Wednesday, November 09, 2005

The Toilet of Mickey Rourke

For those of you who still go through the fruitless ritual of checking my blog to see if I've written anything new, I apologize for those twelve seconds per day you've been wasting the last two weeks. Anyone who still has their receipts please send them in to the site and I'll reimburse you for time lost. It's occurred to me on many an occasion that I should write a new post, just as it's occurred to me on many an occasion that I should go to the gym.

Instead, I usually just wrap myself up in the afghan I knitted from used Heath bar wrappers and curl up in my bed and consider whether I am suffering from maladies real or imagined. My doctor, whom I refer to as "the Fish" for reasons I will not explain, has suggested to me in the past that I have "hypochondriacal tendencies." The conversation went something like this:

FISH: Well...I do think you've got some hypochondriacal tendencies.
ME: Does that mean you don't want to go through the list I brought you?
FISH: I've looked at the list.
ME: And...?
FISH: And...I'm not sure what you want me to do about some of these. At least three of them, especially number seven there, should really be dealt with by a urologist.
ME: Fair enough.
FISH: And item number two...I thought I told you I never wanted to talk about item number two again.
ME: I just think it's gotten bigger, or moved.
FISH: Your whole body has gotten bigger. Especially the fat parts. Item number two is a fat part.
ME: Or cancer.
FISH: Or a fat part.

By the way, the Dumb Fucking Lesbian referred me to the Fish. Here's how:

ME: I think I need a doctor.
DFL: I've got one for you. Go see (the Fish).
ME: Great. Is he your doctor?
DFL: No. But his son was the first guy to feel my boob.
ME: Works for me!

So I've been a little under the weather and it's been tough to shake--mostly for the reason that it's probably all in my head and can't be cured with 5mg of two-year-old Ativan and a cola flavored Emergen-C drink. (Which, while having no effect on me, must be a cure for somebody's problems.)

Unfortunately, it's also come as quite a shock to me that no one actually PAYS you for these blog thingies, and frankly I don't even like to roll out of bed without being on a weekly. However, it's my opinion (and perhaps that of my accountant) that while it's hard to make money writing a blog, if you give out advice in the post you can reasonably deduct the time spent writing it as a charitable expense.

So I'm back.

Now where was I?

Oh yeah. I was outside pooping my dog this morning when I ran into a guy who I always run into while pooping my dog. He doesn't actually live in the neighborhood but always drives to my street and parks in front of my house so he can take his dog for a walk--even though my dog absolutely hates his dog and lunges after him every time he sees him. Now why he won't park his car up the street from my house or on another street entirely is a mystery to me and one that I can't figure out without getting into it with this guy at 6:30 in the morning. And I don't want to talk to ANYBODY at 6:30 in the morning.

But today we end up talking. The guy used to be in the entertainment business but as a lawyer--he then worked as an investment banker with various companies. It's his opinion (and on this general point I agreed with him) that the entertainment business is the most fucked up business in the world. I often say this to people, but since I've never worked in another business it's hard for anyone to take me seriously. But this guy's worked with lots of different companies in lots of different capacities.

So I'm thinking hey this guy's not so bad even if he buses in his dog to crap on my lawn and run from my crazy chihuahua. I ask him why he thinks Hollywood's so messed up.

GUY: Well, that's easy. Most other companies are driven by the R&D guys, the marketing guys. They decide who needs what product and how to make it. In Hollywood, they need more creative guys who come from marketing. Let the marketing guys have more control.
ME: Oh my God I'm going to fucking kill you right now.

Actually I said:

ME: Really?

Because let's not forget it's 6:30 in the morning and as a rule I won't commit manslaughter until I've eaten. Furthermore, since the guy's no longer in the entertainment business, killing him wouldn't really accomplish any of my New Year's resolutions. Which by the way, were:

1) Revolutionalize the film industry through sheer force of will and creative brilliance, turning the screenwriter into the most powerful voice of the business
2) Join a gym

But me and the guy and the bused-in dog agree on one thing: The film business is just about the most mentally challenged industry there is and American films, while including some of the best in the world, also include most of the worst in the world. There are a number of reasons for this but unfortunately most of those reasons are too serious and thoughtful for a forum such as this.

So I'd like to focus on two reasons which really dovetail into one:

1) too much violence
2) not enough sex

Note: Now I know that in War of the Worlds we killed, like, A BILLION people and about half of those are onscreen, but just remember something...

All of those people deserved it.

For years people have been saying that movies are too violent and you've always got filmmakers standing up and telling you why movies AREN'T too violent and why there's no connection between people getting blown away in a movie and people getting blown away in real life. Whether or not this is true is something that I couldn't care less about--the reality is this: movies are too violent--but not because people may or may not be inspired to commit violence in real life.

Movies are too violent because violence in movies is easy to do and boring to watch. And by easy to do I don't mean easy to commit to film--the people who coordinate fights and car chases and plane crashes and alien attacks are absolute stone cold geniuses at what they do.

The people who are fucking lazy are the writers. Honestly, what does an action scene do to move a story ahead? Nothing. What does it do for a characters' journey? Nothing. What does it do for the movie itself? Take up a chunk of time that now doesn't need to be filled with character and story.

