The Company Men

2011 (to be released Jan 21)

The Company Men is what Wall Street 2 might have been if the screenwriters didn't feel obligated to feature Gordon Gecko. It carries on the theme preached by the Martin Sheen character at the end of Wall Street: create something real. Don't make money simply by moving around imaginary paper transactions, because in the end an economy based upon that is nothing but a magic act - an illusion that works only as long as everyone believes in it. In 2008 everyone stopped believing, corporations faced difficult decisions, jobs disappeared, homes were lost, and lives were turned upside down. That's what The Company Men is about.

The auteur understands, at least on an instinctive basis, that the most vulnerable players in the new economy are middle managers. Most of the highly compensated low-level jobs disappeared when manufacturing started to disappear from North America. In the old manufacturing economy, those assembly line guys were in highly vulnerable positions because they got paid more than their potential replacements. They needed unions and government intervention to make sure they were not replaced arbitrarily. In a society filled with McJobs, however, the lowest level employees are completely safe if they make a reasonable effort and don't steal anything. 7-Eleven is not going to lay the night-shift guy off.  He can probably keep that job for life, if he wants it. The company needs those unglamorous jobs to get done, and the wages are generally so low that there are not battalions of people standing in line for them, even during a recession.  Similarly, the CEO's and CFO's jobs need to get done, and a company can't even survive without good men in those seats.

But everyone else's job is vulnerable.

To the extent that The Company Men concentrates on the lives of newly-unemployed middle managers, the film is on very solid ground. It has identified the right victims of the new economy, and it has presented the struggles of those executives in a manner that is both effective and realistic. I can attest to that, because I once went through the same thing that the Ben Affleck character went through in this film. One day I was one of my company's superstars and the next day I was unemployed. The writer/director, John Wells, really did his homework on this aspect of the film. The executive outplacement services are portrayed exactly as they are. The stages which Affleck goes through are precisely as I remember them from my experience in his shoes.

Where the film fails is on the other side of the equation. The auteur succumbs to the temptation to portray the firm's CEO as a callous, greedy character who is not substantially more dimensional than Mr. Burns on The Simpsons. I know three CEOs of large companies, and they are all intelligent, thoughtful and humane. Not a single one of them could play a CEO in a Hollywood movie. But every single one of them knows that the reason corporations exist is to create value for the shareholders, and the reason he has his job is that he creates far more value than he takes out in compensation. There no sense whining about the fact that CEO's make X million dollars per year. They get that money because the shareholders believe they can create far more than that. Believe me, if you could convince a company that you could add $100 million to its market value, they would have no problem paying you five million a year to do just that. In that sense, good CEOs are actually underpaid. They may bring the company many, many times their salaries in increased profit and market capitalization. On the other hand, the assembly line worker is probably overpaid, especially if he's been around a long time. That's reality. If he's getting paid $30 an hour, you can bet that there is a hungry young guy who will do the job faster and better for $20 an hour.

In other words, the system may suck for the little guy, but saying that it sucks is not the same as saying it is unfair. The problem with capitalism is not that it is unfair, but that it is altogether too fair. It will reward employees only if they can prove that the company is better off retaining them, and it will not consider whether they put in more than they took out in the past, but simply whether retaining them now will add to or detract from the company's current and future value. And even if they pass the test today, they may be fired next month if something changes. Yes, that is greedy. Of course corporations are greedy. We WANT them to be greedy, because our retirement funds are invested in them, and we want those nest eggs to be as big as possible. Placing a control on this greed, making sure that pragmatic business decisions are tempered by the humane and charitable treatment of employees, is government's job. Sure, some corporations break the laws, and their management should be punished when that happens, but if you have a problems with a business which is abiding by the rules and laws, your disagreements with their practices are not with them, but with the lawmakers who created the rules which allowed and sanctioned that behavior. The corporation's function in society is to make as much profit as it can within the rules established by the society in which it operates.

