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When lead singer Jimmy Taranto dumps his girlfriend Candy then his rock band Gutter Filth, Candy decides to take his place in the band. Together with anal bass player GB, cross-dressing drummer Dee and Jennifer their loyal manager, they begin a journey to stardom. While their success eclipses Jimmy's, Candy still can't find the true love she is looking for. But sometimes the things you want are right in front of you. Written by
Relevant Social Commentary? Feminist Porn? Confused Mess? Who Knows?
After viewing writer/director Anna Brownfield's "The Band", I'm left feeling rather bewildered and unsettled. I know that it's trying to tell me something, but the more I think about it, the less I understand what that "something" may be. Much as I'd rather not watch it again, I feel that I must have missed something important. Or maybe it's the film that is missing something.
For clarity, I viewed the 90-minute version, unlike the few others here who commented on this obscure film; they clearly saw the 73-minute version. The difference between the two is 17 minutes of explicit sexual content that is as graphic as anything you'd see in your typical porno film, performed by most of the principal actors. The story that is tucked between the sex involves a rock band with all the trappings, so you've got sex, drugs an rock-n-roll - you'd think that if nothing else, it would be a fun ride. But I found the proceedings curiously dreary and joyless, and in fact I felt somewhat depressed by the time that the ending credits rolled. And while it's loaded with explicit sex, "The Band" does not seem to want to be a porno film, at least not in the conventional sense. It seems to want to be something else... but what is that?
It could be a social commentary from the female perspective. At least all the trappings for that are in the story. It's a non-violent female revenge/triumph tale, and the men are pretty much limited to jerks, horndogs, and other cardboard set pieces. So it passes the chick-flick litmus test, albeit not a particularly good one. But I'd dare say that most women are not looking for explicit porno-level sex in this kind of movie! In fact - and I will admit that, being a man in his forties, I may be out of touch here - most women don't care for hardcore porno at all, in any context. The prefer a gentler or more romantic approach to the subject of sex. The sexual proceedings in "The Band" are anything but gentle and are not even remotely romantic. So now I'm confused again: who is Anna speaking to, and what is she saying?
Perhaps it's "feminist porn": an attempt to frankly present sex and sexuality from a female perspective. I took a look at Anna's blog, and that would fall more in line with how she sees it. Apparently the film has been shown at porn film festivals. But even here, I'm confused. For one thing, I'd think that female viewers would want to see women getting more personal sexual attention and pleasure. But beyond some straight intercourse, there's not much attention being paid to women's needs, other than in the obligatory girl-on-girl scene. One thing we do see is an awful lot of male ejaculation. This really surprised me, and while I have no issue with it if that's your thing, again I found myself bewildered: who is this intended for? There are multiple scenes of guys masturbating themselves to climax, sometimes alone, sometimes while involved in an act with a woman. It's shown up close, well-lit, and often in slow motion, with augmented "liquid" sound effects! About all that's missing is 3-D! Unlike more typical porn, there's rarely a female "target" on the receiving end, but even so, I'm thinking: is this what women want to see - jerk-off films? Again I'll admit that I may be out of touch, but in the circles I move in, neither straight men nor women are particularly interested in seeing documentary-style slow-motion footage of male masturbation and orgasm again and again. I'm pretty sure that "younger heterosexuals" is the primary target audience for this film. Is this what passes for sex among that group now? At one point I suspected that Anna was trying insult me; to visually say "you men are all just disgusting with your jizz spraying everywhere," but that's not in line with her perspective as she expresses it on her blog. So once again, I'm left confused.
I finally settled on "confused", as in "The Band" is a confused mess. It wants to be too many conflicting things and perhaps has too many agendas, and while I respect the bravery to try, I fear that Anna does not have the writing or directing chops (and probably neither the actors nor budget) to pull it off. What's left is a strange little film that does not find it's identity. I will give it this - it made an impression on me. Perhaps what I got from it was nothing more than a journey inside Anna Brownfield's mind. I don't think I want to repeat that trip.
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