If it's true that sex sells (and who's going to argue that point?), then it's a bit surprising that there aren't more movies about selling sex. This week the inspired-by-a-true story Middle Men opens, exploring how the Internet revolutionized the world of porn — a movie that got us remembering an earlier look at the intersection of cutting-edge tech and that same industry, but with a disco beat and much wider lapels.
If you're planning to see:
Middle Men (2010)
Good thing Al Gore didn't really take credit for the Internet. Really, what politician would willingly cop to opening the floodgates to a nearly endless stream of digital porn? In Middle Men, Luke Wilson, Giovanni Ribisi, and Gabriel Macht play the visionaries who in the '90s recognized that the World Wide Web had potential beyond facilitating nerdish flame wars about Star Trek, that those mighty URLs made it possible for anything to be bought online. Problem is, as their porn empire is born, marriages crumble, drugs claim the players, and the Mob butts in.
Follow it up with:
Boogie Nights (1997)
Kicking off during the post-Watergate hedonism of the late '70s, Boogie Nights follows the career of generously endowed porn star Dirk Diggler (Mark Wahlberg) from youthful premiere to hardcore superstardom to coke-ravaged dissolution. Along the way, the industry wrestles with the game-changing introduction of home video. The movie rallied a cast that in hindsight is nothing short of dazzling (William H. Macy, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Heather Graham, and John C. Reilly, with Burt Reynolds and Julianne Moore getting well-deserved Oscar noms for their work).