On movie sex and movie love...

Author: The Other Livvy (Page 1 of 6)

Grease 2

  • YEAR: 1982
  • DIRECTOR: Patricia Birch
  • KEY ACTORS: Michelle Pfeiffer, Maxwell Caulfield
  • CERTIFICATE: PG
  • IMDB SCORE: 4.4
  • ROTTEN TOMATOES SCORE: 38%

SEX SCORE: 4/5

✔️ It is absolutely rewatchable. I’ve not watched it as much as I have the original but it is no less addictive!
✔️ And it easily passes the Bechdel Test.
❌ But it is not sex positive! They are critical of virginity, the woman aren’t satisfied, there’s a lot of casual sexual harassment and the gender politics just aren’t good…
✔️ I do think the cast are fuckable – Michelle Pfeiffer is super hot and Michael looks really good, even if he shouldn’t speak!
❌ But it didn’t inspire fantasies. Not sexual ones anyway! I’d wanted to be as cool as Stephanie but I wasn’t that interested in reproducing the romantic plot line.

As always, this contains spoilers so watch the film before you read on…

STREAMING: NowTV, Sky Cinema (free with subscription), Amazon Prime (rent £3.49, buy £4.99), YouTube (from £2.99). For a full list of streaming options, check out JustWatch.com

The poster for Grease 2

This isn’t the first time that a sequel has been reviewed before the original – I’ve not yet written about Magic Mike despite gushing praise on Magic Mike XXL – but this is another example of when the second time around is just so much more interesting than the first! And having a female director and a better big song meant that it was an easy choice for write-up.

It’s also not my write up – this is a guest post from the wonderful Kate! She has stopped blogging but do check out her previous writing as she writes some of the best erotica I’ve read. So without further ado, I’ll hand over to her insightful opinions on a fun but (as is the case too often) problematic movie…

Intro/Background

I don’t know when Grease 2 arrived in my world – I remember getting the 20th Anniversary VHS of the original Travolta – Newton-John Grease in 1998 when I was 12, and occasional glimpses over the years of the elusive sequel. Presumably always catching it just as Reproduction started because it was the only number I knew with any clarity, and always made me blush with its overt, raucous sexuality.

Michelle Pfeiffer in Grease 2

Two decades later, the plans for my 32nd birthday were simple – two good friends, takeaway food and Grease 2. I’d already forcibly sat one friend through the first film – his only commentary about twenty minutes in “Oh, I forgot there was singing in this” but he still manfully sat through the second one to make me happy. I can’t remember if I described it as “the same film as the first, but with better gender politics” or “the same film as the first, but with worse gender politics” because both, in their way, are true.

I enjoy this film for its badness. And oof, is it bad.

The Plot

Stephanie (Pfeiffer) – our heroine – is a gum-chewing, eye-rolling part-time mechanic. A classic tomboy, living in pedal pushers and hastily pulling on a knee-length skirt before classes, even though it shows about as much flesh as her original outfit did in the first place (a whole feminist mood), fiercely independent and refusing to be treated as a prize, ‘awarding’ her kiss to the first man who walks through the door of the bowling alley (bowling is very important to teenagers in this universe) – which happens to be Michael (Caulfield), our ‘hero’ (term used so loosely it immediately falls off).

Ah, Michael. So pretty, fills out knitwear splendidly, so visually stimulating until he opens his mouth and you realise he’s wetter than an otter’s pocket and half as interesting. The well-known story about Grease 2 is that Michelle Pfeiffer was an unknown and it was Maxwell Caulfield who was supposed to be the big breakout star (there’s a great, Partridge-esque interview from the 80s where he waxes lyrical on his future plans. Super super cringe.)

Michael, wearing great knitwear

The Michael plot is a huge part of what has made current culture so toxic – the belief that if we are rejected by a potential partner, we can wear them down until they like us. Michael – the world’s worst piano-mime – asks Stephanie out in a very straightforward manner, and she says no. He suggests another day, she says no again.

