Thursday, March 03, 2005

As Tommy Lee Said So Eloquently Sang

The weekly edition of Variety (February 14th issue) carried a disturbing review by Robert Koehler of a film that debuted at the Santa Barbara Film Festival on February 6th. The Moguls is about a group of small town folks who decide why can't they make a porn film of their own. Okay. That's got possibilities. I can hear the pitch: "Jenna Jameson gets naked with Garrison Keillor." But look at this cast: Jeff Bridges, Ten Danson, William Fichtner, Tim Blake Nelson, Joe Pantoliano, Lauren Graham, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Steven Weber, and Eileen Brennan. Aside from the incomprable Lorelai Gilmore, is this a company we want to see deshabille? I think most audiences would pay for them to stay fully clothed.

Carmella DeCesare, the brunette Buckeye who is the reigning Playboy Playmate of the Year, told her hometown Cleveland Magazine (January 2005 issue) that nudity is "not a disrespectful thing. It's how secure you are with it." I'm with Julia Sweeney, America's favorite former androgyne, who wrote in her God Said "Ha!" (1997) "I'm not ashamed of my body, I just don't see any reason to not cover it up as much as possible. I'm one of those people who think those garments the Amish women wear are a great idea for everyone regardless of their religious affiliation."

Mike D'Angelo dissected Natalie Portman's peek-a-boo in Closer in the February 2005 issue of Esquire, a piece captioned "Everybody Get Naked: The thinking man's argument for more on-screen nudity. Tastefully done, of course." D'Angelo found Portman hypocritical. She shot nude scenes (she plays a stripper) but then successfully argued with director Mike Leigh to cut them. "Her spasm of retroactive modesty is downright unconscionable," he writes. "If Portman had the slightest doubt about her willingness to let the world see her gyrating about in her birthday suit, she should have turned the role down . . . ." Agreed. Cinematic nudity is almost never necessary but it's cheating to do what she did.

Timothy Greenfield-Sanders, a portrait photographer who is a contributor to Vanity Fair magazine, found that the porn stars he photographed for his book XXX were more comfortable and natural naked.

The best response to nudity surely was from Charles Kimbrough as the strait-laced Jim Dial on Murphy Brown. Paula Cale, before becoming the sister on Providence, for a time was Mondale (think MTV's Kennedy), a young anchor on FYI brought aboard to lure young people to the show. Mondale for a press photo shoot posed naked in one of the anchor chairs a la Christine Keeler's famous photograph. The rest of the gang were outraged. What's the big deal she asked? "We're all naked beneath our clothes," said Mondale. Jim Dial recoils in horror. "I'm not!" he insisted.


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