"I guess the interviews on the DVD prove it is and that sex for the majority of the participants in the industry is a job to be performed well. I actually felt sorry for the men - envious of their 'size', but sorry for them in their chosen profession as they seem so poorly remunerated.
There are naked bodies all over the place, but no sex and that makes this particular DVD all the more authentic. The theme of a photographer creating a book of nudes and essays is not new, the sheer number of naked bodies scanned in detail by the movie cameras make this a good piece of entertainment as well as informative. The bonus bits and pieces make the few dollars well worth spending. "
It's about time someone spotlighted the positive side.
Robert P. Beveridge | Cleveland, OH | 08/01/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Thinking XXX (Timothy Greenfield-Sanders, 2004)
I've been stepping up my watching of documentaries these past few years. Sort of a combination of feeling like too much of the time I spend in front of a screen is wasted and wanting to find out more about subjects that I know nothing, or little, about. It's not that much of a sacrifice when you've got stuff like this out there waiting to be seen. Celebrated photographer Timothy Greenfield-Sanders, while taking the photos for his book XXX: 30 Porn-Star Portraits, decided to film the process as well. The result is a fascinating look at the people behind the porn, as it were.
One (or, at least, I) always expects porn stars to be nice, bubbly, somewhat vacuous. I know, prejudice is a horrible thing, but there it is. And to be fair, a few of the folks who get camera time here come off exactly that way. But the majority are quite another thing entirely. Everyone, by now, knows the Jenna Jameson story, how she went from being "just another porn star" to being one of the biggest movers and shakers in the adult entertainment industry. (One of the interviewees notes that the E! True Hollywood Story episode on Jenna Jameson was the series' most watched episode of all time.) that sort of drive, intelligence, and ambition is very well represented here, and by many more stars than Jameson. Yeah, there are a lot of naked bodies to look at, and they're aesthetically pleasing, but the flesh on display is not the only attraction here; these people, and the other commentators Greenfield-Sanders ropes in to give their opinions (among them Gore Vidal, Nancy Friday, Karen Finley, and John Waters), really have interesting stuff to say about the business, about their lives, about the cultural mystique that allows such an industry to become the billion-dollar juggernaut it is. These is good people, these is! (And I had no idea Nina Hartley was still making movies-- I remember her from almost a quarter-century ago. More power to her!)
As well as all that, there's what (I assume) Greenfield-Sanders originally set out to document, the art of composing the pictures themselves. He works on antique equipment, so this isn't just a documentary about point-and-shoot camera technology. Even if it were, his idea here-- portraits of the stars clothed, then nude, in the same positions-- required a lot of forethought, a lot of retakes, and, no doubt, a lot of patience from everyone involved. Ever wonder what goes into one of those big coffee-table books of photography? I have little doubt that what Greenfield-Sanders shows us is no more than the tip of the iceberg, but it's enough to get a person wondering.
Rent this, send the kids to bed, and watch it. Prurient interests aside, I think you'll learn something. This one was definitely not filed in the "wasted time" folder in my head. **** "
In Their Own Words
Rod Rambush | Planet Z | 06/24/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"A companion to photographer Timothy Greenfield-Sanders book on porn stars, THINKING XXX is an entertaining glimpse into the world of porn from the actual porn stars who make it happen. The documentary itself, not surprisingly, is about the photographs, how they came about, why Greenfield-Sanders (a very noted photographer who has photographed presidents) was interested in porn stars, and what he is trying to show with his photos. This alone is worth watching. But it is not the best part of this dvd.
The best part comes in the extras, especially the porn stars themselves simply talking about their lives in the industry. Some of it is poignant, some sad, some hilarious, some pompous (with the award on that one going to Sunrise Adams, who we tells us, her voice full of self-importance, that she's "a very complex person"). This stuff is better than any porn movie script.
Also worthwhile are some of the commentaries. Gore Vidal making a buffoon of himself by blathering on about political theory a la some lefty professor who thinks he is more clever than he really is because of his ability to weave together disparate strings of social/cultural phenomena into some vaguely coherent whole, not recognizing just how loose his associations really are. Whitley Strieber comparing his ostracism as a UFO abductee to that of porn stars. Karen Finley talking on without realizing just how irrelevant her feminist viewpoint is to people outside her ideological bubble. Really, it's good stuff.
And then, also in the extras, some clips from the opening shows in New York and LA, where porn stars get to feel all mainstream by mingling with Ben Stiller and his girlfriend. I loved the part where Stiller's girl states to some porn star, "Oh, that's so great." Yeah, sure, if it's so great, break up with Ben and do porn yourself! Entertaining in that certain way in which we see the humor in completely different people trying to act like they're really all in it together, THINKING XXX, in addition to being fun viewing, reminds us why porn is more fun the less respectable it is."
Deborah M. Chasteen | 12/03/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The conceit for this project is trite, and the difference in the respect shown to the commentators and that shown to the performers belies the director's stated aim.
However, do rent this, purchase it used, do whatever you need to do to see Lou Reed's hilarious recitation of porn tropes in the "Extras." It's the Lou you thought you'd never see; relaxed, genial, laughing and genuinely funny, playing off his own myth."
Bryan A. Pfleeger | Metairie, Louisiana United States | 01/14/2009
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Timothy Greenfield-Sanders has photographed artists, rock stars, actors and presidents. In 2004 he turned his large format camara on another group of celebrities, porn stars. Choosing to shoot his models twice: once fully clothed once naked Greenfield-Sanders creates images that are both erotic and thought provoking.
This HBO documentary is essentially a making of feature for his book XXX:Thirty Porn Star Portraits. The stars are interviewed as they prepare for the shoot, at home and even in traffic. What the film does is make the stars real people. Some have great things to say about porn in our culture. They address race, AIDS, money making and the business aspects of porn. These are all stars of the industry and very few have anything negative to say about their chosen profession.
The actual film runs an hour in its extended version but the true worth of this package is the extended interviews with all thirty models. The interview segment run about two additional hours and features a lot of insights into the businesss of sex and those who are engaged in it. Also featured is about an hour of interview material with writers and cultural figures who try to explain the porn phenomenon. There is a photo gallery of Greenfield-Sanders work and some clips from the New York and LA gallery openings.
While this offering may not be for all tastes there is a wealth of cultural information here that is worth checking out."