An Unmarried Woman (1978)
An Unmarried Woman merited enough respect in 1978 to earn three
Oscar nominations, including the Big Kahuna - Best Picture. Although
on the surface it is a predictable chick-flick which chronicles one
woman's odyssey from happy dependence to emerging independence, it
managed to transcend that surface because of two major elements:
1. It managed to tell an interesting story about
real people saying real things in real situations. That may not sound
so impressive on the surface, but think about it. Very few films
manage to stay completely anchored in reality. The writers are sorely
tempted by the sirens of profitability, who serenade them with the
songs of easy acceptance, tempting them to add zany dialogue, dramatic
explosions, ludicrous plot twists, and cartoon characterizations. Name
one film where everything that happens is believable. Not easy is it?
Now name one film which is both credible and interesting. Virtually
impossible. So many people who write about the movies, including me,
profess to long for a film completely grounded in reality, only to
whine about how boring it is when somebody hands it to us. An
Unmarried Woman manages to stay within the known universe without
losing our interest except for some short stretches. That alone is pretty impressive.
2. It managed to tap into the seventies
"important issues" zeitgeist. The challenges faced by the female protagonist reflected the
struggles and concerns of the feminists of that era. Unexpectedly
dumped by her husband from what seems like an idyllic marriage, she
experiences the horrors of dating, and the uncomfortable process of
becoming intimate with strangers. She adapts her traditional thinking
to the then-new philosophies about sex and romance. When she finally meets Mr. Right,
she refuses to change her life to follow him, thus declaring that she
simply doesn't need a man to complete her. As The New Yorker's Pauline
Kael wrote in her 1978 review: "He (scriptwriter Paul Mazursky)
touches so many women's-liberation bases that you begin to feel as if
you'd been passing out leaflets for McGovern."
In addition to those two major positives, the film delivered
(and still delivers) a few other minor pleasures
along the way. It reminds us of how charming and charismatic Alan
Bates was in the prime of his career. It also delivers some
surprisingly funny dialogue. Because the story is told through the
spurned woman's eyes, it follows her to her lunches with the girls,
where the women - liberated from the stifling effect of male egos -
raise their consciousness by carrying on raunchy, candid, and totally uninhibited discussions of their
Of course, the film will never be as good
again as it was in the seventies, because it required both of the
elements numbered above to elevate it to the status of a Best Picture nominee. Looking at it today, the woman's journey still seems to be
told truthfully, but that trip now produces a shrug of the shoulders
instead of a clenched fist and a hearty "right on, sister." The ideas
that seemed fresh in 1978 don't seem wrong today, but they do seem
trite and obvious, and we just can't muster up all that much sympathy
for a beautiful woman living in a gorgeous Manhattan apartment, given
that virtually every other woman in the world would willingly exchange
places with her, man or no man. Devoid of its emotional context, the film is now
stripped of one of the two major elements which made it seem important in
1978. Oh, it still plays out all right. It is still interesting for us guys
to eavesdrop on the luncheon conversations, and the overall story
still works because it is true and honest, but An Unmarried Woman now
leaves us wondering how this solid but unremarkable film could ever
have been considered one of the five best in any year.
It's all in the context, lads. 1978 was its
The Green River Killer (2005)
In theory, it should be possible to create an interesting movie
about the Green River Killer. This isn't it.
The Killer, Gary Ridgway, killed about four dozen women, mostly
prostitutes and teenage runaways, in and around the Seattle-Tacoma
area in the 1982-1984 period. The trail went cold, and Ridgway
wasn't brought to justice until the police developed the advanced
forensic applications of DNA, which led to his 2001 arrest and 2003
Two elemenst make the case particularly interesting and unique:
1. It is extremely unlikely that a man would go on a violent
killing streak in which he kills a woman every two weeks for two
years, and would then just basically lay off and return to a quiet
life for twenty years. That's an exaggeration because he did kill a
few more victims after the initial outburst, but he had killed
something like 48 women in 1982-84 and cut back to just a handful in
the next two decades. Did his bloodlust diminish, did he fear being
caught, or did he find a way to keep it in check?
2. The police stayed on the case doggedly, waiting for science to
catch up with them, and finally cracked it twenty years later.
The movie doesn't really get into those interesting aspects of
the case. It basically just pictures a couple of the 1982-84 murders
in docudrama fashion and intercuts that with actual police footage
of the real Gary Ridgway confessing his crimes twenty years later.
Using the real Ridgway tapes does give the film a chilling aspect,
because Ridgway is completely without remorse or regret, and
describes the murders as casually as you or I might describe a PTA
meeting to an absent partner. Unfortunately, those police tapes also
introduce an element of confusion since the actor playing Ridgway in
the flashbacks looks nothing like the real Ridgway in the cutaways.
