A couple checks into a suite in Las Vegas. In flashbacks we see that hes a computer whiz on the verge of becoming a dot.com millionaire, shes a lap dancer at a club. Hes depressed, withdrawing from work, missing meetings with investors. He wants a connection, so he offers her 10,000 to spend three nights with him in Vegas, and she accepts with conditions four hours per night of erotic play, and no penetration. During the days in Vegas, they get to know each other, have fun, meet a friend of hers at night, at least after the first night, things seem to get complicated. Is mutual attraction stirring? Will they play by their rules? Can it be about more than money?
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Wayne Wang has acknowledged his love of LAST TANGO IN PARIS and with thismovie it's pretty obvious what he's going for. Unfortunately, there's a bigproblem with the film's premise: any man who's got $10K to hire a hookerAND has access to the internet should be smart enough to know how/where tofind a suitable travel companion who will do as he pleases. Still, therewas something intriguing about this movie -- but I just didn't buy thestory. The two leads were interesting and did a good job with what littledialogue they have (Peter Sarsgaard totally inhabits his character and thefrustration his social ineptitude causes him is palpable). Did Molly Parker even do her research? Man, if she gave me a lap dance I'dwant my money back!
If you decide to rent this film or catch it on HBO (which seems to run itseveral times a month these days), know up front that it is uneven andultimately doesn't really end up anywhere interesting. The writer/directorWang was trapped with only two possible outcomes, granted. But after thelevel of trust his performers put into him, he owed them and us somethingmore satisfying than where the movie takes the audience. However, theperformance of Molly Parker makes watching this film more than worth thefailings of the script.No one, NO ONE, came close to what she does in this film that year. If youhave any respect left for the choices the Academy of Motion Picture ArtsandSciences members, not to mention most of the critic groups, don't watchthismovie. The fact that Parker was completely overlooked, while JulieRobert'sover-hyped, far-short-of-spectacular turn in ERIN BROCKOVICH got theaccolades, shows what total rubbish these critical popularity horse racesreally are. In CENTER OF THE WORLD Parker gives an astoundingly braveperformance. Yet it is the nuanced, subtle touches that show the viewerhercharacter's shifting attitudes that make it such a stand-out job.Without a single line of expository dialogue to illuminate the internalone,one can follow the character's struggle to maintain the control shethoughtshe had on her own emotions. The idea that some young people have thewisdomof adults without having had the experiences to form that wisdom and whathappens when they face situations that test them in a similiar fashion isvery intriguing. Its a shame the film cannot match the effort Parker putsinto it. Peter Sarsgaard does a 180 degree flip from his turn in BOYSDON'TCRY and while not as amazing as Parker, he does fine job too. Hischaracteris more of a now stock one: the brilliant guy with immature sexualdevelopment.But above all else, bravo Ms Parker, BRAVO!
What would you do if someone offered you more money than you had ever seen before, just to spend the night? If you accept, what exactly are you willing to do? How far is too far?Does anyone EVER really know anyone else, or are all just playing mind games? These are just some of the questions tackled in Center of The World. Do you dare?
This review is from: The Center of the World (DVD) Arguably the most thematically serious film I've seen where a stripper was a lead character, director Wayne Wang's "The Center of the World" stars Richard (Peter Sarsgaard) as a software millionaire who offers $10,000 to Florence (Molly Parker - the widow in "Deadwood"), a drummer in a struggling band who makes a living as a stripper) to spend three days with him in Las Vegas, setting the stage for a story about the collision between fantasy and reality: the fantasies upscale prostitutes sell to their clients and the weird mix of naivete, simple lust and a desire for connection that a john might bring to their relations - and the reality that these relations are little more than a transaction of the starkest sort. Even more interesting for me was the balance Wang brings to the narrative: their changing points of view get almost equal time in the story, adding a bit more depth to the film than I expected.In an interview, director and co-writer Wang (" Thousand Years of Good Prayers, Smoke, Joy Luck Club") makes an interesting comment about how the film had it's genesis in a visit he made to the Silicon Valley area, where, at the time, there was a serious imbalance in the gender ratio of the areas' population, something akin to eight or more single men to every single woman. And with all the ready money in the post dot.com-bust economy of the time, gave rise to a huge market for strippers, call girls and dating services.The film didn't have the strongest reception from the critics, which I thought was undeserved. Wang and his co-writers, Paul Auster ("Smoke, Lulu on the Bridge") Miranda July ("You Me & Everyone We Know") did a great job getting into the characters heads and the performances of the leads is some of the best work I've seen from either actor. Carla Gugino (the first Silk Spectre in "Watchmen") also has a supporting role as a long time friend of Parker's character. [...]
