Tag: Good

GOOD LUCK TO YOU, LEO GRANDE, Let’s Talk About Sex

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You may not know the technical term, but I’m guessing many reading this will know the sensation: skin hunger. Humans are social animals, and one of our social needs is touch, and the (hopefully) pleasant sensation it brings. Expanding that into sexual desire, for most people, is also something craved, and the lack of it can lead to terrible psychological distress. So why shouldn’t people be allowed to pay for these services, and for someone to provide them, without shame or moral quandry? What happens between consenting adults is no one else’s business – but what happens when sex, which can be such an intimate act, is a business?

Sophie Hyde (52 Tuesdays, Animals) once again turns her deft hand to people exploring their freedom, sexuality, and sexual desire in Good Luck to You, Leo Grande. Written by Katy Brand, starring Emma Thompson and Daryl McCormack, this is an absolute banger of a (almost complete) two-hander, addressing sexual needs, sexual awakening, privacy, sex work, and intimacy in all its forms.

Nancy (Thompson) is just passed 60 years of age, recently widowed, recently retired, and as she readily admits, has lead a very mundance life. Her job was dull, her children bore her, she doesn’t seem to feel the loss of her husband. But she does feel the loss of time, specifically time devoted to her own sexual pleasure, which has been decidely absent her entire life. Enter Leo Grande (McCormack), a sex worker Nancy has hired. Leo has a varied clientele with a variety of needs and desires, not always centred around sex.

Leo Grande isn’t just a person, of course, but a performance. Leo knows that his clients each want a different experience; each experience requires a different Leo to perform for them, and, like any good sex worker, Leo knows his job well. He doesn’t always get it right at first, but he has a talent for sensing what his clients want. And he knows that, while Nancy craves the kind of sex she dutifully lists for him, she always wants intimacy of the more cerebral kind, that leads into good sex.

Leo Grande 2.jpg

Leo knows that Nancy needs care and confidence; he provides that to her. And even though she knows that she is paying him for this service, the result is the same. Almost every scene happens in one hotel room, almost in real time, and yet Hyde never allows us to be bored. With as much intimacy (arguably more) than a live theatre piece, we are privy to how Leo learns and teaches, and how Nancy adapts and grows. It’s a quiet joy to watch Nancy and Leo talk at one moment about blow jobs, and the next about the lies Leo tells his mother to protect her from the truth of his profession.

Even if Nancy thinks she’s educated and a feminist, she still has some rather arcance ideas of how women should behave, and how she thinks Leo should feel about his job. Even if Leo thinks he’s just performing a service, he often fails to see the effect that service can have in a negative way. Brand’s script does not shy away from a bit of skewering of heteronormativity and the rigid moral structure most cultures have placed on sexual pleasure and its connection to sex work, the need that most humans have for touch and connection.

It won’t come as a surprise that Thompson shines in this role, mixing her comedic and dramatic talents to portray a somewhat atypical character for the actress, with a bravery to showing this woman’s most vulnerable side almost immediately. McCormack more than holds his own; he shows Leo’s journey as the opposite, at first keeping his mask firmly in place until this maddening client forces it off him. Hyde knows exactly how to place these characters before the camera, allowing them to be free in their discoveries, both good and bad.

With a fierce honestly and a dry wit, Good Luck to You, Leo Grande asks us all why we can’t enjoy touch, sex, pleasure, the way we want (safely, consensually), with or without strings, as human needs demand. Deceptively nuanced, it asks us to confront our own ideas of what makes us strong and happy, and how we view those who sell this kind of service.

Good Luck to You, Leo Grande

Cast
  • Emma Thompson
  • Daryl McCormack
  • Isabella Laughland


https://screenanarchy.com/2022/06/review-good-luck-to-you-leo-grande.html

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Good Luck To You, Leo Grande Review: Emma Thompson’s Sexual Awakening Comedy Is As Seductive As It Is Heartfelt

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https://www.cinemablend.com/movies/good-luck-to-you-leo-grande-review-emma-thompsons-sexual-awakening-comedy-is-as-seductive-as-it-is-heartfelt

Good Luck To You, Leo Grande Review | Movie

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Retired teacher and widow Nancy Stokes (Thompson) hires handsome sex worker Leo Grande (McCormack) to help her achieve the sexual fulfilment long missing from her marriage. Over several meetings, Leo aids Nancy in working through her anxieties to find satisfaction while also trying to keep up conjugal appearances.

There is no shortage of sexual awakening stories centred on young ladies’ experience of the big O for the first time. Unfortunately, far too many women go through life without climaxing at all — and this is where comedian and screenwriter Katy Brand has stepped in to fill that orgasm gap. With Sophie Hyde on directing duties, this is an endearing, bubbly and heartening two-hander about female pleasure from a mature woman’s perspective. Together with Emma Thompson and Daryl McCormack, Brand and Hyde have captured that particularly dry style of humour and matter-of-factness so typical of the British romcom, with a sex-positive flair.

Thompson gives us everything. An award-winning screenwriter herself, it’s abundantly clear the actor has invested both personally and creatively in her repressed ex-schoolteacher. Nancy is a flood of contradictions: vulnerable and assertive, liberally minded but sexually conservative, straight-talking yet easily embarrassed by phrases like “anal sex”. She might be the older woman, but early on Thompson plays her almost like a 16-year-old about to pop her cherry, wide-eyed insecurity and nervous energy vibrating off her body. Like Aubrey Plaza’s feminist teen lead in The To Do List, she has a catalogue of carnal pleasures to experience for the first time, and Leo is the man to do just that.

Brand’s script takes great care to dissect the ambiguities around sex and sex work without shame.

