Heartland: A Woman’s POV

Heartland: A woman’s POV provided for review by Good Releasing

Mimi

Heartland: A Woman’s POV is a lot like it sounds — it takes place in the midwest, there are women in it who are framed by a camera operated by a woman, and occasionally some scenes with Madison Young talking about airplanes making her hot or porn conferences or coyotes or whatever.

The beginning doesn’t start out very strong. Madison sounds like she’s high, looks like she’s very sleepy, and offers her viewers a gratuitous nipple because… why not? I would have preferred for her to dribble on slowly for 20 more minutes than show me a blurry ass close-up of her nipple. It’s like she got self-conscious and flipped on a default response. “EVERYONE LIKES TITS”. Ugh.

All of the couples are introduced via text, documentary-style, with a bit of information about them. The first couple, Nicole and Peter are a real couple in Chicago that met at a sex toy store. This was their first experience being filmed during sex. I enjoyed this couple perhaps the most because of the obvious connection and pleasure they experience in each other. They were also the least overtly performative, I felt. The second couple, Cherry and Alea, met at a kink conference and were having sex together for the first time on Heartland. The third couple, Rita Seagraves and Red Hot Megan, are regular play partners but have never been filmed. Rita Seagraves is a sex educator. Last but not least, Madison Young has sex with Billie Sweet, a former RA in the dorm Madison lived in during her college years and subject of girl crushdom.

There’s also more small scenes that involve Madison updating the viewer on her whereabouts, including a masturbation scene on a plane that more closely resembles a first year undergrad art film than porn, as well as Madison getting tattooed by a fan and “hiking” with her family. These scenes appear to function as glue for the sex scenes, similar to how a thin plot would in most porn, while also providing some insight into Madison’s personality. They struck me as being fairly pointless unless you’re a hardcore Madison Young fan.

Aside from these really self-indulgent scenes, my main complaint about Heartland is Madison Young’s style of filming, which is apparently centered around poor quality. I understand that the free hand, one shot style of filming means there’s going to be some less visually interesting moments, but there are some moments when it takes Madison (or whoever is filming) several seconds to actually put the damn camera on the people fucking. It’s like she forgot she was filming or something. There are other scenes where the camera is bouncing so much it feels like you’re inside a hamster ball. Not appealing.

I just wish she would care a little bit more about the quality of the films she produces. Just because it’s porn doesn’t mean it should exist without standards.

This isn't the kind of wood I wanted to see. Buh-dum Ching!

Favourite couple:
Nicole and Peter

Nicole and Peter’s session starts off with finger sucking, kissing, slapping, and choking where you can see little other than Nicole’s pleasure and pain as it is expressed in her face. Where else Peter’s hands and mouth wander, that’s for the viewer to imagine. Occasionally Nicole makes eye contact with the camera, and her steady, unapologetic, fired-up-and-fucking-ready gaze is titillating in itself.

They move onto anal penetration, and I really appreciate that their communication wasn’t edited out, because women (well, everyone, actually) need to feel like they can say, “Can you use the smaller dildo first, then move onto the larger one?” This shit never happens in mainstream porn, and this is one of the few instances where I feel like Young’s “POV” piece actually nails it, because sometimes you’re just not ready for a giant dildo in your ass, but that doesn’t mean you’re not down to party. Nicole wasn’t worried about being a good “porn star” then, she was taking care of her own needs and fucking the way she fucks. Perfect.

The blow job scene (or strap-on sucking scene, whichever you prefer) is one of the better ones I have ever watched, mostly because both of them seem really into it and it’s very physical. I actually forget that Peter is wearing a strap-on and that Nicole is sucking and stroking a chunk of silicone. The fantasy becomes real for me in their moans, whimpers, heavy breathing, hair pulling, writhing, and occasional moments of delighted laughter.