Apart from the genuine Ridgway footage, the film is just
sensationalist drive-in fare which probably bears no resemblance to
real people or events. The connections to reality are tenuous. It
pictures Ridgway having sex with and murdering two hot babes. He did
have sex with women and then kill them, so there's your connection.
Some critics harped on the film's amateur performers and cheap
digital video appearance. I'll vouch for the bad acting and total
lack of nuance in the characterizations, but I have to disagree on
the film's visual aesthetics. Some scenes, it is true, look like
home movies filmed in your dad's basement, but the two murder scenes
look pretty damned good. They are sharply focused, the lighting is
interesting, and the colors are vivid.
Here's the director's rated filmography.
- (4.62) - Blank
- (4.55) - The
- (4.46) -
Strangers in Paradise (1984)
- (4.20) -
- (4.06) - Olivia
- (3.88) - The
Devonsville Terror (1983)
- (3.50) - Cold
- (3.35) - Cocaine
- (3.00) -
Green River Killer
- (2.76) - The Big
- (2.69) - Zodiac
- (2.55) - The
Zodiac Killer (2005)
- (2.32) -
Boogeyman II (1983)
- (2.21) - Daniel
- Der Zauberer (2004) (26th worst of all time)
Should you give it a look? Well, let me put it this way. Overall,
this film ranks below the career mean of Ulli Lommel, a director who
could present a reasonable case as the worst of all time. So you
make the call.
This is an old clip of Heather Locklear at some event or another.
I've run across it many times, but I've never bothered with it
because I've never been convinced that it reveals what it is
supposed to. Anyway, this is supposed to be Heather going commando.
Maybe. I guess.
A Time to Dance (1992 TV UK)
Here's a bunch of captures from a rarely-seen TV show from
Britworld. We have some of these captures in the encyclopedia, but
this really expands our coverage, even though the quality is
mediocre. (Not my stuff. Not DVD. Probably VHS, because no sign of a
Capote, the screen biography of writer Truman Capote,
was named 2005's best film on Saturday by the National
Society of Film Critics
- Philip Seymour Hoffman won best actor in Capote's
- Best actress went to Reese Witherspoon in another
real-life role as June Carter Cash, the wife of
country singer Johnny Cash in "Walk the Line,"
- Canadian David Cronenberg was named best director
for the drama "A History of Violence."
- A goose egg for Brokeback Mountain
- This society includes pretty much every major
print critic in America.
Here's the roster
A new P2P / media player project could allow mobile
music devices to transfer media files automatically from
other players running the same software in the vicinity.
Daily Box Office - Friday, January 6, 2006
- Holy Moley! I knew Hostel would do fine, but I
never expected this. It took in more than Narnia and
Kong added together! And it was only in two thousand
theaters, compared to 3500 apiece for the big boys.
- Kong, by the way, fell all the way to fourth. I
can't wait to hear the positive spin they come up with
to explain this week's failure!
- Grandma's Boy couldn't crack the top 10, and
BloodRayne was left in the dust.
Bank Robbers steal active GPS device.
- With all the dumb crooks in the world, given
Hollywood's thirst for movie ideas, Michael Rapaport
will never be out of work.
- I was robbed three times when I worked in 7-Eleven
stores in my early career. Two of the incidents were
scary, but the third robber was a role for Rapaport.
The guy parked his car in the central spot by the
door, with his license plate visible from the sales
counter. His weapon was a potato peeler. He robbed me
of a whopping $67, or which fifty of the dollars were
in a banded and store-stamped pack of one dollar
bills. He thanked me for being such a good player, as
if he were a game show host. I told the police that he
pulled out of my store going west on a main road. He
never made a turn! The police caught him only 15
blocks from the store, still on the same road, still
going west, with the roll of ones still banded and
"Waterborne" is the first film to debut on Google video.
- This is a 13 minute preview of the 85 minute
- One of the stars is Uncle Rico, but I'm pretty
sure it isn't a comedy. "Three sets of area residents
band together after a terrorist attack against L.A.'s
Here is a review, if it interests you.
The trailer for Hard Candy
- A smart, charming teenage girl, Hayley probably
shouldn't be going to a local coffee shop to meet
Jeff, a 30-something fashion photographer she met on
the Internet. But Hayley's ready to have fun, and soon
she's mixing screwdrivers at Jeff's place and
stripping for an impromptu photo shoot. It's Jeff's
lucky night – until his vision blurs and he passes
out. Turns out Hayley isn't as innocent as she looks
after all. In fact, she has a lot on her mind. Like
getting Jeff to confess to his penchant for teenage
girls – and to what he did to Donna Mauer, the girl
who disappeared from Jeff's favorite coffee shop. When
Jeff awakens, he's tied to a chair. If he doesn't
cooperate, Hayley has something to help him along--a
little surgical procedure she picked up on the
Internet. All she needs is an ice pack. And a knife...
