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ENTITLEMENT III / LOVELACE.

by Now Then Sheffield

JOÃO PAULO SIMÕES.

The Welsh spell cinema with an ‘s’. This is surely an illustration of how their perplexing phonetics evolved through time, but part of me wants to believe that perhaps they possess some kind of awareness that the rest of the UK and wider world lack.

For what is the nature of sin, but the pursuit of authenticity in opposition to rules established by others? A work of art that conforms will never advance that particular art form beyond its own pre-defined parameters. When it comes to film, these imposed delimitations are often formulated by the viewer.

As a man who thinks, breathes and makes cinema, I would dare to say that no other art form seeks (and is constructed on the requirement of) the approval of its audience. It’s that unfortunate original sin of having allied itself to the notion of entertainment from its beginnings.

Such has been the angle Filmreel explored in the two previous instalments of this highly subjective theme.

If I began with the dissection of the widespread need to set parameters for the artistic expression of others (NT#46), the second instalment (NT#54) was to dismantle out-of-date notions of feminism by sharing the personal views and professional choices of two very distinct actresses.

As in other aspects of society that involve judgement and suppression of individuality, sexuality plays a key role. Whatever is allowed or condemned in pretty much all religions invariably comes down to this, and the interpretation of a provocative visual work is no different.

Yet I would argue that we have reached a very interesting, albeit uncertain, crossroads. Three choices, each of them congested, over-crowded and too loud to discern a clear message.

Ahead of us lies the perfectly-signed Appreciation Road, where the volume of consumption is evenly matched by the voices of discontent that the digital age virtually amplified; to the right, we have Performance Street, where those who choose to embody with commitment do so at the risk or fear of overexposure; and to the left, there’s Creation Close, the semi-permanent address of most of us who want to express ourselves freely, but cannot ignore the persistent coarse interference of our neighbours.

1. Appreciation Road

The ‘pornografication’ of modern culture may have reached the point of no return. Accessibility to information, knowledge and pleasure has meant that generations are being born into the default habit of instant gratification. If you bring actual porn into the equation, you have a few days of national debate on your hands, with conflicting, self-serving statistics and a government prescribing the wrong remedy to a problem.

Another aspect of this phenomenon can be traced back to the printed word and highlights the pivotal role that women have been overtly playing in it. In what can only be described as cross-contamination, Fifty Shades of Grey evolved from fan fiction to popular frenzy, resulting in a much-hyped optioning of its rights to the big screen. The only regretful thing is that the millions of women who carry it around like a trophy have chosen to express their entitlement to further emancipation with such a mediocre piece of ‘literature’. Its contents are very far from being the issue here; it’s the lazy, facile writing, which regurgitates material that was much better explored in the more concise Story of O (by Pauline Réage) and Venus in Furs (by Leopold Sacher-Masoch), that should be objectionable.

2. Performance Street

Not so long ago, social media brought a picture to my attention - something that I very nearly ignored, if it wasn’t for a detail. A lady in underwear is as banal as it gets, but this particular one was holding a film clapperboard with the words, ‘I’m a feminist. I make porn.’

Already with this article in mind, I sought to find out who she was. This is how I came across our ‘inside woman’, Camille Crimson, and this is what she has to share with Filmreel:

"I started making porn because I didn't see the kind of sexuality I enjoy in my own life represented in the industry. I wanted to show an artistic and beautiful representation of blowjobs that are sensual and skillful. Why not share my sexuality on my own terms and make it a bigger part of my life? Granted, I run my own website, have sex exclusively with my partner, manage my own image and decide for myself what I will and won't do. Still, the idea that women are always victims forced into porn demeans our ability to choose for ourselves, including choosing to make porn.

“Of course, nothing is black and white and not all people in the industry have this kind of choice, but it's also not fair to say that every woman in porn is somehow doing it against her will. So many of us are very happy with the careers we've chosen. Making beautiful porn on my own terms is a really enriching experience."

3. Creation Close

Hardcore pornography has been gradually trickling into mainstream culture. What started as the odd inclusion of this or that explicit detail in films like Jane Campion’s In the Cut or Michael Haneke’s The Piano Teacher has evolved into Michael Winterbottom’s 9 Songs and the upcoming Nymphomaniac by Lars Von Trier. Had David Cronenberg’s adaptation of Crash been more faithful to JG Ballard’s novel, we would’ve had a good few hardcore glimpses as well. But there was no cinematic requirement and the film distils the message of the book beautifully as it is.

Adaptations of the previously mentioned Story of O (Just Jaeckin, 1975) and Venus in Furs (Massimo Dallamano, 1969) are poor. One could argue that their male directors fell into the very masculine trap of cinematic voyeurism. I would say that the main issue is lack of psychological depth, because voyeurism is intrinsic to film. But it would also be wrong to assume that Sam Taylor-Wood is automatically more entitled to make the big-screen adaptation of Fifty Shades simply because she’s a woman.

Of all the questions emerging from this crossroads, there’s one that concerns me more than any other. If the camera – that phallic extension of the filmmaker – is being reclaimed by an ever more confident female, are we witnessing a gradual disempowerment of the heterosexual male?

capturafilmes.blogspot.co.uk

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Dir. Rob Epstein.
Reviewer – Anouchka Santella.

Porn is confusing. It gets complicated when you think about the actors and how happy they truly are about the choices they make. You’ll see Lovelace and come out of the cinema with mixed emotions, somewhere between very depressed and very relieved. You don’t even have to hate porn for that to happen.

This biopic tells you a few things. First of all, as attractive as Linda was, the same girl with a gag reflex wouldn’t have become the star of famous 70s porn film Deep Throat. It also tells you that no matter how seductive and charming he appears, you can’t trust a man who tries to have sex with you in your parents’ kitchen. Of course, when you’re a 17-year-old girl brought up by parents whose idea of freedom rhymes with curfew, you might run away with him anyway. Between forced prostitution and getting beaten up, Rob Epstein shows Lovelace’s life and makes you hate the porn industry. It also makes you hate men with a moustache for a few minutes.

Amanda Seyfried and the other actors are all perfect in their roles. The flashbacks and the same scenes filmed from different points of view make the film interesting. There isn’t one moment where you’ll get bored watching Lovelace, but there is more than one moment when you’ll think that anyone working in the porn industry is as unhappy as she is. And yet, when someone like Sasha Grey, who’s far from the plastic blond barbies that you picture when you hear the word ‘pornstar’, says that she was longing for her 18th birthday so she could finally enter the porn industry, it’s hard not to believe her. The same goes for Stoya, a skinny actress who’s tired of hearing that with a face like hers, she could be a model instead of doing porn. They both chose that path, just like you chose to be a designer or a dentist.

Of course, your job doesn’t include as much nudity and doesn’t have quite the same impact on people when you introduce yourself. Stoya and her actor boyfriend James Deen, the porn equivalent of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, look like they couldn’t be happier. This could encourage young people to consider a new career, just as seeing Lovelace could make you feel like every porno you’ve ever seen was practically rape. Either way, porn is confusing.

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by Now Then Sheffield

Next article in issue 67

Localcheck Access Space.

When you hear the word 'culture', do you reach for your gun or your chequebook? Or the 'off' button? What is culture? What is art? We leave …

When you hear the word 'culture', do you reach for your gun or your chequebook? Or the 'off' button? What is culture? What is art? We leave 

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