STOP ASKING HER TO GO OUT WITH YOU, SHE AIN’T INTERESTED. Cue for a song (Cool Rider). An amazing song. That spells out she wants a man who is nothing like Michael so please stop asking her out.

“I don’t want no ordinary guy coming on strong with me.” SERIOUSLY MICHAEL, FUCK OFF.

Of course she did describe the exact type of man she wants in detail, so Michael decides he will be a completely different man (biker, cool shades, also American) and this will make Stephanie go out with him.

Now, alongside this, Stephanie is shown to be doing badly at school, and Michael tutors her. During the sessions, they get to know each other and she quite likes him, which is a cue for an absolutely nauseating song, where Michael wistfully ponders if she could ever love ‘the real me’. Given that Michael has all the personality and sexual allure of dry toast, I wouldn’t bank on it.

But – SPOILER ALERT! – The Cool Rider nearly dies and then drives into a Luau (seriously, this film is fucking ridiculous) and there’s a stand off with some non-Rydell bikers and he sees them off and Jonny lets him become a T-Bird and this means Stephanie can like him which is great because he’s a biker and also smart and sensitive, and then they kiss for an unsettling amount of time with no backing music so all you can hear are wet slurping sounds and how can a film with an absolutely banging song like Reproduction in it end this badly?

Michael and Stephanie, kissing, in Grease 2

So that’s your primary plot line. All the other plot strands are horrible in one way or another – Johnny (Head T-Bird) also pursuing his ex, Stephanie, whilst hanging onto Paulette who seems to have all of Marilyn Monroe’s insecurities as well as her hairstyle. DiMucci is trying to score with Sharon and thinks the best way to do this is convince her he’s going to war and should give up her V plates to him before he does (These days that would definitely fall under coercion and assault. Teenage me watching these scenes for the first time thought this was terribly romantic which tells you how appalling it is that the sequence exists, even if it accompanies one of the better songs on the soundtrack “Let’s Do It For Our Country”).

And Davey ends up with Dolores (Paulette’s little sister, the only one with any sense) who I guess is about 14, which is… icky? I can’t work out if the main cast are meant to be 16 or 18 because all the other actors are in their 20s but Pamela Adlon was 15-16 at most during filming.

The Songs

I started out doing a comparison spreadsheet of every song on the two Grease soundtracks – some of the tracks are analogues of one another, most explicitly “We’ll Be Together” which is almost the exact same song as “We Go Together,” but slowed down and with terrible lyrics, particularly this verse:

I like what you got, I guess it’s okay if you wanna show it.
I am what I am, and I’m all for you, just want you to know it.

The Pink Ladies dancing in Grease 2

That’s Johnny reluctantly telling Paulette he’s probably OK with her wearing outfits that accentuate her body, to which she says she’s entirely his and then they do kissing. This is after he spent the entire film undermining her, telling her how to dress and pursuing her most recent ex right in front of her face.

The second set of lines makes even less sense.

Will I ever score?
There’s nothin’ wrong with just likin’ each other.

That’s DiMucci wondering if Sharon will have sex with him and her…. letting him down gently? I don’t know, they’ve got their arms around each other and spend the whole song canoodling so maybe she’s going to withhold sex forever as a punishment (fair).

Sex is, of course, something of a feature in the first Grease film, whether pursuit of (“Greased Lightning”), lying about receipt of (“Summer Lovin’”) or judgement of (“Look at Me, I’m Sandra Dee/There are Worse Things I could do”).

Incidentally, I always thought the line ‘lousy with virginity’ meant she hadn’t held onto hers, not that she had a lot of it. Fun. With. Words.

The songs in Grease 2, however, are definitely more overtly sexual, including the biological level (“Reproduction,” everyone’s favourite), bowling analogies (“Score Tonight”) and assault, but make it sound noble and justified (“Let’s do it for our Country”). Judgemental though the first Grease is about female sexuality, Rizzo is allowed agency, self-reflection and strength. Paulette (her equivalent in Grease 2) is in thrall to a loathsome man the whole way through. A man who has this exchange with his friends as he ogles her – beautiful, gold lame-clad – arse:

“Let’s just say I’m giving her therapy for her disease.
“What disease?”
“Nymphoidmania.”

