Since we know how important at-home-entertainment is for all of us – every week we do a little “what’s getting released on DVD/on demand/Netflix this week” round up for you, with nice little excerpts of our past reviews and more. You’ll love it. Trust us. This week we’re focusing on European films about uncompromising female sexuality.
OUT THIS WEEK & PROCEED WITH CAUTION:
- Fifty Shades Freed. Here’s what we said in our original review:
What makes Fifty Shades Freed problematic is what the story suggests about sex, love, and relationships. The key issue with this movie is with the sex, but not because it’s too kinky or not kinky enough. The issue here is that the kink is one-sided. Christian and Ana are obviously hot for each other, but any time the couple is in Christian’s “red room of pain,” it feels very much like Ana is there for him and not with him. A few times, she seems genuinely reluctant or hesitant to engage in this kind of dominant/submissive sexual relationship, but she does it because she knows he likes it. He’s a real mess, and it’s too much trouble to do anything else. Near the end of the film, we see a montage of highlights of their relationship through her eyes, and they’re all romantic – dancing, kissing in the rain, smiling while fully clothed – but none are sexual. For a fictional relationship so associated with and grounded in mutually satisfying sex, it’s frustrating that the film suggests that sex and romance are mutually exclusive, and further, that much of the nature of their sex life is Ana’s concession to Christian’s desires.
INSTANT VIEWING OF THE WEEK (European sex drama edition):
- The Divine Order (now on Amazon Prime). Here’s what we said in our original review:
Perhaps an unintentional consequence of Switzerland’s longstanding neutral status is a sense of isolation. While the rest of Europe and the West modernize, becoming more tolerant and liberal, Switzerland moves at its own pace. That is one anxiety behind The Divine Order, a Swiss drama about their suffragette movement. Many women received the right to vote in the early twentieth century, but Swiss women still could not vote even in the 1970s. Director Petra Biondina Volpe’s film is conventional, even safe, yet there is raw power in the injustice it unearths.
- Wetlands (now on Netflix). Here’s what we said in our original review:
Everyone must have some secret ritual with their bodies that they secretly cherish. Seinfeld once devoted an entire episode to nose-picking, for one thing, and Molly Shannon’s Mary Katherine Gallagher would shove her hands into her armpits. I know I have my own weird quirks, and I’m not going to share them for you (for your sake and mine). This strange comfort with our bodies is what fuels Wetlands, a bizarre German sex comedy. Director David Wnendt’s adaptation of Charlotte Roche’s controversial novel is gleefully disgusting – the hero’s butthole is literally the catalyst of the plot – and while a plucky performance elevates the scatological humor, the film misfires in its attempt for an emotional arc.
- Nymphomaniac, vol. 1 (now on Netflix). Here’s what we said in our original review:
Joe’s attitude toward sexuality is distinctly feminist. At first, she attempts to one-up B in a competition over who can fuck the most men over a train ride. Joe and B are experimenting, at least until they learn how to control men. Their minor revolution is sex-based, of course: as a means of challenging the male privilege, young women must fuck and run without committing to them. B violates this rule when she falls in love, yet Joe marches toward uncommitted sexuality even when her lover’s wife (Uma Thurman) crashes in on her tryst. Thurman’s character is a familiar von Trier creation: in her grief, she turns toward psychological violence and flouts decorum. Her big scene would be funny if it didn’t have innocent bystanders.
That’s it! Get streaming, kids.