Back in 2006 photographer Michael Grecco went to the AVN Awards and Convention -- the porn equivalent of the Academy Awards, with a trade show mixed in -- to shoot a coffee-table book in three days. That book was reviewed here. A documentary of this endeavor was also filmed during this project. Naked Ambition: An R Rated Look at the X-Rated Industry follows Grecco and talks to many of the adult entertainment folks he photographed.

Naked Ambition seeks to explore both Grecco's creative process and the culture of porn as seen through its biggest ceremony -- but this movie is a little superficial on both fronts. Grecco's voiceover continually has him explaining that he's not shooting porn ("this project is a portrait of a culture") and there's not much more on his creative process here. Most interview subjects just talk about themselves, creating a patchwork of people rather than a portrait of the culture Grecco is after. And the closest to a storyline here is a slightly longer focus on Sunny Lane, an actress hoping to win Best New Starlet, and Grecco's concern about not getting to photograph Larry Flynt or Jenna Jameson. (The latter issue is covered in about two sentences.)

There are some good things here. The bonus features give more of an overview of this culture, from the role of men to the fans at the AVN Convention. Some of the folks interviewed are interesting, like the sophisticated regal dominant or the chance encounter between co-stars, friends, and lovers Julia Ann and Janine Lindemulder. Overall, though, there have been better documentaries on porn (several of which I've reviewed here), and the book Naked Ambition works better than its behind-the-scenes documentary Naked Ambition.

Overall grade: C-
Reviewed by James Lynch

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