Paulette deserves better.

An image from Grease 2 of the Pink Ladies

“Reproduction,” of course, has no counterpart in the original Grease. It is singular, stunning, a masterpiece. It could have an essay all of its own, as perhaps the only remotely sex positive part of the entire movie, as well as being catchy as hell.

Firstly, Tab Hunter – a master-stroke of casting. Awkward and endearing and undeniably handsome, as only a retro heartthrob can be.

Anyway, Tab Hunter can’t control his classroom, and he can control it even less when Ms Mason (simmering sexual chemistry) appears to… observe? It’s never explained why she’s there and teachers don’t just randomly sit in on one another’s classes for shits and giggles, do they? Maybe they do. He tries to explain the process of reproduction using the example of flowers, and things deteriorate from there. The binary boys v girls back and forth is so much fun – and the women definitely come out on top, although my favourite part is DiMucci holding up a rabbit (why there’s a live rabbit in the classroom is anyone’s guess. Vivisection?) and intoning “See what happens when a boy and girl don’t know how to play it safe?”. I’m also a fan of the girl with the super-long pigtails (her and the blonde with Brigitte Bardot hair and a purple sweater get a lot of airtime and I can’t tell if this is intentional or not) who is OWNING her sexuality in that song and having a lot of fun along the way. Which leads us to:

Is Grease 2 a Sex Positive Film?

Nope. Not even close (“Reproduction” and maybe maybe Sharon’s line in “We’ll Be Together” but that’s it). The women are not sexually satisfied, the men cat call anything in a pencil skirt or a bouffant (including Ms Mason the music teacher, played by bona fide sixties sex symbol Connie Stevens, a lovely counterpart to Tab Hunter’s Mr Stuart).

There’s also a lot of jokes about how bad it is to be a virgin – The Pink Ladies holler “VIRGIN ALERT” at the twins as they walk to class, although later Paulette is aghast at the idea of dying a virgin, and during “Let’s Do It For Our Country” the implication is that Sharon is a virgin too, so this might be deflection rather than active disdain? Nah. Too deep.

An image from Grease 2 of the girls looking appreciatively at something off screen

Is Grease 2 a Sexy Film?

I don’t think so. I can note that Michelle Pfeiffer is hot, and so is Maxwell Caulfield until he opens his mouth – and that they are objectively sexier than their counterparts in the original (conversely I’d say the opposite is true for the Kenickie and Rizzo analogues who do not measure up). It would also be disingenuous not to say that as a teenager the film felt sexy because I was being bombarded with sex from every possible angle and I was already into historical romances at that age, largely through being exposed to Pride and Prejudice as a child. All I wanted was for a boy with a side parting to like me enough to pretend he was enlisting so we could make babies.

But as an adult, watching this ridiculous film with its brain-wormy songs and overzealous extras, it’s not sexy, it’s cringeworthy and occasionally slightly disturbing. It reinforces tired and damaging ‘get the girl’ stereotypes, and not one of the men isn’t at least a bit awful (including Eugene who appears to be faculty staff yet has trouble understanding that Michael, an English exchange student, speaks English.)

The T-Birds and Michael

Final Thoughts

  • Frenchie is back at school to get her chemistry qualification – this plot gets approx 30 screen time and is never mentioned again. Poor Frenchie, she’s just a plot device that they didn’t even need.
  • I could do without the subplot making continual fun of Mr Spears’ mental instability which seems to end with him committing suicide in the pool.
  • Louis DiMucci cannot kiss for shit. Poor Sharon.
  • Sex Morality in the Animal Kingdom – hands up if you want to read Davey (Michael)’s essay?
  • In the opening number, Dolores is adjusting Paulette’s jacket to cover her up, and Paulette keeps pushing it back – even her little sister is policing her body!
  • Some solid sex jokes that I like, rightly or wrongly:
    • Paulette: Rhonda, I wouldn’t fool around with nature.
      Sharon: You fool around with everyone else, Paulette.
    • Principal McGee: [over intercom]If you play an instrument, it’s better to play with a group than with yourself.
    • Student: I’m a little worried… I’ve missed my last two periods.
      Principal McGee: That’s all right, dear, you can make them up after school. [Realizes after the girl left what kind of ‘periods’ she meant, stares in horror]
    • Goose: [singing] Where does the pollen go?

