November 11, 2010

Naughty Netflix: The Brown Bunny

Naughty Netflix: A CCLaP essay series

(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.)

The Brown Bunny

Today's movie: The Brown Bunny, 2003 (Amazon | IMDB | Netflix | Wikipedia)

The story in a nutshell: Otherwise known as "that movie where Chloe Sevigny gives an on-screen blowjob," this misunderstood 2003 film is actually Vincent Gallo's touching tribute to the slow-paced, character-heavy countercultural cinema of the early '70s, turning in a nearly wordless visual poem here (sometimes by literally sticking the camera in a car and driving across huge parts of the US by himself) centered around a grieving professional motorcycle racer whose trainwreck girlfriend recently died because of something that was clearly his fault, and who waffles between sorrow, guilt, and anger that it was her own out-of-control life that brought about the situation in the first place, as he slowly makes his way from New Hampshire to California for his next race.

What I thought: Like I said, misunderstood, although admittedly deeply flawed as well. And this once again highlights the benefits of the DVD format and digital scanning; because watched at 4X speed as a half-hour short (you know, and slowing it down again for the rare dialogue scattered throughout), this film is nearly perfect, a real homage to the kind of expansive, thoughtful countercultural film that simply doesn't get made anymore, movies that are more like meditations than simple pieces of entertainment. But sheesh, at two hours it's insufferable, and it's no wonder that the original theatergoers had nothing but vitrol for it; and mind you, that's after the radical cuts that Gallo made after showing an even looser version at the previous year's Cannes Film Festival, prompting Roger Ebert to make his now notorious statement about how it was the worst film in the history of that competition, and one of the worst films generally of all time. That's a shame, because it's easy to see what Gallo was going for simply by speeding things up, and it's too bad he didn't just do this himself in the first place, release it on YouTube and have a viral sensation.

What makes it an explicit movie? Absolutely nothing...you know, except for that totally hot, like, three-minute blowjob by Chloe Sevigny (playing the dead trainwreck girlfriend in flashback), finally putting to rest once and for all the question that you and your buddies always debate when getting wasted at your little hipster cocktail parties, of whether Chloe Sevigny would actually be any good in bed.

Is the sex actually fun to watch? Oh, not really; it's the desperate last acts of a soon-to-be-dead girl with a trainwreck personality, after all, making the scene actually a bittersweet one that was totally glossed over in all the hubbub over its explicitness.

Strangest piece of trivia: After the film came out, Sevigny admitted in an interview that she and Gallo had once been real-life lovers long before the movie, making the sex scene "not that bad" from her perspective.

Worth your time? Yes, but keep your thumb on the fast-forward button

Filed by Jason Pettus at 10:08 AM, November 11, 2010. Filed under: Movies | Profiles | Reviews |