Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! /Crash
It’s not the sex and violence in American Psycho that’s scaring the Hollywood establishment, it’s the kinky, unapologetic nature of the film’s sex and violence. Of course this kind of advance word is a movie publicist’s dream, guaranteeing long lines of eager ticket-buyers on opening weekend chomping at the bit to see the “disturbing” film. The same was true of these controversial films that also featured violent, kinky sex.
Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar (this year’s Foreign Language Film Oscar winner for All About My Mother) ruffled more than a few feathers with this 1990 entry. Freshly released from a mental institute, handyman Ricky (Antonio Banderas) sets out to win the heart of his dream girl, former porn star Marina (Victoria Abril). Ricky kidnaps Marina and holds her hostage over a weekend in her Madrid apartment, determined to show her how much he loves her. The amazing thing about this lively script (written by Almodóvar and Yuyi Beringola) is that despite his kidnapping, assaulting, and binding of Marina, the viewer actually finds himself rooting for the lovelorn Ricky. So does Marina, who concludes that Ricky must really love her, because he risks his life buying drugs from street thugs to ease her toothache. Now that Banderas is a big star in the United States, this blunt, NC-17-rated romantic-comedy might be a bit easier for the suburban crowd to swallow.
Film producer James Ballard (James Spader) and his wife, Catherine (Deborah Unger), are in search of emotional fulfillment. An open marriage with multiple anonymous partners hasn’t done it for them. A breakthrough occurs when James gets involved in a bloody car accident and is literally thrown into a clandestine world of auto-erotica. Through a car-wreck widow (Holly Hunter), James discovers a group of people who find sexual satisfaction from auto accidents and the resulting carnage. It’s difficult to find a more bizarre cinematic experience than this detached, surreal 1996 film from director David Cronenberg (Dead Ringers, eXistenZ) based on J.G. Ballard’s 1973 novel. Special acting honors go to Elias Koteas (The Thin Red Line) as Vaughan, a former traffic analyst who sets up re-creations of famous celebrity car wrecks (James Dean, Jayne Mansfield) and drives around town in a beat-up Lincoln Continental with more than road rage on his mind.