Welcome to Film Swappers, where Chris and Branden force the other person to watch any movie of their choosing. The only rules are that the films chosen have to be one that the other person hasn’t already seen, and they must be watched and reviewed.


Film Swappers #2
Confessions of a Porn Addict (2008) and Bear City (2010)

Confessions of a Porn AddictTitle: Confessions of a Porn Addict (2008)
Director: Duncan Christie
Runtime: 80 minutes
Viewer: Chris

Pre-Viewing Thoughts
I was super excited to see this. A documentary about a porn addict? That sounds like it’s right up my alley.

Summary of Film
A repentant porn addict enlists the aid of his filmmaker friend and his Porn Addicts Anonymous sponsor in hopes of convincing both the judge and his ex-wife that he’s given up smut once and for all

Chris’ Take
First things first: this isn’t a documentary like I thought it was going to be. Thankfully I read the Netflix description before diving in, so the shock wasn’t too bad. However, I think this would have been a much more enjoyable film if it was, in fact, a documentary.

I’m kind of lost on where to start with all of the cons this film offers. It starts off slow and unfunny. Our hero isn’t likable at all, and in the first act of the film, I laughed only once. The real problem is that the mockumentary aspect of this film is uneven. It’s clear that the filmmakers knew what they wanted to do with the second half of the film, but they just weren’t sure how to get there. Once that second half does start, the movie really pulls itself together. The director has a clear vision of what he wants, and delivers. It’s also the first time we get uncensored nudity, which is nice.

I also have to say that the porn director in the second half of the movie easily steals the show, and I’d rather watch a mockumentary about him than our boring porn addict.

Another aspect that bothers me is the final moments of the film. They play out like as a direct rip-off of “Snuff” by Chuck Palahniuk. Of course the film was released before the book came out but “Snuff” takes this same idea, and goes with it full steam, which Confessions fails to do.

Is Confessions of a Porn Addict just that bad? Well, no. The last thirty minutes or so really pull the film together and provide some solid laughs (and lots of boobs). Are the first forty minutes of crap worth watching to get to the good bits? Not really, but you can always fast forward without the fear of missing any plot points.

one_star


Bear CityTitle: Bear City (2010)
Director: Douglas Langway
Runtime: 93 minutes
Viewer: Branden

Pre-Viewing Thoughts
It’s safe to say that if it weren’t for Chris making me watch this, I probably never would have. Not because of the subject matter, but because it isn’t a horror movie, or a documentary, and that’s mainly what I use my Netflix Instant Queue for. I knew this was a film about the gay “bear” community (read on if you don’t know what that means), but other than that, I knew absolutely nothing about this film. I was interested to dive in mostly because of said subject matter.

Summary of Film
Trying to boil Bear City down into a genre might be difficult, but it’s essentially a coming-of-age romantic comedy. The story follows a group of friends that are all part of the gay “bear” community in New York City. For those that have no idea what I’m talking about (and I did coming in; one of the perks of being a theatre major), a bear in the gay community is a man, often heavyset, that is very hairy. These men are in contrast to “twinkies”, which are generally much smaller, skinnier, and more effeminate gay men. Tyler, a twinkie himself, is trying to come to terms with the fact that he is attracted to these larger, hairy guys. He equates admitting this to “coming out twice”. His roommate, an incredibly effeminate, and hilariously adorable gay man named Simon, is not into the bear scene at all, and Tyler is embarrassed to come out to his friends. It takes an unlikely encounter at a gay bear club to take Tyler’s life in a completely different, and much harrier, direction.

Branden’s Take
It needs to be said right off the bat that homosexual males are some of the my favorite people in the world. Many of my closest friends growing up were homosexual, and I always had a blast with them at the gay clubs, and being a part of that community. Bear City reminded me exactly why I enjoy these guys so much: they can be some of the funniest people on the planet. Bear City had me laughing my butt off. More than that, though, the film has a genuine heart that is tough not to fall in love with.

Tyler’s story is told well, and filled with different layers. There is more than a love triangle at play here; it’s more like a love orgy, which fits for this film. Aside from the hero’s main quest to find love, there is a group of supporting characters that are fleshed out incredibly well, especially for such a low-budget, independent film like this. One couple is Carlos and Michael. Michael (played by Gregory Gunter) is a heavyset, unemployed man who believes that if he has surgery to lose weight, he will be able to find a job. Carlos, who loves Michael because of, not in spite of, his weight, is completely against the idea. These two have the most soap opera-like relationship in the movie, but I’ll be damned if I didn’t fall for their story, hook, line, and sinker.

A second couple is Brent and Fred. These two are struggling to decide if they will stay in a closed relationship, or open it up. Tyler moves in with the two of them, making that decision even more difficult. Brent – played flawlessly by Stephen Guarino – was by far my favorite character. He is absolutely hysterical, and has wonderful comedic timing. His relationship with Fred is genuine and relatable.

Bear City has its fair share of problems, though, too. The biggest flaw of the film has to be the melodramatic feel that some of the scenes are given thanks to the choice of background music. I felt like I was watching a homosexual soap opera, but in feature length form. Admittedly, some of the laughs this movie got from me were because of these musical choices. The acting also helps play into this melodramatic world that is sometimes created in Bear City. Some of the actors were much better than others, but I could live with that thanks to the fully realized characters that writers Douglas Langway and Lawrence Ferber were able to create.

This movie is definitely not for everyone. There is a lot of large, hairy male booty flying around, and it has that hint of melodrama that is sure to turn some people off, but I had a blast with Bear City. There’s something to be said about an independent film that is able to create such real, interesting, and likable characters, and Bear City does just that. If you’re feeling adventurous, I highly recommend this one.  I’m genuinely excited to watch the sequel, which came out this past year, and stars most of the same actors.

three_stars


Thanks for reading Film Swappers! You can follow Chris on Twitter @Wolverinefactor.

Branden Chowen
Editor-in-Chief at Cinefessions
Branden has been a film fan since he was young, roaming the halls of Blockbuster Video, trying to find the grossest, scariest looking VHS covers to rent and watch alone in the basement. It wasn't until recently, though, that Branden started seeking out the classics of cinema, and began to develop his true passion for the art form. Branden approaches each film with the unique perspective of having studied the art from the inside, having both a bachelor's and master's degree in acting. He has been a film critic since 2010, and has previously written for Inside Pulse Movies, We Love Cult, and Diehard Gamefan. His biggest achievement as a film critic, to date, has been founding Cinefessions and turning it from a personal blog to a true film website, housing hundreds of film and television reviews, and dozens of podcasts.