Sunday, August 17, 2008

Slippery Slope: Grade A

Slippery Slope (2006)
Kelly Hutchinson, Jim True-Frost. Writer-director Sarah Schenk

A struggling, out of work filmmaker (Hutchinson) learns that her film Feminism for Dummies has unexpectedly been accepted at Cannes, but she can’t afford the lab bill to retrieve it from the shop. Desperate to raise $50K in a few weeks, she searches the classifieds for jobs. Through circumstance and luck she lands a job directing a cheap indie movie, but when she shows up on the set, discovers it is a porn film. In the only special effect of the movie, black rectangles appear over the floppy bits of the actors, indicating her horror and repulsion. That was funny but an odd break from the otherwise straight ahead comedic realism of the movie.

She needs the money so badly, she goes ahead with it, disguising the project’s true nature from her husband (True-Frost). But soon she commits to rewriting the appalling script to put more humanity into it, and must make up ever more elaborate and hilarious lies as she workes feverishly at home. The husband finally catches her red-handed, but in desperation she recruits him into the project. Their love life at home takes a turn for the better and in the end there is some mad dashing about to get the money.

Acting and directing are terrific, including for the movie-within-the-movie. The pornography scenes are realistic but tame and not disrespectful or crude, and fun to watch. The overall message is difficult to ascertain. One theme repeatedly articulated is that pornography harms women, dehumanizes us all. Yet through the action, we see that the porn industry is also an economic and artistic opportunity for many people, and that porn can even be cathartically therapeutic for some. I think that is a realistic mixed conclusion, but in arriving at it the film takes us on a delightful ride.

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