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Archive for July, 2007

New Thriller Is Like Black colored Mirror for Cam Women

In the new thriller Cam, which premieres simultaneously in Netflix and in theaters on Friday, pretty much everything that camera girl Alice (The Handmaid’ s Tale’ s Madeline Brewer) fears might happen does. What surprises, though, is the specificity of her fears. Alice is reluctant, of course , that her mom, younger brother, and the associated with their small town in New Mexico will discover her night job. And she’ s probably not alone in her worries that a buyer or two will breach the substantial but understandably imperfect wall that she has constructed between her professional and private lives. But most of her days are spent fretting about the details of her work: Does her take action push enough boundaries? Which usually patrons should she progress relationships with— and at which will others’ expense? Can the girl ever be online enough to crack her site’ s Top 50?

Alice is a making love worker, with all the attendant dangers and occasional humiliations— which moody, neon-lit film never shies away from that simple fact. But Alice is also a great artist. In front of the camera, she’ s a convincing actress and improviser as the sweet but fanciful “ Lola. ” Behind tranny it, she’ s a writer, a home, and a set custom made. (Decorated with oversize blooms and teddy bears, the free bedroom that she uses as her set seems to be themed Barbie After Hours. ) So when the unimaginable happens— Alice’ s account is hacked, and a doppelgä nger starts performing her act, with less originality but more popularity— her indignation is ours, as well.

The film finds stakes— and a resolution— whose freshness is hard to understate.
But Cam takes its period getting to that mystery. That’ s more than fine, while the film, written by past webcam model Isa Mazzei and first-time director Daniel Goldhaber, immerses us inside the dual economies of sex work and online interest. The slow reveal of the day-to-day realities of cam-girling is the movie’ s true striptease— all of it surrounded by a great aura of authenticity. (Small-bladdered Alice, for example , constantly apologizes to her clients for the frequency of her bathroom visits. ) And though Alice denies that her chosen career has anything to do with a personal sense of female empowerment, the film assumes an unspoken although unmissable feminist consideration of sex work. The disjunct between Alice’ s seeming regularness and Lola’ s i9000 over-the-top performances— sometimes involving blood capsules— is the hint of the iceberg. More fascinating is the sense of protection and control that webcam-modeling allows— and how illusory that can become when natural male entitlement gets unleashed coming from social niceties.

If the first half of Camera is pleasantly episodic and purringly tense, the latter half— in which Alice searches for her hacker— is clever, imaginative, and wonderfully evocative. A form of Black Mirror for camera girls, its frights will be limited to this tiny slice of the web, but no less resonant for that. We see Alice strive to maintain a certain regular of creative rawness, even as she’ s pressured by machine in front of her to get something of an automaton herself. And versions of the picture where a desperate Alice telephone calls the cops for aid in the hack, only to be faced with confusion about the internet and suspicion about her job, have doubtlessly played out out countless times in past times two decades. At the intersection of your industry that didn’ to exist a decade ago and an ageless trade that’ s seldom portrayed candidly in popular culture, the film finds stakes— and a resolution— whose freshness is hard to understate.

The wonderfully versatile Brewer, who’ s in just about any scene, pulls off essentially three “ characters”: Alice, Alice as Lola, and Bizarro Lola. It’ t a bravura performance that flits between several facts while keeping the film grounded as the plot twists make narrative leap after narrative leap. Cam’ ersus villain perhaps represents extra an admirable provocation when compared to a satisfying answer. But with such naked ambition on display, who could turn away