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Thursday, May 8, 2014


One of the last works of acclaimed documentarian Michael Glawogger (58 when he died 4/14) is a selective tour of the international brothel scene. Alternately fascinating, depressing and challenging, it’s sumptuously designed in a manner that plays off (and frankly against) its disturbing subject matter. Divided into three sections, the film moves from fly-on-the-wall observation to confessional. We open with the shiny clean surfaces of a Thai ‘fishtank’ operation where the ‘girls’ are displayed behind glass, sitting expectantly as they wait to hear their number called. Things are far less antiseptic in the rabbit warren confines of a Bangladesh tenement workshop. Here, the halls are busy with clients, workers and the occasional sleeping child you need to step around. Then, to Mexico for Drive-Thru selection and a small bed in a warehouse cubicle. Climaxing, or rather NOT climaxing, with a XXX-sequence, probably necessary to complete the film arc. But Glawogger errs by having a cameraman in the room to get the ‘right’ shots, pornography instead of reportage. Surely a ‘fixed’ camera would have done the trick.

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