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P-P-P-Porn?!: Awards Seasoning Part Two

Sex-Z Pictures Upload, L. Pete Morton's "Best Adult Picture" of 2007
by L. Pete Morton

This is the second part of my round-up of what I consider to be the best adult films of 2007. What with so many movies produced each year, I canít fully claim these are absolutely and truly the best out of those hundreds of titles. Theyíre just the best that Iíve seen thus far.

Although each of the flicks I listed in Part One are damn enjoyable, two films best met my subjective criteria for what Iíd love to see adult film aspire towards. Hot sex, yes, but also an eye towards story, care about production design and photography, and a real sense of a point of view being present and accounted for (an auteur, if you want to get snobby). In other words, what you might hope for in any good movie. Itís pretty easy to film sex; itís another thing entirely to film it compellingly, and yet another to give it context. Thereís plenty of context in these two.

Operation Desert Stormy: Stormy Daniels is definitely the it-girl in porn at the moment. Since sheís been in a couple of Judd Apatow movies the man on the street has a pretty decent chance of recognizing her. She writes and directs and stars in her own movies for Wicked Pictures, controlling her projects and her image nearly as much as any performer in the history of the business. Sheís web-savvy, which adds geometrically to the former. And, this is important in porn, sheís blonde and gorgeous.

ODS is a comedy about two unhappily-married-to-each-other government types (Daniels and Steven St. Croix) who really want to be spies. When the top dog James Bond-esque head spy (Randy Spears) goes missing, the wannabes step up to complete a dangerous Middle Eastern mission. Within that framework, many spy and action movie conventions lead to numerous sex scenes. Stormyís couplings with the two male leads bookend the movie, giving you something right off the bat as well as something to look forward to.

Although ODS is damned entertaining, it also illustrates the great divide between low-budget mainstream films and big-budget porn. Even though ODS is expensive by adult standards, it wouldnít pay the craft service budget on a Michael Bay movie, and you can find late night cable movies that look more slick than ODS. Stormy works fairly well within her budgetary limitations, though, and her casting is top-notch. Spears is possibly the best actor in adult films right now, and, although he overplays it often, St. Croix is a pretty good physical comedian (a little judicious editing could also make most of his gags funnier). At the end of the day, however, I come to praise Operation Desert Stormy and not to bury it. Itís fun, the sex is great, and the thing is all wrapped up in a three-disc package with lots of extras. At this writing, a sequel is prepping and will reportedly be out in 2009.

Upload: Saving the best for last, Sex-Z Picturesí Upload is probably the best adult film of 2007. Itís not necessarily my favorite, but in most measurable categories itís clearly working at a higher level than the vast majority of porn films. Itís got a relatively complex story and characters with relatively complex motivations. Most of the acting is far and away better than most other adult fare. Thereís a real and appealing attention to creating a near-future cyberpunk world for these characters to live in. The cinematography is moody and evocative, and the special effects are damn impressive for the budget. And itís not just ďbigĒ special effects, either; many of the effects are discrete, scene-building bits which help flesh out the overall production design and aesthetic of the movie. Just like Operation Desert Stormy, itís packaged in a respectable slipcase with tons of extras, just like youíd expect from a movie where the filmmakers give a damn about the finished product and the studio wants to see it sell to the public.

So why isnít it my favorite film? Itís bleak. The main character, Digital Security Agent Cassandra Cray (Eva Angelina), loves rough sex because itís the only thing that can make her feel. Sheís a self-destructive alcoholic who uses the sim chips sheís supposed to confiscate to jack into other peopleís intense sexual experiences. And she deals with a lot of bad people. One scene of sexual torture actually made me uncomfortable, and a body cavity search in another scene leaves nothing to the imagination and would only be found erotic by sadists. I give Upload every point imaginable for using these scenes to further the plot and enrich the characters; Iím just saying that much of the sex isnít exactly what I enjoy seeing personally. Itís sort of the adult There Will Be Blood, a tough watch that you respect on numerous levels, but you wouldnít necessarily want to hang around with most of the characters in real life. Angelina is great, as is Hillary Scott as Tesla, a hacker central to the plot, and Derrick Pierce as Crayís partner, Michael Born. Daniel Day Lewis shouldnít have to worry about giving back his Academy Award, but hiring pretty good actors for your movie is always a nice thing to do. That said, Upload is clearly the most interesting and most ambitious adult movie Iíve seen that was released in 2007. Hereís hoping writer/director Eli Cross remains this ambitious with any further porn flicks he decides to undertake. Adult entertainment in general very much needs movies like this to maintain some sort of artistic integrity in a world of cheap and easy gonzo porn.

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originally posted: 05/27/08 13:21:42
last updated: 06/03/08 09:40:38
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