Category: sexual intercourse


THE LEATHER BOYS directed by Sidney J. Furie  (UK, 1964)

1964 The leather boys

The sixties might have swung for many but cinema’s representation of sexuality in this era was often anything but liberated.

The notion that sexual intercourse necessitates the removal of clothing is just one of the taboos filmmakers were reluctant to challenge.

An honest visual display of carnal lust and desire is controversial enough in straight relationships and is still more taboo when it comes to  homosexuality.

Even in our supposedly more enlightened 21st century, coming to terms with being gay can be unnecessarily traumatic. Ellen Page’s emotionally charged coming out speech is proof that this is still too often the “love that dare not speak its name”.

Mainstream cinema perpetuates negative attitudes by rarely treating same-sex relationships in an open or mature fashion.

The Leather Boys is regarded as an early example of ‘Queer Cinema’ and is unusual in that it tentatively tries to ‘normalise’ homosexuality instead of showing it as a threat to the moral wellbeing of society. Continue reading

A TASTE OF HONEY directed by Tony Richardson (UK, 1961)

Shelagh Delaney’s unsentimental view of procreation puts the hearts and flowers romance of Valentine’s Day into proper perspective : “It’s chaotic – a bit of love, a bit of lust and there you are. We don’t ask for life, we have it thrust upon us”.

Lines like these help explain why A Taste of Honey retains its contemporary edge more than half a century after it was first performed.

London’s National Theatre are about to stage a new version to bring the play’s honest, down to earth characters to a new generation of theatre goers.

No prizes too for guessing why Delaney was such a formative influence on the young Steven Patrick Morrissey.

Labelling A Taste of Honey as a ‘kitchen sink realism’ might lead you expect a mundane and bleak drama. Nothing could be further from the truth. This is a play (and movie) that fizzes with energy and humourously challenges popular preconceptions about so-called  ‘ordinary’ working class lives in Northern Britain. Continue reading

BLUE VELVET directed by David Lynch (USA, 1986)

BlueVelvet

“Now it’s dark”

Call me a pervert but I never tire of this movie which I rate as David Lynch’s masterpiece and one of the greatest films ever made.

At the same time, I can see why many, women especially, hate it.

Aspects of the film look a little dated now but the portrayal of sexuality remains both controversial and disturbing.

Not only does Lynch  revel in depicting men’s capacity for voyeurism and violence but he also shows a woman who is turned on by abuse.

Plenty of films hint at sadomasochistic relationships but in this one  we are left with no room for doubt. Continue reading

THE NEWTON LETTER by John Banville (Picador Books, 1982)

In this dull and pretentious novella, a nameless narrator seems locked in an academic conundrum of his own making.

An ageing and struggling writer is half-heartedly seeking to understand the significance of a curious letter Isaac Newton wrote to philosopher John Locke in 1693 which hinted that Newton was losing his faculties. This letter is referred to but not quoted from and serves as a metaphor for the biographer’s vain quest for certainties and absolutes in a world of shifting sands.

The story can be dated at 1979, the year Lord Mountbatten was assassinated by the IRA. This event is mentioned in passing although politics and religion have no overt role in the story.

If the blocked writer in the story had the idea that relocating to a rural retreat would release his creative potential, this dream is soon shattered when carnal pursuits take precedence over intellectual ambitions. Continue reading

50 YEARS OF ROCK EXCESS (Channel 4 TV)

Ozzy Osbourne being excessive.

Ozzy Osbourne being excessive.

On the University of Rochester’s History of Rock MOOC  ‘rude’ words are blanked out and presenter John Covach is careful to paraphrase any of the raunchier lyrics. The notorious Rock’n’Roll lifestyle of wild sex and hard drugs is coyly referred to as if the educational institution is fearful of being seen to condone such lewd behaviour.

The producers of the  Channel 4 rockumentary ’50 Years of Excess’  clearly had no intention of presenting such a sanitized version of events. They revel in exploring what they gleefully refer to as the “depths of debauchery”. The tacky subtitle “Amps, Whips & Rebel Riffs” gives fair warning that a very selective and heavily sensationalized  retelling of the story of rock is in store.

The problem with such a journey into the dark side is that it is so primed towards unearthing salacious details of the ‘rock gods’ that any coherent musical context becomes peripheral. For example, Jimi Hendrix is completely ignored while ample space is found to cover the crude shenanigans of the talentless Motley Crue. Influential genres like punk and grunge are dismissed as passing fads as the juggernaut of classic rock drives on. Continue reading

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