An edge-of-your-seat psychotic thriller, "Hard Candy"
exposes the visceral terror and violence that lie at
the heart of the battle of the sexes.
"Britney Spears's Rack has gotten HUGE!"
- He seems to be right but, upon further
examination, I'd have to conclude that her other body
parts have followed suit
Letterman celebrates the kitty who dialed 911:
Top Ten Signs Your Kitty Is A Genius. One of the
best of his recent lists:
- Earned the 2005 Nobel Prize in yarn-related
- Keeps putting the dog on Ebay
- Not only calls 911 for you, also calls Z-100
whenever you need your Aerosmith fix
Venezuelan President Chavez offers warm Christmas Eve
message: "The descendants of the Christ-killers control
- Italian soldiers control the world? They couldn't
even control Ethiopia!
- Ah, anti-semitism: not only the true meaning of
Christmas, but a very special way to say Happy
"The popular Amish Adult Store chain today announced
that it will sell franchises in an attempt to go
Liberals Defend Al Qaeda's Right to Privacy
- You have to see the picture of Ted Kennedy in a
bathing suit! He's on the Brando diet
The Sermonator strikes again
- "And the Rev. Pat Robertson preacheth today that
the Lord smote Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon for
messing with His turf."
Dare to dream, Dr. Boll. Dare to Dream. It is
possible that BloodRayne is not the worst movie of the
week! Right now it is getting stiff competition from:
Grandma's Boy - 11% positive reviews
BloodRayne blows the zero. There is one positive review.
- I think it got screwed. Here is what that
"positive" review says (I know it doesn't seem
grammatical, but this is an exact quote): "If you
enjoy campy, over the top, fantasy films that have
little substance or your like to get your drink on
before a movie, then you’re sure to enjoy this film.
Others might want to stay away and learn that the name
of Uwe Boll means 'director to be wary of.'"
Gotta love the headline:
"Doherty angry after penis appears on website"
The Daily Show's tip to Abramoff:
"When you're accused of multiple felony accounts, try
not to go to court looking like a criminal."
The Daily Show:
"The White House authorized wiretaps presumably during
Fourth Amendmentless Fridays."
The Daily Show looks at illegal NSA wiretaps
George Packer, author of "The Assassin's Gate" talks to
The Daily Show about the mishandling of the Iraq war.
"Unless God was force-feeding Sharon knishes, it was
diet, age and stress that caused his stroke."
"It's a good old-fashioned Coot-Off between Senators Ted
Stevens and Robert C. Byrd."
A preview of 'The L Word' - Season 3.
- Two words: lesbian vampires
- Three more words: I'm not kidding.
The trailer for The Keeper: The Legend of Omar Khayyam
- Kamran (Adam Echahly) is a 12-year-old boy who
discovers his ancestor is the 11th Century
mathematician, astronomer and poet of Persia: Omar
Khayyam. Although the story of his great ancestor has
survived in his family's lore for generations, the
tale is now at the risk of extinction. It is Kamran's
job to keep it alive. As he hears the story, he
visualizes an epic past. Meanwhile, we are introduced
to significant historical figures such as the
brilliant Omar Khayyam (Bruno Lastra), Hassan Sabbah
(Christopher Simpson) and the powerful Sultan
Malikshah (Moritz Bleibtreu). Through the story of
Khayyam, Kamran learns about love, loss and loyalty.
Vanessa Redgrave co-stars.
USA TODAY. The 10 most anticipated stories of 2006!
"A warning that consumers shouldn't use a heat gun that
produces temperatures of 1,000 degrees as a hairdryer
has won an anti-lawsuit group's award for the wackiest
label of the year."
'FINDME' License Plate Helps Nab Suspect In Attempted
Conan begs Apple for a video IPod
The trailer for The Secret
- "Based on a Japanese novel by Keigo Higashino that
was turned into a film, "Himitsu" in 1999, the
thriller is about a man whose life changes suddenly
after the bus carrying his wife and daughter goes off
a cliff. The wife dies at the hospital, but the
daughter lives. When she regains consciousness, she
appears to be possessed by the dead wife."
Yellow asterisk: funny (maybe). White asterisk: expanded format.
Blue asterisk: not mine. No asterisk: it probably sucks.
Broken Flowers (2005) is an art house film staring a clinically depressed, and equally depressing, Bill Murray. I have some trouble understanding why someone would take a brilliant comedic actor and make him the straight man to a variety of zany characters. At any rate, he slinks through the entire film as if he is on a general anesthesia. He is a Don Juan. I am not sure why this is important, but the film maker has him watching Don Juan on TV, and his neighbor calls him a Don Juan twice. Clearly, we need to know he is a ladies man. Probably a good thing they did this, however, as I saw nothing in Murray's personality that would make him even minimally acceptable to anyone, male or female. We might assume that he has changed, and used to have a personality and a life, but we see no evidence of that, or get any clues what might have changed him.