Alright, so I waited 90 minutes for something to happen in this movie. Imean, I was hoping for a cool plot twist or something. Instead, I was justbored. I was trying to like at least one of the characters, but the maincharacters were shallow and annoying. The supporting players weren't aroundlong enough for the audience to get to know them. I'm glad I had a freepass to the movies when I saw this, because I'd have been upset if I shelledout 9 bucks for it.
Peter Sarsgaard(The Salton Sea, Empire) is in love with Molly Parker(Bliss1997, Sunshine) who is a hooker& a stripper and so Sarsgaard brings Parker to Vegas for 3 days where then things start to unfold. Sarsgaard's passion for Parker breaks down a wall and she might like him too. Great performances by the leads with some intense, sexual moments, some of which Parker shows some skin, nice..adult drama about obsession. Also starring Balthazar Getty (Project Greenlight's Feast, Lost Highway) and Alisha Klass.
Take Showgirls, make it all independent filmy and lower the budget, andyou'll have this movie. Trashy as hell, but veiled as intelligent. Theaudience I saw the picture with laughed throughout the showing. See it forwhat it is, porn-lite fobbed off as art, and you will too. Perfs by Guginoand Parker are dead on. I got tired of Sarsgaard's one note performance.Still, I like to see DV features make it to theatrical, and I'll givefilmmakers credit for achieving that much. And for getting my$10.My advice: Rent "Center of the World" and play it with the sound off at thenext literati cocktail party you host.
This was a weird movie. Wayne Wang is one of the most famous directors of "no budget films" (films that shoot on 16mm and video with no connection to Hollywood) and popularized by Rick Schmidt. On that recommendation, I went to see this movie.The plot centers around a rich tech-geek who hires a stripper to go with him to Las Vegas. During the trip, sex mixes with (maybe) love and eventually all hell breaks lose with each side realizing what they really are.There are plenty of reasons to view this movie. The characters are very complex, with truly subtle perfomances given by all involved. The story also is engaging with enough twists to keep one puzzled. This is a sexual film that is the complete opposite of "Showgirls." It is a view of the sex industry with both it's appeal and its horrible toll of the minds of its partisipants. You will real want to discuss this film.So far, it sounds like a five star movie, but it isn't. The lowbudgetness of the movie makes the sex scenes look like porn, which actually draws the audiance out of the emotions Wang is looking for. It also is a movie that becomes increasingly vulgar to melodramatic effect, so as to almost parody itself at times.It appears that there were two sides to Director Wayne Wang on this piece.Director Wayne made a profound study of the sex industry.Director WANG made a cheap vulgar porno.It's too bad that they're the same movie.
It might not be a good movie for you to see in a movie theater, but it isactually quite a good R-Rated movie for watching at home during latehours.Too bad it doesn't end the way one comes to expect, but maybe it iscloserto real life this way.
I must say that when I was about to watch this film, I had the impression that it was going to be a rip off of "Pretty Woman", but it wasn't. It was about a man who hires a stripper to spend some time with him but they are under an agreement that they will not have intercourse. The time they spend together causes them to learn lessons about themselves and their sexuality. I have to applaud the actors on what a good job they did, at no point did the acting seem unconvincing. The movie looked like it was just going to be too full of sex to be able to have a real plot, but it wasn't. I was very suprised by it, and I would reccomend this to most people, except children because they would find it boring and it is much to sexual.
Very few movies expresses what a women is thinking, Molly Parker expresses what the character is thinking almost breathlessly, the brief sentences and faintly pointed glances she performs realistic to life.This movie is all carried by the female lead.It is a subtle examination of the relationship people like Tiger Woods and governor Elliot Spitzer have on a monthly basis.This is not about love. The only person calling it that is the one who doesn't understand it.
