Monday, June 24, 2013

False Confessions: "Confessions" (1977)

1977 was a productive year for porn auteur Anthony Spinelli. Not only did he direct the silly identity switch film "Expectations", he also helmed the hilariously titled "Oriental Babysitter," and this standard flick.

Spinelli doesn't need any identity switching here, telling the story of Beth (Kristine Heller), a bored housewife who can't get sex from her moron husband Gary (John Leslie), and goes out looking for it. She picks up a biker (Peter Johns) in the film's only "action sequence", then seduces her husband's boss (Joey Silvera) in a kinda funny party scene. She answers an ad in the paper and humiliates Howard (Jack Wright), much to his wife's (Dory Devon) amusement, before letting herself be with the wife as well. Eventually, Beth turns to prostitution (all because goofy Gary won't satisfy her in bed?).

Spinelli's direction is different from most porn only because he actually directs. The late 1970s decor seems more outlandish here, adding to the by the numbers screenplay, which is just a series of sexual encounters set against a very weak plot frame.

The lead actress, Kristine Heller, a girl next door type, is so refreshingly different from other tarted up starlets who all eventually look alike. She committed suicide in 1989. if you believe internet rumors, and that is sad. It is unsettling to watch someone who has fallen victim to abuse, illness, or an early death perform such an intimate act as sex onscreen. The rest of the cast literally go through the motions, but I cannot get Heller out of my head. This is unerotic stuff.

"Confessions," also known as "Confessions of a Woman," is standard, despite Vinegar Syndrome's DVD release. It is slightly worse than "Expectations," and no different than any other adult film. I don't confess to liking this film very much. (*) out of five stars.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Lower Your Expectations, You'll Thank Me: "Expectations" (1977)

This pornographic film may be more famous today because of its film-like quality, not the actual sex itself.

I am using the participants' real names, as found on IMDb.com, since the credits are full of pseudonyms. Margo (Delania Raffino) is bored with her man, and wants a change. She puts an ad in an "underground newspaper" (the film takes place in San Francisco), and meets up with Montana (Chris Cassidy). Margo plans to switch identities with Montana, and live the life of a "loose woman". Montana apparently has connections, makes all the arrangements, and Margo goes to Montana's apartment to live. Instantly, Joey (Joey Silvera) stops over for a little smack and tickle. Meanwhile, Montana settles into Margo's pad, and Margo's brother Vincent (Jack Wright) stops by. Because of an unexplained eye patch and a penchant for incestuous fantasy, Vincent is already the most interesting character in this group...and the two women explore their new lives sexually.

If this had not been a porn film, it would not have been made. The identity switch is completely idiotic. Margo is a mousy brunette, and Montana is an oddly built platinum blonde. The idea is ridiculous to start with, and the only reason the audience follows along is to see some sex.

The film's cinematography and widescreen are notable only because they exist. There is nothing special about either, and my mind wandered during many scenes (count how many lamps Montana turns off, it's a fun game). The acting is porn-standard, and the music is laughable, pieces ending and others beginning in the middle of scenes. The film is narrated by Margo and Montana, badly, and I can't remember when even that was dropped before a final coda at the end of the film.

The director, Anthony Spinelli, was the brother of mainstream actor Jack Weston. I can only imagine some of their conversations around the dinner table at Thanksgiving- "I just appeared in 'The Four Seasons' with Alan Alda", "Wow, I just directed 'Between the Sheets' with Seka". Some of Spinelli's shots are interesting, and the sex scenes don't follow the tried and true formula, teasing the audience. Although, a lesbian scene between Margo and African-American actress Desiree West never goes beyond softcore, making the viewer ask why it was cut.

All in all, "Expectations" is just what you might expect from a pornographic film as the cusp of the video age. They don't make them like this anymore, and that might be a good thing. (*) out of five stars.