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1 item from 1997

Film review: 'Screwed'

17 January 1997 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

Boasting that he's been arrested 19 times, New York publisher and multimedia pornographer Al Goldstein is the primary subject of Alexander Crawford's "Screwed", but the documentary (screening Fridays at midnight at the Nuart) is somewhat ambiguous in presenting the raw world of hard-core adult entertainment.

Goldstein is best-known for publishing Screw, an explicit magazine started in 1968 after the Brooklyn native claimed he worked as an "industrial spy." Profane and extremely harsh in his opinions of enemies and women, Goldstein is a rabid self-promoter and admittedly not too different from the typical male consumer he serves.

One such Screw reader and proud owner of thousands of pornographic tapes is loner Big Bob, whose philosophy is in keeping with his taste for a specific kind of heterosexual activity. Another colorful character is a young man seen cruising in his car and talking about hookers.

"Screwed" sets out to explore as much of the raunchy environment around Goldstein as possible, including several scenes of sadomasochism with Screw's senior editor Dave Clark and one Joe Lavezzo, a mild-mannered insurance man who uses the magazine to find call girls.

Before the struggles of Larry Flynt, many felt Goldstein's publication was suppressed as a sign to the media overall, while others claim that the city of New York tolerated Screw because it published ads for hookers and reduced business on the sidewalk.

When the filmmakers visit Goldstein on the set of a X-rated movie he's making, "Screwed" leaves little to the imagination. Similarly, Goldstein's tirades on his cable-access show "Midnight Blue" are hateful blasts aimed at celebrities, politicians and other public figures.

One learns that Goldstein has not had luck with lasting relationships and his vicious on-air attacks against his fourth wife are unabashedly misogynistic. His attitude comes from the sex industry, in which men look at women as objects and women look at men as "wallets."

But there's no denying the relish with which Goldstein enjoys his kingly position in a "self-hating business of losers." And when Big Bob, whose sexual activities are not limited to passive voyeurism, fails to find anything wrong with porno, the filmmakers find their thematic statement: "A world with no pornography is a world with no imagination."

There is little balance to Crawford's approach and "Screwed" is undercut by including only one avowed Goldstein opponent, Curtis Sliwa, founder of New York's Guardian Angels. Sliwa's blaming Goldstein for the deterioration of New York seems melodramatic, while the sundry women interviewed and seen performing are generally upbeat about their lifestyles.


Headlock Films

Saint Dympna Prods.

Director Alexander Crawford

Producers Todd Phillips, Andrew Gurland

Co-producer Victoria Cook

Cinematographer-editor Alexander Crawford

With Al Goldstein, Dave Clark, Joe Lavezzo,

Curtis Sliwa, Ron Jeremy


Running time -- 85 minutes

No MPAA rating


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