Sunday, February 19, 2017

Emanuelle Around the World (Joe D'Amato, 1977)

The plucky intrepid photojournalist from Emanuelle In America is back, and this time it's, um... I wouldn't say it's personal, as being forced to watch a dog rape a woman or a shapely milf show mild discomfort over the fact that her garter belt clip is digging into her thigh aren't exactly things I'd call "personal." Think about it, she is not an active participant, she is merely a spectator. No, I'd say it's more unsettling than anything else. I mean, imagine a world where stockings caused pain. Exactly, it's not a world I would want to live in, either. Now, granted, dogs raping women in Macau is pretty heinous. But I think most sane or close to sane people will agree that the sight of a milfy blonde experiencing garter-based distress is much more disturbing. To make things even more disturbing, her step-son and Emanuelle are hiding in a nearby closet.  Luckily for the milfy blonde, she has her girlfriend by her side to alleviate her hosiery troubles. And what happens after this nylon dilemma has been solved? Duh, cunnilingus. It's true, I'm trying to focus on one of the few scenes in Joe D'Amato's Emanuelle Around the World that doesn't end in an orgy of degrading sexual violence in order to maintain my mental health. But how long can I continue to talk about a five minute scene that revolves around stockings and cunnilingus?

I don't know, but I think I just gave myself a challenge. Let's see, where does the stocking scene fit in the overall scheme of this odious slab of Italian trash?

As most of you already know, Laura Gemser's Emanuelle is a reporter who travels the world in order to expose corruption and criminality of the unsavory variety. While in Rome, she convinces two women to join a sting operation to bring down a sex slave operation run by a deformed man with pus-laden right eye.

Never one to go into a sticky situation without a solid plan B, Emanuelle enlists the help of a mildly hunky motorcyclist. When the mildly hunky motorcyclist comes through in the clutch, Emanuelle decides to repay him the only way she knows how. That's right, she uses the soft confines of her buttery vagina to thank the mildly hunky motorcyclist for his services.

Well, she would like to do so. But she can't at the moment, as the mildly hunky motorcyclist's step-mom just came abroad the boat, with her girlfriend in tow, just as they were about have European-style sexual intercourse.

It's this exact moment when the mildly hunky motorcyclist's milfy step-mom begins complain to her girlfriend that the clips on her garter belt have begun to dig into her legs. While removing the stockings is the only logical way to alleviate her discomfort, the sight of her stockings being removed caused me to become quite enraged.

Actually, is it, though? (Is it what?) Is removing the stockings the only logical way to alleviate her discomfort? I mean, I'm sure two reasonably intelligent Italian women can figure out a way to solve this garter quandary without having to resort to drastic measures.

Nevertheless, the mildly hunky motorcyclist's milfy step-mom is rewarded with guilt-free cunnilingus. And at the end of the day, that's all that really matters. Though, I have to say, the cunnilingus, from my point of view, anyway, would have been a million times sweeter had the mildly hunky motorcyclist's step-mom's girlfriend's head, no doubt, bobby and weaving in the throes of performing hearty cunnilingus, been framed by the mildly hunky motorcyclist's step-mom's creamy, stocking-encased thighs as the mildly hunky motorcyclist's girlfriend dined heartily on her throbbing Italo-clit. I'm just... yeah.

It should go without saying, but all the women who appear in this film are gorgeous. As for the men, they are a disgusting bouquet of creeps and low-lifes. In fact, I would go as far to say that's there's not an attractive one in the lot.

I mean, it's pretty much one dysphoria-causing bearded face after another.

Seriously. Don't these scumbags know how to shave?

Oh, hello. Who are you? Now that's a sexy man. (Who are you talking about?) While Emanuelle is hiding in the closet with the mildly hunky motorcyclist, her partner, Cora Norman (Karin Schubert), visited by some shady characters. Anyway, I didn't feel dysphoric at all while their leader was on-screen. Sure, his bearded henchmen made me want to chop up my disgusting body and toss the pieces into the nearest active volcano, but still... I dug this guy. Of course, I disagree with what he and his henchmen do in this film (as you might expect, it's monstrous), but... yeah.

