By David Raether
Alfred Lord Tennyson famously wrote: “In the Spring a young man's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love.” I’m going to amend that and say “In August, a young man’s—and young woman’s—fancy turns lightly to thoughts of... air conditioning.” And then, when the room cools down, it turns lightly to thoughts of, well, fun things a couple of people can do in an air-conditioned room.
All of my blog posts about movies are obviously my personal opinions. But this is one of those posts where my suggestions are very much my personal opinions. I’m sure that every single one of you reading this could come up with a completely different list of what you think are the five hottest movies ever.
So what makes a movie hot? What makes it sexy and exciting and inspire passionate thoughts? I think it’s different for everybody. I ran this list by my wife and she agreed with only one of my choices. And a couple of her hottest movies made me say: “What?! That movie? Really? I just don’t see it.” (For those wondering, here’s my wife’s list of the hottest movies ever: The Unbearable Lightness of Being (1988), The Secretary (2002), Wild Things (1998), Pretty Woman (1990), and The English Patient (1996).) I did make a note to myself about this list of movies so I can suggest one the next time we are trying to decide what movie to watch; wink wink.
Sex has been described as “the ultimate special effect.” Surprisingly, movies have gotten a bit more chaste in recent years. With the flood of pornography everywhere, the movies can’t really compete on the graphic sex front and don’t really want to. So instead, movies have transitioned into subtler and, as a result, sexier treatments of desire. These are my choices for the hottest movies ever. What are yours?
Set against the political turmoil of Mexico in 1999, this is a coming-of-age tale about two young men and a beautiful woman. The two young men (Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna) find themselves footloose and fancy-free for the summer. They meet a beautiful woman (Maribel Verdu) at a wedding and offer to take her to a secluded beach they claim they know. Surprisingly, she takes them up on their offer after she learns her husband has been cheating on her. A road trip through rural and coastal Mexico follows, with lots of sex. Many people have argued that this film by Alfonso Cuaron (who also directed such diverse and stunning films as Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004), Gravity (2013), and the Oscar-winning Roma) is the hottest movie ever made. I would agree with those people, and it’s the one film my wife and I agree should be on this list.
This movie, written and directed by Lawrence Kasdan, caused a sensation when it came out. Especially with me. Although I didn’t have a girlfriend at the time, I went to see it in a theater and I think I was the only non-coupled person in there. I remember thinking as I walked out at the end: “Man, everyone is going to go home now and have a lot of fun, and I’m gonna go back to my apartment by myself and sit on my couch and read my stack of unread back issues of the New York Review of Books. Sigh…” William Hurt plays a small town Florida attorney who can’t keep his hands off of murderous Kathleen Turner. The scene where he breaks down the door to be with her? Yowza.
This beautiful, passionate film tells a coming of age story—and a coming out story—over the course of nearly a decade in Paris. The central characters are Adele, a sensitive teenage girl trying to figure out her life and her sexuality, who meets Emma, a free-spirited, slightly older girl with blue hair. They alternatively pursue each other and back off. This is a compassionate and sexy movie that deals with issues of sexuality, class divisions, and the freedom to live the life you want. Definitely worth a rental.
In the Mood for Love was written and directed by the acclaimed Hong Kong director Wong Kar-wai (Chungking Express (1994), Fallen Angels (1995), and Days of Being Wild (1990), among many others). His directing style is quite distinctive—moody, stylized, and beautiful to watch. This incredibly romantic movie is also incredibly sexy. And it does it without nudity. In fact, there is barely even kissing. Just lots of delicate caresses and furtive, longing looks. Set in Hong Kong in 1962, it tells the story of a man and a woman who are both married and whose spouses are having an affair with each other. Maggie Cheung and Tony Leung are the tragic couple who can never seem to move past their longing. Everyone is completely dressed, nothing sexual actually happens between them, and yet it’s one of the hottest movies you’ll ever see.
Magic Mike is a pretty movie. Look, I appreciate a well-chiseled male body as much as the next straight guy, but what surprised me about this movie is that it has some substance. It has a well-crafted screenplay (by Reid Carolin), lots of great music, and some sterling performances by Channing Tatum, Alex Pettyfer, and Matthew McConaughey. Every guy in the movie looks like a model on the cover of Men’s Health Magazine. You know, that magazine that has shirtless dudes on the cover staring back at us, telling us how to make our abs look fabulous. Go ahead, rent this movie. It’s a lot of fun and has just the right amount of substance to keep you interested.
David Raether is a veteran TV writer and essayist. He worked for 12 years as a television sitcom writer/producer, including a 111-episode run on the ground-breaking ABC comedy “Roseanne.” His essays have been published by Salon.com, The Times of London, and Longforms.org, and have been lauded by The Atlantic Magazine and theBBC World Service. His memoir, Homeless: A Picaresque Memoir from Our Times, is awaiting publication.