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4 BDSM Films to Turn You On

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Kink lovers’ second favorite pastime might be indulging in hot porn that depicts our particular proclivities, whether it’s bondage and discipline or pony play. But there are some interesting feature films showcasing S&M that are meant for more than titillation. They can entertain us on the last of the cold nights stuck inside, and some are artistic as well.

Watching films about BDSM is a great way to expand our perspectives about sexuality. While most cinema is fiction and carries the biases of the writers and directors, it’s still a window into another world that we can explore further afterwards. Sometimes a movie will be sympathetic and other times it will be judgmental. Some are neutral and try to bring the experience of the characters to life. All of these possibilities make movie watching one of the best ways to bring kink into the conversation with a partner or somebody new.

Fifty Shades of Grey
Sam Taylor-Johnson’s 2015 cinematic adaption of E.L. James’ book is much joked about for being slightly better than the widely panned (but wildly popular) book. Critics and audiences alike found both flat, wooden, stilted, and one dimensional, and about as sexy as an old sack.

The film drastically sanitized the sadomasochism,which was the central subject of the story, to avoid overly restrictive ratings, but it was still banned, censored, revised or complained about by various institutions of church and state the world over.

All this makes the smashing success of both book and film one of the most remarkable phenomena of our time. The movie grossed $570 million dollars and the cult shows no sign of slowing down, with sequels in the works. What this says is that curiosity about or identifying with unorthodox S&M relationships is not at all fringe, but rather an international hunger on an epic scale.

9 1/2 Weeks
Adrian Lyne’s 1986 cult classic is a curious contrast to Fifty Shades of Grey. The film was a huge flop, with nearly a thousand people walking out of the first screening. It was a box-office bomb and was nominated for Worst Screenplay. But it was a fantastic film.

The complicated, carefully portrayed characters explore the depths of psychological pain and the heights of physical pleasure. Roger Ebert went out on a limb to praise it, defying critical consensus. It garnered a following over time through video release and played in Paris for five years in a row, eventually earning over $100 million.

Secretary
Steven Shainberg’s 2002 pic was Maggie Gyllenhaal’s breakthrough role, and also featured reliably decent actor James Spader, who incidentally pops up frequently in roles that examine alternate sexualities.

It’s not a brilliant or great film, but it’s worth watching because it takes a new approach. It avoids the stereotype that BDSM is a nasty secret and portrays the characters as finding fulfillment in their true selves. It’s witty and genuinely laugh-out-loud funny, and it’s refreshing to enjoy a lighter touch on the subject.

The Night Porter
Lilliana Cavani’s 1974 classic is a complex, artful masterpiece, hot as hell, and grossly disturbing. It examines power dynamics between a literal servant and master, when a concentration camp survivor runs into and falls for her Nazi torturer a decade after the war. This film is cerebral, aesthetically stunning, and plunges deeper into the psyche than any on this list.

You won’t have to tie me to a chair to get me to watch any of these for the third or fourth time.

But you can if you like…

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