Puppet Love: In Search of Good Sex in Indie Cinema

by Donna Peberdy, Southampton Solent University, UK. Based on a 2005 ‘sound play’, Anomalisa (Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson 2015) is a stop motion puppet animation about a British self-help author who specialises in customer services yet struggles to make meaningful connections with other people. Inspired by a disorder called the Fregoli delusion, Michael (voiced by David Thewlis) sees everyone he meets as the same person (all voiced by Tom Noonan), which compounds his banal daily existence. At a conference, he meets Lisa (voiced by Jennifer Jason Leigh) and is immediately captivated by her physical and vocal differentness. In a world where everyone looks and sounds the same, Lisa is an anomaly: Anomalisa. Michael treats Lisa and her friend to some drinks before Michael and Lisa go back to Michael’s hotel room for a nightcap. Lisa reveals she has very low self-esteem and that it has been eight years since she was last intimate with someone, before Michael begins to kiss her and they have sex.

Editing (Out) Queer Sex: Born to Raise Hell (1974)

by Gary Needham, University of Liverpool, UK The 1974 film Born to Raise Hell was described by gay porn pioneer Fred Halstead as the best SM film he had ever seen and, more recently, by its current distributor as ‘the standard, the ultimate classic BDSM movie that all gay BDSM films are judged’. Rarely seen since the 1970s, the film was largely undocumented with the exception of Jack Fritscher’s interview with the film’s director Roger Earl in 1997 and has only recently seen the light of day. [1] My own interest in the film is around gay sexual cultures of the 1970s and the contiguous formal and political relations in representations of gay SM. This is also an attention to formal and sexual relations and the question of how sex is edited and, in turn, what (now) also gets ‘edited out’ through various cultural, political and legal policing in both representation and discourse. I want to claim Born to Raise Hell as an instance in which one can reassert the outlaw politics of homosexuality vis-à-vis contemporary queer theory, which, Tim Dean suggests, has become one of ‘institutional respectability by strategically distancing itself from the messiness of the erotic’. [2] Politically, we need to reassert the erotic in queer studies if it is to have any meaning for our actually lived lives. Recovering Born to Raise Hell from the 1970s seems to me a useful place to start ‘thinking sex’ again.

This Ain’t Jaws XXX (2012) and Porn Parody

by I.Q. Hunter, De Montfort University, UK. On the face of it, Jaws (1975) seems an unlikely candidate for the porn treatment. Spielberg’s film is entirely male-centred - so I guess a gay version with three-way romps on the Orca might make sense – but the characters’ motivations have no obvious erotic component or indeed reference, aside from Quint calling out ‘Stop playing with yourself, Hooper’ to the lounging ichthyologist. Sex as a theme is not there to be exploited as with, say, A Clockwork Orgy (1995), the porn version of A Clockwork Orange (1971), which feeds off the obsession with sex, power and breasts that drives the narrative of the original. And the piscine motif of Jaws doesn’t immediately suggest the erotic, unless one considers the ‘eels for pleasure’ section of the Animal Farm (1981) bestiality compilation video that did the rounds in Britain in the 1980s, or urban myths involving Led Zeppelin, a groupie and a shark. That said, it is doubtless true that any film can be ‘pornified’ insofar as narrative gaps in the original can be filled with sex scenes, and the characters’ motivations refocused on seeking opportunities for them.

‘I can speak for myself’: Father Paquin’s Confession in Spotlight (2015)

by Darren Kerr, Southampton Solent University, UK. Just a little over half way through Tom McCarthy’s Spotlight (2015), door-to-door investigations are taking place. Noted in the screenplay as ‘the summer victim montage’, evidence of paedophilia in the Catholic Church is building and stories of abuse victims are coming through. The rolling notes of Howard Shore’s … Continue reading ‘I can speak for myself’: Father Paquin’s Confession in Spotlight (2015)

Tainted Love: Screening Sexual Perversion

Tainted Love: Screening Sexual Perversion, edited by Darren Kerr and Donna Peberdy, is the first critical anthology to offer extended analysis of the representation of sexual perversities on screen and will be published by I.B. Tauris August 2017. Interrogating the recent shift towards the mainstream in the cinematic representation of previously marginalised sexual practices, it challenges the discourses and … Continue reading Tainted Love: Screening Sexual Perversion