Ann Hornaday's insightful piece on the lack of sex in today's movies felt like an oasis to me. I've been seeing the decline of eroticism and sexuality for a few years now at the movies. The mid-budget movie has all but transferred on to television, where sex is very much present. It’s not just that, the #MeToo movement has brought about a ton of pressure on directors, in terms of how to depict sex in a non-offensive ways.
Filmmakers that were experts at on-screen steaminess, such as Adrian Lyne, Jane Campion, Paul Verehoeven, David Lynch, have parted towards Europe and, in Campion and Lynch’s cases, television. It's much harder now for a male director to depict sex on screen without being accused of using his own "male gaze.” Even the emergence of gay cinema has barely gone past a few seconds of tame sex, such as in "Brokeback Mountain" and Timothee Chalamet's love for a peach and Armie in "Call Me By Your Name" -- what gives? A sex scene (which was, let's be real here, mostly 30 seconds of kissing and touching) in "Rocketman" was celebrated as a breakthrough by some critics. A breakthrough of what exactly? "Rocketman" director Dexter Fletcher even tweeted out pride at his film nabbing an R rating. Reading that tweet, you'd think it was because there was gay sex involved, but the MPAA made it very clear in their rating description that it was more about the "language" than the "sexuality."
Hornaday eloquently describes the heyday of erotic cinema:
“The 1980s and early 1990s were a heyday of sex scenes that might have been hot and heavy but stayed within the parameters of bourgeois good taste: Movies such as "An Officer and a Gentleman," "Body Heat," "9½ Weeks," "Fatal Attraction" and "Basic Instinct" were must-see films, not just because of their twisty plots but because of sex scenes that were frank, artfully staged and, sometimes, arousing in their own right.”
All this is another reason to celebrate Abdelatif Kechiche’s “Mektoub: Intermezzo.” OK. I’ll stop there.