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September 16, 2015

Movie Review: "Mandingo Sex Addict" (2014; Full Circle Filmworks)

...truth be known, often times, one cannot help but rally around and appreciate a filmmaker who, in having garnished a successful career and respectably celebrated reputation, feels ready to take his or her efforts to that next plateau, moving away from a genre expectedly known for...taking things up a notch, so to speak, as far as grander ideas, financially higher-tiered production values and more readily available resources. To be sure, it's a personal growth process, and it has to be absolutely elating, not to mention a boost to a filmmaker's ego, knowing that in being critically upheld, as far as one's work, that the talent comes looking for the filmmaker, rather than the other way around. Considering that, it's even cooler when, despite the intentful desire to move on to bigger and better things, the filmmaker feels equally compelled to get that very last obligatory fist-pump in there...one last hurrah on that lower-rung genre, if at the very least, for personal satisfaction, closing that particular chapter in one's career, taking care of an itch one just has to scratch, and at the same time, affording the devotees of his work, an appreciative genre finale, before moving on...with promise of greater and more diverse things, soon to come...

...will such a 'genre finale' be a creatively conceived and satisfying crescendo moment, or will the overwhelming desire to get to that next level be so great and alluring, that the proposed 'crescendo moment' seems rushed, forced and cookie-cutter standard...even sub-standard?? Like something which one just has to get out of one's system, before moving on...in other words, as the saying goes, 'just phoning it in'?? (...the latter suggestion of which, for good instance, we definitely saw just recently, when director Tom Six, motivated and drawn toward 'getting it out of his system, once and for all' and moving on to something other than his infamous and notorious 'Human Centipede' franchise, punched out a third and final chapter in the gratuitously grotesque and gory 'saga'...and the resulting finale proved...well extraordinarily 'ordinary', at least by what might have been expected on the Tom Six Standard...but that's another story, altogether)...



...ahem...getting back on track here, this might well have been an applicable query considered by some, in finding out director Sean Weathers' plan to get one last piece of 'hard softcore' sexploitation in there, before tackling the next happening thing on his docker (...or should we say '(The) Fappening', as suggested by Sean's recent namesake production...gradually gaining critical accolades and attention, as well as having genuine & unprecedented name-star appeal, this time around...and hopefully, a review yet to come); and with a provocatively exploitative title like "Mandingo Sex Addict", it seems that ol' Sean is bidding farewell to a familiar genre of his, with a bang, and not a whimper...

...or is he??

...having made a personally revelating and inner-comforting peace with God, and as such, embracing a devoted elation in his newfound dedication to the Big Guy in the Sky, Tracy feels that...after righteously turning his back on a past life of wild parties, gratuitous sex with countless women, and an over-indulgence of booze and drugs...he is ready to settle down, find that one singular women to devote his life to, and do the marriage & family thing. The woman in question is his girl, Felicia, who herself has given herself over to the Lord, and also maintains a great affection for Tracy; however, being an indecisive gal, who really doesn't seem to know what she wants in life, right now, Tracy is quite taken aback when Felicia tears him asunder and turns him down, upon hearing his very heartfelt proposal...

...turning tail and leaving, after having been devastatingly blown away by Felicia's refusal, Tracy numbly stumbles off, in a deeply rooted fit of frustration and depression; wandering aimlessly about town, he happenstance runs into one of his old girlfriends, Monet (Crystal Bates, in an inaugural role). After some friendly and intimate conversation, Tracy willingly finds himself in Monet's apartment, and after a few drinks, finds himself in bed with her...both of them, engaging a blazen and steamy triste, hot enough to melt a towering stone-cold glacier. To Tracy's dismay, this satisfyingly heated and intimate moment, instead instills an overwhelming flood of guilt and inner-conflict, when he later finds out that Monet is already promised and intimately attached to another guy...

...sometime later, still riddled with guilt, as well as a compelling desire to clear his conscience, Tracy is further conflicted when Felicia comes back to him, in a fit of longing and desire...profoundly apologizing, saying that she made a dire mistake in refusing him, and claiming an enthusiastic wish to commit to him, this time around. Dedicating themselves to taking things easy, and not giving themselves to each other sexually, doesn't prove easy for Tracy, who's ever-burdening guilt, as a result of what he considers an unfaithfulness, continues to gnaw at him, relentlessly. And when the time is deemed right for the both of them to sexually consummate their relationship, Tracy abruptly chooses this opportunity to come clean and admit to Felicia about the affair that he had with Monet. Devastated, betrayed and feeling emotionally torn asunder, Felicia tears into Tracy, in an angry tirade which ends in Felicia no longer wanting Tracy in her life, permanently...

...in the aftermath of having been dumped by Felicia, Tracy once again wanders off, in an amassed feeling of depression, devastation and desire, as the result of imposed guilt, rejection and loneliness. In desperation...as if to afford himself a direly needed 'fix'...Tracy seeks emotional and heated sexual solace with a local prostitute...a 'fix' that proves short lived, when his guilt and depression, as well as his desire to be with someone 'special', not to mention his religious fervor, threatens to shake him asunder, yet again. Mentally tortured and emotionally distraught, Tracy mindlessly and desperately tries to get back together with Monet, initiating a tirade of ever-increasingly angry...bordering on psychopathic...phone messages, the result of which comes to the attention of Monet's boyfriend, who unleashes his own angry tirade of response, demanding that Tracy not bother Monet, anymore...

