Inside Out Review: Destricted

This review and all associated links are NSFW. But relax, it's just porn.

Destricted is an anthology film that comprises of seven shorts, all on the topic of sex and pornography, made by some of the most recognized names in media arts and world cinema. The roster includes: Marina Abramović, Matthew Barney, Marco Brambilla, Larry Clark, Gaspar Noé, Richard Prince, and Sam Taylor Wood.

As a collective piece, the film is dark, explicit and perverse; that it treats the theme of sex in a frank and often unflinching manner, may deter those who are expecting nothing more than a bit of casual titillation. There's nothing casual or truly titillating here. Despite some humourously odd moments, the film is mostly joyless; it presents a nihilistic view of sexuality that neither arouses nor fascinates. Anything more misanthropic might be a collaboration between Catherine Breillat and Lars von Trier.

Mathew Barney's entry Hoist is the most artistic of the bunch. The "filmic tactility" (or bodily gooeyness) that characterizes much of his work (The Cremaster Cycle, Drawing Restraint) is instantly recognizable here. I won't describe the piece in detail since it's meant to work on our senses -- and for fear I might fail to convey such experience effectively -- but it has something to do with man and machine "coming together".

Larry Clark's Impale actually one-ups his most explicit feature Ken Park in terms of what is shown -- in this case: everything you would see in an X-rated movie sans the gynecological close-ups. Because let's not forget, Clark is an artist first, and kiddie pornographer second. But of course, his many detractors would more than likely argue the reverse.

Impale is the longest at over thirty minutes, and somehow manages to be the most engaging. Clark's dirty old man voice is heard off-camera as he interviews a bevy of performers during an audition for a porno movie (what, to add to his private collection?). The chosen one is a naive, boyish young man, who insists it's his first time. After a roundup of nubile but experienced starlets, the young man instead chooses a 40-year old MILF as his co-star. "She's older and more experienced," he considers. And so, predictably, the rest of the short pretty much plays out like a scene from Cheating Housewives Volume 3.

Gasper Noé, the enfant terrible of the new French cinema, prompts more walk-outs during his films than any other director in recent memory. And Noé is notoriously proud of this. On the French DVD of Irreversible, for example, a blurb reads "200 people walked out of the Cannes premiere". His contribution here entitled I Fuck Alone (reminiscent of the title of his first feature I Stand Alone) is thankfully the last in the series. Because at the screening I attended, almost half the audience got up and left before the credits rolled.

I Fuck Alone is nauseating, vomit-inducing; not so much for its content but for its technique. Throughout the course of its running time (twenty-something minutes that feels like two hours), we are subjected to a constant strobe effect, throbbing low frequency noise, and muted red-tinged imagery of male/female masturbation. It feels like hell -- both literally and figuratively.

I have only touched on three of the most interesting shorts; however, I can't recommend Destricted as a whole. By its nature, it's uneven -- only two or three of the shorts have any watchability factor. I respect the artistic undertakings by all the filmmakers involved, but the anthology film format, I feel, undermines the material. On DVD, these shorts can be watched individually, in whatever order, and in the intimacy of your bedroom, but then a piece like Barney's -- who prefers his work to be mounted large -- might lose its total impact. It's a tough sell.

Destricted is more of an endurance workout than it is stimulating or even sexy; now considering the film is clearly and explicitly about sex, that's quite a feat. Well, unless you like to get off on watching a guy shove a large pistol into a blowup doll (thanks Mr. Noé)... to each their own, I guess.

(Photo: Revolver Entertainment)

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