By Andrea Meyer
Does anyone else find it funny that the most talked-about sex at Sundance was the kind that didn’t make it to screen? First off there’s the case of the missing sex scene in “Thank You for Smoking.” Apparently footage of Katie “mother of Tom Cruise’s child” Holmes cavorting with Aaron Eckhart vanished. Poof. The director of the painfully funny satire, Jason Reitman, was the most shocked of all at the scene’s omission, taking a wild guess that it had mistakenly wound up on the editing room floor.
I attended an added, end-of-fest screening that had the two sex scenes, both fairly tame: one of the handsome pair doing it all over Eckhart’s apartment, almost fully clothed, in quick, cartoonishly kinky snippets, and another with Mrs. Cruise-to-be straddling Eckhart while wearing an oversized men’s shirt. Whether or not either scene was the restored 12-seconds in question, it is clear that Katie’s “Smoking” sex is nothing for Tom to bully a director into removing or to jump up and down on the furniture like an outraged baboon about.
The other scandalous sex at Sundance also went unseen: the notorious dog blowjob in Bobcat Goldthwait’s “Stay.” It’s no longer a spoiler to give away the nature of the notorious act, which occurs within the first 30 seconds of the film, and which we only experience via voiceover and a quick flashback to the splayed pup, the race to the sink. The adorable comedy’s dirtiest scene is actually our heroine (Melinda Page Hamilton) trying to sleep while her friend and her husband howl with pleasure in the bedroom next door i.e., we don’t see a thing there, either.
While not all the sex at Sundance was so chaste, rarely was it inspired by love or even lust. Just as Katie the sexy reporter jumped Aaron the tobacco lobbyist to nab a hot scoop, so much of the other Sundance sex was about exchanging goods for, well, services. In the world of Laurie Collyer’s “Sherrybaby,” nothing comes for free. Whether Maggie Gyllenhaal’s eponymous ex-con is bent over in the basement while her halfway house manager pumps away or performing a blowjob for a job swap, Sherry understands the value of her skinny ass. While the 14-year-old heroine of Claudia Llosa’s twisted fairy tale “Madeinusa” seems naÃƒÂ¯ve when she lets an attractive city stranger hike up her skirt in an alley during the town’s holy days, when God recognizes no sin, she may in fact be using her moral free pass to try to earn a ticket out of town.
Marcos, the middle-aged chauffeur in Carlos Reygadas’ powerfully disturbing “Battle in Heaven,” may not realize that sex comes with a price tag, but what he seeks when he lets his boss’ daughter blow him is redemption, the kind he won’t find screwing his obese wife-cum-partner in a hideous crime. In the explicit film, graphic sex and actors’ raw, imperfect skin represents what is tactile and earthly, as opposed to the realm of the spirit, in which God or at least conscience punishes for sins committed by one’s physical body.
Most films at Sundance 2006 declared that crawling between someone else’s thighs is a good way to avoid the hell that life dishes out. Ashley Judd beds man after man while boozed up to near-unconsciousness in Joey Lauren Adams’ “Come Early Morning.” Matt Dillon and Lily Taylor do likewise in “Factotum” as Charles Bukowski’s alter-ego Henry Chinaski and his most beloved floozy. Other booze-induced fumblings include Ryan Gosling’s coked-up grappling with a cute fellow teacher in Ryan Fleck’s soulful “Half Nelson,” and small-town tae kwon do instructor Mr. Simmons’ big-boobed wife’s cheating on him with first her boss, then her hubby’s sleazy martial-arts star idol in the hilarious midnight movie “The Foot Fist Way.” And then there is Carter Smith’s impressive short “Bugcrush,” in which angel-faced Ben falls for the high school tough guy who has a slimy secret that makes their first touch a lethal one.
Glowy, rose-colored, between-the-sheets moments were few and far between in Park city. “Flannel Pajamas”‘ Stuart (Justin Kirk) and Nicole (Julianne Nicholson) meet cute in a New York coffee shop and proceed to copulate in beds, bathtubs and on the bare living room floor. Ambisexual Allegra (Elizabeth Reaser) rolls raucously around with boys (Kirk) and girls (Nicholson, Gretchen Mol) in Maria Maggenti’s rom-com romp “Puccini for Beginners,” and Carlos Bolado’s “SÃƒÂ³lo Dios Sabe”‘s DamiÃƒÂ¡n (Diego Luna) and Dolores (Alice Braga) fall inevitably gaga following a series of enthusiastic and embarrassingly noisy couplings. The award for funniest sex scene, however, goes to Jennifer Aniston for sinking to new levels of humiliation in Nicole Holofcener’s “Friends with Money,” in which she plays a broke, love-deprived housekeeper whose personal trainer/would-be boyfriend demands sex and payment for his company. No one has ever looked more bored than Jen, clad in a French maid’s outfit, while Muscle Man does his best to get his own rocks off.