James Westby – The Auteur (2008)
From the creators of Film Geek comes THE AUTEUR – a mélange of romantic comedy and raunchy satire set in the world of adult film. Director James Westby’s THE AUTEUR
is the story of renowned porn director Arturo Domingo (Melik Malkasian), the creative genius behind classics like Five Easy Nieces and Requiem for a Wet Dream, who has
arrived in Portland, Oregon to receive a Lifetime Achievement award at a film festival. Arturo is delighted at the prospect of reviving his sagging career, yet troubled that fate
would lead him to the hometown of his only true love, Fiona (Katherine Flynn). Encountering crazed fans, former collaborators, bitter enemies, and free-loving hippies, we follow Arturo as he frantically attempts to raise money for the film that could put him back on top: Gang Bangs of New York.
As an eight-year-old boy in a small Italian village, Arturo Domingo found copies of both Cahiers du Cinéma and Hustler under his parents’ bed, and it was then that his future as
the “Kubrick of porno” took root. Now mid-career, after a number of highly acclaimed films (like My Left Nut), he finds himself in a bit of a slump. His work has slipped since he parted ways with his longtime collaborator and star, Frank Normo, now the host of a wildly successful sex/travel reality show. Domingo also finds himself attending a retrospective of his work in Portland, Oregon and thinking obsessively about the lost love of his life so much that he can’t concentrate on his real mission: to finally screen the controversial director’s cut of his epic Vietnam-era flick, Full Metal Jackoff. This hilarious spoof is the brainchild of former Portland, Oregon video store clerk James Westby (Film Geek) who directs, writes, edits, and even composes some songs for the film. The various porno clips, all send-ups of cinema classics, are simply ingenious. Westby’s Portland location sets the film perfectly askew: At one point a very conspicuous, very Hollywood Domingo ends up in a rural commune called “Paradise,” where he gets a lesson in organic bud and chakras from frolicking nudist hippies. A cameo by Ron Jeremy, nostalgic use of Super 8 footage, and a great indie rock soundtrack round out the film, which ends in a truly unforgettable climax.
Arturo Domingo, hardcore porn director in a crisis, it’s whom we are following onto a film festival, held in his honor but then again just giving him fresh evidence about how his fan base seems to be dwindling. An experience that is coming all the harder on him because he’s not just a porn director. He’s an auteur. And that’s where we’re already at
the heart of the parody. Which doesn’t make fun so much of the blue movie but rather the normal film business itself. As the auteur has actually been a student of USC film school,
no less. And his film titles, like “Five Easy Nieces”, strangely remind us of well known film classics anyway. Also, whatever happens in his films, it has to fit the story. There’s in fact
a plethora of fun references to films and popular culture of the seventies onwards mingled into the plot of the auteur trying to regain his lost status and creativity. Likely many more than I realized and all of them very well done. So for a film friend, having all this served draped up in a fairly mild porn setting, is already thoroughly entertaining. But what makes the film really amiable is an assemblage of very likable characters, each having their very personal weaknesses and strengths. Most of all of course the lead character himself, who’s perfectly projecting the strange mix of South European melancholy, passion and pride, but the people surrounding him just the same. Including two cops you would be looking for your entire life. In fact, this has been one of the better, rather quiet comedies I’ve seen in quite some time. Thorough fun, including some good laughs and, as said, all the more entertaining for the film buff. Who will, as in so many other things, take delight in recognizing one of the last dialog lines being that famous quote from Chinatown: “this must hurt – only when I breathe.”Liked it a whole lot. Very recommended.