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Beyond ’50 Shades Darker’: These seven films deliver a more erotic brand of sexuality

 

As you’ve probably heard, the second 50 Shades of Grey movie, 50 Shades Darker, hit theaters February 10, and it’s sure to ause lots of awful problems for the ushers who have to clean up the theater after each screening. As you probably can guess, it’s also most likely going to be terrible, given that it hasn’t screened for critics (and most likely won’t).

We haven’t seen a descendent of Tippi Hedren get mauled so badly since 1981’s Roar, so we thought, in honor of Valentine's Day, we’d suggest some alternative viewing options for those interested in BDSM or other, kinkier, sexy stuff instead of wasting money on that nonsense. Here are seven other movies about sexuality that are either much more titillating, much more heartwarming, or just generally better made than the 50 Shades trainwrecks.

Warning: this list is most definitely not safe for work.

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Shortbus

Out of all the films on this list, Shortbus is perhaps the one we’d suggest people watch with their partners. This ensemble film by John Cameron Mitchell (who’s known best for Hedwig and the Angry Inch) is a celebration of all sexuality, all love, and it’s shockingly beautiful for something that, honestly, shares a lot more with a Vivid Video release than anything found at the local arthouse. That’s right, all of the sex featured in this film is unsimulated, but unlike In the Realm of the Senses, this film found its way into theaters back in 2006. If it boiled down to it, we’d say that this film is about a private sex club (led by Justin Vivian Bond) during the New York blackout of 2003, but honestly there’s a deeply personal story around every corner, from an Ed Koch stand-in ruing his days to the follies of a sex therapist who can’t have an orgasm. Oh, did we mention how great the soundtrack is, featuring Azure Ray, Yo La Tengo and some Sung Tongs-era Animal Collective? We saw this movie when we were in high school, and it changed our lives, as instead of finding the titillation we expected we got exposed to a multitude of different lives and sexualities. It’s truly, deeply, madly a forgotten masterpiece of American romantic cinema, and we’d highly recommend giving it a watch. You may never see “The Star-Spangled Banner” in the same way after.

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