Tag Archives: Maddy O’Reilly

Anna Lee, Part 2: A Mind Equally as Sexy as Her Body

by Rich Moreland, April, 2014

This is the second part of my review of The Sexual Liberation of Anna Lee.

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anna lee, boxcover back

“I don’t want to lose myself in someone else, I want to find myself in them.”

Anna Lee wonders if everyone wears a mask, hiding and fearing who they are. She craves sex and its emotional connections, but her body refuses to cooperate with her libido.

Receiving a vibrator to unfetter her sexual anxiety, Anna listens as Gaige explains that sexuality is often shamed by a distressed past. Don’t let the “baggage of your childhood stifle your adulthood,” he says. “You can create the kind of sexual identity that you want.”

He arranges a task for Anna that will presage her interactions with Emmett. Gaige introduces a smuttily dressed female staff member to Anna, who is asked to describe the girl. Responding to Gaige’s insistence that her “imagination is a powerful sexual tool,” Anna believes the young woman, Elize, to be “seductive and tempting.” Of course, the exercise persuades Anna to unconsciously project herself into Elize and serves as a transition to the next sex scene. In a fantasy sequence inside Anna’s mind, the staffers have a delightful frolic enhanced by Elize’s nicely tatted body.

Jessa Rhodes as Elize Photo Courtesy of Eddie Powell

Jessa Rhodes as Elize
Photo Courtesy of Eddie Powell

When the pop shot lands on Elize’s tummy, Anna’s reverie passes and she turns her attention to Gaige who wants more insight into the image presented by his assistant.

“She never leaves him satisfied, she always gets what she wants,” Anna says.

In her imagination, does Anna secretly identify with Elize’s sluttiness?

Maybe. A smiling Elize verifies Anna’s intuitions. “You’re good at reading other people’s turn-ons, or maybe you’re talking about your own.”

 

Up to now those softly spoken, yet boldly confident, words might have borne some embarrassment. But change is happening and Anna is preparing her own sexual future.

Eyes Open and a Closed Heart

Anna checks in with her video diary. Her confidence is growing and she announces that her attitudes are shifting. She confesses Emmett scares her, though not in a bad way because she is attracted to him. Letting him know is the fault line that could doom everything, however. In reality, Anna is intimidated by her own desires because her shield, the little girl whose sexual needs were terrorized by an uptight mother, is melting away.

An unforeseen development blindsides everything. Anna and Emmett are thrown into a boiling cauldron of honesty brought on by a hot seat exercise.

This pivotal episode is not to be missed. The camera frames the chair (hot seat) from the therapist’s view. A position change occurs when the camera’s perspective moves behind the head of the person on display. In this location, the camera illustrates the hot seat’s overwhelming presence and the divide it creates between patient and therapist. It is a cinematographic master stroke that sends just the right message at just the right time.

The hot seat is a Gestalt therapeutic intervention and allows participants (usually in a group setting) to spontaneously assess the person sitting before them, no holds barred. Each participant in the exercise takes their turn in front of the others. The conversation is stripped of pretenses and exposed to a glaring frankness that can enlighten, heal, or harm. When Emmett evaluates Anna, what he says is meaningless, devoid of feeling, merely polite and shallow. Hoping to move this exercise forward, an exasperated Gaige sends Emmett to the chair to replace Anna.

What follows is the most dramatic scene in the film and Maddy O’Reilly’s finest moment as an actress. In a revealing dialogue she indicts Emmett.

“He fucks with his eyes open and his heart closed.”

If understatement can blow up a room, it happens right here because Anna’s heart is blooming like all the flowers on all the paintings in all the rooms of this film. Emmett crushes her with sarcasm and the viewer reacts with disgust. Superb. Adult film does not get better than this.

The Paddle

Emmett and Anna are now assigned a series of tasks together to to expose vulnerabilities and erase anxieties, the ingredients of sexual repression. Upon completion, trust will replace fear. Or, at least that’s the plan.

At first their connections are hesitant, but gradually they, like the flowers, begin to unfold with color and warmth. But the tender buds of their relationship are fragile.  Anna is ready for sex, she wants to be spanked and penetrated while Emmett is suffering through a cosmic blizzard of dissonance between his inner feelings and his self-protective demeanor.

Three scenes are worth an extra look as the pair negotiates their improbable odyssey. In the first, they are told to write a message on each others’ bare backs. Anna chooses green paint, Emmett orange, a watered down red. She’s good to go, he’s still holding back though his resolve is weakening.

Another scene is cleverly shot and has too much meaning to recount here. Blindfolded, Anna and Emmett must stimulate their erotic senses and experience each other through taste. Between them is a small table; they are sitting in equally small chairs. Childlike and cooperative, Anna takes Emmett’s index finger in her mouth and sucks it with obvious double meaning. Of course, he can’t resist looking because he always has his eyes open, though he sees very little.

