Tag Archives: sex addicts

Between Your Legs (1999)

 “What if we’re each other’s solution?”

The steamy Spanish thriller Between Your Legs (Entre Las Piernas) is a tale of adultery, blackmail and murder set against the relationship of two people who meet at a Sex Addicts support group. With Victoria Abril and Javier Bardem as the two sex addicts, sparks fly, but they also fizzle in the depths of a murky plot that leaves some questions unanswered.

between your legsI’ve sometimes wondered if having a number of sex addicts attend a meeting together is advisable, and all the spicy scenarios my over-active imagination conjures up come to pass in this film when sex addict, Miranda (Victoria Abril) meets fellow insatiable sex addict Javier (Javier Bardem). There’s an immediate attraction, although Miranda who’s married to detective Felix (Carmelo Gomez) tries valiantly for a moment or two to brush off Javier’s attentions. But who is she kidding? The next thing we know, Miranda and Javier are writhing in the back seat of a car in a deserted parking lot.

Miranda and Javier are characters whose lives are seeped in sex. Miranda is a telephone operator for a late-night call-in show and most of her calls are about…you’ve guessed it…sex. Javier works for a publishing company, and all the scripts he reads are about…yes, right again…sex. No wonder these two poor buggers are sex addicts. They can’t get away from the subject.

Javier, rather rationally, I thought, decides that it makes perfect sense that he and Miranda should be together. He realizes that they both have needs and desires and decides that they can basically solve each other’s problem. Makes sense to me. But it doesn’t make sense to Miranda’s husband, Felix, who soon sniffs that adultery is afoot. Plus being a detective, it’s a fairly easy matter for him to follow Miranda, trace license plate numbers, etc.

But then to complicate matters, a body is found in the trunk of the car that Miranda and Javier appropriated for their impromptu steamy rendezvous. Felix investigates the case, and soon he has reason to place Javier as the main suspect.

Now this sounds like an interesting plot, but unfortunately other elements that appear fairly early on in the film confuse matters. These include fantasy sequences involving Javier and a mystery woman who drew him into sex addiction, the sensationalistic illicit sex story of the man running the Sex Addicts meeting, and the existence of some sex tapes. There’s a sequence involving Miranda’s dog and a trip to the veterinarian that leads nowhere, and there’s also a minor subplot involving a taxi driver and AIDS. I’m still uncertain why this latter sub plot was included unless it was supposed to represent the ‘safe sex’ part of the equation. Anyway, thanks to all these superfluous scenes and characters, the first half of the film was a bit confusing, while the second half ironed out some (not all) of these plot elements.

The optimistic conclusion counteracted the film’s overall noir mood, and I still had a couple of questions left unanswered when the credits rolled. If anyone out there can tell me what Felix stepped on in the last scene, please leave a comment. Between Your Legs is based on a novel by Joaquin Oristrell and directed by Manuel Gomez Pereira.

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Filed under Film Noir, Spain, Victoria Abril

A Dirty Shame (2004)

 “She’s probably kidnapped by sex fiends.”

a-dirty-shameThose fans of cult director John Waters who suspected that he was mellowing and becoming remotely respectable can think again. John Waters’ new film A Dirty Shame proves that Waters is still producing Trash Cinema. Trash film fans will be delighted to know that A Dirty Shame takes us back to this director’s pre-Polyester days.

Sylvia Stickles (Tracey Ullman) and hubbie Vaughn (Chris Isaak) live on Hartford Street in Baltimore. They have a daughter, Caprice (Selma Blair)–also known as exotic dancer Ursula Udders–a hot favourite at the local biker bar. The Stickles form the perfect dysfunctional Waters family. Caprice is under house arrest for numerous incidents of public indecency, but her dad tells her that “the government wants you to stay inside for a while,” and “you’re too pretty to go out.” When the film begins, Sylvia brushes off Vaughn’s advances and hurries off to work at the local shop owned by her mother, Big Ethel (Suzanne Shepherd). On the drive there, Sylvia suffers a head injury, and she meets Guru Ray Ray (Johnny Knoxville). Ray Ray–a self-described “sexual healer” turns Sylvia into a sex addict.

