Friday, May 9, 2014

Hollywood Babylon

Title:  Hollywood Babylon
Studio:  Evil Angel Director:  Dana Vespoli
Release Date:  April 30, 2014
Performers:  Sovereign Syre, Valentina Nappi, Steven St Croix, James Deen, Ryan Driller, Dana Dearmond, Ramon Nomar, Dana Vespoli (non sex), JM Darling (non sex), and Michael Vegas (non sex)

As an adjective, the word “gifted” means “having exceptional talent or natural ability.”  The noun, “genius,” is defined as “exceptional intellectual or creative power or other natural ability.”  Both apply to Dana Vespoli, and after Hollywood Babylon, it’s hard to imagine what she might still have to prove to anyone.

Hollywood Babylon is the dark tale of a young woman, played brilliantly by Sovereign Syre, owner of the most kissable lips in porn, who makes her boy-girl debut in this feature (no pressure there…).  The term “nuance” isn’t often applied when describing a performance in an adult video, but it applies to Syre’s portrayal in this feature.  She’s the whole package:  intellectually powerful, emotionally intelligent, and physically beautiful – it’s a rare combination, but Sovereign Syre has it.

But this isn’t a solo video.  Vespoli has surrounded Sovereign with a cast that is more than equal to the task of telling this story and making us believe it.  Of course it doesn’t take much willing suspension of disbelief to consider the things that happen in this movie as being normal Hollywood behavior.  So, the sex in Hollywood Babylon is PART of the story, not tacked onto the plot.  The trouble with a good portion of so-called story driven porn is that the sex and the story aren’t always in sync.  We get plot, and then suddenly it’s off with the clothes and in with the penis.  Then more story until it’s time for the next sex scene (see pretty much every porn parody ever created).  Hollywood Babylon makes sex part of the plot and the performers stay in character even with their clothes off.

Trust.  Performers have to be able to trust the director and the director has to be able to trust her/his performers.  Sovereign Syre took a risk, switching from exclusively girl-girl roles to boy-girl.  What if it flopped?  There was a lot of anticipation and quite a bit of discussion among her legion of fans – some were not in favor, of course, and wanted her to remain solely on the distaff side.  I applauded her decision to make the boy-girl leap and I was rewarded by a performance every bit as passionate and intensely personal as any Sovereign Syre performance to date.  The trust that exists between Syre and Vespoli had to have been a major factor in the success of this picture.

Of the supporting cast, Steven St Croix and Dana Dearmond really stand out.  St Croix plays Syre’s plastic surgeon/Svengali in a performance that should earn him some serious consideration for an acting award.  And, Dana Dearmond…what can I say?  It boggles my mind that this gifted performer doesn’t have an entire house full of awards.  She is MONEY.  I have never seen her give a performance that I didn’t like.  She’s a terrific actress and as a sexual performer few can match her intensity, passion, sense of playfulness, and, when called upon, her streak of absolute bat shit craziness/sexual insanity.  As a man, if you can keep up with Dana Dearmond, you own my respect.  At one point in the movie, she’s just been assfucked by James Deen and she goes A2M, which is pretty standard in porn these days, but what she does after the money shot will completely blow you away.  I’m not telling what she did, but when you see it, you’ll know what it is I’m talking about.

And, then there’s James Deen.  He plays the sleezy, cigar smoking, starlet poking, Hollywood producer as if he were born to the part.  He has Sovereign’s very first boy girl scene and he gets her started with a bang.  He completely dominates Sovereign from the moment she enters the scene and never lets up. The money shot will be a classic, and the way the scene ends is a great example of having sex in character. 

Ramon Nomar, Valentina Nappi, and Ryan Driller are excellent in supporting roles and their performances are also worthy of note.  Valentina Nappi is a talented Italian import who gave a terrific performance in Vespoli’s Girl Boy in a three-way that also featured Ramon Nomar.  Driller is a proven performer with about 200 videos to his credit during his six year career in Adult.  He demonstrates why he gets steady work in the business here.

But there’s no question about who the star is in Hollywood Babylon:  Sovereign Syre.  She’s in every sex scene, all five of them, and in each case she delivers the goods, whether one on one or in groups.  More than that, however, her portrayal of an innocent young woman driven mad by the psychosexual maelstrom she encounters during her quest for Hollywood’s version of perfection is note perfect.  Her belief that success will come when she achieves perfection is her undoing.  We see her story unfold in a series of flashbacks and voice overs as she’s being interviewed by a Police Detective.  I don’t want to say more because the plot is worth watching and I don’t want to give away the story.  There’s a terrific plot twist at the very end worthy of M. Night Shyamalan.

Let me just say that if I had seen this in a theater, I would have felt compelled to give it a standing ovation as the final scene faded to black.  This, of course, would have proved rather embarrassing to me for reasons which should not require explanation.

For Sovereign Syre the question is how to follow this.  Having put her toe into the boy-girl stream, what will she do next?  Whatever it is, I’m fairly certain I’ll be acquiring a copy and watching it.  She is now, and has been for some time, on my short list of performers whose name associated with a project automatically gets me to take a look.

If you have not yet seen Hollywood Babylon, please take my advice and do so at your earliest convenience.  I think you will find that everything I have said about it is absolutely true.  It is even possible that I have under-sold this feature, or failed to use enough superlatives.  Well, one can only do so much.  Kudos to Evil Angel for once again giving Dana Vespoli the opportunity to do what she does so well.

So, there’s nothing left but for you to close this page and go rent/buy Hollywood Babylon and then tell all of your friends to go and do the same.  I think you’ll all be happy with the results.

1 comment:

  1. Even though I have a Masters Degree in Mass Communication, and I've studied how human beings perceive and how they process those perceptions, it still comes as a shock when someone tells me they had the exact opposite reaction to a particular video. In this case, the above reviewed "Hollywood Babylon."

    Someone whose opinion I respect told me today that they had watched the movie based on my recommendation but that they were very disappointed with what they saw and thought I should have been tougher on it. In fact, this individual, again whose opinion I really respect, speculated on whether or not I could be considered a credible reviewer based on how far off this person thought I was with my review.

    OK, fair enough. I know that it is possible for two people to watch the same movie and come away with totally different impressions, but in this case I was left with some doubts, mainly because of who it was that was calling me out. It made me think. Am I being too soft on things I like or directors/performers whose work I admire? I suppose it is possible. I take great pains to be positive on this blog, and perhaps I go too far sometimes. I now only review movies that really spoke to me on some level.

    Was "Hollywood Babylon" perfect? By no means. Why didn't I point out the imperfections? I didn't see the point because this movie touched me more with its story than anything else. Could it have benefited from a larger budget? Absolutely. Were there technical flaws, or scenes that could have been realized better with more resources? Probably. But the total package, in my view, remains sound. Dana Vespoli took HUGE risks here. So did Sovereign Syre. Perhaps in my desire to support this type of creative risk taking I may have gone overboard in the "gush" department.

    But I still think this movie is worth watching. And if after you watch it you disagree, please say so here (respectfully of course). I value input if it helps me to write better, more credible, reviews. Thanks for listening.


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