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Critic’s Notebook: Fifty Shades of Sex at Sundance

THR: Where’s no polite way to say it: When it comes to sex, the American movie industry is — and long has been — a big old prude.

Studios, audiences and of course the MPAA, with its draconian rating system, barely blink at bloody murder, but get convulsively squeamish at the sight of an exposed nipple. Films from Brokeback Mountain to Blue Valentine, Eyes Wide Shut to Monster’s Ball stirred controversy because of their sexual content — though if one compares those works to the raw sensuality of Y Tu Mama Tambien, Blue is the Warmest Color or any number of foreign imports that raise temperatures and eyebrows in arthouse theaters across the country, it’s clear where we stand. Gone are the days of Last Tango in Paris or American Gigolo, when a major American star might show some skin in an erotically charged movie with broad appeal. Even the upcoming Fifty Shades of Grey, an adaptation of the bestseller about bondage in the bedroom, was somehow tamed into an R-rated film.

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