I was at an airport the other day and picked up a copy of Entertainment Weekly at the local Hudson News while I was waiting around. Normally, EW isn't treated as porn, but a slightly more prudish shelf stocker had jammed one of those pieces of cardboard these stores always have in front of the cover, in order to protect the sensitive.
The reason was that EW had a cover story called "The 50 Sexiest Movies Ever," with an image of Kate Winslet and Patrick Wilson sprawled across the bottom (it should be noted that both Winslet and Wilson are, if not fully quite clothed, at least quite clearly not particularly exposed). I attempted to purchase the magazine at the counter and discovered that if I had any curiosity about which employee had felt morally compromised, I need wonder no longer. The woman there clearly felt uncomfortable, not only in me purchasing such a tawdry publication, but being near someone who felt comfortable purchasing this filth. I have never, in however many years of being a consumer, been asked so many times if I wanted a bag, nor had so many customers crane their heads from other corners of the store to see what the to-do was about.
Reading the article, though, proved it to be exactly what I expected: a journalist-lite approach to suggestive subject matter by people who actually have no real desire for titillation. With the rise of gossip journalism and pop culture blogging EW is, if not flailing, than at least stumbling a bit. An issue like this reeks of desperation. And it's also not very good.
I mean, it seems to me it can't be that hard to make a good sexiest movie list if you put your mind to it, right? I wouldn't make one, of course, because I think if you read a sexiest movie list, you wouldn't want to know who made it. It'd be like watching that "Boner Jams '03" video that Paul Rudd makes in The 40-Year Old Virgin. It's just too gross to think about.
Instead, I'm going to go ahead and critique the list that's already made, because EW did a really bad job. It can't be that hard to make a sexiest movies ever list, right? Especially if you're Entertainment Weekly? I mean, you guys cover this stuff, like, every week. That's how you got your name. It's not like you're starting from scratch here.
1. Out Of Sight.
This is one of those picks that would be a great pick if it was, say 13 spots down. If you saw a top-twenty list and Out of Sight was on it, you'd say "oh, yeah, that movie was kinda hot." George Clooney, Jennifer Lopez, and the first commercial Steven Soderbergh movie before the Ocean's movies came out. It's all fun and cleverly constructed, and there's a great meet-cute in the beginning between the leads. All well and good, but it's sort of like naming Karl Malone the greatest basketball player of all time. Sure, he deserves to be on the list, I know, but... c'mon.
2. His Girl Friday.
This is the first of the automatic "old black-and-whites are, by definition, sexy" picks, and it's a terrible first choice. Sure, Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell are great in this flick, but they're almost never together, and when they do talk, it's almost always by phone. Plus, it has those infuriating sequences that old movies love where the leads are talking by phone and the male lead is simultaneously hitting on and ignoring the female lead. The sequences always go like this:
Jimmy, the Intern: Sir, I've got Ms. Spunkson on the phone.
McBrisk: Gimme that here, Jimmy! (into phone) Moxie, about time! You dropped that nobody who's been followin' you around yet?
Moxie: You never change, do you, John? Anyway, grab a pen, I've got a big lead for you.
McBrisk: (covering phone) Jimmy! Bring me some coffee in here! (returns to phone, then looks back up) And a whiskey! (grabbing pen) Alright, doll, what you got?
Moxie: Down at the courthouse, they're all calling this an open-and-shut case, but here's the thing-
McBrisk: (accepting coffee from Jimmy) Sure thing, Moxie, we'll get right on it. (covering phone) Jimmy! Make that a double! (into phone) Still a muckraker through-and-through, eh, sport? Hey, you dumped that ol' hosehound yet?
Moxie: John, this is important! Have Jimmy grab a camera and head to the deli on the corner of Main and -
McBrisk: A deli, huh? Must be a real meaty case! Ha! (covers phone) Jimmy! Get the print shop on the phone! We've gotta stop the presses! (into phone) Got it, Moxie, we're on the case. Say, what you see in that schlub, anyway? He's no good for you!
Moxie: I'm sorry to hear that, John, since we're getting married tomorrow. Now, it's the corner of Main and -
McBrisk: Married! To that so-and-so? You're crazy, kid! (slamming down phone) Jimmy! Grab your camera! We're going to City Hall!
Jimmy: I thought she said a deli.