Her psyche is breaking through to Emmett, but time is now a factor. The gigantic clock on the shelf above them is headed for eight. Four hours left. Is it the terminal hour of midnight, or an awakening to a new day?

Anna's Hope? Photo Courtesy of Eddie Powell

Wasted Desire?
Photo Courtesy of Eddie Powell

The last of the scenes mentioned here takes place in a room with three sides, an arena of sorts, empty of furniture. Anna and Emmett put their bodies before each other; they strip down, everything exposed. Anna’s observation? Emmett is well endowed.

Will it ever happen, she thinks, or is it wasted desire?

Notice the shelves on opposite sides of the central window. Two equally-sized bowls are paired on each shelf above the ever present prints of flowers in full bloom. Sexual openness is never more evident.

Later, Anna is surprised by a note left outside her door. It’s from Emmett and accompanies a gift he has given her. “This might come in handy when you get out of here,” it reads. She picks up a paddle, a little kinkiness that puts her fantasies one step closer to reality. But if they involve Emmett, likely they will evaporate into the misty abyss of her imagination.

In an abrupt turn of events, Emmett decides Variel and its techniques are not for him. The exercises and tasks did their job, of course, Emmett had to confront what he always knew: caring lays bare vulnerabilities that challenge trust. Anna reached into his soul and pulled out what he refused to accept about himself.

Leaving Anna a note, Emmett slips away.

Later, Anna is further stunned when Gaige explains it is also time for her to leave. Except for one last farewell experience, her therapy is over.

In preparing her for a task that will come with a bondage stage and the staff on hand, Gaige instructs Anna to knockdown that last barrier, “Allow yourself to be pleasured by another.”

The Final Task. Elize, Gaige, Anna, Whitney, and Michael. Photo Courtesy of Jeff Koga

The Final Task. Elize, Gaige, Anna, Whitney, and Michael.
Photo Courtesy of Jeff Koga

Sensuality arrives with a St. Andrew’s cross to which Anna is bound. Blindfolded, she experiences hot wax, among other tastes and touches, a brief flogging, and the application of a vibrator. Appreciate Anna’s anxiety concerning trust in this scene. Strapped in position, her hands are clenched fists. Letting go is never easy.

As the staff participates in this last exercise, they surround and caress Anna bringing the Statue of Five to life, its intertwining arms and hearts symbolizing her triumph. With Whitney and Gaige her surrogate parents, the statue becomes Anna’s new family. Once again in their mixture of images, Jacky St. James and Eddie Powell produce an unforgettable moment. Originally Anna may have been the statue’s smallest person, but now she transitions into the largest, overwhelming the scene with arms stretched on the cross. Honored by those who care about her, Anna has grown up sensuous and sexy and ready to move on. This is Anna’s rebirth as it was foretold in her bedroom at Variel before she took her first step to enlightenment.

Treatment over. Time to go home. Photo Courtesy of Jeff Koga

Treatment over. Time to go home.
Photo Courtesy of Jeff Koga

Though Maddy O’Reilly has filmed for Kink.com in San Francisco and is familiar with the heavy duty BDSM scene, her character in Anna Lee is for viewers who want to see the fetish and its intimacy in bondage sequences that are less intimidating. Anyone thinking about some BDSM in their private lives will be intrigued by Maddy and Natalia Starr’s earlier performance as Marielle.

When Anna returns home, the statue goes with her to her bedroom, watching over, comforting, and encouraging her . . . for this is not the end of the story. To experience its crashing climax in which Anna realizes her mind is equally as sexy as her body, see it for yourself.

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The Liberation of Anna Lee follows in the footsteps of the other Jacky St. James/Eddie Powell BDSM classic, The Submission of Emma Marx. Both films are part of the emerging Submission Pornography genre. Like Emma Marx, Anna Lee positions itself in the feminist pornography camp. Anna seeks her pleasures and acts on her own desires with affirmation thrown in along the way. Women who want to experiment with a BDSM component in their personal lives and on their own terms, should see both productions. For couples who enjoy a highly charged sexual atmosphere to go with their romance, the films are a must. For information on the DVDs go here.

The Cinematographer and the Director. Another Triumph. Photo Courtesy of Jeff Koga

The Cinematographer and the Director. Another Triumph.
Photo Courtesy of Jeff Koga

A final comment is appropriate. Too often in porn, sex scenes are shot in a rote manner that kills off any interest beyond male self-pleasuring. With Eddie Powell’s inventive eye and deft camera movement, the viewer is engaged in sex as art, a key dividing line separating an anatomy lesson from the ageless expression of lovers consuming each other. Add Jacky St. James’ flair for selecting the right actors to fit her scripts and her ability to bring out the best in them, and the 2014 adult film awards have an undeniable candidate for their various honors.

