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_POSTEDON 2003-04-16 12:03:06 by jimmyd

jimmyD's Opinion jimmyd _writes "

I screened "No Limits" today. "No Limits" is Digital Playground's new digital-film, written and directed by Nic Andrews. If you've ever seen "The Game," directed by "Seven" director David Fincher, you'll figure out this porn-version of "The Game" Andrews' screenplay attempts to play with you before the first act is over. It's too bad, really, because it's obvious a lot of care and hard work went into the making of this glossy, high-end skin-flick. In fact, "No Limits" is more than just a porn-flick inspired by "The Game," it sometimes attempts to recreate scenes from the original. Even the title sequence includes some CG-animation of jigsaw puzzle pieces that, if memory serves me right, is lifted right from "The Game." If my memory has failed me on this one, it certainly lifts this gag from "The Game's" poster. 'CG,' in case you're not up on movie-making abbreviations, stands for 'computer generated.'

Devon's character (who is the lead role) is a career-driven woman whose marriage to Cheyne Collins is on the rocks. And things aren't going all that well for Devon at work either. Brittany Skye is Devon's co-worker. Brittany lets Devon know that the only way to move up the corporate ladder is by giving up some of those goodies Devon likes to advertise in her revealing business outfits. Brittany, while sympathetically massaging Devon's shoulders, tells how she once fucked her boss, played by Herschel Savage. We the see the Brittany/Herschel coupling in a flashback sequence, but it's a little weird in the way it's shot-and-cut as it seems like Devon is the one having Brittany's flashback. But I guess since Devon's the star, it makes some kind of sense. And it does keep the viewer a bit off-balance which is probably a good thing if you're ripping off a movie like "The Game." Besides, maybe that wasn't a shoulder massage Brittany was giving Devon, maybe it was a Vulcan mind-meld. That would explain why Devon seemed to be the one having Brittany's flashback. Later, Devon arrives late for a lunch date with hubby Cheyne. Cheyne's a bit annoyed she's late as it's his birthday. He gives Devon an envelope that contains an invite for her to get in touch with the RCS corporation. I have no idea what RCS stands for. Maybe an explanation was provided. If so, I missed it. Anyway, Devon has no idea what this RCS thing is all about and isn't too pleased, but she later decides to call anyway.

Mike Horner is the main guy at the RCS Corp. Mike keeps Devon waiting in RCS's lobby for a long, long time. (By the way, Nic, there's what looks like an unrendered effect in that lobby sequence--it's the dissolve between Devon sitting in the chair to her pacing in front of the big windows.) Anyway, when Mike finally meets with Devon in his office, he does a great job of not explaining what RCS is all about. And even though Devon gets no answers to her many questions, she's still willing to fill out a whole bunch of paperwork about her personal life, and to submit to a physical that provides a great opportunity for the lab techs to get Devon stripped down to her undies. In all, it seems like Devon spends hours and hours at RCS all the time being clueless as to why she's even there. In fact, the naieve way Devon falls for all this, I'm thinking there's more to her inability to climb the corporate ladder than her unwillingness to fuck the boss. And I'm also thinking her boss must be pretty dense as well, or he should have easily been able to her hustle her out of her clothes at some time or another. There's also a sequence where Devon watches a monitor which flashes words and pictures at her. At first the words and pictures are fairly eclectic, but soon they become very sexual. Devon, whom I guess doesn't get much at home from Cheyne, is so turned on by the images, she decides to diddle herself right there at RCS. Devon later gets a phone call that informs her that her application to RCS has been denied. Devon's kind of pissed, even though she still hasn't a clue what RCS is all about, or why she went there, or just exactly what it is RCS is denying her. And if by this time, you still haven't figured out that "No Limits" is a porn re-telling of "The Game," you've probably never seen "The Game."

Contrary to what I've written about the "No Limits" teaser and trailer, there is sex in this flick: Three boy/girl scenes, two girl/girl scenes, and a solo masturbation scene with Devon. If you're a big fan of watching Jessica Drake have sex, this is a great flick for you as she is a principal in three of the five sex scenes. Jessica, by the way, plays the heavy' in this flick, and she does a fine job of being a hard-nosed bitch. Newcummer Jessie Jane is in one of the girl/girl scenes with Jessica, but she isn't given any dialogue. Whether we should be thankful for that, I don't know--I've never heard Jessie do dialogue.

There are some solid non-sex performers in this flick. The guy who plays Devon's boss is more than a little reminiscent of the guy on the poster for Wes Craven's classic scary movie, "The Hills Have Eyes." Robbie D. plays a bad guy who provides some much needed comedy relief. Mike Horner is, as usual, the perfect performer to deliver long, expository, monologue-ish dialogue. And since one of the big problems with porn movies masquerading as real movies is the limited time the writer/director has to develop story and plot, expository dialogue is often helpful for viewers who actually give a shit about the non-sex elements of a sex flick. Mike Horner is the kind of actor who can usually emote wordy exposition in a believable and palatable manner.

On the technical side, the flick is competently edited, although in a very TV-movie kind of way. Director of Photography Nic Andrews keeps a sure and steady hand on the camera. He has a keen eye for composition and shoots some interesting images. There's very little, if any, hand-held camera work in this movie--even during the sex scenes, and that adds a lot of time and work to any porn production, but it's what makes it look professional and cinematic. There's good use of dolly shots and generally, this digital-film is well-lit, although the lighting gag in the furnace is a little hokey. Nic puts the acronym ASP with his name for his Director of Photography (DP) credit. At the risk of sounding uninformed, I'm not sure what this stands for: American Society of Photographers? American Society of Pornographers? The soundtrack, unfortunately, is empty. George Lucas says sound is 50% of the experience. If that's true, when watching "No Limits" we're missing 50% of what could have been there. There's very little foley and ambient sound. If it's there, I sure couldn't hear it. For not too many bucks more, this thing could have had a full and vibrant soundtrack which would have added immense value to this flick. Next time you shoot something like this, Nic, give me a call. My partner can provide you with a soundtrack that will knock your socks off, assuming you usually wear socks--and for a reasonable cost. (How's that for a shameless, self-promoting plug?) The music is generally effective, although sometimes a bit overbearing. There seems to be a lot of Andrewses in the credits in addition to Nic's credits. Was this production a family affair?

Nic's screenplay is, as is often the case in porn flicks, uneven and sometimes contrived. And it's not that Nic wrote a generally contrived screenplay, but he might have bit off more than any porn director could chew by using, as a model for this film, a very, very complex plot when he decided to use "The Game" as the inspiration for this porn movie. In feature porn you have to tell a story and still take time to provide the sex scenes. This gives you less and less time to tell the story. Consequently, you have to contrive plot points to carry the story forward. Maybe RCS stands for Really Contrived Story, I don't know. What I do know is I'd like to see Nic write something completely original in some future work. Something that's all Nic. Something that doesn't borrow or pretend or plagiarize or knock-off some Hollywood mainstream flick. Nic obviously has the talent, so this shouldn't be too hard for him to achieve.

The women all look hot in this flick. Personally, I'd love to gag Devon with a piece of duct tape and tie her hands as is done in one of the flick's scenes. But I sure wouldn't waste time teasing her with a blow torch.

"No Limits" sets and locations all work effectively. In fact, the art direction all looks good. I'm wondering if Red Ezra, who is credited with being an Assistant Director, might have had something to do with this. He's a pretty good art director as seen in some Michael Raven flicks. My friend Mike Tristano's guns all look great.

All in all, "No Limits" is an impressive effort. It's a bit like a TV-movie-gone-porno, but the fact is, there's only a handful of directors in this biz who could even pull that off.

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