Judge Chris Claro hasn't had such a seamy experience since he was trapped in that tailor's shop.
Porn. With Pretensions.
Destricted is a series of short films about sex, created by a variety of filmmakers and artists that include Larry Clark (Kids), Matthew Barney (the Cremaster series), and Gaspar NoÉ (Irreversible). The individual pieces that comprise Destricted range from provocative to off-putting to indulgent. As with any creation of so-called "art," the response to the work is totally subjective and dependent on the perception of the viewer. What follows, then, is the perception of this viewer. Your actual experience may vary. Professional reviewer on closed course.
Facts of the Case
I found Destricted to be much less than the sum of its wildly disparate parts. Neither titillating nor erotic, the goal of Destricted seems to be more to antagonize than arouse. Whether abstract or realist, scatological or sexy, the film is suffused with a decidedly nose-thumbing vibe. Some would call it challenging, others, obnoxious, but no one could argue that the film doesn't provoke a reaction.
Among the more notable portions of Destricted is the opening film, "Hoist," by Matthew Barney, in which obscure closeups of a naked man, buried beneath the earth, are intercut with a team of South American deforesters, preparing their earth movers for a job. When the two components dovetail, and Barney makes his statement about man's dismissive treatment of the environment, it feels forced and facile.
Richard Prince's "House Call" is more obtuse and unsatisfying, in that it is simply a porn loop from the early '70s, re-recorded off a television monitor on which the scan lines are visible. Whether Prince had in mind a statement about the timelessness of sexual taboos or a flashback to an era when porn was relegated to sleazy downtown theaters, it's hard to tell. The willful obscurity of his work makes it more frustrating than interesting.
The contribution from photographer Sante D'Orazio simulates an all-girl '70s stag reel, complete with dirt and film scratches that blur the identity of the participants, reinforcing his message about the dehumanizing elements of pornography.
Probably the most arresting entry in Destricted comes from provocateur extraordinaire Larry Clark. The longest and most conventional film in the collection, Clark's "Impaled" is a series of interviews with young men, more or less "auditioning" for a chance to have an on-film encounter with an actual porn actress. The young men that the offscreen Clark talks with show a humanity and sad vulnerability that is otherwise absent from Destricted. Clark's segment ends with a graphic coupling featuring the "winner" of the auditions and the director's unflinching eye gives an even more pronounced voyeuristic vibe to the scene, since we've come to know the players in it personally.
Technically, Destricted is uneven, with the variety of creative styles giving the film a hodgepodge look. Despite the rawness of much of the content, the presentation is generally handsome and the audio is offered in both 2.0 and 5.1 Dolby. Due to the fact that it was viewed on a screener disc, there were no extras or commentaries.
If Destricted does one thing, it's to offer sex as a palette to a clutch of artists who have no shortage of ways to use it to express themselves. Exceedingly graphic, somewhat disturbing, and far from a turn-on, Destricted is smart smut, a penetrating—sorry—deconstruction of pornography.
Wrapped in a plain brown wrapper, Destricted is deemed not guilty.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Revolver Entertainment
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