As his current girl friend leaves him, he receives a letter in a pink envelope, and using red ink, warning him that he has a 20 year old son that he didn't know about that might be looking for him. It is unsigned. His neighbor, who fancies himself a mystery writer, jumps at the chance to investigate a mystery, and has him prepare a list of possible mothers. The neighbor researches all of the names on the Internet, then sets up an itinerary for him to visit all of the candidate women, taking each of them pink flowers, and trying to find out which is the mother. The women he visits are a serious collection of eccentric personalities.
On reading the above, you might conclude that this is a mystery story. However, they give no clues as to who wrote the letter, and never tell us at the end. Thus, it must be something else. Problem is, I can't figure out what. There is no sort of redemption, as Murray is the same depressed aging man from opening title screen to ending credits. He does make a statement about living in the present near the end, but, since he is nearly unconscious throughout the film, he certainly isn't following that advice. Possibly, it was intended as a comedy, as their were some humorous women along his road trip, but the mood was too somber to even consider laughing.
The highlight of the film has a naked Alexis Dziena, as a sexually precocious daughter of one of the women, subtilely named Lolita, calmly walking into the room Murray is in to answer a phone.
IMDb readers say 7.5. It won a grand prize at Cannes. Ebert accurately described the film I saw, but loved it at four stars. This is typical of the critical response. Berardinelli gave three stars, and offers that it is a road trip of self discovery for Murray's Don Juan, and that anyone suckered into thinking it will be a mystery will leave the film unsatisfied. If Murray's character did discover anything about himself on the road trip, he didn't communicate what it was to me, nor did he let it effect his life. I suppose the genre is pointless art house films, and this one is a favorite of genre fans, and therefor a C+.
Libertarias (1996), or Freedomfighters, takes place during the early days of the Spanish revolution, and stars Ariadna Gil as a naive young nun who becomes a freedom fighter. The revolution started very well, with Madrid and Barcelona taken quickly. Both men and women, embolden by the thought of freedom, became a gang of self-styled freedom fighters. Government authority and church authority were equal as enemies, and both institutions were attacked. For this reason, Gil and the other nuns were given a small amount of money, and told to return home, as mother superior knew the convent would be destroyed.
Gil didn't make it very far, when she ran into some rather drunken and very irreverent revolutionaries, and sought refuge in a house. It did save her, but ended up being a whore house. A group of female soldiers show up and disband the whorehouse. Gil is taken under the wing of the leader. With the first battles decisively won with the help of the women, the army started forming, and trying to relegate women to important jobs like laundry.
The group Gil was part of would have none of it, and set off for Sargasso for the next battle. Arriving at the front, the now rather revolutionary but still pure Gil meets a priest who, for some reason, was spared. They both have obviously non-pious feelings for the other, but never do anything about it. As we all know, the revolution failed, and clearly things did not go well for our band of freedom fighters.
Gil shows full frontal in the whore house, when they strip her for bed. We also see her buns in a rape scene at the end. Loles León shows her right breast to a fellow freedomfighter.
IMDb readers have this at this at 7.1. It received a number of Goya nominations, but only one for acting (Loles León). While the acting was less than stellar despite a very strong cast, the story was fascinating. You are left wondering if the revolution failed because the "Peoples Army" stopped being a grass roots uprising, and became nearly as Fascist as Franco's troops. This is a C+. Not everyone will enjoy an historical drama with subtitles, but if reading subtitles doesn't put you off, it is an interesting watch.
'Caps and comments by Dann:
Highly acclaimed 2005 comedy/drama was loved by critics and viewers alike. Oh, yeah, and I thought it sucked.
Don Johnston (played by Bill Murray without even a slight hint of emotion or a change of expression) receives a letter from an ex-lover, but it is unsigned. Johnston is well known as a Don Juan type, having just lost another in a long line of girlfriends.
The letter informs him that he has a son, and that the son is on a quest to find his father. The letter avoids any hint that might tell him who wrote it.
His best friend bullies Johnston into launching a search for the woman by visiting ex-flames most likely to be the writer. Naturally, these visits don't go smoothly.
Everyone loved this movie (other than myself). I thought it was extremely boring; indeed Murray looked bored himself. He was so low-key and uninvolved that they might as well have used a store dummy for his part. The women were much more interesting, and of course, Alexis Dziena provided the highlight (in fact, the only light) of the film with her full-frontal display as Lolita, the daughter of one of the women. You'll probably enjoy this movie. If not, you'll join a very small crowd.