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    Mira Sorvino in The Dutch Master segment of Erotic Tales. in Erotic Tales
    Mira Sorvino in "The Dutch Master" segment of "Erotic Tales."

    Sneak peek

    Ranging from imaginative to mild to hackneyed, "Erotic Tales" is worthwhile mostly as a historical footnote for "Sex in the City" fans.


    The thing people will find most interesting about "Erotic Tales" is the first of its three segments, directed by Susan Seidelman who also directed the pilot of "Sex in the City." The tales in this compilation — part of a longer series made in the mid-'90s for European TV — are less witty, sassy and smart than the American series that they may well have inspired, but if you're looking to complete your encyclopedic knowledge of all things "Sex in the City," you'll probably want to catch the show.

    Includes individual films: "The Dutch Master" by Susan Seidelman, Jonathan Brett; "Angela" by Amos Kollek; "The Waiting Room" by Jos Sterling.
    Cast: Mira Sorvino, Aida Turturro, Sharon Angela, Rick Paqualone, Vinnie Pastore, Victor Argo, Austin Pendleton, Valeria Geffner, Mark Margolis, Matthew Powers, Eugene Bervoets, Bianca Koedeam, Annet Malherbe..
    Quad Cinema 34 West 13th St. near 6th Ave.

    The Seidelman-directed piece, "The Dutch Master," stars Mira Sorvino as Teresa, a New York City dental hygienist about to be married to a tall, handsome, perfect — well, seemingly perfect — NYPD cop. Shortly before the wedding, she becomes entranced by a painting at the Metropolitan Museum of Art showing a possibly debauched household scene, and that sparks her fantasies of somebody more exciting than her Mr. Perfect. Her vapid, art-indifferent co-workers — who tell most of the story in way-too-thick Long Island-y accents — don't understand why she would neglect her dream wedding plans to look at a stupid painting.

    The rather thin story is at the level of cable TV's late-night almost-porn, and the narrators are irritating caricatures, but the mood is breezy, the music is bouncy, and there are a few laughs — especially at the expense of the lunkheaded groom. You can see the ingredients being mixed, even if the pie is not yet fully baked.

    The second segment, "Angela," is also sort of a preview of coming attractions — in this case, of a bad movie called "Fast Food, Fast Women" that was released here two years ago. Both films were made by Amos Kollek, son of former Jerusalem Mayor Teddy Kollek, both feature some of the same actors, and they cover some of the same territory. In this one, an elderly man (Victor Argo) complains to his shrink (Austin Pendleton) that he'd like to make it with young women but his time is running out. Actually, there are a few evocative, melancholy moments as the film explores this mood of being passed by by the younger world, although it might have had more edge if the part had been played by an actor who was perched at the crest of the hill rather than well over it. Like "Fast Food, Fast Women," it becomes a silly exercise in the director's own wish fulfillment as young, improbably constructed women inexplicably start flinging themselves at the protagonist. It's ultimately solipsistic and tedious.

    Part three is "The Waiting Room," a Dutch short by Jos Sterling, which succeeds on its own terms. Dialogueless, it shows a railroad-station (or airport?) scene in the Netherlands, in which everything is expressed through faces and camera angles. A man with a roving eye (a rapidly middle-aging but still quite handsome Eugene Boervoets, just the sort of actor who should have played the part in the previous segment) glances around the faces in the waiting room. He stops to leer at the more attractive female patrons, making some of them uncomfortable and arousing outright irritation throughout the room.

    Then in walks a tall, awe-inducing blonde with model looks. The man fixes his gaze on her, and to his surprise — and unease — she stares right back. His confidence falters and he's no longer the cocksure macho man he imagined himself to be at the beginning. The woman steps forward and his manhood is given a serious test. This short feels like an experiment, hardly a must-see piece of filmmaking, but it does a nice job of depicting emotions, psychology and social codes through small cues. It's an unexpected little amusement in a collection that could have used more material of this caliber or better.

    FEBRUARY 21, 2003

    Reader comments on Erotic Tales:

  • [no subject]   from , Feb 4, 2004
  • Tales rules!   from puto, Dec 16, 2004
  • fear and demons   from James Angus McAnin, Apr 8, 2005

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