After Porn Ends – Film on Film Week

After Porn Ends is currently available on instant Netflix

After Porn Ends (2010) – Not rated

“Interviewing some of porn’s top stars, this documentary explores their careers and delves into their lives after leaving the adult entertainment industry, examining their adjustment to “normal” society.”

“The people who are in the industry are really broken, twisted souls without a lot of great job skills”

Warning: Obviously this documentary contains frank descriptions of sex and the sex industry. There is a fair amount of nudity but no hardcore pornography.

Okay I’m a guy. That means that I have seen porn. I’m also pushing fifty. That means I have seen a wide range of porn. Still I don’t know who many of these people are.

They do interview John Leslie who I only recognized because they put his name on screen. I remember him being a porn star before I was an adult so he must be in his sixties. I just checked imdb and discovered he ‘acted’ in over 300 movies.

That doesn’t even compare to Nina Hartley who has been in almost 600 movies! After Porn Ends list her as a Hall of Fame actress. She is in her fifties, still doing porn, and is a very interesting and intelligent interviewee.

After Porn Ends covers a wide swath of actors, male and female and a few x-rated film historians. I had no idea there was such a thing but I suppose there are experts in every possible field. The actors are from the 70s (John Leslie, Richard Pacheco) through recent times (Randy West, Crissy Moran, Houston, Raylene).

I didn’t even know there was such a thing as labiaplasty. Knowledge is half the battle.

Houston, an actress I’m not familiar with, has some very unfortunate lips. Clearly some plastic surgery has gone terribly wrong.

I found Asia Carrera to be interesting because she is half Asian. Back then they played up her exotic beauty (even of course naming her Asia Carrera) but now she seems to downplay her Asian features so she looks quite different.

Now that I’ve gotten a bunch of asides out of the way, how is the movie? Well the title is misleading. The movie appears to be about even thirds between life after porn, life during porn, and what got them into porn. My guess would be that they discovered Life After Porn = Boredom.

The interviews with the actors are fascinating but the expert interviews are a waste of time and actually detract from the movie. The movie is also very unfocused and has no idea what it wants to say.

Do not watch this thinking that it will be sexy. There are many tales of abuse, sexual and physical, and many of the actors have attempted suicide and speak frankly about the business.

So to sum up: The interviews are great but the documentary is not. Watch if you want to peek behind the porn curtain but it is hard to come away from this documentary having good feelings about porn.

Reel Injun – Film on Film Week

Reel Injun is currently available on instant Netflix.

Reel Injun (2009) – Not rated

“This engrossing documentary reveals the film industry’s effect on the experiences of North American native people in the United States and Canada, who’ve been depicted in movies in a variety of ways — many of them wildly inaccurate.”

“The only thing more pathetic than Indians on TV is Indians watching Indians on TV:”

Reel Injun has a nice conceit. It traces the history of the portrayal of Native Americans on film while crosscutting with a cross country trip by our Native American narrator. The narrator is driving a Res car and the explanation of that was very funny and brought me back to my 20s.

Reel Injun shows the evolution from Noble Injun to Savage Injun (Stagecoach) to Dead Injun. Reel Injun also has a wonderful montage of white actors playing Injuns: Burt Lancaster, Anthony Quinn, Charles Bronson, Elvis Presley, Victor Mature, Chuck Connors, Burt Reynolds, Boris Karloff, and Sal Mineo.

The movie has many precious moments. There is a wonderful translation of some of the Indian language in A Distant Thunder and the satanic language (backmasking!) of early films. It can also be heart-breaking as when a modern class of Native American children is shown the Indian massacre from Little Big Man.

Besides entertaining, Reel Injun also taught me a bit. Among other things, I learned that while Hollywood dresses almost all Indians as Plains Indians, they are almost always filmed in the American southwest in the desert.

Many of the basic ideas of Reel Injun are not dissimilar from those of The Slanted Screen yet Reel Injun is far better. Reel Injun knows how to entertain while informing and is quite good.

Reel Injun is real good.

The Slanted Screen – Film on Film Week

The Slanted Screen is currently available on instant Netflix.

The Slanted Screen (2006) – Not rated

“Filmmaker Jeff Adachi salutes groundbreaking entertainers while turning a critical lens on the ways in which American cinema has depicted Asian men. Segments focus on the careers of playwright Frank Chin, comedian Bobby Lee and others.”

