22 July 2009

Movie: Pornography (2009)

In some respects, writer/director David Kittredge got what he wanted with his film, Pornography; days after the Saturday night viewing, I’m still think about it. Still, pondering this turgid tale that slides a hybrid ghost story that would remind anyone of The Ring, mashed with a reporter working on a book about the gay porn industry, only to stumble upon the mysterious disappearance of gay porn star fourteen years earlier has made me feel more disappointed with the film, especially for the way too many WTF moments Kittredge threw into the film, it seems, for the hell of it.

One of my favorite lines in Jurassic Park is when Ian Malcolm tells John Hammond that just because they can create dinosaurs means they should. So is with Pornography, Kittredge thought he should create an opaque film, leaving questions for the audience, and not spoon feeding them (as he told us audience members here at Outfest) the plot line in any sort of linear fashion so that they would debate the gist of the film at a later date. So, he’s succeed in that. Still, as one of my friends pointed out who saw the film with me, you should not be forced to sit through a film three or four times to get its meaning.

The film is split into three segments or acts, with a 25 minute opening set in 1995, a 40 minute sequence set in the present, and a fifty minute sequence that seems to be set in the present, but also a possible parallel universe. Only the middle segment seems the most interesting -and is the most linear of the three. And by this third act, as it were, Kittredge’s attempt to tie the three sections together loses its creepy credibility with a single phone call. One could not help but think of works of David Lynch, who has made a career of playing with his audiences heads.

After the film, Kittredge tried to hem-and-haw his way about explaining the meaning of the film (and trying to poo-poo the Lynchian feelings the film evoked) and what all the disjointed flashed and mysterious images appeared on the screen. He said, while editing the film, that he had three film names posted above him, Psycho, Rosemary’s Baby and The Exorcist. And I can see where he picked the bones of these great directors, Alfred Hitchcock, Roman Polanski and William Friedkin. But I’m not turned off by that, as all three have great virtues. Still, this film fails to even match their worst efforts. Even David Lynch probably would say it’s so 1990's David Lynch.

As noted, only the middle segment has any life to it, if you can excuse the phrase. Matthew Montgomery, as reporter Michael, does wonders with what little is given to him and breathes life into a film in desperate need of it. His search for a lost porn star tumbles him and his boyfriend into a bazaar universe where plot lines from the original Japanese film, Ringu, were tossed out. The first and last segments seem only confuse what Kittredge was trying to say in this middle segment as well.

In many ways, I felt I stumbled into a film already forty-five minutes in and trying to figure out the plot based on the last one-hundred minutes with flash cards in a dark room.

Still, the film has merits, with its lush photography that belies its independent film status, a fairly interesting musical score that is both un-nerving and exciting. But ultimately, it fails to deliver on its premise, and Kittredge leaves many unanswered questions, including what is exactly haunting former porn star Mark (Jared Grey) in 1995 and then to reporter Michael (Montgomery) in 2009 and current porn star Matt (Pete Scherer) in some real/parallel 2009.

I get the ending, somewhat, but again, it took me a few hours of conversations with my friend to come to that conclusion. But while I give merit to Kittredge to produce a potentially interesting ghost story with gay characters, his over indulgence on keeping the plot as thick as maple syrup just out of the cold outdoors, just speaks volumes of his pretentiousness that he gave off at the screening (I mean, sure, the film has sold out at the gay fests its played in, but submit a film called Pornograpghy to a gay film festival, are you not surprised it’s sold out?).

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