A calming foil to his tightly wound client, McCormack serves as a charismatic receptacle to Thompson’s anxious stream-of-consciousness, as well as a mirror to her more generational, mother-knows-best prejudices. Even as you empathise with the chaotic way Nancy unpacks her fears and sexual desires, the patient mask Leo wears rarely slips; it’s only her questions about his life, aspirations and reasons for being in his profession that cause his poise to falter. The underlying tension doesn’t quite rip but ripples as McCormark’s placid demeanour shifts, forcing a deeper interrogation for them both.

A Norwich hotel room sets the stage for this tête-à-tête; its beige decor of muted colours doesn’t pull focus and dulls any erotic charge. 
It’s not without its sensuality — at moments, the camera luxuriates in both their bodies — but naturalistic lighting grounds the encounter in the awkward, transactional reality. Navigating the power dynamic between client and sex worker, older white woman and young biracial man, Brand might have probed a bit deeper instead of tying up things so neatly. But in avoiding racial clichés and exploitative moments, her script takes great care to dissect the ambiguities around sex and sex work without shame, a lot of compassion and welcome comic relief. With bold direction, this is a healthy, relatable romp every man and woman should make time for.

Deftly handled direction from Sophie Hyde and a thoroughly impressive dual performance from Emma Thompson 
and Daryl McCormack enlivens an electric script, tackling taboo sexual subjects with wit, flair and welcome realism.

https://www.empireonline.com/movies/reviews/good-luck-to-you-leo-grande/

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A brave portrait of middle-aged sexual liberation: BRIAN VINER reviews Good Luck To You, Leo Grande 

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A brave portrait of middle-aged sexual liberation… Hats off to Emma Thompson in this rite-of-passage story made with humour and sensitivity: BRIAN VINER reviews Good Luck To You, Leo Grande

Goodluck to you, Leo Grande

Rating:

Emma Thompson might not be everyone’s cup of tea, let alone their glass of fizz, but as a widowed former RE teacher called Nancy, she had me hooked from the moment she apprehensively takes a bottle of champagne from a hotel mini-bar in preparation for an encounter with a male escort.

The sex worker’s pseudonym is Leo Grande and he is quite splendidly played by Peaky Blinders actor Daryl McCormack. Until the last of four separate acts, Sophie Hyde’s funny, moving, thought-provoking film, smartly scripted by comedian Katy Brand, features just the two characters in a series of hotel-room trysts.

There is duly a slightly theatrical feel to proceedings, but such is the quality of both the acting and writing, it never feels stagey.

Emma Thompson might not be everyone’s cup of tea, let alone their glass of fizz, but as a widowed former RE teacher called Nancy, she had me hooked from the moment she apprehensively takes a bottle of champagne from a hotel mini-bar in preparation for an encounter with a male escort

Emma Thompson might not be everyone’s cup of tea, let alone their glass of fizz, but as a widowed former RE teacher called Nancy, she had me hooked from the moment she apprehensively takes a bottle of champagne from a hotel mini-bar in preparation for an encounter with a male escort

When we (and Leo) first meet her, Nancy is a bag of nerves. It is two years since the death of her husband Robert, the only man she has ever been to bed with – ‘There are nuns out there with more sexual experience,’ she says – and now she has decided that she wishes to pay for sex.

Even when Robert was alive theirs was a humdrum, robotic sex life, which always left her ‘disappointed’. But the arrival of this handsome, self-assured, worldly young Irishman plunges her into self doubt. The age gap alone is alarming. Does she really want to go through with it?

Leo has a quick wit and abundant charm. He tells Nancy he likes her perfume. ‘Coco Chanel… Nigella Lawson wears it,’ she gabbles by way of reply. Leo says he finds Nigella sexy. Nancy waits for him to add, ‘for her age’. But he doesn’t. He is a man in complete command of their transactional situation, overcoming its potential for awkwardness by effortlessly flirting with her.

Yet his confidence merely exacerbates her own mounting anxiety, compounded by phone calls from her grown-up daughter who, of course, has no idea what her mother is up to.

Leo tells her that his oldest customer was 82, which makes her feel a little better, but she cannot shake off the feeling that what she is about to do is irredeemably, indefensibly seedy. ‘I feel like Rolf Harris all of a sudden,’ she says.

Leo’s family in Ireland don’t know what he does for a living – he tells them he works on a North Sea oil rig – and over the course of three meetings, slowly but very effectively, and thanks to a genuinely nuanced performance by McCormack, his own vulnerabilities begin to show. Nancy, by contrast, is growing in self-esteem. She begins to feel intimacy beyond their physical connection – but is she starting to misinterpret the nature of their relationship?

When we (and Leo) first meet her, Nancy is a bag of nerves. It is two years since the death of her husband Robert, the only man she has ever been to bed with

When we (and Leo) first meet her, Nancy is a bag of nerves. It is two years since the death of her husband Robert, the only man she has ever been to bed with

Brand’s excellent script keeps all this real, faltering only once or twice when Nancy’s guilelessness feels a bit forced, but otherwise sustaining our interest in knowing how it might end. Wisely, the questionable morality of paying for sex is not overlooked (Nancy used to get her secondary-school pupils to write essays on the subject) although anyone who feels strongly that it is intrinsically wrong in any circumstance should probably give this film a swerve.

But really it is a rite-of-passage story made with humour and sensitivity, and hats off to Thompson, not to mention towelling robes, for fleetingly exposing her sexagenarian body not just to a single camera, but also to widespread comment. There is bound to be plenty. But nudity is not the point of this film. Nor, even, is sex. It is about emotional growth, and how we’re never too old to start.

