Reviews - Specialty Releases


Film Review: Finding Bliss

An idealistic East Coast film school grad encounters the L.A. porn business in this witless low-budget comedy. More exit-rated than X-rated, it’s pretty limp.

June 4, 2010

-By Doris Toumarkine


filmjournal/photos/stylus/141354-Finding_Bliss_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

Finding Bliss is based upon American Film Institute-educated Julie Davis’ actual experiences finding herself editing erotica (for a cable channel) instead of making great cinema. As her indie does capture some realities of the adult film world (the types, the milieu, the sleaze, even some frontal nudity), maybe some curious viewers who want a guilt-free glimpse into the muck might venture to theatres. The more demanding and discerning just won’t come.

But let’s cut to the chaste. The romantic comedy has prudish, even virginal 25-year-old Jody Balaban (Leelee Sobieski), a starry-eyed NYU film grad new to L.A., dying to make her first film. Of course, no one is interested in her career goals or script, so an offer for work as a film editor at Grind Productions is welcome and grabbed.

Although an award-winning student, Jody’s a slow learner. The company name doesn’t set off alarms, nor does tough, hard-selling Irene Fox (Kristen Johnston), the former porn star turned businesswoman who runs this porn factory.

With only Jody’s suspicions so far aroused, Fox does a sales job, telling the ingénue that Grind, producing adult films, aims to make a real movie that can play art houses. It’s just up to Jody to bring her NYU skills and female sensibility to the material and, as we are to understand, somehow make a silk purse out of sow manure.

Meant to be both ambitious and desperate, the comfortably middle-class Jody, her strict Jewish background notwithstanding, takes the bait. The real carrot is that Grind is loaded with all the right studio spaces and equipment for Jody to make her film. She’ll do porn by day, art by night. Morals be damned and creativity be praised!

The arrangement seems to work. At night, Jody readies her own semi-autographical oeuvre. By day, she overcomes some unsettling discoveries about her icky workplace environment—the sexy sets, props, performers, crummy dialogue, etc. Most significantly, Jody gets to meet and collaborate with Jeff Drake (Matt Davis), a smoothie of a porn director who is a master of this X universe.

Likeable, nice-looking and young enough, Jeff had once shared Jody’s idealism about making cinema art. Now blessed with insight into the real mean world of moviemaking, the wise, cynical skin-and-moans auteur is determined to wean Jody away from her naïve, prudish ways and sexual hang-ups.

Ever focused on her film, Jody casts about and finds sweet and lovely Laura (Denise Richards, in an ironic casting choice or maybe not), an innocent like Jody, to star. More than mere thesp, Laura serves as Jody’s inspiration to lose her hang-ups and give in to her attraction to Jeff. Jody even learns to metaphorically embrace the hardcore performers, including sweetly gay porn actor Richard “Dick” Harder (Jamie Kennedy), who float around Grind and actually give this movie a much-needed lift. And attention, feminists, she even gets into the porn. As Finding Bliss is billed as a rom-com, it’s no surprise that Jody and Jeff evolve beyond film theory and work sessions.

Sobieski, who has played smaller roles in much bigger films like 88 Minutes, The Wicker Man and Public Enemies, lacks the charisma that might have rescued bland Jody. Instead, Denise Richards must carry what little spark there is. Even Matt Davis as the porn-meister turned savior is flat and predictable.

Jody aside, the name “Balaban” has a long Hollywood history. What it’s doing here is a bit of a mystery. But it’s no mystery and even quite fitting what hardcore vet Ron Jeremy is doing here in a cameo.


Film Review: Finding Bliss

An idealistic East Coast film school grad encounters the L.A. porn business in this witless low-budget comedy. More exit-rated than X-rated, it’s pretty limp.

June 4, 2010

-By Doris Toumarkine


filmjournal/photos/stylus/141354-Finding_Bliss_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

Finding Bliss is based upon American Film Institute-educated Julie Davis’ actual experiences finding herself editing erotica (for a cable channel) instead of making great cinema. As her indie does capture some realities of the adult film world (the types, the milieu, the sleaze, even some frontal nudity), maybe some curious viewers who want a guilt-free glimpse into the muck might venture to theatres. The more demanding and discerning just won’t come.

But let’s cut to the chaste. The romantic comedy has prudish, even virginal 25-year-old Jody Balaban (Leelee Sobieski), a starry-eyed NYU film grad new to L.A., dying to make her first film. Of course, no one is interested in her career goals or script, so an offer for work as a film editor at Grind Productions is welcome and grabbed.