And you know why? Because character and story are hard things to write. And it's easy to write an action scene. I know. I've written hundreds of them. They bore the crap out of me. But at least I know they're gonna take up some pages in my screenplay without me having to figure out the hard stuff. Action sequences are the junk food in any writer's kitchen. That's not to say there aren't good action sequences--ones that literally take your breath away--but those are few and far between. For me, when the tripod in WOTW comes out of the ground and starts blowing shit up with no mercy--my jaw dropped open and my heart actually raced. And I bring that up exactly BECAUSE I was involved in the movie. I knew it was coming and yet it still got me excited.

And shouldn't the point of action sequences be excitement? No one wants to admit that--but violence in film is supposed to be EXCITING. It rarely is. But that doesn't stop people from jamming a movie full of it for no reason other than lazy writing.

And thus boring the shit out of us.

Which brings me to part number two: sex.

It's fascinating, really...In real life, very few of us want to be in a car chase or be shot at by alien invaders, and yet our movies are full of this stuff. On the other hand, all of us want to have sex--but you can't find it on film. Not good sex, anyway.

Now there are various reasons for this, many of which include our country's inability to come to terms with our private parts, but we'll leave the fact that we've time-traveled back to Queen Victoria's era out of this.

Many years ago I did an uncredited rewrite on Return to Paradise with Vince Vaughn, Anne Heche and Joaquin Phoenix. At the time I was dating Girlfriend Before Wife, a lovely but tightly wound woman who I'd known for many years, dated for a majority of them, but could not see my way around to marry. GBW was a writer and a director who made very personal, if slightly abstract, art films while I was tripping my way across town being the monkey that I was.

She kind of loathed me.

Now while writing my draft of Return to Paradise I came upon an opportunity to write a very hot and heavy love scene between Vince Vaughn and Anne Heche (a hilarious sentence now, I admit).

At the risk of, well, my reputation, here's what I wrote:

"Then her hands reach out and he takes them. She enfolds him and kisses his lips so light he barely feels it on his mouth. He tries to say something so softly that it's lost in her mouth. And then another kiss, one that flushes the cheeks.

She kisses him again and this time he kisses back, hard. She grabs for his waist as he moves his hands to her breasts, slipping them inside of the robe as she pulls his shirt up and over his head.
Back against the bed, jeans pushed down by a foot, tongues exchanged for hands, and fingers, and tongues again. He moves into her or she into him and it doesn't quite hurt but it's just close enough.

The red skin of an arm gripped tight, and an ear bitten, and the low sounds get louder but as they do the lovers drift away from us. It's so much more for them and less for anybody else right now that it seems right that the room darkens and darkens and fades to black as two desperate people pass together through a window of want and need and loneliness."

Here's what Girlfriend Before Wife said when she read the scene over my shoulder:

GBW: So. Who is that?
ME: Whattya mean?
GBW: Who is that you're thinking about when you write a scene like that? Because that's clearly not us.
ME: But--
GBW: I mean how do you conjure that up? Just out of nothing? What's in your head? It can't be all about craft, can it? Just an exercise? You must have some sort of memory, or fantasy--

Thus demonstrating why she was Girlfriend BEFORE Wife.

But her point, however annoying to me at the time it was, is an interesting one. Because certainly when you sit down to write an action scene no one expects you to bring to the computer your vast experience as a victim of an alien invasion or your work as a ghostbuster. (I, for one, have taken my ghostbusting completely off my resume as it was an internship and I got asked too many questions about it.)

But most of us have, at one time or another, alone or with a good friend we've paid forty dollars to, had sex. And it's this very sexing which CRIPPLES us when it comes to writing a good sex scene. Because even if it's not your girlfriend, boyfriend, spouse or parent, someone who reads that sex scene is gonna wonder how you thought it up. And whether it's subconscious or not, very few of us want to have this discussion:

STUDIO EXECUTIVE: So, Josh. This sex scene. got me very sexually stimulated.
ME: It got me very sexually stimulated while I wrote it.
STUDIO EXECUTIVE: I always wondered if that happened.
ME: Of course it does. These types of sex acts described or acted out always get me stimulated.
STUDIO EXECUTIVE: Me, too. I'm hoping we can find a director who also gets sexually excited by the same things.
ME: I hear Ridley's available.

Unfortunately, this is exactly the effect we should be going for. Because what are we here to do, people? Engage, interest, involve, EXCITE...But most of us are much more comfortable exciting people with kick-ass action rather than, well, ass action.

So what we're left with are sex scenes that are written suggestively, but aren't particularly suggestive. It's the one part of writing where we completely surrender our author's rights and leave them to the director and the actors. Which, if judging by results, couldn't be stupider--as we are left with an erotic cinema full of Sarah Jessica Parker sex--close ups, arching backs, fake tans, ridiculously positioned sheets and stars who will only have sex with their expensive underwear on while all of their lesser co-stars are forced to go topless.

The other day I took an informal poll, asking people if they could think of a truly sexy sex scene in a recent Hollywood movie. From those poll results I tried to figure out if there was anything common in those scenes. Now obviously there's no saying what turns one person on and not another. I recently heard of an art curator who got an erection every time he looked at Velaszquez's The Toilet of Venus. (If you go to the National Gallery in London you can recognize the curator. He's the one standing in front of Velaszquez's The Toilet of Venus.)