Other Highlights:

- Moments where Young is clearly more interested in genuine facial expressions and the intimacy of an action than generic ass and titties shots.
- Beautiful women in lingerie (oh, and the Batman boxer briefs Peter wears)
- When Cherry stuffs Alea’s panties into her mouth, and later watching Alea’s pierced nipples bouncing back and forth while Cherry holds a Hitachi Magic Wand (with a condom on it, might I add) and her high heeled foot onto Alea’s clitorous.
- When Cherry is visibly overwhelmed in every way during and post-orgasm, cheeks flushed, with a somewhat dazed expression on her face when she embraces Alea. I know that feeling. I like seeing it in other people.
- Megan’s fantastic curls and naughty girlish-ness
- Nice angle when Megan is performing oral sex on Rita so you can see what Megan is doing while also seeing Rita’s face
- When Madison and Billie were makin’ out: awesome sauce
- When Billie was worried about coming “too much” while Madison fingers her, followed by Madison laughing and encouraging her, saying something like “you can’t come too much”, was pretty endearing and sexy

Joseph

I wanted Heartland to be good. In between when we reviewed Bride of Sin and when we received this to review, I had seen that Madison Young had actually won a few awards for her work. As you may recall, I hated Bride of Sin. Fiercely. So I thought (hoped) that maybe Young had improved significantly or that Bride of Sin was a terrible fluke.

If only.

Heartland was another example of Madison Young’s complete lack of regard for any of the aspects of filmmaking that require even the smallest effort. She is obviously interested in kink and fucking and sexuality but only in terms of how it relates to her and enables her to have a good time. Heartland seems more like an excuse to fly across the country and get paid to watch people have sex than it does a serious endeavor. It is almost like the documentation and presentation quality are afterthoughts.

This porn is also known as "poorly framing shots 101."

I feel like I am being generous when assuming that the reason the quality of her films is so low is that she doesn’t care. If she really does care then it means that she is hopelessly incompetent.

I won’t go into horrible snarky detail about all of the things wrong because I feel like Mimi has covered that well and it would echo very closely what I said about Bride of Sin, but I will say that I have seen many, many self-made YouTube videos with more care and consideration taken in their production.

Her aforementioned accolades are the main issue that I have with her work. Tons of people make terrible porn all the time. That’s no big deal. But Young’s terrible porn is being congratulated. I have to believe that the reason for this is because Young is one of the few female pornographers making female-friendly work, particularly with an emphasis on bondage or rough sex. Giving Madison Young awards for the terrible, half-hearted shit that she is making actually hurts the progress made by amazing pornographic filmmakers like Shine Louise Houston, Courtney Trouble, and the unique, passionate porn stars they employ.

At the end of the credits there is a quote from Madison Young: “If I can’t fuck, it’s not my revolution.” This paraphrases Emma Goldman’s famous stance that feminism cannot be something that restricts the life-loving, fun-having, radiant aspects of women’s personalities. That if she had to be well behaved and straight-laced to be a feminist, she wanted no part of it.

I think that she made a worthwhile point when she said that because there is a real debate going on about feminist porn. Violet Blue address the issue very well here. The problem I see is that either Madison Young made a flippant statement about fucking that was well received (it was part of her acceptance speech for Hottest Kink Film at the feminist porn awards) or she really thinks that she is a front runner in the feminist movement. I’m inclined to think the latter because people keep giving her awards.

Stop it.

The Naked Truth

Aesthetics: ★★½☆☆

Sound Quality: ★★★½☆

Creativity: ★★½☆☆

Overall: ★★★☆☆

Behind the Red Door

Behind the Red Door provided for review by Good Releasing

Mimi

I’m not much of a porn buff, so not surprisingly, Carlos Batts’ Behind The Red Door is my first experience with April Flores (or Fatty D), Kelly Shibari, and Ashley Blue. April Flores is the star – making an appearance in every scene except two short masturbation scenes – and the overall aesthetic of this porn seems centered around April Flores’ colourful, bold, and feminine persona.

The premise is very simple in concept: April Flores goes from room to room, exploring the “dolls” who inhabit them – Syd Blakovich, Ashley Blue, Kelly Shibari, and Matador (an “action” figure). The visual and audio experience of behind the red door is a bit more complex, especially than your average porn, in that it employs a lot more play with editing, music, colour saturation, black and white film, and the actual moaning (or silence) of the performers themselves. It’s more like art than porn. Or given how loud the music is and how infrequently we hear moaning, slurping, or “FUCK”, it even seems like it could be a music video. A very naughty music video.

All of the scenes had their highlights, but my favourites were definitely the scenes with April Flores and Syd Blakovich (first scene) and then later April Flores and Matador. I have a bit of bias toward Syd Blakovich in that I am in love with her and have never disliked her performances. It’s true. Syd Blakovich sweating and smirking and spanking is pure awesome. However, there’s a lot of merit to this scene on its own. I never thought I could really appreciate foot play, but I got really into watching April Flores toe fuck Syd Blakovich while also sucking her toes. Their mutual aggressiveness, pleasure, and playfulness throughout this whole scene is flat out sexy, hands down. Oh, and there’s a chick money shot. Hell yes.