Have I mentioned that this film is refreshingly pornographic? No? Damn, I must be slipping or something. At any rate, I wish more films had a sprinkling of porn in them. Though, if you're going to use a body double for the lead actress when it comes time for a hardcore close-up, the least you could do is get someone who has the same skin colour. The woman they got to portray Laura Gemser's vagina as it plowed into a cock during an orgy wasn't close to being Gemser brown.  I don't why they couldn't have just painted her crotch and butt brown. I'm sure they had some brown paint leftover from the can they used on George Eastman, who plays an Indian guru.

Moving on. Whether you like it or not, the film's main theme by Nico Fidenco, which plays close to six times over the course of the film, will not leave your brain willingly. Neither will the dog rape scene, the wooden dildo party, the New York bum rape scene (a group of derelicts rape Miss Ohio for the amusement of a bunch of rich fucks) or the banana penetration scene.

It's not all beastly and foul, the lesbian scene between Laura Gemser and Brigitte Petronio (The House on the Edge of the Park) is kind of tender, as is the well-documented scene that takes place on the boat (ahoy! cunnilingus!). So, yeah. It's beautiful and unpleasant at the same time. Win-win.

Oh, and keep an eye for the cameo by adult film legend Paul Thomas (The Devil in Miss Jones 3: A New Beginning), he plays a truck driver (it occurs during the first few minutes).

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Fallen Angels (Kar-Wai Wong, 1995)

The freaks come out at night / The freaks come out at night / The freaks come out at night / (the freaks come out!) I know, everyone and their Uncle Gary's third left nut like to start off their reviews of Wong Kar-Wai's Fallen Angels by quoting Whodini's "Freaks Come Out At Night," from their 1984 album, Escape. But I'll be damned, it sure is apt as a motherfucker. You see, the whole movie takes place at night, and I couldn't have been more pleased. Oh, sure, daytime probably still exists in this film's neon-adorned universe. But Wong Kar-Wai has no interest in what goes on during the day. And why should he? His characters are, no doubt, all asleep during the day. And like I said, I couldn't be more pleased. Think about it. Who wants to watch Michelle Reis do stuff during the day? I know I sure don't. In fact, just the mere thought of Michelle Reis doing anything during the day makes my skin crawl. (Are you sure that isn't your seborrheic dermatitis acting up again?) No, it's definitely the prospect of watching Michelle Reis, oh, I don't know, mail a letter at ten in the morning. Ugh. (So, what you're saying is, Michelle Reis looks good while doing stuff at night?) Duh. Haven't you been paying attention? Yes, Michelle... Hell, the whole cast look good while doing stuff at night. And since legendary Hong Kong cinematographer, Christopher Doyle, is filming them, they look extra good.

However, none of the cast can hold a candle... (Yeah, yeah, Michelle Reis looks amazing. We get it.) You don't seem to understand. I want her body, I want her hair, I want her wardrobe... I even want her swaggering insolence. (Wow, "swaggering insolence," eh? I think just popped a lady-boner.) Tell me about it. I'm curious. Is your lady-boner currently pressing oh-so tightly against your panties? Wait, don't answer that. I'm just going to go ahead and assume that it is and move on.

Of course, I don't know if I want her overgrown bangs and disgusting smoking habit. But then again, taking away Michelle Reis's overgrown bangs and nicotine addiction would be a little like asking Eugene Levy to trim his eyebrows or telling Beyoncé to stop being so fierce.

While I'm not a big fan of smoking, there's no denying that cigarettes make movies more... well, cinematic. Okay, imagine this. What if someone, like, oh, how 'bout those pricks George Lucas or Stephen Spielberg, decided to go back and digitally remove every cigarette from every movie in existence? Exactly. It would render all those movies unwatchable. Well, if you took away Michelle Reis's cigarettes, you would not only ruin the movie, you would radically change the temperament of her character.

