On movie sex and movie love...

Tag: Fails Bechdel test (Page 1 of 2)

Casablanca

  • YEAR: 1942
  • DIRECTOR: Michael Curtiz
  • KEY ACTORS: Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Paul Henreid
  • CERTIFICATE: U
  • IMDB SCORE: 8.5
  • ROTTEN TOMATOES SCORE: 99%

SEX SCORE: 3.5/5

✔️ This is definitely rewatchable. From any point in the film, at any time.
✔️ And I definitely want to fuck the cast. Doesn’t everyone?
❓ I’m giving it a half mark for inspiring fantasies because it didn’t inspire anything directly, but it could be the source of so many other doomed romance/love triangle/being fought over by two men fantasies…
❌ Sadly, it fails the Bechdel Test. There are only three named female characters and they never speak, let alone talk about something other than a man.
✔️ I had to think about it, but I think Casablanca is sex positive. Sex seems to be both ever present and never spoken about, but I don’t recall any particularly negative moments so I’m giving it the mark!

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Crash

  • YEAR: 1996
  • DIRECTOR: David Cronenberg
  • KEY ACTORS: James Spader, Holly Hunter, Deborah Kara Unger, Rosanna Arquette, Elias Koteas
  • CERTIFICATE: 18
  • IMDB SCORE: 6.4
  • ROTTEN TOMATOES SCORE: 63%

SEX SCORE: 2.5/5

❌ Not only does Crash not pass the Bechdel test, it fails it spectacularly. While there are named women in the film at no point in the entire film do any of them talk to each other. There’s not a huge amount of dialogue in Crash, so when I rewatched it with the Bechdel test in mind, I was kind of imagining there might at least be a passing conversation about Ballard between his wife and Doctor Helen that I’d forgotten, but no; not a dicky bird.

But it is rewatchable? I’ve now seen Crash three times; once in 1997 when it (finally) came out in the UK, once when it was re-released on 4K in 2020, and once for this review. I think it’s an astonishing, bewildering film and I can see myself rewatching it again in future. However, it is very strong stuff, and while I can imagine watching it multiple times, there are many people out there who might not be able to stomach an entire first viewing. That’s entirely understandable – it’s creepy, the characters are on the surface unsympathetic and often repellent, and it’s all-round just very fucking weird. However, if you are a weirdo who likes weird things it may be entirely up your alley. 

✔️ I did want to fuck the cast! Okay, have you seen the cast of Crash? Firstly, James Spader. If you are at all into pervy men in real life then you are in all likelihood into James Spader: I don’t make the rules. However, those of us perverts who also fancy women are extremely well- catered to by this film, which features Holly Hunter with a sleek brown bob glacially smoking cigarettes, Deborah Kara Unger bending over a railing to show off her bare arse, stockings and suspenders and, famously, Rosanna Arquette in leg braces and black leather. I am not even into women smoking or wearing leg braces except for the duration of this film! But for those 100 minutes I absolutely am. And actually, even Elias Koteas performs the role of Vaughan – easily the creepiest character in the movie – with a degree of ‘strange, perverse sensuality’ (Cronenberg’s own words) that I’m… kinda into. I’m not proud of it!

But it did not inspire fantasies. Nooooo. Or… not on this viewing.

✔️ Yes, it is sex positive, almost to a fault. If we take as our definition of sex positivity as being anything that ‘affirm(s) the choices others make regarding sex, even if those choices are different from the ones we would make (as long as those choices are consensual)’ Although that said, some of the sex in Crash is a bit dodgy consent- wise: there’s one scene of open public fucking without regard for whether others on the roads have consented to seeing, and another where Vaughan and the Ballards are wandering around the scene of a multi- car pileup taking photos, posing next to injured bodies and generally being grossly intrusive. The scene is as disturbing as it sounds but the film and its director do not see fit to moralise and trust the audience to make their own decisions about that. 