  • Good Luck To You, Leo Grande opens in cinemas next Friday.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-10902403/A-brave-portrait-middle-aged-sexual-liberation-BRIAN-VINER-reviews-Good-Luck-Leo-Grande.html

Is Sex Good for You and Your Health Even Without Orgasm?

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Despite what pop-culture depictions might showcase, sex can encompass so much more than the penetration-to-orgasm pipeline. For starters, there’s a whole repertoire of sexy “outerplay” acts, which describe a non-penetrative route to pleasure that can be just as effective (if not more so!). And while orgasm is a worthy destination of any pleasure practice—however it is that you get there—a lack of orgasm doesn’t negate the enjoyable, health-supportive value of other parts of a sexual journey. In fact, if you fall within the estimated 5 percent of people with a vulva who can’t orgasm, or the 11 to 41 percent of vulva-owners who have trouble orgasming, it’s important to know this: Sex is good for you with or without orgasm.

Though orgasm (through solo or partnered sex) certainly presents its fair share of health perks, the release of good-for-you chemicals driving many of these benefits doesn’t just flip on at climax. “We can infer from studies done about touch, in general, that many of the same positive neurotransmitters are released in the context of welcome sensual touch and non-orgasmic sex, likely at a lower level but still enough to experience benefit,” says gynecologist Lyndsey Harper, MD, founder and CEO of sexual-wellness platform Rosy.

“Many positive neurotransmitters are released in the context of welcome sensual touch and non-orgasmic sex.” —Lyndsey Harper, MD, gynecologist

In fact, during a small 2011 study tracking brain activity in people with vulvas while they self-stimulated, researchers found that the parts of the brain responsible for those feel-good chemicals were activated well before orgasm. “All along the way, the brain was releasing some of these substances, including oxytocin, dopamine, and pain-relieving peptides such as our internal opioids,” says neuroscientist and sex therapist Nan Wise, PhD, a researcher on the study and author of Why Good Sex Matters.

As an important caveat, though, if you’re preoccupied by the fact that you can’t or won’t reach orgasm while engaged in sex acts, it’s less likely you’ll experience the above neurochemical benefits. “Focusing on trying to have an orgasm or being upset for not being able to reach climax might actually make you more tense,” says Dr. Wise. So, if you feel that orgasm is, in fact, a non-negotiable in your sex equation, and you’re struggling to experience it, it’s worth exploring new techniques, communication strategies, or supportive products to fast-track your way there.

Otherwise, simply acknowledging that sex is good for you, health-wise, with or without an orgasm, can prime you for a more satisfying sexual experience. Below, sexperts outline the specific benefits you can reap from any form of sex, even when its ending isn’t orgasmic.

3 reasons why sex is good for you, even without an orgasm, according to sexperts

1. It can relieve stress and anxiety

Orgasm aside, sensual or sexual touch offers real mental-health benefits, mainly through prompting the release of the mood-enhancing neurotransmitters noted above. Oxytocin, in particular, has even been called the “cuddle hormone” for the ways in which snuggling up can instigate its release, which delivers a calming, stress-melting effect. Not to mention, studies on social touch suggest that many of the elements of non-orgasmic sex can have other stress- and anxiety-relieving effects in the context of safety, consent, and mutual desirability, says Dr. Harper.

That benefit will be all the greater if you’re mindfully focused on the pleasurable sensations at hand while you’re having sex, adds Dr. Wise. “This increases your chances of eliciting a balanced nervous system by stimulating the parasympathetic state—which is calming and restorative,” she says. In that state, the brain also slows the release of stress hormones like cortisol, she adds, leaving you more at ease and relaxed, which can help you fall asleep more smoothly, too.

2. It may boost your heart health

This happens by way of a few pathways, none of which require orgasm. For one, as sex can help you downshift into that calm parasympathetic state noted above, it can also increase your heart-rate variability—aka the metric tracking how well your heart rate adapts to your nervous system and environment—which is a measure of a healthy heart, says Dr. Wise. In other words? The more often you have positive, consensual sex (orgasm or not), the more you’re training your heart to slow its pace in response to a relaxing, non-threatening environment.

And from there, the more positive emotions you feel around sex and intimacy, the more likely it is you’ll also be able to experience cardiac coherence, which is when your heart rate adopts an even pattern synced with your breath, supporting your physical and emotional well-being, adds Dr. Wise. “Having a good connection with yourself if you’re masturbating, or with a partner if you’re having partnered sex, is really the key to dropping into a nice state of cardiac coherence [orgasm notwithstanding],” she says.

3. It can strengthen your pelvic floor

It’s worth noting that any kind of sex can be a physical exercise, and depending on the type of positions in which you’re pretzeling your body, you could actually strengthen any number of muscles in the process. (Isometric hold, anyone?)

But even if you’re sticking to missionary or lying on your back for a solo sex session, your pelvic floor will stand to benefit. Because genital touch increases blood flow to the muscles, nerves, and tendons in the pelvic floor and leads to muscle contractions, sex or masturbation (even without orgasm) can help strengthen those muscles, pelvic-floor physical therapist Amanda Olsen, DPT, previously told Well+Good. And happily, the association works the other way around, too: A stronger pelvic floor will lead to even better, longer-lasting sex.

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Is Sex Good for You Even if You Don’t Orgasm? Here’s What Sexperts Say

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27 Good Erotic Novels for 2022

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Erotic fiction gets a bad reputation, and it’s frankly unfair. Just because a work of literature can be a sexual turn-on does not inherently make it less than. Even “smutty” shouldn’t have such a negative connotation. Don’t let the bad eggs like Fifty Shades of Grey (despite its rampant popularity) keep you from the sumptuous and diverse world of romance. There are plenty of *actually* good erotic novels and romance novels out there—and some of them are so good that they’ve also made their way to your screens. I mean, did you see Bridgerton??

