Sometimes you find that special movie in Netflix's Instant Viewing selection that syncs with your time and space in a way you never could have anticipated. It was this mystical mojo that had me watching Bliss
at one o'clock in the morning. It popped up as a recommendation after I added to my queue the 1978 Paul Mazursky classic, An Unmarried Woman
. 'If like that, then you'll like this,' kind of thing. Never have I felt so transparent. Surely Netflix has taken to hiring clairvoyants, for I can think of no other reason why this shit-bag of a movie would find its way into my living room.
From the very first frame, including the cheesy Hallmark typeface of the opening credits, it comes off as a bad made for TV movie. Bliss
, starring the motley crew of Sheryl Lee, Craig Sheffer, Terrance Stamp, and Spalding Gray (!!), is a 1997 "steamy romance" (according to Netflix) drama about a newly-wed couple and their relationship problems. The problem is that Craig Sheffer can't give Sheryl Lee and orgasm. So they go to therapy with Spalding Gray, whose creepy and anachronistic presence seems only to make matters worse.
Enter Dr. Fuck. Terrance Stamp plays Dr. Baltazar something or other, a new agey specialist in female intimacy. According to Spalding Gray, he operates on the edge of the law. In other words, he sleeps with his patients. One of his patients, on the dl of course, is Sheryl Lee. Sheffer finds out about it and confronts the cool and calm Terrance Stamp. The angry husband swipes everything off Baltazar's desk and screams at him, calling him "Dr. Fuck" in the process.
At that precise moment, I became entranced. With that single, inspired line of dialogue, Bliss
goes from too-bad-to-watch to so-bad-it's-good, breaking the sound barrier on its turbo rocket surge to entertainment. I'm not joking. I haven't laughed out loud this much in a long, long time.
As a general rule, I lost interest in watching movies ironically quite some time ago, but this was different. I didn't seek this movie out with some friends in a video store. This movie found me. And by all accounts - the Netflix rec, the positive reviews - I was settling down for a serious exploration of adult relationships. When it turned out to be a bad Skinimax movie, I nearly turned it off. Dr. Fuck was having none of that.
So the jealous husband yells at Dr. Fuck (he obviously hasn't seen The Limey) and confronts his wife. She basically tells him to stay out of her business. Sheffer furrows his brow and wonders what to do next.
Have I mentioned that Sheryl Lee's character has a "borderline" personality? This, according to the illustrious Spalding Gray, is an incurable condition that makes people freak out about things like flies in the bedroom and cleaning the kitchen. She lacks an inner life of her own, and thus seeks approval from those around her. This is as scientific as they get.
With this information, Sheffer goes from being furious that his wife slept with another man, to wanting to save her soul. They way to her soul, of course, is through her vagina. If only Sheffer can give his wife an orgasm, then everything will be OK. Luckily, there's an expert in town who can help him out. The bulk of Act Two plays out like a softcore porn version of The Matrix, only instead of Morpheus teaching Neo kung fu, Dr. Fuck teaches the husband how to "injaculate" by holding his breath under water. You'll just have to take my word about that.
Unfortunately, my internet connection died out at this point in the film, so I never learned if the husband was able to apply his skills successfully or not. I never saw the movie's climax, as it were. But today is a new day, and as I fire up the stream once more, I can only hope that I'll find it as amusing as I did last night. Maybe the gods at Netflix only intended for me to see it at that precise time in my life. Like the sage and sensitive Dr. Fuck, they knew exactly what I needed.
If you have a Netflix account and I've left you on the fence about spending a couple of hours immersed in Bliss
, let me leave you with my favorite lines from the movie, which read like a bad outtake from Attack of the Clones
. Picture two men standing in front of a mirror, wearing matching pairs of blue boxer shorts, having the following exchange:
Dr. Fuck: How do you feel about your penis?
Husband: To be honest...I like it. It's large and powerful.
Dr. Fuck: Good. That's exactly how I want you to feel.
And these men do not
have sex with each other. That is the genius of Bliss.