But believe it or not, patterns did emerge. So in order to fulfill my requirements for a tax deduction I now give you the following advice on how to write a sex scene based on my in-depth almost Kinseyian research.

First, the setting. Whatever you do, don't set it in the present. Almost all good sex scenes are set in the past. A number of people referenced Dangerous Liasons, there was one vote for that scene in the English Patient...The word bodice was used quite a bit and it seems (at least amongst my friends) that sex in repressive times or during a war was quite a turn on. (Which does argue for the present but we'll ignore that.) For my money, I'm a big fan of any sex scene which takes place in a covered wagon.

When I was a kid I had a copy of the novel Jaws which included photos from the movie. I often found myself looking at a particular still of the girl from the beginning of the movie as she runs naked into the water to skinny-dip. The moonlight hits her ass in just the right way and if I remember correctly you can almost see the curve of her breast.

Then she gets eaten by the shark.

Which brings us to our next element: Sex that is slightly "wrong."

A number of people referenced Diane Lane's hallway sex scene in "Unfaithful." I've never seen the movie but when I asked about it the three women who all said it was "hot" also all said it was "wrong." I'm not sure what was wrong about it but it seemed to have something to do with the way she was standing.

Not only did everyone agree that the sex scene at the beginning of Jaws is "wrong," they were all very disturbed I even considered it a sex scene.

Many people also felt that film titles that were sexy often made for films that were sexy. There was an overall tone of sexiness created that people seemed to like. Again, Dangerous Liasons was mentioned...Wild Things...(Again, one vote for Jaws...) Unfortunately I had to spend a few uncomfortable minutes explaining to one of my research subjects why Dirty Pretty Things, while a sexy title, was actually not dirty or pretty.

Finally, there is the topic of actors. I believe there is little we can learn about sex scenes from actors--despite the section of Us Magazine entitled "Stars--They're Just Like Us", which shows stars ambling around town carrying small dogs, shopping for liquor in their pajamas and smoking at Starbucks--stars are not like us. They're prettier than we are, shorter than we are, and gravity does not affect them the same way it does us. However, actors are the ones who get to have sex in movies. So perhaps we need to take them into account when we write sex scenes. According to my research here are the two we need to reckon with:

Angelina Jolie. At one time or another just about every Angelina Jolie movie came up. The amazing thing about Angelina Jolie is that women seem to find her as sexy as men do. For some reason the women were also less terrified by her and were the more likely to try to have sex with her if they found her drunk and helpless in a bar. What good is this information to us? Well, I would suggest after writing a sex scene, paste a picture of Angelina Jolie in the margin.

Mickey Rourke. At one time or another almost all of his movies came up, too. 9 1/2 Weeks, Angelheart, Wild Orchid...It's creepy, actually, the number of times his name came up. One person, especially, was fixated on his monologue in Diner about getting a handjob through a popcorn box at the movies. That person was not me.

I would not suggest pasting a picture of Mickey Rourke in the margin.

I would, however, suggest feeding him to a shark.


Blogger coltrane said...

This post stimulated me sexually. I'm pasting a picture of Angelina Jolie on the desktop as we speak. Thank you, Mr. Friedman.

11/09/2005 5:38 PM  
Blogger fivegoodhours said...

Hell yeah, Josh! I needed a little late afternnon pick me up. Thanks.

I agree sex should be as intricately written and shot as the action sequences in Ronin. Liven up the readers.

There's a hot scene between Laurence Fishburne and Ellen Barkin in a film I can't remember the name of. It's outdoors on a patio chair, I think. Anybody?

11/09/2005 5:42 PM  
Blogger coltrane said...

Bad Company. Also the title of a Chris Rock movie. Personally, I don't want sex in the movies. Watching people have sex is what the internet was invented for. I'm an all or nothing kind of guy. If I can't see hard core penetration and cum shots, what's the point?

11/09/2005 5:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"the room darkens and darkens and fades to black as two desperate people pass together through a window of want and need and loneliness."

That is bad.

11/09/2005 5:57 PM  
Blogger coltrane said...

Give him credit for trying. He could've just written, THEY FUCK.

11/09/2005 6:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

He should've.

11/09/2005 6:16 PM  
Blogger josh said...

I have.

11/09/2005 6:39 PM  
Blogger merkley??? said...

i feel the same way about sex in the movies as i do about tit bars. unless i am by myself and have clear and legal access to my weehohee, i'd rather skip it and watch porn when i get home.

ok -- that's a lie. as in life, i only like sex scenes that make me cry --- such as that great sex scene in which that pudgy meryl streep jacked off in the tub thinking about sweaty stinkwater dripping off of clint eastwood's wrinkled up marble bag in that movie about old people making pastrami hot dogs in the middle of some shithole town with ten billion unexplainably retarded covered bridges.

i love that movie.

does that make me gay?

11/09/2005 6:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

speaking of "wrong" sex scenes... what about Cronenberg's film Crash?

11/09/2005 6:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think that as long as men are financing the films and running studios we aren't going to have great sex scenes.
The bottom line is that men don't look manly at sex, and even if they do its not manly to watch them. It very manly to kill someone. It is not in anyway threatening (at least to emotionally stunted american men like myself). A woman looks vulnerable and open during a sex scene and its erotic, a man....If you could truly capture that moment in a script it wouldn't matter if it was Mickey Rourke or Brad Pitt during the pitch, I think you'd scare the hell out of them.

