Gonzo taking itself seriously - not for the faint-hearted
"Artcore" is a series of four features made by the unpretentious Anabolic porn label, which for some unknown reason decided to take itself seriously, if only briefly. We live in a revisionist era (I just read today a blurb from video distributor Vinegar Syndrome calling Suze Randall an "underground filmmaker"), but for me this was too topsy-turvy to assimilate.
Basically, pornographers and the official jerks who monitor them (think AVN, XBiz, etc.) have pretended for so many years that the innovation of Max Hardcore and like-minded degenerates have yielded a new art form. So it's only fair that untalented folk, in this case director Sal Genoa and his partner Su (latter doubling as costume designer) think they've accomplished something with this wearying, 2-hour gross-out of rough sex. After all, John Stagliano has achieved legendary status doing similar stuff.
The grotesque sex-scenes and orgies, none of them erotic, play on seedy looking sets constituting the title brothel. As in Stagliano's epics, it is all designed as an opportunity for various XXX actresses to prove their bonafides. Johnny Stag had Belladonna to astound the curiosity seekers with her uncensored bizarre antics, and in "Artcore" we have Belladonna plus equally talented Melissa Lauren, Katsumi/Katsuni, Eva Angelina and Gia Paloma doing likewise.
Paloma's participation is a key signpost: she has made a career out of gross-out performances -not sexy but grotesquey. The cliché is "pushing the limits", whether it be for Lizzy Borden or Dana Vespoli.
But Gia is upstaged here by Melissa Lauren in a climactic gang-bang where the line between being abused and narcissism is shredded. Watching this sort of drivel, even if the femmes are beauties like the well-cast team (though stereotyped) of Katsuni and Roxy Jezel, puts the viewer in the role of a sadist. Hitchcock understood this gimmick best, but in the Adult Entertainment field, where many classics have been made (once upon a time) it is dispiriting to sit through so much gonzo "energy" for its own sake. It reminds me of the trend in rock & roll toward ugliness, which found its apotheosis during the Punk Rock era nearly 40 years ago: storm and fury signifying nothing.
For fans, the BTS short subject is more enlightening than the feature itself as we see star Alberto Rey, Lauren, the two auteurs and others spend 15 minutes patting themselves on the back for a "job well done". To hear them tell it, one would think plugging up an actress's holes non-stop for reel after reel (and slapping her around) is akin to discovering a cure for cancer.
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