‘Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!’ (1989)

Raucous sex appears pretty frequently in Pedro Almodóvar’s movies, but nowhere more explicitly than in this bondage comedy. The movie follows a man, played by Antonio Banderas, who ties up a woman in her home, sure that she’ll fall in love with him if she can just stay put for a while. (By the time the pair eventually re-consummates, the rope’s come off). (Read Vincent Canby’s review here.)

‘Crash’ (1996)

David Cronenberg’s film (not to be confused with Paul Haggis’s Los Angeles-focused 2005 film of the same name, which won the Oscar for best picture) centers on a couple with a fading sex life, who discover a mutual sexual interest in fender benders. The movie has a happy ending, of sorts: The leads rejuvenate their bedroom chemistry by bringing themselves to the brink of death in a vehicular accident. (Read Janet Maslin’s review here.)

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Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman in Stanley Kubrick’s 1999 film, ‘‘Eyes Wide Shut.’’

Credit
Warner Brothers Pictures

‘Eyes Wide Shut’ (1999)

Stanley Kubrick, Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise raised eyebrows (and pulses) around the world with this movie, about a couple with a lagging love life, who get roped into a high-powered underground sex ring in New York. After its release, the movie became instantly known for a memorable masked orgy. (Read Ms. Maslin’s review here.)

‘Quills’ (2000)

This movie, based on an Obie-winning play by Doug Wright, centers on the Marquis de Sade, the 18th-century French nobleman who found thrills in cruelty and violence. The marquis, a patient at an asylum for the insane, talks naughtily to his laundry maid, played by Kate Winslet. There’s some racy stuff throughout, but the movie’s all about the Marquis’s taming, and the sexuality is mostly subterfuge. (Read Elvis Mitchell’s review here.)

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Isabelle Huppert and Benoit Magimel in Michael Haneke’s 2001 drama, ‘‘The Piano Teacher.’’

Credit
Kino International

‘The Piano Teacher’ (2001)

This adaptation of the Nobel Prize-winner Elfriede Jelinek’s novel follows a middle-aged piano teacher who develops a sadomasochistic relationship with her younger student. Michael Haneke (“Funny Games,” “Caché (Hidden)”), a director who’s made a career of movies that show the animalistic underbelly of civilized society, directed the movie, which Stephen Holden, writing in The Times, called “a glum, post-Freudian meditation on sex, power, repression and Western high culture.”

‘Secretary’ (2002)

Maggie Gyllenhaal helped bring S&M into the mainstream in her portrayal of a woman who develops an erotic relationship with her boss. Admirers praised the film’s edgy depiction of sex beyond the normal bounds. Others weren’t so shocked. The movie “provokes nothing but yawns,” Mick LaSalle wrote in a review for The San Francisco Chronicle at the time, adding that the “sex it explores is stuff everybody knows about and says, ‘So what?’” (Read Mr. Holden’s review here.)

‘The Dreamers’ (2003)

Bernardo Bertolucci’s sex drama centers on Anglo-French twins and an American exchange student holed up in a palatial Paris loft during the student riots of 1968. Things get kinky when he discovers that the twins play a game in which they dare each other to do increasingly sexual acts. A couple of characters lose their virginity in the course of things. Writing for The New York Times, A. O. Scott called the movie “ a soft-core updating of Henry James.”

‘Nymphomaniac’ (2013)

The Danish director Lars von Trier makes a splash with almost every movie he releases, but none maybe more so than this exegesis of sex gone off the rails. The movie centers on a sex addict, played by Charlotte Gainsbourg, who recounts her past erotic encounters. It caused a stir with some memorable promotional posters that showed the movie’s actors apparently in mid-orgasm. (Read Ms. Dargis’s review here.)

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