EmptyMidnight-1 a.m., Wednesday-Saturday, Aug. 1-Aug. 4
Whoever thought that sex could seem so tedious? In this new four-part documentary from IFC, appropriately called "Indie Sex," we are treated to what seems like the long, long history of sex in the cinema and, following on its tail, the history of censorship in the movies. Can't have one without the other, as we've discovered many times before in countless other such docus on the subject. This latest, put together by filmmakers Lisa Ades and Lesli Klainberg, is loaded with such a stockpile of facts that it becomes, after a while, not in the least bit sexy.
The documentary looks good, that's for sure. It's also loaded with split-screen imagery, fast-paced editing and a truckload of great (and perhaps never-before-seen by some) footage, all of it documenting the love-hate-love relationship between sex and Hollywood.
The premise here, according to the filmmakers, is that the mere fact of cinema itself just begs filmmakers to make sex their subject -- or at least to make their subject anything that could be considered taboo, voyeuristic and maybe a little naughty. Many would differ.
Part 1 of "Indie Sex," airing tonight, is "Indie Sex: Censored," which charts the history of how Hollywood has dealt with, tried to avoid and even kowtowed to the censors, represented most prominently as the Hays Code. Beginning in the mid-1930s, Hollywood allowed itself to be dictated to by those who found movies to be too sexually explicit (of course, this is only one part of what the Code deplored). The effects are still felt.
Part 2, "Indie Sex: Taboos," airs Thursday and was originally aired on IFC in 2001. Hot topics having to do with sexuality (IFC calls it issues of "subversion" and irreverence) are the subject of an installment that now seems dated if not very, very familiar.
Part 3, "Indie Sex: Teens," airs Friday and exploits the issue of teenage sexuality on the screen in films like "American Pie" as well as those coming-of-age moments that filmmakers love to revel in and obsess over year after year.
Part 4, which airs Saturday, is "Indie Sex: Extremes" and, as the press release says, begs the question, "Is it true that the only difference between art and pornography is lighting?" Need more be said?
There are celebs around to help tell the story; the critics and historians (some of them unfamiliar names and faces) also have a word to say. Still, it's a long road to travel to reach the end of the four installments, but some will want to venture out there nonetheless.
An Orchard Films production
Directors: Lisa Ades, Lesli Klainberg
Producer: Lesli Klainberg
Editor: Hope Litoff
Co-producer: Tammie Rhee
Associate editor: Judd Blaise
Associate producers: Kate Walker, Chandra Simon, Amy Neiporent
Cinematographers: Ruben O'Malley, John Tanzer
Original music: Douglas J. Cuomo