The author of this film doesn't really seem to understand how all of this works. He rants against senior management, and he fills the second half of the film with trite monologues which inevitably pontificate about the value of honest hard workers, the kind of workers who create something of true value: the farmers who create our food, the carpenters who create our furniture and shelter, the manufacturers who build our cars, and so forth. All of those people are marvelous indeed, but we are not going to suddenly turn America into to some kind of giant Amish commune. The big new fortunes of today are not generated by the Amish, or even by the industrial giants who used to employ armies of blue-collar workers, but by Google and EA and Facebook - entities created by people who have devised vast enterprises which exist entirely in the ether, and who now employ thousands of other people like themselves, not farmers, not carpenters, not union guys, but guys who sit in chairs and stare at bright screens all day; not guys who work with their backs, but guys who work with their brains. That's just the way it is in our post-industrial world. The big question is this: how can we realistically create a future world in which the other Americans - the ones with strong backs and no coding skills - can also have a satisfying non-criminal life when the value of manual labor is set by the global free market, and is therefore at a third world level. To my knowledge, nobody has a solution to that, least of all the author of The Company Men.

If only the author had not tried to deal with the global issues and had stuck with the personal stories, this would be an excellent film. Unfortunately, when he tries to reach farther, he overreaches, and turns the second half of the film into a series of laughably simple homilies about a subject so labyrinthine that a solution escapes even the most complex minds.  That's a shame, because if The Company Men had concentrated solely on the human effects of the layoffs, which it seemed to get exactly right, it might have been a contender.

But it didn't, and it isn't.

Maria Bello does a topless scene. It is completely gratuitous. The nudity doesn't demonstrate her vulnerability, and it's not titillating either. It's just casual. 90% of the scene is shot from Tommy Lee Jones's point of view - looking at her from behind. The camera leaves that perspective only long enough to flash Maria's breasts, then returns to it! If the camera had stayed behind her, the scene would have been no better or worse. In other words, the director shows her breasts just for the sake of showing her breasts.

My kind of guy!

SIDEBAR: here's the script, if you want to read it.

Ebert: three stars

Rotten Tomatoes: 76% positive

IMDb: 6.8



  • * Yellow asterisk: funny (maybe).

  • * White asterisk: expanded format.

  • * Blue asterisk: not mine.

  • No asterisk: it probably sucks.


Catch the deluxe version of Other Crap in real time, with all the bells and whistles, here.



The Red Violin



Greta Scacchi film clips (samples below)


Eva Marie Bryer film clips (samples below)





Scream Queens' Naked Christmas


At the same time someone named John Russo was filming Santa Claws, a poignant, lyrical celebration of love in a cruel world, he also spent a few minutes filming four women stripping and wiggling on his set. He called it Scream Queens' Naked Christmas and released it as a videotape.
Gads, talk about your heartwarming holiday video. We can and must thank whatever gods made us that it has not been re-released in digital format, but I found a copy of the tape and, by cracky, I was a-gonna cap it. So I did. And here it is.

The four women are a veteran B movie babe, Debbie Rochon, and three others of shorter resumes. They are Christine Cavalier (aka Amanda Madison), Sue Ellen White and Lisa Delien (aka Lisa Duvaul). There is nothing to report here about plot - ain't none - or acting skills (ditto) or production values (mega-dittoes). It's just four gals - three with after-market add-ons - stripping and wiggling. Hey, but anyway here are some caps of three of the women. Could not bring myself to work on Lisa's caps. She is what my twenty-year-old nephew calls a sozer face (as opposed to a butterface), if you catch my drift.

Film clips will appear in a future Fun House

Debbie Rochon

Sue Ellen White

Christine Cavalier  (Amanda Madison)



Film Clips

Sunny Leone in The Virginity Hit (2010; sample below)

I wonder if her middle name is Cor

Madalina Mariescu in Born to Raise Hell (2010; 1080p; sample below)

Irina Antonie in Born to Raise Hell (2010; 1080p; sample below)

Claudia Vieira in Contrato (2009)

Tiffany Kristensen in The Butcher (2006)

Kristanna Loken in BloodRayne (2005; sample below)

Julia Thurnau in a 2002 episode of Klinik Unter Palmen

Karina Kraushaar in the same episode of Klinik Unter Palmen (1997; s7e3, sample below)



Brooke Shields - coin slot

Addison Timlin in Californication (s4e1)

Helena Noguerra in Heartbreaker (2010)

Stephanie Sokolinski in Mes Copines (2006)

Erika Eleniak in Under Siege (1992)