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Sex, Drugs & Democracy

There's more to Holland than tulips and windmills, as this docu attests. Quasi-sensational images of the upfront trade in flesh and cannabis guarantee a ready audience even beyond college circuits, and the deluge of talking heads makes a convincing case for the lowland country as a bastion of libertarian virtues.

There’s more to Holland than tulips and windmills, as this docu attests. Quasi-sensational images of the upfront trade in flesh and cannabis guarantee a ready audience even beyond college circuits, and the deluge of talking heads makes a convincing case for the lowland country as a bastion of libertarian virtues. But formless structure and the absence of a single critical voice give it all the impact of a latenight infomercial.

Many-hatted Jonathan Blank obviously had fun assembling his collage of street scenes, archival footage and interviews — all conducted in English — with sex workers, politicians, minority activists and police, most of whom come across as souls of pure reason.

The testimonials soon grow wearying, however, and Blank’s tendency to repeat footage at arbitrary intervals doesn’t help. Even worse, he uses porno-club scenes to support a discussion of gay and lesbian lifestyles.

Any questions about hidden costs of freedom are ultimately begged. Tech credits are as rough as the circumstances dictate, and one might wish to see b&w historical images integrated in a more thoughtful way.

Still, slapdash style doesn’t exactly run counter to the free-for-all subject , and passages from the Netherlands’ startlingly enlightened constitution give pause for thought.

Pic also begins with a terse quote from Dutch philosopher Spinoza: “All things excellent are as difficult as they are rare”– equally apt words for documentaries or nations.

Sex, Drugs & Democracy

Dutch

Production: A Red Hat Prods. release of a Barclay Powers production. Produced by Powers, Jonathan Blank. Directed, written, edited by Blank.

Crew: Camera (color), Blank. Reviewed on vidcassette at Seattle Intl. Film Festival, June 10, 1994. (Also in Cannes Film Festival -- market.) Running time: 87 MIN.

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