NEXT TIME… Ginger Snaps

Copyright
All stills and photos are sourced from MovieStillsDB and CineMaterial, and are the courtesy of their respective production studios and/or distribution companies. Images are intended for educational or editorial use only.

The Breakfast Club

  • YEAR: 1985
  • DIRECTOR: John Hughes
  • KEY ACTORS: Molly Ringwald, Anthony Michael Hall, Emilio Estevez, Judd Nelson, Ally Sheedy
  • CERTIFICATE: 15
  • IMDB SCORE: 7.9
  • ROTTEN TOMATOES SCORE: 89%

SEX SCORE: 2/5

✔️ Despite what I’m about to write, Breakfast Club is rewatchable – I’ve seen it many times and would watch it again!

✔️ And it does pass the Bechdel Test. With the film essentially taking place in one room with women playing two of the main characters, I’d have worried if it failed!

❌ I don’t want to fuck the cast though. The 80s stereotypes are too strong and not my thing…

❌ And it did not inspire any sexual fantasies. School was a strange time for me and not one full of sex, and this is too reminiscent of that uncertainty.

❌ I nearly gave this a mark for sex positivity as I do appreciate its sensitive handling of teenage discussion on virginity and how woman can’t win when it comes to sex, but there’s too much casual misogyny and too much actual sexual assault so it really can’t be sex positive.

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Blue is the Warmest Colour

or La Vie d’Adèle – Chapitres 1 et 2

  • YEAR: 2013
  • DIRECTOR: Abdellatif Kechiche
  • KEY ACTORS: Adèle Exarchopoulos, Léa Seydoux
  • CERTIFICATE: 18
  • IMDB SCORE: 7.7
  • ROTTEN TOMATOES SCORE: 89%

SEX SCORE: 4/5

✔️ It does pass the Bechdel test – the two main characters are women and the main relationship is between the two of them!

✔️ The cast are definitely fuckable. I’m straight but there’s no denying that they are both beautiful and incredibly hot together.

❌ I can’t say that it inspired fantasies though. I’m not that curious about having sex with someone with a vulva so while I admired how hot their sex was, it wasn’t something that I fantasised about afterwards.

✔️ The rewatchable question is a difficult one. It is three hours long. And as an English speaker, it is entirely in subtitles. But, wow, it was engrossing and the time seemed to fly by! And I would definitely watch it again so, yes, rewatchable!

✔️ And it is sex positive. Sex is an important part of their relationship and, while there are some sex negative moments with homophobia and slut shaming, they are clearly positioned as wrong and damaging.

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Contact

  • YEAR: 1997
  • DIRECTOR: Robert Zemeckis
  • KEY ACTORS: Jodie Foster, Matthew McConaughey, Tom Skerritt
  • CERTIFICATE: PG
  • IMDB SCORE: 7.4
  • ROTTEN TOMATOES SCORE: 65%

Today’s guest post is written by Charlie X (they/he), a blogger I have only recently started reading and who shares the most incredible photos! Follow them on Twitter @CharlieXblog. They have chosen to look at Contact through a Freudian psychoanalytical lens and it is fascinating…

SEX SCORE: 2.5/5

✔️ Contact passes the Bechdel Test.

❌ But Charlie did not want to fuck the cast. (I probably would…)

❌ And we both agree that it didn’t inspire fantasies. It’s not really a movie about sex!

❓ Which is why it’s difficult to say whether it’s sex positive or not. There are no red flags but no are there positive attributes either…

✔️ But is is definitely rewatchable! If only because there are a lot of strands to pick at and lots to think about.