 

 

 

 

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Anna Lee, Part 1: Too Real for You, Huh?

by Rich Moreland, April, 2014

A story with character development is rare in a film business that cranks out thousands of shoots a year. That said, The Sexual Liberation of Anna Lee is a truly an exception to traditional adult fare. With a bigger budget and more time, New Sensations might have turned this gem into an indie film marketable in legitimate Hollywood, sans the hardcore, of course. If this reviewer used stars to rate film, then Anna Lee would be a five-star knockout.

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anna lee boxcover
Sexual hang-ups and the psychology of their destruction is the theme of a New Sensations romance titled The Sexual Liberation of Anna Lee, another superb collaboration by writer/director, Jacky St. James, and cinematographer, Eddie Powell.

Maddy O’Reilly is Anna Lee, a young woman raised by a sexually inhibited single mother who insisted her adolescent daughter cultivate chastity. Budding into young womanhood, Anna has reached her exasperation point. Turning to Dr. Sabato, (a cameo appearance by Jacky St. James), Anna learns of a clinic, Variel House, whose unorthodox methods combat the emotional and sexual paralysis caused by repressed desires.

During her stay, Anna meets a fellow patient, Emmett (Xander Corvus) whose sarcasm and surliness conceal a fear of women as claimants to his erotic sensibilities. While Anna pursues emotional connections to her sexual awakening, Emmett is evasively headed in the opposite direction, preferring his fornications to be nameless and faceless.

India Summer as Whitney Savage Photo Courtesy of Eddie Powell

India Summer as Whitney Savage
Photo Courtesy of Eddie Powell

The clinic is run by a brother and sister team, Gaige and Whitney Savage, whose intuitive techniques sometimes reflect their surname. Played by Steven St. Croix and India Summer, the pair holds the narrative together with outstanding performances and solid dialogue delivery. The viewer homes in on their every word, following the logic of their treatment and the warmth with which they deliver both advice and action.

The Statue of Five

A St. James/Powell film exists on three levels, creating a sumptuous feast for a reviewer. First is the story which is closely linked to the second, its theme and motifs. Of course, the final level is the sex, filmed by Powell in a way that keeps the camera interacting with the lovers. More on that later.

St. James and Powell love to plant images and symbols, turning their films into artistic statements. The Sexual Liberation of Anna Lee has a sentinel to watch over Anna’s quest and protect her spirit: a modern art statue of five figures positioned in a circle with arms intertwining each other. The figures are of different sizes with the smallest embraced by the others. When Anna checks into her room at the clinic, Whitney places the figure on the far right side of the shelf behind the bed. Four candles already occupy the shelf space away from the figure to the far left. Coincidentally, a night stand contains two smaller candles apart from the others, one with a capped top and the other an open one. Symbolic on two levels, these candle are male and female with emotions hidden and open.

The bedroom explains the film. Four people staff the clinic, Whitney and her brother, and their two helpers, Michael (Johnny Castle) and Elize (Jessa Rhodes). There are two patients in residence, Anna and Emmett, who are apart from them as shown in the arrangement of the two smaller candles. But, the Statue of Five is the key to the narrative because the staffers will sexually interact with each other on some level during Anna’s treatment, then welcome her into the circle with her final task.

The sex scenes are crafted to move with the narrative. Each one is carefully placed within the storyline and indicates where Anna and Emmett are psychologically in their treatment. Appreciate the flow of the scenes, especially Eddie Powell’s ability to move his lens around lovers as they kiss and caress, then pull away and float back when the penetration begins. The statue’s encircling intimacy metaphorically comes to life as the sex plays out on the screen.

For Anna,  disentanglement from her past and her sexual rebirth is a work in progress, an opening up that intensifies as the story moves toward its conclusion. Sexual awakening appears in repeated images throughout the film. Various pictures of flowers in bloom, the stuff of Freud and Victorian dream analysis, dominate the rooms.

Pure Vanilla

Anna is informed that she must keep a video journal of her stay and is cautioned not to interact with Emmett. A fair warning, indeed, because he will eventually emerge as confusion and apprehension for her, a sexual time bomb that might derail her therapy.

Maddy O'Reilly and Xander Corvus Photo Courtesy of Eddie Powell

Trouble Ahead?
Photo Courtesy of Eddie Powell

Anna’s treatment requires that she complete a series of tasks with Whitney presenting the first. It’s tactile, focused on the male anatomy, and a reminder of behavioral desensitization and relaxation techniques. This is Anna’s initial dip into the churning waters of her own sexual doubts, longings, and anxieties. Little wonder there is a small figure of Buddha on the table when she experiences maleness through her imagination. Stay calm and absorb the present.