As for her overgrown bangs... Actually, I shouldn't talk, as my bangs are technically overgrown as well. You know what? Forget I said anything disparaging about Michelle Reis's bangs. What's that? You already have? That's terrific.

Since I recently decided to radically change my life for, hopefully, the better, I've noticed the need to do stuff outside in full view of other people has increased. What I mean is, I can't expect things to change if I continue to avoid other people. While I've made some progress on-line and in the so-called "real world," being social is extremely difficult for me. Well, as I watched the lonely characters that populate this film's nocturnal universe, I couldn't help but relate to their struggles to connect with... other people.

The film essentially follows three characters. An assassin (Leon Lai), his partner/agent (Michelle Reis) and He Zhiwu (Takeshi Kaneshiro), a mute doofus who pretends he works at businesses that are closed.

It would seem that Michelle Reis sets up Leon Lai's "jobs" for him, so, that when he pulls out his guns and goes all Chow Yun-Fat on his targets, things go smoothly. Though, I don't think cleaning his apartment and masturbating in his bed while wearing fishnet and fully-fashioned stockings are really necessary. Or maybe they are. What do I know?

Either way, the shots of them setting up jobs, using public transit, navigating the gleaming rain-soaked streets with a noirish elan, hanging out in bars and doing other gangster shit are gorgeous beyond belief.

The film gets a dose of romantic comedy-style whimsy when Karen Mok, sporting reddish-blonde hair, shows up and forces Leon Lai to be his girlfriend. Okay, it doesn't exactly go down like that. But there's no denying it, Karen Mok does charm the pants off Leon Lai. And it's no wonder, she's a one-woman adorable symposium. Which is what I need to start doing. (You mean be more adorable? That's impossible... you're adorable as fuck.) Yes, I mean, no, I need to start putting myself out there more. In other words, I need to start acting more like Karen Mok in Fallen Angels, and less like... (The little kid from Room?) Sure.

Things go from being romantic to downright goofy when Takeshi Kaneshiro's subplot kicks in. Playing an aimless individual, who, like I said, pretends to work at closed businesses (he forces a man with a ponytail to eat ice cream at an ice cream stand... he doesn't work at), Takeshi, like the other characters, struggles with loneliness, and tries to alleviate it by being obnoxious. I know, being obnoxious sounds like an awful plan. But is it? See all those happy people doing stuff outside. Do you really think they got where they are by not being obnoxious? Of course they didn't.

Now, I'm not saying you should take it to the level that Takeshi does. Nevertheless, a little obnoxiousness doesn't hurt. After all, Takeshi does manage to sort of woo Charlie Yeung, an attractive yet easily agitated woman.

Stylish and brimming with vitality, Fallen Angels is... (Wait, are you done?) Yeah. I'm wrapping this sucker up. (What about Michelle Reis's outfits?) Like I said, I want to wear them all. But if I could only choose one, it would definitely be the shiny black dress with the massive slit she wears when we see her cleaning Leon Lai's apartment for the very first time. I also loved her black fishnets and black rubber gloves.  Anyway, this flick is pretty fucking great.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Paris Is Burning (Jennie Livingston, 1990)

Even though this warning might be a little too late (the film is over twenty-five years old). I still think people should be told not to go overboard when it comes to doing research about the eccentric cast of characters who appear in Jennie Livingston's legendary documentary, Paris is Burning. Why? Um, isn't it obvious? Like I said, the film is over twenty-five years old. Meaning, you shouldn't be surprised when you find out that a large number of the cast have passed on. (A large number? They're all dead!) Okay, calm down. The film isn't really about that, it's a celebration of a unique subculture that emerged out of New York City. And that culture is called ball culture. (Isn't this that Madonna movie about voguing or some gay shit like that?) Ugh. Can you believe this? It's almost as if my inner-jagoff is trying to get a rise out of me. To answer your question: No, this isn't that movie. Sure, voguing was an important part of ball culture, but it's about more than striking poses and letting your body move to the music. The film, like all great documentaries, exposes a rarely seen part of life, specifically, LGBTQ+ life. And, for a change, it shows black and Latino gays and trans people doing stuff in an actual movie. Hell, I bet even most New Yorkers at the time had no idea what was going on in their own city. I mean, to call the people seen throughout this movie marginalized would definitely be an understatement.

