New comedy series from Finland, 1080hd

Oh, those wacky Finns! Masters of comedy.

Alina Tomnikov T&A in episode 3

Alina Tomnikov in episode 8 (no nudity this time)


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s2e7, 1920x1080

Mariann Gavelo and unidentified actresses

This week, continuing with movies from 2013:

G.I. Joe - Retaliation

Adrianne Palicki shows some cleavage



Casey Durkin

Rachel Griffiths film festival



Rachel Griffiths film clip (collage below)

Scoop's notes:

Director Michael Winterbottom really has a thing for Thomas Hardy. He directed Jude, an interpretation of Hardy's "Jude the Obscure", and then followed up four years later with The Claim, another Hardy story ("The Mayor of Casterbridge") re-imagined in an American mining town in the 19th century. They are both good films, and they are both faithful to the original stories, to the extent that any long and complex novel can be adequately represented in a two hour screenplay.

These interpretations have earned Winterbottom a lot of respect in literary circles and among those who love filmed literature, but are not going to be his ticket to wealth and fame, because the number of ticket buyers in those literary groups is small indeed. Jude grossed only $405,000 in the vast United States market, and The Claim grossed an uncannily similar $404,000.

Of course, these novels weren't doing a lot for Thomas Hardy either. Many of his works were unpopular with the critics of his time, and Jude the Obscure was the least popular of all. A small, discriminating group of reviewers praised it, but in general it was panned so harshly and so vituperatively that Hardy turned to poetry and never wrote another novel, despite living another three decades.

If it was difficult for 19th century critics to endure Hardy, it is far more difficult for 21st century readers. In essence, he brought the grand themes of Greek tragedy to Victorian Dorsetshire, yet neither Greek Tragedy nor Victorian rurals are among today's most popular or most easily understood literary subjects. It was Hardy's belief that novels should be bigger than life - more eloquent, more complicated, more emotional, more sensational, more melodramatic. Above all, Hardy's vision of the novel required the action to be more connected and neater than life. The details and characters not only needed to be neatly intertwined, but all that twine had to get tied up into a neat little ball at the end, in order to offer the kind of closure rarely offered in real life stories. As a result of his now dated vision of the nature of a novel, Hardy seems old-fashioned to us for many reasons: his characters often speak in archaic provincial dialects, his plotting seems too implausible even by lax 19th century standards, and his themes seem too grand in scope and frankly just too damned depressing for the humble lives he portrays.

The film version of Jude is saddled with all that baggage. Our hero is a humble worker who studies Latin and Greek on his own because he wants to make something of himself. He amasses some impressive classical scholarship but the class system holds him back, and the great English Universities will not even give him a chance. He unwisely marries the first woman who pays attention to him, and this marriage haunts him the rest of his life. He then falls in love with his brilliant cousin and has two children with her while he is still technically married to his first wife. Society refuses to accept the relationship of the cousins, and this leads to tragedy after tragedy. Imagine the worst things that can happen to a man, and the things you imagine will probably happen to poor Jude eventually.

My very short version of all this is that the movie is very good but very depressing. I mean this is a real bummer. It will absolutely test the amount of tragedy you can endure. Without spoiling the plot for you, I can't even hint as to exactly how depressing it is, but take my word for it that if you don't like that kind of movie, this is absolutely not for you. You have been warned.

(The movie actually has a happy ending compared to the original book, since the screenplay stopped before Jude's own wretched death and wake! But tragedy lovers can take heart in knowing that the movie's characters can expect no better fortune in their later lives! If you want to get the full "spoiler" treatment, you can read the entire book online for free.)

My Son The Fanatic


Rachel Griffiths film clip (sample below)

Blow Dry


Rachel Griffiths 1080hd film clip (collage below)

Scoop's notes:

This is one odd movie from the official quirky small-town Britain formula. (Same author as The Full Monty)

Imagine if Christopher Guest, Ingmar Bergman, and Disney made a joint project. What would it be like?

