30 Beats

It is a safe bet that 30 Beats, which was filmed in the summer of 2009 and boasts a distinctly mid-'90s "funky, sex-positive" vibe, is seeing a release because of the elevated profile of Paz de la Huerta, one of the film's ensemble cast, who has achieved a measure of stardom on HBO's Boardwalk Empire. Even more certain is the reason it was shelved in the first place: It is absolutely terrible. Set in New York City during sweltering summertime, 30 Beats is structured around a roundelay of sexual liaisons. A couple meets and parts, one is followed to his or her next encounter, after which the new partner is followed to his or her own next encounter, and so on. The inspiration is La Ronde, a fin de siècle play by the Viennese author Arthur Schnitzler; it was previously filmed in 1950 by Max Ophüls, while Schnitzler's work also provided the basis for Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut. What was for Schnitzler an opportunity to explore the hypocritical sexual mores of his Vienna, with lovers cutting across boundaries of class, is for writer-director Alexis Lloyd an opportunity to string together a series of unfunny skits centered on inconsequential sex, starring de la Huerta, an extremely foggy Jennifer Tilly, Lee Pace, and dozens of others who thought their résumés were safe. Nick Pinkerton

 
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