My favourite non-ball element of the film was the director's constant juxtaposition between the late night balls and daytime New York City. The shots of white New Yorkers going about their business was shockingly awful. Seriously, some of the people they showed walking down the street looked like they were going to a 1980s costume party. Granted, I love the '80s. But even I was like, damn, that's way too much hairspray, girl. And it didn't help that some of the men looked like poster boys for a new strain of diarrhea-causing douchebaggery.
The other of part of the juxtaposing (that's a word, right?) I liked was how it showed that the ball-goers were clearly not welcome in the day-to-day world of late 1980s Manhattan. However, instead of sitting around feeling sorry for themselves, they banded together to create a community. A mini-microcosm where fabulousness is not frowned upon, but celebrated.

Actually, I think that's a bit of an understatement. These people are basically living Liquid Sky, but for real. (You're probably the first person to compare Paris is Burning and Liquid Sky.) I don't know about that. But both films do have a lot in common. Mainly, they're both about groups of people living on the fringes of society who reject traditional gender roles and like to express themselves via jerky dance moves.
The only difference being, I don't recall anyone in Liquid Sky receiving a trophy for giving the best shade. (The best what?) Shade. According to Dorian Corey, a veteran ball queen, it's when you don't have to tell someone they're ugly because they already know they're ugly. That's shade.

Shade is just one example of the unique phraseology used throughout this film. Of course, most viewers will no doubt be bewildered by some of the language. I know I sure was. Thankfully, each phrase is given its own chapter.

Did you know, that before you throw shade someone's way, you usually "read" them first? It's true. Reading is when you point out someone's flaws in a witty manner. Reading then shade. Remember that, kids. As for "realness." That's when a ball performer is able to pass as heterosexual. Sub-categories of "realness" include "thug," "executive," and "schoolboy." And, of course, there's "mopping." Which is basically someone who is obviously wearing an outfit they shoplifted.
If the sense of community wasn't enough. Each ball performer belongs to a "house." Which is a kind of a group or family. And if the leader of the house is, let's say, named Willi Ninja, all other house members adopt "Ninja" as their surname.

So, as you can tell, the film is not only entertaining, it's educational as well. (Then why did you look like you were on the verge of tears at the end?) Oh, you know, I like watching queer people acting fierce and junk. (No, there was something else going on.) Okay, fine. Her name is Venus Xtravaganza (a member of the House of Xtravaganza ) and her story broke my heart. I should have known, given that this was a LGBTQ+ movie, that things would end tragically.
Yes, most of the (main) cast have passed on, which is tragic, too. But Venus Xtravaganza doesn't even make it to the end credits. Now, I don't want to say exactly what happens to her, but... Ahh, fuck. It's just so depressing. Being that she was a trans woman sex worker in late 1980s New York City, it shouldn't come as a shock (in other words, her life was basically always in danger). But still, hearing what happens to her was like a punch to the gut. I'm sorry to end my review on such downer, the film is pretty uplifting in places. Plus, it takes place in New York City in the 1980s. But the death of Venus Xtravaganza was... you know... *takes a deep breath* devastating.

André Christian, Dorian Corey, Paris Duprée, Eileen Ford, Junior Labeija, Pepper LaBeija, Benny Ninja, Sandy Ninja, Willi Ninja, Avis Pendavis, Freddie Pendavis, Kim Pendavis, Sol Pendavis, Stevie Saint Laurent, Octavia St. Laurent, Anji Xtravaganza, Brooke Xtravaganza, Carmen Xtravaganza, Venus Xtravaganza