Cast: Gry Bay, Mark Stevens, Eileen Daly, Thomas Raft, Ovidie, Morten Schelbech, Thomas Lundy, Seimi Norregaard, Patrick Agergaard, Thomas Lorentzen, Bastian the dog
Gry Bay enjoying some quality time in the kitchen with Mark.
Length: 91:37 minutes (Producer’s Cut); 78:14 minutes (Director’s Cut after edits for copyright issues)
Eileen and Thomas in the bedroom scene.
Date of Production: 3/8/2003 (box); 11/24/2005 (credits)
Eileen looked like a curvier Tina Tyler here.
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Extra's: The double disc set had a surprising amount of extras to ponder, the first disc including four audio commentaries; one by lead actress Gry Bay, another by secondary performers Eileen Daly & Mark Stevens, yet another by supporting actress Ovidie, and the last by production staffer Nicolas Barbano. Gry Bay’s commentary was the most personal of all of them in many ways, describing her experiences on set without anyone to bounce ideas off of while I found Barbano’s commentary the most informative regarding the movie itself. At this writing, I spot checked the other two commentaries after the first ten minutes (sorry but they did not have much to say of substance) but I fully intend to listen to them when I have some spare time. The high end box the release came in also folded out to display a 16 page booklet providing a lot of insight to the movie and a second disc of extras that included the choppy director’s edit of the movie, sans the parts of it that were edited for copyright issues. The director’s version was unfinished, had numerous bits missing from it, and was not processed to look like film as the other version so it came across more as a cheaply made BTS home movie yet it also showed that despite the problems with the lame camera work (it was presented in a 1.33:1 full frame color by the way), the 78:14 minutes left after it was cut up had some appeal too; as a record of the evolution of the final version if nothing else. There was then a 27:39 minute long feature about The Love Making of All About Anna that explained some of where the director was coming from, including the feminist roots of the production by Mads Tobias Olsen. I liked the extended version of the sex scene called Painting Anna’s Apartment that lasted 8:54 minutes as it was more playful and engaging, albeit rough; as well as the related 43:20 minutes of additional sex footage that was used to provide the final cut(s) of the movie; the 2:18 minutes of Bloopers, a photogallery, the Danish TV teaser and trailer, and a bunch of DVD Rom content. The DVD Rom content included a bunch of press material (geared towards the mainstream press), a plot synopsis, biographies of the cast & crew, some text about Danish Erotic Films, the screen play, and the original proposal and storyboard/step outline used to get the funding for the movie (that the director promptly discarded which led to the controversy of the dual versions of the movie).
Ovidie helping out Gry in wardrobe.
Gry masturbating in bed.
Audio/Video Quality: All About Anna was presented in 1.85:1 ratio letterboxed widescreen color as shot by director Jessica Nilsson and edited by the Producer for distribution in the USA by Wicked Pictures. Shot using a DVCam and MiniDV, the movie was an attempted crossover flick made from a mainstream point of view with touches of adult sensibilities by the music video director who was seeking to make a porno that women could enjoy with all the trimmings of a mainstream independent flick. While critically hailed by the art house film circuit as something unique and brand new, it was more of a low budget homage to films like I Am Curious Blue and companion film I Am Curious Yellow from the 1960’s when a wave of such movies swept the globe in the spirit of freedom permeating from the global move towards individual freedoms (said movement largely responsible for the entire American porn industry coming into existence). There was a lot of controversy surrounding the movie as it was made in Sweden, a bastion of sexual freedom for generations, but the director and producer’s had substantially different ideas about what kind of movie was to be made. This two disc set has both the director’s original version (sans many of the elements she used that had to be removed for copyright issues) and the reedited producer’s cut of the flick that emphasized the sexual nature of the original script more. Ms. Nilsson minced no words in claiming the final cut, released here as the producer’s version and main release, was not to her liking for a variety of reasons while Nicolas Barbano spent some time in one of the audio commentaries explaining what went wrong with When Johan Came Knocking; the original title. The result of all this conflict was that the end product suffered; looking more like an indie movie shot as a film school project than a porno in the American sense of the word. The camera work looked like most of the movie (both cuts) was shot on a boat in the high seas, the editing amateurish, and the pacing all over the place but the fleshtones were accurate even if the lighting was a mixed blessing. The video bitrate was all over the place too, ranging from the mid 2 to upper 7 Mbps rates but like the rest of the movie, it was quite inconsistent. Those of you that appreciate low budget arthouse films will be very familiar the style here, and not find any true penetration in the sex scenes. The audio was presented in a 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround English using a 384 Kbps bitrate, the music fairly well done for this type of budget but lacking even as an indie film with all the background noises, looping, and other stock practices included. There were English language subtitles for the hearing impaired too.
