Sex sells (they hope).

Sex sells (they hope). (photo)

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Let’s say you’re a female movie star and your new movie is tracking poorly and the buzz around Hollywood isn’t much better. What are you going to do about it?

Well if you’re Cameron Diaz, you’re going to give an interview to Playboy in which you talk about how much you love cock.

Yes, in an interview in next month’s Playboy, which hits newsstands tomorrow, Diaz, star of the tepidly anticipated “Knight and Day,” tells Stephen Rebello that she “can’t even count how many times I’ve gotten on a plane for love. It’s not unusual in this business; my lifestyle demands it. I’m always traveling for [whispers] cock. You’ve got to go where it is.”

She also describes her interest in sex as “primal on an animalistic level” and hints at bisexual interests, saying “Sexuality and love can be different things. I can be attracted to a woman sexually, but it doesn’t mean I want to be in love with a woman. If I’m going to be with a woman sexually, it doesn’t mean I’m a lesbian. We put these restraints and definitions on people, but it’s hard to define.”

Well, then. What else is there to say other than, these sage words from Hugh Laurie?

06172010_sexsells3.jpgSubjects interviewed by Playboy are expected to be provocative and open about their sex lives (or so I’m told from people who, unlike me, read the magazine, cause I would never do that, like, ever). John Mayer even got into trouble by trying a little too hard to be provocative and open in a Playboy interview last February.

But Diaz’s comments come just a couple weeks after Jennifer Lawrence, the star of the decidedly un-sexy Sundance hit “Winter’s Bone,” garnered attention — both good and bad — for posing for a salacious spread in Esquire. Lawrence later told Vulture‘s Bilge Ebiri that she did it out of a fear of being typecast in future work, but it’s hard not to imagine the pressure to sell a difficult-to-market movie on a more, um, gut level not weighing into the decision as well.

Any reason to see “Winter’s Bone” is a good one, and if those photos get more people into the theater, fantastic (though one worries that anyone who goes to see the film purely because of Esquire may be confused to find that the title is not some sort of sexual euphemism). But that doesn’t make them feel any less demeaning. It’s not enough for Lawrence to be a remarkable young actress, she’s got to be sexy too.

Nor is it enough that a film is a powerful portrait of hardscrabble life in the Ozark Mountains, with a beautifully written script and haunting performances, we’ve got to able to picture the lead in a bathing suit too. And what about poor Diaz, shilling for her movie by exposing the most intimate details of her sexual proclivities? It all feels kind of dirty and sad.

06172010_sexsells4.jpgOne question, though: would it still feel dirty and sad if the gender roles were reversed? Would it feel quite so icky if Tom Cruise was the one talking with Playboy, and he couldn’t stop raving about how much he loved boobies? Maybe not; nobody seems to raise a hue and cry when Taylor Lautner and Robert Pattinson bare their bodies to promote the “Twilight” series.

Then again, those movies are all about lusting over half-naked dudes: topless photos of the two may be selling a film with sex, but at least it’s selling a film with sex accurately. By the same token, I don’t think we can expect a scene in “Knight and Day’ where Diaz raves about the awesomeness of Cruise’s manhood.

Wait, is it too late for a rewrite?

[Photos: “Knight and Day,” 20th Century Fox, 2010; “Winter’s Bone,” Roadside Attractions, 2010; “Twilight Saga: New Moon,” Summit Entertainment, 2009]

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Weird Roles

Anthony Michael Hall’s Most Rotten Movies

Catch Anthony Michael Hall in Weird Science on Friday at 8P on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Universal/Everett Collection

Anthony Michael Hall was the quintessential ’80s nerd. We love him in classics like The Breakfast Club and National Lampoon’s Vacation. But even the brainiest among us has his weak spots. In honor of Weird Science airing this Rotten Friday, we analyze Hall’s worst movies.

Weird Science (1985) 56%

A low point for John Hughes, Weird Science is way too wacky for its own good. Anthony Michael Hall’s Gary and his pal Wyatt (Ilan Mitchell-Smith) create the “perfect woman.” Supernatural chaos ensues. The film costars a young Bill Paxton, floppy disks, and a general disconnect from all reality.

The Caveman’s Valentine (2001) 46%

This ambitious drama starring Samuel L. Jackson couldn’t live up to its rich premise. Jackson plays Romulus, a Juilliard-educated, paranoid schizophrenic who lives in a cave. Hall co-stars as Bob, a rich man, who wants to see Romulus play the piano. The plot centers around Romulus investigating a murder, but with so much going on, the movie never quite finds its rhythm.

