Saturday 3 November 2012

Spanking The Monkey In Films: An Odyssey

It will make you go blind. It will make your palms go hairy. You will lose a pint of blood every time you "do it" (crikey, a full pint!). It is making love with somebody you truly love, according to Woody Allen. Yet cinema, never one to be shy about showing cringe-worthy and tepid scenes of love making which are usually as sexy as hoovering the crumbs behind the bed of a Travelodge, is surprisingly coy when it comes to scene of love which only feature one person. So, in no particular order, I thought I would go through the most notable scenes which feature this activity I cannot name on blogger in case a housewife from Michigan takes offense and report my blog. But you all know what I am talking about *wink, wink* and no, this is no typo, I did mean wink.

Mulholland Drive

David Lynch might be the master of the bizarre, but above all he is a gifted director. And Naomi Watts is one of the greatest actresses around. Because who could else have pulled off this very tricky scene in Muholland Drive? In it, the actress wakes up from her dreamed world of Hollywood to its harsh and cruel reality in the second part (or at least I think this is what happens). And in what is a seriously disturbing  and painfully emotional scene, she indulges in some serious wrist action while blubbering uncontrollably thinking about her ex girl-friend. Naomi Watts can do some scarily convincing crying like no other, and there is something so affecting about an act that is supposed to bring so much pleasure having the exact opposite effect.

Pump Up The Volume

Grown ups, and women in particular, love nothing more than tormenting teenage males and make fun of their, erm, nocturnal past time. Why is this, jealousy because our plumbery is less complicated to activate? As a shy 15 years old teenager, my stepmum took me to the cinema one day to see Pump Up The Volume. At this stage, she was obviously unaware of the couple of scenes that saw Christian Slater, well, engage in a frowned upon activity, loudly, broadcasting it through the airwaves. I was absolutely mortified and probably blushed but at least I was in the covert of darkness.

But perversely, a year later, she rented it on VHS and put it on for us three to watch it, with my dad. I was sat right by their side, and froze solid on the sofa when the infamous scenes went on, trying not to blush. The horror.

Pump Up The Volume is a brilliant and somehow slightly forgotten film about teenage awkwardness and fitting in. It sees Christian Slater as a painfully shy teenage boy who comes to life while broadcasting an anonymous and incredibly frank radio show which scandalises parents and delights their teenage children in equal measures. And yes, while in the public eye he is unable to even look at a girl in the eye and speak to them, through the airwaves he broadcasts himself loudly "doing" it, with much sound effects and enthusiasm. Rent it, but perhaps best not to watch it with your parents, no matter how old you are.

There's something about Mary

As if I even needed to describe that scene. To calm his nerves, Ben Stiller flogs the dolphin before a hot date with Cameron Diaz. Except that such is the strength of his, erm, business that, well, erm, he is unable to locate his erm, deposit. Which ends up on his ear. And picked up by Cameron Diaz. Who mistakes it for hair gel and promptly puts it on her hair. I was working in a cinema when this film came out, and I loved nothing more that witnessing the audience literally explode in a riotous laughter when this came on, thanks to the impeccable comic timing of this sequence.


The ultimate in wanky pretension for some, a work of exquisite beauty for others (the latter as far as I am concerned), the film features a scene which, somehow, is almost a nod for those in the former camp. In it, director/writer/lead Xavier Dolan is shot full frontal just above the waist, going crazy down under, having just, aherm, got very close to an item of clothing from the objet is lust. It is almost as if the director is telling us: "Yes, this film is all about me and I am shooting my artistic load in your eyes, like it or not".


I have been attending film festivals ever since I am 16, and I have seen many, many film directors on stage discussing their work. 99% of them have been passionate, fascinating to hear, funny, quirky in many occasions but one, and only one director was insufferably smug and obnoxious: John Cameron Mitchell. And its film Shortbus reeked of a similar smugness in every scene. It featured several graphic sex scenes, meant to indicate how liberated both the cast and the directors are, including one with a man indulging in a very acrobatic session by himself upside down that sees the end result logically lands where gravity takes it. It was worth watching the film for this scene alone and the collective female gasps which ensued. Us, men in the audience, laughed nervously, as if to indicate that of course we would never have thought about doing it that way (aherm). Oh and the scene where the part of a guy's body is used as an unlikely boombox.


Probably one the best best and most innovative scene of its kind. In Pleasantville, two modern day brother and sister find themselves magically teleported through their TV screen to an idealised black & white version of the 50's, where men are men and women stay home and cook arteries bursting breakfasts for their children. Except that under the influence of the new visitors, the world literally starts to take some colours. And Joan Allen, as a frustrated housewife, learns to discover herself and her body in a way her husband never did while in a bath, in a scene that literally culminates with an explosion of colours and a tree burning as new, untapped, intense new emotions are unleashed. The Bourne Supremacy actress deserved an Oscar for that scene alone.


I am walking on eggshells with this one, so I cannot even go close to describing the, aherm, climatic scene at the end, featuring the bars of a balcony, the aforementioned illicit activity, a curious dog with a wandering tongue and a soccer mum. Just get your imagination juices flowing on this one.


Liam Neeson has fought terrorists of non descript nationalities, he's fought wolves with broken mini cocktail glasses, he has fought Gods, he has fought Batman, but earlier in his career, he found an formidable foe, while playing real life professor of entomology/zoology Alfred Kinsey: a man with any perversion who can think off, who came into his office to detail them all, and promptly took out his engine and indulged in a gratuitous of exhibitionism and some ultra fast self climaxing (his speciality). Ras Al Ghul never had to put it up with that with the Dark Knight.

American Pie/Shame

You could not find two more different films, yet both feature everybody's nightmare, being caught in the act by a member of your family. For the former it is with your Johnson in a pie (I'm still doubtful about the actual benefit of a warm pie). For the latter, it is in the soulless designer bathroom which reflects the state of mind of Michael Fassbender, as his sister walks in. Cringe-worthy and awkward to the extreme.

I hope you have enjoyed this odyssey into the world filmic wrist action, a never ending journey which I hope will offer plenty more of similar scenes in the future!

1 comment:

  1. Haha, this is a great list!

    Got one to add to your next installment: The opening sequence of Ichi the Killer.