Al Goldstein (I) - News Poster

News

'Obscene' deal for docu at Arthouse

'Obscene' deal for docu at Arthouse
Obscene, the chronicle of a publisher's fight to print the works of Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Malcolm X, Che Guevara and others, has been picked up for worldwide distribution by Arthouse Films.

Neil Ortenberg and Daniel O'Connor's docu looks at Barney Rosset, the publisher of Grove Press and Evergreen Review who waged repeated U.S. court battles over freedom of the press. Interviews and footage with Amiri Baraka, Jim Carroll, Al Goldstein (no relation to the author), Erica Jong, Ray Manzarek, John Sayles, Gore Vidal, John Waters, Lenny Bruce and William S. Burroughs are featured.

Obscene, produced by the directors' New York-based Double O Film Prods., examines Rossett's public fights and personal demons. The soundtrack includes music by Bob Dylan, the Doors, Patti Smith, Warren Zevon, X and Ella Fitzgerald. Arthouse plans a 2008 theatrical and DVD release.

The deal was negotiated by Arthouse's David Koh and Curiously Bright Entertainment's Lilly Bright with Josh Braun of Submarine Entertainment on behalf of Ortenberg and O'Connor.

Pornstar: Ron Jeremy

Ron Jeremy is a small, overweight, hairy 48-year-old from the Bronx who loves to be the center of attention. In fact, he can be really annoying in that regard. Overall, his is an unremarkable personality; indeed, he's the kind of guy you might want to avoid at a party. There is, however, one striking thing about this man: He has acted for more than 20 years in porno films.

"Pornstar: The Legend of Ron Jeremy" is writer-producer-director Scott J. Gill and producer Kirt Eftekhar's film about this strange character. Jeremy has attained his "celebrity" status in the netherworld of porn because he is such an unlikely figure. But the movie accepts his celeb status all too quickly and follows him to airports, studios, parties and conventions in a kind of awe-struck daze.

Along with Jeremy himself, Gill and Eftekhar interview female co-stars and porn directors, producers and publishers. Yet other than all-too-brief interviews with Jeremy's sister and father, who seem fully accepting of his chosen profession, the filmmakers never get any viewpoints outside the porn community. The film contains hints about the loneliness of such a life, including mention of a woman he might have created a loving family with had he overcome his reluctance to give up his "glamorous" lifestyle. But "Pornstar" never truly explores this area. Jeremy is merely treated as a curio, with much of the commentary by him and others taken at face value. Only Screw magazine publisher Al Goldstein brings the actor into his cross hairs when he castigates Jeremy for his relentless self-promotion and absurd dream of crossing over into mainstream moviemaking.

As a window into a world that turns most social values upside down, "Pornstar" is fascinating. But as a documentary that wants to examine in any critical way the social phenomenon of porn and people who can't extricate themselves from that industry, the film falls flat.

PORNSTAR: THE LEGEND OF RON JEREMY

Maelstrom Entertainment

A Scott J. Gill film

Producers Kirt Eftekhar, Scott J. Gill

Writer-director-editor Scott J. Gill

Executive producer Tom Goldberg

Directors of photography Ralph King, Jason Ware

Music Carvin Knowles

Color/stereo

Running time -- 75 minutes

No MPAA rating

Pornstar: Ron Jeremy

Ron Jeremy is a small, overweight, hairy 48-year-old from the Bronx who loves to be the center of attention. In fact, he can be really annoying in that regard. Overall, his is an unremarkable personality; indeed, he's the kind of guy you might want to avoid at a party. There is, however, one striking thing about this man: He has acted for more than 20 years in porno films.

"Pornstar: The Legend of Ron Jeremy" is writer-producer-director Scott J. Gill and producer Kirt Eftekhar's film about this strange character. Jeremy has attained his "celebrity" status in the netherworld of porn because he is such an unlikely figure. But the movie accepts his celeb status all too quickly and follows him to airports, studios, parties and conventions in a kind of awe-struck daze.

Along with Jeremy himself, Gill and Eftekhar interview female co-stars and porn directors, producers and publishers. Yet other than all-too-brief interviews with Jeremy's sister and father, who seem fully accepting of his chosen profession, the filmmakers never get any viewpoints outside the porn community. The film contains hints about the loneliness of such a life, including mention of a woman he might have created a loving family with had he overcome his reluctance to give up his "glamorous" lifestyle. But "Pornstar" never truly explores this area. Jeremy is merely treated as a curio, with much of the commentary by him and others taken at face value. Only Screw magazine publisher Al Goldstein brings the actor into his cross hairs when he castigates Jeremy for his relentless self-promotion and absurd dream of crossing over into mainstream moviemaking.

