Tag Archives: Erotic

“THE NICE GUYS” Review (✫✫)

Not so nice. 

The fundamental mistake that Shane Black made with The Nice Guys was thinking that the frosting could count for the cake. The Nice Guys wants so badly to be the next buddy-cop film: the next Lethal Weapon or Rush Hour. In order to be that, however, it needs a story that is coherent and believable, neither of which are adjectives that can describe the plot for Nice Guys. If Shane Black wanted a more thorough crime-comedy thriller, he should have focused just as much on the story’s larger consequences as he did on character’s conversations.

Taking place in 1977 Los Angeles, The Nice Guys opens up on porn star Misty Mountains (Murielle Telio) getting killed in a car crash, where we get to see the features bare all (I’m talking about the actress, not the car). A few days later, enforcer Jackson Healy (Russel Crowe) and private eye Holland March (Ryan Gosling) cross paths. March is looking for Misty’s porn-acting colleague, Amelia (Margaret Qualley), while Healy was hired to get March off of her trail. When their cases supposably line up in interest, these two wannabe detectives need to team up to find Amelia and save her from whatever threat is pursuing her.

Positives first. The dialogue is the best of the year so far. Seriously. Like Shane Black’s other credits, including Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang and Iron Man 3, The Nice Guys is a fast-paced film driven by witty, electric dialogue between its characters. Like any great comedy, the dialogue is key to this film’s comedic moments, and thanks to some great one-liner delivery from its leads, the jokes punch you in the laughing gut very hard. Take the following scene as an example, where March takes his daughter Holly (Angourie Rice) to the last place that she should be going to: a Los Angeles night party.

Holly: Dad, there are whores here and stuff.

March: Don’t say “and stuff.” Just say, “Dad, there are whores here.”

Another moment I appreciated was one where March shows an ad to a friend featuring the two of their likenesses on it. “I made your head small because I know you’re sensitive about how big it is,” March quipped.

The dialogue and the interactions surrounding the characters are timely and humorous, believable in every second not just because of Crowe and Gosling, but also because of Rice, who displays a surprising amount of maturity for an actress at 14 years old. The problem, however, doesn’t lie in the dialogue or delivery. It lies in the screenplay, which throws our heroes through situations and conspiracies so unbelievable that convincing us about the existence of aliens is an easier task. There’s so many unraveled strings, so many stretched out threads that never really weave together fluidly for one larger story. In fact, Black tries to tie in a ridiculous underlying theme about climate change that is so forced into the narrative that it makes PETA look like a passive organization.

Then there’s the whole issue regarding the film’s promiscuous premise. I’ve been vocal about explicit content being featured uselessly in motion pictures before. The Nice Guys is no exception. Tell me, why exactly is this film focused so much on the porn industry? Why is it so intent on showing us clips of two people in the middle of intercourse, scantily clad woman flaunting their bare breasts to attending patrons, or when most horrifyingly, a bloody, beaten, and nude woman flies out of a car before she dies? What do any of these things accomplish? What do any of these things add to the plot that isn’t already there? Couldn’t you have replaced all of these porn stars with supermodels and essentially have the same structure? What reason was there to be so sex obsessed?   

The Nice Guys is not a bad picture: just a misguided one. Black has written his dialogue skillfully, and it’s one of those rare films where the characters are more fun than the action is. The areas it’s lacking in are in its flow, clarity, and basic decency, adding too many elements that distract us from the larger picture rather than entertain us by what’s already going on. If Black made his story simpler, he would have had a better movie, and stuff.   

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“DON JON” Review (✫✫✫)

Oh, Donnie boy…

 “There’s only a few things I really care about in life,” a rich, deep boston voice says as we look at him staring  at his bright laptop screen shirtless in a dark room. “My body, my pad, my ride, my family, my church, my boys, my girls, and my porn.”

That last one doesn’t really belong there, but whatever, its in there.  The man we are looking at is Joe Martello (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), a thick, cut, and strongly appealing young man who has a slick, black haircut and a grin on his face that looks like he just finished up business in the bedroom.  His friends call him “The Don” because he’s able to score “dimes” on the weekends, which is another way of saying “That woman is a ten!”

One night in the bar, Donnie meets the best dime he’s ever seen: Barbara Sugarman (Scarlett Johansson), a beautiful blonde bombshell that turns heads and raises attention everywhere she goes.  To Donnie, this is simply another case of trying to score a hot night, but Barbara isn’t that easy.  She wants something more meaningful than just a one-night stand: she wants an affectionate, fairytale relationship, the cheesy kind you see in those unbearable romantic comedies starring Anne Hathaway and Channing Tatum.

