An embarrassing round of "sloppy seconds" for Appellate Judge Tom Becker.
The infamous erotic saga an ashamed star tried to stop!
And here we have an ashamed judge writing about it for a second DVD Verdict review.
Private Screening pairs two previously released DVDs—Lady Libertine and Love Circles—in one unimpressive cellophane-wrapped package. Yes, that's right, no new cases or features or anything like that, just a company burning off some old stock. I believe there was writing on the cellophane, something along the lines of "TWO SKIN CLASSICS," but I could be wrong.
I've wondered this before, let me wonder it again: What exactly is the market for soft-core porn DVDs these days? With hard-core porn so readily available on the Internet and cheesy, bosom-and-butt-laden sex comedies abounding, what is the purpose of resurrecting these atrociously dubbed and ridiculously performed French imports? Yes, the production values are good as far as these things go, and there are a few interesting moments, but by and large, the "plot" is just something that fills time between sex scenes.
Lady Libertine has a bit of reputation because Sophie Favier, who romps about naked, went on to become a French TV game show hostess, or something. In any event, she apparently tried to stop the film from being re-released. If only. A quote on the box from Mr. Skin likens her to Vanna White, who, if not mistaken, once had her own problems with an embarrassing early film resurfacing. Interestingly enough, in his autobiography, Bob Barker claimed he almost became a porn star. Kinda makes you wonder what kind of abominations Howie Mandel's hiding.
Anyway, a 19th Century nobleman takes in "Frank," a runaway teenage boy. The nobleman finds himself oddly drawn to the lad and seems to not notice Frank's subtle yet effective use of eyeliner and lip-gloss, strangely curvaceous shape, or notable absence of an Adam's apple. The rest of us know where this is going. The Crying Game moment occurs when the nobleman pulls down Frank's knickers to administer a birching and finds the lad to be light in the ligaments. There's an overwrought narration, some eye-rolling attempts to depict travel and time passage—including pages being ripped from a calendar—and a reasonable amount of sex. Here and there, we get hints of sado-masochism and kinks, but instead of Story of O this is just Story of "Eh!".
Love Circles is kind of like La Ronde, if La Ronde had been made by a bunch of drunken French tourists. In this one, random people are having sex, their connection being a pack of cigarettes that keeps getting handed off. Apparently, no one actually smokes, because the pack makes its way all around the world unscathed. While the smokes remain snug in their soft pack, people are fornicating in bathrooms, steam rooms, airplanes, furniture stores, and anywhere else they can lay their weary heads.
The film starts out with a voice over from one character, but once he's spent, the whole first-person narration thing gets dropped and the stories get fleshed out a little more. For a crappy piece of soft core, this one has some weirdly ambitious moments, including the aforementioned steam room and airplane trysts, complete with good looking sets and lots of extras, and a strange and idiotic "sister" act—actually, one actress with a tattoo that changes places. None of this makes it any less wretched; the misplaced ambition actually adds to the overall badness.
As I noted, both these discs were released a couple of years ago and were reviewed by DVD Verdict Chief Counsel Rob Lineberger. CC Lineberger and I are on the same page about Love Circles, though he found value in Lady Libertine that escaped my not-so-discriminating eye. As he noted—and shall I—these are '80's era late-night cable movies, nothing more, nothing less. I feel no particular nostalgia for these products of that time, but maybe you do. The women are attractive, the dialogue is laughable, and the films are presented full frame and mono—same as if you were watching them on TV in your dorm. Extra content is non-existent.
If gussied up, soft-core antics from the '80s floats your boat, then pop in a Depeche Mode cassette, pick up an eight pack of ponies, and let the good times roll with this soft French flesh fest. Me, I'm calling it a night, and I'm calling it guilty.
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