Prudish filmmaking in U.S. doesn’t compare to foreign flicks
I once thought life couldn’t get any better, but a new Netflix subscription has changed all that. My new love has led me to quite the discovery: Foreign films are exhilarating. The plots are amazing, the dialogue is sharp, and nudity isn’t limited to just women. Yes! That liberal attitude toward plotlines and male nudity, clearly lacking in America, spurs foreign films to great heights. Foreign films are the new cool.
Is the lack of said liberalness in American films a reflection of our breast-obsessed society? That’s irrelevant to me at the moment. My entertainment is much more important. Highly acclaimed American movies can be subpar. Remember when Halle Berry won that Academy Award for Monster’s Ball in 2002? I do. After watching that horrendous excuse for a movie, all I can remember was a rather explicit and haphazard sex scene featuring Madame Berry’s goodies. Remember the following year, when the Cuarón brothers were nominated for Best Screenplay for Y tu mamá también? Me neither. But I do remember seeing this movie repeatedly, though the exact number of times is too excessive to admit. And I must say, it is a much better cinematic achievement than Monster’s Ball. It features much more nudity, especially featuring glorious male frontals, and much more (MUCH MORE!) sex. Not to mention, it features a lot more of the impeccable Gael García Bernal, who seems to keep popping up in my articles. (That will be his last mention.)
Have you ever experienced Pedro Almodóvar? He is spectacular. Volver, La Mala educación, Todo sobre mi madre. The list goes on. These movies have their share of cross-dressing men, transvestites, and frank portrayals of sex. Almodóvar seems to understand that a movie just isn’t a movie without a hilarious murder, a tragic man with knockers the size of watermelons, or the representation of sex and lust in realistic terms. Yes! It’s not just people rolling around in dirt, claiming they “had sex” afterwards. Quite the contrary — if someone in an Almodóvar film says they had sex, you can attest to it. You’ve seen it. All of it. And you’ve probably also enjoyed it.
La Science des rêves, known by its English title as The Science of Sleep, is yet another instance of a superb foreign film. It is the kind — with a little bit of nakedness, attributed to the man I’ve promised not to mention again — that America would be too unadventurous to think of and too hesitant to make. It has imagination and unusual humor that is atypical of American cinema: “It’s like touching your penis with your left hand,” says Stéphane, the movie’s protagonist, to Stéphanie. “I don’t have a penis,” she retorts. “But you have a left hand,” Stéphane reminds her. Classic, I know. And what’s more, I have a left hand too. Anyway, the fabulous Frenchman Michel Gondry was the writer and director of the film, and we all know the French have some serious street cred in the areas of fashion, food, and film.
American movies don’t do it for me anymore. There just isn’t enough of anything. I mean, there are always the indie films, and I enjoy Sofia Coppola. (Well, I enjoyed that Lost in Translation was so deep, even though I didn’t understand what was going on. Too many underlying messages.) And it was okay that there wasn’t any male nudity: The lack of genitalia in American films is not what makes them blah. Everything is the same now: Kapow! Someone is shot, someone shows her rack, and then the movie is over. Foreign films have more substance, more creative matter. And they can be deep, but still accessible enough for me to understand what’s going on.
Besides, it seems that movies that are considered risqué in America wouldn’t get the same reaction in other countries. Consider Brokeback Mountain, the quintessential gay love story in the States. There was an overload of controversy about Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhall gettin’ it on — and honestly, there wasn’t even that much nakedness. Take that same film and make it European. There’s no uproar, just a movie. Gay cowboys? Just a detail. Those sex scenes? A little prudish. Cinematic achievement? Why, of course. Why can’t America be as nonchalant? Aren’t we supposed to be all about democracy and freedom and stuff?
All right, away from politics. All I’m saying is that foreign films are the shit. And, as I can’t mention enough, there is a lot of nakedness, a lot of sex, a lot of talk about penises (and maybe even left hands) in general, as seen in The Science of Sleep. Most importantly, there is a lot of soul in these films. Less censorship and more tolerance means better movies. And America simply can’t compare.
And as far as hope for us Americans — well, there’s always Sofia Coppola.