Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Pornosophy: Loving Sex?

Is loving sex all that it’s cracked up to be? Or is it the province of bad movies like Love Story (1970) or another sixties classic A Man and a Woman (1966). One of the nice things about a film like Richard Linklater’s Before Midnight (2013) is that it shies away from loving sex. One of the film’s great scenes is an enormous argument that breaks out in an elegant hotel room which a couple has been treated to as a gift. Instead of passionate lovemaking the time away from the kids turns into a massive back and forth in which mutual recriminations almost end in a breakup. Another classic depiction of non-loving sex occurs in Antonioni’s L’avventura (1960) when Claudia (Monica Vitti) discovers Sandro (Gabriele Ferzetti) in the arms of the American whore Gloria Perkins (Dorothy De Polioli). It’s a scene of almost orgasmic disenchantment in which everything that is wrong with the universe is concentrated in one spectacularly revolting embrace. David Lean’s version of Noel Cowards’s Brief Encounter had love, but the encounter was too brief to turn into sex. And then there is the case of the second to the last film John Holmes ever made, The Rise of the Roman Empress (1987). At this point in his career, Holmes already knew he was HIV positive yet he proceeded to have unprotected sex with the Italian porn star and politician La Cicciolina. If there were an award given for malevolently intentioned unloving sex or “loving porking," this film could very well get it. These days loving sex is literally the talk of the town. It’s the only way for students to indulge their promiscuous desires in California under the new “Affirmative Consent” statute which is one of the biggest challenges to the pleasures of the hate fuck. Last Tango in Paris (1972) contained some sex scenes which epitomized the misery of the human condition and are the perfect antidote to the virus of sentimentalism which is on the verge of infecting both cinema and life. The monologue of the nurse, Alma (Bibi Andersson), in Bergman’s Persona (1966) is also an effective remedy for romantic daydreams, along with the old locker room adage, “tell ‘em you love ‘em and you lay ‘em."

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