Elektra Luxx (2010) - Can't Stop the Movies
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Elektra Luxx (2010)

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The Virgin Mary appears about 2/3 of the way into Elektra Luxx to dispense wisdom and guidance to the forlorn ex-porn star.  Removing myself from the context of the movie, that's one heck of a description for a scene.  It's fraught with potential and could be an examination of the spiritual aspects of sex, reconciling a past of sin, or redefining what it means to sin to begin with.  As an image with potential for commentary it's a good one.

Sadly, most of the scene is devoted to family and daddy issues that were completely buried up until this point.  A fair subject to tackle, but much like anything introduced in just about any other scene of Elektra Luxx it's almost completely forgotten after the next cut of the camera.  It's a shame, there are some snazzy bits of dialogue to whet my whistle and there's one helluva cast involved.  But it all suffers from an extreme bent of, "Ok, what now?"  or more importantly, "Why are they meandering so much?"

Elektra Luxx begins very promisingly with a very funny and passionate Bert Rodriguez (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) explaining the hidden artistry in Elektra's (Carla Gugino) porno films.  There's a lot to poke fun at and Bert's intelligence combined with unfortunate filming conditions (his mom interrupts him every so often) is the perfect parody of the kind of impassioned analysis nerd-culture inspires.  That it's directed at porno and features quite a number of solid points about how they achieve their effect is a solid indicator of how smart the movie wants to be.

But that doesn't last.  In the next scene we find that Elektra has retired from porno to teaching a class on how to have sex like a porn star (most likely inspired by Jenna Jameson's book of a similar title).  The zest of the opening scene is still there and Gugino plays Elektra like a wounded champ, but the conversations lead nowhere and think that they're more funny than they are in execution.  Which is sad, because I've heard a number of "oral sex gone horribly awry" stories that were absolutely hilarious and the one in this class goes on about two minutes past where the punchline should be.

It's amusing that the film avoids nudity almost completely, but has some extensive fun with this chap.

Another disconcerting sign slowly afterward.  Elektra is asked by a fan, Trixie (Malin Akerman) to see if Elektra can seduce her fiancee.  After the invention of the opening scene and brief flashes of wit even in the overlong teaching sequence this came as something of a sad non-surprise.  Too many movies have been built on this cliche, and it's too Elektra Luxx's credit that it at least tries to do something with it.

That still leads to another non-starting plot though.  Elektra ends up seducing a private investigator named Del (the eternally suave Timothy Olyphant) who is looking into Trixie.  So they meet for a couple of drinks and then he's quickly forgotten, only to be replaced by another man who's having fidelity issues with his girlfriend, gets trapped in an elevator with Elektra, and ends up having sex with her.  Ok, then that man is quickly forgotten and is replaced by Trixie's fiancee, who doesn't sleep with Elektra but sure as heck isn't happy that she was going to try and seduce him.  One by one the scenes fall together with blissful ignorance of the events preceding.

A helpful (to a degree) subplot is added Elektra's friend Holly (Adrianne Palicki) who has an incredibly quick and tenuous hello with Elektra before being shoved off into her own scenes.  Holly fantasizes about her friend and is terribly upset about the advances of men while figuring out how to tell her travelling partner Bambi (Emmanuelle Chirqui) that she's in love with her.  These moments serve as a helpful counterpoint to Elektra's life in that Elektra is clearly tired of being shoved into a certain sex-box while Holly is successful in freeing herself through honest erotic expression.

More subplots - Elektra's lost love, though so barely touched on it fights for a reason to exist.

But this is barely clarified through the technique of the film, which seems content presenting each ambling scene and then zipping along to another seemingly unrelated scene.  The connection is there, but going from a heartfelt discussion to two girls stripping was a difficult enough transition in Mulholland Dr, let alone a modestly ambitious comedy.  The disconnect only partially applies to the dialogue though, which ranges from chuckle worthy one liners about sex (regarding an orgasm "It's not bad form to say I don't know where I am but if you move I will kill you") to entire stories told in the span of a few lines ("I'm Jimmy" "I know" "That means something?" "I've heard her crying.")

Though even those sporadic flashes of insight can't stagger up against the endlessly meandering conversations that are separated by those moments.  Each scene starts off with an interesting idea or spin on an old sex topic but quickly descends into uninteresting conversation or metaphor so unpolished it feels tacked on as an afterthought.  There's not a strong enough connecting line to generate much interest in any of these moments, even if the incredibly game cast does their best.

It's easy to see why so many talented people signed up for the project, even if it is another sure-fire sign that Timothy Olyphant really needs to get a different agent for his movies.  This is a far too overstuffed turkey, and I didn't even get to Bert's subplot or Elektra's pregnancy.  A decent effort and one that guarantees that I'll be checking out Sebastian Gutierrez's next project, but in the hopes that he'll have learned to focus a bit by then.

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Elektra Luxx (2010)

Written and directed by Sebastian Gutierrez.
Starring Carla Gugino, Timothy Olyphant, Adrianne Palicki, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

Posted by Andrew

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  1. This is actually a sequel to Women in Trouble, which was the same deal: humorous situations but no humor. Too bad.

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