As a window into a world that turns most social values upside down, "Pornstar" is fascinating. But as a documentary that wants to examine in any critical way the social phenomenon of porn and people who can't extricate themselves from that industry, the film falls flat.

PORNSTAR: THE LEGEND OF RON JEREMY

Maelstrom Entertainment

A Scott J. Gill film

Producers Kirt Eftekhar, Scott J. Gill

Writer-director-editor Scott J. Gill

Executive producer Tom Goldberg

Directors of photography Ralph King, Jason Ware

Music Carvin Knowles

Color/stereo

Running time -- 75 minutes

No MPAA rating

Film review: 'Screwed'

Film review: 'Screwed'
Although Universal Pictures' "Screwed" aspires to slapstick situation comedy in the Marx Brothers tradition, the film, like its lead characters, comes unglued almost from the start and never has a chance to live up to the heights of its comedic predecessors.

The directorial debut of screenwriting duo Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski ("The People vs. Larry Flynt", "Man on the Moon"), "Screwed" is tripped up not so much by a moronic plot as by an overall shrillness that not even headliners Norm Macdonald and Dave Chappelle, comedic wizards they might be, can pull off.

Macdonald and Chappelle play bumbling, idiot extortionists who yell 90% of their dialogue. For sure, the 1930s and '40s flicks that inspired the filmmakers often featured shouting matches between characters, but the gimmick falls flat here. Movies of the past decade such as "The Impostors" and "Radioland Murders" are proof enough that even savvy filmmakers like Stanley Tucci and George Lucas have similarly hit a brick wall trying to re-create that zany energy and snappy dialogue -- in full-blown period productions, no less.

"Screwed" opens with the introduction of Willard (Macdonald), chauffeur and all-purpose servant to wealthy matron Miss Crock (Elaine Stritch), owner and operator of a pastry company in Pittsburgh. The monstrous Crock and her dog Muffin make life miserable for Willard, whose father also worked for the nasty woman. Needless to say, her hateful, vindictive nature is something no sane person would choose to be around for 15 minutes -- let alone a lifetime.

But Willard is a congenital coward and self-defeating sneak who glumly accepts his lot -- until he learns he's about to be canned. He then hatches a plan to kidnap Muffin and ransom the mutt for $1 million. He talks restaurant-owning Rusty (Chappelle) into becoming his accomplice, and, after a few botched attempts, the pair appears to succeed.

Of course, the would-be thugs lose track of Muffin instantly, all the while yelling about how they're going to spend the money. Willard and Rusty don't even realize the dog is gone until they hear breaking news reports of the chauffeur's kidnapping. Changing plans in a hurry, they decide to demand $5 million from Crock for Willard, then go the whole nine yards by faking Willard's death with help from undertaker Grover Cleaver (Danny DeVito).

Other unfortunates caught up in the increasingly unfunny farce are a detective (Daniel Benzali) so unamused he seems more like the studio accountant, Crock's scheming business and personal partner (Sherman Hemsley) and Willard's poorly drawn love interest (Sarah Silverman).

DeVito gets some of the biggest laughs, and Stritch supplies one overbearing note through this concerto of misery that at least has the sense to call it quits at 82 minutes.

"Screwed" -- released wide Friday without advance screenings for critics and, not surprisingly, performing dismally -- is not even the first film to use the title; Alexander Crawford's 1996 documentary "Screwed", about multimedia pornographer Al Goldstein, had a limited release. Nor can the failed comedy be called the season's most legendary disaster -- that title already belongs to Warners' "Battlefield Earth", also released Friday.

SCREWED

Universal Pictures

A Robert Simonds/Brad Grey production

Screenwriter-directors: Scott Alexander,

Larry Karaszewski

Producer: Robert Simonds

Executive producers: Brad Grey, Ray Reo

Director of photography: Robert Brinkmann

Production designer: Mark Freeborn

Editor: Michael Jablow

Costume designer: Maya Mani

Music: Michael Colombier

Color/stereo

Cast:

Willard Fillmore: Norm Macdonald

Rusty P. Hayes: Dave Chappelle

Miss Crock: Elaine Stritch

Grover Cleaver: Danny DeVito

Detective Tom Dewey: Daniel Benzali

Chip Oswald: Sherman Hemsley

Hillary: Sarah Silverman

Running time -- 82 minutes

MPAA rating: PG-13

Film review: 'Screwed'

Film review: 'Screwed'
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.

SCREWED

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

Color/stereo

Running time -- 85 minutes

No MPAA rating

See also

Credited With | External Sites