April 18, 2014

SexTax Barely Passes Audit


Director John Borges debut film is redeemed by good writing and acting.


<i>SexTax</i> Barely Passes Audit

Underneath the story based on a true story and the sheer schlock and awe that come with B-movies is a winning underdog story that laughs enough to keep from crying in SexTax.

Based on the 1999 ruling that led the government, ironically enough, to take control of a Nevada brothel, director John Borges tells the story through the eyes of Steven Brilling, the auditor in charge of the case. While the genesis was based on the infamous Mustang Ranch, the focus is on a group of underdogs looking to be the hero in their own story.

Written by David Landsberg, SexTax is both benefitted and robbed by the timing of its release. Having the government factually take over a brothel is interesting in its own right, but given audiences’ awareness of government bailouts, the film has a broader comedic approach than initial quirky leanings. Considering the film would technically be in 1999, the film feels fresher than its source material.

The writing gets a pass, the directing does not. At best, Borges directs by the numbers. The dearth in variety of shots or technique lends the film to a lower status than it deserves. In Borges’ defense, he deserves credit for focusing on the Brilling/underdog story line instead of going for the uber cheap laughs on sex and government.

John Livingston is rightfully and thankfully the brightest spot in the film. His greatest contribution is playing straight man in a comedy of errors. Allowing just enough time of awkward silence to fill the room shows the deft skill of a seasoned actor. If only the rest of the cast could follow suit. Reginald Vel Johnson is as sturdy a second banana as you’ll ever find but Nicki Daniels unironically plays cliché to a fault while Monte Markham can’t do a worse Bill Maher impression.

Despite its obvious flaws, SexTax has enough bright spots to compensate. Available on iTunes, viewing with time to kill may be your best option.