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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

Lucky Bastard movie review: Nice Guy in porn-rage massacre

Lucky Bastard red light

Two contrived things, found-footage and porn, combine to create a flick that is distasteful and downright disgusting in so many ways.
I’m “biast” (pro): nothing

I’m “biast” (con): found footage is played out

(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

Murderous Nice Guys(TM) for the, er, win, again. Dave (Jay Paulson) is “a decent guy… a nice person,” and so he deserves to fuck a porn star. And thanks to a Web project by porn filmmaker Mike (Don McManus: Grand Piano), Dave is getting his chance, with XXX star Ashley Saint (Betsy Rue: Miss March)… and it’ll all be recorded for posterity and online sales. Now, Dave knows that the Lucky Bastard Web site gets a lot of bang out of making fun of the sorts of pathetic losers who think they deserve to fuck a porn star and then — invariably, as the site’s history with this conceit demonstrates — end up being completely inept at it, like maybe shooting their wad the moment they get a handful of porn-star boob. So there’s extra hapless entitlement in Dave’s anger when he gets precisely what he is fully aware is coming to him, and commences to enact violent revenge anyway. Two contrived things, found-footage and porn, combine here to create a flick that is distasteful and downright disgusting in so many ways — like how rape is meant to be titillating if a woman is the victim, but horrifying if the victim is a man — and even the acknowledgement that porn is phony fantasy made by people who don’t feel the least bit sexy making it cannot redeem it. (The sex is simulated: there’s no actual “real” porn here.) The scroll of text that introduces the film makes me wonder whether writer (with Lukas Kendall) and first-time director Robert Nathan — who’s mostly been a Law & Order writer; the scenario here is right outta SVU, and desperately needs Olivia Benson to rage at it — isn’t a creepy, frustrated Nice Guy himself. “For too long the adult entertainment industry has pushed the boundaries not only of obscenity but common sense,” we are informed. “Those who play with fire… eventually get burned.” That sounds an awful lot like Nathan is on Dave’s side. And that’s the only scary thing about any of this.


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Lucky Bastard (2014)
US/Can release: Feb 14 2014 (VOD May 16 2014)

MPAA: rated NC-17 for explicit sexual content

viewed on my iPad

official site | IMDb
more reviews: Movie Review Query Engine | Rotten Tomatoes

If you’re tempted to post a comment that resembles anything on the film review comment bingo card, you might want to reconsider.

  • LaSargenta

    “Those who play with fire… eventually get burned.”

    Really? Like the consumers of porn…without whom porn would not exist?

    Ffs.

    Stupid shithead writer Nathan.

  • ldkendal

    I wrote it too—please don’t forget to call me a shithead!

  • No, it’s the makers of porn, who torment nice decent guys, who will get burned.

  • I think you’ve just done the job for me.

  • ldkendal

    Haha! Thanks! lk

  • LaSargenta

    That was me. MAJ didn’t use the word.

  • ldkendal

    Well I’m here if you are so inclined. This is one of the most fascinating reviews of the picture. MaryAnn, thank you for your review and this forum.

  • LaSargenta

    Thhhhpppuuuuuuzz.

  • I have faith that someday, SOMEday, men will get over this idea that “ordinary” schlubs deserve to fuck incredibly beautiful women just because they want to. I have to have faith, because if I didn’t, I’d be looking for an island to found Themyscira on.

  • David

    So… who’s the protagonist? Who do we root for? Hey, I’ve got a great idea, how about the porn actress who’s just trying to make a living. I would love to see a horror film that actually asks us to root for “slut/whore” instead of killing her off a third of the way after she goes topless.

  • RogerBW

    David, don’t be silly, porn actresses aren’t real people.

  • LaSargenta

    tl/dr comment, but hey, wothehell

    Well I’m here if you are so inclined.

    Sorry, this is a confusing sentence in answer to my comment. The word ‘shithead’ didn’t appear in the review but in the first comment pasted, which was written by me. But, you seem to be inviting me to call you it (a) when I have already done so, and (b) in a way that still implies that MAJ called you that.

    At the risk of going all ad hominem, it appears you have a reading comprehension problem or perhaps you don’t like to listen…which means that writing a one-dimensional story about supposedly real people behind a one-dimensional (although frequently enjoyable) fantasy is probably all that you can do.

    “For too long the adult entertainment industry has pushed the boundaries not only of obscenity but common sense,”

    Whether you said this or Nathan did, you appear in your comments to be taking some degree of ownership. So, I’m here to tell you this is garbage. All entertainment companies push an envelope of sensationalism and all porn specifically does more than other visual entertainment is provide fantasies closely hewing to audience desires. There is so much data available in search engine requests about viewers’ sexual fantasies and kinks and many people who make porn use that data — those search terms — in addition to their own imaginations, to make the films. If anything, this is a collaborative art form, more than any hippie happening ever was (although far more commodified).

