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9to5 - Days in Porn focuses on the people behind a controversial and multi-billion dollar industry "The Adult Entertainment industry". It depicts their stories, each one different, unadorned and authentic, without glorification or prejudice. It delivers deep insight into their personal lives - from glamorous to grotesque - strange, fascinating, offensive, absurd and sometimes funny moments all at once. Written by
This is not the first documentary I have seen which sets out to demystify the porn business and show audiences the people and places behind the fantasy displayed by the products at the center of the bloated-cash-cow industry. However, I would say this is one of the best.
I believe the mark of quality for any portrait of the adult entertainment industry which is trying to exist outside the realm of and classification as actual pornography is how un-erotic it comes across to the viewer. As a heterosexual male who in no way feels above being stimulated by the sort of visuals common to modern pornography (and portrayed, albeit mostly with tasteful obscurity, in this film), I am happy to report that "9 to 5..." did not stir up any sort of sensuality within me as I watched it. I liked the way the director would mostly set up the shots to avoid the harder-core facets of what he was filming, but would occasionally, throughout the film, allow certain things to go more noticed, still keeping them minimized and "non-pornographic" in their framing. There are things shown in this film which would never be allowed in an R-rated film, and would probably even be denied the courtesy of an NC-17 by the MPAA if it really came down to it, but the way they are portrayed is done in just the right way to prevent ones attention from being distracted (or diverted towards watching this DVD for "other purposes"). But, do beware... this is not the type of movie you want to watch with your uptight family, your child, or mixed company -- even though the explicit footage is not tasteless, it is there, so if real sex is not something you want to see in a film, avoid this or watch it with someone who can handle the fast-forward-button censorship for you.
The directing, editing, and overall stylization of this film are very well done. I liked the "portraits" of the subjects. Otto and his wife and John Stagliano especially really had their souls (or lack thereof) shine through in these shots. I could imagine the director asking the subjects to stand there and look into the camera for an awkward minute or two, but these set-ups greatly contributed to the personalities portrayed.
This film managed to remain entertaining, while avoiding titillation, for a solid 2 hours. The key asset to that is how light-handed the tone is. Nothing is played for laughs. Nothing is played for sympathy. Conversely, nothing is played to try and make us think these people's lives are better than we give them credit for. Everything that is funny in this movie, every opinion we might have about the subjects, whether they're secretly miserable or envious or whatever we might think while watching this movie, I have to believe, was in no way manufactured by the filmmaker, and I think that is paramount to a good documentary. We see how these people live and work -- nude bodies engaged in extreme sex acts are just like computers and telephones at any other job. But throughout the duration of the movie, I never felt as if anybody's opinion was being forced on me, or any sort of advocacy for or against pornography was shining through. Things were very neatly presented as they are, and I think whatever you take away from this movie (believing the porn business ruins people's lives, or believing it is "just a business we need in society," or whatever you might think) says more about what you already thought than what you saw in this movie.
I find the behind-the-scenes reality of the porn business fascinating and watch/read just about all the material I find on the subject. The way this movie balanced rawness with tastefulness, and frankness with fantasy, really makes it stand out as an exemplary piece on the subject.
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