(referring to Bruce Lee) “but if he wants to work here, he has to put on a mask, drive a white man’s car and wash it.”

The Slanted Screen covers Asian men in Hollywood cinema from Sessue Hayakawa (1915) to Daniel Dae Kim in Lost..

The Slanted Screen suffers from its scant running time of sixty-one minutes. In this flitting hour, they cover the rare success stories of Sessue Hayakawa and Bruce Lee, as well as the lack of good roles for Asians, namely romantic ones. They also cover the near constant portrayal of important Asians in film by white actors in what amounts to yellow-face.

The selection of talking heads in this documentary is mixed. The actors involved are good (Tzi Ma, Mako, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, James Shigeta, Will Yun Lee, Jason Scott Lee) but some of the others seem out of place (writer Frank Chin, comic Bobby Lee). Obviously a number of big name Asian actors are MIA (Chow Yun Fat, Jet Li, Jackie Chan, George Takei, James Hong, John Cho) as are some Asian directors (Ang Lee, John Woo, Tsui Hark). On the other hand, with the exception of George Takei, John Cho and James Hong, the others became famous in Asia and then were ‘imported’ to the US.

Unfortunately one of the conclusions that the documentary comes to is that the lack of good Asian roles can be overcome by the writing of good Asian roles. Yet the documentary itself points out that earlier ‘good’ roles written for Asians were played by white men (Mr. Wong, Fu Manchu, although Charlie Chan is never mentioned) and later ones were simply stripped of their ethnicity and refilmed as white roles.

I don’t like to comment on film endings but this one has a voice-over (non-Asian lol!) that reaches a different conclusion from what they just showed. The Slanted Screen is interesting because there clearly is discrimination involved and what is needed is for Asian roles to sell well so they will be duplicated. Unfortunately the story could have been told much better.

The Slanted Screen is good but it will leave you wanting more.

Everything or Nothing – Film on Film Week

Everything or Nothing: The Untold Story of 007 is currently available on instant Netflix and Amazon Prime.

Everything or Nothing (2012) – Not rated

“He’s the greatest secret agent in the world, but who are the men behind Agent 007? This engrossing documentary goes inside the James Bond legend to uncover how a series of spy stories became one of the most iconic franchises in cinema history.”

This is an exercise in how to make a documentary.

* Tell the whole story: Every Bond on film is covered here from the early TV version up through Daniel Craig. There are interviews with all of the Bonds. Sean Connery, who is notorious for not wanting to talk about Bond, is shown in older interviews.

* Tell interesting side stories: the story over the rights to Thunderball is fascinating but also heartbreaking as it allowed someone who wasn’t Ian Fleming to finesse the rights to a James Bond story

* Have more than just talking heads: Besides the wonderful and extensive set of clips, we also get Shirley Bassey singing Goldfinger. Christopher Lee discusses his relationship with Ian Fleming.

* Give credit where credit is due. Ian Fleming is the beginning focus of the documentary but later we shift to Cubby Broccoli, Harry Saltzman and the Bonds.

Everything or Nothing has a slew of interviews but much of what the interviewees are saying is illustrated by clips from the Bond movies.There are also plenty of instances of classic Bond music.

Sean Connery receives the lion’s share but Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan, and Daniel Craig are also featured. Even George Lazenby receives his due. The only thing not covered is the 1967 comedic version of Casino Royale.

If you are at all interested in James Bond, this is a riveting and fast-paced documentary.

Film on Film Week

I love movies and I enjoy documentaries so this week is all about films about movies. I’ll cover new films the rest of the week but two that I’ve previously covered are still available on instant Netflix.

Machete Maidens Unleashed (2010) – Unrated

“In the 1970s and ’80s, makers of exploitation films loved to shoot in the Philippines, which offered gorgeous scenery, beautiful extras and cheap fun in the sun for the crew. This intriguing documentary examines the real face of Hollywood in Manila. Directors such as Roger Corman and Eddie Romero shot in the Southeast Asian nation, and their movies overflowed with sex, gore and action. Plentiful movie clips and in-depth interviews are featured.”

