did I learn about the ladies? Some make up their minds about sleeping with you on the first glance. Others might run away, mull it over and later give you the green light. Then there are some that don’t mind blunt sex talk and being fingered in a pub, even if their boyfriend is sitting ten yards away.

Most unbelievable bit: Hmm, well, I went along with most of the stuff in this one. It’s smartly acted and believably links sex with alienated self-disgust, but I found it a bit head-scratching that Brandon ends up in a gay nightclub batting for the other side. You gotta draw the line somewhere, fellah.

How bad is it? I don’t believe in sex addiction. It’s the latest in a long line of modern excuses for shitty behavior. Just act badly, refuse to accept responsibility for your actions, and then present yourself as a victim in a misguided bid for sympathy. Pathetic.

Or in Brandon’s case, fucking pathetic.

Saying that, Shame is an explicit, pretty good hundred minutes. It’s not pacy and a bit too arty in places with lingering shots of people staring into nothing, but I like how we’re left guessing at the reasons for Brandon’s single-minded, self-defeating behavior. It might have something to do with a head injury, although at one point his equally fucked-up, self-harming younger sister cryptically says: “We’re not bad people. We just come from a bad place.” Don’t go watching Shame for any answers, though, especially if you have difficulty keeping your cock in your pants. Of course, people like Brandon could always try exercising some goddamned willpower.

Striptease (1996)

The story: Demi Moore gets paid more than twelve mil to show off her fake tits in a boring vanity project.

Does it make me wanna incorporate anything into my sex life? Surprisingly, there’s no sex in this one. It’s just a lot of clothes shedding so I guess it comes down to whether I wanna hang around places like Moore’s place of employment, The Eager Beaver. Problem is I’ve already been to the odd strip club and it gets awfully dull watching a procession of pneumatically-enhanced strangers disrobe while sipping on some hideously overpriced drink, especially as you know that although they’re smiling your way there’s little doubt they loathe you. The most telling line comes from the Beaver’s owner: “I haven’t had a hard-on since I started running this place.”

What did I learn about the ladies? They can possess a staggering lack of self-awareness. See below.

Most unbelievable bit: “This is honest work,” one of Moore’s fellow ‘dancers’ says during a pep talk. “You have nothing to be ashamed of.” Two minutes later she takes to the stage dressed as a cat, crawls on her hands and knees, shakes a tail glued to her butt and opens her legs for a load of drunk, whooping punters. Yes, Miss Integrity, you can definitely be proud of yourself.

Moore, however, is even blinder during a minor confrontation with her boss in which she objects to the saucy new design of the club’s coasters and napkins. “They degrade women,” she insists with a straight face. Er, Demi, sweetie, aren’t you the one doing that? At the very least you’re putting the perception of women back fifty years or so. You literally earn your living by choosing to present yourself in a sexualized way night after night so save us the feminist ire. And given you fancy yourself as a good mom, why the hell do you think it’s appropriate to allow your seven-year-old daughter to hang out backstage?

How bad is it? Unlike Nine and a Half Weeks, Striptease doesn’t take itself seriously. It’s a knockabout dark comedy, but Moore doesn’t understand this, preferring to strut through its near-two hours in love with herself. She’s all outspoken honesty and tedious indignation as she goes about fighting a dreary custody battle for her kid. Now I don’t mind her contributions to A Few Good Men, Disclosure, Ghost and that unintentional laugh-a-thon G.I. Jane, but I imagine even she’d admit that she’s never been known for her bouts of sparkling comedy. Here she doesn’t even generate one chuckle. In fact, she’s so out of tune with the rest of the cast that Striptease helped derail her career. The sole reason to watch is Burt Reynolds as ‘Congressman Dildo’, a corrupt, drooling politician that likes to occasionally cover himself in Vaseline and make love to Moore’s ‘fresh hot lint’. He fully grasps the necessary angle of approach in a performance that served as a forerunner to his superior Boogie Nights turn. “Just the touch of your hand,” he tells Moore, “sets my pecker on fire.”

Dave Franklin’s movie book Go Fuck an Iceberg! is available from Amazon and other outlets.



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