  • * Chris Guest's contribution - well, he'd have to have some quirky, odd, self-important people who are obsessed with their own reality, but it would have to be a reality that is inherently insignificant to outsiders - dog shows, community theater, and ... say, how about Competitive Hairdressing? No matter that there is no such thing, let's create the 2000 All-England hairdressing championship, let's locate it in the usual quirky small town, let's have the mayor gush when he announces that he obtained the event for his town, let's have all the reporters and townspeople laugh and mutter when they hear the announcement.

  • * Ingmar Bergman would have to add several people dying of cancer, and people overcome with tragedy over unspoken past offenses.

  • * Disney would have all kinds of family reconciliations, moral lessons, and happy endings.

There you have it. A tongue-in-cheek portrayal of a silly competition, treated as seriously as if it were the Olympics. Despite the silly premise, there is an undercurrent of very serious issues being faced by very serious people. The local hairdresser's wife ran away with his female model many years ago, abandoning him and her son. Now she has returned to ask him and their son to join her and her lesbian lover as a hairdressing team in the competition. Her objective is to bring them all together. She needs this reconciliation to tie up the loose ends, because she is near the end of her battle with cancer.

The dad won't do it at first, then he softens, then he finally comes back at the end for the triumphal fourth round of the tourney, and leads their team to victory. They treat this competition with the same straight face and the same presentation that would attend the championship game in Hoosiers, or the fight in Rocky, or the race in Chariots of Fire. The hairdressers have a lot of glitz, of course, but all the sporting cliches are brought right over without comment. The dad "used to be the best" hairdresser in the world, but hasn't competed in years, the judges hold up their little 9.9 scores for various haircuts, and the team from Keighley, the town which also hosts the pageant, defeats all the super-power teams from London and elsewhere.

When I read the description of this movie, I thought to myself what you are probably thinking now, "what a crock", and dreaded having to watch it. I was partially wrong. While it does have some serious groaner moments, I have to admit that the film approached the concept with such earnestness that it sucked me in and I enjoyed it for the most part. Where else but the UK would they make a film with such a flimsy premise, its only promise being satire, then eschew the satire for warmth, then hire such great people to act in it and bring honesty into it? Odd stuff. (Alan Rickman, Natasha Richardson, and Rachel Griffiths head the cast. They don't try for humor. They simply play the characters straight, and manage to make it work fairly well.)

I can't believe I'm saying this, but I kinda liked this sappy, woefully unhip movie, although it isn't as funny or as original as it might have been, given the over-the-top premise that ultimately was wasted.

Tuva Novotny in Borg vs McEnroe (2017) in 720p

A Swedish film with lots of Swedish dialogue ... but Shia LeBeouf as John McEnroe?

"You cannot be serious."
Actually, the tennis scenes are done quite well. Shia, helped by some great editing, looked good out there.
Tuva Novotny does do a very brief topless scene, but it's basically a waste of your time. She's about a mile from the camera, photographed from the side/rear while bending over. That might be a little hotter if it were Christina Hendricks or somebody built like that, but Tuva's breasts are so tiny that you can barely see a little bump.

Cynthia Stone in Calla Lily (2015) in 720p

Louisa Clein in Island At War (2004)


Jessica Morris and Carly Craig in Role Models (2008) in 1080hd



Danny and Wheeler travel from school to school doing a "just say no to drugs" dog-and-pony show, the real purpose of which is to sell energy drinks.  They are two guys going nowhere, although the difference between them is that Wheeler doesn't care. He's an overgrown frat boy whose life revolves around parties and poontang, and he actually enjoys wearing a minotaur suit all day. Danny, however, once envisioned a real life, and has fallen into a deep and gloomy state of permanent depression.

Danny has a particularly bad day and loses it, slipping into destructive behavior which causes the two of them to get sentenced to 150 hours of community service in lieu of jail time. They get assigned to the judge's favorite charity, which is kind of a "big brother" organization which pairs up male volunteers with boys who need adult male role models. Wheeler (Stifler) is paired with a foul-mouthed black kid with a real attitude, and Danny (Paul Rudd) is paired with an older teen (McLovin) who is lost in a fantasy world of live-action role playing in which the participants create medieval kingdoms. It's kind of like playing Dungeons and Dragons in the park with plastic swords.

