17 May 2016 | lor_
Ambitious porn noir project fails miserably
"Dark City" is one of those big-budget porn features with fancy packaging -the sort of videos Brad Armstrong released back in the day or Digital Playground's "Pirates" duo. This Adam & Eve release by Ethan Kane promises much and delivers little.
Parenthetically, many of its lousiest aspects were nominated for Adult industry awards -go figure.
A poor script, with lame narration, dooms the enterprise, but Kane's execution is faulty as well. He goes for a vaguely '40s period look, with striking camera placements (a plethora of overhead shots unusual for porn, where low-angle photography a la Orson Welles is ideal for showing XXX action and enlarging/distorting the private parts). But several scenes in the later reels are so severely under-lit as to be unusable (at least they would be rejected in a mainstream project), reminding me, only worse, of Clint Eastwood's ill-advised low-lighting emphasis in some of his '70s and '80s features before he wised up.
Tommy Gunn, his hair slicked back and looking more like B-movie icon William Smith than ever, is good casting as the ex-cop detective central character, but his performance is flat and his character uninteresting. Contract player Ava Rose is a beautiful leading lady, but the fascinating characters (think Lorre, Elisha Cook, Greenstreet, Zachary Scott) of the noirs of old have no counterpart here. Nominal villain Ron Jeremy (nominated for an award preposterously) is terrible with affected voice -just awful.
There is hardly any plot, just set-pieces as excuses to hang the XXX footage on. Rose's coming to Gunn with a case of a cheating husband is wholly uninteresting and not developed. The big night club scene where she gets to sing an award- winning (of course) torch song is just an intro to a pointless impromptu orgy. This is a case of pretentious porn masking the fact that only the sex matters -the dialog and story content are worthless. Seeming dream sequences are tossed in pointlessly without justification.
While going to the trouble of using atmospheric period costumes and physical stylings, the settings are haphazard -many key scenes look to have been staged in a lobby or under-dressed warehouse rather than representing the proper location. Worst anachronism is a highly photogenic big-fins circa 1959 Cadillac (putting me in mind of Welles' classic "Touch of Evil") that clashes with the decade or so earlier tone already established.
Among the extraneous sex performers, Marie Luv scored high marks as a prostitute Gunn visits when he's feeling down and out. I was feeling the same (having high hopes from the packaging of this video, which resembles a graphic novel), but without Marie's house call to cheer me up.