April 03, 2007
SEX IN THE MOVIES
To begin with, this column is not really about sex in the movies. I just wanted to see if I could get your attention.
The truth is my wife, the beautiful Judy Licht, is pushing me to go see a movie that I know I'm going to hate. The Namesake. Even the name turns me off.
I don't know who directed this but I smell another Merchant and Ivory type boring chick flick movie. So I just went and dug out an old column I wrote about the difference between men and women and movies.
I hope you enjoy it.
So my wife Judy finally walked out of a Merchant and Ivory movie. It was Le Divorce. She told me she went because she was attracted by the title. I don't know what that says about our marriage, and I'm afraid to ask. Fortunately, I wasn't with her at the movie, but that doesn't mean I didn't later hear it about my movie going deficiencies as a husband.
I have to check, but when I got married I don't remember the person who was reading the vows saying anything about loving, honoring, obeying and going to see those horrible, incredibly boring Merchant and Ivory movies. The other day Judy was regaling some friends about my stubborn insistence that I want to see movies that are entertaining and move a little faster than at a snail's pace.
"Jerry," she said (searching for a word that would convince her two women friends that I was a mindless barbarian), "doesn't . . . doesn't . . . even like movies that have subtitles."
The two women looked shocked. Judy could have said, "Jerry is a pederast" and they would have looked at me with more kindness in their eyes. They both clucked their tongues, "Tsk . . . tsk . . . " and one of them said, "Maybe he can't read fast." Followed by the other woman who said, "Men have trouble with foreign movies with titles, you know."
Now I've known, since I was a little boy, the difference between movies. There were women's movies, men's movies, and couple's movies. In the 1940s, Now Voyager (a flick where Bette Davis played a sad spinster who served her mean mother) was a woman's movie. But What Ever Happened To Baby Jane? (where Bette Davis served her sister a dead rat on a tray) was a man's movie.
Casablanca, with Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman, was a couple's movie. The women loved it that Rick (Bogart) loved Ilsa (Bergman) so much that he was willing to give her up to her husband. The men loved it that Rick hated Peter Lorre so much he was willing to give him up to the Nazis.
Today, there is a new dreaded fourth category of movie, which was invented by strong-willed, independent women picking on frightened, sex-starved men like me. This category I'm calling the "If you aren't sensitive enough to enjoy this overlong, overwritten drivel I will never have sex with you again" movie.
There are many movies like this around . . . anything produced by Merchant and Ivory, for instance. A number of these movies feature that great actor Anthony Hopkins.
Hopkins who, ever since he ate people's foreheads as Hannibal Lecter in Silence of the Lambs, has played a series of incredibly dull British husbands who are too constricted and remote to talk, let alone have a (you should pardon the coarse expression) tumble in the hay with their wives.
The characters in these movies are all the same. There's the husband who's incredibly remote and sullen because he feels that no one loves him. There's the wife who secretly really loves her boring husband even though she's got the hots for the gardener . . . a handsome lout who spends the entire movie with his shirt off picking up dirt and sweating. Then there's the wife's sister who secretly loves the wife's husband. And the husband's best friend who's married to the wife's sister (although he, too, also secretly loves his wife's sister's husband).
No man (and that includes Alan Alda) is so sensitive that he can sit through these long-winded duller-than-dirt movies. And yet no man is ready to admit how much he hates these films. Why? For fear of sexual reprisals delivered in the form of "Not this year, dear. I have a headache."
And do you want to know how far this sexual intimidation has come? One of these films, The English Patient (perhaps the worst of them all), won an Academy Award.
I remember the night my wife, the beautiful Judy Licht, and I went to see this movie. The East Hampton Cinema was filled with couples. The women all twittering . . . the men all reserved.
I remember looking at Judy and, quite frankly, I was turned on. I figured it was an early movie and the night was young and so was Judy. I planned on drinks and soft music and, you know . . .
Judy gets very emotional at movies and that night she was in fine form. She started to sob the minute they put on that computer-animated horror that tells you to eat popcorn and drink Coca-Cola but don't talk, etc., etc.
"Judy," I whispered. "Why are you crying? The movie hasn't started yet."
"I know, but it's going to be so . . . so . . . sad."
Well, The English Patient stars this guy, Ralph Fiennes, who has made a career playing Nazis. His first role as the mean Nazi next door was in Schindler's List. In The English Patient he plays a sexy Nazi. This doesn't begin to compare with John Banner who for years played a lovable Nazi (Sergeant Schultz) in "Hogan's Heroes." Now that was great acting.
Well, in The English Patient, Fiennes plays a Nazi who is badly burned in a plane crash. So the whole movie consists of this guy who I swear is so burned that he looks exactly like the creature in that monster film of the '50s, The Creature From the Black Lagoon.
I knew from the beginning of the movie he was going to die. Spending three hours watching a guy who is made up to look like a burned-to-a-crisp monster dying is not my idea of a fun Saturday night.
There were a lot of other story lines and characters in the movie — one duller than the other. The burned guy kept remembering this love affair he had with this married woman who was, you guessed it, his best friend's wife.
Well, this was not one of those wham-bam affairs. No sir. This was slow. So slow that they managed to do the impossible . . . make sex boring. And the more the nurse who was taking care of the guy who was burned to a crisp heard the story of the affair, the more she was interested in climbing into bed with the crisp.
At one point I said to myself, "If she goes near this guy, I'm going to be sick. The only thing that is going to save me from throwing up is that this movie is so boring I'm starting to doze off."
That's when Judy poked me.
"Isn't this wonderful?" she declared with tears streaming down her face.
Her tone told me that if I told the truth I could forget about the drinks and soft music later. So I did what any red-blooded young man would do under the circumstances. I lied. "It's wonderful . . . wonderful. It's the best thing I've seen in years," I said.
"How come you're not crying?" she whispered.
"Well, to tell you the truth, I was so caught up in the story that I guess I forgot to cry," I said.
At one point in the middle of the picture I decide to go to the bathroom and throw some cold water on my face. I thought it would keep me awake, and maybe if I didn't dry my face, in the darkness of the theater, it would look like I was crying and Judy would give me points for being super sensitive.
As I got up and walked up the aisle I couldn't help but notice every woman was heaving and sobbing and every man was fidgeting and looking bored out of his mind.
When we got home from the movie I put on some sexy music and I asked Judy if she would like a drink. "Oh no," she replied. "I'm emotionally exhausted from that movie . . . It so affected me. If I don't get to sleep right this second I'm going to pass out. But I'm so glad you enjoyed the movie too."
In seconds she was sound asleep.
I sat there and started laughing at myself for pretending to be sensitive and still striking out . . . I laughed long and hard. For the first time that night, The English Patient brought me to tears.
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