As always, this contains spoilers so watch the film before you read on…

STREAMING: Amazon Prime (free with subscription), BFI Player, YouTube (from £3.99). For a full list of streaming options, check out JustWatch.com

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Moulin Rouge

  • YEAR: 2001
  • Director: Baz Luhrmann
  • KEY ACTORS: Nicole Kidman, Ewan McGregor
  • CERTIFICATE: 12
  • IMDB SCORE: 7.6
  • ROTTEN TOMATOES SCORE: 76%

SEX SCORE: 4/5

✔️ It does pass the Bechdel test…but only just! Satine has a conversation with Marie, her dresser, about being a star. That’s it.

✔️ And, oh my gosh, I want to fuck the cast! It’s difficult to argue whether this is either of McGregor or Kidman’s peak hotness because they have just had so many peaks but, damn, they are beautiful in this movie…

✔️ It’s also incredibly rewatchable. If I come across it on TV, I will always watch it, no matter where in the movie we are.

✔️ And Moulin Rouge did inspire fantasies. Not of sex work but of being that beautiful, that glamorous, that sexually confident…

❌ But it is not sex positive! It’s not sex worker positive, it’s not feminist, and it values virginity much too highly!

As always, this contains spoilers so watch the film before you read on…

STREAMING: Amazon Prime (rent £2.49, buy £6.99), YouTube (from £3.99). For a full list of streaming options, check out JustWatch.com

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Boy Meets Girl

  • YEAR: 2014
  • DIRECTOR: Eric Schaeffer
  • KEY ACTORS: Michael Welch, Michelle Hensley
  • CERTIFICATE: unrated in UK, R in USA
  • IMDB SCORE: 7.1
  • ROTTEN TOMATOES SCORE: 88%

I’m so excited to be hosting this guest post! Quinn Rhodes (ze/hir) is an absolutely incredible trans blogger who writes really excellent and passionate posts about hir explorations with gender, kink and hir sexuality. Hir erotica is also smoking hot!! I asked Quinn to chose a movie that contains a trans character or was about trans themes, and ze surpassed my expectations by picking a perfect film – one that is new to me and one that shows a much more positive trans experience than most. Boy Meets Girl is fantastic and I am so pleased that ze introduced me to it. Find Quinn on Twitter @OnQueerStreet

SEX SCORE: 5/5

✔️ It does pass the Bechdel Test! There are several conversations where there are only women on screen and they’re talking about themselves…though a lot of the time they are rather obsessed with the main character’s junk.

✔️ It is rewatchable! Admittedly, this was the first time I’ve watched Boy Meets Girl and even in the six years since it came out it hasn’t aged especially well in some aspects (more on that later), but it’s definitely a film I’ll be going back to.

✔️ Of course I want to fuck the cast! Michelle Hensley is incredibly hot and I forgive the unrealistic sex scenes (when they start fucking outside by a river in the middle of the night and then we cut to them in a bed the next morning) because she is so fucking sexy in them.

✔️ It also inspires fantasies! I am definitely going to have to spend more time thinking about the sex that the film obviously doesn’t show us, lest it be cast as porn, and trying to work out what some of the things the characters whisper to each other before they fuck could be.

✔️ I’d also say that it was sex positive! I think any film that shows two women having “the talk” before they have sex about previous partners and safe sex practices definitely can be counted as extremely sex positive, even if I would never describe talking about those things in that way.

As always, this contains spoilers so watch the film before you read on…

STREAMING: Amazon Prime (free with subscription, or rent for £2.99, buy £6.99). For a full list of streaming options, check out JustWatch.com

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Clueless

  • YEAR: 1995
  • DIRECTOR: Amy Heckerling
  • KEY ACTORS: Alicia Silverstone, Paul Rudd, Brittany Murphy, Stacey Dash
  • CERTIFICATE: 12
  • IMDB SCORE: 6.8
  • ROTTEN TOMATOES SCORE: 80%

SEX SCORE: 4/5

✔️ Of course this is rewatchable! It may be 25 years old but I could still watch it again and again.