This is a sort-of sequel to Not Quite Hollywood. Not Quite Hollywood is better but mostly because you are more likely to recognize Australian films than Filipino ones.

This Film is Not Yet Rated (2006) – Not rated

“Kirby Dick’s provocative documentary investigates the secretive and inconsistent process by which the Motion Picture Association of America rates films, revealing the organization’s underhanded efforts to control culture. Dick questions whether certain studios get preferential treatment and exposes the discrepancies in how the MPAA views sex and violence. Interviewees include John Waters, Darren Aronofsky, Maria Bello, Atom Egoyan and more.”

This film does a great job of exposing the hypocrisy of the MPAA. Unfortunately they spend a lot of time detailing a private detective situation which severely undercuts the narrative. Even though it is tragically flawed, this is still a must see.

Kiss the Blarney Stone

Once upon a time my mother kissed the Blarney Stone. I’m not sure if she got the gift of the gab but she did climb to the top of Blarney Castle and leaned out backwards from the edge of the parapet so she is brave.

Today is St. Patrick’s Day so consider watching a bit of Irish on streaming Netflix today.

Hunger (2008) – Not rated

“Acclaimed visual artist Steve McQueen makes his feature film debut with this gripping drama (and Independent Spirit Award Best Foreign Film contender) that depicts the events surrounding a hunger strike staged by a group of IRA prisoners during their 1981 incarceration in Britain’s Prison Maze. Led by IRA volunteer-poet Bobby Sands (Michael Fassbender), the strikers waged their six-week-long protest in an attempt to be acknowledged as political prisoners and to improve the prison’s conditions.”

My Left Foot (1989) – Rated R

“Daniel Day-Lewis won an Oscar for his emotionally and physically complex portrayal of Irish writer Christy Brown, who was born with cerebral palsy and misdiagnosed as mentally disabled for the first 10 years of his life. The story unfolds in a series of flashbacks with Hugh O’Conor starring as the young Christy, who eventually learned to write using the only body part he could control: his left foot.”

Ondine (2009) – Rated PG-13

“A fisherman’s life is transformed when he catches a beautiful and mysterious woman in his nets. As he falls helplessly in love, his daughter comes to believe that the woman is a magical creature.”

More March Movies from Netflix

A lot of new movies but not much sparks my interest. If you like sports, congratulations!

Action: Heathens and Thieves, Revelation Road: The Beginning of the End, Good for Nothing, Yellow Rock, A Dangerous Place

Comedy: Nitro Circus: The Movie, Scouts Honor: Badge to the Bone, Herpes Boy, LOL, The Pill, Tony Roberts: I’m Different, Green, Tom Papa Live in New York City, Craig Ferguson: I’m Here to Help

Documentary: Free Radicals: A History of Experimental Cinema, Kumare, The Trials of Darryl Hunt, Runaway Slave

Drama: Saints and Soldiers: Airborne Creed, The Dish & The Spoon, Amber Lake, Breaking News, Feel, Molly’s Girl

Family: Sophie and Sheba, Heaven’s Door

Fantasy & Science Fiction: Earthling

Foreign: Jodi Breakers, Passione, She Monkeys, 100 Years of Evil

Horror: The Frozen

Sports: Road Warriors: Baja 500, And They’re Off, Tim Tebow: On a Mission, Truth in 24 II: Every Second Counts, Game Day, WWE: The Top 100 Moments in Raw History, WWE: The Best of Raw and Smackdown 2012

Television: Squid Girl, Bomb Girls, Kipper: Tales of Adventure, Pingu: Breaks the Ice, Pingu: Introducing Pingu, Angelina Ballerina: The Big Performance, Thomas & Friends: Day of the Diesels and a new season of The KIlling

Beware the Ides of March

Well it is too late – Brutus seems to have wiped all trace of Caesar’s end from Netflix, at least the Shakespearean version. Still there are several earlier tales of Caesar.

Caesar and Cleopatra (1945) – Not rated

“In this Oscar-nominated film adaptation of George Bernard Shaw’s play, the aging Caesar (Claude Rains) comes to Alexandria to tutor young Cleopatra (Vivien Leigh) in the ways of rule, allowing her to wrestle the throne away from her brother, Ptolemy. But as time progresses, Caesar’s feelings for Cleopatra turn romantic and he vows to marry her. Stewart Granger co-stars in this epic drama directed by Gabriel Pascal.”