The film often misfires when it parodies the big brother organizations, and the basic storyline progresses like about a hundred movies you've already seen. In fact, you already know exactly what will happen, believe me. That doesn't matter. The characters are drawn from life, the dialogue has a raunchy charm, and the film has several good things going for it:

1. The scenes involving the role-playing game are very entertaining. The film somehow manages to present this world (which really exists) in a humorous light, but without contempt. Indeed, Danny's contemptuous first impression is soundly rebuked by his character arc. Damn, I promised myself I would never use the term "character arc." That means I've now used every cliché in the English language except "deconstruct."

2. Jane Lynch, as the head of the big brother group, is wildly funny and sometimes so far off-the-wall that her lines are utterly baffling, which somehow makes them funnier. (I wonder how much she ad-libbed.) She manages to exude an aura of insanity beneath the tough-hearted compassion she shows for the kids, all while constantly reminding the adults that she used to suck cocks for blow (and she uses those words).

3. There are three or four set pieces that had me howling out loud at the dialogue. Two examples:

In one scene, McLovin gets a bunch of laughs by delivering a stirring speech to his medieval warriors, an inspirational call to battle which weaves an incompatible tapestry consisting partly of Kenneth Branagh in Henry V and partly of Samuel L Jackson in Jackie Brown. The sound of McLovin cussin' like Samuel L is funny enough, but he also peppers the speech with anachronistic references to the fact that he looks like a young Marvin Hammlich. (Which he does, now that I think about it.)

In another, which has absolutely nothing to do with the plot, Danny's lawyer/girlfriend tries to get a client to accept a plea bargain instead of pleading not guilty, which he insists he must do despite the fact that he was caught burglarizing a store on the security cam. His defense of "that could be any bald guy" to the first part of the tape is somewhat belied by the next part, in which he announces his name and crime on the tape by saying something incriminating to his crony - something to the effect of: "Whoever thought that I, Joe So-and-so, would be here in the Best Buy Warehouse on July 4th, 2007, stealing all the Panasonic XD-17 Plasma TVs?" No matter. He still insists he is innocent.

Bottom line: a pleasant, big-hearted, raunchy and adolescent way to pass the time! I enjoyed the hell out of it.

Pia Zadora in Butterfly (1982)

After having worked as a child star in a film universally acknowledged to be one of the worst ever made (Santa Claus Conquers the Martians), Pia Zadora disappeared for a couple of decades. When she returned to Hollywood, she soon built a reputation as the ultimate 1980s bimbo. People said that she not only looked like a bimbo, but she couldn't act worth beans, and she eventually ended up winning a special Razzie as "worst actress of the decade." To be honest, it was amazing that people still remembered her when the decade was over. By the time of the election which summarized the decade for the Razzie folks, Pia had virtually disappeared from the public eye. She was able to achieve the notoriety of being the decade's worst actress based on nothing more than two obscure stinkers made early in the decade: Butterfly (1982) and The Lonely Lady (1983).

Zadora's appeal, if that is the correct word, was her uncanny facial resemblance to a very young teen, despite the fact that she was nearly thirty when she made those two films. You know how it is with guys and young girls. Moreover, Zadora combined her little girl face with a lost puppy neediness and a very impressive womanly body. Put her in a Catholic prep school uniform, and she would have become the richest woman in Japan. Blessed with a decent set of pipes, she also could have become a Broadway-style singer, but for some reason she chose to be an actress instead, and she just never seemed to have the chops for that profession, or so went the conventional wisdom. During and after those two films, she became one of Johnny Carson's instant punch lines, and eventually her entire career seemed to consist of playing herself in skits and spoofs.