The L Word has great sex scenes, no men, no threat-- I think a fish joke here wouldn't add anything

11/09/2005 7:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

MOM: What are you watching?
ME: Spanking The Monkey.
MOM: What's it about?
ME: Don't know. Just started.
MOM: Mind if I watch?
ME: Sure, have a seat.

Fast forward 90 minutes and one son-has-sex-with-crippled-mom-during-a-sponge-bath sex scene later.

ME: ...
MOM: ...

That, my friends, is WRONG.

11/09/2005 8:51 PM  
Blogger SuperVox said...

I'm always turned on by British Actresses like Kate Winslet, Charlett Rampling or Emma Thomson. American actresses like Scarlett Johansson or Angelina Jolie are hot but seem somehow sexless or that they are pretending to be hot. I thought Eyes Wide Shot would be the great sex movie and it wasn't. Though you can never go wrong shooting Nicole Kidman's ass.

11/09/2005 8:59 PM  
Blogger woot said...

I find sex scenes in movies hard to believe. Everything tends to be to perfect and it all goes right.

No silly noises, no giggle fits (or is that just me) and its all to easy.

11/09/2005 9:14 PM  
Blogger Konrad West said...

The sex is the Piano Teacher was very sexy and quite wrong.

But the sex in Hollywood movies is crap. Fake and crap. More is only good if it's real, or at least looks real.

And I've never understood why they don't have fanny farts in movie sex...

11/09/2005 9:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Friedman, you rock -

Here's a sex scene from a film you should know about - it totally blew the doors off -

In the Name of the Rose - with Sean Connery and Christian Slater - the scene where the wordless peasant girl takes the virginity of young monk in training Christian Slater -

Looked real dirty, real naked and really real, at least, in my head, it was what medival sex seemed to be.

11/09/2005 9:36 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

You want great sex scenes? Watch Laurel Canyon. Ouch.

11/09/2005 10:08 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

the sex scene in 'irreversible'...HOT!

11/09/2005 10:28 PM  
Blogger Security Dog said...

The most animated I have ever seen Billy Bob was when he boffed Ms Berry, and may I say, he performed like an absolute king.

There was another scene in Friedkin's 'To Live and Die in LA', where William Petersen nails his female informant. Not an unattractive woman, she wears no knickers and he strips off his clothes. He picks her up and she wraps her legs around him, straddling his waist. For a split second, you can see the TINIEST penis in the history of cinematic endeavour.

Disappointing, to say the least. Needed a stunt cock.

11/09/2005 10:31 PM  
Blogger writergurl said...

Hot lesbian sex scene? Three words...


"Femme Fatale".

11/09/2005 10:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Josh, I haven't read the whole post yet. Just wanted to say congrats on "The Sarah Connor Chronicles". Nice work. Keep 'em comin'!

11/09/2005 10:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So your doctor is Abe Vigoda? I thought he died.

11/09/2005 10:50 PM  
Blogger Scott the Reader said...

So why didn't we get some hot sex in War of the Worlds? There was a war going on. Change Tim Robbins to Penelope Cruz, let them have have hot sex in the basement while the little girl puts her fingers in her ears and goes "la, la, la, la", and then the aliens come in, and Tom tries to quietly pull out of Penelope without his erection casting a shadow on the wall. And then, instead of killing her, he could leave a fiver on the dresser and quietly break Penelope's heart.

Just saying.

11/09/2005 11:03 PM  
Blogger Josh said...

Hollywood sex scenes are fakey and if it's a drama, they always go about it with funereal seriousness, which, personally, is rarely the mood when I'm "doin' it."

Furriners do the sex scenes better, like the one between Antonio Banderas and Victoria Abril in Tie Me Up Tie Me Down, because here he is fucking this woman that he's fantasized about for ages, so of course he'd be like, "Wait! Don't move!" and there'd subsequently be a lot of giggling.

Also, Frenchy Claire Denis is very good at capturing the sounds and brings her camera in way too close on what are usually normal, imperfect bodies for that tactile, intimate feeling, although occasionally one of the lovers is actually eating the other, which is so gross that it is almost not sexy. But it is wrong.

As far as "Unfaithful" is concerned, the sex scene is ok, but what sells it is Diane Lane's face as she thinks about it on the train afterward.

11/09/2005 11:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a HUGE Terminator fan, I want details on The Sarah Connor Chronicles. PLEASE don't fuck this up.

11/09/2005 11:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, Josh,

Just saw this:


11/10/2005 12:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

JOSH, I have always fantasized Sarah Conner's gettin it on with the Terminator... preferably the T-1000. Imagine the possibilities!!!

11/10/2005 1:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To me, Linda Hamilton always had it on Angelina Jolie, both sets of lips are movie magic. And that's what their heat is all about-those lips...

I would think writing a good sex scene for the movies would have to be--in the view of the viewer or in this case, "Voyeur"--knowing or establishing a goal or conquest of who your writing that particular sex scene for and traipsing the bounds of their imagination. On the other hand, you have the Farelly brothers who can simply write entertaining sexual situations whcih can have you busting your gut from laughing so hard. It's very humaninzing to say the least, and I can really relate to a lot of the situations. Hair gel anyone?

