You and I (2012)

The feminine

Mischa Barton, Shantel VanSanten

Nudity?

Ass only

The premise

Love and desire… it gets complicated.

Except…

Apparently getting this movie to audiences was complicated too, since by the time it came out the story of two girls who are impressed by iPods, flip phones and t.A.T.u. seemed incredibly dated.

The actual story

Lana Starkova (Barton) is a small town slaughter house worker who dreams of becoming a model.  Janie Sawyer (VanSanten) is an ex-pat in Moscow who dreams of finding more drugs to take.  The two become friends over a t.A.T.u. chat board.  Them becoming lovers feels somewhat forced, which is appropriate for a movie obsessed with faux lesbians t.A.T.u.  Also characters repeatedly switch from English to Russian in a single sentence, which is fairly annoying.

And the award for “Best Photoshop in a Russian Movie Poster” goes to… someone else!

The crescendo

The girls come over to a nouveau riche Russian’s house only to kick him out of his own rotating bed and then have “the greatest moment of their lives.”

Also includes

VanSanten curled up naked in a bathtub.

Beyond the film

Barton, no stranger to girl-on-girl kissing scenes, said of this film “It is so much easier to kiss a girl. You’re so much more relaxed filming than you are doing a guy-and-girl scene. You can relax and have a laugh about it, whereas if it’s a man you have to kiss, the whole thing’s a bit tense.”

‘Gator Bait (1974)

The feminine

Claudia Jennings, Janit Baldwin

Nudity?

Yes (but less than you’d think)

The premise

[imagine as a blue-grass song] Desiree, Deseiree, Deseireeeeeee… That sweet gator bait Deseiree

Except…

[imagine as same tune] Raping, raping, rapiiiinnng… rapin’ and murderin’ Deseiree

The actual story

Billy Boy Thomas and Ben Bracken plan to rape Desiree Thibodeau (Jennings) but she escapes and Ben dies.  Pete Bracken attempts to rape his sister but their Father, T.J., stops him.  The Thomas’ and Brackens’ set off to rape and murder Desiree.  They find her sister Julie (Baldwin), Pete and Billy Boy start to rape her but Leroy Bracken kills her first.  Pete sets off on his own to rape Desiree, but she kills him.  She then mortally wounds Billy Boy.  T.J. kills Joe Bob Thomas.  Leroy attempts to rape Desiree even though we’re told she castrated him years ago after a previous rape attempt.  Her brother kills him.  The end.

The crescendo

While fleeing on her boat, Jennings’ blouse flaps wide open.

Also includes

Baldwin takes a bath of sorts in the swap.

Beyond the film

Followed by'Gator Bait II: Cajun Justice, which Maxim magazine accidentally described when talking about how ‘Gator Bait was a great B-movie.

Tarzan, The Ape Man (1981)

The feminine

Bo Derek, Akushula Selavah, others

Nudity?

Yes

The premise

Unlike any other “Tarzan” you’ve ever seen!

Except…

Because Tarzan is barely in it!

The actual story

Well off Victorian virgin Jane Parker (Derek) ventures to Africa to meet her estranged adventurer father John Parker (Richard Harris) and his girlfriend Africa (Yes, that is seriously the name of Selavah’s character).  They journey into the heart of darkness in search of an elephant graveyard, despite warnings of a great white ape.  This film, produced by Bo Derek and directed by husband John Derek, is a train wreck.  Tarzan is only able to communicate through a recording of the Tarzan scream from previous movies.  Hence in scenes with him and Jane are forced to rely heavily on Derek’s non-existent acting abilities.  Repetitive dialogue and needless use of slow motion combine to make the film overly long.

The crescendo

Derek is captured by savages who strip her and scrub her “like a horse” before painting her mud white.  As the foreboding chief approaches her, her father screams out advice on being raped.  Tarzan is coming to save her, but is stuck in slow motion.

Also includes

In a sequence that last the entire credits, Derek wrestles with an orangutan while topless.

Beyond the film

Based off an Edgar Rice Burroughs book that was previously adapted for film in 1932.

This film lost the title of “most sexual Tarzan” when Tarzan X: Shame of Jane was released, though it still holds the title of “worst Tarzan”

Can we have more epic messes like Lucy?

“The average person use 10% of their brain capacity.  Today she will hit 100%”

The premise of this movie is somewhat infuriating.  If you’ve ever seen a PET or CT scan of the brain you can clearly see all of the brain lighting up to various stimulation.  In fact there’s even an entire Wikipedia page entitled “Ten percent of brain myth.”  It seems impossible that everyone involved in the production of Lucy was oblivious to this.  It took me about thirty seconds think of a more original reason for her super brainpower (“She’s having an explosive growth of brain neurons!  She’s getting a billion new ones every minute!”).  So why go with such a tired and debunked rational?  The obvious answer being that it’s easy to explain and easy to show her development (“I’m now at 28%.”).  Take a moment to appreciate the irony of a movie about super intelligence being dumbed down.  However there’s not any reason to think audiences need (or want) to be talked down to.  Guardians of the Galaxy casually threw one made up word after another at audiences and asked them to learn numerous locations and characters with complex back-stories and relationships—people loved it (even if they couldn’t really explain it)

Lucy (Scarlett Johansson) is forced into a drug deal that immediately goes wrong.  At the same time on the other side of the world Professor Morgan Freeman explains the brain to an auditorium of people who kindly ask numerous questions whose answers will explain the film’s logic.  Also we see a lot of stock footage, mostly of animals.  Uber-evil/ethnic gangsters sew up a new drug inside Lucy in order to smuggle it to Europe (never mind that if it was a brand new drug there wouldn’t be any laws making it illegal yet).  The drugs start to leak inside her and she becomes an unstoppable badass starts to use 20% of her brain.  Up until this point Johansson has been portraying a terrified girl, now she becomes a robot.  Considering how much of the movie is spent showing off her new brainpower, it’s odd that she loses all emotional intelligence. It’s like the drug has turned her into a fantasy version of an Asperger syndrome sufferer (also a better explanation for her brain power).  She also loses any sense of morality, shooting innocent people in her way and letting unambiguous villains go.

