Saturday, June 12, 2010

Movie Review: Academy of Riding

Calstar (released in 2006)

Entire Story In Fewer Words Than Are In This Sentence:
Painful job application for two equestrian enthusiasts

Victim Appeal:
As usual, Calstar do not have any credits here, so I wll refer to the spankees by their character names Tanya and Lee. For all I know, these might be their model names as well. Both are curvaceous, big-breasted English lasses. I am not really a breast-obsessed man, but maybe you are (you might also be a breast-obsessed woman, of course). Tanya has short, cropped, white blonde hair, Lee has long, straight and darker blond hair.

This is a movie I primarily review because of the domme, though, so I have to mention her right away as well. "Mrs. Fargo" is an attractive lady in early middle age, with fair hair, strong arms, a rich alto voice (nope, of course she doesn't sing!) and an energetic demeanour. She is not much of an actress, frequently botching lines like "your initina... initiation", but she just exudes charisma somehow. I like her quite a lot. And as soon as she gets to the CP part of the proceedings, she is fully convincing. You can tell that she is the type of domme who genuinely enjoys her work, in a natural and thorough manner, with no pretence or grandstanding.

Gratuitous Sadism:
The movie opens with Tanya and Lee hanging around at a riding stable and petting one of the animals there, going on and on about how gorgeous it is. Personally, I can't say that the plain white specimen they are gushing over looks all that impressive to me, but who am I to argue with the girlies' horse crush. At least it will get them spanked in due time. Apparently, the mistress who runs the stable has been trying to get rid of the two trespassers for some time. When they keep begging her for a job, insisting that it would be the greatest thing in the world (groooaan!), Mrs. Fargo finally relents and takes the girls to her drawing room for an interview.

I guess you know where this is going from here. Naturally, the girls have to get into some proper riding clothes first, which involves them stripping down in front of the mistress and then donning (rather clumsily, I must say) jockey trousers and hats. Next up, the job interview continues with a proper extended spanking. After all, as Mrs. Fargo explains, the horses get the crop, too, and it is important that the two would-be-stableworkers learn exactly how that feels like. Makes perfect sense, right? Oh well.

And so, the usual Calstar CP formula unfolds. Tanya is the first to go over Mrs. Fargo's knee for a hand spanking, first over the jockey trousers, then over the knickers, then on the bare. That lasts about five minutes. In the next segment, she gets the black leather paddle while she is bending over a chair (three minutes), followed by a different black leather paddle that is slightly harder according to Mrs. Fargo (three minutes again). Finally, the obligatory caning. I estimate that Tanya got twelve strokes, discounting repetitions from different camera angles.

Once Tanya is done, Lee gets the same treatment. Over-the-knee spanking over the knickers (no trousers for her), then on the bare. Almost seven minutes in total. Then the succession of two leather paddles, about two minutes each. Lee takes them while bending over, or lying on, a table, and the second paddle is different from the second one Tanya got, so they are trying to vary things a little. But of course, the final caning is the same. She receives a dozen strokes. Mrs. Fargo declares herself to be "very impressed" and tells the girls that they have both passed their "initiation" (which is apparently how they call a job interview at a riding stable).

Best Reactions:
The domme isn't shy about using her hand, paddle and cane. Overall, I would rate Academy of Riding in the "medium" category of severity, like most Calstar titles. Perhaps even a bit harder than the average they put out. The girls end up with reddened bottoms and visible stripes from the canings. The marks would probably have been stronger on spankees with less curvaceous figures and and less "well-padded" posteriors.

Both girls give fairly vocal reactions and make a bit too much fuss for my taste. Tanya is especially jumpy during her caning. After the first few strokes, she does a little "dance", frantically rubs her bottom and then sits down on the chair, informing the domme: "You have to give me a minute..." Later, after the stroke that made the dozen full, she wags her finger and assertively states: "That was the last one!" I am not a fan of such antics (and neither was Mrs. Fargo), but it was kind of amusing to watch at least.

Best Line:

At the beginning of the interview (or the "initiation", or whatever), Mrs. Fargo informs the girls that hard work is required at the stable, that they have to get their hands dirty, that she runs a very tight ship here, blah blah. To finish, she adds: "And also, we have some very frisky young men working here."

Meh? In any case, when the girls are asked whether they want to take the job or leave it, they reply "Take it!" without a moment's hesitation. I don't know. Maybe they like "frisky" young men.

