February 10, 2013

Texture of Skin: Memories of Other People Having Sex

Porn has a reputation for being both forgettable (because it typically doesn't invest much in its story) or unforgettable (because it sometimes shows explicit acts that you may not be able to get out of your head afterward). There are skin flicks that evaporate upon ending and there are skin flicks that stick in the memory until you're dead. Which brings me to Texture of Skin, a truly boring yet memorable piece of soft core Korean erotica that I saw nearly a year ago on cable TV. The movie's lasting power isn't completely due to lead actor Kim Yun-tae's truly beautifully muscled ass, although it doesn't hurt either. It's really more the movie's final scene in which Tae's character, a photographer having an extramarital affair with an old friend (Kim Joo-ryeong), faces a bedroom mirror in which he encounters not himself but a topless woman. Upon first viewing, I had vague ideas of what that jarring reflection might mean: something about identity or haunting or gender fluidity. I know that flashbacks of a rape were part of the story but to be honest, Texture of Skin didn't hold my attention most of the time so I easily missed most of the clues.

And is it really worth thinking about? A brief investigation online reminds me that a car crash figures into the plot as does a random rule that states the two main characters have agreed to have sex only nine times. But I can't say that brings me any closer to understanding that final disjuncture. Soft core movies pretend to have stories but generally speaking they're just porn with greater distribution potential. It's hard to believe that director Lee Sung-gang really felt he had a tale to tell. Then again, his filmography is hardly a list of smut. He's the same writer-director behind the animated feature My Beautiful Girl, Mari, which, while not a favorite of mine, surely reflects artistic aspirations. Do Lee and his stars, Tae and Kim, all think of this as an art house pic? How did Lee get actors with lengthy resumes -- Myeong Gye-nam and Lee Dae-yeon -- to appear in cameos despite the salacious nature of the script? Like the topless woman, these remain mysteries to me.

If you're looking for something a little racy, I'd say try Hera Purple: Devil Goddess, My Heart Beats, or hottest of all, A Frozen Flower, a movie that actually made me blush. (The dangers of seeing a movie with a former personal trainer are hereby documented.)

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