Girls! Girls! Girls!

Remember Kathleen Turner in Body Heat? She was 26. There is no 26-year-old actress you could cast in that part today. Whatever happened to the idea of actresses under 30 who didn't seem like jailbait?


What you're holding in your hands is actually a magazine about sex. And not just because Movieline has the general editorial disposition of an oyster-eating sailor on shore leave, which it may be said to have. It's because movies themselves are about sex, all movies, even those starring Whoopi Goldberg. Sitting quietly in the dark, gazing up worshipfully at massive but ostensibly private images of human beauty and excitement is an act saturated with sexual thrill. Watching movies is voyeuristic, scopophilic and perverse. That's a Freudian fact, and countless academicians have the tenure and the forest-leveling reams of film theory to prove it. But who needs them?

Check out James Stewart in Rear Window: he's not just a Peeping Tom looking in those windows, he's us, the audience, watching several movies at once, immobilized by a big plaster-cast erection. Movies are, and have been for a century now, about as much fun as we're allowed to have without having to rinse off later.

So sexual appetite has a lot to do with one's yen for cinema, which goes a long way to explaining Keanu Reeves's career. Or anyone else's, for that matter. From Hedy Lamarr to Robert Taylor to Steve McQueen to Sharon Stone, movie stars can and do coast on sex appeal for decades. We don't mind--in fact, we like it that way. If we wanted to improve ourselves, we'd all be reading Joyce Carol Oates's 83rd 1000-page novel, or paying to see the latest pack of NEA-funded dimblefucks make performance art out of the first time they were cracked across the teeth by their mothers for being obnoxious brats, or watching Bill Moyers snuffle right up some aging, sweater-wearing poet's butt on PBS. But we don't want to improve ourselves. What we want is rapture in the Church of Disreputable Daydreams. We want our lusts glorified on 20-foot screens in Dolby-Surround Sound.

Hollywood has always specialized in locating and/or manufacturing not-at-all-obscure objects of desire; sex is the tungsten in the system's undying night-light. But in the last few years I've become very concerned for the state of movies as an asylum for wayward desires. Which of the current twentysomethings is even remotely believable as anything but a spoiled, overpaid, overhyped, post-teenage Kewpie doll? Last time I checked, women were women at 21. And women are why 49 percent of the moviegoing population buys tickets. Not girls--let's make that vodka-clear--but women, females with histories, depth, style. What we need, and what we haven't got, are a generation of young movie women who are, in the fullest sense of the word, desirable. There's plenty of jailbait out there, and plenty of thirty- and forty somethings, but few twentysomething actresses who don't look like they feel they'd have to call me "Mr. Atkinson."

Sophistication and flawless beauty weren't always mutually exclusive, not even as recently as Kathleen Turner in Body Heat (she was 26). We used to be able to find sexual interest in young actresses with-out feeling unsavory. Look at the landscape today: so few women, so many girls--scores of sorority babes. Girl Scouts, slut cheerleaders and grunge strumpets, but so few believable adults, I spend much of my movie time wishing I could tell the whole gaggle of pajama partyers to put the Barbies away, turn out the light, go to sleep and wake up a few life lessons later.

Because, frankly, it's boring. After the initial hilarity of, say, Penelope Ann Miller throwing her back out trying to convince us she's a sophisticated lady in Carlito's Way and The Shadow, we're crushed by the torpid, snoring, criminally trivial girliness her whole tribe brings to nearly every movie. It's like the tedium of a school play when someone else's kids are doing the acting.

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