Nice Psychological Touch:
For some reason, regardless of how silly it was, I liked the "equestrian" theme of the movie. Which is surprising, because I am not an equestrian guy at all. I only sat on a horse one single time in my life, and while the experience was not in any way unpleasant, I never felt a desire to repeat it. I am just not interested in horses or riding. But here in this spanking movie, the setting has a certain charm. Perhaps because a riding crop and tight jockey trousers are such immediate, natural associations with spanking. Or perhaps because I harbour some hidden prejudice against young female equestrians, all of whom I consider to be spoilt posh princesses who deserve a damn good thrashing.

How Good Is It Really?
Academy of Riding never rises above average Calstar fare, but it has its little charms. I liked the domme playing Mrs. Fargo, and the setting was surprisingly inspiring. I wish they had done more with it. I suppose it is one of those movies which you remember because it had an interesting idea at its heart, it wasn't executed too well, and you have a vision of what could have been done with it.

What You Learned:
Reviewing this reminded me that I have to watch Equus again one of these days. The 1977 movie adaptation of the play, directed by Sidney Lumet and starring Richard Burton. Nice mystery thriller, very intriguing psychologically, with one of my favourite actors of his generation giving one of his best performances.


Kaelah said...

What a mess that according to your review the idea wasn’t executed too well. Since the scenarios I’d like to watch on film are somewhat limited (or I would rather say simply different from the settings of most of the movies), it is hard for me to find a film that raises my interest.

But this one sounds like something that could work for me. The spankings are somehow consensual (the girls want the job and agree to the "initiation"), the severity is medium, the top doesn’t seem to be cold or only trying to humiliate the girls, the girls are finally complemented for having taken the spanking well and they "win" because they get the job they have always dreamt of. The only downside from my perspective is that it is a F/F-scenario. I have to admit that I prefer M/M, M/F or F/M. But there are female tops (for example Veronica Bound of Punished Brats) whom I like so much that F/F-scenes with them also work very well for me. Maybe Mrs. Fargo could be one of them?

Perhaps I should give it a try one day, even if the film is just "mediocre" in some ways...

Charlie Castle said...

I found your excellent blog when looking for video reviews. You reviews are really good and helpful – thanks. Regarding those you have done of CalStar productions, you certainly reflect some frustrations! Lots of their films are now on the Internet, with a wide range of quality. The best are very good, but all tend to lose something through poor file resolution, often leaving us with views of bottoms which should look beautifully striped, but which are ‘whited out’; (unlike, say, the lovely stuff now being produced at Northern Spanking and by Miss Brown, where the video quality enables you to clearly see just how delectable a feminine bottom looks after it’s been properly caned).
One thing I do like about some CalStar films is the way the ladies are talked to about the attention they are about to receive – making the notion of caning a lady, (really just because she looks so gorgeous, not because she’s been ‘naughty’), not the most peculiar thing I always think the vanilla world must consider it to be. This also lends a consensual aspect which I think is so much nicer than that ‘under duress’ theme that seems to underlie the Eastern European productions. CalStar also acknowledges the sheer sexiness of spanking/caning, with the tops gratuitously rubbing bottoms, (with straying digits that dip into the crack, finger pussy and anus and twiddle nipples), between strokes. Also – is it ever strictly necessary – sooner or later blouses and bras are ordered off and titties jiggle as cane bites buttocks.
A CalStar film I recently found especially nice is entitled Carly’s Caning/60 Powerful Strokes. Carly is a lovely leggy blonde. She is spanked OTK – with lots of that nice pussy groping – then paddled nude, (but, as I think is so essential, continues to wear her high heels), and finally caned, after which a lingering close up shows five beautiful stripes across her bottom. The 60 strokes (of the cane), are applied to a lovely redhead. Unfortunately it’s only panties down, with no other clothing removed, but she gets at least 60 strokes and they mark her bottom very nicely, with two or three also straying onto her thigh tops. Facial expressions and attitude are great – this lady takes the cane with very little fuss!
Some other recommendations of CalStar films: Irreparable Damage –Enticed to the Cane – A Chance of a Lifetime.

Ludwig said...

Belated reply @ DavyCastle: Regarding the picture quality of Calstar videos, I get the impression that the older videos were probably filmed with VHS cams and only digitised later. Also, the lighting can leave a lot to be desired, even in the newer videos.

That said, while Calstar are certainly more amateurish in terms of craftsmanship than some other spanking film producers, their main appeal for me lies in "watching real people play". They have a wide range of spankers and spankees, some of whom are quite interesting to watch and have good chemistry with each other. In these cases, the videos transcend the scenario that is being shown.

I'll be sure to review more Calstar titles once I get back to writing movie reviews regularly again. They have put out a fair share of mediocrities over the years, but also some real gems.