But right now, I have to get back to watching Nicole Kidman dance around bareback while Anthony Hopkins watches. (The Human Stain)

Nicole can make me purr like a kitten, when in fact I'm nothing more then a dirty dog.

Nothing like good old fantasy, eh?

Brilliant stuff Josh.

11/10/2005 2:54 AM  
Blogger Sass said...

and speaking of writing about sex, just out of curiosity, how long did it take you to write that post?

11/10/2005 4:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

lets see...unfaithful(check), taking lives (angelina check), behind enemy lines, p.s. (laura linney), monster's ball (check), 21 grams (of nipple), well show me or almost a hot female nipple even through a shirt (even better actually) and it's a good sex scene for me. Laura Linney is hot. This shall be the longest talkback to this blog ever.

11/10/2005 5:40 AM  
Blogger stu willis said...

8 Mile.

In the factory.

No music, just sound. Sounds which instinctively trigger emotional memory and a pretty repetilian part of the brain.

BTW, I thought Eyes Wide Shut wasn't a 'sex movie' as much as it was a brilliant polemic unveiling of the facade of male sexuality. Basically, every character in that movie reacts sexually to Tom Cruise.

11/10/2005 6:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

'He moves into her or she into him...'
Eh? Thats sounds more like an alien invasion than sex, Josh.

11/10/2005 6:39 AM  
Blogger Christopher Coulter said...

Hey congrats on making Variety, per 'The Sarah Connor Chronicles'.

11/10/2005 6:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

1) Revolutionalize the film industry through sheer force of will and creative brilliance, turning the screenwriter into the most powerful voice of the business.

The Sarah Conner Chronicles?

That'll show 'em.

11/10/2005 6:59 AM  
Blogger Rob said...

I enjoyed the sex scenes in 'A History of Violence'.

There are indeed very few worthy sex scenes on the big screen. None of them are in pornos so keep up the research.

11/10/2005 7:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I always liked the sex scene in Enemy At The Gates. Mind you, that fits under "sex in the past", "sex in war" and given that it's happening in a crowded shelter with, what, 6 inches of spaces between people, it probably fits under "slightly wrong" too.

It's hurried, there's no nudity, and they're deliberately trying to keep it quiet. The rest of the movie didn't make quite as much an impression as that one scene.

11/10/2005 7:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hell, The Terminator had the most pivotal sex scene in history. They literally save the universe by doin' it.

So best of luck J.F.!

11/10/2005 7:22 AM  
Blogger thekeez said...

Sutherland and Christie in "Don't Look Now" - great sex, great film editing.

Angelina doesn't do it for me...

And stop apologizing for not posting. Post whenever you want...thekeez

11/10/2005 7:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

'The Sarah Connor Chronicles'

Is this just your secret plan to get Arnie out of the Governor's Mansion by enticing him with his very own weekly Fox show?

Congrats, Sir... Can't wait to see more about the show!

11/10/2005 7:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just read about the series. Congrats!

11/10/2005 8:09 AM  
Blogger david golbitz said...

Great post. Laughed my ass off.

I just read about The Sarah Conner Chronicles...


11/10/2005 8:17 AM  
Blogger The 718 said...

This'll sound like such a Lifetime-Movie-Of-The-Week thing to say, but what's missing from most Hollywood sex scenes is any sense of chemistry or intimacy (and I'm including the Basinger/Baldwin scenes from THE GETAWAY, which, if you think about it, might have been a bad omen in their relationship). Grab a boob. Smack an ass. Do the tongue dance. Whatever. I just want to see people connecting. Which is why I like the famous love scene from OUT OF SIGHT (taken from the equally famous love scene from DON'T LOOK NOW) so much. It's more interested in the music than the dancing.

11/10/2005 8:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

thanks for another thoughtfull and provocative posting. it's worth the 12 wasted seconds every now and then. after all, wasting a little time here and there is what the 'net is all about. i think some of the best "action" scenes i have ever read were in sophocles and the other greeks. they had all their battles and fights described by messengers. like the sex scene you wrote (yeah it got me), when the words force your imagination, it can become more powerfull. . .like the new production of "sweeny todd" on broadway. . less production stuff, more imagination = scarier show

11/10/2005 8:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My favorite sex scene has no nudity at all but is crazy hot. The sex scene in the Player not only is a good sex scene but actually moves the characters forward as well.

11/10/2005 9:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're definitely right about the reaction you get from people when they read a sex scene that you've written. I included one in a short story one time that I thought was pretty decent and worked with the story. I was pretty dissapointed when I let a couple of friends read it and they pretty much reacted to it like 13-year-olds. I've not written one again since.

11/10/2005 9:42 AM  
Blogger anthony vieira said...

well, if stanley kubrick hadn't died, we'd have an uncut version of Eyes Wide Shut, and that might've rattled a few cages. which leads me to speculate that Jack Warner may in fact be alive and well, living in a hermetically sealed bunker, and had kubrick killed.

11/10/2005 10:10 AM  
Blogger Julie Goes to Hollywood said...

