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Pop Porn - By - April 12, 1995 - SF Weekly
SF Weekly

Pop Porn

Whatever happened to Sylvia Kristel? Twenty years ago her statuesque bisexual presence lured loyal audiences into theaters for a little arthouse arousal. Such movie-going experiences were a type of racy Saturday-night date option that doesn't exist anymore. Nowadays the sleek, trashy sensibility that was the hallmark of 1970s Europorn seems like a lost, innocent art form, obscured by more explicit and personalized fare on cable TV, X-rated home video, online encounters and virtual 3-D audio sex.

Erotique is a glistening trilogy of feminist-tinged erotica that attempts to reheat the glory of international softcore for the '90s. True to the times, it's a globetrotting, multicultural, polysexual omnibus of short films by female directors. Lizzie Borden, Monika Treut and Clara Law infuse their seductively produced segments with an attention to identity issues and sex-positive attitudes that mirror contemporary sexuality. Erotique takes its marketing cues from demographic sources like the Good Vibrations mailing list. The producers wed the entertainment impulse to an appealing brand of popular feminism.

The chic package starts off strongly with Lizzie Borden's Let's Talk About Love. It's a titillating tale of real desire in the sex-industry grind. Co-written by Susie Bright, the scenario concerns a bold Latina actress who moonlights as a phone-sex worker. The latter occupation makes her cranky until a male caller melts the fiber-optic boundaries by catering to her desires. Borden makes it spicy with a variety of heavily art-directed, female-empowered fantasies and more realistically rendered role-playing scenarios, deftly balancing fact and fancy. The mix of styles, genres and irreverent sexual consciousness makes this sequence the closest the package gets to real softcore porn.

Unfortunately, the segments by Monika Treut and Clara Law rely on a more standard sense of drama, lending the rest of the film the feel of a humorless international episode of Love American Style.

Treut's kink-filled Taboo Parlor tells the story of a lipstick-lesbian couple's deadly bisexual fling. With an uncommon flash of female wealth and power, the glamorous pair procure a hot male stud on a decadent yacht/casino. While a Eurotrash spirit is highly evident, Treut doesn't have much fun with it, and neither do we. The narrative ends with a sour explosion of violence that's hardly satisfying.

Law's Wonton Soup, like a sexy urban travelogue, picks up some steam as it tracks a Hong Kong weekend. A heterosexual pair reunites in talky erotic encounters in automobiles and empty high-rise apartments. While the humidity runs high, Law's characters express a dry discomfort that ends the film on a deadpan note.

Like omnibus films of the past, Erotique is ultimately a mixed, if classy, bag of tricks.

Erotique opens Fri, April 14, at the Lumiere in S.F. and the California in Berkeley.