30th Philadelphia Film Festival: ‘Bad Luck Banging Or Loony Porn’ Reviewed

by Rachel Bellwoar

Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn

Written and Directed by Radu Jude

What’s important to remember with Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn is TV shows open with sexual content warnings all the time. Movies don’t. Even the wording of the warning that opens Jadu’s new film is noteworthy:  “extraordinarily explicit sexual content.” It’s not like those scenes were going to make it into the trailer, so while it shouldn’t be a surprise when the film opens with a three-minute sex tape (and it is only three minutes long), it all depends on whether or not you took the warning seriously (this is definitely a film where walking in late makes a difference).

Is there a double standard when it comes to sex versus violence in movies? Yes. Did Jadu need to show the sex tape? While it is at the center of the controversy in this movie – should Emi (Katia Pascariu) lose her job after a sex tape of her surfaces online – it doesn’t feel necessary. Granted, that could also be the point, since later at the parent-teacher conference the parents insist on the tape being played for everyone, but even when it’s played there it’s less about the footage than watching people’s reactions and the exhaustion in Pascariu’s eyes.

Unlike the American TV approach to the pandemic, where characters wear masks but then take them off right away (like exposure to Covid-19 doesn’t happen after you’ve said hello), all of the actors keep their masks on. Besides feeing more realistic, the hysteria of the parents only feels more pointed in that they felt they needed to have this meeting in-person.

The last third of the movie feels most in line with what the trailer promised. You don’t even the need the person checking temperatures at the door whistling the song from Kill Bill to know things are going to go badly, but it’s a welcome touch, especially after the first two third of the movie spend so much time testing viewers’ patience. Even the camera seems bored, trailing behind and getting ahead of Emi in the first third, as she walks around and carries out errands before the meeting (another thing the trailer leaves out  – how much of the film is silent). The second third is described as “a short dictionary of anecdotes, signs and wonders” which is basically just that, and while there’s plenty of food for thought in this section, there might’ve been other ways of packaging the food to make people more receptive. As the parents use the meeting as an excuse to voice their grievances in the last third, Bad Luck Banging could’ve been a great short film but is trying as a feature.

The 30th Philadelphia Film Festival runs from October 20th to October 31st. Click here for the full program.

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