'Erotique' presents women's point of view on sex, but it's still porn

June 30, 1995|By Stephen Hunter | Stephen Hunter,Sun Film Critic

"Erotique," which sashays into the Charles this week, makes a point: No matter which way you cut it, porn is porn.

The movie's slight gimmick is one that's been tried in the legit skin trade more than a few times: Sexual materials from

,

,TC woman's point of view. It offers three heavily eroticized short stories by women directors, and sits smugly on the line between hard and soft core, wearing only a fig leaf of intellectual seriousness to disguise its truly salacious character.

The sad but inevitable thing is that the stories aren't really about sex, despite the prevalence on dirty words and sinuous, interlocking bodies. Like the harder and meaner true porn, they're about power. Two of the stories turn on the key issue of pornography: Who controls the transaction?

The first one, "Talking About Sex" by Lizzy Borden (famous for "Working Girls"), follows as a professional phone-sex technician ceases to be victimized by males who call and demand her performance in their fantasies, and insists that they be part of her fantasy. This gets her in trouble, of course, since she does have a professional obligation; but soon enough, she finds a guy interested in having her control the relationship. This in turn liberates her. She actually kidnaps him (benevolently, as it turns out) and finds the experience allows her to feel things she's never felt and reach levels of excellence in her daytime profession (actress) hitherto undreamed of.

The second film, "Taboo Parlor" by Monika Treut, has the feeling of a debauched episode of "Alfred Hitchcock Presents." Two beautiful lesbians pick up a young man in a bar, take him home with them, and turn him into the object, rather than being the object themselves. It culminates in a bizarre twist in which a kind of rough justice is served.

I had no luck at all with "Wonton Soup," by Hong Kong director Clara Law. A young man and woman meet in Hong Kong and become intimate, but mostly what they do is talktalktalktalk. In the movie theater I might have listened; sitting at home and watching a screening video, the piece didn't hold my interest and I was soon dividing my attention between the screen and the new Newsweek. Possibly you'll have better luck.

"Erotique"

Starring Kamala Lopez-Dawson, Priscilla Barnes and Haley Man

Directed by Lizzie Borden, Monika Treut and Clara Law

Released by Group 1 Films

Unrated (explicit sex; for adults only)

**

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