Wednesday, March 15, 2006

I'm ready for my sex scene, Mr. DeMille

Europe's leading DVD rental service, Lovefilm (think Netflix with an accent), has released the results of its latest poll, in which film fans were asked to choose the sexiest scenes in film history.

As a public service — because he's civic-minded that way — your Uncle Swan counts down the top 10, along with his expert opinion on each of the finalists. (Expert on film, of course. What did you think I was an expert in?)

10. The Hunger. Catherine Deneuve and Susan Sarandon in what most likely is the most famous lesbian vampire make-out sequence in the history of the movies. Sarandon may well be Hollywood's sexiest major actress, and Deneuve one of Europe's all-time beauty queens. Vampire women aren't my cup of aphrodesiac, especially — how turned on can you be by someone who wants to drain the blood from your body and transform you into one of the undead? But if that's your kink, you couldn't go far wrong with these two.

9. Mulholland Drive. Naomi Watts and Laura Elena Harring steam up the screen. I'm beginning to detect a pattern here. Must be something about seeing two beautiful women getting jiggy that really ignites viewers' fantasies. Male viewers, I presume, though I may be wrong about that. Personally, I thought the film was overrated, but Watts and Harring (she of Lambada: The Forbidden Dance) are definitely memorable.

8. The Fabulous Baker Boys. Michelle Pfeiffer sings "Makin' Whoopie" while crawling on her belly like a reptile all over a grand piano. This one would be at or near the top of my personal list, despite the fact that I don't find Michelle Pfeiffer all that attractive. She wrings every ounce of seduction out of that song, though. And that red dress should be in the Smithsonian.

7. Rear Window. James Stewart is awakened by a passionate kiss from Grace Kelly. You wouldn't necessarily think of Hitchcock and sexy in the same sentence, but this scene does the job. Hitchcock had a legendary fetish for icy blondes, but there's very little frigid about the future Princess Grace here.

6. Wild Things. The infamous car-washing scene featuring Denise Richards and Neve Campbell. In the words of Austin Powers, "Yeah, baby!" If Denise Richards could act, she'd be dangerous. She can't, of course. But what if?

5. Cruel Intentions. More girl-on-girl smooching, this time with Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Selma Blair. Cruel Intentions — a latter-day Brat Pack retooling of Les Liaisons Dangereuses — is the kind of film that makes you want to shower before you watch it, while you're watching it, and after you've watched it. The characters are so thoroughly reprehensible that finding any of them sexy overextends my tolerance for ickiness. And this from someone who enjoyed both Valmont and Dangerous Liaisons, which are based on the same material. Adults behaving like sexual vultures is one thing. With teenagers, it's altogether different.

4. Betty Blue. A scene starring French actress Beatrice Dalle. I must confess that I haven't seen this one. But then, I'm not much for Francophilia.

3. Out of Sight. George Clooney and Jennifer Lopez locked together in a trunk. Another that would be on my list. It's not even a sex scene — it's literally two people talking as they're locked in a trunk. The way Clooney and J-Lo play it, though, it's smokin'. Out of Sight is, incidentally, a terrific film, and remains my favorite of Clooney's screen roles despite my fondness for Ocean's Eleven.

2. Brokeback Mountain. Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal give the expression "cowboy up" a whole new twist. I haven't seen this yet, but I've seen plenty of other films starring either Ledger (I'm one of the rare film snobs who actually likes A Knight's Tale) and Gyllenhaal (who will always be Donnie Darko to me). Nothing in any of those movies makes me long to see these two guys engrossed in a liplock. But then, I'm funny that way. Or not. Depending on how you look at it.

1. Secretary. Speaking of Gyllenhaals, Jake's sister Maggie takes top honors getting her fanny spanked by James Spader. Brilliantly written, acted, and directed though it is, Secretary may be the most disturbed mainstream film (if indeed it can be called such) I've ever witnessed. What does it say about modern society that the scene considered the sexiest in cinematic history depicts a pathologically submissive woman being physically abused — albeit willingly — by a dominant male authority figure with sadistic tendencies? Wait... don't answer that. I probably don't want to know.

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