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A Peek at Sex in Independent Film

July 19, 2001|STEVEN LINAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

"We get people to scream. We get people to cry. Why can't we get them to have an orgasm?"

That's easily the most provocative question put forth in "Indie Sex: Taboos," a modestly interesting documentary that can be seen tonight at 10 on cable's Independent Film Channel.

As titillating and occasionally graphic as the movies it covers, this one-hour retrospective offers mostly astute observations from filmmakers and critics who discuss the power of sexuality laid bare in films of the last four decades, from "Breathless" to "Blue Velvet."

John Waters ("Pink Flamingos"), who made the aforementioned remark, Atom Egoyan ("Exotica") and Don Roos ("The Opposite of Sex") are among the directors reflecting on the history of erotic encounters in indies.

Bolstered by an abundance of film clips, "Taboos" toasts the weird excess of cultish Waters, the sexually charged subject matter of David Lynch and the intriguing mix of voyeurism and sensuality in Steven Soderbergh's "sex, lies and videotape."

Critics Elvis Mitchell and Jami Bernard also evaluate the exploration of uncharted territory in such unsettling fare as David Cronenberg's "Crash," David O. Russell's "Spanking the Monkey" and Todd Solondz's "Happiness."

Sex sells, of course, which explains why IFC is using "Taboos" this weekend as a drawing card for its "Sin Cinema Festival" featuring "Crash," "Kama Sutra: A Tale of Love" and "Blue Velvet," films that may not be suited to everyone's taste.

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