The first sex scene emerges from this task and involves Whitney and Michael. Blindfolded, Anna kneels in front Michael and under Whitney’s guidance experiences his manhood with light touches. For the record, this part of the scene is shot with a sensitivity that is a welcome departure from much of today’s gonzo porn in which female talent eagerly open their mouths to stuff themselves, gagging on an all-you-can-eat buffet.

The sex scene is run-of-the-mill vanilla, but appropriate for where Anna is at the moment because she is instructed to relax and listen. India Summer’s mature sexual nature carries the scene beautifully; she and Johnny have chemistry. The shoot lines up the standard series of sex acts and ends with a pop that is not a facial. As is Eddie Powell’s habit, both bodies are framed equally and, in this case, he cuts into the action with darkened silhouetted images as Anna would see the lovers in her mind. It’s a warm-up for our repressed heroine.

Maddy O'Reilly Photo Courtesy of Eddie Powell

Maddy O’Reilly
Photo Courtesy of Eddie Powell

By the way, Maddy O’Reilly is perfectly cast as Anna. She begins with a school girl innocence, conservative in dress and manner and reticent about what is happening around her. Maddy is huggable with a girl-next-door prettiness and a hint of naiveté that is foreign to the normal expectations of a porn performer. As Anna, Maddy must open up as story progresses, take on a more exotic look until Anna’s acceptance of her body (as illustrated in a nude stairwell scene) completes her transformation. By the film’s conclusion, the viewer is joyously invested in Anna, the proof of a superior film and Maddy’s acting talent.

When Anna inadvertently meets Emmett, he sticks in her consciousness. Later when she is taught to self-pleasure (the best is the shower scene with lighting that accentuates Anna’s curves and Maddy O’Reilly’s eroticism), visions of him drive her mind’s eye. He will haunt Anna’s dreams, both day and night, forging a bond with her imagination that is unknown to Emmett until it’s many layers are peeled away in a deepening narrative.

Anna’s next task is to ditch her conservative appearance. A closet filled with party clothes and “do me” heels is at her service. In a fabulously shot meeting, Anna and Whitney face each other reflected in two oval mirrors on the wall beside them. Reality and image are combined in the manner of traditional cameos framed in small portraitures, gifts to lovers a century ago. Ann is told, “If you dress the part, you’ll feel the part.”

Anna Lee is now positioned to break from the past and escape the admonitions that shamed her childhood. Whitney encourages Anna to live the moment, like the frozen presence of cameos in the mirrors, and not over think and analyze every situation. Another quick peek into Anna’s bedroom reveals a hint of things to come and an image easily unnoticed at first. Over the shelf is a painting of woman with her nude back to the artist. A guidepost, she is leaning to the right in the direction of the Statue of Five.

Emmett Photo Courtesy of Eddie Powell

Emmett
Photo Courtesy of Eddie Powell

Anonymity

The narrative switches to Emmett. He talks of a girl he hires to provide him with kinky pleasures.

“Do you always pay for sex,” Whitney asks.

“Yeah, every time,” he responds with off-putting flippancy.

Emmett describes the hired girl as the camera cuts away to the masked Marielle (Natalia Starr), tied to a bed. Emmett says she’s a body (a prostitute?) to use with no identity and no feeling on his part.

Mariele awaits Emmett Photo Courtesy of Jeff Koga

Mariele awaits Emmett
Photo Courtesy of Jeff Koga

Unseen, Anna slowly approaches the conversation, eavesdropping made easy because the door to the therapy room is open.

“She craves that stranger fuck just as much as I do,” Emmett says of Marielle, swearing that he will never get lost in another person. Has Anna often faced the same demon for a different reason, a psychological paralysis her body imposes upon her?

The sex between Emmett and Marielle is a visual romp for male domination fans. He rips away her fishnet outfit and they play rough and tumble with hard driving thrusts. Emmett’s detached expression during Marielle’s oral work sells the atmosphere of their mutual disinterest  in each other. Though anal and a facial might seem appropriate here, any hint of further degradation is avoided. Not surprising, because Jacky St. James wants her films to be couples oriented and many women don’t get excited about anal penetration or cum stinging their eyes regardless of their partners’ attitudes.

Natalia Starr as Marielle Photo courtesy of Eddie Powell

Natalia Starr as Marielle
Photo Courtesy of Eddie Powell

Later when Marielle checks the envelope, she starts to remove her mask.

“Don’t do that,” he says.

“Why not?”

“I don’t need to see your face.”

“Too real for you, huh?” Marielle answers haughtily and leaves, dropping her mask in the hallway.

 

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