The scene with Matador starts out pretty humorous (the guy is wearing a costume, and you know, costumes just tickle me) and the black and white cinematography adds an element of film noir arty-ness to it. Gone are the bright colours, that vibrant hair and the sequins and the blue sparkling eyeshadow. The humor slips away pretty quickly as April Flores begins to suck Matador’s cock, getting spit on her face, messing up her hair and her makeup. While watching April Flores fuck him on the couch, I actually thought to myself, “Damn this is beautiful.” The glint of light on her face from all the sweat, spit, and tears, her hair all wild – to me, this is sex. Not that phony bullshit passed off as sex in advertisements, mainstream music videos, and general porn. Nope. April Flores brings the sex, ladies and gentlemen.

As I said, the other scenes of behind the red door had highlights – Ashley Blue’s legs (me-ow), Kelly Shibari’s giggling humor and sexy eyes, the clothing and costumes, the peculiar taxidermy “Animal Room”, the film repetition of specific moments when the performers are really enjoying themselves, the flashing lights and editing that emphasize the voyeurism taking place. I appreciate the seemingly experimental/to hell with the norm nature of the overall project. That said, I think it’s not working in a few areas.

1.)    Music. I was distracted a few times in the first scene because it kept going back and forth between the same two songs. This had a tiring effect, like I wanted the scene to be over soon.

2.)    Editing. In a few places the splicing, saturation, and repetition seemed excessive or just distracting. Nobody wants to be distracted by freakish flashes of yellow skin and the dildo that disappears into a black hole.

3.)    Sound. The limited sound being heard from performers worked for me in the first scene and the complete absence of it from a few others scenes worked for me as well. It didn’t later on in the film. Why? I think it’s because there were more facial close-ups and dynamic shots in the scenes that worked. The scene with Kelly Shibari and April Flores, for example, seemed a bit flat to me because I couldn’t hear anything from the performers. Nor were there visual clues hinting at the dynamism of the interaction. So I wasn’t left with much.

Overall, think behind the red door is pretty exciting and I want to see more of April Flores and/or Carlos Batts’ work. If nothing else, it’s another example of pornographers pushing boundaries and incorporating a more tangible aesthetic than what has been going on. God bless the art fags.

Joseph

Because Mimi gave such a thorough and accurate account of what it feels like to watch Behind the Red Door, I’ll be brief.

I agree with Mimi that there were certain parts of the performances that were quite hot but that did not save it for me. I attribute all of the hotness to the performers themselves and disagree with nearly every editing choice:

  • The music is distracting. Especially in the two scenes that the same two songs are on a loop but to some degree in every scene.
  • The jumpy, almost syncopated repetition of moments is overused.
  • Some of the camera work is just downright sloppy.
  • There is a several minute montage before any of the scenes begin that is imagery from the house interlaced with bits of the scenes to come that felt more like a trailer than an introduction.
  • The god awful CGI transition made it look cheap.
  • The over use of saturation and filters made me think of someone who has just learned about all the cool things that Photoshop can do and wants to tell you about it. In length.

For me, it comes down to the way I think about it. If I consider it a piece of art, then I can applaud the inventiveness and experimental nature of the whole experience and hope that the film maker makes it to graduation. If I think about it as porn (meant to arouse) I just think of it as an annoying failure. It is possible for something to be highly artistic and arousing, but this is not.

Oh yeah, and this text preceded the film:

“The sexual situations in the following adult feature are shown for educational and informational purposes only. We highly recommend that individuals follow the Surgeon General’s accepted guidelines for safe sex, which are monogamy, and/or adstinence [sic], or at a minimum, the use of a condom combined with a selective choice of sexual partners. We hope you find the following feature an enjoyable stimulation to your adult practice of safe sex. Thank you!”

Sheesh…aside from spelling abstinence wrong, they also claim that this is meant to be educational and informative? Either the film makers are being facetious or have some serious fears about the obscenity laws in America. Either way, that is weak.

The Naked Truth (we could not agree on ratings, so there are two sets)

Mimi

Aesthetics: ★★★½☆

Sound Quality: ★★★½☆

Educational Value: N/A

Entertainment Value: ★★★½☆

Creativity: ★★★★☆

Overall: ★★★½☆

Joseph

Aesthetics: ★½☆☆☆

Sound Quality: ★★☆☆☆

Educational Value: (hey, they claimed it was educational) ☆☆☆☆☆

Creativity: ★★★★☆

Overall: ★★☆☆☆

The porn that split up our marriage.

