GENRE: Straight Feature
DIRECTORS: Brad Armstrong
STARS: Jessica Drake, Shay Sights, Roxanne Hall, Avena Lee, Nikki Benz, Randy Spears, Joey Ray, Rick Patrick, Brad Armstrong, Tommy Gunn,
DATES OF PRODUCTION: 2004
LENGTH: 130 mins without bonus material
Obsession is a tricky concept. On one hand, there is nothing wrong with a little healthy wonder, a desire to dig deeper into a subject or know as much as possible about a person, place or thing. You know what they say about curiosity and that darn cat. The art of fascination, however, is so strong, so tied directly into our other emotional centers that it can easily become a panacea, a drug if you will. And just like any other escape from reality, passion can become addictive, taken to extremes by individuals without the control to conquer their driving needs. In these cases, obsession turns dangerous and frightening, pushed to the limits and wandering precariously into abuse and criminality. It is such an intense infatuation that stalking is born from it, a seemingly unquenchable need to feed one's all-consuming ardor.
So this begs the question can such a subject be funny? Light and frivolous? Dealt with in a manner that's more satiric than serious? Porn director Brad Armstrong seems to think so. After exploring the dark side of love with 2004's monumental Eye of the Beholder, the filmmaker is back with a decidedly silly take on lust and longing. Walking a fine line between drama and spoof, One Man's Obsession casts Jessica Drake as the statuesque object of Randy Spear's schlep stalker desire. As he did with Beholder, Armstrong proves once again that he is an incredibly capable moviemaker. But instead of delivering one of the year's best hardcore delights, we get a great piece of gratuity that can't seem to shake some of the more troubling tenets involving individual desire.
Randy Spears is a man obsessed. He is fascinated by and lusts after Jessica Drake, a model/actress that lives in his neighborhood. He watches her from his window, binoculars poised, pen ready to record her every action. Along one wall, a pictorial shrine exists, featuring photos taken or stolen by this slightly disturbed dufus. During the day, he follows Jessica with a video camera concealed in a lunch pail. At night, he sits and fantasizes about his dream girl. Unfortunately, Jessica is getting wise to his pseudo-stalker ways, and she will do anything to protect herself even going to the police when things take a turn for the weird.
It has to be said that Brad Armstrong is, perhaps, one of the few consummate filmmakers in porn. This is not to detract from other amazing moviemakers Robby D., Michael Ninn, Chi Chi La Rue but when it comes to pure plot driven adult features, it's hard to argue with Armstrong's results. Last year, he delivered the devastatingly erotic thriller Eye of the Beholder, not only one of the best hardcore films ever made, but one of the best MOVIES to come out of the industry, period. Armstrong understands what makes cinema work: he understands the canvas of characters, the need for atmosphere and narrative, the importance of logic and logistics. He just doesn't throw fuck and suck into a standard storyline, or use plot as a way to get to the pussy. He finds a way in which to meld the many divergent elements of pornography and mainstream moviemaking into a single, sensational package.
One Man's Obsession is another winner from the adult auteur. While it's not up to the level of success seen in Eye of the Beholder (this is a comedy, always a tricky subject even without the nookie), it's still an engaging, entertaining combination of straight sensuality and filmmaking prowess. Armstrong wisely casts Randy Spears as his lead, allowing the macho meat puppet a chance to, once again, show his substantial acting chops. Even though it's hard to imagine him EVER being rejected by a woman, Spears sells the lustful longing perfectly. Surprisingly, Jessica Drake is also up to the thespian challenge. While she does seem to have a single note irritated supermodel it fits her character perfectly. Besides, she can really slam the salami. One of the best aspects of Armstrong's films is that he makes his female leads WORK for the billing. Getting the chance to see Ms. Drake in four of the seven scenes, doing everything from a simple blowjob to a powerhouse three-way, makes sure we get our featured star money's worth. Add in the stellar work of the supporting cast and you've got a wonderful, wanton entertainment.
