Armand Weston is one of my top 5 hardcore filmmakers and this has been acclaimed as on of his most accomplished films. That it is.
Hardcore film adaptations of great literature often miss the mark when it comes to truly capturing the feeling that the source material contained. However in this case, Armand Weston's delightful and heart felt adaptation of Oscar Wilde's classic Dorian Gray brings all the wonder of the book to the screen with a clever sprinkling of Weston's cinematic genius.
Opening at a lavish party being given by someone, although no one seems to know just who, two guests, played by Leslie Bovee and Eric Edwards, decide to wander off and go exploring the big house in which the party is being thrown.
Eventually the two discover a large room, more or less separate from the rest of the house. When Bovee accidentally flips a hidden switch, a screen comes down from the ceiling and a projector begins to play an ancient stag film in which a very old man has his way with Georgina Spelvin.
Miffed at what they have just seen, they go back down to the party and begin to flirt, that is until Edwards finds himself another girl.
Bovee is soon approached by a slightly older man (Wade Nichols) who offers to take her for a drive. She soon finds out that Nichols is the mysterious host of the party and he proceeds to engage her in the fascinating story of his life.
I wont say more than that so as not to spoil this most wonderful film, for it is most certainly one of the finest pieces of explicit cinema ever put on film. Weston fills the scren with memorable imagery, outstanding sets, top notch photography, a great score from underground band, Elephant's Memory, and more. Not to mention his and collaborator Daria Price's wonderful script which is filled with a barrage of clever jokes and innumerable movie references.
What's more is that Take Off features some of the most remarkable dialog ever to emerge from the pen of an explicit cinema screenwriter. Simply listen to the almost lyrical banter between Spelvin and Nichols while they lay out in the park. In short, certain portions of this film are nothing short of genius.
Weston perfectly matches time period to film stock, giving the 20s an almost sepia tinged Black & White look, the 30s the richness of overly saturated 2-Strip Technicolor, the 40s the moodiness of film noir, the 50s the richness of 3-Strip Technicolor, and finally the 60s, the overly red look of an acid trip. These seemingly minor visual decisions are crucial to the film's success and are used with the true skill of a seasoned pro.
The vast cast all play their parts to perfection, with Nichols perfectly cast in the lead.
Although it is hard to describe every incredible facet of this lavish and outstanding production, it will suffice to say that this is one film no lover of cinema can afford to miss.
The sex scenes are never overly long and fit nicely into the film as a whole. Although they really add nothing to the film (besides the stag film based boff), they do not detract either and are well enough paced that there never seems to be an over abundance of carnality.
Although a trailer for Deep Inside Annie Sprinkle is present, no relevant extras are. A trailer for this film however, can be seen on some other VXP releases.
The DVD (A & V, etc.)
For a film such as this which is so reliant on its color and photography, the old Three Quarter inch master being used here is less than acceptable. In fact, it's downright bad. The original source print is fine but the transfer done of it is incredibly poor, with major color loss and weakness. Bad blavk levels and a rather bleached look at times. The picture does not have defined edges, and there is an occasional quiver in the image. The Video-X-Pix bug pops up at least 7 times, adding to the annoyance of the transfer.
The film was also shot in an aspect ratio of 1.66:1 and is presented as a hard 1.33:1. Due to bad zooming on the telecine, it is impossible to really tell whether this image is being cropped from a matted 1.66:1 or simply shown open matte with very bad zooming.
A true gem of a film which has been given an awful release on DVD.