Cinema-Manaic: Lucky Bastard (2014) Review

It’s my immense displeasure that the first ever rated “NC-17” found footage film is also one of the worst films of it kind. Poor cinematography aside this is below the level incompetency not just from a storytelling perspective but as film-making as a whole.

Lucky Bastard is a “found footage” thriller about a porn website run by Mike that invites fans to have sex with porn stars. Supposedly the film claims it’s captured by the “Lucky Bastard” porn cameras and “is a fresh take on the “found footage” genre”. It does not bring a fresh perspective in the found footage genre. If anything it singlehandedly proves why this genre is very weak when it comes to telling a story. It is lazy, filled with plot holes, detestable characters, an absence of logic, and filled with enough material to teach young filmmakers how not make a film. These filmmakers behind “Lucky Bastard” are very talented to have made something beyond simply being awful.

The film begins by telling audiences that the “found footage” film is made of real footage with permissions of the signed participant to legally show the footage. “Found footage” filmmakers if you’re claiming your film contains real footage it’s a good idea to A.) Not include credits of the actors B.) Go with a credible premise and reasonable profession to why the person is constantly filming, and C.) Do not ever insert footage of a “real” crime scene if you only have one possible candidate for the killer. The opening title card is pretentious saying “For too long the adult entertainment industry has pushed the limit of not only obscenity but common sense”. Well I would blame propaganda films like “The Birth of A Nation” that idolizes the KKK that pushed the limit of common sense, but surely porn has done something worse. I mean who am I to argue about obscenity against the filmmakers. I have only seen several animals actually being killed on screen and a one containing an actual autopsy of a kid, but I’m sure the filmmakers would have some good argument to make a claim that bold. One viewing later and the filmmakers have no supporting arguments.

The first eight minutes are entirely pointless. In these eight minutes we see a woman objecting to filming rape porn, but then turns out she is filming rape porn. A bit of a redundant start and keeps getting lower (much to my surprise). I mention these eight minutes because male genitalia is censored in a “NC-17” rated film. The reasoning behind this makes no sense since naked women never come up censored. Not that I want to see male genitalia in my movie, but this is “NC-17” and if the film is set in the porn industry it should not hold anything back. We get a series of unlikable “victims” and questionable editing of why certain scenes were retain. In one scene a porn actress flirtatiously speaks to the camera and orgasm of the idea of doing taxes including a specific detail about saving money with coupons. Sadly this is the most erotic moment in the film since the whole picture lacks nudity and anyone with a personality.

Our so called “Lucky Bastard” is a stereotypical killer who you could tell is crazy from first sight (even the poster gives it away). The opening eight minutes eliminate any mystery since we know this random guy from the internet has no connection to any of the other characters. The killer is the most likable character because he is justified his action. The producer, cameraman, and porn stars are given no redeemable traits. We are told these people have kids, but are constantly mistreating the “Lucky Bastard” you find it difficult want cheer for the heroes death.

You think a website whose service allows viewers to have sex with porn stars would have a better idea of how to approach things like this. Not according to the film. There is a scene where our “Lucky Bastard” has a boner in the van and the producer tells him to go into a public restroom in a restaurant and wank off. Luckily the killer doesn’t take the producer advice, but why in the world anyone record something for a porn site in a public restaurant. Also, what kind of producer just tells someone to wank off in a public place out of nowhere. One thing I couldn’t buy (like my time back) was the porn star character. The porn star who agreed to have sex with the customer claims she’s a professional and has standards. That very difficult to believe when she agreed to have sex with some random crazy looking fan and was easily persuaded to do so.

I like the speech the producer gives to the “Lucky Bastard” about how if their was no more women they would be no more porn. Not true, there has to be around over a million sites just dedicated to porn and there’s these thing called computers and DVDs that can save these kind of videos. Sure straight and lesbian porn would no longer continue, but there literally thousands of hours of this stuff recorded on the internet. Also homoerotica would thrive in the industry since it would be the only new content being made and you think a guy working in the adult entertainment industry would know that.

When it comes time to the actual killings they disappoint. The killer is not bright killing one of the workers on camera, in broad daylight in a neighborhood, and when cars are passing by him committing the murder. The killer eliminate the rest by hitting one in the head with a bat and shooting three other victims in the back. Talk about lack of creativity in your killer. The killer also tells a guy to pointlessly wank off before pistol whipping him to death. As for the final death it’s unsatisfying for it also ends with someone being shot. I would sympathize with some of the victims, except they deserved it. One was constantly cheating on his wife and seeing how he mistreated his crew I find it difficult to feel any remorse for that specific character. The same could be applied to this film. It’s pretends to have something significant to say and a deep story that you can’t but hate it just for its immense pretentiousness.

