Cast: Monique Alexander, Tommy Gunn, Faith Leon, Roxy Jezel, Steven St. Croix, Stefani Morgan, Rod Fontana, Frank Del Torro, Sandra Romain, Roxxxy Rush, Jerry, Penny Flame, Marcos Leon, Chris Cannon, Trent Tesoro
Non-sex cameos by: Sir Nik, others not credited
Length: 178 minutes
Date of Production: 12/27/2006 (box); 12/5/2005 (credits)
Extra's: For many of you, the five unrelated bonus scenes from older Vivid titles will be the best extra. A couple of them were pretty good but I've already seen them repeatedly so your mileage will vary considerably as a result. I hate that no theme or reason seemed to be employed as the deciding factor in using them but this is par for the course for the company. Personally, I enjoyed the 27.5 minute long Behind the Scenes feature by Hank Hoffman a lot more as it gave the performers and crew a chance to talk about various things (the movie, their careers, and assorted stuff fans like knowing). Most of the time, it looked far better than the feature itself but it was shot on video and that alone was enough to make the difference. There were several trailers, two photogalleries, a text biography for Stefani Morgan (but curiously not Monique, a more established contract performer with a bigger following), a fold out double sided DVD cover, a positions room, and spam.
Audio/Video Quality: Sex & Violins was presented in a letterboxed 1.85:1 ratio as shot by director Paul Thomas for Vivid Entertainment. The first thing I noticed after seeing it wasn't processed with anamorphic widescreen was the label on the box that said it was shot on Super 16mm film. For those who have yet to see a porno shot on film as transferred to DVD, let me tell you how problematic it can be. There are various technical reasons relating to budget, the manner in which low cost movies don't fare well on DVD and the like but the first thing most people seem to see is the plentiful levels of grain. Such was the case here too and while I know using film is typically an artistic (old school directors claim it adds something video can't duplicate) or marketing move (some awards specify film over video), I reiterate my stance that until enough money is spent to keep the picture looking at least as good as video, film should not be a consideration as a recording medium in porn except under very rare circumstances. The lighting ranged from far too washed out to far too dark (Penny's scene was horribly handled in terms of lighting the first half of it) and the aforementioned amounts of grain really hurt the look of the movie for me. The composition was as good as the director has shot in recent releases in how it enhanced the look of the gals but the colors were not always accurate and other minor issues impacted negatively too. The DVD transfer was as good as the budget probably allowed, an admittedly backhanded compliment, but don't buy this one to showcase your new HD television. The audio was presented in a 2.0 Dolby Digital English offering at the typical 192 Kbps, showing some minor considerations for separation at times but fairly flat in terms of dynamic range. The music was actually better than average in terms of the score relating to the movie though so I can admit that it provided a step up from many other features shot by the director even if the vocals were hollow.
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Body of Review: Paul Thomas is referred to in many ways by those in and out of the industry. To some, he represents the old guard performer turned director that bridges the chasm of time from when the industry first started to the current age. To others, he is a symbol representing Vivid, the majority of his directing career (for what, 20+ years?!?) as their lead director who gets all the choicest assignments and ability to do whatever he wants. Whatever your stance on the guy and the quality of his work, his movies for Vivid Entertainment have probably won them half of their awards over the years from all the usual award giving organizations. If that doesn't say something about his status, nothing does (one of these years, he may even stay still for me a moment to get a decent picture at the yearly convention). His latest big budget flick is Sex & Violins, a feature about a group of people on the prowl to have sex that end up having all sorts of problems revolving around a club run by Steven St. Croix. The back cover said it like this: "Welcome to the club. Where everything happened. The crash. The cops. The fire. The gang fight. The lovers who met. The husband who strayed. The anonymous liaison that went terribly wrong. Anything can happen on a Friday night at the nightclub of broken dreams. In the mind of Paul Thomas. In the world of Vivid." The feature elements were under developed (writer Tony G. sure tried to weave disparate characters into a cohesive story but something was lost in the translation from what I saw) and the sex ran the usual gamut of quality but there was often something to enjoy about the movie, my reason for coming back to it before writing this review (I first watched it three weeks ago, found it worth revisiting, and deciding to hold off on reviewing until now). The ladies were attractive and the movie decent enough to watch more than a few times despite the limitations, with more than a few reasons to check it out. If you're still interested, here's a quick look at the scenes, noting that condoms were used all over the movie since it was shot before Vivid went condom optional:
Scene One: Monique Alexander, a sexy and all natural blonde with a playful demeanor, was up first as she teased Tommy Gunn. He was stuck outside and she wiggled her booty as he whined about it, eventually letting him in to sample her delights. He orally warmed her up a very short time before Faith Leon walked in and Monique used some tricky "woman logic" to trap him (in real life, most men know enough how to answer the questions posed to him). That said, Faith left the room to masturbate on the bed elsewhere (teasingly edited into the footage of the couple going at one another) while Monique reciprocated with a blowjob. It was too short as well and the intermittent music could have been handled better but she was an aggressive rider on Tommy's cock; impaling herself soundly as she bounced on top of the condom clad meat stick. The other penetrative positions were far more passive for the gal and Faith's solo scene became a warmer aspect of the scene before Monique jerked him off to completion (and then went into a bunch of dialogue).