Claude Rains plays Caesar.

Cleopatra (1963) – Rated G

“This epic saga of love, greed and betrayal stars Elizabeth Taylor as the Egyptian queen who’s determined to hold on to the throne and seduces Roman emperor Julius Caesar. When Caesar is murdered, she redirects her attentions to his general.”

Just a warning, Cleopatra is four hour long. Rex Harrison plays Julius Caesar.

Xena, Warrior Princess (1995-2000)

“Bent on redeeming her outlaw past, powerful warrior princess Xena and her companion Gabrielle travel far and wide in search of wrongs to right in this spinoff of “Hercules: The Legendary Journeys.”

A young Karl Urban (Star Trek, Lord of the Rings) plays Caesar in twelve episodes of this tongue-in-cheek series.

This and That – Roku 3 and Netflix

* I love one of Netflix’ new features. I have not seen it announced but when Season 7 of Futurama showed up, Netflix emailed me a notice as I had watched the previous seasons. Ditto when season 3 of Archer showed up.

* Another new feature of Netflix that rolls out this week is sharing on Facebook. Your friends will be able to see what you’ve watched and rated highly and vice versa. If you are embarrassed by a movie, you can choose not to share a particular movie. The default setting is share on Netflix but not on Facebook. Facebook can be turned on or the share feature can be completely turned off in your settings menu.

Do you really want your friends to know that you have a fetish for Korean soap operas? Or that you just watched the documentary After Porn Ends?

* Speaking of desirable features, the new Roku 3 features a new interface that is grid-based (using up some of the wasted space from the current design). The new interface is supposed to roll out to older Rokus as well. The Roku 3 unit also boots up considerably faster. My favorite feature is that there is a headphone jack in the remote (!!!) and earbuds so you can have quiet time.

* Center for Science in the Public Interest is having a drive to pressure movie theaters to be required to post calorie information as restaurants have to. A large popcorn from Regal clocks in at 1,200 calories without extra ‘butter’ – add a candy and soda to that and you have a day’s worth of calories in one sitting – one glorious, diabetes-inducing sitting.

Winter is Coming! or Not Week

 

Snowman’s Land (2010) – Not Rated

“When the wife of a crime boss is accidentally killed, the hit man who was hired to protect the remote house in which she was living tries to keep her death under wraps. Fearing vengeance from the gangster, he’s soon locked in a fight for survival.”

First off, I love the title Snowman’s Land. This is a foreign film with subtitles (whoops lost half my audience right there) and the German title translates to Freed Pigs which I don’t understand at all. Winter is clearly in evidence here.

Unlike Deadfall where everyone looked far too pretty to be who they were, the characters in Snowman’s Land all look suitably grubby. Jurgen Rissman plays Walter, a low-level sad sack crook who bungles an assassination. He isn’t very smart but he is leagues brighter than his partner.

Things go comically wrong but not nearly so hysterically as in Headhunters. If you don’t mind reading subtitles then go watch Headhunters. It is hysterically funny as everything unravels. Snowman’s Land isn’t half as clever but is a passable waste of a hundred minutes.

The Grey (2012) – Rated R

“After narrowly surviving a deadly plane crash in the Alaskan wilderness, a band of oil riggers must fend for their lives in the ice and snow. But thanks to wolves that view their presence as a threat, they aren’t alone.”

The Grey is a wonderful film but it is important to know what it is not. It is NOT Taken 2  – Taken 2 was also not Taken 2 but I digress. It is NOT an action film. Neither is it truly a survival tale. The Grey is a lyrical treatise on death & dying in the guise of a survival tale.

Unfortunately the studio did not understand what it had or how to market it. Every trailer is cut to make it look like Liam Neeson vs. The Wolves, action extravaganza. The trailers even show scenes that take place in the last few seconds of the film – a definite no-no in my book. Even the tagline from the poster is quite misleading.

There are some quibbles with the film. Occasionally even director Joe Carnahan forgets which film he is making. There is perhaps too much action for an introspective drama yet there is not enough to call this an action film. Flawed though it is, The Grey is a powerful film and the winter scenery is well-realized.