McBrisk: She did, huh? Silly girl can't get anything straight. Well, we'll work it out on the way. (the phone rings again. McBrisk picks it up and slams it down). All these phones are making my head hurt. Let's get a drink, Jimmy. (they exit)
Just imagine a hour and a half of this and you've got all the sexiness you can handle. How, exactly, did this beat Bogie and Bacall?
All this sexiness is making my head hurt. Let's get a drink, Jimmy.
3. Mr. and Mrs. Smith.
Oh, come on! Come on! Are you kidding me? Really, Entertainment Weekly? Even US Magazine wouldn't put it this high up, and they worship at the altar of the great god Brangelina. You disgust me with your lack of taste. I vomit on your shoes, sir.
Let's skip ahead and just hit the highlights of your crapfest.
6. Don't Look Now
EW, there's one universal rule of Sexiest Movies Ever, and that's never, ever - EVER - put a Nicolas Roeg movie on the list. Definitely not one that you described as a "Venetian creepfest," and/or starring Donald Sutherland. And definitely especially one where there's even the slightest possibility that Donald Sutherland might actually really be getting it on in the movie.
Oh my God, I'm breaking into hives. Please, please, don't think about it. I'm shivering. It's so cold.
Once is a beautiful, lyrical movie about a love and friendship and music and having faith. There's no sex. There's no ribald dialogue. There's not even any kissing. It's just a sweet, quiet indie movie, with a sad, moving score, and you want to lump it in with the gay eroticism of Y Tu Mama Tambien. Why? Just because the two leads ended up dating afterwards, you feel it tinges the whole movie with sexual longing and hidden meanings. You have no class, EW. No class at all.
17. Mulholland Drive.
You know what I said about Nicolas Roeg movies? That goes double for David Lynch movies. Lynch and Roeg don't make "sexy" movies. They make movies with sex scenes in them so uncomfortable it actually makes the very act of sex seem only acceptable for perverts. I have talked to people who watched these movies and felt afterwards that they would never be able to have sex, ever, so haunted were they by these movies. It's like the cinematic form of castration, only it sometimes involves baffling sequences with people dressed in rabbit suits.
19. The Notebook.
You don't think this movie belongs here, no sane person would. You just didn't have the guts to anger those 18-24 year olds who feel this movie is a metaphor for their whole life. It says something pretty awful about you when you do a list to shock the reader and spark whispered conversations, and then you don't have the guts to do anything shocking. Nick Sparks wouldn't put this movie here. Hell, Nick Sparks' mom wouldn't put this movie here.
So, while you were at it, you also decided to not piss off those 24-28 year-olds who have their own movie that's a metaphor for their whole life. And you put the movie that The Notebook endlessly ripped off one spot lower than it's imitator. Like a slap to the face, EW.
26. The English Patient.
You haven't even seen this, have you? Dull is not the new sexy. You just wanted some more Oscar cred on this list. It's like how the wedding crasher code demands that this movie be your favorite. You don't need to actually see it, you just need to convince people that you have, because that makes you deep. I mean, listen to your explanation:
"It's hard to say whether the doomed affair between Count Laszlo Almasy (Ralph Fiennes at his hottest) and Katharine Clifton (Kristen Scott Thomas, ditto) or the breathtaking cinematography (undulating Moroccan dunes!) is the bigger turn-on!"
Translation: I didn't make it past the credits before the movie got (ahem) turned off.
37. In The Mood For Love.
Maggie Cheung and Tony Leung fantasize about saying horrible things to their cheating spouses. Even the director is baffled that people warm so deeply to this movie, mentioning that people who connect so closely with the film don't seem to have noticed the viciousness of the main characters. I wonder which camp EW falls into. Maybe they couldn't figure out how to turn the subtitles on. Or maybe they just figured they needed another foreign movie on the list.
41. The Bodyguard.
At three movies, you are way, waaaaay over your Kevin Costner limit for any sexiness list.
44. King Kong.
There has never been a film into which people have added so much social commentary than the original King Kong. It's about racism. It's about sexuality. It's about the desire to control nature. It's about our deepest fears.
It's about a giant ape. In the climax, he gets shot. The end. Not sexy.
For future reference, I would be forever grateful if the following people were in no way involved in any future sexiness lists you make: Roeg (do NOT forget that one), Lynch, Donald Sutherland, Anthony Minghella, Jack Nicholson, Charlotte Rampling, and above all, Mickey Rourke. Please.
Thank you for your time.