Monday, February 10, 2014

Whew! Robert Nathan's LUCKY BASTARD is one hot found-footage/porn-thriller/mockumentary

As found-footage/porn-thriller/mockumentaries go (and, yes, this is the first of this kind of genre mashh-up we've seen), LUCKY BASTARD -- the funny, nasty, scary, and a little too believable movie from first-time director Robert Nathan (better known for writing and producing successful television), who co-wrote his film with Lukas Kendall -- is the sui generis find of the month, maybe the whole year. It grabs you from first frame onwards, has a cool surprise immediately in store, then becomes, by turns, humorous, satiric, ugly, scary and very suspenseful.

Misters Nathan (shown at right) and Kendall (below) appear to know a bit about the porn business (or have watched the right movies to learn) and so they manage to both send it up and take it into a realm we've not yet seen on screen. The movie never loses that faint, sometimes rather heavy, scent of the sewer as it moves along (which, given the kind of climate in which most pornography is produced, seems fair enough), even as it implicates viewers from beginning to end in our own desire to watch something forbidden, sexy and transgressive.
Yet it also succeeds rather well in all of the genres it jumps: the satire and comedy of mockumentary, the thrills and suspense that all good what'll-happen-next? movies provide, and maybe just a tad less so in that lately overused found-footage area (even though there are many hidden cameras in the home used for porno shoots and reality shows in which the movie-within-a-movie is shot, you may still question how certain filmed sequences came into being). But that last genre turns out to be the least of it. Most viewers will appreciate Lucky Bastard purely as a hot little porn thriller-cum-mockumentary movie.

Nathan and his crew have cast the film quite well, too. Every last actor seems both real and entertaining as they go through their paces: fucking, filming, and finally becoming victims. (The film begins at its end, with the police arriving on the scene, and then goes back in time, so you'll pretty much know what you're in for from the outset.)

The story here tells of the Lucky Bastard porno web site, in which each month one paying member on the site is chosen to have actual sex, filmed of course, with its triple XXX star, Ashley Saint (a very good job by Betsy Rue, shown above). This month's "winner" (nicely portrayed in slow-burning degrees of disintegration by Jay Paulson, below), is a young man named "Dave," who seems to understand the importance of being Ernest.

The crew and other actors are well delineated by performers who both look and seem "real" while adding that extra kick that good actors always provide. These include Catherine Annette (below, right) as an up-and-coming, would-be porno star; Lee Kholafai (at right, two photo below) as a current hunk on the porno circuit; Chris Wylde as the goofy cinematopgrapher; and Lanny Joon, and the good-guy jack-of-all-trades on the set. They all play decent and sometimes rather charming characters, so you'll miss them as they begin to disappear.

The film's best performance belongs to actor Don McManus (above, left) as the porn director and owner of the web site, whose avarice and smarts combine to make this guy a user of remarkable skills. He may be the one character you'll feel gets what he deserves. The others serve as rather sad bystanders, accidental victims of the kind of surrogate sex that our society so skillfully serves up.

Lucky Bastard may leave a distinctly sour after-taste in your mouth, but it's a very well made piece of dark, nasty entertainment. The movie -- from CAVU Pictures and running 94 minutes -- opens this Friday, February 14 (gosh, for Valentine's Day!) New York City at the Cinema Village and  and then in Los Angeles on March 7 at Laemmle's NoHo 7.

Note: opening weekend personal appearances at the Cinema Village will include:  Friday,  Feb. 14 at 7:15 with filmmaker Robert Nathan & executive producer/co-writer Lukas Kendall;  Friday, Feb. 14 at 9:30, introduction by filmmakers;  Saturday, Feb. 15 at 5:00 & 7:15 - with filmmaker Robert Nathan & executive producer/co-writer Lukas Kendall; Saturday, Feb. 15 at 9:30 - introduction by filmmakers; and  Sunday, Feb. 16 at 5:00 & 7:15 - w/ filmmaker Robert Nathan.

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