November 17, 2009

Naughty Netflix: Fiona

(Think that you can't rent movies at Netflix that contain legitimately explicit sexuality? Think again, my frustrated friend! In this special essay series, I look at a total of thirty mainstream films made over the last forty years, all of which contain scenes of such actual graphic sex acts as fellatio and penetration, reviewing them not in only in terms of the movie's quality itself but also the amount of sex it portrays, and whether this sex is any fun or not to actually watch. For more about how these movies were chosen, as well as the full list of all thirty titles, you can click here; and don't forget, these reviews are also mixed into the master list of all movies reviewed here, over at CCLaP's main movie page.)


Today's movie: Fiona, 1998 (Amazon | IMDB | Netflix)

The story in a nutshell: This experimental feature from Amos Kollek certainly has an interesting setup: It tells the fictional tale of a crack-addicted prostitute living on the Lower East Side of 1990s Manhattan (you know, the same place and time period the musical Rent is set); but then tells this story by actually filming in very real crackhouses found in the neighborhood back then, and hiring actual crack-addicted prostitutes to play many of the parts. As such, then, the movie doesn't really have too terribly much of a plot to speak of, but is more like a semi-documentary look at what daily life is like for women in such a position.

What I thought: Meh. It's all right for what it is, and especially in the places where Kollek gets out of the way and simply lets the sad co-dependent relationships of these drug-addicted prostitutes show themselves without varnish; but unfortunately the filmmaker felt the need to inject a lot of unrealistic drama into this cinema-verite environment, adding such silly subplots as mainstream johns who fall in love with her, the random killing of three cops one day while high, and an accidental reunion with the fellow-addict mother who abandoned her that will make many audience members cringe and angrily mutter, "Oh, jeez, I really didn't need to see that." Also, please know that this movie was made at the dawn of the DV age, which means that both the video and audio quality are terrible; and for all my fellow hearing-impaired movie lovers, please also know that the production company couldn't afford to add closed-captioning to the DVD, making the badly-recorded dialogue nearly impossible to follow most of the time.

What makes it an explicit movie? Almost nothing, except for one very brief (five-second) scene of oral sex. Although this film actually is filled with sex scenes, ones that I have no doubt are real based on how they look, for some reason the filmmakers carefully edited nearly all of them so that nothing explicit can actually be seen, a strange decision when you consider that they left in exactly one of these explicit shots, thus guaranteeing its NC-17 status.

Is the sex actually fun to watch? Oh, God no. In fact, that's the whole point, to show the sort of desperate, cold, dangerous sex with creepy unattractive strangers that these women will subject themselves to, in order to raise the quick cash needed to support their habit. (Also, for those who don't know, a naked crack addict is not exactly the most appealing sight in the world.) It doesn't necessarily make Fiona a bad film, but it's certainly not something to rent in order to put yourself and/or your partner "in the mood."

Strangest piece of trivia: The star of this movie, Anna Thomson (now Levine), has actually been in a ton of mainstream Hollywood films, playing small yet crucial parts in almost all of them -- for example, she played the cut-up prostitute in Clint Eastwood's Unforgiven, and the alcoholic mother of the teenage heroine in The Crow.

Worth your time? Somewhat

Filed by Jason Pettus at 11:41 AM, November 17, 2009. Filed under: Movies | Reviews |