Friday, February 19, 2010

Pornonomy Reviews: She's So Fine

She's So Fine (1985)

Directed by:
Henri Pachard

Gloria Leonard
Melanie Scott
Rachel Ashley
Sharon Kane
Sharon Mitchell
Taija Rae
Jerry Butler
Joey Silvera
Johnny Nineteen
Paul Thomas

I spent a lot of She's So Fine thinking that if the hardcore sex was replaced with slapstick gags, wedding day hijinks (the cake gets dropped, flowers for a funeral instead of a wedding are delivered, or what have you), and linen closet hook-ups, someone could probably get the movie greenlit by a studio tomorrow. Sure, it'd be derivative, but if there's one thing most people can agree on, it's that Hollywood likes to make the same movies as many times as possible.

The film focuses on bride-to-be Angela (Taija Rae) waiting for her fiance Whitney on her wedding day. The first person to arrive, unannounced and presumably uninvited, is Angela's ex-boyfriend Don (Joey Silvera, who plays Don with more than a little Jim Ignatowski). Don's followed by neighbors Roger (Jerry Butler) and Suzanne (Sharon Kane). Following them, Whitney's best man, glam rocker Alice George (Paul Thomas) shows up with his back up singers Lilac (Melanie Scott) and Tweaky (Sharon Mitchell). Lastly, Jim (Johnny Nineteen), a used car salesman who spent $25 to get ordained through the mail in order to "perform marriage on" Angela, and Pam (Rachel Ashley). There's an extremely light culture clash between the rockers and the "normal" folks (one that would definitely need to be played up for the Hollywood pitch), and repeated references to the US auto industry and the University of Michigan. The former in that Jim's a car salesman, Don works for Ford, Pam was a loan officer dealing with car financing, and Roger is chided for driving a Toyota. In fact, at one point Don mentions that "If they catch you smoking dope [at Ford], they'll replace you with a robot," a statement awfully poignant for a generally light porn flick. For the latter, Don wears a Michigan t-shirt, Angela's got a Michigan pennant above her bed, Pam mentions Jim's days as a student activist, and it comes to light that Suzanne and Tweaky had a poli sci class together during which they rub their legs against one another (a conversation that, perhaps obviously leads to a girl-girl scene). A group of friends with University of Michigan friends getting together and reminiscing reminded me a whole hell of a lot of The Big Chill. Just sayin'.

An opening scenic montage and theme song setting the location as Detroit is followed by Roger setting up a video camera the size of a large shoebox three feet from the bed in which his wife, Suzanne, is sleeping. The camera is hooked up to a 26" television set up two feet from the other side of the bed. That Suzanne notices neither from the time she's woken up by Roger masturbating beside her until she's halfway through a blowjob with her face pointed at the television cements her as the least observant woman in the history of observing. Since reading Raw Talent, I can't help but see Jerry Butler as an opportunist that severely overestimates his acting ability. Tough luck for him, but I can't un-read it.

Other scenes include Angela and Don reheating their old flame, Roger and Tweaky, Alice George and Angela's mother (Gloria Leonard), Tweaky and Suzanne, Lilac and Don, Jim and Pam, and finally Roger and Angela. Generally, it's worth noting that, unlike a lot of newer porn, Pachard was willing to leave one sex scene for another (sex scene or otherwise), and return to it later, an approach I always appreciate and I think lends a film more of the feel of a "normal" movie. Specifically, the scene between Roger and Tweaky is interesting as a perfect example of Sharon Mitchell's dominant/scary/sexy nature and the fact that, because of her new wave/punk make up, so looked a lot like Gozer the Gozerian when she came; the scene between Alice and Angela's mother is interesting because it's definitely the first time I've seen a woman seducing a man by taking his makeup off with cold cream (which also gives us the gem "I love Pond's," the sort of line that's delivery makes me love watching Paul Thomas act); and the scene between Angela and Roger is interesting because it's set in motion because Roger is upset that Suzanne and Tweaky got, right after he finished having sex with Tweaky. The whole sanctity of marriage thing works both ways, bud.

So okay, She's So Fine is successful in that it gives the feel of a hectic ensemble movie with having a relatively small cast; it comes up a little short in that the timing of lines and actions makes the flow of the non-sex scenes a little to herky jerky to build on that hectic feeling (I say "a little short" because, let's face it, there weren't multiple table reads and rehearsals...); but the main problem is that the whole premise of the movie relies on at least a little sympathy for Angela. Unfortunately, Angela kind of comes off as a spoiled sour puss who fucks her ex-boyfriend well before there's a hint she may be stood up on her wedding day, and then her married next door neighbor later on. At the end of the day, though, it's a fine cast, Pachard is a great director, and it's well paced. It may not be a must-see, but it's no dog, either. B-

Cupid's Arrow Review Follow Up, or, a Porn Reviewer's Conundrum

You could rightly ask why bother writing a review of a movie I obviously hated. The answer is partially because I hated it so much I had to write about it, but it's also partially because I felt the need to get some content on the blog. (Beyond the stereotypical "I'll write something soon" post, which I swore off and assure you that this post isn't. Completely, anyway.)

