I suppose Christmas is an iffy time to bring up sex, what with the holiday being Immaculate and all.This means that giving some delicious someone an out-and-out porno might seem too saucy; the season is just so darn clean-cut, cheerful, and bright. Nonetheless, some of us have no shame and can find our way around such inhibition with a little sly maneuvering. Big-budget movies are, you see, filled with humping or, at the very least, sizzling innuendo, even when the subject matter of the films themselves may not have anything at all to do with the Act. I have a particular yen for such things, so trust me. Here are some VCR recommendations that will drop a a daring hint without going as far as Debbie Does Dallas.
VHS $9.95, DVD $24.95
Go ahead and be chilly about Richard Gere's ego—but in the right role he can light anyone's Yuletide fire. Director Jim McBride takes the star's much-berated overheated narcissism and kicks it up several notches right in your face; this movie reminds us that despite all the snide things we may think about Richard Gere (that he's dirty, randy, and full of himself), we should stop pretending we don't want him that way. McBride's remake of Godard's seminal New Wave classic about a sexy lowlife on the run can't boast that it changed the way movies were made, but when Gere gets that needy, hungry glint in his eye you're a fool if you start discussing aesthetics anyway. He and French hottie Valerie Kaprisky (who can't act but sure knows how to wriggle) get it on like they mean it.
The Last of the Mohicans (1992)
VHS $14.95, DVD $34.95
There isn't any naked tumbling here, yet I'm not the first person to suggest that this film could make your grandmother tingly. Daniel Day-Lewis, protecting Madeleine Stowe from a vengeful warrior in the forests of 18th century America, gives new definition to the term "penetrating stare." When she asks him what he's looking at and he says, "Why, I'm looking at you, miss," and she smiles and he grins back, man, you just wanna grab whomever you're sitting next to at the moment and nail them. People who call this stuff cornball are free to move right along and leave the rest of us to the carnal splendor of Michael Mann's action epic. Only Day-Lewis could reek of manly intellect wearing a loincloth, and only Stowe could spout lines like "It is more deeply stirring to my blood than any imagining could possibly have been" as though they were naturally sexy. Eric Schweig and Jodhi May, their respective siblings, are nothing to sneeze at, either.
Aidan Quinn made his film debut in the type of movie that yearns to be about youthful angst and alienation but, thankfully, really only says, If you have the opportunity to get it on with a brooding young outcast, by all means do so. James Foley, a stylish director who would later film Glengarry Glen Ross, is respectful of and true to the age-old teenage-rebel genre without forgetting that by 1984 you damn well better show us what fringe benefits you get when you befriend that hot biker. In this case, it gets cheerleader Daryl Hannah a memorably horny romp on the wrong side of the tracks with a full-frontal Quinn. Yeah, it's sensitively made and well-acted; it's the boiler-room boinking you'll consider later.
The Big Easy (1987)
VHS $9.95, DVD $24.95
Proving that his understanding of sexual chemistry in the Breathless remake was no fluke, Jim McBride gave this colorful late-'80s noir the spice it needed to overcome the holes in its superfluous plot. When New Orleans detective Dennis Quaid sticks his fingers up assistant district attorney Ellen Barkin's dress then tells her "Your luck's about to change," you believe him. Quaid is playful and rangy and has a bare ass you could bounce a quarter off of, while Barkin snarls and heaves and causes you to wonder why in hell Hollywood can't figure out how to use her properly. Their wet, lusty fumblings on Barkin's bed make for one of the hottest tussles in recent memory. Forewarning: You may howl in empathetic frustration when it's interrupted by a murder.
Oh, man, is this movie dumb. Rob Lowe is a ne'er-do-well who romances rich Meg Tilly through several silly plot twists to show us the meaning of true love. The whole thing is ridiculously lush and overripe. Feral Kim Cattrall (yay!) is nude and oiled and banging Lowe. Lowe is nude and oiled and banging everyone. Not a lot of actual sex per se—though Rob mounts Meg rather brazenly for a mainstream thriller, and his bum is everywhere—just deliciously lewd-icrous. God, it's fun.
The Pillow Book (1996)
VHS $22.95, DVD $27.95
Sure, I could talk about Peter Greenaway's directorial finesse and the artful way he has eroticized human flesh and all its surprising possibilities. Let's just cut to the chase, though: You've got Ewan MacGregor here and he's bisexual and he's buck nekkid and he's flopping all over the place and he's joined by a ravishingly nude Vivian Wu, who gets to scribble on him, too. The film—a tale of literary revenge—can be slow going but is worth all the narrative agonies of its last half hour for the flat-out beautiful fetishes that fill most of the rest of its running time. For this film, DVD is the best choice for the choicest viewing.
The End of the Affair (1999)
VHS $19.95, DVD $24.95
Neil Jordan's adaptation of the Graham Greene novel may have been the unsung movie of its year—a lavishly thoughtful and romantic rumination on love and faith that hardly anybody saw. Oh, and Julianne "I'm red hot in the sack" Moore and Ralph "My bottom is more perfect than you could ever imagine" Fiennes fornicate in a sizzling bit that ends with Moore yelping in ecstasy. You won't blame either one of them. When Fiennes worries that Moore's husband (Stephen Rea, in a singularly fine performance) may have heard their triumph downstairs, she coolly assures him that "he wouldn't recognize the sound." A grand way to ring in the New Year, indeed—almost as grand what you'll receive if your gift does the trick.
Steve Wiecking is a contributing writer at Seattle Weekly.