An instant conversation item that touches on cultural politics, racism and what qualifies as “university research,” “Masters of the Pillow” profiles U. of California at Davis professor Darrell Y. Hamamoto’s provocative project: a short porn pic featuring exclusively Asian American actors. Filmmaker James Hou, however, undermines docu’s impact by constantly inserting third person comments into the telling about Hamamoto’s bold try to create what he’s coined “The Joy Fuck Club.” Oddly, discussion of intensely erotic Asian cinema is absent. Fests should line up for the distinctive if roughly made docu, while late-night cable could come calling.
Hamamoto argues that institutional racism has prevented Asian Americans from being portrayed as sexy on screen. Not satisfied to merely publish or perish, Hamamoto concocts a porn scenario titled “Skin on Skin,” and recruits youngish g.f. Funie to be his second camera, a young man for his first porn role and a female porn vet named Layla Lei. Although Hou finds a range of voices (from playwright David Henry Hwang to “Charlotte Sometimes” helmer Eric Byler) who are fairly skeptical about Hamamoto’s plans, the effect is picture interruptus.