Now That’s What I Call Much Better: Booksmart (2019); Bound (1996); and Showgirls (1995)

thats what i call much bound

When it comes to great sex, what do women really want? More men? Other women? A one-eyed panda? (Hey! “Don’t Knock it Out Till You’ve Tried it!”). In other words: How Come Women Have Their Funniest Sex On-Screen?  And more to the point: why should audiences care if actors “act like they’re having Great Sex!” Instead of “acting like the sex they’re having is the Greatest Ever?”

And while you’re pondering all that, spare the few remaining brain cells for this: can we make even the sexiest dialogue funnier? Let’s see what a few tweaks can do!

(GREAT!) ORIGINAL DIALOGUE:
AMY: It’s the panda! It’s the panda! Okay?
MOLLY: What happened to her eye?
AMY:  That fell off way before anything happened between us…

(BETTER!) REVISED DIALOGUE:
AMY: It’s the panda! It’s the panda! Okay?
MOLLY: What happened to her eye?
AMY:  That fell off way before we started seeing each other…

Panning away from Kaitlyn Dever and Diana Silvers comically groping and puking on each other as Amy and Hope in Booksmart (2019), we now turn the hot lens on Bound (1996). Where Gina Gershon and Jennifer Tilly play a criminally-sexy, (for the times!) and nearly lethal (for the viewers!) game of cat-and-mouse; as double-crossing lovers Corky and Violet in this neo-noir crime thriller. Gone therefore, is that criminally “awkward” teenaged phase! Enter “All-Grown-up” and illegally sexy…

(GREAT!) ORIGINAL DIALOGUE:
Corky’s forearm flexes and Violet moans. With both hands, Violet takes hold of Corky’s forearm.
CORKY: You planned this whole thing?
Violet’s head swims; she is unable to breathe.

(BETTER!) REVISED DIALOGUE:
Corky’s forearm flexes and Violet moans. With both hands, Violet takes hold of Corky’s forearm.
CORKY: You planned this whole thing?
VIOLET: Not…right up to this part!

It should therefore come as no laughing matter for women now to realize, that their funniest sex appears to be had – not just largely by others: but often on-screen!

Don’t just take my word for it: AskMen.com! Who even despite Elizabeth Berkley’s big-splash made in Showgirls (1995), still ranked her mercifully-peerless ‘freakin’ Flipper’ routine a measly third on their “Top-Five Cringiest Sex Scenes.” Doubtless right before this scene trudged wearily down Porn Alley; en-route to that retirement haven called Hot an’ Heavy Rotation! Here’s the unimpressive prelude…

(NOT-SO-GREAT!) ORIGINAL DIALOGUE:
NOMI: Do you like Cristal?
ZACK: I like a lot of different champagnes. But I always stick with champagne.
NOMI: Oh! What’s Andrew Carver like?
ZACK: Are you nervous? Don’t be.
NOMI: I’m not. I liked it when you came. I liked your eyes.

(DESERVINGLY WORSE!) REVISED DIALOGUE:
NOMI: Do you like Cristal?
ZACK: I like a lot of different champagnes. I like to pop their corks and watch them come.
NOMI: Oh! What’s Andrew Carver like?
ZACK: Are you nervous? Don’t be.
NOMI: I’m not. I liked it when you came. I liked your eyes.

And if by some miracle you still refuse to trust the objectivity of a website whose landing page places “Sex” before “Dating” and “Grooming?” Congrats! There are many others still keen to have a more objective say on this enduringly Hot Topic.

Like Time.com for instance! Who was still obsessed with Bound over two decades later, to site it not just on – but at the very top of their 2017 list of: “The 25 Sexiest Movies of All Time.” And even right now in May 2021, “number three” has proven to be more Charm than Curse for Bound; with Hollywood.com rating this movie a stunning third out of their 16: “Movies with the Sexiest Sex Scenes.”

But how come? Especially when contrasted with today’s racier face-spitting, hair-yanking and throat-throttling sexual hijinks; which oftentimes appear to have fallen straight through the ropes of a pitched MMA brawl! What is it therefore, about a now 25 year-old film. Starring two (then!) averagely-famous actresses. Who very briefly shared some low-lit, and largely “clothes-on” sex on-screen? Sex which – nonetheless, keeps getting thrust again and again into the glowing global spotlight of undying admiration! And by a world of men and women – gay or straight, alike!