Although an award-winning student, Jody’s a slow learner. The company name doesn’t set off alarms, nor does tough, hard-selling Irene Fox (Kristen Johnston), the former porn star turned businesswoman who runs this porn factory.

With only Jody’s suspicions so far aroused, Fox does a sales job, telling the ingénue that Grind, producing adult films, aims to make a real movie that can play art houses. It’s just up to Jody to bring her NYU skills and female sensibility to the material and, as we are to understand, somehow make a silk purse out of sow manure.

Meant to be both ambitious and desperate, the comfortably middle-class Jody, her strict Jewish background notwithstanding, takes the bait. The real carrot is that Grind is loaded with all the right studio spaces and equipment for Jody to make her film. She’ll do porn by day, art by night. Morals be damned and creativity be praised!

The arrangement seems to work. At night, Jody readies her own semi-autographical oeuvre. By day, she overcomes some unsettling discoveries about her icky workplace environment—the sexy sets, props, performers, crummy dialogue, etc. Most significantly, Jody gets to meet and collaborate with Jeff Drake (Matt Davis), a smoothie of a porn director who is a master of this X universe.

Likeable, nice-looking and young enough, Jeff had once shared Jody’s idealism about making cinema art. Now blessed with insight into the real mean world of moviemaking, the wise, cynical skin-and-moans auteur is determined to wean Jody away from her naïve, prudish ways and sexual hang-ups.

Ever focused on her film, Jody casts about and finds sweet and lovely Laura (Denise Richards, in an ironic casting choice or maybe not), an innocent like Jody, to star. More than mere thesp, Laura serves as Jody’s inspiration to lose her hang-ups and give in to her attraction to Jeff. Jody even learns to metaphorically embrace the hardcore performers, including sweetly gay porn actor Richard “Dick” Harder (Jamie Kennedy), who float around Grind and actually give this movie a much-needed lift. And attention, feminists, she even gets into the porn. As Finding Bliss is billed as a rom-com, it’s no surprise that Jody and Jeff evolve beyond film theory and work sessions.

Sobieski, who has played smaller roles in much bigger films like 88 Minutes, The Wicker Man and Public Enemies, lacks the charisma that might have rescued bland Jody. Instead, Denise Richards must carry what little spark there is. Even Matt Davis as the porn-meister turned savior is flat and predictable.

Jody aside, the name “Balaban” has a long Hollywood history. What it’s doing here is a bit of a mystery. But it’s no mystery and even quite fitting what hardcore vet Ron Jeremy is doing here in a cameo.
Post a Comment
Asterisk (*) is a required field.
* Author: 
Rate This Article: (1=Bad, 5=Perfect)

*Comment:
 

More Specialty Releases

Drive Hard
Film Review: Drive Hard

A car-chase-heavy clunker whose vehicular set-pieces are almost as lame as the recurring sight of star John Cusack attempting to look cool while firing pistols. More »

Harmontown
Film Review: Harmontown

Open-nerve documentary about “Community” creator Dan Harmon’s chaotic live podcast tour after being fired from his own TV show is sometimes raggedly funny, but truly a fans-only artifact. More »

The Liberator
Film Review: The Liberator

Impressively mounted but overly truncated take on a great historical figure about whom much more needs to be known. More »

The Rise and Rise of Bitcoin
Film Review: The Rise and Rise of Bitcoin

Wide-ranging primer is involving but leaves some details hazy. More »

ADVERTISEMENT



REVIEWS

The Equalizer Review
Film Review: The Equalizer

Former agent is drawn out of hiding to fight a Russian gang in a reboot of the 1980s television series. More »

The Boxtrolls
Film Review: The Boxtrolls

Another amazingly meticulous and stylish stop-motion tale from the Laika studio, this time focusing on a boy adopted by a population of maligned underground trolls. More »

Player for the Film Journal International website.


ADVERTISEMENT



INDUSTRY GUIDES

» Blue Sheets
FJI's guide to upcoming movie releases, including films in production and development. Check back weekly for the latest additions.

» Distribution Guide
» Equipment Guide
» Exhibition Guide

ORDER A PRINT SUBSCRIPTION

Film Journal International

Subscribe to the monthly print edition of Film Journal International and get the full visual impact of this valuable resource for the cinema business.

» Click Here

SPONSORSHIP OPPORTUNITIES

Learn how to promote your company at the Film Expo Group events: ShowEast, CineEurope, and CineAsia.

» Click Here