in association with
All About Anna
Ever wonder why no one makes a good porn flick with mainstream quality that would actually appeal to females? Read on.
Innocent Pictures has wondered. The erotic subsidiary of Lars von Trier's Zentropa Films makes porn for women, by women, with higher production values than the typical porno. As stated in their manifesto, they believe women would watch hardcore films if they're well done and actually cater to women's tastes. I'm no longer so sure, but their intentions are good, and this is something I've been complaining about for a long time. I've heard these words from others before, but Innocent means it. It's in the manifesto.
Their first two films were Constance and Pink Prison starring Katja Kean, but for this one they decided on a new approach, and I had high hopes for Anna.
Were you high?
Anna was going to be more like a real mainstream movie, with actual hardcore sex scenes that weren't just thrown in gratuitously. Another draw was Mark Stevens, a handsome classically trained Brit, and Gry Bay, a Danish woman who had never done hardcore. I believe the only cast member who had sex on film before was Ovidie. Jessica Nilsson, a graduate of Denmark's Film Institute was signed on to direct.
What's the upshot?
My biggest disappointment was not the lack of explicit sex, but the movie itself. I really wanted to like it, but sadly, it isn't any more compelling or well-acted than any number of porn features, and even less than some. Despite the Zentropa connection, this just isn't a mainstream quality film, so the only reason to watch it is for the sex, and even that wasn't good enough for me.
I'm a big fan of Zentropa films, and appreciate the more natural, anti-Hollywood filmmaking methods of the Dogme95 movement, but other than handheld cameras and inadequate lighting (for sex), All About Anna has nothing in common with them.
von Trier and Peter Aalbæk Jensen do deserve a lot of credit for supporting the idea of porn for women, the only mainstream studio to do so, and at some risk to their company. At the time, Zentropa was being pressured by some Scottish investors to quit making porn, or they would withdraw financial support. Lars subsequently came up with the name "Innocent Pictures" for this project, but they determined it best not to help finance the film.
Nevermind all that, who gets boned in this flick?
I'm aware there's a dearth of porn films with a strong female lead many women can relate to, but there are some. My favorite is "Justine: Nothing to Hide 2", from Paul Thomas. Like Anna, Justine was an independent spirit and working girl. It's true she worked in a dildo shop, but that's neither here nor there, I related to her sense of fun and being in charge of her life.
Unlike Justine, Anna did have something to hide, however. Her pussy.
Interesting choice for a porn film. What's the story about?
It's not really a porn film, but the movie opens to scenes of Johan and Anna during happier times out on a fishing boat, before he decided that he needed to travel without any strings. Left behind and heartbroken, Anna becomes the biggest slut in Copenhagen. As she says "No commitments, no casualties.".
She had barely come out of her promiscuous phase when Johan reappears in her life. He supposedly spent 5 years in Antarctica, but from his British accent I think he spent the time in England, to be honest.
Copenhagen and Paris are gorgeous, as are the leading actors. Mark is really good looking with a great body, and you haven't seen him fucking on film before. This is a major coup, and I think most women will agree. The same can be said for Gry Bay, even now. She's very cute, and they make an attractive couple (which they were, for a few days during filming).
The musical score by Maurice Hawkesworth is very well done.
What about the DVD?
The upcoming US release may or may not include the same commentaries and extra features as this one.
The Danish version is in English, with optional Danish subtitles. It comes nicely boxed as a three disc set with a booklet that explains the story, characters, bios of the cast and the complete Puzzy Power manifesto.
DISC 1: the movie (92 minutes), and an optional choice of 4 different commentaries that you don't want to miss. 1. Gry Bay 2. Ovidie 3. Eileen Daly & Mark Stevens 4. Producer Nicolas Barbano, who has an encyclopedic knowledge of both porn and mainstream cinema.
DISC 2: 3.5 hours of extras including unedited takes from several sex scenes, the director's entire original version (which was rejected, more on that later), behind the scenes featurette, text essay of Danish erotic film classics, the original screenplay & proposal, photo gallery, trailer, and an easter egg with even more embarrassing stuff that I haven't found yet. Damn it.
DISC 3: Porn trailers from Pink'O., which I haven't seen. With the exception of Anna, I haven't watched any porn for awhile.
I thought you said this wasn't a porn film.
No pussy is seen in this Puzzy Power movie, and it's difficult to show actual sex without them (obviously I'm referring to straight sex). With a strong enough script, actors with chops, an erotic atmosphere and inspired camerawork, this wouldn't be a problem. Given these weaknesses, the director should have sexed it up, not down.
The first sex scene took place in Anna's (Gry's) apartment, with Frank. She's painting, he comes over, and before you know it, he's puttin' on a condom. The only foreplay was Frank kind of poking her on the leg with a long-handled paint brush, which seems to do the trick. They then move to the wall, where it looks like Frank is fucking her from behind. Pretty soon he comes, just as the telephone rings. It's me calling, asking what the hell happened to Anna's orgasm. While I'm rantin' and ravin', the camera zooms in to show him taking off his used condom. For what purpose? Even Eileen Daly said it was gross.
This doesn't bode well...
No kidding. I can't help comparing this to Justine's first sex scene, when she opened all the windows and had Nick East on his back, doing squat thrusts on him...
The next sex scene was another quickie, but this time Frank is asleep in the next room, and Mark and Gry are in the kitchen. They're trying to be quiet, but all the bottles and stuff getting knocked off the table became jarring. It's sometimes used to show passion, but a little of this goes a long way. I think the idea was also to create tension, since waking Frank caused the coitus interruptus, but since we're shown no penetration, I don't know if there was any coitus to interruptus.
