Combustible Celluloid
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With: Katia Pascariu, Claudia Ieremia, Olimpia Mălai, Nicodim Ungureanu, Alexandru Potocean, Andi Vasluianu, Ion Dichiseanu
Written by: Radu Jude
Directed by: Radu Jude
MPAA Rating: NR
Language: Romanian, with English subtitles
Running Time: 106
Date: 01/21/2022

Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn (2022)

3 Stars (out of 4)

F--ked Tape

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

I saw it some weeks back, and it took me two tries, but I'm still not sure what to make of Radu Jude's Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn. It's certainly not like any of the other slow-paced, deeply thoughtful Romanian films I've seen (Jude worked as an assistant director on The Death of Mr. Lazarescu), but then it's not like most films I've seen, from anywhere. (It may have some Peter Greenaway or Dušan Makavejev-type DNA in it.)

It begins with the aforementioned porn, as a married couple captures their enthusiastic and varied sex — you know, good for them! — on video. In the next sequence, the wife, Emi (Katia Pascariu), runs some errands around town, and occasionally takes calls about some kind of upcoming meeting, related to the video, which has been leaked online. Then, for some reason, we get a weird montage, showing various things or ideas, accompanied by visuals that either ironically, angrily, or shockingly describe that thing or idea. It's hard to explain, and it's where I gave up, irritated, the first time through.

We get to the meeting, wherein various teachers have agreed to vote on whether to support or fire Emi. A debate begins, and rages for some time. Many of the speakers are openly hostile or blatantly hypocritical, with few voices of reason. Ideas are quickly and easily misconstrued, and attacked. One woman even insists on showing the entire video again, you know, for the record. (She's downloaded it to her tablet, you know, for evidence.) An unseen man keeps laughing like Woody Woodpecker for some reason.

If this is not enough, then Jude provides three alternate endings, the final one you won't believe, even after you've seen it. I suppose the best that can be said for Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn is that, unlike many films, it makes its viewers actively think, rather than offering a pre-planned thesis. And, once you've seen it, you keep thinking about it.

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