Underground Film Journal

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Movie Review: Marta’s Sex Tape

By Mike Everleth ⋅ September 2, 2008

Movie poster featuring a drawing of a sexy black-haired woman

Going into Marta’s Sex Tape, my biggest fear was that it wasn’t going to be sexy enough.

This wasn’t a bias against the film’s director, Anthony Rivero Stabley, who prior to watching this film I knew nothing about. It was more a general sense of dread of getting ripped off. With the blatant title and premise of the movie — a female artist decides to make a porno to pay off a big debt — I just assumed that the final project couldn’t possibly live up to its promise. I figured all the sex would take place under the sheets or just off-screen and that I’d be subject to a bunch of people sitting around talking sexy talk, but not indulging in any sexy action. All tease and no payoff.

But now having seen Marta’s Sex Tape, I can safely say that it is very sexy. No, scratch that. It is an extremely sexy, vivacious and arousing movie.

Stabley has pulled off an interesting trick here. Marta’s Sex Tape is a big, bold and splashy film with the plot shot at us at a breakneck pace. Marta (Pilar Padilla) is an abysmal Mexican painter who owes $10,000 to the mysterious Arturo (Federico Teran) that he loaned her for art school. Happening upon a porno movie while desperately trying to figure out her situation, Marta comes up with the idea to make her own sex tape to raise the money. Marta’s best friend Inez (Sol Gallardo) is both horrified and helpful. After a disastrous meeting with a porn producer, Marta decides to go the amateur route and begins auditioning men to be her co-stars.

Most of the action of the film takes place in Marta’s apartment, so to keep the film moving along quickly, Stabley employs a number of visual tricks. Scenes alternate between being intensely colored, black-and-white and bathed in different hues. Sometimes the action is speeded up, other times slowed down. Plot points and characters are introduced via title cards. And any number of random shots of Marta’s partially-nude body are tossed in.

The film is also populated with colorful characters. In addition to the bouncy Inez, there’s Marta’s “biggest supporter” with his oversized glasses, missing teeth and overanxious glint of excitement at viewing Marta’s final project. There’s also co-star candidate the Blue Charro who swears he only makes love while wearing his giant sombrero. (That we never see that realized is the film’s only down point.) Marta’s stuffy parents even make an appearance to offer their support for their daughter. Oh, and there’s the guy dressed as a giant banana.

But here’s Stabley’s “trick” that I mentioned earlier: Despite the film being filled with visual trickery and over-the-top characters, he totally manages to keep the film grounded in an emotional reality. Marta, as played by Padilla, is a very strong character whose plight is palpable and presented sincerely. Her decision to make a sex tape isn’t an easy one and we are along with her during all the ups and downs that producing such a product would actually entail. When she speaks boldly of her plans, we know she is all bluster on the outside and scared little girl on the inside, so when she later struggles about following through with making love to anonymous men, her fears and anxieties feel all too real.

The ending of the film, without giving anything away, was very satisfying. Stabley also pulls off a climax that’s at once an “of course that’s what Marta would do” forehead-slapping moment, but one that catches you off guard at the same time.

Stabley is promoting Marta’s Sex Tape as a “Pop Art comedy” and the film is what all great Pop Art should be: Flashy on the surface, but with a deep significance hidden beneath the glitz.

An addendum: If you purchase the film directly from the filmmaker, the DVD comes with an additional two shorts by Stabley. This Is Not a Film is in the vein of Marta’s Sex Tape in which two actors are interviewed on their thoughts of becoming actors, their relationship to each other and whether or not they’ll “perform” on camera. Then, the eponymous Movidas stars the “biggest supporter” in Marta’s Sex Tape, who is an interesting character. He’s a security guard Stabley met while working on another movie and here he mostly just waxes poetic on his love of women’s feet and how him and a foot would make a thrillingly erotic film. These are two fun little shorts and a nice little bonus on the disc.

More on this film: Amazon | Movie Site

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