Before we continue on with a critique of the filmmaking, it's important to discuss the suck and fuck in the film. Armstrong always delivers the high heat, and One Man's Obsession is no different. We begin with:
Scene 1: Jessica Drake, Cheyene Collins
Sex Positions: Blow Job, Fingering, Cunnilingus, Mish, Cowgirl, Anal Fingering, V to M, Doggy, $hot on Tits, Oral Cleanup
Plot Point: As Spears' nebbish stalker looks on, Jessica "entertains" one of her regular man friends.
In a match-up of very pretty people even if Cheyene has gained a pound or ten we start off the sex part of One Man's Obsession on a very high note. Allowing the passion to flow between his performers, Armstrong uses his camera to witness, not impose upon this potent coupling. And as she will prove throughout the film, Jessica blows a mean boner, and loves to finger he own fetlocks. Cheyene delivers a devastating dicking, pumping like a madman in response to Jessica's obvious pleasure. As an introduction to what Armstrong has to offer on the XXX side of the story, this first scene is a winner. Score: 8 out of 10.
Scene 2: Shay Sights, Joey Ray
Sex Positions: Foreplay, Blow Job, Deep Throating, Cunnilingus, Fingering, Reverse Cowgirl, Doggy, Anal Reverse Cowgirl, Anal Spooning, $hot in Mouth and Face, Oral Cleanup
Plot Point: As a photographer prepares to shoot model Jessica, two members of the crew 'get it on'.
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In a sensational one-two punch of porn, our second scene is, perhaps, the best in the entire film. Shay is a BIG girl, in more than one way or should that be TWO ways. She matches up against good old doughy Joey Ray perfectly, and with the fantastic fantasy pool location as a backdrop, this sizzling sequence really registers on the old dong gong. Ms. Sights uses her ample assets well here, thrusting them in Joey's face whenever she gets the chance, and Mr. Ray responds with an intense, yet still intimate, porking. It would be nice to see this couple work again. As she proved when she rode Evan Stone for all he was worth in One Night in Vegas, Shay compliments any man she makes it with. Score: 9 out of 10.
Scene 3: Jessica Drake, Randy Spears
Sex Positions: Foreplay, Blow Job, Deep Throating, Froggy, Reverse Cowgirl, Standing Doggy, $hot in Mouth and Face, Oral Cleanup
Plot Point: Overwhelmed by the desert sun, Randy hallucinates that he's finally fucking the girl of his dreams.
The third time is indeed the charm here, as we get our two leads rocking and rolling for the one and only time in the film. And as a carnal couple, they are magic. Randy does his usual old pro pussy pounding, proving that no one cleaves cunt like he does. And showing that her initial Scene 1 foray into fucking was no fluke, Jessica matches her leading man stroke for stroke. Again, the waterworld milieu really accentuates the sex, and as the passion grows, the tanned and toned bodies of the performers become slicked with sensual sweat. For these first three scenes alone, One Man's Obsession should be part of every porn fan's collection. Score: 9 out of 10.
Scene 4: Jessica Drake, Tommy Gunn
Sex Positions: Blow Job, Belt Fu, $hot in Mouth and Face, Oral Cleanup
Plot Point: Jessica thanks her friend Tommy for the ride home.
As stated before, Jessica can sure puff peter, and Mr. Gunn is the lucky recipient of this oral only outing. Using that now-clichιd concept of a blowjob by a hot car (obviously tapping into the Freudian fantasies of the average 'dude') and filled with carefully considered angles to maximize the meat manipulation, this is an excellent, exciting scene. Too bad Tommy doesn't get a chance to ride Ms. Drake here. One imagines they would make a terrific poon pair. Score: 7 out of 10.
Scene 5: Nikki Benz, Rick Patrick
Sex Positions: Foreplay, Tit Play, Cunnilingus, Blow Job, Cowgirl, Doggy, Mish, $hot on Face, Oral Cleanup
Plot Point: Nikki, Jessica's sister, brings a date over to the apartment for some afternoon delight. Little does she know that Spears is lurking inside.