Maybe you’re someone who’s looking to give erotic romance novels a shot. Maybe you’ve already got a collection of paperbacks proudly displayed and are looking for some new recommendations. Whatever the case, we’ve rounded up some of the best erotic novels of all time for your ~reading pleasure~, and we’ll warn you now: They’re seriously steamy. From Regency-era romances to sexy contemporary romps, here are all the sexy books you should add to your reading list (and maybe keep from reading in public). Enjoy!!

Contemporary Erotic Novels

Praise by Sara Cate

Praise is book one in the Salacious Players’ Club series and you’re going to be hooked from the very first page. Meet Charlotte and Emerson as they start to explore a relationship where one finally gets what they’ve wanted and another discovers something about themselves that they never knew before. The title alone should give you a big hint as to what to expect.

Beautiful Bastard by Christina Lauren

Beautiful Bastard by Christina Lauren

Before they became a household name under Christina Lauren, our favorite writing duo released this story as fanfiction and readers have been obsessed ever since. Not only is it another Twilight fanfic that has surprised readers, but it might also just be Christina Lauren’s hottest book yet.

Priest by Sierra Simone

If you found yourself drooling over the Hot Priest in Fleabag, then you definitely have to pick up this title. What happens when a priest breaks his vow of celibacy? You’re going to have to read to find out.

The Mindf*ck Series by S.T. Abby

The Mindf*ck Series by S.T. Abby

Not only did this series introduce us to one of the most incredible pen names to have ever existed (just repeat it a few times in your head), but it also give us a hot new story that will literally live up to its name. She’s a serial killer and he’s an FBI Agent who is trying to find her. Thankfully, all five books are now available in an anthology that you won’t be able to put down.

Games We Play by Dana Isaly

Amazon

Games We Play by Dana Isaly

Kindle Direct Publishing
amazon.com

$12.99

There’s a reason why this book became a #BookTok sensation. It’s very very steamy right off the bat, and trust—you’re going to want to read some of these scenes over and over again.

Seven Days in June by Tia Williams

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Seven Days in June by Tia Williams

Grand Central Publishing
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$25.11

When a best-selling erotica writer and a reclusive, award-winning novelist cross paths at a New York City literary event, their chemistry is instantaneous…and only partially because the two had a steamy, weeklong affair 15 years earlier. Their reunion? Even hotter.

The Right Swipe by Alisha Rai

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The Right Swipe by Alisha Rai

Avon Books
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$13.94

In The Right Swipe, two rival dating app creators find themselves at odds in the boardroom but all over each other in the bedroom. If you’re looking for an edgy modern romance with razor-sharp dialogue, then look no further.

While We Were Dating by Jasmine Guillory

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While We Were Dating by Jasmine Guillory

Berkley Books
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$14.88

In While We Were Dating, an actress looking to be Hollywood’s next big star and an advertising executive with a flirty side find themselves unexpectedly falling for each other, and their romance goes waaaay beyond just physical attraction.

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

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The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

Berkley Books
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$14.88

This swoon-worthy romance tells the story of Stella, an economist on the spectrum and the male escort she recruits to give her some sexual experience. Though Michael the escort attempts to keep his relationship with Stella as professional as possible, it isn’t long before these two start falling for each other.

Night Shift: A Choose-Your-Own Erotic Fantasy by Joanna Angel

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Night Shift: A Choose-Your-Own Erotic Fantasy by Joanna Angel

Simon & Schuster
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$16.95

If you want a Choose Your Own Adventure but with ~sexploration~, then this is the book for you. Adult film actress, director, and author Joanna Angel dreamed up this witty tale of college grad Taryn, a young woman working the titular shift at a sex shop in central Florida, and her night gets as wild as you would like.

Retelling Erotic Novels

Neon Gods by Katee Robert

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Neon Gods by Katee Robert

Sourcebooks Casablanca
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$13.94

Let’s be honest here, Hades and Persephone are definitely having their big moment in the book world right now. And we can’t get enough of Katee Robert’s Neon Gods, which brings our favorite couple to life in a new way that will make you feel as hot as it is in the underworld.

Science Fiction Erotic Novels

Ice Planet Barbarians by Ruby Dixon

Ice Planet Barbarians by Ruby Dixon

Listen, you knew this one was going to be on here. Ruby Dixon’s 22-part series about blue aliens abducting women and taking them back to their planet has been a monster hit and taken the book world by storm. So much so, that the series has been recently republished with a special new cover so you don’t feel too embarrassed when you take it with you for a hot beach day.

Classic Erotic Novels

Emmanuelle by Emmanuelle Arsan

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Emmanuelle by Emmanuelle Arsan

Grove Press
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$13.95

Told from the perspective of a young bisexual Frenchwoman in 1967, the (many) erotic scenes in this one seem to unfold like a hazy dream. The language is literary, but the plot is minimal, not getting in the way of the many ways Emmanuelle explores her desire with women and men everywhere from her overnight flight to a squash court to an opium den.

The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough

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The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough

William Morrow & Company
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$16.73

Get this book ASAP if sweeping, soap-opera-style romance turns you on…or you’re wondering why this book—which was later adapted into one of the most highly rated TV miniseries of the ’80s—had your moms and grandmothers all aflutter.

Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D. H. Lawrence

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Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D. H. Lawrence

Signet Book
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$5.95

While now considered a masterpiece, this steamy love story—which revolves around an extramarital affair between an unhappy woman married to an aristocrat and a gamekeeper—was banned as pornography until 1960. Be sure to read it before it becomes a movie starring Emma Corrin.

