As you may remember, Joybear caused my external CD-ROM drive to die by requesting that I reviewed their film Man Trap two months ago. And I did. Sadly, I didn't find it very impressive, so they asked me to review another of their films - this one's called London Sex Project: Experimentation. (That's a bit long, so hereafter, I'll call it LSP. Things are better when abbreviated by three initials.)
Before I start the review, however, I'd like to make one thing clear: I do not hate hardcore porn. I genuinely don't. I think vaginas are pretty, and I love sex. But, given the choice, I'll watch softcore, because I prefer a lot of the elements of the genre, which I'm sure you'll know about by now. I do like some specific hardcore scenes, due to the actions involved, the music, cinematography, performance - whatever. It's just not that common an occurrence, and the incidences of me preferring a hard scene are few. Anyway, bearing that in mind, here's the review.
Hey, that almost rhymed.
LSP, like Man Trap, is filmed in a pseudo-documentary style, and is again presented by Oliver McDowell (the name of the director and also the fictional presenter - it saved them having to think up a John Smith, I guess). The setup serves as a wraparound for five sex scened between five different couples. They are all boy/girl.
The crux of the while film is that McDowell is presenting a filmed version of sex featuring people who are unfaithful. According to him, six out of ten people in London have sex outside of their relationships (really?), and he will show how this happens by filming cheating partners with their lovers using hidden cameras - the differenct being that the partners' lovers don't know they're being filmed. The cameras are set up (with some necessary technojargon which makes no sense whatsoever, with McDowell mentioning "microwaves" more than once!), a short intro is given, and sex takes place. Yes, it's all obviously actors. But this is hardcore porn, so its aim is to show sex, and that's what it does. You can't fault it there.
The set-ups are all fairly routine, but at least there are a couple of interesting situations:-
- scene one is between a fitness trainer who really likes sex, and a party guy who likes S&M, while her husband is away on a business trip. The scene contains light S&M, and takes place mostly on her sofa.
- scene two is between an African student with a wife who is still in Nigeria - "I have urges," he justifies himself by saying - and a girl in his drama class. He seduces her at the start of the scene.
- scene three is between a housewife (cliché much?) who likes shopping (cliché much?) and, like scene one, has a husband who is away on business trips (cliché much?) and her gardener (cliché much?). The difference here is that her husband knows she does this, and that she films herself having sex and sends the tapes to him. "It's quite a turn-on," she says. The gardener doesn't know he's being filmed for these tapes, nor does he know for LSP either.
- scene four is between a self-broadcasting adrenaline junkie (who is shown to have his own YouTube channel) and the female manager of his local gym. He has a girlfriend, but is in an open relationship with her. Like in scene four, he often films himself, and is using LSP to get more footage. The scene takes place in the gym which she owns.
- scene five is the most interesting. The guy in question has a second home, and he never explains what he does; it's implied at various points that he is a businessman, politician, or pop star (it's not clear). He also doesn't appear to know the woman who arrives, and the manner of sex that happens suggests that she has been paid for sex.
With a few slight exceptions, the sex scenes are quite formulaic, reminding me strongly of Man Trap (which is not surprising) and even using some of the same actors (also not surprising). The sequence - kissing, undressing, fellatio, cunnilingus, sex, cumshot - is so rigid that it doesn't leave much to the imagination.
A few bits did get me vaguely aroused - namely a shot in scene two where she is on top and we're viewing that from above. You can't see any explicit penetration and for a while it looks like a shot from soft porn. The expressions on their faces and movement of their bodies did work for me. But that's one shot in one scene. Scene five has a bit of a quicker introductory sequence as well - she comes in and immediately starts with the blowjob, sex coming soon afterwards (although not soon enough!), further leading me to think that she is a paid-up sex worker. It didn't turn me on so much, but it did break the formula, which was pretty good, in a way.
But every other scene was the same old thing, and scene one had a very distracting moment wherein it was evident that the man in the scene nad a huge and incongruous lump on his penis! He really ought to get that checked out; it's not sexy at all!
While there has been some effort made with the plot, the 'individual scenarios' bit doesn't really help much, as there's no actual overarching plot to attempt to follow. The scenes are too long to give the feel of an authentic fly-on-the-wall documentary, and therefore, it's difficult to keep your interest if the genre isn't your thing. And for me, it isn't. The characters all had a brief introduction to who they are, but the acting's of mixed quality and it doesn't really add much - in fact, I imagine it could get quite frustrating for the viewer waiting for sex.
The main problem I have with hardcore of this length is that it takes a while for things to get going. I like scenes that are shorter and have more punch. They also need to get to the actual penetrative sex bit quicker, or it loses momentum easily. Softcore pulls off this with aplomb, with the average soft porn sex scene having less than a minute of foreplay and lasting less than three minutes overall. The few hardcore scenes that I do like also do that to a degree - mixing between foreplay and sex swiftly and ending it at a good point. Or they have a defining factor, like an intense female orgasm or a certain shot (or a joke at the end!). But these don't.
And music! Would it be too difficult to add music?! Soft porn isn't the only sort of porn that benefits from music! Jesus Christ, overlay some Nirvana if it makes you feel better!
In my opinion, long, drawn-out sex with lots of foreplay, masses of oral sex, undressing, careful insertion, multiple positions and large orgasms should happen in real life. That's the place for this sort of sex. Sex I like to have uses these factors. It even sometimes follows the formula laid out above (although I'd like to hope my sex life is a bit more interesting than that!). I don't think it really works in entertainment. And the question I like to ask myself - "If this were a mainstream film, would it be considered interesting?" - was a resounding no.
Still, in placed this film has its merits. The production value is great. The cinematography's fine, and there are some nice little touches to the whole thing - the watermark in the lower corner of the screen during the scenes, for example - remembering that the idea is that it's all being filmed on hidden cameras - but the thing could be shot by Spielberg and I'd still not find it particularly stimulating.
So, another review that's not great. It's clear that this is a good example of the genre, sure. But it's really not my genre. If you like ridiculous storylines with characters doing very little, foreplay that doesn't involve you and waiting for ages to see any actual sex happening, then sure, watch LSP. But I just think it's boring, and although it's done with a great deal of care, the length of the scenes, lack of music, and incredibly obvious penetration just made it fall flat for me so many times that it was difficult to stay engaged in any real way.