As with most hardcore pornography, a scene is only as good as its couple. Sometimes, a director can save it, but usually, if there is no chemistry between the actors, no amount of cinematic technique is going to salvage the sex. Such is the case with Nikki and Rick. Ms. Benz has a Jesse Jane gone to horrible seed look about her, with big fake balloon breasts off-setting her paltry, petite frame. Mr. Patrick is the very definition of a long-torsoed jarhead, an oddly shaped man who seems to have inherited a certain Frankie N. Stein's flat dome. As they go through the motions and make their monkey noises, they generate a small amount of sensuality. But this is by far the worst sex scene in the film. It's not horrible...it's just not very hot. Score: 5.5 out of 10.
Scene 6: Roxanne Hall, Randy Spears
Sex Positions: Tit Sucking, Cunnilingus, Fingering, V to M, Blow Job with Mask, Mish, Reverse Cowgirl, Anal Pile Drive, $hot in Mouth and Mask
Plot Point: Hoping to find a way to fuck his dream girl for real, Randy hires hooker Roxanne and makes her wear a Jessica mask.
Everything that can be said about Scene 2 applies here, from the wonderfully erotic pairing of Mr. Spears and Ms. Hall, to the dynamic drilling going on. A single point is deducted for the use of that strange paper mask. Every man in the audience will be worried about a penile paper cut as Randy gets a fake-faced blowjob. Still, Roxanne has a killer rack, and really plays up her prostitute part. After the log letdown of Scene 5, it's nice to see the movie back on the terrific tool time track. Score: 8 out of 10.
Scene 7: Jessica Drake, Avena Lee, Brad Armstrong
Sex Positions: Girl/Girl Foreplay, Blow Job, Dueling Head, Mish, Cunnilingus, Face Sitting, Alternating V to M, Doggy, Anal Fingering, Anal Reverse Cowgirl, $hot in Mouth and Face, Oral Cleanup, Snowballing
Plot Point: During play rehearsal, Jessica and Avena give director Armstrong a lesson in lovin'.
In the final fuck fest of the film, Armstrong carefully crafts a magnificent mιnage. This is a lesson in slow burn and build-up, as we get some substantial female foreplay and all around oral before the banging begins. Once we move into smut mode, the steaminess is substantial. The sex is easy to follow and full of Eros, and just when you think all the possible positions have been explored, Jessica, Avena and Brad find yet another guy/gal/gal combo. The sole downside to this delightful debauchery is the length of the scene. It goes by too quickly, ending just as it was building to a bountiful climax. Score: 7.5 out of 10.
When you care about the characters in a porn film, you know you're in the hands of a gifted filmmaker. By the end of One Man's Obsession, we want Randy and Jessica to get together, to cast aside the obvious tension created by Spears' stalking and see what happens when the two finally connect. Armstrong leads us along for over two hours, and as the scenes both straight and hardcore pass by, our devotion to these people increases. By the end we want closure, any manner of wrap-up, just to satisfy our coupling curiosity. But the director pulls a fast one here. Initially, he leaves the finale open ended, leaving us to wonder what, if anything, will happen between the pair. It actually almost works as a more serious consideration on the subject. But in kind of a cop-out, Armstrong then delivers a scene over the credits that almost ruins the entire storyline. It would be very easy to view Jessica as some manner of slut, since she seems to fuck everyone on the planet. Her treatment of Spears at the end seems more like a 'you go girl' moment for the female audience members than a real resolution to the narrative Armstrong created.
Indeed, there are a few times when the magic of Beholder is missing in One Man's Obsession. Since that previous effort was an erotic thriller, there was mystery to be unraveled as well as all the character concerns in the storyline. In addition, Evan Stone was a clear villain, someone who we were supposed to root against and fear. Here, Spears is just a misguided goof, not really dangerous to anyone except himself. While she may match Kaylani Lei (the lead in Beholder) in the category of looks, Jessica is a very limited motion picture performer. Her line readings all have a kind of Valley girl vibe that grows grating toward the end. While it fits the part she is playing, she definitely doesn't win our sympathy the way Ms. Lei did. Still, these are very minor quibbles, concerns one usually doesn't mind in adult entertainment. If all you are looking for is steamy sex within an actual FILM, One Man's Obsession will definitely fill the bill. While it's not his best work, it does prove that Brad Armstrong is one of hardcore's most gifted filmmakers.