Roulette

Roulette provided by Courtney Trouble for review

Joseph

Roulette is Courtney Trouble’s nofauxxx.com first DVD and it is a doozy.

I wish that I had seen Roulette before Seven Minutes in Heaven: Coming Out. It is not that I didn’t like Seven Minutes. It was a strong offering, but I certainly was not blown away by it.

I was by Roulette. I fucking loved it.

Aside from having some of my favorite queer performers in it, the soundtrack kicked ass, the chemistry felt real for the most part, and the presentation was a near perfect mix of indie aesthetic and deliberate professionalism. The camera work is at times amazing and the sound and editing choices back them up beautifully. To top it off, Trouble breaks up the sex scenes and clears the proverbial palette with indie music videos. It was somewhat reminiscent of surfing the internet…you know, porn porn—oh hey, I wonder if Someband has new music video—porn porn porn….

Except that all the porn in Roulette is real and shot well and no one has implants or is crying and Roulette probably isn’t putting any viruses on my computer. Ok, maybe it is not much like surfing the internet.

The thing that really sold me on Roulette was the diversity of performers and scenes. We got to enjoy everything from an engaged pair of dudes fucking on a rooftop (Walter Crasshole and Nikolaj) to a gangbang with a few of my favorite queer stars (Jiz Lee, Syd Blakovich, Rozen Debowe, and Donny) to a burglar (Dia Zerva) masturbating while showering herself with stolen milk.

That diversity makes the focus of Roulette hot sex and not queers or bois or fags or anything else but Hot. Sex. It is beautiful.

Mimi

We haven’t watched or reviewed a great deal of porn so maybe this isn’t actually saying much, but other than as a joke (“Yes, it’s a SATYR porn! It’s hilarious!”) I have never wanted to show a porn to a friend. I’ve never thought, “Hot damn. This is fun as hell to watch.”

Part of what strikes me about Roulette is that it’s obviously porn on a mission (“bring art back.” is shown alone across a black screen at the very end of Roulette’s film trailer), yet there’s nothing overbearing, pretentious, or preachy about its tone. It comes across with a high amount of youthful, rebellious energy. Sexuality, lifestyle, gender identity, and age are all blurred and solidified and then broken down again. The lack of clarity, as opposed to being distracting, is really exciting. It feels more honest.

Of course, the energy of Roulette is greatly aided by music selections and the three indie music videos placed within the whole of the film. My favourite was Katastrophe’s Big Deal, which re-creates Andy Warhol’s famous Factory and his eventual attempted murder by Valerie Solanas. The song itself, the grainy black and white film quality, and the living character of Andy Warhol all fit together perfectly. The other two videos are for Scream Club and French Quarter. The style in which the last two videos are shot completely matches with the overall film – close-ups, hand held cameras, DIY attitude – so there’s no break in continuity.

Also, Joseph wasn’t exaggerating when he was talking about the mash-up of awesome people from various backgrounds and perspectives. Roulette is the winner of Feminist Porn Awards 2009: Most Diverse Cast. Well deserved. There’s a burlesque performer seduced by her real life girlfriend while attempting to prepare for a performance (she misses it); a wrestler who breaks into a teammate’s locker and masturbates with what he finds; two “fags in love” with bright pinkish-red mohawks and makeup drink a 40 and fuck on a rooftop; a seriously sexy blonde who breaks into someone’s house and masturbates with their milk – and so on. You get the idea.

Some of the sexiest masturbation scenes I’ve witnessed were in this film. I really didn’t think watching someone jerk-off while wearing gym socks on a locker room floor would turn me on, but it happened. Trouble’s curvaceous body lit by only a red light and her self-satisfying moans are certainly memorable. And I’m not sure that I will ever look at milk the same way again. Every scene appeared to be so genuine, so thoroughly enjoyed, so individualistic and respectful. How could it be forgotten or ignored?

I have laughed at porn, cringed at porn, fallen asleep while porn was on, masturbated to porn, fucked to porn, and liked porn… seldom do I love porn. So listen up, kids, I’m about to say something special: I heart Roulette.

The Naked Truth

Aesthetics: ★★★★★

Sound Quality: ★★★★☆

Educational Value: N/A

Entertainment Value: ★★★★★

Creativity: ★★★★★

Overall: ★★★★★

We’re not creepy! YOU’RE creepy!