...but wait!!! Yes, of course...Felicia comes willingly back into the picture, offering Tracy one more chance to redeem himself. Still hammered down by guilt and indecision, will Tracy come clean and be honest with Felicia...taking the chance of ruining things with her, yet again?? Or will he bite the bullet, live with the guilt, and succumb to the old adage of 'some things are better left unsaid'?? For Tracy, it's 'damned if you do, damned if you don't' time, and the invariable final question remains: Just what is the right thing to do??...

...and...uh, let's 'hold up on that car wash', as the man said (...scratching my head, confusingly)...in glancing at the faded-to-black screen, then to the DVD cover, then back to the screen, now haven reverted back to the opening title-card 'start movie' screen...er, nope, this viewer didn't put the wrong disc in. And the opening title menu screen does say 'Mandingo Sex Addict'. And I did get all the 'sex'...that was evident, obvious and well within the arena, often explicitly explored, exhibited and exploited in numerous Sean Weathers films...with this film, hardly withstanding (...and we devoted fans of Weathers...well, we'd be disappointed in anything less). However, where does the 'mandingo' concept come into play...or even explained?? Or the blatant idea of 'addiction'?? Oh, the latter is danced around, parried about, hovered over and hinted at, but not quite enough to warrant the...according to Hoyle...definition of exploitation. Oh, you wascally Weathers!!! Did you barker up for us...old-west-and-covered-wagon-snake-oil-salesman style...an alluring and exploitative travelogue of outrageous sights and sounds...only to drop us into steamy and diversive barrage of sexual tristes, all wrapped up in an thick overcoat of compelling melodrama, betrayal and emotional distress of character??

...how dare you, Sean?? And at the same time...ah, hell!! All power to you, man...

...yes, in as much as the sweat-inducing softcore-level sex scenes in "Mandingo Sex Addict" are as raw, visceral and unbridled, as might be expected, coming through the camera lens of director Sean Weathers, and slapped onto the screen...it is the engaging drama and well-played characterizations, which are the drawing power, herein. Sean Weathers himself is quite compelling as Tracy...a man who doesn't so much seem as helplessly full-blown die-hard 'addicted' to the sexual act, as the title might imply, but more of a man who, despite his attempts to stringently adhere to a strict moral and religious retorie, has weaknesses in that respect, and like a desired drug, it is those weak moments which invariably manage to keep him from holding onto the woman, whom deep in his heart, he truly desires and loves. In considering this, this viewer could not help but be reminded of a similar predicament, exuded in director Francois Truffaut's classic French comedy, "The Man Who Loved Women", though in both instances, the motivation of character is clearly different...and ironic, if you really think about it, considering the notion that Truffaut's 'Morane' character, if transplanted into today's social arena, would most assuredly be considered a sex addict, by clear definition of the term...

...interestingly enough, the Tracy character's aspect of weakness is further expounded upon, reflected and even magnified, in a sense, by Tracy's best friend, Nick (Waliek Krandall, having previously worked with Weathers in "Ace Jackson is a Dead Man" and "Scumbag Hustler")...a sort of brash and outspoken type of person...the gruff & grizzly 'bud' whom everyone knows of, in one way or another...who always seems to have some advise, and has no qualms in speaking his mind, as unconventional and troublesome as both of those personality traits might be...and yet, continues to rag on Tracy, in thinking that he's getting far too bent out of shape over the situation, and contends that he'd be better off tossing morality into the wind, in favor of whatever 'piece of tail' he can get his hands on. Ideally personified, he's the lil' devil on Tracy's shoulder, to counter the easily-led-astray 'angel', on Tracy's other shoulder...

...though the film very much has a lot going for it...probably even more than it's deserved of...at the very least, "Mandingo Sex Addict" is very much interesting and satisfying enough, by virtue of it's search for a singular identity...which, to a certain degree, parallels similar motivation, as seen by the film's main protagonist, Tracy. Is it a study, focused on addiction?? Well, yeah...considering that Sean Williams has often explored this notion, in previous films, though herein, not nearly as heavy handed. Is this a piece of hard-hitting, no-holds-barred sexploitation?? Eh, perhaps not as hardcore as might be expected, in considering the exploitative title of the film, coupled with Williams' previous penchant for hard-hitting softcore. Is this an exploration of relationships?? Of moral adherence, and the weaknesses that sometimes chips away at that adherence?? Oh, yes...without a doubt...

...above all, it's all the more interesting, going into a film with certain expectations, coming out with different & unexpected expectations met, and still be quite entertained. But that's Sean Weathers for ya'...always one with an Ace in the hold; for his finale in the sexploitation genre, Sean seems to be going out with a bang...and a whisper. Nothing wrong with that...nothing wrong with that, at all...

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