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Kramer vs. Kramer

  • YEAR: 1979
  • DIRECTOR:  Robert Benton
  • KEY ACTORS: Dustin Hoffman, Meryl Streep, Justin Henry
  • CERTIFICATE: PG
  • IMDB SCORE: 7.8
  • ROTTEN TOMATOES SCORE:  88%

SEX SCORE: 1/5

❌ Sadly, this fails the Bechdel test.
✔️ But I do think that it is rewatchable, although it isn’t an easy watch!
❌ I don’t want to fuck the cast. They’re not portrayed as very attractive and it’s not a story about sex or successful romantic relationships
❌ And so it also didn’t inspire fantasies. Quite the reverse!
❌ In the end, I can’t give it a mark for being sex positive. Joanna is judged for having partners and Ted isn’t even questioned, and that’s too outdated a view on sex!

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Top Gun

  • YEAR: 1986
  • DIRECTOR: Tony Scott
  • KEY ACTORS: Tom Cruise, Kelly McGillis, Anthony Edwards, Val Kilmer
  • CERTIFICATE: 12A
  • IMDB SCORE: 6.9
  • ROTTEN TOMATOES SCORE: 54%

SEX SCORE: 3/5

✔️ Is it rewatchable? What a question – of course it’s fucking rewatchable!!
✔️ And of course I want to fuck the cast! Maverick, Goose, probably Ice Man and Viper…the flight suit/aviator look is cliched now but it’s a cliche for a reason!
✔️ I think it also did inspire fantasies. Not so much of fucking a pilot but of fucking 1986 Tom Cruise!
❌ But it doesn’t pass the Bechdel Test. The only two female characters are Charlie and Mrs Goose (who is called Carole but I had to look it up) and while they do share one scene, they don’t say a word to each other.
❌ And it’s not sex positive. Too much sexual harassment is treated as a joke!

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Indecent Proposal

  • YEAR: 1993
  • DIRECTOR: Adrian Lyne
  • KEY ACTORS: Demi Moore, Robert Redford, Woody Harrelson
  • CERTIFICATE: 15
  • IMDB SCORE: 6.0
  • ROTTEN TOMATOES SCORE: 35%

SEX SCORE: 2/5

❌ This fails the Bechdel Test – I believe that Diana is the only named female character, which isn’t really good enough…
❌ And I don’t think it is rewatchable. It simply wasn’t good enough and my fantasies of the premise are better than the film!
✔️ Despite their flaws, I do want to fuck the cast…except Woody Harrelson…
✔️ And it did inspire fantasies. Of being bought and being sold and CONSENSUALLY treated as an object!
❌ Finally, it isn’t sex positive. There was too much ambiguous consent and odd sexual dynamics to get a mark for positivity!

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The Lost Boys

  • YEAR: 1987
  • DIRECTOR: Joel Schumacher
  • KEY ACTORS: Kiefer Sutherland, Jason Patric, Corey Haim, Corey Feldman
  • CERTIFICATE: 15
  • IMDB SCORE: 7.3
  • ROTTEN TOMATOES SCORE: 79%

SEX SCORE: 2.5/5

❌ For the first time in a while, this is a film that fails the Bechdel Test. The female characters don’t even share a scene, let alone speak!
✔️ And it is definitely rewatchable. Reportedly the ‘most Eighties film ever made,’ it is hugely entertaining and easy to watch again and again!
✔️ The cast are also definitely fuckable. Yes, again, very 80s, but also – hot.
❓I’m going to give it half a mark for inspiring fantasies. This movie didn’t inspire fantasies for me, but it is the source of inspiration for another vampire that did inspire a lot of fantasies!
❌ But it’s not sex positive. Instead, sex is a metaphor for danger and risk-taking, which isn’t so great…

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Her

YEAR: 2013
DIRECTOR: Spike Jonze
KEY ACTORS: Joaquin Phoenix, Scarlett Johansson
CERTIFICATE: 15
IMDB SCORE: 8.0
ROTTEN TOMATOES SCORE: 95%

SEX SCORE: 4/5
❌ Sadly, this film fails the Bechdel Test. Even without asking if the OS have a gender, none of the named female presenting characters talk about anything but men.
✔️ It did inspire fantasies of what our sexual future could be and how technology could influence the sexual relationships we might have. Also fantasies of super hot phone sex!
✔️ And I do think it is sex positive. The science fiction setting allows stigma, personhood, sexual agency and consent to be examined and it does a pretty good job of it. It’s not perfect but it’s pretty good!
✔️ It raises so many questions in my mind that I do think it is rewatchable.
✔️ And I would fuck the cast. Not Joaquin Phoenix so much but I’d love to have phone sex with Samantha. Scarlett Johansson has such a deeply sexy voice after all!

