Couch Trip

The dirty old-man of EuroSleaze, and Hilary Swank's got character

Feb 16, 2011 at 12:00 am

Intervision Picture

All that can be said about director Jess Franco's latest production is, well, what else can you expect from a movie by an 80-year-old man? If you answered "slow-motion lesbian go-go dancers" ... Well, The New York Times says he's "the elder statesman of EuroSleaze."

Paula-Paula is billed as "an audiovisual experience" based on Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. After an attempt to introduce some backstory, from which the only information of note presented is that Paula (Carmen Montes) has been dancing in strip clubs since the tender age of 5, the remainder of the film's mercifully scant 67-minute running time takes place in Paula's apartment, which, for some reason, is covered in large sheets of tin foil or something. You can only assume this is an attempt to simulate what it'd be like to live inside a packet of Jiffy Pop. Soon, a series of psychedelic picture manipulations show the other Paula (the lovely Paula Davis), which have all the entertainment value of a screensaver, followed by a sex scene between the two Paulas that can't so much be termed a "sex scene" as a badly aimed camera strafing around two naked women in painfully slow motion. If this clearly brilliant quality of filmmaking doesn't blow your socks off, the fingernail-scraping, hysterically out of place free jazz soundtrack will. —Jeremy Winograd

20th Century Fox DVD

It's not the story but the script that fails this (relatively) true yarn of a woman's quest to free her wrongly convicted brother. Played aptly by Hilary Swank, Betty Ann Waters was a 29-year-old high school dropout who returned to the classroom to earn four degrees, including one in law, in order to secure her brother's release from a false conviction. It's a "this-could-happen-to-you" story of the highest magnitude for anyone who's cared about a brother. Though a few scenes here rise to the level or fall to the depth of emotion associated with such horror stories, the film doesn't quite overall do the story or its heroes justice, so to speak. A beneficiary of the Michigan film tax credits, Conviction was shot in Detroit, Ypsilanti, Ann Arbor and beyond. Look for the Bell's beer taps in one barroom scene. —Sandra Svoboda