High-quality lesbian psychodrama, boasting great production values
I place no value in the awards meted out in the Adult industry (I've followed them since AVN was first published back in the '80s) but CHERRY 2 certainly deserved its industry recognition. This followup by Kay Brandt to her all-girl hit CHERRY is an exciting feature, only marred by its open-endedness that in five years has yet to deliver the promised sequel/conclusion.
In that sense, I was disappointed at the end, the same way I felt after attending a 3-D showing of the 2nd SMAUG edition of the recent HOBBIT adaptation. I have always preferred a finish rather than a cliffhanger.
But on the way there Brandt shows (finally for me, since I've been watching her videos in reverse chronological order) why she has a good reputation in the biz, for she knows how to stage a sexy scene and get the most out of her actresses - only working with women as far as I can tell.
Interloper into porn Judy Thompson (a mainstream actress who reveals in the useful BTS short subject her fascination with the Adult film scene) returns as Cherry, owner of a posh, private night club for lesbians. In many mass scenes at the nightclub some excellent dance and techno music scores highly in setting the mood and getting the blood pulsing (while other more intimate scenes in private areas or at a hotel are quiet and sensual).
The Cherry saga is set up in chapters and this is simply the second in what might have been conceived as a story as lengthy as Lucas's STAR WARS. So what we see is not a linear narrative, clearly not Brandt's strong suit as none of her videos are about "story" with its usual dramatic arcs and delineated Act 1/Act 2/Act 3 structures.
Instead we are thrust into a day in the life of Cherry, much of it seen through her eyes and frequently imaginary and dream-like (without warning). I would like to think this is a Fellini influence, given the great circus-maestro's pervasive and powerful hold on much of modern cinema since his '50s/'60s heyday. But it is more of a lifestyle approach, immersing the viewer in a particularly elusive club scene - reminding me of a lesbian LOOKING FOR MR. GOODBAR perhaps, to take a mainstream model.
Picture is set apart from Kay's more recent efforts, including the portentous but empty AGAINST HER WILL series (obviously made to top CHERRY but failing on many levels), by its no expense spared production. I know nothing about porn budgets these days, but besides rounding up a lengthy, A-list cast, Kay has a five-day shoot with all the extras that is visually mighty impressive. This is no visit to a seedy strip club, but a lavish night club experience that rivals those (usually clichéd versions) seen in mainstream Hollywood.
Key sex scenes get off with a bang thanks to a dynamite performance by shaved-head deejay played by Jiz Lee, who reveals in the BTS that this is her first above-ground show, after working extensively in androgynous roles in fetish projects. She could easily become a style- setter, working over purely feminine star Andy San Dimas in a torrid stand-up sex bout.
After a rather kinky scene by Vicki Chase, in the dressing room using two vibrators to road- test two new "dancers" at the club, the beautiful Missy Martinez and Brooklyn Lee, the feature's showpiece brings back the dancers as sex partners for favored customers Zoey Holloway and Diamond Foxxx. Two couples making love side by side is elegantly staged (and rehearsed per the BTS short subject) and again award-worthy (it won).
While there's plenty of sex going on, Cherry is presented as a rather buttoned-down observer, not getting involved. But she fantasizes freely (maybe her problem is pure repression), mainly about a former lesbian lover she met in prison Talia (Tuesday Cross, whose distinctive smoldering looks seem suited to graduation to mainstream films).
Her big problem is an unwanted guest, Amanda (Kimberly Kane), who's in the club under false pretenses, as guest of a legitimate member (not present) whose membership lapsed a long time ago. Cherry's faithful door-woman (sorry about that, I still use words like aviatrix or even dominatrix) Dusty (butch Karen Anzoategui, like Judy a non-sex actress) warns her about Amanda, and the scene where Cherry is oh-so proper but equally nasty in giving Amanda her walking papers is a classic -proof that Ms. Thompson is an accomplished actress.
I was struck by Thompson's physical resemblance to Polly Walker when I saw her in Brandt's later feature DIRTY SECRETS, but here with hair pulled back and pointy nose prominently in the frame she seemed the spitting image of all-time great Veronica Hart.
Cherry imagines her lost love Talia having torrid sex with Amanda in a hotel room, and the movie ends with an enigmatic disappearing image. I missed the point, and the BTS clears up this scene and other earlier cryptic moments, yet Judy's plans for further character and story developments apparently were scuttled by distributor DIgital Playground. Label is best known for its big-budget projects (PIRATES and its sequel for example), but it looks like they pulled the plug on this promising enterprise.
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