Mike Kueber's Blog

June 9, 2012

Saturday Night at the Movies #30 – Forbidden, Rushmore, and Sex and Lucia

Filed under: Movie reviews — Mike Kueber @ 12:15 pm
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My friend who turned me onto Netflix told me that the company doesn’t deal in pornographic movies.  He was misinformed.  Netflix offers all sorts of hardcore and softcore movies.  This week, a 2002 softcore production titled Forbidden came up on my queue.  (FYI – softcore means no penises or explicit sex.)   The movie includes an interesting story, beginning with a guy who hooks up at a bachelor party and subsequently is unable to get the girl off his mind.  But the girl is not your standard soulmate, and the story has more twists than The Departed.  Although the acting is not great, it is serviceable.  As with most softcore movies, Forbidden has not received a Rotten Tomato rating, or even a summary in Wikipedia.  I give it two and a half stars out of four.            

Rushmore is a 1998 drama-comedy, cult classic (#42 on EW’s list of Top 50 cult movies) that started the careers of its writer/director Wes Anderson and its star Jason Schwartzman and revived the career of co-star Bill Murray.  The plot involves the relationship of a 15-year-old nerdy Schwartzman and a disillusioned industrialist Murray and their mutual love interest, a young widowed teacher played by Olivia Williams.  But the plot isn’t nearly as important as the development of the characters.  Despite their obvious flaws, both Schwartzman and Murray are people who you care about.  According to Wikipedia, Anderson initially drafted Schwartzman’s character to be a young Mick Jagger, but later decided to shift him to a Dustin Hoffman-like kid.  The movie is also blessed with a great soundtrack that included The Kinks, Donovan, Cat Stevens, John Lennon, The Who, The Rolling Stones, Faces, and Chad & Jeremy.  The movie is a cult classic because in its initial release it returned only $17 million of its $20 million cost, but over time has become exceedingly popular.  Rotten Tomato critics gave Rushmore a score of 87% and its audience liked it even more – 91%.  I agree with the audience – I give it three and a half stars out of four.

Sex and Lucia is a 2001 Spanish art-house drama.  I’m not sure how it got on my cue, but I think it was from some list of best cult or sexy movies.  The Rotten Tomato critics gave it a score of 71%, but the audience liked it more – 83%.  What do I think?  Not so much.  Although Lucia (Paz Vega) is stunningly attractive, the plot is incoherent and the sex scenes seem gratuitous.  I give it only one star out of four.  Entertainment Weekly, which reviewed the film in 2002, seems to agree with me and gave the film only a B-, but its review was spot-on and witty:

  • At first, we think we’re watching the story of Lucia (Paz Vega), a waitress who recalls her beautiful, tragic love affair with Lorenzo (Tristan Ulloa), a novelist who looks like the fifth member of ABBA. We’re told from the outset that Lorenzo is going to crack up, and badly. Yet in flashback, the two seem ideally matched, especially in bed, where their lovemaking is a seductive union of romance, playful role reversal, and libidinous compulsion. Imagine a Penelope Cruz who acted as soulfully as she looked in photographs, and you’d have Paz Vega, who spends much of the film casually naked yet projects the deep-dish yearning of an earlier generation of stars. Vega is a real find. Too bad the movie strands her — and the audience.
  • The problems begin with Lorenzo’s dark secret: During an anonymous sexual encounter on a tropical isle, he fathered a little girl. His mission to reunite with her is recounted in a novel he’s writing, which we see scenes from. Or are they reality? His crusade leads to a wild but disastrous hookup with the girl’s nanny and the nanny’s porn-star mother, at which point Sex and Lucia starts to resemble a loony-tunes Almodovar soaper played straight (a contradiction if ever there was one). And that, folks, is the accessible part of the movie. As it goes on, Sex and Lucia becomes an opaque muddle of what-if and what-ever. The movie does qualify as an art-house turn-on, but adult sexuality already has enough kinks. It doesn’t need to be tied in knots.

I couldn’t say it nearly as well.

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