Scene Two: Roxy Jezel, a fetching lady in a modest outfit, was up next on the desk with aging lothario Steven St. Croix. The scene began underway with her slobbing his knob and him licking her feet, getting a bit rough as he tried to assert his dominance over her before she put him in his place. This led to the two going to the bar and stage where they orally worked on each other in turns, Roxy showing far more aggressive skill than most in the movie would. The actual screwing was male dominant as Steven did most of the work as he fucked both her pussy and ass, resulting in a small pop shot to her ass cheek and crotch.
Scene Three: Faith Leon, Monique Alexander, and hotty Stefani Morgan, were up next in a public bathroom having a lesbian scene. To be fair, I thought there was some chemistry between the ladies that simply wasn't captured properly as they licked, fingered, and otherwise played with one another in the cramped quarters. The toy use also rang false as the expressions on their faces ranged from dispassionate to bored silly, with Monique showing the most interest in the proceedings.
Scene Four: Stefani Morgan, the hotty featured on the front cover, was up next as she seduced Rod Fontana and Frank Del Torro; two cops finding enough reason to arrest her. She offered them an alternative form of justice, perhaps another badge bunny stoked up on authority figures, which led to them moving out of the public eye and into an enclosed garage where Rod started eating her out really well; savoring the moment like most men would have done under the circumstances. He looked just a few years younger than David Cummings to her barely legal status, not my favorite age dynamic though one I could certainly identify with. Her blowjob was slow and sweet, leading Rod to bang away at her tiny pussy with a condom. While she wasn't a very active cock rider most of the time, she did take it well as Rod banged her and she inhaled Frank's dick orally. They switched it up a few times and the scene ended prematurely with her jerking Frank off into his own lap as Rod rubbed out a small load on her ass cheek.
Scene Five: Sandra Romain, Roxxxy Rush, Stefani Morgan, and Jerry, were up next after a non-explicit live sex show on the stage took place. Jerry began playing with Sandra on the couch in the back room while the other two ladies played with each other. Roxxxy seemed exceptionally camera shy here, perking up slightly when the partners swapped and Sandra was plugging her ass with a large dildo. Stefani showed she knew how to aggressively ride cock by then and Sandra proved to open her ass up for Roxxxy nicely in turn. He rubbed out his load after some more switching about of partners (anally penetrating Sandra being the best part), hitting all three gals in the face. This scene was one where the chemistry and editing were equally at fault for weakening what might have been a great initiation scene by the quartet but I still found it nicely strokable.
Scene Six: Monique Alexander, in a slinky black dress and no underwear, then picked up Steven St. Croix outside the club to have a scene inside an office. He spent a lot more time going down on her than he did with Roxy, savoring her taste and bubbly nature more for some reason. For her part, she really went to town on his cock, deepthroating and licking it aggressively as though she liked guys twice her age as sex partners. He did the work screwing before jerking off a modest load of population pudding but her oral must have been too much for him to handle given the brevity of the vaginal screwing.
Scene Seven: Penny Flame, having participated on the stage to warm up, found herself in the dark industrial sized kitchen at night with Marcos Leon; who she seduced on stage to go back with her. She was feeling frisky and definitely provided a highlight to the movie sexually as she continued the seduction so very nicely. The technical aspects of the scene, especially the lighting, were problematic (it looked like it would flare up and show even more grain regularly) but the chemistry was high between them. The couple did some oral and was banging away when Chris Cannon, playing her husband, joined in for what was advertised as Penny's first B/B/G scene. I loved watching how her ass cheeks rippled when Marcos hammered away at her and she never let up the pace when blowing Chris at the same time. It ended with the men popping on her chest and face, marking a fine scene for her sexual resume. Whew!
Scene Eight: Roxy Jezel, showing she knew how to network under all sorts of circumstances, cautioned third tier moper Trent Tesoro to slow down as the two warmed each other up while a gang was waiting nearby. They were in the bathroom of a home with the gang staying just outside the front door, the couple moving to the bed to get better leverage (and provide a better show for the gang). He played with her ass and they did some oral before she proved to be the most active rider of the movie, earning her a spot in the two three scenes as a result. He tapped that ass soundly and she moaned like he was really large for her (not compared to many she has taken there but it was a decent performance), Trent giving her the largest pop shot of the movie all over her face to enjoy with some post coital sucking.
Summary: Sex & Violins by director Paul Thomas for Vivid Entertainment was worth rating as Recommended for the casting, the thematic elements, and the way the characters had some chemistry with each other in certain scenes. While not gushing with glowing praise for the movie, I found it worth taking a second look at and that speaks volumes as to how much potential it has for couples and others that aren't so jaded. In short, Sex & Violins was a stroke flick that might not be mentioned at award time but many of you will enjoy it as a solid effort that showcased a few of the ladies far better than some of their previous works in the recent past, elevating the status enough to make it a winner.
---- You can email me with questions at Houstondon @ hotmail.com if you have any constructive criticism of the review too. :) Also you can follow me on twitter @HoustonDon