Cam

Mostly, we’re very lucky to travel the world, attend film festivals, and see great movies eons before any of you jerks. But, to be honest, there are a few downsides. Popcorn isn’t a food group. It’s hard to take notes in the dark. There’s only so many times you can sincerely shake Matt Damon’s hand and say “Pleased to meet you.” But worst of all: sometimes you see a really great, or really interesting, or really controversial film and all you want, in fact NEED, to do is talk about it with fellow film fanatics but you can’t because literally no one else has seen it yet. I remember seeing La La Land at TIFF, my eyes stinging as I went from my dark corner of the theatre to broad daylight, sobbing as I walked through downtown Toronto to my next film, and walking straight into Arrival. Back to back massive, amazing films that I needed to discuss and debrief – but with whom? And then I saw Jackie and Lion and Loving and The Lobster, 4 or 5 movies a day for 10 days, at the end of which, I’m punch drunk. And then I have to sit on all this movie madness for anywhere from 3 months (lots of Oscar contenders are aiming for Christmas releases) to 3+ years (if the festival fails to bring in offers for distribution). Thank goodness I drink; if my memory were any better, I’d probably be fucked.

Cam is one of those movies that I’m dying to talk about, and it proves that a press pass is a nice thing, but 17 press passes for my 17 friends would be much nicer. Of course, I MV5BNjI1MTQ2YWEtYmE0OS00NzJkLWFhMDgtNmM3OTJkYzFlZDYwXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyODc4ODY5Mzc@._V1_SX1776_CR0,0,1776,998_AL_come home and stare at this white, white screen, trying to distill my thoughts, keep them straight, not confuse them with any of the other 32 trillion movies I’ve seen, and find a way to sort of talk about them with all of you. And that’s possibly the hardest part for me because I’m a bit of blabber mouth but a review is not about telling, it’s about hinting, hinting just enough so that you have an idea whether you should see it or skip it or read some other, more cohesive review that doesn’t waste 400 words complaining about having seen a terrific film.

I buried the lead there. Surprise: Cam is a terrific film!

I’m so glad I got that off my chest. I was playing it so cool during that first paragraph, trying to distract us both with all my reminiscing (I’m pretty sure those are my  memories anyway – of course, I wouldn’t swear to it. Not on my mother’s life. Not even on yours – no offense, of course, but I don’t even know the lady).

Cam is about a sex worker named Alice – though her fans know her as Lola. She’s a cam girl. She works for a website where men can live-stream women for “free” – although getting her to do pretty much anything requires a lot of “tipping.” Lola is quite popular. She’s able to maintain relationships with several men outside the chatroom – not in the real world per say, but in other digital venues, where they’re encouraged to spend more money, and even send gifts, for a more personalized show. Alice (Madeline Brewer) is a surprisingly ambitious sex worker, and she’s smart too. She pushes her shows to the limit, choreographing, staging, and even faking gruesome suicide scenes which her horny, horrible customers seem to gobble up. Alice has her eye on the top: she wants to be the #1 camgirl. But that pride in her work only extends so far – her mother don’t know shit about how Alice pays her rent. She keeps her two lives separate and firmly on lockdown – and that works, until it doesn’t.

One day she finds herself locked out of her account, and stranger still, someone else is using it. Well, not someone else. It’s still her. It’s just not her her. Who is this impostor? How is this sneaky, thieving lookalike even possible?

Cam descends into this pulsating vortex where we must question everything. What is digital identity? At this point, is it even separate from our “offline” identity? How valuable is it? How do we prove it? How do we safeguard it?

Alice is a many-flavoured protagonist, and Madeline Brewer will FREAK YOU THE FUCK OUT. Damn she’s good in this, in a can’t-watch, must-watch kind of way. Fierce and fearless, she’ll turn you on, she’ll mess you up, she’ll  haunt your dreams.

Cam is a smart, timely movie about sex work, but it’s also this swirling, confounding, complicated piece of cinema that manages to look stylish and cool even as it challenges some pretty core notions. I like its subversive nature, how it pokes the bear in sly and cool ways, how it opened me up to an underground world I’ve never really seen before. I was “lucky” enough to be in the audience for its world premiere at Fantasia Film Festival, but I won’t be truly happy until you’ve all been infected with it also, so I can finally dissect it the meaty, enthusiastic way it deserves.

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14 thoughts on “Cam

  1. Kristine @ MumRevised

    So, you chose a career where you get to watch movies, shake Matt Damon’s hand, eat popcorn and you are not sure how to be happy about it? Sounds tough 🙂 I wish I had been as smart as you in my career choice. Can’t wait to see Cam.

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  2. tubularsock

    Well Jay, your ability to exaggerate ….. “32 trillion movies I’ve seen” ….. is impressive. By now you must be so filled with popcorn that your buoyancy alone could have saved the Titanic!

    And yet, if you had saved the Titanic, then you would have saved yourself at least one movie and would only be able to say that you’d seen 31 trillion 9 hundred and ninety-nine billion 9 hundred and ninety-nine million 9 hundred and ninety-nine thousand 9 hundred and ninety-nine movies. That would have been a drag!

    32 trillion has such a sexy ring to it!

    Anyway, Tubularsock just wonders does ANYONE in our on line world ever fuck anymore! Has it become ALL virtual?

    Guess it will keep the population down.

    Tubularsock will pass on Cam. Knobs don’t turn Tubularsock on much.

    Great review as usual.

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  3. Divorce With Me

    Straight up, I freaking love you. We’d be BFFs in the non-digital world. You guys are the only critics I listen to because the psychology that goes into your reviews… just completes me. And I’m not a big movie person so seeing that I usually like the movies you recommend (or dislike the ones you don’t), I’m pretty stoked when you’re all excited about one. I’m going to watch Cam when it’s out.
    Which reminds me, when I finally watched La La Land, I thought of your reviews – I believe there were two if I remember correctly – and so wanted to talk with you about it after I’d sufficiently bawled when done.

    And yes. I have friends. I’m not a stalker . 😜😘

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  4. SD Gates

    Can we trade jobs? Csam sounds like a really different (Yay!!) and fascinating film. Can’t wait to see it – when it is finally for us viewing commoners!

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  5. Liz A.

    Interesting. That must be the problem with being a reviewer–you see all the good ones early, but you can’t talk about it.

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