Although more infamous for its sex scenes than its acting anddirection, Wayne Wang does marvels with a digital camera and hisactors in a very good independent film.This is an adult film, so some of the descriptions in this reviewmay not be for young eyes. Peter Sarsgaard is Richard, a youngcomputer genius worth a million or so who takes a liking toFlorence, played by Molly Parker. They decide to take a trip to LasVegas together, with Richard paying for everything, and someharsh guidelines set up by Florence: no kissing on the mouth,together for just four hours every night, and no actual sexualpenetration. Goofy Richard goes along with the demands, and thetwo skip town to Vegas. Richard is skipping more than just town,his computer business is about to go IPO, and his partner can notseem to get a hold of him.Florence and Richard settle into a routine, and try to get to knoweach other after being so intimate physically. Richard's love forFlorence is obvious, but slowly Florence begins to have feelingsfor Richard that are not of the usual prostitute/john type. CarlaGugino flashes in as one of Florence's screwed up friends, whonotices a change in Florence when she is with Richard. Eventually,the couple begin breaking their rules, and the climactic sex scenebrings out everyone's true colors on the future of therelationship.The title of the film is interesting in that Richard thinks the center ofthe world is his computer, and Florence thinks it is a female'ssexual organs. Eventually in the film, Florence's definition seemsto be decided on, with Richard using his Center (money wise) toget to her Center.The film treads through the familiar sexual obsession territory, butwithout going to the lengths that have been touched on in dozensof late night Showtime and Sinemax series and made for cablefodder. Richard is a genuine babe in the woods, trying to project adangerous side, when in fact he is a nice guy who wants to helppeople. Try and keep track of how many times he asks Florenceand others if they are okay or all right.Florence is a great character, unable to contain her growingemotional attachment, so she uses her own body as a wall toRichard's love. You find yourself wishing these two screwed uppeople would get it together, but the ending leaves it up in the airwithout being too frustrating.If anything, I sometimes found the sex to get in the way of the plot.Both people share innocuous stories from their past, then followthrough with kinky sexual acts, but I deemed more from thestories.Wang does a great job with the digital camera. He is respectful ofhis actors, not getting into everyone's face because he has thetechnology to, but he stays close enough to give the audience avoyeuristic feeling in the hotel room scenes. While some scenesrun long here and there, I found the two main characters sodifferent and so interesting, I did not mind the slow spots.There is a lot of sex and nudity here, but only one very brief sceneset in a strip club constitutes anything you would normally see in aporno. This is the kind of film Roger Ebert has been screamingabout for years, demanding a new "A" for Adult rating that would behigher than an "R," but not quite a porno either. The "NC17" blewup in the MPAA's face, as it replaced the "X," it did not fall justbelow it."The Center of the World" is just less than an hour and a half long,but speaks volumes about its characters. I enjoyed it more than Ithought I would, I am still smarting from sitting through Wang's"Chan is Missing," one of the most dull, overcelebrated, andpointless films ever made. He has come a long way, and I highlyrecommend this effort.This is unrated, and contains some sexual violence, strongprofanity, very strong female nudity, strong male nudity, very strongsexual content, brief pornographic sexual content, very strongsexual references, drug abuse, and strong adult situations.
This review is from: The Center of the World (DVD) I was thinking there would be more passion or at least more sex. Too much time was wasted in this movie on scenes that were of no interest. Such as the actors sitting around ALOT, or walking and talking about nothing. Not much happens in this movie. The ators were not beautiful... in fact they were ugly.
An extremely articulate and well-observed film from Wayne Wang, about whatit means to have power - financial power, sexual power - and how shallowthis power truly is, especially when it's detached from anything resemblingtrue involvement, genuine passion. Both characters are obsessed with TheGame, and they are both very good at it.Peter Sarsgaard and Molly Parker are both superb, letting us see enough oftheir characters' inner workings to completely understand them withoutshowing too much, losing the edge. Each has what the other thinks he/sheneeds, and the film is basically a discourse on negotiation - what you willgive up to get what you desire? Issues of control are central to the theme,and the cool thing is, both characters know it and they get off on that morethan the actual sex itself.