The back seat of that red Model T in Titanic. Robert Redford and Meryl Streep in Out of Africa, when he tells her to stop moving, and then it's just them breathing each other's breath. Zefirelli's Romeo & Juliet when the first time is also the last, and they're both like twelve. What defines good movie sex? Somebody must die, preferably the guy. Versus the way it is in real life, where he can keep living after as long as he quickly disappears into the night and doesn't speak any English. JGTH -- THINGS THEY WON'T TELL YOU IN FILM SCHOOL

11/10/2005 10:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This post was hilarious. I laughed out loud three times while reading at work when I should have been doing something work related. People must think I really love my job.

Sex scenes in films suck because people shoot them so badly. Its like everyone graduated from the same Cinemax Sex Scene 101 class.

Like any other successful aspect of filmmaking, directing a good sex scene requires a unique talent as does effectively directing a good action scene. Who's the Friedkin of Hollywood sex scenes?

Best sex scene for me, The Last Emperor... silk sheets, sounds and you don't see anything. Imagination does all the work and that's always a better option.

11/10/2005 10:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So are we gonna see John and Sarah running around in sweatpants now?

11/10/2005 11:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And again.. I am hopelessly in love with you..I'm not a stalker, just happy there are people out there in the world who think like you, and have the talent to express it eloquently.
Do you have a brother?

11/10/2005 11:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mulholland Drive anyone???

11/10/2005 11:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank God. Josh sometimes writes a bad line. That sex scene is just... well... ouch. Even the masters have their blind spots.

As for sex scenes: most uncomfortable sex scene goes to "Behind Enemy Lines." Don't remember who the actors were, but I remember how absolutely uncomfortable I was watching it. I felt distinckly like someone had inserted a rell from a porn film. Really strange. Sex scenes require a very particular tone and esthetic. Josh...this might be your blind spot.

11/10/2005 12:01 PM  
Blogger Gilman said...

There's a very good reason we see more violence in movies than sex. Violence is conflict and conflict is story. Consensual sex is the OPPOSITE of conflict, therefore does nothing except stop the story in its tracks.

11/10/2005 12:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Which sort of makes me wonder...can a good sex scene even be written in a script? Maybe we should simply defer to the words: they make love. I'm not sure it's do-able. And I'm not sure that a stuido exec gets a hard-on reading it means it's well written.

11/10/2005 12:05 PM  
Blogger Stephen Gallagher said...

I could never bring myself to attempt a raunchy sex scene while my parents were alive. Then just as they left me, my kid grew up.

11/10/2005 12:28 PM  
Blogger coltrane said...

I remember being aroused by the sex scene in Heavenly Creatures, and I'm not even a lesbian, so PJ must've done a hell of a job there.

11/10/2005 12:37 PM  
Blogger Simon Underwood said...

Recently I've come to believe a great sex scene is defined by the presence of one thing - Maria Bello.

I saw "A History Of Violence" expecting, well, violence, and certainly not an incredibly honest - it seemed to me anyway - sex scene. I'm referring to the first one here, not the rather more violent encounter on the stairs. One word guys... Cheerleader. Who'd have thought it - Dirty David Cronenberg the porno king?

A couple of days after that, I caught "The Cooler" on DVD, and yet again, there's a sweet, truly sexy, scene, again featuring Ms Bello. And Bill Macy, which is just strange, but it worked so well. There's something about that girl.

Also liked Matt Damon and Franka Potente's encounter in "Bourne Identity" even if Doug Liman rather unsportingly faded out before the good part.

11/10/2005 12:45 PM  
Blogger Hawise said...

I realize that sex sells and all but I can't get over the fact that some guy drives, who knows how far, just so that his dog can crap in your neighbourhood. I hear people say that to do anything in LA, you need to drive, but this seems a little extreme to me. Is this going to be the next new trend? Is it going to be necessary for dog owners to arrange for their pets to crap in only certain trendy locations? What will qualify a neighbourhood as a "proper" doggy pooping zone? The mind boggles and when will this trend show up on ET.

11/10/2005 2:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Miike Takashi usually does good sex. Usually very wrong sex (all of Visitor Q) but always much more natural feeling.

11/10/2005 2:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I pray to God you can talk about The Sarah Connor Chronicles here...that shit is hot man. Keep it Cameron, slick, and exciting...don't blow your load and sit down to right it. Finish off after.

Congrats by the way.

11/10/2005 6:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...



11/10/2005 6:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear son,

First, it is your overuse of profanity; now sex. I obviously failed you in that department as well --- I never sat you down for "the talk". I was hoping your little brother would take care of that. I am now willing to pay for therapy, if you would promise not to phone that in as well.

In the meantime, congratulations on finding a job. I thought that given the time it takes for you to write your blog and to attend to personal hygiene, you might not have any time left to ensure that my grandson had something to eat.



P.S. --- call your Mother sometime.

11/10/2005 6:28 PM  
Blogger ScriptWeaver said...

Speaking of GBW looking over your shoulder as you wrote the sex scene - it's exactly why I won't let my Girlfriend Of The Moment read my screenplays.

Upon reading a scene from one of my early works:

GOTM: So... have you actually anally raped someone to Sade's "By My Side?"

ME: Uh... no.

GOTM: But... you've had anal sex before right?

:: Me thinks carefully ::

ME: Uh... yeah.

GOTM: How many times?

:: Me starts to sweat ::

ME: Uh... don't... really... remember.

GOTM: Which ones? Jennifer? That Shannon girl? Did you use condoms?

ME: Uh... wanna go shopping? There's a sale at Bath & Body.