Story of O by Pauline Réage

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Story of O by Pauline Réage

Ballantine Books
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$14.72

Published in 1954 by French author Anne Desclos under the pen name Pauline Réage, Story of O tells the story of a Parisian fashion photographer who wants nothing more than to bring sexual satisfaction to her lover, René, and phew, it is hot!!

A Sport and a Pastime by James Salter

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A Sport and a Pastime by James Salter

Farrar, Straus and Giroux
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$14.88

Considered one of the sexiest books of all time, James Salter’s classic takes place in provincial France in the 1960s, following the wildly carnal love affair between a carefree Yale dropout and a young French woman.

Historical Erotic Novels

An Extraordinary Union by Alyssa Cole

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An Extraordinary Union by Alyssa Cole

Kensington Publishing
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$14.83

Set against the backdrop of the Civil War, Alyssa Cole’s suspenseful (and suuuuper sexy novel) follows two undercover agents who share a common cause…as well as a whole lot of chemistry in the bedroom.

Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters

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Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters

Riverhead Books
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$15.81

Sarah Waters’ first novel takes place in late 19th-century England, telling the story of an inexperienced young oyster girl who falls for music hall phenomenon and famed male impersonator Kitty Butler, eventually following her to London. Prepare yourself for cunnilingus euphemisms aplenty.

A Night to Surrender by Tessa Dare

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A Night to Surrender by Tessa Dare

Avon Books
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$8.36

Everything Tessa Dare writes is sexy AF, but the first book in her Spindle Cove series is supremely hot, following a wounded war hero eager to prove himself and his unexpected encounter with a strong-willed spinster.

The Last Nude by Ellis Avery

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The Last Nude by Ellis Avery

Riverhead Books
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$17.00

Inspired by the life of artist Tamara de Lempicka, The Last Nude takes place in 1927 Paris, following the love affair between a young Italian-American runaway named Rafaela and a wealthy aspiring painter, who convinces Rafaela to serve as her muse.

The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory

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The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory

Washington Square Press
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$16.74

Loosely based on the life of 16th-century aristocrat Mary Boleyn, this definitely-not-historically-accurate historical novel tells the tale of how Mary fell for King Henry VIII before his ill-fated marriage to Queen Catherine…and before he fell in love with—and murdered—her sister, Anne.

Erotic Novels With Film and TV Adaptations

Normal People by Sally Rooney

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Normal People by Sally Rooney

Hogarth Press
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$15.64

If you haven’t read the book that inspired the incredibly horny Hulu series, then you really should. Normal People follows the tumultuous romance between Connell and Marianne, two Irish students who fight, fail to communicate, and have lots of sex between their final year in secondary school and their final year at Trinity College.

Call Me by Your Name by André Aciman

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Call Me by Your Name by André Aciman

Picador USA
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$15.81

You’ll love this book if you loved the movie adaptation, ofc, and want to see how Aciman originally wrote that peach scene. But also, you will love it if you were ever a teenager with a massive, confusing crush on someone who would definitely leave you at the end of the summer, making every single touch of theirs intense and explosive.

The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

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The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

Scribner Book Company
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$17.66

This romance follows the hot-and-heavy marriage between an artist and her husband, who has a gene that causes him to involuntarily time travel…which obv complicates things. If you thought the Rachel McAdams movie was hot, just wait until this one gets the HBO treatment.

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

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Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

Before it became a sexy historical time-travel series on Starz, Outlander was a bestselling book series by Diana Gabaldon, following the love story between a former World War II combat nurse and an 18th-century Scottish Highland warrior. There are eight books in the series, so these should keep you amused for a while.

The Duke and I by Julia Quinn

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The Duke and I by Julia Quinn

Avon Books
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$8.27

Just like Outlander, Julia Quinn’s erotic Regency romance novels were a book series before they were adapted into the Netflix smash hit Bridgerton, and if you haven’t read all eight book in the series yet, then what are you waiting for??

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https://www.cosmopolitan.com/entertainment/books/a36506/erotic-novels-you-must-read/

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‘I knew I was in good hands’: Peaky Blinders’ Daryl McCormack on shooting sex scenes with Emma Thompson | Film

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You wouldn’t think of Daryl McCormack, 29, as a chameleon of an actor. Chiselled face, green eyes, leading man material, sure, but not a shape-shifter. In the forthcoming film Good Luck to You, Leo Grande, however, he looks like a guy in an advert for a £60,000 watch. In the opening shots, it’s faintly grating, like being sold the story rather than told it; as it moves on, you realise his self-assurance and slick, complicated perfection is just part of the texture and subtlety.

In Peaky Blinders, which he joined in season five, he looks, let’s just say for brevity, pretty comfortable with a gun in his hand, and in the Guardian office on a regular Tuesday morning, the Irishman looks open, unassuming and affable, as if he can’t wait to help you with something. Versatility is a constant theme, and not just in the roles he chooses: had he fulfilled his promise as a 12-year-old in Tipperary, he would have been a professional hurler. “I had a golden era in hurling,” he says, with exaggerated sincerity, “and then I didn’t hit my growth spurt the same way other young men did. That peak and then the fall … my ego at 14 was taking a hit. But I lived to tell the tale.” He fleshes this out with piquant details, as if I might not believe him. I definitely do.

‘I didn’t want to come in as the fumbling new kid who doesn’t know how to shoot the gun’ … McCormack as Isiah in Peaky Blinders. Photograph: Matt Squire/BBC/Caryn Mandabach Productions

Good Luck to You, Leo Grande sounds like a young actor’s anxiety dream: a full-length feature with no other actor besides McCormack and Emma Thompson, no set besides a single, characterless hotel room, and a challenging premise that can’t afford to put a foot wrong. There is nowhere to hide in this movie; every word, every gesture, has to be perfect.