All About the Benjamins (2002) 30%

Ice Cube plays a bounty hunter who teams up with Mike Epps’ con man to catch diamond thieves. Hall plays Lil J, a small-time drug dealer. It’s definitely a role we’ve never seen Hall in, but overall the movie isn’t funny or original enough to justify its violence.

Freddy Got Fingered (2001) 11%

This showcase for Tom Green’s goofy gross-out comedy is often hailed as one of the worst films of all time. Green plays Gord, a 20-something slacker, who dreams of having his own animated series. Hall is Dave Davidson, a CEO of an animation studio who eventually helps Gord find success. Too bad Tom Green wasn’t so lucky.

Johnny Be Good (1988) 0%

Hall plays against type as Johnny Walker, a star quarterback. Robert Downey Jr. is his best friend and Uma Thurman plays his devoted girlfriend. Despite the support of a future A-list cast, the movie lacks central conflict and charm. Or, as TV Guide put it, “Johnny be worthless.” Ouch.

Catch the “Too Rotten to Miss” Weird Science this Friday at 8P on IFC.

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Season 6: Episode 1: Pickathon

Binge Fest

Portlandia Season 6 Now Available On DVD

The perfect addition to your locally-sourced, artisanal DVD collection.

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End of summer got you feeling like:

Portlandia Toni Screaming GIF

Ease into fall with Portlandia‘s sixth season. Relive the latest exploits of Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein’s cast of characters, including Doug and Claire’s poignant breakup, Lance’s foray into intellectual society, and the terrifying rampage of a tsukemen Noodle Monster! Plus, guest stars The Flaming Lips, Glenn Danzig, Louis C.K., Kevin Corrigan, Zoë Kravitz, and more stop by to experience what Portlandia is all about.

Pick up a copy of the DVD today, or watch full episodes and series extras now on IFC.com and the IFC app.

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Byrning Down the House

Everything You Need to Know About the Film That Inspired “Final Transmission”

Documentary Now! pays tribute to "Stop Making Sense" this Wednesday at 10P on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Cinecom/courtesy Everett Collection

This week Documentary Now! is with the band. For everyone who’s ever wanted to be a roadie without leaving the couch, “Final Transmission” pulls back the curtain on experimental rock group Test Pattern’s final concert. Before you tune in Wednesday at 10P on IFC, plug your amp into this guide for Stop Making Sense, the acclaimed 1984 Talking Heads concert documentary.

Put on Your Dancing Shoes

Hailed as one of the best concert films ever created, director Jonathan Demme (Silence of the Lambs) captured the energy and eccentricities of a band known for pushing the limits of music and performance.

Make an Entrance

Lead singer David Byrne treats the concert like a story: He enters an empty stage with a boom box and sings the first song on the setlist solo, then welcomes the other members of the group to the stage one song at a time.

Steal the Spotlight

David Byrne Dancing
Cinecom/Everett Collection

Always a physical performer, Byrne infuses the stage and the film with contagious joy — jogging in place, dancing with lamps, and generally carrying the show’s high energy on his shoulders.

Suit Yourself

Byrne makes a splash in his “big suit,” a boxy business suit that grows with each song until he looks like a boy who raided his father’s closet. Don’t overthink it; on the DVD, the singer explains, “Music is very physical, and often the body understands it before the head.”

View from the Front Row

Stop Making Sense Band On Stage
Cinecom/Everett Collection

Demme (who also helmed 1987’s Swimming to Cambodia, the inspiration for this season’s Documentary Now! episode “Parker Gail’s Location is Everything”) films the show by putting viewers in the audience’s shoes. The camera rarely shows the crowd and never cuts to interviews or talking heads — except the ones onstage.

Let’s Get Digital

Tina Weymouth Keyboard
Cinecom/Everett Collection

Stop Making Sense isn’t just a good time — it’s also the first rock movie to be recorded entirely using digital audio techniques. The sound holds up more than 30 years later.

Out of Pocket

Talk about investing in your art: Talking Heads drummer Chris Frantz told Rolling Stone that the members of the band “basically put [their] life savings” into the movie, and they didn’t regret it.

Catch Documentary Now!’s tribute to Stop Making Sense when “Final Transmission” premieres Wednesday, October 12 at 10P on IFC.

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