Can HBO’s ‘The Idol’ Revive 1980s Erotic Thriller Sleaze?

A smart executive drives a cherry red convertible.

A nightclub owner holds a cola spoon and has his hair tied up in a mouse tail.

A troubled pop star masturbates while strangling herself.

Those images are from the films “Body Double” (Mr. De Palma), “Basic Instinct” (Mr. Verhoeven) and “9 1/2 Weeks” by Brian De Palma, Paul Verhoeven, or Adrian Lyne. (Mr. Line).

But those scenes were actually part of the HBO series Idol, which debuted Sunday with the obvious intention of reviving a nearly dead genre.

Filled with luxury goods and close-up shots of body parts, “The Idol” was a minor movie that had an R-rated line-up on HBO and its rival late-night shows long before luxury TV. It also reminded me of the author’s work.

It’s a style that has faded over the years — the decisive blow may have been Verhoeven’s infamous “Showgirls” debacle in 1995 — and amidst the #MeToo movement, cultural It seemed very unlikely that he would return to the stage of

Karina Longworth, Creator of Film History Podcast “This must be remembered” Recent observations suggest that the complete absence of sexual sex scenes in today’s films “clears the sexual standards set by the strict censorship of 1930s production codes.”

The old aesthetic is the first in the series “The Idol,” created by Sam Levinson, Abel Tesfaye (known as The Weeknd), Reza Fahim, and three men who come of age watching cable channels late at night. It was a frequent pastime of adolescent boys.

The first episode opens with pop star Jocelyn, played by Lily-Rose Depp, baring her chest during a photo shoot as a team of handlers, crew members and helpless intimacy coordinators look on.

Afterwards, Depp’s character smokes in a sauna, sits in the back seat of a Rolls-Royce convertible, and rubs with a man she’s just met (a club owner played by Tesfaye) on a smoky red-lit dance floor. . Joss has no flannel pajamas. Two awakening scenes reveal to the viewer that she is sleeping in a thong.

It’s not just the show’s baseless nudity that reminds us of Rhine et al., but the overall look and vibe that recalls the sleazy glamor of the boxy Armani suits and cocaine night era. The main settings are $70 million mansion This building in Belair is like Mr. De Palma’s “Scarface,” but it’s actually Mr. Tesfaye’s real-life home.

Many young viewers say they found sex scenes embarrassedBut Levinson and his fellow producers, who created the HBO drama Euphoria, make no secret of their desire to pay tribute to Cinemax’s heyday (when it was nicknamed Skinmax).

Viewers wink as Joss watches “Basic Instinct” in the dark of a private screening room. And then there’s the pulsating score, as if to evoke something. tangerine dream, a German electronic group that made music about sex scenes on trains in “Risky Business”. In another nod to the show’s influence, the cast includes “Showgirls” star Elizabeth Berkley.

It may seem like an outlier, but “The Idol” seems to capitalize on a cultural moment that was unthinkable just a few years ago. Longworth recently dedicated a season of his film history podcast to the film. “Erotic 80’s”the Criterion Channel is no less than a recent trendmaker. announced the series About the erotic thrillers of the same period. And last month in Los Angeles, American Cinematheque Screening of “Basic Instinct” was held.

Stephanie ZacharekTime film critics argued that the resurgence of such films may have resulted from a plethora of comic book movies over the years, as well as the disappearance of certain R-rated movies that were once all the rage among adult audiences. suggested that it was possible.

“In the 80s, this was pretty much all there was in the complex,” Zacharek said. “Adults went to those movies. Now there aren’t that many movies for adults.”

Zacharek lashed out at ‘The Idol’ in her review And in a phone interview, she said, “It feels like it was made by someone who’s never had sex,” but said she was a fan of “Body Double” (and even “Showgirls”). He said he lamented that it had disappeared. kind of thing.

“I always enjoyed those movies, even when I thought they were sexist or ridiculous,” Zacharek said. “They certainly have an element of attraction.”

It’s clear that the idea of ​​reviving this particular genre may appeal more to Mr. Levinson and his colleagues than to audiences and critics.

After 20 years away from big-budget films, Lyne tried to return last year with Deep Water, an erotic thriller starring Ana de Armas and Ben Affleck. Mr. Levinson was one of the screenwriters for this film.

Deep Water was streamed on Hulu upon its release, but did not make it to theaters. that is, 36% approval score It was well received by critics, with an audience score of 24% on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes.

‘The Idol’ did both for better or worse: Only 24 percent of critics rated the production highly, and 63 percent of the audience rated it positively.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button