Movies dealing with the porn industry are part of the ongoing 63rd Berlin International Film Festival

Love, sex and dhoka played an important part at the 63rd Berlinale. The 10-day film festival, which ends on February 17, has quite a few films dealing with the porn industry. If the charming love story Don Jon’s Addiction looked at the consumption of porn in the present day, then Lovelace looked at Deep Throat, Linda Lovelace, emancipation and the sexual revolution of the Seventies.

The Look Of Love has British director Michael Winterbottom giving a modern twist to the Midas tale. Based on the life of Paul Raymond, who became a millionaire many times over from strip clubs, erotic magazines and theatres, the movie follows the rise and fall of the king of sleaze.

Interior. Leather Bar, directed by Travis Mathews and James Franco, looks at the infamous lost 40 minutes of William Friedkin’s 1980-film Cruising starring Al Pacino as an undercover cop investigating New York’s underground gay and S&M scene. The 40 minutes were allegedly cut to get a more acceptable rating.

Of loss and betrayal

However, while the four movies are about sex and the commodification of it, at its core, the films are about love, loss and betrayal. The frighteningly talented Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who directed, wrote and starred in Don Jon’s Addiction, said he wanted “to explore how media can impact our culture. I am passionate about how media can effect our lives. Whether we intend it to be important or not, it has become important in our lives. In the 21st Century, we consumed the media while in the new millennium, we participate in it.”

In the movie, Gordon-Levitt plays Jon Martello who seems to be “the” guy — he always scores with the women, has the perfect body and apartment and is the good son attending family dinners and going to church regularly. There is, however, one problem — he is addicted to Internet porn. When he meets Barbara (an absolutely sparkling Scarlett Johansson), he has to make changes. It is, however, only after he meets Esther (the always dependable and effortlessly brilliant Julianne Moore), a widow, that he truly embarks on a journey of discovery.

From this day and age when porn is available at the click of the mouse in the privacy of your bedroom back to a time of adult movie theatres is where one goes with Lovelace. Amanda Seyfried acts as Linda Lovelace, the star of Deep Throat. Directors Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman said, “The challenge was to convey porn as something special. Earlier, porn was something furtive. Deep Throat created a pornographic experience in a public space. We tried to create that. We are in a different place now as far as porn goes, as the genie is out of the bottle and it is not going back.”

While the movie uses Deep Throat as a peg, it is really about the relationship between Linda and her abusive husband Chuck Traynor whose charming ways hide the insecure, manipulative man within. Traynor batters Linda repeatedly heaping indignities upon her till the levee breaks and Linda opts out. In a fascinating irony, Sharon Stone whose sex symbol credentials are undoubted, turns in a masterful performance as Linda’s oppressive mother who tells Linda her duty is to obey her husband no matter what.

The Look Of Love also while following the life of Raymond, tells the story of the times and of Raymond’s relationship with the women in his life. Gordon Levitt, who counts Dr. Strangelove, Mike Nichols’ and Quentin Tarantino’s films as his inspiration, says he chose the comic route to speak of serious themes in his movie. Ditto for sex — what better way to present zeitgeist than through a risqué journey through lurid corridors of time? Yeah baby yeah!

(The writer is in Berlin at the invitation of Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan)