Described as a guide to the sexiest films ever, The X List is a sort of follow up to The A List, the National Society of Film Critics guide to the 100 most essential movies. This time, though, the emphasis is on the sensuous as editor Jami Barnard, film critic for the New York Daily News and author of Chick Flicks, presents readers with a wide assortment of essays by 40 critics covering both new and classic films, each chosen for their obvious, and not-so-obvious, ability to titillate the senses.
The movies selected vary from the romantic to the erotic, and all points in between. There are 80 films chosen, as the essayists expound on each film’s use of seductive elements, as well as the appeal these films have to specific audiences. Well-known critics such as Roger Ebert, who pays tribute to legendary soft-core porn director Russ Meyer, offer their opinion alongside film writers such Peter Travers, Richard Schickel, Sheila Benson, David Edelstein and others less recognized but equally impressive. Movies covered include everything from the sensual Body Heat to the violently sensual Basic Instinct, to the bizarre and chaotic Eyes Wide Shut, even finding eroticism in such films as Bye Bye Birdie and North By Northwest.
Romance, love and sex are explored from every angle and deviation, including strange takes on such disturbing films as Peeping Tom and the frothy Shampoo. Even classic movies get their day in the sensual sun, with films such as Wuthering Heights and Young Lady Chatterley. Every genre of film is examined for aspects considered titillating, sensuous and downright hot and sexy, with thrillers, comedies, foreign films, dramas, film noir, horror and even musicals making the grade. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid sexy? Lisa Schwarzbaum will tell you why. Although I am still trying to grasp the eroticism of The Mummy, despite Charles Taylor’s best efforts (he also writes about Tarzan and His Mate – okay, I can get that one!), I can see the brilliant use of sensuality in Horror of Dracula and Splendor in the Grass more clearly having read this highly entertaining book.
This comprehensive guide is a fun and informative read for movie fans as well as those interested in the evolution of cinema and pop culture, with stimulating critiques and clever essays by a variety of people with, seemingly, a variety of opinions. Films you saw you will want to see again with these fresh new angles, and those you never took the time to see will no doubt make it to the top of your viewing list, enticing you with close encounters of the very sexy kind (hey, how come THAT movie wasn’t included – aren’t aliens sexy?).