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The Graduate

YEAR: 1967
DIRECTOR: Mike Nichols
KEY ACTORS: Dustin Hoffman, Anne Bancroft, Katharine Rose
CERTIFICATE: 15
IMDB SCORE: 8.0
ROTTEN TOMATOES SCORE: 86%

SEX SCORE: 2/5
❌ It fails the Bechdel Test – the two named women (and there are only two!) share two lines of dialogue at the very end of the movie, but they are about Ben so it fails!
✔️ But it is rewatchable. Whatever you might think of the sexual politics and disaffection, it is a beautiful, funny and interesting movie.
✔️ It did inspire fantasies. Not so much about the age difference or the seduction by a older, more experienced person but for the late night assignations at hotels, meeting and fucking and not speaking except to arrange the next meeting. Hot. So hot.
❌ I don’t want to fuck the cast though. Mrs Robinson is glamorous and beautiful and can really wear a pair of stockings but I’d rather be her than fuck her, and Benjamin is just too annoying to contemplate.
❌ This can’t be a sex positive film when so much sexually predatory behaviour is considered sources of comedy!

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Hitch

YEAR: 2005
DIRECTOR: Andy Tennant
KEY ACTORS: Will Smith, Eva Mendes, Kevin James, Amber Valletta
CERTIFICATE: 12A
IMDB SCORE: 6.6
ROTTEN TOMATOES SCORE: 68%

SEX SCORE: 3/5
✔️ This is rewatchable. It shouldn’t be. It should have aged very badly and be too annoying to watch now…but it’s still pretty enjoyable!
✔️ I’d definitely fuck the cast! Will Smith may not be at his Independence Day era peak but he’s still looking great and Eva Mendes is stunning. STUNNING!
✔️ And it did inspire fantasies but they’re ones that make me a bit sad now – I would simply fantasise about someone liking me enough to make that much effort like the men in the film. Oh dear…
❌ But it definitely fails the Bechdel Test. I don’t think there are any conversations at all in the film that aren’t about dating!
❌ And I can’t give it a mark for being sex positive. It may be relationship positive and encouraging of sex within a relationship, but casual sex is less acceptable. It’s something desperate woman and sleazy men do, not something good people do. Yeah, not great…

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Up in the Air

YEAR: 2009
DIRECTOR: Jason Reitman
KEY ACTORS: George Clooney, Vera Farmiga, Anna Kendrick
CERTIFICATE: 15
IMDB SCORE: 7.4
ROTTEN TOMATOES SCORE: 91%

SEX SCORE: 4/5
✔️ Rewatchable – it’s soft and gentle and sweet and funny and thought provoking and easy watching, and I could watch it every week!
✔️ And yes, I do want to fuck the cast. I’d even argue that this film is George Clooney’s hotness peak!
✔️ Hotel sex with a handsome stranger was certainly a fantasy before this film, but it added the idea of luxury and exclusivity to this fantasy; a frisson of transience and possibility on expensive sheets.
✔️ Although it is another movie that has a possible cheating plot, I do think it’s sex positive as the main focus is on being OK with who you are. Whether you’re frequent flier Ryan or his home girl sister, it’s OK to have the life (and the love and sex) that you want and in the absence of significant sex negative themes, I’m going to give it the mark.
❌ But does it pass the Bechdel test? Can it be only the second 5/5 movie?? In the end, this comes down to accepting nuance in a binary question. There is one conversation between two named female characters that isn’t about men or dating – Natalie fires Karen Barnes, the women who later takes their own life. It’s an important plot point, but it is only one conversation and the women’s name is only revealed later. She is also not listed in the credits. Is that enough to scrape over this lowest of bars? I don’t think it is…

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