Thinking XXX

Thinking XXX

Review By: Jeremy Holt JeremyHolt@TheCinemaSource.com

It’s ironic that the porn industry is responsible for the direction, from a technical standpoint, in which the film industry has followed. The technical standpoint being the porn industry’s standard for film/video as well as audio formats, which the movie industry has taken its cue from. Why is that? I believe its because the porn industry has built its empire on the courage to do what all others wouldn’t dare or disproved of. It’s the willingness to pursue an idea with uncompromising abandon that has left everyone else has learning by example.

HBO’s original documentary entitled Thinking XXX explores the status symbol of a porn star and exposes truths about the industry through interviews with several leading male and female porn stars as well as a hand full of interesting critics such as John Waters and Gore Vidal. Based off of the widely popular book of wide-print portraitures by the acclaimed photographer, Timothy Greenfield-Sanders, Thinking XXX documents Greenfield-Sanders’ subjects as they reveal their personal reasons for choosing such a brazen and socially taboo career.

It is no coincidence that many of the most recognizable porn stars all happen to have fallen into their career due to financial burdens. When it comes right down to it many of them had two simple choices, live a life with no promising future or live a life with one. The opportunity to survive and possibly create a better life is a decision few would have questioned. It’s just the fact that the opportunity involves sex, an act as ancient as the existence of man but is yet to be socially accepted, that invites ridicule and disparagement.

Who are we to belittle people who happen to have found a way in which to live a life of fulfillment, glamour, and success? I will admit that initially seeing such explicit nudity was jarring at first but the film portrays each subject as a work of art. It is this artistic vision that is extremely captivating as Greenfield-Sanders uses classical portrait paintings for inspiration. Each subject is photographed twice, fully clothed and fully nude. It is the nature of their profession combined with the duality of the photographs that make the fully clothed images seem more shocking. Gore Vidal makes an excellent point by saying that the constant visual stimulus of a naked body, over time becomes monotonous due to the human figure being visually limiting. Half way through the film I realized how insignificant the shock value of nudity became. I was less interested to see female and male nudity and more so in learning each person’s reasons for working in the adult film industry. I personally found Brianna Banks’ story to be the most intriguing.

The photographs beautifully compliment each star and capture an essence of normalcy that is pleasantly surprising. As I learned who these people are and understood that their work is no different than anyone else’s, I began to see the art in what they do. Many people like me probably have the misconception that adult films are for anyone who can’t make it in a more decent profession. Thinking XXX corrects this notion with the stars who have shaped the industry revealing each one of their arduous path towards success. Each of them make the point that no matter what profession one chooses, there is no easy way to the top. Not one of them is ashamed of their choice and take deserved pride in what they do.

Overall Thinking XXX ironically got my thinking less about XXX then I had expected. It was refreshing to learn both sides of the adult film industry’s story and be exposed to the human side of each star that is so often stripped away as their film personas. Finding a new respect for the work that these people do didn’t get me thinking about censorship, instead I was thinking how much more censorship needs to be applied to the real trash that Hollywood puts out each year. And there is nothing ironic about that.

The DVD extras include insightful extended scenes of each subject as well as bonus interviews with cultural icons such as John Waters, Lou Reed, and Karen Finley. I found that the video clips of the NYC and LA gallery openings of Timothy Greenfield-Sanders’ portraits, captured the proud achievement in completing the whole process of both the book and the film. Maybe I’m just a guy for saying this but porn is still pretty cool in my book.

 

Movie Grade: A 
DVD Gra de: B+ 
Overall: A-

 

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2017-03-09T19:12:02+00:00