“Lucky Bastard” is “found footage” film-making at it worst being pretentious believing it’s deep without a strong argument. The ambiguity of the mystery is diminish within minutes and giving us unlikable heroes is among the worse offense eliminating suspense. The killer is obvious and the way he kills his victims leaves something to be desired. The editing is cheap, the photography is hardly viewable without the camera shaking, and the acting is nonexistent. It has a terrible story that a porno would be embarrassed to have.


Cinema-Maniac: Sexy Evil Genius (2013) Review

Sexy Evil Genius is about a group of exes drawn to the same bar in downtown Los Angeles by an ex-girlfriend they all have in common. There is not a whole lot to talk discuss when it comes to this film. It is entirely driven by dialogue and is primarily set in a bar. I don’t have a problem dialogue heavy film so long some good writing can compensate for it. In the case of this it does not. The story has no structure of any kind and goes too much into flashbacks. My main problem with the film is the lack of character development. We get to know the ex-girlfriend very well, but the other main characters not as much. The plot does go into some interesting dark places at the cost of tonal consistency. The history this ex-girlfriend has with our main character is also interesting. The plot constantly builds around the big reveal for gathering all these people together with an underwhelming payoff. It constantly shift motivations for why this gathering is happening and by the time it changes reasons for the third time your patience will be tested. At times the conversation are interesting and at other they will bore repeating already established plot points.

The only sure positive praise I can give to this film is the ensemble cast. They play off one another well enough to keep things interesting even when the plot doesn’t. The cast good chemistry with one another pays off for some fun moments when the material is good. The cinematography on the other hand is boring. The camera either slowly turns in one direction or stands still. That’s about it when it come to what you see aside from every shot being basic. It’s not an interesting looking film because of it and you could tell the direction is struggling how tell the story on limited resources. Also the director has a thing for lens flares when filming a flashback. Sexy Evil Genius overall is okay for a one time watch for the fun cast, but the underwhelming writing will prevent some from completely having a good time.


Cinema-Maniac: The Story Of Luke (2013) Review

This year hasn’t been a good year for comedies with the likes of Scary Movie 5, Movie 43, A Haunted House, and InAPPropriate Comedy failing to garner even a chuckle. The Story of Luke while nothing original the execution brings the best elements of the script to life with a cast that balances the dynamic in the characters.

The Story of Luke is about Luke, a young man with autism, who is thrust into a world that doesn’t expect anything from him. The story is old fashioned with the humor coming from the interaction from the protagonist in his situations. Luke has an interesting dynamic where his disorder remains consistent to the plot. It’s not solely used as a plot device and becomes a characteristic of Luke. The humor is not haha funny, but when it makes a joke it delivers. It plays more the dramatic side dealing with themes of death, acceptance, and moving on. These dramatic elements are well woven into the plot where you feel invested towards what is happening. The dramatic elements while serious allow room for jokes that don’t be feel force. The plot tends to rely on Luke and the people around him telling him what to do. Some of Luke goals are realistic and some plot points are introduce only to return when the plot needs them too. What it might lack in originality it satisfies with an effective balance of both comedy and drama.

Star Lou Taylor Pucci is an embodiment of his role. Not only does find a tight tuned balance between the agitation and kindness of his character, but also respectfully portrays with autism disorder accurately. Being able to laugh with Taylor Pucci in his comedic situations because of how more lighthearted his take is. Seth Green in a surprising supporting role makes for an equally funny supporting actor. He plays his at times rude character with a good spirit. His scenes with Taylor Pucci can make for ones that are both touching and humorous. Green is allow more capabilities making a fun contrast towards Taylor Pucci characteristic. The supporting cast do fine in their roles. Each cast member is given their own specific scene to shine whether it’s Cary Elwes lack of idea of how help one of his kids or Kristin Bauer van Straten opening up. The direction works creating a tone that never gears too much on direction and pacing that never feels like a scene is dragged.

The Story of Luke is wholesome comedy that is more a lighthearted take on autism while being sincere and not using the disease as a plot device. With a strong lead in Lou Taylor Pucci embodying his character both comically and dramatically carries it flawlessly. The Story of Luke is a film that is more than deserving of a bigger audience in a year filled with notable bad comedies The Story of Luke is one very good standout.