If there is one minor flaw in what is otherwise an amazing movie, it's the decision to transfer the image to 1.33:1 full screen. Something as cinematic as this movie calls out for widescreen. In Eye of the Beholder, Armstrong proved he has the techinical and aesthetic know-how to create amazing compositions and interesting framing. Here, everything is open matt and flat. It takes us out of the motion picture mode and directly into home video variables. While the presentation is pristine near reference quality the lack of letterbox is a distraction.
Matching the visuals tech spec for tech spec, the audio elements of One Man's Obsession are, quite frankly, amazing. We are treated to a stellar Dolby Digital Stereo soundtrack filled with crystal clear dialogue and nicely evocative music. But if, for some reason, you only want to hear talking (read sex noises) or tunes only, those options are here as well. Heck, you can even get your secret Teutonic freak on by listening to the German language version of the film as well. It is indeed a trip.
Presented in a tricked-out 2 DVD set from Wicked, One Man's Obsession is jam-packed with added content. Disc 1 contains two interesting extras. First up is a trailer for the film that really sells its silly, good-natured tone. Then, we are treated to a full-length audio commentary between director Armstrong and star Drake. In an unusual move for many adult DVD tracks, our duo actually talk DURING the sex scenes, adding little bits of information during the dicking. Jessica is especially vocal whenever she sees an oral sex sequence, as she grades many of her co-stars by how well they "eat box". From learning the back story on one of Jessica's more "prominent" tattoos (it's a simple red heart taken to ridiculous extremes) to how home baked cookies can help you win an AVN award, there is a lot of colloquial, anecdotal material here.
Armstrong is especially vocal about the problems with some of the more "public" locations, and Drake occasionally shills for some of the various props up for auction at Wicked Pictures.com. Overall this is an engaging, if rather sparse, alternate narrative track, with as much pleasing content as long, silent passages. In the true definition of this type of bonus feature, it is more of a comment on the film, not the nuts and bolts and bush of how it was made.
Disc 2 holds the remainder of the goodies, and it's loaded to the gratuitous gills as well. If you can't be bothered by plot and just want to seem some good fuck and suck, call up the one hour behind the scenes sex reel, where we see each of the five major sequences (only the Tommy Gunn blowjob is absent) as they were choreographed and shot. There are minimal moviemaking moments, but this is really just a lot of banging bump and grind. If you are interested in how the film was made however, you can access the 35-minute Making-Of featurette. Armstrong walks us through each day of the production, and we learn the logistics of shot selection, as well as the difficulty in working with "straight" actors in a porn film.
The Girls of One Man's Obsession is a nice video photo shoot montage, offering up a chance to see the featured gals as they strut their stuff. In addition, there is a blooper reel, a fun on the set short (mostly gags and goofs from the cast), a three minute interview with Jessica, trailers, galleries, star stats, Wicked Promo reels and lots of DVD-Rom content.
Lastly, we are treated to a five-minute three-way blowjob scene from Armstrong's The Collector. Jessica is again the star, and she takes on Cheyene Collins, Voodoo and Chris Cannon in a short but sweet suck-off. All the men are dressed, and wearing weird masks. Jessica is down on her knees lunching on log. When it's over, she takes a triple shot of spunk before we fade out. Not the hottest scene on the disc, a score of 5 out of 10 will indicate its value as a bonus.
Though it fails to live up to the standards of excellence achieved by his Eye of the Beholder, Brad Armstrong's One Man's Obsession is still a funny and smart sex film. It features rip roaring hardcore, excellent performances and a story that only stumbles a little bit on its way to wantonness. On the Disco Dirge Peter Meter, the film rates a spectacular 9 out of 10, and is highly recommended. It misses the DVD Talk Collector's Edition tag by the most minor of aesthetic grounds. Couples will go gaga for this stellar straight feature. There is nothing harsh or harmful here, meaning a Cohabitation Certification is easily awarded. Stalking is not normally a subject taken lightly. Too many tragedies have befallen the celebrity and the everyday to make jokes about such misguided musing. Thankfully, One Man's Obsession had Brad Armstrong behind the camera. He creates a light romantic comedy out of what could be another slasher suspense thriller. With its frothy tone, and terrific sex scenes, this DVD will surely become a full-blown fascination with fans.