“Understated” isn’t a word you’d ordinarily use to describe a Jerry Bruckheimer production, but that’s surprisingly what 12 Strong ends up being.
It's hard to feel much sympathy for the heroine of “Let's Talk About Sex,” as she regards the wreckage of her dreams. Jazz (Troy Beyer) is a newspaper advice columnist in Miami who wants her own TV show, and the movie is about a very long weekend during which she interviews lots of women about lots of sex, and then edits together a pilot of a show to be called “Girl Talk.” Alas, the pilot tape is mistakenly destroyed. When Jazz hears the news, she is as distraught as a heroine in Greek tragedy. She doubles up in pain. Her body is wracked by great cataclysmic sobs. Her two friends weep in sympathy, the three of them wailing and gnashing. So great is their grief that mere words cannot encompass it, and they sink to the ultimate form of lamentation: They clean house. Bitter salt tears course down their cheeks as they Ajax the bathtub and Bab-O the pots and pans, while the audience collapses in disbelieving laughter.
Jazz's reaction seems a tad extreme, especially in comparison with her other big tearful moment, when she confesses she cannot have children. That merely makes her sob. Losing the tape turns her into Lady Macbeth. She was so distraught, I wanted to climb right up there on the screen, squeeze her hand, and comfort her. “Look,” I would have said, “First of all, you still have all the raw footage, so you can easily re-create the film in no time. Secondly, almost everything you had on your pilot tape is too raunchy to be played on a commercial television station, anyway, so maybe it's better this way.” “Let's Talk About Sex,” written and directed by Beyer, plays like two bad films trying to elbow each other out of the frame. Film One consists of the documentary footage gathered by Jazz and her friends as they ask Miami Beach women to talk about sex (a lot of this footage seems to involve real women who think they are in a real documentary). Film Two involves the romantic ordeals Jazz and her two roommates, Michelle (Paget Brewster), and Lena (Randi Ingerman).
They all have problems. Jazz has just broken off a long-running engagement with her boyfriend. Michelle dates men for sex but not for intimacy. Lena attracts men who treat her the way Michelle treats men. All three women are drop-dead beautiful and live in a Miami Beach penthouse that illustrates the rule that characters in movies always live in more expensive housing than they could afford in real life.
Leaving aside the melodrama about the three friends (and the sub-melodramas of Michelle's lesbian sister and Lena's no-good musician boyfriend), we're left with a lot of footage of very strange women describing their very strange sex lives. The movie shows the women being recruited with fliers, but they talk more like they're involved in a slam at the Penthouse Forum.
Few of the interviews will give male audience members even a shred of hope that they will ever succeed in truly pleasing a female. We learn that men are uncaring, unskilled and underequipped; worse, we go to sleep after sex, when women know that's the perfect time for deep, meaningful conversation. Remember that old college boy joke about how, after sex, the ideal women turns into a pizza and a six-pack? In this movie, the ideal man turns into a vibrator and Ted Koppel.
Stop watching movies made by assholes. It'll be OK.
A look at the way Donald Trump's words and images recall the Stanley Kubrick classic.
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