Finally, an easy way to watch a feature-length movie online: Cut it into shorts. ”If it’s got good structure, then it’s going to work broken up or not,” Peta Wilson of TV’s La Femme Nikita says of Rupert Wainwright’s The Sadness of Sex, a surreal vignette-style romance in which the actress costars and which is now appearing on IFILM. Wilson was an undiscovered drama student when Sadness was filmed in 1995, but her friend Wainwright — then best known for the MC Hammer video ”U Can’t Touch This” — assembled an outstanding crew that included Natural Born Killers editor Brian Berdan and a soundtrack featuring cuts from the Cowboy Junkies, Daniel Lanois, and Stewart Copeland.
The resulting movie made it to the L.A. art-house circuit but didn’t get anywhere near cineplexes. Now IFILM is giving the 86-minute feature a second chance — in 10 one-per-week parts. Sadness’ first segment debuted Valentine’s Day and instantly became the site’s top film for the week — and though 9,500 downloads may seem puny by box office standards, ”that’s probably three times more than the people who saw it in its theatrical life,” says Wainwright. The film, with its poetic dream-state sequences and cherubic visions, isn’t likely to start a trend so much as to be the rare movie that lends itself to short-form, postage-stamp-size digital viewing. ”I don’t know that I’d like to see The English Patient broken up on the Internet,” concedes Wilson. ”There are some movies that can’t be seen like that.”