I’m certain that most producers would give their collective box-office earnings, just to learn the secret of recouping them – many times over: through nailing this film’s undeniable “seX-Factor!” But the best advice I can give, is simply this: “that audiences like most to watch, what actors most like audiences to see!”

But let’s hear what Tilly and Gershon had to say for – and about themselves, below! Speaking as they do, from an excerpted interview with Entertainment Weekly in 2019; on the subject of their seriously-sexy simulated lesbian scene. One giving seemingly eternal life to Susie Bright’s “sexy” consultancy on the Wachowski-duo’s directorial debut:

Tilly: A lot of times, as a young actress in Hollywood, you read the love scene, and it seems like the writer is just getting himself off. Like writing three pages of porn. When you’re reading this, it was very matter of fact.
Gershon: [The Wachowskis] knew every angle, every cut. They came from doing graphic novels so they really had it in their heads.
Tilly: They didn’t want it to be a man’s version. There’s a male version of what lesbians are, and you see it in the soft-core porn movies all the time. They really wanted to get it right. They wanted to be very respectful of the lesbian community. They wanted it to be very, very authentic and raw, not pornographic. Although it was pornographic because we’re hot. [Laughs]
Gershon: It was like the four of us having sex. It was like: “Foot! Wall! Head!” It was so choreographed. The camera [is] moving around, and you have one wall go up, another wall went down.

The reason all this worked? Because neither actress was trying – either overtly or covertly, to have sex on-screen with the next! To the contrary: each was clinically seeking to create, what ironically turned-out to be the sexiest on-screen sex ever!

Gershon: I knew I had to curl [my toes] on cue. I think it could have been a little bit more connected to an orgasm or to a sexual feeling. I felt it was more a mechanical thing. [But] it was very fluid. No pun intended.
Tilly: Gina is like the coolest person to ever do a love scene with. She was playful. I would be like, “Can you put your hand here so my cellulite doesn’t show? Can you prop my breast to make it look a little more plump?”

Small wonder, that whether historically or contemporarily, audiences continue to react most organically to whatever elements most went into making the movies that they watch! All about mindless sex? Don’t worry! No one will likely pay too much mind to all that sex! A bit more creative effort spent on crafting an interesting plot, and presenting relatable characters? Stand by for: “When is the damn sequel due?”

A fact of movie-going life; still holding true today. Whether drawn in Booksmart – with shambolic fun, from out the Tale of A Misplaced Digit! Or choosing to remain spell-Bound by the erotic “North-to-South” progression of Corky’s finger as held in Violet’s hand! Or even while still derisively pointing-up: men and women both, each endlessly undulating bout of banal boning done to such futile extreme in Showgirls!

Conversely, whenever audiences “see” a scene go horribly wrong, it stays gone horribly wrong! Even long after the director has tried to scream “Cut!” Like the sordid debacle alleged to have unfolded during Bernardo Bertolucci’s Last Tango in Paris (1972).  When – according to Variety.com in 2016, this director made a further “outraged” rebuttal to what he termed the “ridiculous misunderstanding,” surrounding some post-scriptural edits made to an anal rape scene on his movie set 44 years earlier. Changes he affirmed as having agreed with a then 48 year-old Marlon Brando; but apparently not with Brando’s then 19 year-old co-star, Maria Schneider – despite her being the person against whom the act was perpetrated!

As Bertolucci so indefensibly argues: “Several years ago at the Cinemathèque Francaise someone asked me for details on the famous “butter scene.” I specified, but perhaps I was not clear, that I decided with Marlon Brando not to inform Maria that we would have used butter,” he noted. “We wanted her spontaneous reaction to that improper use [of the butter]. That is where the misunderstanding lies.”

Whew! Talk about “misunderstanding” the inexorability of your own spoken Truth, to become even more properly unspooled via a later Videotape about Sex and Lies! The Moral of this sorry Tale? That underneath all of the hot lights, and heavy breathing with which Hollywood (sometimes!) manages to successfully scaffold its sex: Mutual Consent remains – unsurprisingly, Tinseltown’s sexiest scene of all!

Next week’s topic of discussion will be entitled: “How to Make Your One-Liners Too Good To be True.”

D. J. PAYNE, Dialogue Doctor – Denise is a banter dialogue specialist whose favourite thing to do is help other writers take their scripts from funny to Funtastic.
https://twitter.com/scribe_dee
© Copyright 2021. D J. Payne.  All Rights to this Material fully Reserved by Author D. J. Payne.

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