City of Flesh 4: Indulgence (2005)
I interviewed director Estelle Joseph for For The Girls and was impressed by her vision and passion for creating erotica for women.
Thus I downloaded City of Flesh 4 and prepared to watch it with a certain bias towards it - I was eager to cut this movie some slack because its creator had won me over. I knew she had put a great deal of time, energy and effort into making a film that she thought women would like, and that alone is enough to earn the film some brownie points.
Having watched it I'm pleased to say that City of Flesh 4 is an accomplished adult film and I believe that a lot of female viewers will enjoy viewing it. It's a movie for those women who love to watch explicit porno sex, but don't want to bother with extensive plotlines or overtly romantic trimmings. It offers up plenty of hardcore that will easily get the juices flowing, and I guess that's the main thing we all want from an erotic movie.
The film is a series of seven vignettes. Each story is self-contained and focuses mainly on sex, although there is a modicum of plot surrounding each scene to explain why the people on screen are doing what they do. The vignettes tell their tales from the woman's point of view, and most offer realistic scenarios that one can easily imagine occurring. The dialogue is brief but believable, and no elaborate set-up is required to let the viewer know what is going on.
First up we see a man (cooking, no less) who is seduced by his ex-girlfriend. Their tryst involves some anal sex. Next we see a female executive seduce the delivery boy, with a cute twist at the end. After that, her secretary follows in the boss's footsteps and shags the electrician. Then a married couple argue and have make-up sex on their anniversary. There are two lesbian/girl-girl scenes, both done in a fantasy-artistic style. One involves the women dressing and acting like cats; the other sees a woman being blindfolded and making love to her alter-ego. The final scene depicts a couple making love in the shower-bath and also includes a brief anal scene.
Of them all, I found the first scene, the cat lesbians, and the bath scene to be particularly enjoyable. For me, these scenes offered the most erotically-charged sex and they were also the scenes that seemed less traditionally "porny."
The first scene certainly packs a punch. It instantly got me involved and turned me on, and it set the tone for the rest of the film. The stars here are great actors, and the sex between them is believable and quite intense. As it's the story of two exes indulging in illicit, post-breakup sex there's a sort of frenzy to it. We know the guy doesn't want to fuck the girl, yet he can't help but give in; I rather enjoyed seeing the woman have the power here. The anal scene was tastefully done and it was good to see a condom used. Indeed, all the sex in this movie is safe sex, and I'm glad to see it.
I will say I was disappointed when the scene ended with a cumshot on the woman's face, even if it did seem to occur as a natural part of the sex. I've never been a fan of the "money shot," partly because it's so overdone in porn, partly because it often looks so fake, and partly because it means we never get to enjoy a man's face as he comes. If you feel the same way then you will find this aspect of City of Flesh 4 disappointing: every scene features a cumshot of some type or another. Thankfully these all happen in a relatively "natural" way (the guy often pulls out quickly and ejaculates) and the women either ask for it or look like they're enjoying it.
The other main disappointment with this movie is that it doesn't feature many female orgasms. In the hetero sex scenes it's hard to spot anything that looks like a woman reaching a climax. The two lesbian scenes appear to feature them, but even then I was left feeling uncertain about what I'd seen. Sure, there's plenty of moans and opportunities for the girls to come, but nothing seems to eventuate. If we're going to see the guy come, I think it only fair that we see the girl enjoy herself too - even if it's only fake. This was my main criticism of the first film and it's a shame that it's been replicated here.
I would also have liked to see more clit stimulation during sex, longer cunnilingus scenes, and less arbitrary position changes but then perhaps I'm just being overly picky with my preferences.
Beyond my perfectionist quibbles, the film has a lot of very appealing elements. There's no looking at the camera and no hamming it up. The music is subtle and the camerawork intimate yet unobtrusive. The editing is nicely handled, with scenes cut together smoothly. The camera focuses equally on the man and woman during sex. As each vignette is less than ten minutes long, the sex scenes feel as though they're just the right length. I'm pleased to say that there were no moments when I found myself thinking: "Oh, just get on with it!"
Another nice thing about this film are the stars, particularly red-haired Bunny South. This woman has gorgeous long hair, freckles, average-sized boobs and her fair share of tummy. It's such a relief to see a normal-looking woman in a film; no doubt many of us are more than a little tired of seeing intimidating blonde stick insects in our porn movies. I'm also pleased to announce that there isn't a hint of silicon in this film at all. The guys aren't muscle-bound studs, but they're good looking in their own way.
The two lesbian scenes are worth commenting on, because of their artistic/fantastic nature. Clearly the director was experimenting more with ideas in these scenarios than she was with the hetero scenes, and I think, on the whole, she succeeds. The vignettes exude a dream-like quality, reflecting, I think, the unreality of the average hetero woman's lesbian fantasy. The "alter ego" scene in particular is noteworthy, if only because it's such a fun idea: what would it be like to have sex with yourself? It's a difficult concept to film, and handled quite well.
Overall City of Flesh 4 is a good film that will please both men and women - a goal that many adult filmmakers set out to reach but few effectively achieve. It's well made, nicely executed and really very sexy. Make no mistake: you will get turned on by this film.
From a personal perspective there were a few things that I absolutely
adored and a few things I could have done without. Nonetheless I'm
keen to recommend this film. There are so few erotic movies out
there even bothering to acknowledge the female audience that I'm
happy to see something that does. Better yet, it manages to offer
down-and-dirty hardcore porn in a classy, positive, female-oriented
way, and that is an achievement to be savored.
Written and Directed by Estelle Joseph
Starring: Anita Blue, Holly, Bunny South, Alexa, Lucy Lucy, Lou, Frank Lippincott, Ricky D, Red Bull
This review also appears at For The Girls!
Reviewed November 2005