It is a real pity that we don't see movies like that made more often. Thismovie may not have any deep revelations and it may even have some plotholes, but it has 3 things uniquely combined in one film: 1. It feels like aserious movie (although is has a few mandatory comic reliefs) 2. It feelsreal, it is actually believable. 3. And it uses purely the language ofsexual situations to progress and deliver most of its points!I mean you can see countless sex scenes in almost any movie these days, butwill you miss any of the plot or any of the ideas if those scenes weredeleted or replaced by the "birds shots"? Even in the movies that deal withsex as one of their main subjects, still most of the deeper messages arejust plainly given by actors in their dialogs or other (non-sexual) scenes.Center Of The World is not like that. It talks about sex (and love to someextent), the fantasies people pursue, and how it all intertwines in a weirdway, with boundaries dissolving in unexpected ways and places. It gives youa lot to think and argue about, and yet there isn't much dialog going on,most of the time you just see people engaged in an erotic or sexualsituation, and yet this movie utilizes the language of these situation tothe full extent to send a powerful message.I urge everyone to see this movie and tell your friends to go and see ittoo. Like I said in the beginning, this movie is unique and unless peoplegive it enough recognition it will stay unique. And it really should not bethat way. I hope for a chance that people who make movies will start givingmore attention to what is actually happening in the sex scenes they film,and more importantly HOW it happens. It is a potent language when used rightit can tell more than words do, and the dramatic effect isamazing.=== next part may contain spoilers ==> There is one thing I found inconsistent about the plot. While in the endRichard and Florence actually have sex, at the same time the movie goes outof its way to make sure the viewer sees how indifferent Florence actually isand basically hates the whole thing. But we know that she already got themoney, and Richard was not the kind to really push her, and they both agreedon the rules in the beginning. She could have easily taken control of thesituation, but she chose not to. Something must be wrong, she either shouldhave just walked away, or she was not that indifferent after all. There isprobably a good explanation for this, because it would be sad if the keyscene of such a good film is just one of those "things happen" [for noapparent reason] movie moments.=== end of spoilers ==> Go see it! Even if you hate it, you will still love it!
First of all, I never knew that the majority of audiences in the UnitedStates who attend arthouse cinema could ever, ever, EVER consider thisabommination an "art film". Since when do we feel that glorifiedpornographywith a some-what better than Debbie Does Dallas script makes fine cinema?Because the characters all had "issues"? Because they were "emoting" aftertheir sex scenes? This film is utterly one of the most revolting excusesforindependent film I have ever had the displeasure to see.I have no problem with love scenes, sex scenes, nudity, et al, as long asthey have some sense of tasteful rellevence to a strong story. However,thisscript was merely a hashing out of sexual perversions, with the SLIGHT feelof romantic interest for about a millisecond. The writing was at timeslaughable, and most of the time tollerable at best. I have scence sexualthrillers that actually went somewhere...this, sadly, was not one of them.'Tis Pity She's a Whore.J
Think the premise of "Pretty Woman," but more firmly grounded in the real world, and you might get close to what "The Center of the World" is all about. This film abandons the glamourized Hollywood notions of sex workers, and doesn't engage in the pat, happy ending that we saw in "Pretty Woman"... and it is a far better film for it. Furthermore, Molly Parker is far more exotically lovely than Julia Roberts could even hope to be, and a better actress to boot.In short, if you're looking for a romantic escapist fantasy about a sex worker redeemed by the love of a good man, look elsewhere -- this film is far more complex than that.Comparisons to "Pretty Woman" do seem inevitable however, to the point that I wonder if the director and writers weren't crafting this film as a direct response to that one, a way of saying, "Whoa boy, reality check!" The premise is familiar at least. Richard (Peter Saarsgard) is wealthy but lonely after a breakup with his girlfriend two years before. He meets Florence (Molly Parker) in a coffee shop and finds out that she is a stripper. He visits her at the strip club where she works (nicely named Pandora's Box), and is so intrigued by her that he offers her $10,000 to spend three days with him in Las Vegas. She agrees, with a number of strict conditions, including limiting the number of hours she is required to "work," and limiting the acts she will perform. "No kissing on the mouth" (sounds familiar, no?) and "no penetration" are among her limitations.From this familiar territory, though, the film explores new ground. Richard and Florence get to know one another as they spend more time together, and Florence finds out that Richard isn't such a bad guy, just lonely. "Why do you have to be so nice?" she asks him at one point, partially angry and partially not. Richard, in the meantime, is becoming more and more deeply entranced by this woman he has hired, which becomes part of the conflict.Given the subject of the film, there is of course a great deal of sexuality portrayed in it. It is handled pretty tastefully, and none of it is there for its own sake. It is partially through their sexual relationship that we see the growth and the limitations of the characters' relationship in general. The sex scenes are handsomely shot and are not the typical sort of scenes one might