I've actually found myself wanting to write here lately but coming up against a familiar problem: Do I rewatch and review a film that I've seen and know is good (Amanda By Night, for instance), rewatch and review a film I think I've seen but don't really remember (Deep Rub), watch and review a film I haven't seen but sounds interesting because of the cast (Outlaw Ladies), or just watch and review whichever comes up next in the queue? And then secondarily, if I choose to rewatch and review a film, is it pointless to write about a film (Behind the Green Door, say) that's been written about a million times already?

I find that beyond that list of questions, I almost always fall into a Grass Is Greener trap: perhaps I'll start watching A Place Beyond Shame (which I've seen) to finally get the review done and then, five minutes into it, start thinking "Maybe I'm in the mood for California Gigolo (which I haven't seen) instead...."

Finally, three notes, in descending order of relatedness to this post:

1. How do you pick which movies you watch? (Primarily directed to Gore-Gore Girl and X-Ray Specs)

2. Though I know it's never, ever, ever going to happen, I still find myself wishing the online rental service I use allowed subscribers to dvd rental to stream VOD films as a part of their subscription charge (the way Netflix does).

3. I saw a picture of John Holmes (clothed) ages before I saw any of his films. I assumed he had an Andre the Giant-like deep voice, for some reason, and was shocked when I first heard him speak. To say nothing of how surprised I was that he was such a goofball.

Pornonomy Reviews: Cupid's Arrow

Cupid's Arrow (1984)

Directed by:
...Presumably porn's "Alan Smithee"

Karen Summer
Lisa De Leeuw
Dino Alexander
Jerry Davis
Robert Bullock

Consider, for one second, the box cover up there. With the exception of looking like she might be slightly congested, Lisa De Leeuw (on my short list of Best Adult Actresses of All Time) looks pretty damn good. Seeing that cover might make someone pretty excited to see the movie. Now, take that possible excitement to Cupid's Arrow and the idea that Lisa De Leeuw looks anything like that picture in Cupid's Arrow and blow them out of your head. Like, with a shotgun.

Some time ago, I wrote that I had "one unholy turd of a movie that I'm going to review eventually just to show a little range" in my grading. Well, brace yourselves, because this is that unholy turd. Fact is, though, this "review" is going to be pretty brief because my brain has done its damnedest to erase everything I saw those many months ago. If my hazy recollection is correct, the movie opens with a narrator telling Cupid's origin story over a guy dressed in red (Cupid, apparently) creeping into a house and lacing a bowl of fruit and/or some glasses or a carafe of some sort with Love Powder.

After Cupid sneaks out, Husband (Robert Bullock), Wife (Rosemarie), and Friend (Dino Alexander) are in the living room. Husband and Friend are talking about going to a hockey game, I think, and Wife is giving Husband the business. Then, Wife and Friend end up consuming something with the Love Powder and leave the room to have sex, unbeknownst to Husband. While they're absent, Husband's Ex-Wife (Lisa De Leeuw) shows up (looking kind of like she hasn't slept or eaten anything with nutritional value in a couple of weeks; if I didn't know better, I'd have guessed this was one of the last movies she was in, not shot the same year as Miss Passion or two years before her Traci-Lords-Was-Never-In-This-Movie scenes for Talk Dirty to Me 3) for some reason. Husband and/or Ex-Wife end up consuming something with the Love Powder and they go at it.

Or attempt to, anyway. This was the first time I saw Robert Bullock, and given his difficulty getting and inability maintaining an erection, I assumed it was the only movie he'd ever been in. Nope. In fairness, I've seen a few of his other movies since and found that he's capable of competent performances. Given the era and medium, I'll assume he was chock full of cocaine and alcohol. In fact, I'm going to assume everyone associated with this train wreck was loaded.

After Friend, Wife ends up having sex with an Electrician (Jerry Davis) that's at their house, I'm assuming, to fix something. Husband is in the bathtub when he's surprised by Woman (Karen Summer), or, if IMDb is to be believed, Traveling Saleswoman, setting off Round 2 of Robert Bullock's Semi-Erect Penis Extravaganza! After that, Saleswoman has sex with Friend and then Husband has Sex with Wife. Given the fact that I can only barely remember the last scene, I'm pretty sure I either tuned it out or fast forwarded through it. If there's any rhyme or reason to the convention of a porn like this, there was narration over the end of the last scene and/or closing credits. Of course, expecting any sense from this movie is probably granting waaaay too much.

Thinking back on this movie has me typing with a grimace. While I've seen other movies that I wouldn't hesitate to recommend avoiding (B.Y.O.B. comes to mind...although Eastern-European-Burt-Reynolds Sasha Gabor is always a little amusing), none of the recommendations would come with the speed or vehemence of the one for Cupid's Arrow. (I think I'm still bitter about the cover art bait and switch, common in porn, sure, but this one may be the worst offender I've ever seen.)

Initially I was going to grade this movie F-, but instead I've decided to create a grade for it: CA. A grade I hope I'll never give out again.