✔️ It’s incredibly sex positive. Even back in 1995, the women didn’t judge each other for their sexual experience or lack of experience. There is no slut shaming and virgin shaming is clearly shown to be wrong, and it’s awesome!

✔️ And it passes the Bechdel test with flying colours. The three main characters are women and they talk about school, driving tests, make overs…

✔️ I will give it a mark for wanting to fuck the cast. I prefer older Paul Rudd, because he does look different, but he’s cute here and Alicia Silverstone is hot!

❌ But it didn’t inspire fantasies. It’s not really a sexual film and I don’t really think I can attribute crushes on older unobtainable people on Clueless!

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Fatal Attraction

  • YEAR: 1987
  • DIRECTOR: Adrian Lyne
  • KEY ACTORS: Glenn Close, Michael Douglas, Anne Archer
  • CERTIFICATE: 18
  • IMBD SCORE: 6.9
  • ROTTEN TOMATOES SCORE: 75%

SEX SCORE: 2/5

✔️ Fatal Attraction does pass the Bechdel Test but it’s described as a ‘weak pass’ as the conversations are very brief and very few!

✔️ And I think it is rewatchable. It’s a tough watch and it’s horrifying, but it stands up to each rewatch and it is still incredibly affecting.

❌ But it is not sex positive. It makes a horror film out of an extramarital affair and highlights the dangers of causal sex without offering an alternate explanation for her actions except that women are crazy and sex outside marriage is dangerous! To quote The Rewatchables, this is ‘fucking with punishment.’

❌ It also didn’t inspire fantasies. I totally get cuckolding fantasies and I love watching my husband with another partner, but this is not it. This is horrifying.

❌ And I don’t want to fuck the cast. Glenn Close is wonderful but her intensity (and perm) are too too much and I literally can’t fancy Michael Douglas. I just don’t see it and never have!

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Closer

  • YEAR: 2004
  • DIRECTOR: Mike Nichols
  • KEY ACTORS: Natalie Portman, Clive Owen, Jude Law, Julia Roberts
  • CERTIFICATE: 15
  • IMDB SCORE: 7.2
  • ROTTEN TOMATO SCORE: 68%

SEX SCORE: 4/5

✔️ Yes. The cast are fuckable. All of them. Every single character. They’re awful but I would fuck them all without hesitation!

✔️And it definitely inspired fantasies – fantasies of love at first sight, fantasies of being wanted so intensely and destructively

✔️ Closer passes the Bechdel Test when Alice and Anna talk about photography at the beginning of the film.

✔️ I also think it’s rewatchable. It’s a stunning, enthralling and breathtaking film!

❌ But is it sex positive? Sadly, I can’t give Closer the mark. Sex is used as a weapon too many times…

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Four Weddings and a Funeral

  • YEAR: 1994
  • DIRECTOR: Mike Newell
  • KEY ACTORS: Hugh Grant, Andie MacDowell
  • CERTIFICATE: 15
  • IMBD SCORE: 7.0
  • ROTTEN TOMATOES SCORE: 96%

SEX SCORE: 5/5

✔️ This movie is definitely rewatchable! Sadly, it’s not on TV as often as other Richard Curtis movies as I could watch it every day!

✔️ It’s difficult to know if this movie is the source of wedding dress fantasies or not, but this was certainly my first exposure to the idea of fucking while wearing a wedding dress.

✔️ And it does pass the Bechdel Test, but only just!! Apparently the only qualifying line between two named female characters is this one: Scarlett: Isn’t she beautiful? Fiona: Scarlett, you’re blind, she looks like a big meringue.

✔️ I contemplated this one for quite a long time but I have concluded that the cast are fuckable. None are at their hotness peak but they’re all looking pretty good!

✔️ And it is sex positive. The characters all fuck around and have a lot of sex and, while it may be greeted with humour and hilarity, the characters are never judged for it. And I like that!

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