While splashy, big-budget features like Zazel and Operation Sex Siege were garnering piles of praise and heaps of awards, Kris Kramski, director of such notable films as Klimaxxx and Lisa, was quietly creating a masterpiece. Shot in one location, with a small cast and a low-key script, Models is the kind of film many directors in the adult industry have longed to produce: a character-drive, mainstream film with sex. What makes this movie particularly distinctive is the fact that the sex doesn't detract from the story, and the story doesn't distract from the sex. In fact, the elements all flow together so seamlessly, it's really hard to describe the sex as being in "scenes."
Models revolves around a successful adult photographer (adult industry newcomer Jim Bonn) and his polyamorous group of cohorts. As we watch Bonn, his makeup girl (Tina Tyler), and his camera assistant (Michael J. Cox) fall in and out of bed (or, more typically, on and off of the couch, the floor, the desk, etc.) with each other, as well as several of the girls who drift through, we become interested in them as characters. As people. While that isn't unusual in mainstream, it's unheard of in porn. Models, however, works so well as slice-of-life cinema that you don't even realize you're watching it - really paying attention - until you've already been sucked in.
When Bonn throws his first petulant tantrum while shooting, you can't help but laugh. Sure, he's a prick, but he's a likable price. When Nancy Vee arrives to take a position as Bonn's secretary, you're interested in her; and later, when Tyler, Bonn and Cox all fuck as Nancy voyeurs in, it's easy to believe that the three have known each other for years. This remarkable achievement is due in no small part to the excellent work of the cast. The entire cast. Yes, Jim Bonn and Tina Tyler are both outstanding, but so are Nancy Vee and Michael J. Cox, neither of whom has ever really been seriously given the chance to act before. Most surprising of all is the killer performance turned in by Dru Berrymoore, who is natural, biting, and very funny. It isn't hollow praise to say that this just might be the finest acting ever seen in an adult film.
That said, it should also be noted that there are elements to Models that make it stand out even more: Guts. Originality. Pure, unadulterated balls. There is content in this film - and no, we aren't going to give it away - that has never been seen before in a porno, or probably any film, for that matter. You'll have to watch it yourself to find out, but suffice it to say this movie lives up to its subtitle The Truth behind the Scenes.
The long list of models pre-noms includes Best Film, Best Director, Best Actor for both Bonn and Cox, Best Actress for both Tyler and Vee, Best Supporting Actor for J.D., Best Supporting Actress for Dru Berrymoore, and Best Cinematography.
As shocking as it is entertaining, Models may stand alone as one brief shining moment of real cinema that rose above the flock of lesser stroke flicks, or it might herald the beginning of a new wave of adult films that we can all be proud of. Either way, accolades are due to Kris Kramski for having the courage to create the film others have only dreamt of, and to Sin City for having the vision to make it real. With product like this, adult movies might end up back in the theaters after all.