We got our very serious movie critic to review porn – and he came away a fan

Written by Joseph Earp on 5th July, 2018
We got our very serious movie critic to review porn – and he came away a fan

Before last week, when I was contacted by the illustrious folks over at The BRAG to write this article, I would have told you that narrative pornography was dead in the water. Prior to my submergence in the world of epic, high budget skin flicks, I incorrectly reasoned that in our fast-paced, streaming saturated world, no-one would want to sit, bug-eyed and horny, through 20 minutes of plot spouted out by actors for whom acting is – one would have to assume – a secondary consideration.

Watch James Gunn’s SFW porn parody, PG Porn here:



Surely, I reasoned, punters are en masse turning their backs on lengthy nudies and settling instead for montages of buggery, doing away with all the “oh, you’re here to fix the taps are you?” plotting altogether and getting straight to the good stuff.

I was wrong. Narrative pornography is a burgeoning business. Of course, porn is changing, disrupted as it has been by the internet – but despite the groundswell support rising to meet the amateur porn categories, there is still a space for character-driven, heavily plotted nudies.

I watched a bunch of them. Here are my thoughts.

Pirates, Director: Joone. 2005.

Rating: 2 out of 5 Stars

Pirates was, at the time of its release, the highest-budgeted porn film in history. I can’t really say that all the money is up there on the screen. An epic bruncheon of buggery and bosoms, it was designed to capitalise on the success of the Pirates Of Caribbean films, but trades in Johnny Depp’s whiskey-addled giggling for the significantly lustier slur of Jesse Jane.

Directed by Joone, the film makes the cardinal sin of going too plot-heavy. Much like the Disney-produced epics it was designed to emulate, it quickly gets itself bogged down in excessive back-and-fro-ing, as a group of devious pirates find themselves going up against a distinct, totally separate and fully-fleshed band of, um, well, devious pirates. Oh, and there’s a mystical “staff” thrown in there somewhere (cue the jokes you’re probably expecting).

Watch the trailer for Blockbuster porn sequel Pirates 2 here:



Not that it’s all bad. The editing style is nausea-inducing, everyone’s so slathered in lube it looks like they are going to decompose into a small pile of goo at any moment, and the plot goes right off the rails around minute two, but at least the score is excellent. Adding a real sense of stakes to the proceedings, it moves from leery muzak stylings to genuinely tense, full orchestra, Hans Zimmer-esque brashness. It rules.

Oh, and aside from its score, undoubtedly the best thing about Pirates is the write-up it got in the New York Times. “Pirates,” ran the story, “is a relatively high-budget story of a group of ragtag sailors who go searching for a crew of evil pirates who have a plan for world domination. Also, many of the characters in the movie have sex with one another.”

3 Wishes. Director: Stormy Daniels. 2001.

Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

Stormy Daniels is probably best known these days for her (alleged) connection to the U.S. President Donald Trump – she claims to have had an affair with him. It’s a shame, really. In a fairer, kinder world, she would be best known for her capable hand as a director, and in particular for the frankly extraordinary work she did helming the skin flick 3 Wishes.

The tale of a put-upon office worker, Jerry (a very diverse and committed Eric Masterson) who trades in his immortal soul for three wishes provided by a mysterious femme fatale, 3 Wishes is a striking blend of competent framing and plotting, and neat, auteuristic flourishes. As a filmmaker, Daniels resembles some kind of unholy cross between Robert Bresson and Peter Greenaway; she’s at once staid and structured, and yet fanciful and outlandish.

Watch the interview with Stormy Daniels, the director of 3 Wishes here:



The film’s sets are very clearly sets, adding a nice, knowing, metatextual layer of artifice, and the subtle, bizarre way 3 Wishes’ antagonist is introduced (a muscly assistant lights her cigarillo with his own burning fingers!) has an understated charm all of its own.

I’ll have to admit, I did initially find it rather hard to tell who was who – identifying different styles of pubic hair became the best way of charting character arcs – and sometimes the set-up for all the buggery does get a little rushed (we cut to a lengthy bout of cunnilingus within the first four minutes). But hey, Mean Streets isn’t perfect either, and Daniels’ 3 Wishes has all the scrappy energy of that Scorsese debut.

Deep Throat, directed by Gerard Damiano. 1972.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Deep Throat was one of the first pornographic films to feature a “plot” – although that might well be a generous way to describe what happens in the surreal, Linda Lovelace-starring film. Not that it really matters. The joys of Deep Throat are not in the lose narrative, a story that sets a young woman with a clitoris in her throat on a collision course with a doctor’s office worth of lusty young men, but instead in the little details.

Watch the trailer for porn sensation Deep Throat here:



Director Gerard Damiano (the Orson Welles of the golden age of pornography) knows how to wring the most out of his alternately odd and orgasmic mise-en-scenes. A different director might be tempted to play his outlandish set-up for laughs, but instead, Damiano is obviously trying to go for sincerity, not silliness. That his clit-throated heroine has spent her life struggling to find sexual satisfaction is played as a genuine tragedy, and the film’s happy ending has a lightness of touch reminiscent of the best work of Douglas Sirk or Agnes Varda.

Dick And Morty, directed by Vuko. 2017.

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

I have a soft spot for the Asylum, those peddlers of Hollywood blockbuster knock-offs designed to trick your grandma into picking you up a copy of Transmorphers rather than Transformers for your 16th birthday. Sure, there films aren’t good – not in the traditional sense we use that word – but they’re always entertaining, albeit in a “how did they get away with throwing this schlock up on the screen” kinda way.

Through the writing of this article, I have learned that there’s a similar attempt at disrupting the market in pornography (although presumably, there are less grandmothers buying their progeny skin flicks as presents than there are biddies shuffling through the Kmart line with a copy of Transmorphers 2 in their frail little hands.) There is a whole market of porn parodies, designed less for hardcore nudie aesthetes and more for reaping those easily-earned curiosity clicks.

Watch the trailer for porn parody Dick And Morty here:



Case in point being Dick And Morty, a decidedly cheap looking skin flick released to some degree of media fanfare at the end of last year. Less a coherent, sustained riff on the overwhelming popular animated comedy Rick And Morty and more a series of cobbled-together sex jokes intercut with some less than enthusiastic screwing, it’s a disappointment on a number of fronts. More irritating than anything, however, is its furious disdain for anything resembling a narrative.

Turning one’s back on story is fine in principle, of course, but Dick And Morty wants to have its cake and eat it too, hinting at its parent show’s penchant for overstuffed storylines without ever taking a character arc to, ahem, completion. I’m totally down for butt plugs and vaguely incestuous boning – just nail down your storyline first, hey?

For more (considerably less pornographic) film reviews, read our thoughts on Phantom Thread here.

The article was originally published on Brag Magazine

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