What is this man thinking? Don’t ask, just go see ‘Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn’

Film · Ideas & Opinion · Reviews
Radu Jude, director of BAD LUCK BANGING OR LOONY PORN
Photo credit: Silviu Ghetie. Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures

He resembles an Every Man, doesn’t he? Someone Bertolt Brecht might portray in a play — in the good old days, the 1930s. He is the contemporary Romanian film director, Radu Jude, who, borrowing from Brecht for his edgy new movie, BAD LUCK BANGING OR LOONY PORN, puts his audience’s nose right in it. And when I say “it,” I mean, baby, be prepared. This detonating bombshell of a squirm-worthy, Zeitgeist-seizing, post-Communist, post-consumerist, post-romantic, post-Punk, post-urban squalor, post-individualist, post-privacy, post-authoritarian ruckus of a movie shows a society in which, if you so much as bump into someone, they will erupt into a filthy rant, a barrage of vile slander meritorious of the wretched mouth of Donald Trump.

Unnervingly(we’re seeing this in the U.S. every day), this aberrant, unacceptable behavior elicits not so much as a “ho hum.” It is normal.

Loony Porn concerns Emi (Katia Pascariu), a school teacher whose randy sex life (with her husband we are repeatedly informed, as though that is very important, but why should it be?), has been exposed when a personal sex tape is uploaded onto the Internet. This most banal premise, easy for anyone to imagine, forms the genius springboard from which Mr. Jude, the movie’s auteur, sketches, paints, and throws paint bombs at his audience in hot pink.

Katia Pascariu in BAD LUCK BANGING OR LOONY PORN
Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.

At the center of this imaginative, propulsive movie are several long tracking shots as Emi’s walks the mean streets of Bucharest toward a “Parent-Teacher meeting” (remember the PTA?). She has been summoned and her livelihood is in jeopardy. The dear parents, wishing to protect their precious bundles from a sex maniac, are sharpening their fangs. What gives “Loony Porn” its wonderful edge is not the demonic stuff, but the propriety with which our lady hero, the sole character in this nuthouse of a movie to keep her cool, hangs onto her dignity and integrity. She is a super hero. (That may be a spoiler.) The fact that she comes under verbal attack is not softened whatsoever by the fact that the actors are wearing masks — for a movie filmed during the COVID pandemic — which only adds another layer of despair to the proceedings. Mr. Jude, yes, his name translates as “Jew,” has hit the nail on the head.

After the massive success of Parasite (2019), and now, Looney Porn (2021), this viewer is left wondering why it is that cinema’s creators from the second world, Bong Joon-ho in South Korea and Mr. Jude in Romania, who ostensibly have less-rich resources to draw upon, are stepping up with courage and vision to tackle our civilization’s obvious decline … where are the American filmmakers of this ilk?

The tour of Bucharest is a scathing encounter with urban decay, crapola consumerism, noise and human unkindness that reads as a cautionary tale for our own society, inexorably sliding down the same slippery slope. A masterful movie.


Arts journalist Debra Levine is founder/editor/publisher of arts●meme.

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