Thompson plays a retired teacher, recently widowed who, after a lifetime of uninspiring sex with one man, hires McCormack as a sex worker. At the start, she worries constantly at the ethical dimension of her decision, as if she’s picking a scab – surely he’s being exploited, doesn’t he mind, what terrible thing must have occurred to make him do this, who’s the oldest person he’s ever had sex with, why is he so vain? There’s a lot of levity to McCormack’s performance, but also pride and self-respect. “I really didn’t want to put on my shoulders that I would be representing sex workers. To me, that was too much of an undertaking for one man.” He sometimes has quite a courtly turn of phrase, the gift I imagine of really only concentrating at school when he was playing hurling or doing Shakespeare, then going straight to Dublin Institute of Technology, and afterwards to the Gaiety School of Acting, the National Theatre School of Ireland.

“Of course, I was exposed to the idea of the degradation of sex workers, seeing those stereotypes, because it’s shown in films and stories so often. And then I spoke to real sex workers via Zoom, and I met people who had gone on their own individual journey, found their own sense of authority, power and identity. I was speaking to people who weren’t victimised, who had a sense of who they were and who found a lot of joy and vocation in what they did.”

Thompson’s jangly, almost-unwatchable anxiety and body-shame recede, and she becomes very task-driven: she wants oral sex both ways, she wants it doggy-style, she wants it all in their second session because he’s quite expensive; it’s so human that it’s excruciating, and her brusque to-do list is another mask. “I think you see him opening doors for her and then saying it’s safe to step through,” he says. “Then you see her anger or denial, or whatever it is, and then eventually she makes her way through, and there’s another door. This is another thing I learned from sex workers. That it isn’t always just about the physical, there’s so much more to what they do. He really saw the yearning in her to explore these things, and how bold she is.” Leo Grande is trying to get across something more than sex, that “it’s not vain to love your body, if you are loving your body, not loving what the world tells you your body should be like in order to be loved”.

The pair’s relationship may be transactional on paper, but it’s a two-way street, and “they both leave that room at the end of the film different people”. “I don’t think Leo expected to be changed. I think he thought it would be like a swan dance, with him leading the whole thing.” Looking back, McCormack can’t put his finger on what was more daunting about the whole thing: playing opposite Thompson, “knowing that you’re in the presence of someone who’s done it all” or just feeling “overwhelmed, terrible imposter syndrome, just feeling sure they had cast the wrong Leo. But in the end, your only option is to connect with the story and connect with your dancing partner. And it was Emma Thompson, so I was in good hands.” He absolutely loves Thompson, but everybody says that.

Emma Thompson as the widowed Nancy, left, and Daryl McCormack as Leo in a scene from Good Luck to You, Leo Grande (2022)
Emma Thompson as the widowed Nancy with McCormack as Leo in Good Luck to You, Leo Grande. Photograph: AP

McCormack grew up in Nenagh, Tipperary, with his mother, a single parent. She met his father fleetingly in the US when she was young; she is now 52, and has just moved to Peterborough. Did she do that to be nearer her son, now that he lives in London? “No,” he says, surprised. “I think she did it for her own life, actually.” His memories of Nenagh are extremely fond, and the place has even fonder memories of him; his former science teachers come up to him in the pub when he goes home and tell him how proud they are of his career, like a Sally Rooney novel. But it was complicated. “I was one of the only biracial or non-white kids who were Irish, so there was an element of being an outsider. I have an American family as well. So I had to find more spaces where I could explore that part of my identity, become more fully formed.”

It helped that he was incredibly good at everything, not just the hurling – his paternal grandfather is certain that, had he been raised in the US, he would have been a basketball pro. All the time, he was acting, singing, being in a band. “Sometimes I felt like I was an elephant in the room, but I was a jovial pink, dancing elephant. I didn’t try to hide. In a way, I embraced my difference and I knew there was something beautiful about being different. And that was its own journey.”

Daryl McCormack and Ben Hardy in the 2020 British comedy thriller Pixie
McCormack and Ben Hardy in the 2020 British comedy thriller Pixie. Photograph: Landmark Media/Alamy

He and his grandad have a very close relationship, some seam of similarity that separation by continent and parents were no match for. “When he was in his 20s, in the 1970s, he was out in LA, trying to become an actor. So he had his own journey with it and he really is very proud, vicariously living through me now. He just loves seeing his grandson go on the journey he’s gone on himself, and I’ve got to the point where I’m going further than where he finished.”

McCormack’s career looks effortless to the point of being pre-ordained. He did 36 episodes in Ireland’s longest running soap, Fair City, just after drama school, made his West End debut at the age of 24 in The Lieutenant of Inishmore, and won round the cast and audience of Peaky Blinders when he joined, in 2019, as a replacement for another actor, which is notoriously hard to do. “I desperately wanted to feel part of it. I didn’t want to come in as the fumbling new kid who doesn’t know how to shoot the gun. It got a lot easier in season six.” In 2020, he starred in the British comedy-thriller Pixie, alongside Olivia Cooke, Ben Hardy, Colm Meaney and Alec Baldwin. When I met him, he was about to fly to Dublin for Bad Sisters, a new Sharon Horgan show for Apple TV+ in which he is cast in all 10 episodes. No observable dry spells, almost no documented disappointments (though he just missed out on Star Wars: The Force Awakens).

