Pornography Film Review - an Official Selection of OUTFest 2009


One would think with a film entitled Pornography, that it would be fairly clear what the film is about. However, this is not the case at all. Thus, here is my valiant attempt to tell my readers exactly what this film is about.

Pornography opens with Mark Anton (Jared Grey), a former child pornography star who is aspiring to be a photographer, every though it is clear that he has no true gift for it. Mark’s manager from his adult movie days still has his fangs in the young man who is trying to reinvent himself into a normal life. But when a chance comes for Mark to make thousands of dollars just for doing a interview with someone who wants to talk to the former porn star, our hero find it hard to resist.

Pornography is also about Michael (Matthew Montgomery), a young writer who has just moved into a killer loft with his Boyfriend Will (Walter Delmar). He spends his days calling former porn stars –research for the book he is trying to write – and unpacking their new home. Mike soon finds out that not only was his loft once used as some kind of big brother production set, evident by the many camera bracket holes drilled into every wall, but the star of his favorite vintage porn film, Mark Anton, allegedly  fell victim to an authentic snuff film. Will starts acting weird, things around the house get moved and there is mounting evidence that he may have gotten the attention of individuals within this underground snuff film cult.

Jared Grey (l.) & Matthew Montgomery (r.) in "Pornography"

The film is also about Matt Stevens (Pete Scherer), a porn star who, thanks to a dream, has written the film that will get him out of porn for good. A drama with quality that he pitches to his porn producer: The Mark Anton Story. Matt has it together, wants to direct and know this is his ticket out of the less than respectable industry. As the film progresses, the lines between reality and movie, between dreams and awaking begin to fall away for Matt. When he learns that Mark Aton was a real person, not just a figment of his dreams, he starts to understand whose ghost he has been channeling, whose life he is reenacting with the making of this film. The question is can he just walk away. Does he want to?

Pornography works very hard to be something moviegoers have never seen before and it succeeds on many levels. It is a dreamscape of characters and images and emotions that actually fit together in an interesting labyrinth of abstract logic. Just when patience is spend on really bland performances, the acting gets better. I now think that it was a device to indicate to the audience that we are moving closer to some kind of reality. The writer tosses everything into this film, suspense, sex, horror angst. Miraculously, there is a balance in the way all these elements are use that make this movie work.

Good story. Good acting. Good job of hiding the shoestrings of the budget. So what’s wrong with this movie?

Director David Kittridge's use of light, or should I say lack of use of light, was forced and obvious. If more attention had been paid to seducing rather than shocking the audience with images, I’m sure the audience would have signed on for a bit longer.

The length of the film is a problem. The drama should be taut and judicious, otherwise the audience’s confusion will give way to impatience and once again, check out of the movie. Finally, I wanted to know the answer at the end. I think about going along for the ride, but not getting to the answer at the end. Having said that, the film’s current ending is completely appropriate.

Pornography is an official selection of OUTFest 2009.

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