Thursday, December 07, 2006

Banter, Not Bedroom: A Plea

Here's the thing. I love American romantic movies. Really, I do. Sometimes, after a bad day at work, I'll indulge myself by spot-watching such sugary fluff as Just Like Heaven or While You Were Sleeping. But in all honesty? Unless we're talking about an old black-and-white film starring Cary Grant and... well, Cary Grant and anyone, really... there's just no contest.

The Brits do it better.

Why is this? I think that Americans have grown too dependent on the cinematically beautiful love scene. I'm tired of seeing the oh-so-masculine hand running smoothly up a toned, tanned thigh. I'm tired of the theatrical gasps, dewy-eyed gazing, and discreetly passionate music in the background. It's not romantic. Often, it's not even sexy. And if you're accidentally watching the movie with your father, it can be downright squicky.

So, when will American film producers (and American audiences) learn to love the Verbal Tease?

Brits don't torture us with gratuitous love scenes. Often if there is physical sex, it's awkward and funny and all-around entertaining. (Think Bridget Jones's Diary and the granny panties.) Mostly though, the Brits put eye sex and word sex into their films.

Case in point: Colin Firth gives the best eye sex of all time, especially in the A&E/BBC version of Pride and Prejudice. C'mon. Whenever he gives Lizzie a melty look over the pianoforte or what have you, all I can think is: hoo, boy. Shiver me timbers. You know that he's totally and hopelessly in love with her and the fact that he's so restrained and repressed only makes it hotter. Seriously. At the end of the six hours, when you finally see him smile for the first time, it almost feels like you're seeing him naked. Ooh, naughty! Teeth! What a reveal!

It's infinitely preferable to artificial Hollywood nudity, though I suppose I enjoy man candy as much as any red-blooded heterosexual woman.

Here's another lesson: word sex is important. Word sex makes the leading man. Even if he doesn't have an oiled six-pack, he opens his clever mouth and we fall in love. The banter. The accent. (Okay, maybe American cinema can't reproduce that, but really...) Again, case in point: Hugh Grant. Totally adorable in Four Weddings and Funeral as he stutters out, "In the words of David Cassidy, before he left the Partridge Family, I think I love you."

So, Hollywood, a task for the summer: I want banter. I want emotional suspense. I want the tease. In short, I want a decent script!


Anonymous said...

you're totally right! - the smouldering look of colin firth is pure sex...

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed reading this and look foreword watching the BBC version. Though, I wonder if it might just be better to read the book.
Christmas shopping! Yes, that is the joy of Christmas Break. My father is a pretty humorous guys so I often buy joke gifts, but not the cheap kind; the guy he can keep and continue to laugh about. Maybe your mom could help. But for me? I can't ever make lists of what to buy people. I must browse store after store until I see the present that I'm to buy them.

Theresa said...

I've been watching a lot of Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy lately. It's got great banter.

Anonymous said...

Brits DO do it better. When I want romance, I always pop in the movie version of 'much ado about nothing' and the BBC version of 'Pride and Prejudice.' I have to admit, the new one has some pretty lucious scenes too. But dont get me wrong, a sexy I-cant-get-enough-of-you-so-im-going-to-pull
is always a good thing too.


Holly said...

I couldn't agree with you more about this. I find it very frustrating that Hollywood has such a hard time with these types of things.

Brits DO do it better.

Anonymous said...

bitch please. while on the whole your statements are true, we all know where generalizations get you. case in point: *kiss kiss bang bang* and *brick*. recent movies with spectacular scripts. and i don't see many movies.

separate note for kated:

Kate D. said...

bitch, please yourself!

I saw both of those movies and I LOVED them. Who wouldn't love Val Kilmer as a gay private eye? And high school noir? So. Absolutely. Fabulous.

While on the whole your statements are true, we all know where skimming passages get you: I was talking about romantic movies, midear!

I am giggling. And missing you. We need to get together for writing group or something!

Amy said...

mmmmmm, Colin Firth.....


I know what movie I'm watching (yet again) tonight!

I do agree with you wholeheartedly on the movie thing. more with the eye and word! less with the actual visual! yeah!

Emily Veinglory said...

Oh word play--yes. The Ghost and Mrs Muir, The Lion in Winter (with Hepburn, not the remake). Do they make them like that any more?