Body of Review: Wicked Pictures is often referred to as the premiere production company for pornography designed for couples. Their responsible use of condoms in all scenes, their dedication to making features (also called “story” porn) when almost all other companies have abandoned the genre for the cheaper gonzo productions that proliferate the market, and willingness to truncate the sex in favor of more story are all factors that have given them an edge for those of you that want something different than the old bump and grind. It is in that spirit that they licensed a Danish film called All About Anna for American distribution. The movie has been hailed as pornography for women by a woman and those of you that have watched the movies Candida Royalle has made for the last twenty five years will have a good idea of what to expect from it in terms of sexual exploration.
The story is about a gal named Anna (Gry Bay) who loses the love of her life when he leaves her for greener pastures. She throws herself in her career as a theatrical costume maker, eventually settles down with a man more stable that suits her needs, even as he lacks the excitement of her former heartthrob. She then decides that she too wants to live the free life without the societal strings holding her back; a desire to enjoy life to the fullest as much because she is afraid of losing someone else as her need for physical pleasure.
The movie shows Anna’s journey not with a lot of explicit sex (there were erect cocks and what looked to be simulated sex scenes like you see on late night cable) but thematically as she tries to figure out her place in life. The movie plays far more like a romantic comedy too, one of those low budget “we can’t afford actors or crew” type of flicks that I often enjoy watching more than the glossy productions shoved down our collective throats that seem so watered down by committee. As Anna is shown in a series of chapters marking significant moments in her life, she meets friends with libertine ways, travels, and finds that life in the fast lane isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be.
I’m not going to break down the minimalist sex scenes here as they were not only few and far between but tended to last a handful of minutes at best. In that sense, this was a movie coming from the mainstream side of things bridging the small gap that Candida’s movies have left over the years (in an interesting observation, her movies have no facials but show penetration whereas this movie has a facial but no penetration openly displayed). If you are looking for a stroke flick, this movie makes Wicked’s releases look ultra hardcore by comparison but if you’re looking for a movie to introduce a gal pal to, you could do far worse as it has some mainstream credentials to support the contention that it is “made for women”. In a related note, I watched it with a female friend, not a bed buddy mind you, and she found it “boring”, asking me to watch the movie laying about on the table (my recently reviewed Operation Desert Stormy HD strangely enough, her other choices were much more graphic and gonzo oriented; Evil Angel and Jules Jordan releases for the most part).
On a positive note, the movie did seem to capture some of life’s awkward moments fairly well (best example for me being Camilla getting an eye pop during her infamous seduction scene from Johan) and had it been made with a broader audience in mind, I think it might have fared better. Ovidie’s lesbian seduction was quite arousing for me as Gry responded realistically but it lacked the follow through needed for a porn lover like me. In short, I think All About Anna would find a broader audience if it were released by Criterion as an unrated mainstream movie than by Wicked Pictures as a porno “made for women” so I rated it as a Rent It, despite my misgivings about the genre and multitude of inept technical considerations that went into the movie.
Summary: All About Anna as distributed by Wicked Pictures had some great extras and as an arthouse flick with a touch of porn in it (too little in fact), I appreciated that it followed a long line of similar releases on both sides of the coin (mainstream/porn) but it was just as likely to appeal to anyone that doesn’t care for porn as only women, the weak acting and technical values hurting the one side of the issue while the weak sex impacting the other. In short, it was a bold move by Wicked Pictures to distribute this one since it is not really geared all that well to the porn mentality they are associated with but All About Anna was not without a charm of its own so give it a look, stick with the producer’s cut, and hold off on the spoiler laden extras until after you’ve watched the movie over a few glasses of wine to enhance the impact as much as possible.
---- You can email me with questions at Houstondon @ hotmail.com if you have any constructive criticism of the review too. :) Also you can follow me on twitter @HoustonDon