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The Last Porno Show

TIFF 2019 Review


Independent; 90 minutes

Director: Kire Paputts


Written by on September 22, 2019 




Arriving about two years after a series of revelations brought to public predatory behavior that’s been at the core of the film industry since its inception, Kire Paputts’ Toronto-based indie The Last Porno Show offers an unusual insight into when method acting becomes creepy, unprofessional, and unacceptable. Paputts is fully aware of what he’s doing in a film that is unafraid itself to peddle in the sleaze its budding cinema exhibitor dabbles in, gleefully earning its adults-only rating in its opening shot. It’s a magnum opus of I Am Cuba-esque magnitude where a camera travels from the porn screen, over the heads of the community that make up the cinema to its patron who died doing what he loved, manning the cash register behind a concession stand.

Wayne (Nathaniel Chadwick), the man’s son, is an aspiring actor with a day job, and hungry enough for any role. When he receives word from his attorney that the grimy cinema is in a gentrifying neighborhood, he returns to his old home–an apartment above the theater–and reconnects with the more disturbing aspects of his childhood. Raised by dad Al (Christian Aldo), there’s a good reason to be estranged–unlike Rachel Mason’s parents he’s not protected from the realities of running a hardcore adult business. Played mostly for laughs, The Last Porno Show makes an interesting companion to Mason’s personal documentary Circus of Books (due to appear on Netflix soon), where her family grew up as a curious and yet seemingly conservative Jewish family. While the Masons became distributors, Al goes one step further, performing in pornography while is his son hides in the next room. Later he reconnects with an actress who has taken up residence in the apartment next door.

The Last Porno Show enters truly uncomfortable territory when Wayne nails an audition that requires more nudity than one should expect for a film that will feature live sex. He sets about trying to understand his father, including directing a film of his own life that if it were not played for sometimes crude laughs might be something one might have found in an early Atom Egoyan film.

Paputts has crafted a crude comedy, yet one not without a heart of sympathy for the community of oddballs that in the age of the internet choose to get their kicks in a dilapidated cinema. The film is not quite a love letter to a rapidly gentrifying Toronto as low rise blocks give way to high rise glass apartments–it instead is a fascinating mix of tones that don’t quite meld even if it makes one’s jaw drop in disbelief. The director doesn’t shy away from the darker elements of the material, creating a lead character without much feeling as he plunges deeper into his art and nearly to the point of no return. At one point he sequesters himself in the theater despite being invited to hang out by a pretty co-worker.

The film’s redemption, however, is that it is occasionally funny and realistically provocative without a desire to tone it down, becoming a frank sex comedy wrapped in a dark character study. I’m not sure who the film is for, but if distribution is in its future, it’s one to see alone in the middle of the afternoon.

The Last Porno Show premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival.

See our complete TIFF 2019 coverage.


C+







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