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The Pornographer (a.k.a. Le Pornographe) is a French film from 2001 that has a salacious title, one seriously out-of-place and opportunistic sequence of hardcore sex-making, and a whole honking lot of pretentious navel-gazing and middle-aged angst blatherings. If French films have a reputation for being slow and ponderous and more than a little self-indulgent, it's because of examples like this one.
Jacques Laurent is a former porno director who's forced to get back into the game when his money starts to run out. But the new kids on the skin-flick block aren't in any way interested in Jack's "art." They're trying to get the smut on the shelves while the auteur is contemplating his next framing composition and character motivation.
Added to Jacques' stress levels is the fact that he's no longer in love with his wife and must also contend with an estranged son who may or may not be harboring a lot of shame regarding his papa's chosen profession.
And that's pretty much the whole of The Pornographer from stem to stern. Putting aside an explicit sex scene that occurs early in the movie, there's not much on display besides Jack's hand-wringing, crinkled brows, snippy retorts, and an off-putting sense of superiority. If you're supposed to actually care about Jacques and his mid-life crisis plight, why didn't the filmmakers opt to give the guy a freaking heart? You wouldn't want to spend a mere 15 minutes with porn filmmaker Jacques Laurent ... and The Pornographer runs 106.
And even if you should somehow find yourself caring for (or relating to) this miserable wank of a lead character, be sure to not get too attached, because The Pornographer doesn't so much "end" as it does just "stop."
Video: Widescreen (1.66:1) anamorphic transfer, which is, to its credit, pretty crisp and clean.
Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 French (with English subtitles)
Extras: You'll find the theatrical trailer and a short film by Bertrand Bonnello entitled The Adventures of James and Davis.
I've got nothing against French films; some really great cinema comes from France. (Like ... Swimming Pool and High Tension!) But in any language this flick would be an interminable bore with a sexy-sounding name. Sure, the one hardcore hump scene probably helped the festival crowds to get their jollies, but it's only there for the most obvious reason: without the semi-raunchy sex sequence, there's basically no reason to even watch the flick.