GOTM: Does it feel better than normal sex?

ME: So... did you like my screenplay?

11/10/2005 6:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I want to see more sex in movies that looks real & is not followed up with some horrific violence...and uh the sex should be hetero with Keanu Reeves ok?

11/10/2005 9:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've always had a soft spot for the sex scene in "The Chase," and I'm not sure if it made a difference but it could have been the simultaneous combination of sex and an action sequence.

In fact, I think it would be a great new law to pass in Hollywood that from now on, all action sequences must contain some kind of sexual act. I'd fer sure be at the movies more often.

11/11/2005 12:46 AM  
Blogger Writeprocrastinator said...

To Josh,

Congrats on the "Connor Chronicles," you're a braaave man.

Someone mentioned Laura Linney and it triggered a memory of "La Chaive"

I just realized why I dig Laura so much, she reminds me of Stefania Sandrelli (mostly in aura) and I remember this film was THE SHIT in Italy during the 80's. The only other films mentioned in the same decade were "9 1/2 Weeks" and "The Devil in The Flesh."

It was an astoundingly hot film at the time, but I have to temper that in my mind with the fact that I wasn't of drinking age yet and back then I still considered the Kim Cattrall scene in "Porky's" to be hot.

I noticed no one mentioned "No Way Out."

11/11/2005 1:41 AM  
Blogger Erwin said...

I'd like to add the stunning, very real and arousing sex scene in Michael Winterbottom's "code 46". Samantha Morton's eyes say it all.

And the scene at the end of Takashi Miike's "Gozu" which starts of extremely hot and well... goes "wrong".

11/11/2005 5:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

congrats on The Sarah Connor Chronicles gig...any chance you'll write about this soon?

11/11/2005 5:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You don't get any wronger than that.

11/11/2005 9:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are documenteries in the running? Because there was that hot, hot scene in 'Where Babies Come From.'

11/11/2005 11:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Your father cracks me up.

11/11/2005 2:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Your mom cracks me up.

11/11/2005 4:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I seem to have forgotten my login password, so I have to post anonymous.

Anyway, my biggest problem with sex scenes is that there's no build-up. Most sex scenes have no set up; it's just "the love interests meet, now they're in love, now they have sex" like it's just something to get out of the way.

In real life, the actual act of sex is only the inevitable outcome of the courting process, and the longer that's drawn out and the more that's developed, the more gratifying the sex is when it comes. Without that tension to begin with, the sex scene has no payoff.

11/11/2005 5:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm gonna ignore all the serious parts of your post for the moment and second the nomination of the scene with Franka Potente and Matt Damon in "Bourne Identity."

Two other scenes that come to mind are one in Unfaithful and another in Enemy at the Gates, although it creeps me out to admit that.

11/11/2005 5:31 PM  
Blogger x said...

The scene with Richard Gere at the start of An Officer and a Gentleman is gold. Where they're shagging, and LAUGHING.

I also loved a dismissive review of the Basic Instinct - "that's not sex, that's jousting"

11/11/2005 10:48 PM  
Blogger ScriptWeaver said...

Steve Carell & Catherine Keener in "40 Year Old Virgin."

(spoilers ahead)

2 minutes long.


11/11/2005 11:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I was hoping your little brother would take over that."

That is funny.

11/12/2005 11:16 AM  
Blogger Abhimanyu said...

I'd nominate the first sex scene in A History of Violence.

Which brings me to the comment that violence/action in films is always boring. I disagree with such vehemence that I refuse to elaborate :P

I could name 50 action sequences right now which were visceral and adrenaline pumping as all hell.

Or perhaps you werent really making such a sweeping generalization and I shouldnt be reading blogs at 3 am.

I also think that the oft-stated assertion that as long as men are making movies, they cannot be sexy, is a ridiculous one (not to mention sexist - no man could get away with saying the same about all women). There are plenty of men who have made some unbelievably sexy movies in pretty much every country I can think of, involving both straight and gay couples. And I'm not talking porno.

11/12/2005 12:41 PM  
Blogger Gia said...

I wouldn't want to post more frequently either if I wrote posts that long! Woa! When you go for it - you really go for it!
Fab as usual.

11/12/2005 5:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh my...!!! This answers the question I had. It's what I always wanted to know. Perfection from the super infinite monkey.

11/13/2005 4:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just think it's easier to control the audience's emotions with violence than sex, since with sex it's what the audience personally brings to the scene.

For example: The sexiest moment I can recall on the screen? As a teen, our entire grade went on a trip to see Zefferreli's Romeo and Juliet. It's the balcony scene and the voluptuous Juliet leans over the balcony. The audible gasp was deafening. And I'm not sure what was sexier - the scene or the reaction in the theater. Over 35 years ago and it's still my fave.

Number two fave: Monster's Ball. Of course, I'm pasty white, my wife's African-American and I often imagine she's Halle...don't tell her, OK.


11/14/2005 9:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can we get a peek at this pole you mentioned? The questions I mean....

11/16/2005 12:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Congratulations Josh! Sarah Connor as played by Linda Hamilton was to me the coolest and most exciting thing about Terminator 2. I never even bothered to go see Terminator 3.

This could really be a great show.

11/16/2005 11:54 AM  
Blogger Roger Alford said...

