Destricted (2006) (UK / USA)
A series of seven short films giving the directors views on sex and pornography. Without a doubt the strongest film to have been released outside of licenced sex shops in the UK but is it an exercise in exploitation, is it art or does it just end up as unimaginative and boring?
Marina Abramovic - Balkan Erotic Epic (13 mins approx)
A light hearted look at sexuality in Balkan folklore, a mix of live action and animation provides advice on a number of subjects including how to ensure your husband will never stray, how to ward off the 'evil eye' and how to guarantee a good harvest. All quite silly and amusing making it probably the most accessable film of the collection. Unpretentious compared with several of the other pieces yet quite artistic in its own way.
Marco Brambilla - Sync (2 mins approx)
A fast and frenetic drum beat plays over this very short episode, a sex scene is played out but this isn't a single scene, frames from many pornographic and feature films have been synced to produce one continuously moving montage. One thing it does prove is how remarkably similar these films are, the faces continually change as do the bodies but the frames match up pretty well with only the change in the backgrounds standing out.
It's all very frantic and pretty much over as soon as it's started, the way the frames have been synced turns it into a form of surreal animation, it probably took a very long time to make but doesn't appear to actually have a point unless it's to show how unimaginative porn films are.
Matthew Barney - Hoist (15 mins approx)
Probably best known for the "Cremaster Cycle", this is the first film that struck me as truly pretentious, it's also the first (of a few) that features masturbation (if that's what you can call it with the shaft of a 50 ton truck). It's also the first (again of a few) that features that favourite of the porn industry, the ubiquitous money shot. Is it art? Is it porn? If it's supposed to epitomize the union of man and machine then it's way behind the times as Tetsuo did it far better a long time ago.
I'd be very pleased if someone could offer a subjective opinion on what Matthew Barney was trying to say with this film.
Larry Clark - Impaled (38 mins approx)
A bland documentary approach is taken for Larry Clark's effort within this collection, several youngish guys are questioned about their knowledge of porn films plus their own sexual experiences. Once one has been selected for the shoot he is left to pick his partner through having short interviews with several porn actresses. The choice having been made, they're straight down to it, an extremely bland, by the numbers porno shoot, blow job, intercourse in as many positions as possible including the one thing the young guy wanted to do most, finished by another blow job and of course, the money shot. This is probably the most explicit of the films but it is so un-erotic, so painfully unsexy and in that way says more about the porn industry than any of the other films.
Although the majority of the film is taken up with the interview stages I couldn't help but think that the results were predertimed, it's also quite alarming that almost all of the guys claimed to have seen their first porn films at pretty young ages usually found in their parents bedroom's. They also give the impression of being influenced in their own sex lives by what they've seen in these films, pretty damn sad in my humble opinion. More disturbing though is the fact that the majority of the girls said that they had gotten into the industry because they were living in a state of poverty and in some cases had young children to raise.
Larry Clark has taken an honest approach for his film and if nothing else, this is one plus point.
Richard Prince - House Call (12 mins approx)
This just looks like a typical porn film from the 70's or at least how I imagine one would look, the sort of basic fantasy scenario, doctor and patient that is/was one of the staple plots for this type of film. Apparently though film was made specifically for this collection then degraded to resemble a well worn vintage video minus the soundtrack but with some form of equally degraded music running over it.
Typical man/ woman scenario, predictable routine, given a muted look but extremely explicit, rounding off (as usual) with 'the money shot'. I must admit I am fascinated as to why porn directors and/or their audiences feel it is so vital to see the seminal fluids being ejaculated but then again I don't understand how the porn industry is so vast, do people have huge collections of these films?
Gaspar No - We F#%$ Alone (23 mins approx)
Another film taking a different angle on masturbation and of course playing on the name of one of the directors earlier films "I Stand Alone". Two people, one male one female in seperate locations pleasure themselves, the only connection is that they are each watching the same porn film. Meanwhile, throughout the film the screen flashes in a vomit inducing stroboscopic style.
It only takes seconds to realise what the director is saying, for different reasons people take care of their own satisfaction, that's it in a nut shell
Unfortunately it's all wrapped in layers of heavy handed cliche upon cliche, the girl seems fairly attractive, her room is neat and tidy, she lays on her bed in a relaxed state, a large teddy bear acts as her comfort, providing something to cuddle up to. The porn film plays but the impression is that it is there as accompianment rather than as the stimulation, a lot of the time she appears to be completely enwrapped in herself and her thoughts. Why is she alone? the obvious answer is through choice, she's more than happy just to be exactly where she is.
The guy takes up the majority of the film, he is the total opposite of the girl, I don't think many would regard him as in any way appealing. His room is filthy and very messy, he starts off in a fairly relaxed posture but for him the porn film is his total stimulation, he starts enacting what he see's on screen with a tatty blow up doll, almost as though he was the porn actor. As he copulates with the doll he rams a handgun into its mouth, as though he's enacting a rape. Why is he alone? Well I couldn't imagine him in any form of relationship at all.
As the film comes to its climax, the guy does the same, the one glaring thing then is that the facial expression of the porn actress looks very much like the gaping vacant expression of the blow up doll.
Why the huge difference between the way the male and female are depicted, it's just all a bit too much, and that damn strobing effect only makes things worse!
Sam Taylor-Wood - Death Valley (7 mins approx)
Yet another pretentious episode, again featuring male masturbation. Filmed (I assume) in the actual Death Valley, a lone guy masturbates, and that's pretty much it! I've tried to figure it out but could only come up with an extremely tenuous link between Death Valley, masturbation and 'La Petite Mort'. Well I did say it was tenuous didn't I.
Also why so much male masturbation? I know we're supposed to be obsessed with our penises but a little more imagination and artistic integrity could have made a heck of a difference.
All in all not exactly an inspiring collection but then again the actual topic of porn is not exactly the most inspirational theme. If they had included one or two more female directors things may have been more diverse and interesting, I'd like to think so anyway.
As you may have guessed I wasn't exactly bowled over by this collection so I'd like to list a few films close to this subject that I would recommend.
For a humorous look at the Euro porn industry in the 70's - Torremolinos 73.
The excellent The Wayward Cloud which looks at the porn industry with dispassion and a touch of farce.
Maybe a little too shocking for some and certainly considered pornographic by a few but based on a true tragic story and full of passion and eroticism (especially compared to the coldness of the meat wagon known as the porn industry), Nagisa Oshima's 1976 classic "Ai No Corrida", "In the Realm of the Senses".
There are many other films out there that broach on the subject, some serious, some amusing thankfully none as explicitly banal as this collection. All Destricted has done is to re-affirm my opinion of the porn film industry.
BBFC rated 18, I just hope this doesn't open the floodgates as it did with so called sex education videos a few years ago.
R2 dvd released by Revolver, nothing in the way of extras which is actually quite a shame, some short interviews with the directors may have made a big difference to the overall package.