Extras: The best extra was the bonus scene from Dating 101 between Jessica Drake and Barrett Blade that lasted 14:59 minutes long. Jessica's scenes are always welcome as extras, especially when they aren't ultra short (as in another title reviewed today...), so this added some value even though I just saw it. My personal favorite was the 23:00 minute long Behind the Scenes feature by Mark Stone as it gave a better look at what they cast & crew were trying to do. There was some nudity and clips of action from the sex scenes; the cast having a lot of fun on the set (such as Randy describing some of what was going on from the point of view as the director, writer, and performer). There were eight photogalleries, three star stats, a promo reel, the usual DVD Rom material, and 11 trailers to (mostly) newer movies. There was also a true double sided DVD cover and a cardboard slipcase for the case.
Michelle McLaren and Aaron Wilcox
Jessica Drake and Brad Armstrong
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Audio/Video Quality: The Artist was presented in an appealing 1.78:1 ratio anamorphic widescreen color as shot by director Randy Spears for Wicked Pictures (with Francois Clousot on camera as director of photography). While filmed in high definition, it was down converted to a regular DVD, so there was some minor grain in some of the scenes where lighting was minimized as part of the scene. The good news is that even in the dark night scenes, the visual elements were well handled, providing a lot more quality than most studios are capable of handling. The video noise was minimal and the composition of the scenes was extremely well taken care of (though at around 5 Mbps), enhancing the look of the ladies in nearly all cases. The audio was presented with numerous choices, the primary one being a 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround English track (in 384 Kbps) that balanced the vocals and music nicely. There was also a 2.0 Dolby Digital track in Spanish available for those who care but the fact is that the dubbing seemed humorous to me. Otherwise, the audio seemed to be another step in the right direction for Wicked Pictures, even though the vocals were almost certainly recorded in monaural or dubbed in later (not to mention limited in scope). Still, the music was well done and the overall quality of the audio was slightly better than average as well.
Body of Review: Randy Spears is something of a legendary gentleman in the porn industry as well as a director for Wicked Pictures these days. Even forgetting about his genial nature at the recent AEE where he served almost single-handedly as the company's best ambassador (Ravyn's interview forthcoming), his decision to expand into working behind the camera is one of the few not forced by the desire to make a quick buck (as many suggest the gonzo gods of the moment did) but to try new things and serve his creative muse. His latest effort takes beauty Jessica Drake and thrusts her into the role of a young lady courting a man with mysterious abilities in The Artist; the titular role played by none other than lucky Brad Armstrong, in a relatively rare leading role where he does not direct. The tale was a bit darker than average for the company, almost borderline David Stanley dark, but served as a moody and interesting flick that had some heated sex mixed in with the plot just thick enough to help convince those not quite into gonzo to stick around and watch. The cover said it like this: "Director Randy Spears takes us into the eccentric world of Malachi (Brad Armstrong), an unusual artist with a special gift. When one of his students (Jessica Drake) takes an interest in her mentor, she discovers his extraordinary secret. But things get complicated when her boyfriend engineers a plan to exploit his talents. Can Malachi teach his students a lesson they'll never forget? Or will it cost them their lives..." Here's a brief look at the scenes by cast and action, noting that condoms were used for those still interested:
Scene One: Exotica, a very curvy brunette with huge implants, was up first as a character model for artist Brad Armstrong; the man guiding her through the motions he needed to capture for his illustrations. This served nicely as tease before she masturbated on his command, handled a bit mechanically, but leading to him walking over for her to actively blow while she was on her knees. There wasn't enough oral for me and he skipped it altogether, Exotica soon bouncing on his cock like a seasoned, disaffected professional. The lack of chemistry was off-putting but the two did a decent job together with the vaginal boning, a slow fuck for the most part that ended with him rubbing out a moderate wad of population pudding to her mouth.
Scene Two: Ryder Skye, a very cute little lady with a nice smile, was up next at the strip club sucking the dick of moper Barrett Blade. He didn't reciprocate and went straight to boning her vaginally with a condom on, her sweaty body hard pressed to put on a convincing act but showing some potential as she slightly rocked his cock during the varied positions. Barrett appeared to be having some erection problems so they kept doing positions used to greatly increase the friction between them, resulting in a decent load this time when he finally rubbed one out on her face.
Scene Three: India Summer, a lean brunette with an all natural body, was up next as another model of the illustrious Brad Armstrong (okay, that was a weak pun). She was wrapped in green cellophane and hovering on a sex swing hanging from chains in his loft, followed the same basic formula with the minimalist oral followed by the vaginal grinding. Brad teased her a bit by just putting the tip in and out, her puffy pussy looking nicely trimmed as he did so to some very appealing music. She was not a very active rider and the ending where he dropped the load onto the plastic material around her face was a little goofy but at least she provided some post coital sucking.
Scene Four: Emilianna, a blond with nice legs, and Demi Dalia, the lady love of Randy Spears, were both up next as strippers with the director at the club. The ladies looked the part of strippers in a low end club, hustling the patron (Randy) for a real life floor show involving him. Emilianna was more into the idea of sucking cock and Demi wanted her friend's pussy a lot more, the trio all settling into their roles as they mixed things up a bit from the oral to the vaginal. I sensed a fair deal of chemistry between them, largely driven by Randy and Demi, but the claustrophobic camera work and lighting weakened it for me. The gals were active enough and took his wad between them on their faces but it was a small one as far as I could see with that lighting (at least he minimized the foot fetish stuff this time).
Scene Five: Michelle McLaren, a statuesque blond with large implants, was up next as she dominated wimpy Aaron Wilcox; the man dressed up in submissive gear to her liking. She kept control of him via her flogger as much as the chains and leg spreader binding his will to hers; a short tease leading to her going down on him actively. She was hot enough that I could understand the scenario, Jessica giving some directions as the pair went at it. Aaron was freed to allow better access and he was eating Michelle out in no time, the editing something I have long hated in porn; two separate scenes combined. Jessica Drake was being anally eaten by Brad Armstrong and she reciprocated with a healthy knob slobbing; both couples plugging away shortly after that. Jessica preferred the anal sex more but neither lady was really active and both men came on their respective partners at the same time (mouth pops).
Bonus Scene: Dating 101: Jessica Drake, the babe on the front cover and writer of the movie, was up first in bed with Barrett Blade. He black thong was tightly into her ass crack and she actively sought out his knob for sucking; prying it free from his shorts to wrap her lips around. She went to town on it and he felt her up in return, soon boning her as she rocked on his cock. Jessica fingered her own asshole and she appeared to have fun in the varied vaginal positions they engaged in, the resulting load of population pudding landing on her face before his spent body pushed her aside to sleep while she wanted to go out on the sunny day and have fun.
Summary: The Artist by director Randy Spears for Wicked Pictures was another fair effort but a lot more polishing up was still needed. Jessica Drake was a last minute replacement in her leading role and the smaller details that the standard crew were in charge of seemed to be handled well enough but something was missing in most of the sexual scenes as well as parts of the story. With a bit more work and perhaps funding, it might have been pulled off but Randy did a decent job for a relative newcomer, his potential still untapped at this writing so try this one out as a Rent It. In short, The Artist was a curious tale of mysterious events, Brad properly stoic as the titular role but the fusion of porn and story not quite making it for me nearly enough.
---- 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