Despite (or because of) all this I really enjoyed Lucy from the opening nod to 2001 to the dinosaurs which showed up for some reason (shortly before they appeared I leaned over to my wife and said “I really hope we get to see some dinosaurs.” And I was thrilled when we did).  I thought it was a surrealist black comedy (apologies to the two strangers that were in the otherwise empty theater with us, who were subjected to me constantly roaring with laughter at things that were not obviously jokes).  A punk-rock statement about superhero movies—their personalities don’t matter, they can kill who they want, they can have whatever powers they want and reason only gets in the way.

I’d love to see more films like this but I doubt we will.  Studios seem reluctant to follow up on female lead moves, even successful ones, which Lucy was.  There’s no sign of Salt 2 showing up even though Salt was designed to set up a franchise.  Also this film is so packed with absurdity presented completely straight faced that’s hard to even know the director’s intent.  Trying to replicate the style would be hard to do without knowing winks being added.  And besides, Lucy disappears into the ether in the end—patriarchal order is restored.

Just Like a Woman (2012)

The feminine

Sienna Miller, Golshifteh Farahani

Nudity?

No

The premise

two friends - one journey - no limits

Except…

No mercy either.  The fun of this belly-dancing road-trip movie is underminded by the viciousness of so many of the people they encounter.

The actual story

Acquaintances Marilyn (Miller) and Mona (Farahani) are both living unfulfilling lives in general and marriages in particular in Chicago.  When each of their lives take sudden and dramatic turns for the worse, on the same day, they individually flee Chicago and they both wind up at the same rest stop.  They set off together for Santa Fe, where Marilyn hopes to join a belly dancing academy.  However life does not stop shitting on them when they are on the road.  The movie appears to be rated R purely so people can insult Mona with an ethnic slur so nasty I can’t even bear to repeat it here.

The crescendo

The girls shaking what they got in a shady bar and collecting tips in their hip scarves.

Also includes

Long stretches of film with them wearing their hoochie koo, dancer outfits for no particular reason.

Beyond the film

Though the director previously garnered three Oscar nominations for his films about clashing Arab and Western culture, this “Thelma and Louise and Belly Dancing” feature was widely panned by the few critics who bothered to watch it.

Betty Blue (1986)

The feminine

Béatrice Dalle, Consuelo De Haviland, Clémentine Célarié

Nudity?

Full-frontal

The premise

"37°2 le matin"

Except…

What a nonsensical title to give your film.  It’s an obtuse reference to pregnancy, and the film isn’t really about pregnancy.  The American title “Betty Blue” isn’t much better since she doesn’t have blue eyes and her most memorable outfit is red.

The actual story

Zorg (Jean-Hugues Anglade) has a meager but comfortable existence doing maintenance for beach bungalows.  When Betty (Dalle) comes into his life at first she seems great (hot sex) but soon reveals a tendency to go into violent emotional outbursts.  She finds a book Zorg wrote and becomes convinced that he’s a genius writer and is enraged that he must work menial jobs.  He continues to think she’s the greatest thing that has ever happened to him despite continuously mounting evidence to the contrary.

The crescendo

The first scene of the film is the camera slowly zooming in on Dalle and Anglade having sex, which pretty well sets the tone of the film.

Also includes

Of the many nude scenes one of the odder ones is Dalle and Anglade trying to fix a couch while both naked.

Beyond the film

Almost 20 years after the film came out there was a director’s cut released with a whopping hour added onto an already long film.  Additional scenes include Anglade robbing a bank in drag.

Octane (2003)

image

The feminine

Madeleine Stowe, Mischa Barton, Bijou Phillips

Nudity?

No


The Premise

Driven by Evil. Evil Has Entered The Arteries.  In The Vein of Terror.


Except…
There’s many ways to describe this film, “scary” isn’t one of them.  “Confusing” and “unintentionally hilarious” would be better.

The actual story
Senga Wilson (Stowe) must track down her daughter Natasha (Barton) who has been kidnapped by a strange cult.  The odd thing about this movie is that everything about the cult screams vampire—they steal people’s blood and keep it in thermoses, they apparently instantly brainwash Natasha and they ride around inside windowless tanker truck.  There’s even a guy hunting them who says he had to kill his sister but it wasn’t murder since she was already dead.  Yet they aren’t vampires.  It’s like a studio executive said, “No, we’re already doing a vampire movie, just make them psychos.”

image


The Crescendo

Barton making out with the cult leader inside a wind tunnel, for some reason.

Also includes

Barton running around in a wet see-through dress.  Stowe is the more attractive one but unfortunately the film seems only interested in the physique of an underage Barton.

Beyond the film

The belly button piercing scene was supposedly real.