When I Answer the Door Wearing Saran Wrap, Will You Say "Leftovers!?!"?
Basic Instinct: Risk Addiction
Opens March 31.
Will You Still Respect
Sharon Stone in the Morning?
It's a money shot that lives in celluloid infamy: Sharon Stone uncrossing her legs in 1992's Basic Instinct. A woman using her sexuality as power over men -- if it wasn't exactly a new notion, at least it was a riveting interpretation of a familiar theme. The moment instantly became a touchstone in U.S. film depiction of women's sexuality. It's what everyone remembers about Basic Instinct.
It's easy to forget, however, that this wasn't why the film was considered so controversial when it opened 14 years ago. No, initially it was nationwide headline-making protests by Queer Nation and ACT UP -- both then in their heyday -- that compelled moviegoers to line up in droves to see Basic Instinct. Hot evil lesbo action, that's what the fuss was about -- the film's allegedly negative portrayal of lesbians -- and that was its draw. Another aspect of the original apparently forgotten as years have gone by is how visually sumptuous the film was; the dresses Sharon Stone wore throughout the movie, for example, were designed to match the dresses Kim Novak wore in Hitchcock's Vertigo. To judge by the promotional photos for Basic Instinct: Risk Addiction, moviegoers won't be treated to such wardrobe finery this time around. Instead, Sharon Stone is clad in too-tight button-busting shirts and tacky oversized plastic hoop earrings -- when she's wearing anything at all. Without the built-in controversy that fueled initial public interest in the original, Sharon Stone has had to create and market her own controversy to promote the sequel: Appearing naked in the sequel is a way of empowering older actresses who have been typecast as being too old to be sexy, she argues.
She chose to announce that she will appear naked in the second Basic Instinct at a March 8 joint press conference in Tel Aviv with former Israeli prime minister Shimon Peres. Sharon Stone and the Nobel laureate ostensibly were promoting peace in the Middle East when the 48-year-old actress launched into the following manic babbling:
"People just are sitting there going, like, 'I don't care what she's saying, I don't care what she's saying, I just want to know, does she get naked in the movie? Is she naked? Nude nude nude naked Do I see her boobies? I don't care what she's saying, I don't care, I don't care, is she naked?' So let's just get through to that... YES!"
Maybe you saw it on CNN, or maybe it was Comedy Central. In any case, it has been reported that Stone, upset that some of her sex scenes had been cut from the movie, demanded they be put back in -- especially those featuring full frontal shots. "I wanted a lot of sex in the sequel. I was coming from a really kinky place. I wanted more nudity," she told Britain's Daily Mirror newspaper. "When I saw a rough cut of the film they had taken a lot of stuff out and I asked, 'Where's all the crazy stuff I did? What are we toning it down for?' I said, Let's go crazy!' So we took some things out of the film and a lot of the kinky stuff and sex went back in. You'll see it." The actress added that she wanted to make sure that the sex scenes were just plain strange. "I felt the nude scenes should have a disturbing quality that is provocative but also bizarrely threatening and weird. I thought it would be intriguing to do it in a way that is just quite brazen."
The first time around her arguments that she was depicting an empowering form of sexuality for women at least were believable. This time I'm not buying it. Her preoccupation with her aging nude self trumps talk of Middle East peace -- it's self-absorbtion and vanity taken to an extreme, masquerading as a political statement. And it's an embarrassment.
The sequel, meanwhile, has received poor reviews from critics in London, Madrid, Paris, Rome, and Berlin. Things don't look much more promising on the home front. The liberal Newsweek magazine has already weighed in with this comment: "If you expect an erotic thriller, you may be sorely disappointed. But if you expect soft-core camp, you will be rewarded with a showstopper nearly in the league of the weirdly mesmerizing Showgirls." Go, Sharon.