Erotic Tales
Feb 14-24 at the Grand Illusion.

Russ Meyer, the dirtiest old man in showbiz, once defined erotica as "tasteful lovemaking as filmed through dirty green bottles." And though Meyer would be an unlikely candidate for inclusion in the new "Erotic Tales" series of shorts made by famous directors, there's truth in what he says. "Erotic" connotes a certain European archness in the treatment of sex on film, a hyperintentional artiness that runs the risk of spoiling the whole show. The three tales I previewed, by Paul Cox, Nicolas Roeg, and Hal Hartley all involve sex in some way, but are sort of fundamentally not sexy--which may be the point, but probably isn't.

The danger of movie sex is the temptation to try and confer visual poetry on the biological poetry that happens during real sex. And as with real sex, movie sex has a hard time surviving embarrassment. After all the cutaways to crackling fires, galloping stallions, glistening buttocks, and murky ponds, it becomes clear that the filmmakers are expending tons of energy trying to make something figurative out of the most literal of acts. Though the films take Erotic as a subject, not an object, before long you start looking for the dirty green bottles.

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