I agree with the contemporary reviewers that The Lonely Lady was a genuinely awful movie, and Pia was awful in it. The verdict of history seems to concur. The Lonely Lady actually gives Santa Claus Conquers the Martian a good battle for the dishonor of being the all-time worst Pia Zadora movie in the IMDb ratings. That is an amazing achievement, considering that how bad Santa is! The Lonely Lady destroyed any hope Pia may have had to become a respected actress. The film was nominated for eleven Razzie awards and won six, including all the important ones. Pia, of course, won the "Worst Actress" trophy.

Butterfly also won her a Worst Actress Razzie, but that movie is a whole different kettle of crawdads. It also won her some legitimate positive awards. They loved her at Cannes, and Rex Reed praised Butterfly as if it were the second coming of Battleship Potemkin. Pia was not only nominated for the Golden Globe for Best New Star of the Year in a Motion Picture, but she won the award, and she didn't beat a bunch of nobodies, either. She beat out one of the greatest debuts in film history - Kathleen Turner in Body Heat!! Think about that. The 1982 voters had to choose the hottest newcomer and took Pia Zadora in Butterfly over Kathleen Turner in Body Heat. Pia may have become a universal punch line by 1983, but it is obvious that not everyone thought she sucked in 1982. (In fairness, there have always been rumors that the Golden Globes election was fixed by Zadora's rich husband.)

Butterfly is not a great movie, but it's not so bad at all, and Zadora's limitations were offset by the fact that she was cast perfectly as a Lolita character. Stacy Keach plays a lonely hermit of a miner assigned to guard an abandoned mine out in the desert. Zadora shows up on his doorstep one day, claiming to be his long-lost daughter. She's not exactly the pigtails-and-Barbies kind of daughter. She soon proceeds to show him her naughty bits every chance she gets, and does her best to seduce him. At one point Keach is actually bathing a naked Zadora, scrubbing her breasts, before he finally pulls back and declares, "This isn't right." You have to admire his resolve in that scene, since Keach had been without a woman for a long time, and ripe li'l Zadora was definitely offering the ol' miner a chance to strike the daughterlode. A minor for a miner.

The atmosphere of the film can best be described as "sweat and saxophones" - pretty much what you'd expect from a script based on a steamy James M. Cain story. Unfortunately, Stacy Keach never seemed to get into the rhythm of the film and seemed oblivious to the script's inherent potential for entertaining over-the-top sleaze. He approached the entire project as seriously and professionally as if he were performing Henry V at the Old Vic, or even Vic V and the Oh Henry. The supporting cast, however, cheesed it up. Burl Ives couldn't make his customary Southern Gothic appearance as the sweaty fat authority figure in a Colonel Sanders suit, but Orson Welles filled in for him, and a host of B-list celebs dropped in from time to time, including Stewart Whitman, James Franciscus, and me, I'm Ed McMahon.

The last name is the key to Zadora's infamy. It was McMahon's presence in this film which eventually turned Pia into a standing joke. Carson loved to ride his sidekick, and this project provided ideal grist for Johnny's joke mill. Without McMahon in the cast, Zadora might have simply faded into obscurity like so many other wannabes, but Ed's presence in Butterfly guaranteed Johnny's eternal vigilance, and Johnny did as much as anyone in the world to shape the public's opinions about popular culture.

To tell you the truth, the entire movie is raunchy and melodramatic, but it is much better than the judgment of history and the IMDb voters. The plot is just your typical potboiler, but the film has a lot of positives. Cain is the guy who wrote Double Indemnity and The Postman Always Rings Twice, so his work had both the competence and the sleaziness to provide an ideal vehicle for Pia, and the premise of Butterfly seemed to fit her like a custom-tailored suit. The cinematography captures the isolation and stark beauty of the desert quite effectively, and the score was written by screen legend Ennio Morricone, who has written some of the greatest scores in screen history. (Once Upon a Time in America; The Good The Bad and the Ugly; Days of Heaven, Malena, Nuovo Cinema Paradiso, The Legend of 1900; and about 400 more! That's a not a misprint. He has 486 musical composition credits at IMDb.)

All that plus Ed McMahon, plus Orson Welles. How can you not be interested? You may well find this film highly entertaining in an operatic kind of way. I do.