COMMON PERCEPTION HAS IT THAT "erotica" is just a highfalutin' way of saying "porno." While that may be true in some cases, it's not always so cut-and-dried. Frankly, a film that's nothing but full-on hardcore gets boring pretty fast, whereas if you have some semblance of a plot to follow, you anticipate the upcoming sexcapades with greater relish. Call it the Art of Anticipation.

This is the terrain Radley Metzger mined in the late '60s and early '70s, capitalizing on the sexual awakening of a nation. As the Swinging '60s blossomed, a burgeoning audience welcomed cinematic sexual explicitness. Metzger provided just that via his "elegant erotica," which screened in art houses and attracted those sophisticated folks who drink white wine.

Or maybe that should be champagne. The characters in the first week of the Grand Illusion's Metzger retrospective are world-weary socialites, lounging around their Italian castles with a chilled bottle of bubbly always at hand. The source material is classy too. The Lickerish Quartet is Pirandello's Six Characters in Search of an Author with a twist. Mom, adult son, and stepdad pick up a comely stunt driver who they think is the leading lass in the stag films they watch, but when they screen the film again, they discover the star is a different woman altogether! While they're mulling that over, the stunt driver has sex with each of them.

Camille 2000 is Alexandre Dumas' Camille, the classic story of a dying beauty's sacrifice for her beloved. When she's not sexing it up on inflatable beds, she's attending "prison" parties, where half-naked women lead men around in handcuffs. It's enough to make you ask, "Why don't I get invited to parties like this?" The films may be light on the nudity, but they're hot like a long, slow, tease.

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