While I’m sure many people will be lining up in droves this Valentine’s day for the last (thank god) instalment in E. L. James’ Twilight rip-off Fifty Shades series, I believe it necessary to offer options for those looking for a film that will leave you a little more satisfied by the end of your night.
Double Indemnity (1944)
Dir. Billy Wilder
Early Hollywood films were greatly limited by what they could show due to the censorship of the Hays Code and yet, these limitations makes the utter intensity of this film noir even more fascinating. Barbara Stanwyck and Edward G. Robinson smoulder on screen as they attempt to kill her unsuspecting insurance salesman husband. Created with a flair not often seen in modern films, the twisting turns this film attempts are dazzling and thrilling, laying the basis for what the erotic thriller would soon evolve into.
Dir. David Cronenberg
A film that gains relevance with each passing year, Cronenberg’s sci-fi odyssey follows Max Renn (James Woods) as he becomes obsessed by a soft core pornogrophy show known only as Videodrome. The sexual attraction between humans and technology passes boundaries in often horrifying scenes of bodily mutilation that shows a dearth of interesting futurist ideas pushed to their pessimistic limits in a mixture of horror and hormones. Warning, this is not one for the squeamish.
Basic Instinct (1992)
Dir. Paul Verhoeven
The be-all end-all benchmark of the genre, and testament to staying-up as a young man to catch the late night reruns on Showcase, this murder mystery seemed to have it all. A doomed passion, a deadly game of cat and mouse, an ice-pick and the absolute magnetism of Sharon Stone. Possibly the Danish directors finest casting decision, Stone outdoes the power and ruthlessness of the men surrounding her as she easily manipulates the police force to her undoubting whim. The interrogation scene alone stands as a testament to an amazing performance and the over the top direction.
Eyes Wide Shut (1999)
Dir. Stanley Kubrick
This legendary directors final film is soaked in the whispered words of something best left unsaid. Dr. Bill Hadford dives into the underworld of New York City discovering a world of masked orgies and the societies that run them. Shot in a gorgeous array of deeply beautiful colours, the delicacy of the film unwinds in a continuing sense of dread as Tom Cruise’s Dr. Hadford becomes increasingly ensnared in a game bigger than his curiosity.
The Handmaiden (2016)
Dir. Park Chan-wook
This is the type of film that Fifty Shades wishes it could be. A restrained, intimate exploration on the passion felt between two humans unable to fully express their love, lest it be behind closed doors. The taut atmosphere achieves a sense of desire through the pained expression of its two lovers as they explore their sexuality removed from the prying eyes of their owner/husband. This south Korean thriller toys with themes of voyeurism, repressed sexuality and the effects of black leather gloves on skin. Please be advised.