I think Gilman made one of the best points here, in that violence is conflict and generally moves the story forward, where in a love scene, usually the only point is that they do it. Terry Rossio wrote an excellent column about creating effective love scenes on the Wordplayer website at

11/17/2005 10:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let me second THE COOLER. For a web project a while back, I had to research (read: swipe) user profile pages. So I read about a hundred pages from places like Match and Nerve Personals. If you took the profiles of a hundred women, about 45 would mention UNFAITHFUL, and probably 25 would mention THE COOLER, as movies with sexy sex scenes.

(There was also a smattering of mentions of CRASH, SHOWGIRLS, and "the dance scene from WITNESS".)

I have to stick up for BASIC INSTINCT, btw. All the sex scenes in that movie with Sharon Stone are truly "despoiling the rainforest" levels of wood-killing. But the one sex scene between Jeanne Tripplehorn and Michael Douglas is great -- mainly because the audience is in on the secret that Douglas is thinking of Stone while he's making it with Tripplehorn. (Which satisfies the "wrong" requirement.)

12/07/2005 12:06 PM  
Blogger Emphyrio said...

I've noticed something.

The best way to handle a sex scene is to intercut it with something else which is building to a resolution.

Cuts down on the audience squirm factor, and the symbolic "climax" is satisfying.

See Nicolas Roeg's "Don't Look Now" for a stellar example. But there are many.

That said the french girl denuded and symbolically ravished on stage in "Interview with the Vampire" was quite erotic.

Despite generally disliking vampire schtick.

12/09/2005 10:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't think the term should be "wrong" so much as "Non-Vanilla".

After all, these are the Movies. Everything has to be larger than life, because people won't pay eight bucks to go see normality.

Take violence for example. Most fights in real life either last two seconds or consist of two idiots failing gracelessly away at each other. In the movies, we have the hero effortlessly defeating a dozen bad guys.

And, if a couple has sex in the movies, the audience isn't impressed because they've been there. But, if a college student nails the wife of the Dean (Animal House, a favorite), then that's interesting and sexy. Because, the vast majority of us have never done that and probably never will.

Finally, I think violence scenes can be considered as complicated as sex scenes if you consider standoff or torture scenes as part of the whole violence genre. Mostly because they have the whole "How do they react to one another" psychological subtext going on.

12/11/2005 3:00 PM  
Blogger cnv said...

hilarious observations - and so true. write about sex and everyone assumes that its your personal story you're telling. I'm interested in figuring out where that comes from. Is it because we are all thinking there's some kind of answer out there, the key to sexual bliss, that we make these things personal? as if we can learn from them... whatever happened to fantasy?

12/14/2005 2:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In broken Lizard's Club Dread, there is a scene where a guy puts his finger on a girls lips (it's some kind of sensitive point in the body) and she gets this horny look on her face and says "Fuck me...". That's actually one of the few times that something has aroused me enough to make me rewind and watch it again.

12/20/2005 12:51 PM  
Blogger JN said...

The best blog on writing I've come across in awhile.

Great stuff.

1/06/2006 10:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the toilet of venus wasn't painted by velazquez; it was painted by boucher

1/11/2006 6:35 PM  
Blogger josh said...

Actually, they both did a version called "The Toilet of Venus." The Velasquez version is also referred to as the Rokeby Venus.

1/17/2006 11:30 AM  
Blogger Ken Lowery said...

People, people. Please.



...actually, Ron Shelton seems to have this figured out. His scenes feel "real" (though Durham's was a little more artly contrived) and even have a bit of humor.

1/22/2006 10:19 PM  
Blogger Lori said...

Anything with Joaquin Phoenix screams sex to me. Even if he were being filmed fully clothed and reciting stock prices from the WSJ.

That man is sex on a stick.


Anyway, glad I found your blog.

1/23/2006 10:11 AM  
Blogger Dean ASC said...

Maybe that guy is having his dog crap in front of someone specific. Perhaps his dog is exacting revenge day after day on some former girlfriends lawn. Maybe it's an old boss. It's not that he does it that's curious. It's his motive for doing so that would be fascinating to know.

I think there should be a movie that's nothing but sex and car chases but in a classy way. No dialogue. Just boobies and burnouts. A fusion of Emanuelle and The Cannonball Run. You know, something tasteful.

3/02/2006 10:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Screen sex... it turns me off so much that the whole movie can become suddenly ruined, especially a great movie.

I'll be totally enthralled in a magical escape from reality and then that moment happens... y'know that cheesy second when you realise they're gonna shag?

I especially hate the ones that are intercut! I'm sat trying to get the jist of the plot when I'm suddenly forced to watch some ugly old guy's arse wiggle around. Then the woman moans (argh!) it's never, ever true to life... just as I go to hit mute and swear profusely, they start to talk about important plot stuff!

Give me a great pair of characters -- then the inkling... that connection that someone else mentioned earlier... I don't need to see the sex then, I'm already there in my mind, waiting for the scene that I hope will NEVER come.

4/01/2006 4:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with the Redford & Streep "Don't move" scene in Out of Africa. I was ten yrs. old when i saw that movie- and it inspired many a fantasy after that...

Also start feeling peckish thinking of Juliette Binoche being massaged naked and dying in front of the fire place by Olivier Martinez. Damn right she cums back to life.

4/17/2006 1:30 AM  
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