I'm sensing some tension though...
Not the good kind. Next is Eileen and...I'm not sure, I never get a good look at the guy. They're both hammered, so I think this is supposed to be the "fun sex" or "drunk sex" scene. Maybe both. I know it wasn't the "hot sex" scene. If you watch, you'll eventually see Eileen's back and butt as she's riding him, but it's awfully dark.
No good gapes? Next...
Well, things are lookin' up! Mark's shower scene starts - yesssssssssss, oh jesus this guy is hot! He soaps up, and gives his cock some extra attention, as I would... wait, WTF? He was just beginning, when he hears Eileen and gets out. I wanna throw something at the tv! Oh well,. maybe he's gonna fuck Eileen back to the stone age.
Where have I heard that before?
Dude, instead, we get a badly filmed blowjob scene that ends with Eileen getting it in her eyes. Even I could tell that Mark was ready to pop, so I have to wonder...
No orgasm for her, just the humiliating "Burning Eyeball Bathroom Dash".
Tell me about it. You know, watching that scene might have been more stimulating if I had a dick, but since I don't...
Now I'm gettin' annoyed.
Does this mean the Puzzy Power Manifesto sold out?
Absolutely not, I'm told, this was an accident and "the first dramaturgical cumshot in history."
Gry's masturbation scene was actually pretty good, if you're into that. She kept her panties on, though.
Any lesbian ATM action?
It's a porn film, of course there's some lesbian action. Well, "action" might be stretching it, there's really no sex between Anna and Ovidie, just some kissing and rubbing (through Gry's panties). No sex toys, no ATM, thank god.
Lars visited the set during the filming of Ovidie's scene *cough* and they had a nice chat discussing their manifestos, since Ovidie also has one.
Does Ovidie do anal?
Finally, the climactic scene I've been waitin' for, Mark and Gry out on the boat, without any interruptions. They had already broken up by this time (due to Mark slapping her with a fish), but, well, the show must go on...
Grab yer puds kids, this ain't Dogville...
It was the best and longest scene, and had some artful camera angles. I thought Mark and Gry did a good job, considering how difficult it must have been. It felt a little claustrophobic however, and would have been much better if they had used natural sound instead of overpowering music. That's all you hear, and this is a rule of Dogme that was needed, since nothing is hotter than the sound of heavy breathing and the moaning of sex. Oh yeah, and showing some actual... penetration. There's a second or two when it looks like Gry's blowing him, but alas, Mark reveals that a stunt cock and/or mouth was used.
A porn..I mean erotic film for women, by women, has one female orgasm, and three male orgasms, the first which is proudly displayed in a droopy, filled condom and another ends with a burning eyeball. What's wrong with this picture?
All of these scenes felt rushed with little erotic buildup, so perhaps Jessica believes that these are more realistic endings for women's sexual encounters, but if this is true, I fear the human species is doomed for extinction soon.
If this were a mainstream quality film they could show it on Sundance or IFC with minimal editing. Trust me, "Sex Games: Cancun" will play there first. Patrice Chéreau's "Intimacy" was shown recently without cuts, but it's a well-done, compelling movie, and this isn't in the same league. I probably wouldn't have been so harsh in my criticism if they hadn't raised expectations so high.
While it wasn't my cup of tea, it may be other's, and it's probably a good choice for women who haven't seen any porn. For those wanting full-on sex scenes and some plot, Wicked has many excellent movies to choose from. Devinn Lane is a better actress, very sexy, and enjoys showing everything she's got.
I definitely had a response to Mark Stevens, however. Talk about a wasted opportunity. I can't help thinking what a scene with Mark and Devinn would be like. Damn it, someone, please bring this guy to Chatsworth (or to my house). He can smack me with a mackerel, I'll gladly take one for the team.
More BTS highlights -
Gry was very angry about Tomas Raft ejaculating even though he was wearing a condom.
Nicolas heard rumors that the cameraman was stoned on pot. I tend to doubt this, based on the uninspired camera angles and distance from the sex.
During filming Gry and Mark were having an affair, so while the blowjob scene was happening, Gry was loudly crying her eyes out in the next room. This unnerved and angered Eileen, but she carried on admirably.
Nicolas tells of asking Gry to do a pick-up shot of her on her bicycle, and of her breaking down in tears because the stress of having to go so deep in and out of character was too much for her. I wonder how Emily Watson handled that kind of thing?
Jessica's original footage in the kitchen includes Gry getting licked by the dog, vomiting into the sink, then kissing Mark, which turned people off. It also pictured Frank sitting on the toilet and calling out for some toilet paper, but all this was edited it out. Count your blessings.
Apparently Jessica was very uncomfortable when they nude auditioned the actors, and wouldn't even look at them. Since she was contracted to direct hardcore sex scenes and was attached to the flick like a bad set of bolt-ons I think Nicolas was alarmed. There was little recourse beyond rejecting her entire film once completed (which is on the 2nd disc), and then spending many hours in the edit bay.
Jessica refused to talk to Nicolas and wouldn't allow him on her set.
In his commentary, Mark jokes about how Gry didn't even want to show her breasts, and implies that she changed her mind about having sex on film.
Jessica actually planned to have the sex scenes shot more as "accidents" rather than full-on scenes. I think she more than achieved her goal.
The opinions expressed in this review of All About Anna (Innocent Pictures) from Team Video Plus are not necessarily the opinions of Adult DVD Talk. Adult DVD Talk provides a public forum for consumers to post their DVD reviews. Adult DVD Talk does not edit these reviews.