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By David Finkelstein | July 10, 2003

Constructed from found porn video footage, “Noema” extracts the awkward moments when couples are rolling over, shifting themselves, and otherwise arranging themselves. We also watch the moments when the camera drifts away from the action to show the unspeakably horrid paintings and furnishings which form the backdrop of porn. These non-transcendent moments of porn are arranged in urgently repeating loops. The images have been colorized in decidedly unerotic tones of yellow and green. The sound score, partly a plangent melody for strings, partly the sound of a crowd cheering at a sports event, is cut up and looped to match the images.

At first, “Noema” seems to simply highlight the bad videography and bad sex which permeate the porn genre. Nevertheless, it is immediately appealing to watch. (Even to a gay man like me who is not particularly interested in straight sex.) The film utilizes the fact that virtually any image and sound, rhythmically looped, becomes mesmerizing and seductive. The “in between” moments of sexuality, where, expertly or inexpertly, we arrange ourselves for flights of bliss, reveal that f*****g is a creative and orchestrated act, where couples must cooperate in inventing postures most likely to facilitate pleasure. Then again, these loops also reveal couples pushing each other away, looking disgusted or bored with each other, and rearranging their hair, as the rush of sexual heat subsides into mechanics. The film highlights the interplay between the banal and the poetic which characterizes sexuality and all creative endeavors. Even as it de-sexualizes sex films, it heightens the beauty in ordinary human movement.

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