August 27th, 2014

FADING GIGOLO (2014) **

Woody Allen stars as an old guy who has to close his book store. Strapped for cash, he pimps out his friend, a flower arranger played by John Turturro to various well-to-do women. Predictably, Turturro winds up falling in love with one of his clients, which complicates the situation.

For me, watching a movie about John Turturro playing a man whore with Woody Allen as his pimp is kind of a no-brainer. Especially when he has world class babes like Sharon Stone as clients. Despite the star power, I’m sad to report that Fading Gigolo is a big disappointment.

Now I’m sure Fading Gigolo would’ve been a funny flick had Allen wrote and directed it. Unfortunately, it was Turturro who wrote and directed this thing. And let me tell you, John Turturro is no Woody Allen. Sure, Turturro is a great actor, but he’s not much of a director.

The problem is that the whole thing is just… off. You never really buy the unlikely premise, but even if you go with it, the humor never quite clicks. Turturro is too understated to really be a genuine character, and Woody is curiously restrained. It also doesn’t help that his dialogue comes off as someone TRYING to write like Woody Allen rather than the genuine article.

The sitcom-y set-up aside, there are some good moments here. I liked the scenes of Allen and Turturro divvying up their cut of the man-whoring profits. Unfortunately, these moments are few and far between.

LUST FOR FREEDOM (1987) * ½

Melanie Coll stars as a female undercover cop who loses her shit when she gets her partner (who is also her fiancé) killed in the line of duty. She then starts wandering aimlessly through the desert where she is picked up by a sheriff who escorts her to a women’s prison where the creepy warden sells inmates on the black market, puts them in snuff movies, and uses them in wrestling matches. Melanie finally wakes up out of her stupor and stages a prison escape, along with the help of several inmates.

Lust for Freedom is a bad movie. I had a hard time staying awake through the opening portions of the film. All the shit with Coll’s unnecessarily cluttered backstory eats up way too much screen time. I mean by the time she finally gets to the prison, the flick is almost a third of the way over.

Even the scenes inside the women’s prison can’t save it. Sure, the film hits many of the clichés that you’d expect to see in the genre (shower scenes, lesbianism, body cavity searches, evil matrons, etc.), but even these kind of basic scenes are botched. I did like the whole pro wrestling subplot, which I believe is a first for the genre.

Lust for Freedom never builds up much steam either. The reason for this is because the narrative is so choppy. Scenes just sort of happen at random, and Coll’s inane voiceovers don’t do a very good job at making the transitions cohesive (or coherent in some cases).

One good thing I can say for the film is that Michelle Bauer has a small bit as a lesbian inmate and has an OK sex scene. She’s a much more accomplished actress than Melanie Coll, that’s for sure. If Bauer had swapped parts with her, it wouldn’t have necessarily made it better, but it would’ve been a lot more watchable.

AKA: Sex Prison. AKA: The Sex Experts.