So Donnie takes a deep breath and waits it out, hoping for her to come around eventually and give him the chance to slip under the covers with her.  The more time he spends with her, however, the more his addiction to pornography gets in the way and stops him from having a more meaningful relationship.  Now conflicted between his feelings between Barbara and his dependency on pornography, Donnie needs to figure out which is more important to him before she leaves him and all he has left is his laptop and his internet wifi.

Before I continue, let me issue a short disclaimer.  If you do not like R rated movies, do not watch this movie.  If you don’t like looking at nudity, do not watch this movie.  If you don’t like swearing, do not watch this movie.  And if you don’t like movies about sex, DEFINITELY do not watch this movie.  This is a picture stuffed to the mouthful with sex, nudity, T&A, F-words, censored and uncensored pornography to the point where I believe it deserved, and should have been rated, NC-17.

The only reason I issue this warning is because I know my readers, and the majority of my readers do not appreciate sexually explicit films that make jokes about the male/female anatomy and what goes on inside the bedroom.  Their views are warranted, and in many ways I share many of those same views with my readers.  I, however, am not as close-minded to this idea if it means not enjoying Don Jon, and believe me, that is a very hard thing to do.

That’s probably the worst word I could have used to describe this picture just now, but nevermind.  Don Jon is good.  Very good.  How good?  So good that it made me, a conservative reviewer who hates excessive nudity, enjoy it very, very much.  Trust me, I am not easy to please.  If you don’t believe me, you will when I tell you I rated The Hangover as the worst picture of 2009.

I find it interesting how effective Gordon-Levitt is here as a filmmaker.  His writing is fresh, fun, and original, exercising dialogue that is both clever and witty while at the same time being deeply meaningful and expressive.  The cast is equally brilliant, as their charismatic portrayals breathe life into these characters in ways that not even an animated rendition could do.

What I find more interesting, however, is how Gordon-Levitt handles this film as a director, using space and situations in his film to define Jon’s character and to show what sort of emotional state he’s in.

For instance, look at how he shows Jon’s everyday routine.  When Jon wakes up in the morning, he cleans his room the best way a bachelor knows how, he drives to Church, he goes to confession, he eats lunch with his family, he works out at the gym, he goes to a club to meet some beautiful lady, and then he ends his nights watching a skimpy porn video.

Got it?  Okay, now look at the variations of this same routine shown throughout the film.  At first its just the same thing over and over again, but later as Jon’s character changes, so does how he behaves during his routines.  When he’s depressed, his room get messy.  When he’s excited, he sings to Marky Mark in the car.  When he’s optimistic, he exercises with other people when he goes to the gym.  But what remains consistent in all of these sequences is him going to confessional and confessing his sins to the Catholic Priest he’s never met, hoping one day to have a clean slate in the eyes of the father.

I don’t think this movie is about a man struggling with his addiction to pornography.  I think this movie is about a man struggling between his lusts and sexual desires and the guilt he silently feels he needs to be redeemed from.  Think about it for a second.  Why else would he go to Church so frequently despite his promiscuous lifestyle?  He’s a grown man, he knows he doesn’t have to go to church if he doesn’t want to.  So why does he go so frequently even though his lifestyle isn’t congruent to that of a catholic?  There’s a deepness developing silently to Don Jon that can only be barely noticed, and if you don’t look out for it, it will slip you past you.

There’s obviously the negative element of watch a movie about pornography, and I would be the first to agree with you.  Even though the pornography is at times censored, its still there, and we can’t help but visualize everything because we’re seeing a rendition of it on the screen.

Still, since we’re talking about pornography, let me retaliate with another film that is also about addiction: a 2011 film titled Shame, starring Michael Fassbender and directed by Steve McQueen.  Like Don Jon, Shame is about a man who holds an unsatiated lust for porn and sex, and his life sinks into a swamp of sadness and depression because of his unsatiated hunger.  Unlike Don Jon, however, Shame is downtrodden, depressing, sickening, despicable, ugly, demeaning, and has no redeeming qualities whatsoever, outside of the acting and the composition.

Don Jon is different.  Unlike Shame, it is upbeat, energetic and joyous, and even though there are dramatic moments in the movie, there is never a moment that feels ugly, sickening, or unclean.  Don Jon is a stylish, articulate, and simply brilliant dramedy.  It is not only a film filled with clever dialogue and solid character development: it actually has a good, wholesome message to take away from the story, something to make you appreciate the small things in life that you never really notice.  I know some people are going to look at this movie from a first glance and ask “Why would I want to watch a feature-length pornography?”  Believe me, fellow reader, if this film can even be categorized as a pornography, its probably the best of its kind.

On a closing note, please don’t tell my mother.

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