Wearing its presumed scandal value like a merit badge, porn omnibus "Destricted" loses almost all its salacious appeal as soon as it hits the screen. Comprising the work of seven directors culled from commercials, independent film and visual art, pic is a dull, largely pretentious and un-sexy attempt to crossbreed the world of adult film with that of legit cinema. Announced as the first in a projected series, the pic seems ideally suited to DVD, where it will be easier to point and click to the one or two worthwhile segments while ignoring the rest.
Artist/filmmaker Matthew Barney's "Hoist" is a typically symbolic effort that seems to depict a bizarre mating ritual between a man (played by Barney) who has what looks to be a giant cucumber for a penis and what is identified by the press notes as a 50-ton deforestation Caterpillar truck. Auds familiar either with Barney's gallery installations or his earlier, strikingly cinematic "Cremaster" films won't be surprised by what follows: much imagery suggesting the transmutation of genders and the coming together of uh, man and machine.
As an objet d'art, Barney's segment (which has been announced as but one part of a longer, forthcoming work entitled "De Lama Lamina") is not without interest, but as a piece of pornography it is, like so much of "Destricted," a complete failure.
Only in a couple of instances, as in acclaimed commercials director Marco Brambilla's "Sync," a three-minute ditty made up of thousands of micro-second samples from sex scenes in both porn and mainstream films, and controversial photographer Richard Prince's "House Call," a 12-minute re-photographing of images from a vintage adult film in which a hunky doctor and his busty female patient have fun with a thermometer, do the filmmakers really seem to grasp the essence of pornography and its offer of vicarious experience.
Too much of the pic's inflated running time is taken up with the high-art autoerotica of Sam Taylor-Wood's "Death Valley" (which plays like a one-man "Brokeback Mountain") and the unintended self-parody of Gaspar Noe's "We Fuck Alone," which overdoses on the strobe-lighting effects of Noe's previous "Irreversible" as it humorlessly depicts one man's encounter with a plastic blow-up doll.
Some much-needed comic relief arrives in the form of Yugoslavian performance artist Marina Abramovic's "Balkan Erotic Epic," presented as a primer on the confluence of eros and superstition in Balkan folklore.
"Destricted's" best offering by far is provocateur Larry Clark's "Impaled," in which a typically Clark-ian teenage slacker screen-tests for a role in a porn film against a series of shapely (and considerably more experienced) actresses. Despite its violent title, Clark's film is sly and sexy and quite funny, offering further proof of the extraordinary intimacy he manages to achieve with neophyte adolescent actors. At 38 minutes, it is the longest "short" on display here, but also the one that seems to breeze by the fastest.
Tech qualities vary wildly from section to section, from polished 35mm images to low-grade digital ones.
Camera (color, HD video), Peter Strietmann; music, Jonathan Bepler.
"House Call "
Directed by Richard Prince.
Directed by Larry Clark
Directed by Marco Brambilla
Directed by Sam Taylor-Wood. Camera (color), Seamus McGarvey; music, Matmos and Andrew Hale.
"Balkan Erotic Epic"
Directed by Marina Abramovic. Camera (color, Super 16mm), Aleksandar Ilic.
"We Fuck Alone"
Directed by Gaspar Noe.