expect from an erotic film; nevertheless (perhaps because they are unique), they are extremely erotic.The acting is quite good. We spend most of the film only seeing Richard and Florence interacting together, with just a few other characters showing up here and there, but the two lead actors have the chops to sustain the film from beginning to end. Peter Saarsgard plays a "nice guy" well, and it's good to see that he doesn't overplay it at all. He's a very real nice guy, with flaws and points where he stops being nice out of frustration or anger. Molly Parker, as Florence, lends a similar depth to her role. From the first moment you see her you can see why Richard becomes infatuated with her: she is ethereally lovely, with a husky voice that is simply enthralling. But it is her personality that Richard really falls for, and that too is portrayed believably. She is played with a genuine warmth and likeability that is often missing from erotic films, but not overly sweet like "Pretty Woman" and many other Hollywood attempts at a similar story. I suspect that Molly Parker will be a talent to watch carefully in the next few years.The nature and limitations of the relationship between these two people -- in one sense employer and employee and in another far more intimate than that -- becomes the main subject of the film as it progresses. How much of what Florence is giving to Richard is real, and how much is an act? How does the aspect of money change what happens over that three days? Are his feelings based in reality? Are hers?Some of these questions are answered at the end, others are left open to the viewer's interpretation. There is nothing about the end, however, that is trite or simple, and as in life, there is a great deal that will depend on the perspective of the person watching the story unfold. This is a film very much grounded in reality, dealing with real people in a realistic (if unique) situation, and in the end it avoids the typical Hollywood fantasy notions that are so common.Comparisons to "Pretty Woman" may well be inevitable for this film, but in such comparisons "The Center of the World" comes out ahead in every category. It's not a perfect film, but it is an excellent one. It is both sexier and more realistic, and that makes it well worth watching in my book.
Take all of "Hollywood" out of Pretty Women and this is the movie you get. It show what would really happen when a man hires a women for 3 days. Not that "here's my credit card, go shopping fluff." If you are sicken my mainstream Hollywood watch this movie. If you aren't sure about spending the $$$, RENT it.
This review is from: The Center of the World (DVD) Richard, a computer genius (Peter Sarsgaard) offers Florence, a struggling musician/stripper (Molly Parker) $10,000 to spend the weekend with him in Vegas, but before she says yes he must agree to her terms...no kissing, only meeting between the hours of 10pm and 2am, not getting personal and absolutely no penetration or sex.With these rules laid out in front of him Richard agrees even though he plans on making her love him. Richard, actually love this stripper(Florence) and what make piss off and 'force' sex with her is that Florence told him that she was only paid to make her enjoy him(can't really remember that much).
A digital camera does not a movie make but Wayne Wang didn't rely onavant-garde technique alone when he decided to revisit the basicboy-meets-girl story. He simplifies the problem by choosing two peoplewith very little in common and then taking them out of their naturalsettings and putting them in the unreal world of Las Vegas. The man is asocially inept but financially successful engineer so typical of our timesand his character is developed and portrayed very realistically by PeterSaarsgard in a role very different from what he played in Boys Don't Cry.He's got it down even to the careless dressing and awkward laugh. I know -Iwork in the Bay Area. Molly Parker is equally convincing as thedrummer-by-day-stripper-by-night career woman who has such a cool andinvincible air about her that it makes quite an impact in the few occasionswhen she does let her armor down.It almost seems as if Wang has taken the Hollywood classic Pretty Woman andhas decided to deHollywoodize it. And in that he has been quitesuccessful.The graininess of the Blair Witch style digital camera coupled withinnovative shots including unexpected close-ups follow no clichÃ©s. EquallyclichÃ©-free is the screenplay which follows a loosely linear narrativeadvanced primarily by the sexual encounters between a man and a woman whoare placed in the near-equivalent situation of a desert island and comefromdifferent worlds. In this, one can discern shades of Last Tango in Paris,except that this movie is set in a more cynical time where love has beendeconstructed and is not worth killing for. Sex becomes the center oftheirworld but even as they escape into sex they cannot quite leave theirpersonalities, their dreams, their insecurities behind and that is whatultimately saves them and their story from the mundaneness of a forgettablesexual encounter. Although they go into into the deal for purely selfishreasons - he desiring an escape from Internet porn and she looking for someextra cash - their encounter, like all good stories, becomes something of ajourney of self-discovery.Mention must be made of the attention to detail which makes the settingverybelievable. The soundtrack is eclectic and follows the local Californianclub scene rather than big label network music. And the dialogue is veryboy-girl-next-door rather than being made up of grand lines. However, thismovie is not everybody's cup of tea. The lack of a discernable narrativeinsome of the scenes risks losing the viewer's attention. And there's nosimple message or tying up of loose ends here. But those who can brave thatand the graininess will be rewarded with a contemporary look at love in ourtimes.