Afternoon of a Faun: Tanaquil Le Clercq , Nancy Buirski
What is sexier than dance? In this documentary we get to see rare footage of Le Clercq’s beautiful technique and talent, the sort of talent that inspired the likes of George Balanchine — until she was stricken with polio at 27. There’s inspiration and struggle in this story, and Le Clercq’s resilience is a feat of creativity surviving against the odds.
28 Hotel Rooms , Matt Ross
A film festival indie two-hander starring Marin Ireland and Chris Messina (The Mindy Project), this movie may just be the dream of Mindy Lahiris everywhere. In short, Ireland and Messina have brief anonymous-ish encounters in hotel rooms, with explicit sex scenes, as part of their long-running affair. A story then develops. But mostly you are watching the movie for this:
Concussion , Stacie Passon
To be honest, this film is not as sexy as its trailer, with its whispers of sensuality and danger. However, in this lesbian riff on Belle Du Jour (a recurring theme), a successful career woman who just had a concussion decides to do some prostitution on the side of her life and her marriage. Things get complicated. Passon gets an admirable level of intimacy and emotion going in the sex scenes.
Take This Waltz, Sarah Polley
Polley’s film is about a lonely wife, played by Michelle Williams (she hates flying, she’s “scared of connections”), who’s tempted by the sexy rickshaw driver (Luke Kirby, dreamy) across the street because her husband is Seth Rogen, whose only purpose seems to be writing cookbooks about chicken. It’s a little silly, largely because Williams’ character is unbelievably childish, and yet: the humid, bright atmosphere and Kirby’s extraordinary scene where he tells Williams just what he would do to her if given the chance hits a height of eroticism — particularly from men — that you rarely see in America. Worth it! But Kirby is literally playing a sexy rickshaw driver/artist so keep that in mind.
Variety , Bette Gordon
A film that is less entertainment than a shocking documentary record of 1985 Times Square in all its sleaze, Gordon’s art film (with stills that should look familiar… as they were done by Nan Goldin) is an intriguing look into how one young girl gets sucked into the seedy world of sex for sale.
Medicine For Melancholy , Barry Jenkins
Jenkins’ sharp debut film starts the morning after the one-night stand with Jo (Tracy Heggins) and Micah (Wyatt Cenac, pre-The Daily Show), two black twentysomethings aware of their outsider status in white, gentrified San Francisco. But as the day winds on, they talk about who they are and where they’re living, and eventually find a connection realer than the one about last night. Jenkins is wildly talented and I am waiting for his next feature film.
Young & Beautiful , Francois Ozon
A beautiful young French teenager has ennui, in this riff on French classic Belle Du Jour, of course, so naturally, she becomes a high-class prostitute. Both erotic and chilly, just like all the best French sex dramas.
Blue Is the Warmest Color , Abdellatif Kechiche
Remember when we all freaked out about Blue Is the Warmest Color maybe being the best coming-of-age film of all time or maybe being exploitative French trash? No matter what you think of its notoriously long and anatomical sex scenes, Kechiche gets you into Adele’s head as she eats (and eats and eats), dances to Lykke Li’s “I Follow Rivers,” and falls for Lea Seydoux, who is devastating trouble. To be honest, my takeaway from that film was the way that lead actress Adele Exarchopoulos carries her body throughout the film, from girl to woman.
Heartbeats, Xavier Dolan
This early work by Montreal’s enfant terrible puts all his obsessions on display: langorous slow-motion, bright pop songs, a saturated color scheme that you can nearly eat. The story — a girl and her best friend, falling for the same dumb angel-headed young man — is good enough, but you watch Dolan for the feeling in every shot.
Fallen Angels , Wong Kar-Wai
Wong Kar-Wai may be the sexiest filmmaker of all time, and it’s not because his films about successful relationships. Rather, he fetishizes longing at every turn; the lurid light, the quotidian details, that make up an obsession. Any of his films are a good pick, even marital arts flick The Grandmaster (which has a spectacular snow scene), but Fallen Angels is probably your best bet, with its boy-meets-girl/hitman-meets-mysterious lady plot.