Art-House Movie Sex vs. Porn

News came (heh, heh) recently that art-house legend Peter Greenaway has begun casting for his next film. Nothing surprising here, except that Greenaway (whose A Zed & Two Noughts is a staggering, symmetrical exploration of entropy and one of the pinnacles of contemporary cinema — not to mention the closest any filmmaker has gotten to replicating the magic of Vermeer’s lighting) has allegedly asked potential female stars the following two questions: “Would you be willing to have unsimulated intercourse on screen?” and “Would you be willing to appear in a shot in which semen leaks out of your vagina?” Rarely do acclaimed directors incorporate full-on home-stealing into their films, but it’s certainly happened before. (Here’s looking at you, Mr. John Cameron Mitchell.)

After sitting on it for a few minutes (it’s just too easy, I’m sorry), I began to wonder whether recorded sex was more appealing when helmed by non-porny moonlighters or if we should all just leave the dirty stuff to people with names like Ron and Larry …

The Idiots (1998). Before the reigning bad-boy of Danish cinema broke waves with his highly-publicized Björk spat, Lars Von Trier released this film about a group of “anti-bourgeois” adults looking to defy social mores. In doing so, they pretend to be developmentally delayed — they call it “spassing” — a consuming pastime that climaxes in a graphic group sex scene. It’s no real mystery why this thing was nominated for the Golden Palm at the Cannes Film Festival.

The Brown Bunny (2003). I’ve always liked Vincent Gallo’s films, and, despite the myriad times he’s been torn apart by journalists, he’s never been anything but polite to me. That said, The Brown Bunny was, at times, hard to stomach. After Chloë Sevigny’s Daisy performs fellatio on Gallo’s Bud (giving new meaning to “Performance of the Year”), he insults her in bed, calling her out on her assumed promiscuity. When asked about the experience, Sevigny told London’s Guardian, “It wasn’t that bad for me; I’ve been intimate with Vincent before.”

Shortbus (2006). Let’s just say that the creator of Hedwig and the Angry Inch grew into his own with the release of his second film, an urban sex odyssey about relationships and relations in Manhattan after dark. Everyone from cabaret icon Justin Bond to singer-songwriter Jay Brannan took part in John Cameron Mitchell’s pansexual labyrinth. It’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream for the auto-erotic asphyxiation set.

Ken Park (2002). Written by Harmony Korine and directed by Larry Clark, the guys responsible for KIDS, it’s no surprise that this skate-sex exploration features incest, drug abuse, and enough oral to fill a dentist’s office. Not surprisingly, the film has not been shown in England, has been banned in Australia, and was never given wide release in the United States.

9 Songs (2004). How appropriate that a man named Michael Winterbottom (and the filmmaker behind A Cock and Bull Story and the upcoming The Killer Inside Me) would direct this sexually explicit story about love and music. It was branded with an X-rating in most countries but, oddly, shown by the Dutch public broadcaster BNN (which, months earlier, screened Deep Throat). Despite its ejaculation scenes, 9 Songs only received a 28% “Cream of the Crop” rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

A lot of Diego Luna’s Career. There was Y Tu Mama Tambien (2001), of course, in which Luna and co-star Gael García Bernal went all locker-room buddies on each other, and then, after a few bottles of tequila, had a three-way with a married woman. This month, Luna stars in The Night Buffalo (2007), which, allegedly, depicts unsimulated on-screen sex. It should also be noted that, despite a lack of full Luna in Harmony Korine’s fantastic Mister Lonely, the actor does play Michael Jackson.)

El Topo (1970). Rumor has it that the sex scenes involving legendary writer-director Alejandro Jodorowsky and actress Mara Lorenzio in this cult western aren’t fake. But, when pitted against the film’s insatiable bloodsport, it all seems sort of irrelevant.

Borat and Bruno (2006 and 2009, respectively). In Borat, the titular Kazakh journalist, while looking to make benefit from the cultural learnings of America, engages in a naked rumble with his full-figured producer Azamat Bagatov (after the latter is caught masturbating to photos of Pamela Anderson). In Bruno, which centers on an Austrian fashionista (who makes Clay Aiken looks like Mickey Rourke), character creator Sacha Baron Cohen incensed censors with what looks like gay sex inside of a tent. The tent was later pitched to avoid an NC-17 rating.

Green Porno 2 (2009). This series of short live-action films focused on the reproductive habits of marine life stars Isabella Rossellini, who dons a giant sea-creature phallus to impregnate a sperm whale. (I think it was a sperm whale … truth be told, I was a little distracted.)

I was hoping to come up with a 10th example to round-out a fully-flesh-out list (last time, sorry), but I came up short. In its place, here are funny, actual porn titles that spoof Hollywood films: Shaving Ryan’s Privates, Beverly Hills 9021-Ho, Jurassic Pork, Charlie’s Anals, and You’ve Got Male (Genitalia).

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