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Movie Review: IFC’s Sex Magic and The Orgasm Diaries

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IFC has put on a couple of new movies as part of IFC Midnight, airing on their channel, and available on demand. If you aren’t familiar with IFC Midnight, it showcases films that are “horror, sci-fi, thriller and erotic arthouse”. The two I’m reviewing are Sex Magic and The Orgasm Diaries, and tend to lean towards the last category. Two indie-like films with sex as a central theme. Having viewed screeners of both, I can report that they are not softcore porn, as you would find on certain Showtime networks later at night. Neither are they the typical indie film.

Sex Magic reminded me very heavily of HBO’s risque documentary series, Real Sex. Lasting about an hour and twenty minutes, much of the movie was a look at Desert, a ‘school’ in Arizona where a man named Dez teaches others about sex magic, a way to achieve your goals through sexual energy. a documentary crew interviews Dez, his clients, and other teachers to discover what happens at Desert, his retreat. I was confused as to whether this was a real or false documentary, but it turns out, this is real, or at least billed as such.

The other element is a slightly voyeuristic look at how Dez tries to win a woman named Maya. Dez is polyamorous, until he meets Maya, but after losing her, he uses sex with other women to try to win her back. Dez is earnest, often seemingly trying to convince himself, as much as the camera, that the lifestyle he has devoted himself to is rooted in something real. It is an interesting and sad story. One wonders how much of Dez’s monologues were staged or pre-written, and much was actual interview. Perhaps that is a cynical way to look at things, as it could all be authentic. Either way, it’s certainly a unique case study of an individual.

In The Orgasm Diaries, the central couple is much happier… at least at first. A young photographer named Manchester is living in a garage with a beautiful woman, Noon, who is his lover as well as his muse. However, soon he achieves some level of success, and the woman leaves him when she discovers her naked body adorning art gallery walls. This sends the man into a deep spiral of depression, but their story isn’t over.

Unlike Sex Magic, which has plenty of nudity of all kinds, The Orgasm Diaries concentrates its bared skin on sexual acts, including a couple of self pleasure scenes, and one memorable act with a popsicle. This one did venture further towards softcore porn that the first film, but also had a developed plot. However, it was a bit too slow moving for my taste, and dragged quite a bit in the middle section.

As far as the acting, like most documentaries, it’s hard to tell how much was going on in Sex Magic. I find no fault with either of the leads in The Orgasm Diaries either. Both were certainly capable of handling the material, which felt very professional, and not at all amateurish. Sure, the characters may have been amateurs in some way, but the two people inhabiting Noon and Manchester really made them come to life. If the direction had been more of a documentary style, and not so obviously a movie, I’d probably be more inclined to believe they were real than I do Dez. Not that I’m suggesting The Orgasm Diaries would have worked better that way; rather, I am praising the actors for breathing such life into the parts.

Neither film is what I would call groundbreaking or amazing, but neither is a total dud either. If you enjoyed Real Sex, watch Sex Magic. If you like indie films that have more nudity than would be allowed in an R rated theater run, watch The Orgasm Diaries. Both are available from IFC.

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About JeromeWetzelTV

Jerome writes TV reviews for BlogCritics.org and Seat42F.com, as well as fiction. He is a frequent guest on two podcasts, Let's Talk TV with Barbara Barnett and The Good, the Bad, & the Geeky. All of his work can be found on his website, jeromewetzel.com