One might think a movie where Michael Fassbender plays a sex addict might be erotic. Think again. The feel-bad movie of its decade, Shame, from director Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave, Widows), really earns its title as Fassbender’s ad exec has one empty, compulsive encounter after another. Women are seldom lauded as brave for getting their clothes off on camera, but Fassbender really plumbs some depths in this nuanced performance of humiliation, sexual trauma survival, and family dynamics. It’s one of the more beautiful films on this list that viewers will only stomach watching once.
Danish director Lars von Trier is well acquainted with the NC-17 rating; he directed Nymphomaniac, after all. But while that very long, very explicit film was, in its warped way, a manifesto on love, Antichrist was its dark mirror. Willem Dafoe, no stranger to baring it all onscreen, and Nymphomaniac star Charlotte Gainsbourg portray a couple going through some serious marital woes after the tragic and accidental death of their child, culminating in an act of self-mutilation so horrid and graphic, four theatergoers reportedly fainted during an early screening at Cannes.
In fact, the horror film was so violent and sexually explicit, von Trier didn’t even bother submitting it to the Motion Picture Association for its obvious NC-17 content, and the film was released without a rating at all and made it to home video with two versions, a heavily edited “Catholic” cut and an unabridged “Protestant” version.
A Serbian Film (2010)
This is indeed a Serbian film about a past-his-prime porn star who accepts the lead role in an “art school movie,” only to realize he is being forced to participate in a snuff film. There is about all of the -philias and -isms once can imagine up to and including incest, necrophilia, and pedophilia.
Banned in Malaysia, the Philippines, Spain, Australia, New Zealand, and Norway, director Srđan Spasojević defends the film as a parable, “a diary of our own molestation by the Serbian government… It’s about the monolithic power of leaders who hypnotize you to do things you don’t want to do. You have to feel the violence to know what it’s about.” Be that as it may, this is one movie guaranteed to make even the most hardened gore hound avert their eyes.