Yet you could never read his CV as the strategy document for the building of the brand Daryl McCormack, he aspires more to lose himself in the work than put his stamp on it. “As an actor, it’s not like you sit behind a character. You sit behind the belief of the project. If the message is liberating, I’m not just invested as an actor, I’m invested as a person, with the entireness of my being. If I read a script like that, my toes start tingling. I’m just so excited that it’s being made, even if it doesn’t come to pass that I’m cast in it.” The self-effacing actor – no offence – sounds like a contradiction in terms. But there it is, there Daryl McCormack is, contradicting the terms.

Good Luck to You, Leo Grande is in cinemas from 17 June.

https://www.theguardian.com/film/2022/jun/03/daryl-mccormack-actor-emma-thompson-good-luck-to-you-leo-grande-peaky-blinders

A Perfect Pairing review – is Sex/Life star’s Netflix film good?

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Hold onto your hats, we’re headed down under with Netflix’s latest rom-com release A Perfect Pairing.

Wine sales executive Lola Alvarez winds up working at an Australian sheep farm in order to win over a major new client but winds up stirring the passions of a rugged and mysterious local, Max, too.

Yes, it has everything you want for in an escapist rom-com: a dreamy, almost seemingly unreal job (day drinking! for work!), a beautiful landscape (with some deadly snakes), and some seriously good eye-candy: Victoria Justice (Victorious, Fun Sized) as Lola and Sex/Life star Adam Demos as Max.

The movie wastes no time in establishing its genre-given tropes, and establishes Lola as an Instagram-worthy ‘girl boss’ who still has some struggles of her own to deal with (divorce, of course).

Netflix

Though not the most groundbreaking of movies (and, who says it needs to be after all?), A Perfect Pairing manages to avoid some problematic tropes that still litter even the best rom-coms.

There is one explicitly queer character who is a totally normal person without heaps of trauma nor a tragic subplot (what a concept!) and no ‘funny, chubby friend’ to serve as the comedic punching bag.

We’ve seen many fish-out-of-water rom-coms before. Unlikely people in unlikely places having to adapt and overcome challenges, falling in love along the way. What makes A Perfect Pairing feel slightly fresher than most is the sheer energy of its lead.

Justice bounds through each scene in a way that could feel forced but her earnestness in delivering even the cheesiest of lines instead brings you into her world and buy her as a real, if slightly over-the-top, person. She might be exhausting to be friends with – and you’d surely grow bored of her Instragrammy one-liners (which, yes, include the phrase girl-boss) – but you can’t deny she’d never let you slow down.

This unbounded energy balances Max’s rough reticence well, and A Perfect Pairing also eschews the expected antagonism between the two. Instead of Max dismissing, degrading and rolling his eyes, he is patiently quiet and mostly helpful, if sometimes a bit sarcastic.

adam demos as max, victoria justice as lola, a perfect pairing

Netflix

Of course, there’s always a catch in these kinds of films – and with these kinds of men – though A Perfect Pairing plays up the inevitable reveal to be far more dramatic than it is. (We won’t spoil it for you, but safe to say it’s an easily forgivable transgression, particularly in the capitalistic hell hole we call modern society).

All rom-coms like this require a hefty suspension of disbelief – you have to imagine a world in which a woman can blag her way into the biggest career get of her life, in which labour laws and visa requirements don’t exist, in which dreams really do come true.

A Perfect Pairing at least feels rooted in some kind of recognisable reality; Lola isn’t a famous novelist who buys a castle in Scotland, or a baker who coincidentally looks identical to a princess.

What the movie does best is not put too much emotional strain on its thin script. It doesn’t deal with the big issues that other films try to tackle and fail. You might find yourself thinking ‘that’s dumb’ or ‘that’s impossible’ but in the end, A Perfect Pairing knows exactly what it is – cheesy, escapist fantasy that moves at a clip – and on those counts, it delivers.

A Perfect Pairing is available to watch now on Netflix.

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https://www.digitalspy.com/movies/a40045492/a-perfect-pairing-review-netflix/

Good Vibrations: The Transition from Sex Toy to Medical Device

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NEW ORLEANS — Formal medical studies of vibrators have revealed positive effects on multiple sexual and urinary outcomes in women, a review of published literature showed.

Though limited in number, the studies induced favorable changes in blood flow and muscle tone of genital tissues, improved multiple aspects of sexual arousal and satisfaction, increased orgasmic response, and decreased sexual distress. In women with pelvic floor dysfunction, use of vibrators was associated with decreased urine leakage and urinary symptoms and significantly improved pelvic muscle strength. Other studies showed that vibrators decreased pain and improved sexual enjoyment in women with vulvodynia.

“Medical providers, especially gynecologists, urologists, and FPMRS [female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery specialists] need more education on women’s sexual health and vibrators,” said Alexandra Dubinskaya, MD, of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, at the American Urological Association annual meeting. “We need to remove the stigma from vibrators and I do believe this soon will be possible as we are now normalizing discussion about women’s sexual health.”

“In our practice, we usually tell our patients to eat healthy, exercise, get enough sleep, and please use your vibrator,” she added.

Vibrators should be viewed as another form of technology that can be applied to benefit patients in clinical practice, said Rachel S. Rubin, MD, of Georgetown University in Washington.

“I believe we use technology to make our lives better in almost every way … and the bedroom should not be absent of technology,” she said. “Sex tech is incredible now, from what it used to be. It’s no longer just the seedy stores with newspaper over the windows, but really high-end wonderful devices for couples for all genders. There are so many health benefits to these devices.”

“I believe that if we get male partners interested in devices in the bedroom, everyone’s sexual health will improve,” she stated. “[Dubinskaya’s] work and the work we’re doing in terms of the science behind it, it takes the shame away and the guilt away. We know that women take longer to orgasm than their male partners, and that’s because the clitoris is all internal. Teaching people basic science and physiology will make sex more fun, more enjoyable, and help everyone have better quality of life [QoL].”

