CYBERSPACE—With Stormy Daniels now indisputably the world’s most famous porn star, due more, of course, to her lawsuits against Donald Trump than her actual work in the genre, there have at least been a couple of media outlets that have taken the time to go back and peruse her actual oeuvre.
Earlier this year, Motherboard took a deep dive into the 2010 Wicked Pictures movie The Chatroom, with writer Samantha Cole opining, "It’s feminist, empowers sex workers, and is more than a little cyberpunk."
And yesterday the Australian entertainment The Brag assigned their “very serious” film critic, Lloyd Murphy, to view four well-known porn films, including Daniels’ 2001 auteurist classic 3 Wishes, and review them not as porn, but as films—no different from the latest offering by Steven Spielberg.
Unlike Spielberg, however, Daniels not only directed 3 Wishes, but starred in the film (actually a video) and penned the screenplay as well. In other words, why doesn’t her work merit serious critical evaluation?
Mainstream film critics reviewing porn is nothing new, but it hasn’t been seen very often since the early 1970s era of “porno chic” when numerous critics—including the late, legendary Roger Ebert—turned their trained cinematic eyes on Gerard Damiano’s Deep Throat (Arrow Productions).
“It is all very well and good for Linda Lovelace, the star of the movie, to advocate sexual freedom; but the energy she brings to her role is less awesome than discouraging,” Ebert sniffed in his March 6, 1973, review of the landmark hardcore film. “If you have to work this hard at sexual freedom, maybe it isn’t worth the effort.”
The Brag’s Murphy, with the benefit of 45 years of hindsight, found more to like in the film that put porn on the map and first made it “chic,” awarding Deep Throat four of five possible stars, describing Damiano—who died in 2008 and directed many of the 1970s most important porn features, including The Devil in Miss Jones—as “the Orson Welles of the golden age of pornography,” and praising the film’s “happy ending” for its “lightness of touch reminiscent of the best work of Douglas Sirk or Agnes Varda.”
But after awarding the 2005 Pirates of the Caribbean porn parody Pirates (Digital Playground/Adam & Eve) just two stars, and another two to last year’s parody Dick and Morty from WoodRocket.com, Murphy saves his highest praise for Daniels’ work, which he appears to consider a masterpiece, awarding 3 Wishes the highest possible rating—five of five stars.
“As a filmmaker, Daniels resembles some kind of unholy cross between Robert Bresson and Peter Greenaway; she’s at once staid and structured, and yet fanciful and outlandish,” Murphy gushed, comparing Daniels at once to the minimalist French director of Pickpocket and A Man Escaped, and the baroque style of the British auteur behind The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover, and The Draughtsman’s Contract.
While, despite the maximum rating, Murphy found a few flaws in Daniels’ Wicked Pictures film, he concluded on a flattering note. “Mean Streets isn’t perfect either, and Daniels’ 3 Wishes has all the scrappy energy of that Scorsese debut.”
Photo via Jimmy Kimmel Live Screen Capture