Synopsis: Destricted is the first short film collection of its kind, bringing together sex and art in a series of films created by some of the world’s most visual and provocative artists and directors. They reveal the diverse attitudes by which we represent ourselves sexually.
The Destricted brand is the first in a continuing series. The eight films presented explore the fine line where art and pornography intersect. The films highlight controversial issues about the representation of sexuality in art; opening up debate of the question whether art can be disguised as pornography or whether pornography can be represented as art or something else altogether. The result is a collection of explicit, stimulating, challenging, provocative, strange, and sometimes humorous scenarios that leave it up to the viewer to deliberate, discuss, and decide.
I stumbled on this DVD at the local HMV. Before then I had never heard of it. Truth be told, I wouldn’t have spent much time on it if not for the fact that I recognized Gaspar Noé and wondered what he was now up to. After scrutinizing the box, I also recognized Larry Clark – but no one else.
I knew precious little going into this film; finding online descriptions that were work-friendly proved difficult. So all I knew was what the DVD boasted: that it would challenge one’s perception of sexuality and/or porn. It was unclear which, quite frankly, but I was game: I figured that a multiplicity of indie filmmakers would have a unique perspective on either.
I wasn’t quite ready for all that I saw. In some areas, I had seen much more disturbing stuff before. And yet, there were elements I never expected to see and probably wouldn’t have ever imagined in my wildest delirium.
The film consists of eight shorts, all filmed at different points in the last decade, and most of them clocking in at about a dozen minutes or so:
1. Hoist (2004), by Matthew Barry: I suppose that this one was perhaps a little obvious in saying that the human body (in particular, the male erection) is a machine – and that, since, we don’t think twice about looking at and working with man-made machines, then why do we shy away from a nature-made one?
But the conjunction of man and machine, while artistic, is slightly jarring here. It’s not so much erotic, as intriguing, peculiar. Beware the extremely loud, experimental soundtrack, which includes the sounds of truck engines pretty much throughout. 7.5
2. House Call (2006), by Richard Prince: I’m not sure if this was a modern film meant to look like a ’70s xxx porn, or if it actually was a European blue movie that was processed and edited for this presentation, but it was pared down to its bare essentials to an experimental soundtrack instead of the usual era music.
It’s as explicit as this type of film gets, but was it sexy? Well, it was certainly sexier by virtue of having cast real people instead of the plastic sex gods we would find today. That was a plus. 7.5
3. Cooking (2010), by Tunga: This one was… um.. unusual. I liked its esthetics, the setting being a modern art display; it looked as though it was filmed in a museum, which is kind of cool.
However, the couple’s “cooking” consisted of sex with the male’s obelisk-shaped glass penis, followed by the girl breaking it, making him drink it with her urine, defecating it, and then her repurposing it and giving it back to him after having eaten his “excrement”.
It’s very strange, extremely explicit, and actually quite nice until the whole scat stuff. 7.5
4. Green Pink Caviar (2009), by Marilyn Minter: A very short (3 minutes?) bit that features the close-up of a mouth licking, spreading and eating liquids, gels and jams of all colours through a plate of glass.
5. Scratch This (2009), by Sante d’Orazio: This is recycled ’70s porn w. the faces and actual acts censored with black paint, to the tune of of the ‘Vampyros Lesbos’ soundtrack. It seems to question what a “turn on” is – specifically, why isn’t the scene as appealing without the eye contact and/or the explicitness of the acts?
The scene looks awesome, otherwise, and would probably be quite a turn on, if left untouched. 7.5
6. Impaled (2004), by Larry Clark: I don’t really understand the backstory of this one, but this is a series of interviews with a bunch young males about the impact of porn on their lives, having lived in an era where it’s readily available, and what their sexual interests and preferences are.
Anyway, for what it’s worth, it’s by far the longest of the bunch at about half an hour in length. 7.5
7. Four Letter Heaven (1999), by Cecily Brown: The shortest of the bunch at a little over two minutes, this looked like bits from various porn films which were redone with pencils and paint to turn it into “sketch porn”.
But is it still porn now? Or is it art? 7.0
8. We Fuck Alone (2006), by Gaspar Noé: A man and a woman masturbate separately – she dressed like a little girl and using a teddy bear, and he looking like a punk and using a blow-up doll. There is footage from a real porn film, but while it’s clear he was watching it, I’m not so sure that she was as well.
I may be confused because the film used a tedious strobing effect throughout that had me waiting patiently for it to end. For obvious reasons, the strobing speed increased as they got close to their climax. Dreary stuff. 3.0
While the collection is a mixed bag, and it is completely marred by the final piece, as a whole it is a unique and wildly fascinating journey into sex and pornography. I don’t regret picking this up even though it wasn’t entirely enjoyable.