    You’re explicitly blaming the reflection and you’re implicitly claiming the one doing the desiring is a victim. Nothing wrong with someone watching and enjoying porn. There IS something wrong with that person turning the porn into a scapegoat.

    Everybody I know personally in the sex industry has, at some point or at many points, been terrified for their own safety. Making yet another movie which seems to say that targeting them is a good thing is clueless, shithead behaviour.

  • ldkendal

    LaSarganta, thank you for your reply. Actually I wrote that opening text, but Robert and I agree on everything in the movie. I do not believe I have any problem with reading comprehension. We intended Lucky Bastard to be a provocative and difficult film that would make people question and criticize some of the darkest impulses of our culture, such as our obsessions with sex, pornography, “humiliation” entertainment and thirst for fame. I want to assure you that I personally do not advocate murdering porn stars. To give an example of an artist much more talented and successful than I am, do you think Sasha Baron Cohen, when he is playing Borat, actually believes that foreigners are sex-obsessed rubes? Or is he playing a character to challenge the audience’s conceptions? We wrote that somewhat cheeky and ridiculous opening text to make it seem like Lucky Bastard was the most distasteful exploitation film of all time, so as to engage the audience into questioning why such exploitation films are made (the answer being because people like to see them). If people in the audience think we failed utterly, as you seem to, that’s your opinion and I have no problem with it. There were other viewers and critics who had a different opinion and seemed more attuned to our intentions, such as the reviewer at Complex.com (http://www.complex.com/pop-culture/2014/02/lucky-bastard-movie-review-found-footage). In closing, I truly believe that filmmakers who go all over the Internet crying because someone didn’t like their film are losers and I want to make perfectly clear that I truly appreciate and respect your opinion, and I want to thank you for watching the film and offering your viewpoint.

  • LaSargenta

    I am not the critic here. I am a reader of her work because, over time, I have found that her reviews (among other things) are helpful for me when I’m deciding what to spend my very precious time on.

    I have not seen your film. I am basing my comments on the synopsis gleaned from here and other spots on the web. That story does not seem fresh nor thought-provoking to me and, therefore, I doubt I’m ever going to take the time to watch it. Life is short.

    As for Borat (which seems a strained comparison for the simple reason that this is not a comedy), what I believe his intentions or beliefs are is irrelevant; what I see with Borat is someone giving a performance that allows much of the audience to laugh at the person or people being fake-targeted in the film in service of the parody. Then, those audience members get to let themselves off by saying “But, it’s a parody! You don’t think I really think like that, do you?” while they go about their completely unchanged lives. Those who don’t are probably already people who go out of their way to have assumptions challenged.

    Thanks for answering.

  • ldkendal

    Well…it’s fine if you don’t want to watch it, but you called my friend and director Robert “stupid shithead writer Nathan,” so I kind of assumed you had seen it. It seems unfair to call someone that if you haven’t even seen the movie.

  • LaSargenta

    The world has so much violence on women who supposedly ‘unmanned’ some guy who is convinced that all the world should lick his balls and thank him for the privilege. When reality intruded — like he should treat women like humans — he goes ape. I’ve been on the receiving end, and so has every woman I’ve ever met AND some men.

    When I read a synopsis or see a trailer that shows more of that shit, not only do I not want to waste two hours of my life on it , I also slot the writers, directors and producers into the yet-another-casually-misogynistic-shithead cubbyhole.

    You may think that is stupid, it may even be stupid, but you don’t look at the world while wearing my shoes. Suck up, not everyone thinks your work is likely to be groundbreakingly awesome. Especially when it uses the same old-same old tale where the chick bites it ’cause the guy gets his widdle feewings hurt but calls it parody.

  • ldkendal

    I honestly think you have some mistaken impressions about our movie. I can’t explain exactly, because it would give away the ending. Suffice it to say, the narrative you are criticizing is not the plot of our movie.

  • Your ending doesn’t negate LaSargenta’s perspective. You may think you’ve made a movie that’s subversive and questions the status quo, but it doesn’t.

  • This film does think it has a porn actress just trying to make a living as a nominal protagonist, though all the porn-producing characters share the protagonist role. But that opening text also indicates that the POV of this movie is that they deserve to be violently targeted by a Nice Guy they haven’t treated in the way that Nice Guy thinks he deserves to be treated. The filmmakers appear not to realize that this make the Nice Guy appear to be the protagonist. The filmmakers also appear not to realize that an attitude they may think is parody is indistinguishable from the reality than many men have publicly espoused.

  • Oracle Mun

    I know this movie predates the Isla Vista shootings, but the trailer reminds me a little too much of the shooter’s video manifesto.

  • Evan

    I agree with this sentiment. I found Borat to be a fail for precisely this reason. Too many people laughed at the results of Borat’s boorish behavior, rather than reflecting on the fact that his behavior was, in fact, racist and boorish.

  • ldkendal

    Lucky Bastard is now available on HULU and I would encourage people to check it out and decide for themselves: http://www.hulu.com/watch/678066

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