The Sarnos: A Life in Dirty Movies (2013)

Going in, I had no idea who Joe Sarno was, The synopsis sounded interesting, so I just dove in with fascination and open mind. And now, having seen the film, I think I’ve got a pretty good picture of who Joe was and what his films represent, and I’m glad for having the documentary a chance. The film does a very good general overview of Joe and his career, and from what I can tell, it also does a splendid job at doing Joe and his works justice that they deserved. The tone is very respectful and it really does celebrate his art, as do all the quest interviewees, who include amongst others, John Waters. The film is very honest about its interest in Joe’s life and never comes off as intrusive or sleazy. It instead manages to make his life seem really fascinating, and explain how his films have artistic merit to them, and convinces you as a viewer to want to track down copies of his films to experience them first hand for yourself. What else could you possibly hope from a biographical documentary? I’m a self confessed pink eiga fan, so I’m always up for a good soft core movie if the director has ambition to do more than a pure hollow skin flick. And Sarno’s movies certainly sound to be very intriguing pieces of cinema history that I absolutely must get around exploring in the near future. It’s just going to cost an arm and a leg to buy one, going by Amazon’s average prices when you add in the shipping charges. But anything for art, eh?

Overall, this was entirely solid and a real interest awakening experience. The film is also very sad in a way. You can clearly see the passion still in Joe’s eyes, he really wanted to make another film at his advanced age, but he was never able. It’s kinda heartbreaking, especially when he directly states that he wants to keep making movies as long as he’s breathing. At least in his last years people had started to internationally respect and celebrate his works, giving him the critical acclaim and long awaited recognition that he deserved.


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