Therapeutic vibratory stimulation has its origin in the historical condition known as female hysteria, associated with excessive emotions and thought to be related to marital relationships, orgasm, and pregnancy, said Dubinskaya. Early practitioners who treated the condition used manual pelvic massage to bring women to orgasm, which was thought to reduce the emotionality.

“Because doctors’ hands were getting tired while providing pelvic massage to women who had female hysteria, they kept looking for methods to free their hands,” she said.

The search took practitioners to hydrotherapy with pelvic douches, a coal-powered flat surface with a rotating sphere in the middle for women to sit on, and finally to the first hand-held electric vibrators, which were also used to treat constipation, arthritis, muscle fatigue, and “pelvic congestion.”

Over the years, the association with potential health benefits became overshadowed by vibrators’ reputation as sex toys, supported by the devices’ use in early pornographic movies, said Dubinskaya. Traditionally associated with female sexual pleasure and having a phallic shape, modern vibrators have a high-tech appearance. Surveys conducted more than a decade ago showed that a majority of women and more than 40% of men reported using vibrators at some point in their lives.

Dubinskaya and colleagues sought to assess the evidence supporting vibrators’ medical benefits in women. They conducted a systematic literature review, focusing on studies related to sexual health, pelvic floor function, and vulvar health. Of 558 abstracts of potential interest, 21 met all the inclusion criteria, consisting of 11 studies of female sexual dysfunction, nine on pelvic floor dysfunction, and one on vulvodynia.

From a science perspective, the studies of sexual dysfunction showed that vibratory stimulation facilitated vasodilation and blood flow, improved tissue perfusion and metabolism, decreased muscle tone, and increased relaxation. Clinically, use of vibrators was associated with significant improvement in the Female Sexual Function Index score (P<0.001), as well as increased arousal, orgasm, and genital sensation.

Patients who used vibrators reported increased sexual desire, satisfaction, and overall sexual function, as well as reduced time to orgasm, achievement of multiple orgasms, and reduced distress.

The studies of pelvic floor dysfunction showed that vibratory stimulation was associated with a significant (P<0.001) reduction in use of hygienic pads among women with stress urinary incontinence and urine leakage, as well as a reduction in urinary symptoms. Pelvic-floor muscle tone improved significantly (P<0.001), QoL improved as assessed by multiple scales, as did patient satisfaction with the treatment.

The single study of vulvodynia focused on vibratory stimulation for relief of pain and associated symptoms. Dubinskaya said that after 4 to 6 weeks of vibrator use, women reported antinociceptive and desensitizing effects, reduced pain, and increased sexual enjoyment. More than 80% of the study participants expressed satisfaction with the treatment, and 90% said they were comfortable with their doctor offering a vibrator as a form of therapy.

Enrollment has begun in a clinical trial to identify which conditions and which characteristics of sexual dysfunction benefit most from use of vibrators. Accrual will continue until the end of the year, and Dubinskaya encouraged patients and clinicians to contact her for more information about the study.

  • Charles Bankhead is senior editor for oncology and also covers urology, dermatology, and ophthalmology. He joined MedPage Today in 2007. Follow

Disclosures

Dubinskaya and co-authors disclosed no relationships with industry.


https://www.medpagetoday.com/meetingcoverage/aua/98716

Sex is a Good Thing: Ninja Thyberg on Pleasure | Interviews

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Kappel plays a 19-year-old Swedish woman who comes to Los Angeles to work in the porn industry under the stage name Bella Cherry. Thyberg’s film follows Bella from her arrival at LAX, through her first shoot, her life at a model house, and the lengths she must go to match the aspirations she has herself in the industry. This is not an easy watch. Thyberg’s clear-eyed, almost clinical depiction of the machinations of a shoot allows viewers to see the love these workers have for their jobs without judgment, but also unearths the uneven power structures at play within any capitalist industry, which sometimes affects the performer’s safety and mental well-being. Like any great piece of art, “Pleasure” doesn’t tell you what to think or how to feel, rather it poses questions about its subject while also inspiring viewers to question themselves. 

As its U.S. theatrical release approaches, RogerEbert.com spoke to Thyberg over Zoom about adapting her short film, creating new images she’d never seen before, and working towards a more sex-positive society. 

Before I saw the feature film at Sundance a year and a half ago, I watched your short film of the same name and read that it came from your research in a Gender Studies class. Could you talk about how that research informed both films?

Everything with the film came from the research. I had made the short film based on porn clips that I had studied when I wrote my thesis. I became so interested in who these people were, and what do they think about their job? How are the dynamics on set? Because I was already a filmmaker, so I knew how a film is made. It’s like they’re cutting here, they’re moving the camera there. But what is happening in between that? What do they say to each other before they start or at the end? So I did as much research as I could, to try to create this fictional behind the scenes story, like before they start to shoot. But it was all just based on assumptions. I read a lot of biographies and watched documentaries, but you still don’t really know. It’s still fiction in a way. 

Then the short film got a lot of attention. And I got to travel. And I said in interviews that I wanted to portray the real people behind the porn stereotypes, but I had actually never met anyone. I always had this feeling that someone from the industry would come out and call my bluff, or say that’s not accurate at all, you’re just making these things up. So I knew that I wanted to make a feature length film. The plan from the beginning was to use, or I had in the back of my head that I could maybe try to make a short film first and then maybe that would help me to make a feature version. 

https://www.rogerebert.com/interviews/pleasure-neon-ninja-thyberg-interview-2022

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