Soon Sylvia is engaged in sexual mayhem–molesting anyone who comes in her path, stealing lingerie from bins, and even performing an erotic dance at the local old people’s home. Ray Ray and his band of uninhibited followers anticipate a day of carnal rapture, and these ‘enlightened’ few invade the neighbourhood and a Sex Addicts meeting looking for new converts. The normal citizens (“Neuters”) of Hartford Road hold a Decency Rally and form Neuter Resistance.

There’s a message in the film that is evident in the Neuter Resistance Platform. Phrases such as: “tolerance went too far” accompanied by the idea that society is now more permissive than the 60s, indicate the film’s less-than-sly knock at moral righteousness. This film is a raunchy riot from beginning to end, and it certainly isn’t for the meek or the Neuters. As with any John Waters film, don’t expect subtle solutions. This is over-the-top sexual anarchy. Nothing more. Nothing less. Die-hard John Waters’ fans will be happy to be back with familiar filth. Everyone else … you’re on your own ….

The film’s soundtrack is packed with appropriate Filth Music. Special mention of Patty Hearst who plays Sex Addict, Paige, and Mink Stole as a particularly righteous Neuter. Special features (and I watched the NC-17 version) include: commentaries, “All the Dirt on A Dirty Shame” (a behind-the-scenes look at the film), a deleted scene, and the trailer. Welcome back to the gutter, John. We knew you’d never left us.

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Filed under Comedy, John Waters

Agnes and His Brothers (2004)

 “Day after day, I put up with your bodily discharges.”

The German film Agnes and His Brothers (Agnes und Seine Bruder) takes an intimate look at the private lives of three very different siblings. There’s Werner (Herbert Knaup)–a Green Party politician–once a radical and now a rabid capitalist, Hans-Jorg (Moritz Bliebtreu) a frustrated librarian whose encounters with the opposite sex leave a lot to be desired, and Agnes (Martin WeiB) a transsexual who dances at a nightclub.

Of the three siblings, Agnes seems to be the most collected. Although she’s in a troubled relationship when the film begins, she possesses an inner, inviolable serenity. On the other hand, Werner has a horrible, out-of-control home life. His radical past is just a memory, and now he’s mired in domesticity and capitalism. His flashy wife Signe (Katja Riemann) spends her days sunbathing and shopping, and her nights are spent avoiding any intimacy with Werner–using a variety of methods designed to crank up Werner’s frustration. Their spoiled brat son Ralf (Tom Schilling) maintains a crop of marijuana in the lavish back garden and videotapes his father’s most intimate and embarrassing moments.

While Werner’s miserable marriage is a daily nightmare, single brother Hans-Jorg’s life at the library is agony too. Dozens of half-dressed, leggy girls swarm around the library, and their presence tantalizes Hans-Jorg. Meanwhile, Hans-Jorg attends sex addicts meetings in the evenings, and satiates his sterile social life with a blow up doll and stolen moments in the women’s bathrooms.

The three siblings take a trip to visit their antisocial reclusive father, Gunther (Vadim Glowna) who lives under strange circumstances inside a walled compound. He’s full of stories of Stammheim and the Red Army Faction, but how much of this is true and how much is fiction is a matter of speculation. Thrown into this dysfunctional family’s structure is Hans-Jorg’s insistence that as a child, he witnessed their father molesting Agnes.

While the characters in Agnes and His Brothers could belong in an Almodovar film, the film lacks Almodovar’s generosity of spirit and his delightful world vision. But there’s a definite Fassbinder influence here seen in the depth of writer/director Oskar Roehler’s message (keep an eye open for Fassbinder actress Margit Carstensen). But if you are looking for a new Fassbinder or a new Almodovar, you’ll probably be disappointed–while the film contains shades of both of these great directors, Oskar Roehler has his own unique vision. Apart from taking a sharp look at a very dysfunctional family, the film also makes a statement about modern Germany. The RAF generation has produced radicals that have morphed into establishment politicians, unhappy, and largely ineffectual capitalists whose major triumph is the passage of a container deposit bill. And finally, Hans-Jorg’s destination at the end of the film, seems absurd. But given the context, and Hans-Jorg’s background, it really isn’t. In German with English subtitles.

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Filed under German