By Andrea Meyer
Movies about prostitutes might not be as old as the profession itself, but there are an awful lot of them. The films range from silly (Ã¢â‚¬Å“The Best Little Whorehouse in TexasÃ¢â‚¬Â) to fairy tale (Ã¢â‚¬Å“Pretty WomanÃ¢â‚¬Â) to depressing (Ã¢â‚¬Å“Vivre Sa VieÃ¢â‚¬Â), with the lovely ladies of the night portrayed as angelic and sad (Ã¢â‚¬Å“Leaving Las VegasÃ¢â‚¬Â), classy and sassy (Ã¢â‚¬Å“Mona LisaÃ¢â‚¬Â), or bitter and brash (Ã¢â‚¬Å“WhoreÃ¢â‚¬Â)-Ã¢â‚¬â€sometimes to the point of going snap (Ã¢â‚¬Å“MonsterÃ¢â‚¬Â).
Coming soon are four great hooker flicks. On May 14-15, IFC hosts Ã¢â‚¬Å“IFZ Weekend,Ã¢â‚¬Â airing films that were launched on the Z Channel to accompany Xan CassavetesÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ doc about the groundbreaking cable network. One of many highlights is Robert AltmanÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s beautifully melancholy anti-Western, Ã¢â‚¬Å“McCabe & Mrs. Miller,Ã¢â‚¬Â in which Julie Christie plays the opium-addicted Madame who Warren Beatty loves. In re-release at the Film Forum in New York from May 18-26 is Federico FelliniÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Neorealist masterpiece Ã¢â‚¬Å“Nights of Cabiria,Ã¢â‚¬Â starring the filmmakerÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s wife and muse Giulietta Masina as a heartbreakingly hopeful streetwalker in Rome. Coming to theaters on June 1, Israeli director Keren YedayaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s wrenching Ã¢â‚¬Å“OrÃ¢â‚¬Â focuses on a teenage girlÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s relentless determination to keep her mother off the streets. July brings us Sundance winner Ã¢â‚¬Å“Hustle and Flow,Ã¢â‚¬Â about a pimp who dumps his day job to become a hip-hop singer. Jump on the bandwagon and throw a happy hooker festival at home. Here are some of the best:
Ã¢â‚¬Å“What Have I Done to Deserve This?Ã¢â‚¬Â
Hookers abound in the ingenious oeuvre of Pedro Almodovar, most notably Ã¢â‚¬Å“All About My MotherÃ¢â‚¬Â and this early satire, which remains one of his most perverse and delicious. Carmen Maura plays a mom dealing with the most hilariously dysfunctional family ever. The only sane person around is the whore next door.
Steel yourself, perhaps with a stiff drink (or the whole bottle) before hitting Play. In one of the most devastating movies of all times, Swedish director Lukas Moodysson tells the story of a Russian 16-year-old who is abandoned by her mother and seduced by a charming young man who promises to start a new life with her in Sweden.
Starring the incomparable Anna Magnani as a woman struggling to create a better life for her teenage son, this breathtaking film by Pier Paolo Pasolini combines religious imagery with gritty realism to create a work as heartbreaking as it is transcendent.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Belle de JourÃ¢â‚¬Â
Walking the blurred line between fantasy and reality, Spanish director Luis BuÃƒÂ±uelÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s compelling work stars Catherine Deneuve as a sexually repressed housewife, who spends her afternoons acting out her kinky fantasies with strangers in a high-end brothel.
I include this comedy, which stars Dudley Moore as a rich playboy who falls in love with a waitress, not so much because itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s about prostitution, but because IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d like to see it again and think you should, too. And one of its high points is a sweet, funny, and uncommonly apolitical scene with a hooker.