Cast: Faith Leon, Paola Rey, Elena Rivera, Justine, Aria Giovanni, Courtney Page, Adriana Sage, Dahlia Grey, Cytherea, Melisande, Georgia Jones, Sasha Grey, Claire Adams, Emily Marilyn, Jade Starr, Rebeca Linares, Aaron Wilcoxxx
Non-sex role: Andrew Blake
Length: 96:52 minutes
Date of Production: 6/17/2002, 11/21/2006, 3/22/2007, 11/17/2007, 2/15/2004
Extras: There were some trailers and three slices of Behind the Scenes life with Waterplay (6:08 minutes), Mummified (5:35 minutes), and Fashion Slaves (5:59 minutes).
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Audio/Video Quality: High Strung Women was presented in letterboxed widescreen in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 as shot by director Andrew Blake for Studio A over the last 7 years. As I've said in the past, Mr. Blake records his erotic movies on film, generally 16 mm from what I understand, using the grain as texture much like he uses lighting, camera angles, and editing in ways that I don't even begin to understand all that well to weave a tapestry that you simply don't find by most of his peers. He is a one man crew that seems to focus his efforts on a single project at a time, typically averaging a single movie a year that are highly polished and artistic rather than churn them out weekly in gonzo style as the vast majority of the industry prefers. The most common criticism he faces is that his movies all look alike followed by the complaint that they have precious little sexual conduct but the best way to answer these misconceptions (which I myself have held in the past) is to tell folks to take a step back and expand their outlook a little. The majority of sex in a Blake movie is lesbian oriented or even solo work meant to tantalize rather than look at sex via the gyno-cam process that is much easier to make. The use of slow motion and all the visual elements is almost cathartic from what I've gathered, allowing Blake to warm you up for some at home pleasure, often with a loved one, rather than focus on the explicit. It doesn't always work but his titles sell well over time instead of for a month and disappear as other's works seem to do most of the time; spawning scores of directors trying to copy his dynamic; largely failing though attempting to become his heir apparent all the same. The picture was composed in each case somewhat differently and the bitrate hovered around the upper 6 Mbps range in the MPEG-2 format of SD DVD; the hope of fans that he'll start offering high definition versions in the upcoming year to enhance his works even more, though most of the scenes this time looked decidedly darker and grainier. The audio was presented in a 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround with the vocals stripped (due to the motion effects like slow motion) and a bit rate of 448 Kbps with a 48 kHz sampling rate. The music was sparse at times, offering machine driven noise instead of the usual jazzy riffs that punctuate Blake's work so effectively. I still prefer vocals over music in most cases, especially when the music or sound effects are less appealing as they were here.
Body of Review: Andrew Blake and his Studio A are currently one of the only production houses that have successfully made the transition from physical media to the internet, Blake's best material seemingly reserved for his online followers these days. That doesn't prevent him from releasing discs though, including one released last week called High Strung Women. The back cover described the title like this: "Exploring the complex world of Japanese Erotic Rope Bondage, Kinbaku, Andrew Blake creates high style fetish scenarios which utilize these visually intricate tools of restraint. Defined by specific patterns and decorative designs, the master bondage rigger, Damon Pierce, has contributed his consummate skills to this film. Depicting a modern twist to the Slave/ Master alliance both the director, Andrew Blake, and his willing subjects arrive at an intimate experience that won't let you down!" While that sounds pretty smoking hot, it also sounded familiar but I thought nothing of it, at least until I started watching the footage contained, every bit of it from previous releases such as Andrew Blake's X, X-2, Justine, Flirts, and House Pets; all of which I have seen when voting for awards or as part of my ongoing flirtation with Blake's material.
One of the points I often make about Andrew Blake is that his work sits just on the fringe of modern day porn, straddling erotica and the fetish flicks that contain little or no actual sexual penetration by men, the man dedicated to the visual medium unlike any other in the industry. He always manages to obtain a tiny booth at the yearly AEE show I attend and I've chatted with him about his stance, his preference to "do his own thing" admirable compared to the hordes of hacks seeking to become his successor. The truth of the matter is, I'm a fan of his but only when watching in small doses, my tolerance for fetish remarkably limited and the appeal of his stylish lesbian scenes meriting attention but not like that of the slavering fanboys the director amazes. The fact that he enjoys using film with all the attendant strengths and weaknesses of the medium exclusively is a curiosity to me at times, my preference for clear bouts of boning established thousands of reviews ago, my approval of titles that use music over vocals in soundtracks nonexistent. This said, I still find the charged sexuality of Blake's works worth coming back to time and again, my biggest disappointment here being the lack of advertising that it was indeed a compilation of older works with nothing new to offer fans, not even some of his extensive shot for internet material the online forums buzz about.
I don't generally provide screen captures and in-depth coverage of compilations, each of these titles is sufficiently analyzed by myself and others in our reviews, and I'm not going to start here, but if you do not have Andrew Blake's X, X-2, Justine, Flirts, and House Pets (yet are still a fan), this one does seem to collect the scenes he has shot with rope bondage nicely enough. The use of hot wax, urination, smoking, foot fetish, toys, and even a single scene with a dude (Aaron Wilcoxxx screwing Faith Leon) all contributed to one of those movies you will either love or hate with little middle ground. I hated the lack of vocals and the gimmicky use of camera effects but saw the appeal of the ladies (including Leon, Paola Rey, Elena Rivera, Justine, Aria Giovanni, Courtney Page, Adriana Sage, Dahlia Grey, Cytherea, Melisande, Georgia Jones, Sasha Grey, Claire Adams, Emily Marilyn, Jade Starr, and Rebeca Linares), the relative lack of them receiving loads of genetic juice or population pudding not dissuading my opinion that many of you will appreciate this as an artistic endeavor more than a strokable piece of smut.
Summary: High Strung Women by director Andrew Blake for Studio A was an undisclosed compilation with less fuck for the buck than expected, meriting a rating of Rent It from my toy tester and I (she sat in to watch this one). If you're truly a fan of the directing legend, you will have already seen every frame of the movie previously and if you are not a fan, it is unlikely to convert you absent a deep seated fondness for Kinbaku (Japanese rope bondage). I could honestly sing his praises all day long in terms of his body of work and stylish titles but this one was just a collection with minimal appeal for followers. In short, High Strung Women is all about Japanese rope bondage handled in erotic fashion by a popular director, the DVD not breaking new ice as much as moving things around for an expensive double dip so check it out if you're interested, just don't say I didn't warn you.
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