Portions of this review originally appeared on Fleshbot
“What’s better than Hollywood with a pool, some honeys, and some beer?” asks folksy Mud the narrator.
Carlos Batts’ “Young Hollywood” is a little like the Grover’s Corners of “Our Town”: everyone knows each other, there is a kindly narrator and, as the spirit of Death is ever-present in Thornton Wilder’s New Hampshire hamlet, so does Glenn Danzig hover above young Hollywood.
The similarities end there, though, because you’d never expect Emily Webb to flash her tits to get into a music video the way Mandy Morbid does.
Like last year’s “The Girls And Boys Guide to Getting Down,” “Young Hollywood” takes a snapshot of the short plain of city blocks south of the Hollywood sign, and makes no real distinction between porn performers and struggling actors (because there isn’t one).
Morbid and Lystra fuck on the Mustang parked in Danzig’s yard (it is actually Glenn Danzig’s yard; the Satan-appreciating “Mother” vocalist lives in Hollywood) and later spend some topless time talking about cosplay and Comic-Con. This is a slightly more believable kind of unreality than what is found in traditional porn videos; it is only because the camera was on that their conversation seemed so awkward, because that’s how the two of them actually talk.
It’s not a rule, but porn shot in the San Fernando (Porn) Valley often looks different from porn shot over the hill in Hollywood and downtown L.A. We meet Kimberly Kane on the set of a movie. She fucks Steven St. Croix on an art installation chopper and makes plans on her phone for going out later. No Porn Valley McMansion and no chirpy starlet, just the angular, frank, and badass Kane in a room festooned with Atari art.
A lot of porn movies come with behind the scenes footage, and it is there where any consumer can become well-versed in what it is like to shoot a porn movie. Often this footage is ten times more entertaining than the movie it accompanies. “Young Hollywood” takes a different angle and seeks to dramatize the backstage logistics. In that way it is like an X-rated reality show.
Adrianna Nicole looks particularly sirenesque in a bathing cap on a Hollywood roof. Downstairs she gets fucked in the shadows of the venetian blinds in an empty apartment. Something about the light identifies Los Angeles – that and the fact that, if Adrianna Nicole lived on the east coast, who would ever leave?
Natural light plays more of a role in Ashley Blue’s segment with Alex Gonz. It’s twilight in Los Angeles and they’re on the rooftop pool. This is a really good look for Blue, a very cool light.
The movie culminates at a party in Beverly Hills with fire dancers and carrying on. This scene is poorly lit and anticlimactic.
“Young Hollywood” succeeds in its music, its sense of place, and its very loving photography. The statements it seeks to make about celebrity and hanging out would be more effective without the narrator telling us what we already picked up from the action, though.