The Chumscrubber (2005)
There's no nudity, but Tuna did Carrie-Anne Moss today, and
Carrie-Anne looks great in this film in her bikini, and she does a
brief "topless" scene, albeit out of focus and sans nipple, so ...
When you line up Glenn Close and Ralph
Fiennes for your leads, you convey that you plan to offer serious and
important themes, and there is some of that in The Chumscrubber, but it is delivered with
a dark comic "indie" eccentricity. Actually, it's not really a dark
comedy, but a dark dramedy with a bit of magical realism, as if American
Beauty had been spiced with a heavy dash of Donnie Darko and just a
soupcon of Like Water for Chocolate. In other words, this is quite an
(Dean) discovers that his best friend has hanged himself, but he
doesn't bother telling any of the parents gathered for a party at the
best friend's house. Why not? Each of the suburban adults is
obsessively following some narrow solipsistic path to happiness:
self-help books, New Age mysticism, the perfect wedding, drugs,
vitamins, video games, whatever. Dean felt
that they just wouldn't want to hear about a dead kid at their party.
Dean's dad is a pop psychologist who finds his
son's behavior odd, but also sees in it some possible inspiration for
his next book. Dean has worse problems than his dad. The dead best
friend was the school drug dealer, and since he's dead, the local
thuggies want the stash, and Dean has to get it for them since Dean
can walk in and out of the dead guy's house without attracting any
suspicion. Dean refuses to co-operate, so the thugs devise a plan to
force Dean to retrieve the drug motherlode. They kidnap Dean's brother
- except they get the wrong kid. And the kidnapped kid's real mother
is too busy planning her home wedding to notice that her son is
missing. Meanwhile, the dead guy's mother lives next door to the
bride-to-be, and is planning a memorial for him in her own house, in
direct conflict with her neighbor's wedding. Not only does this force
their neighbors to choose which event to attend (and which wardrobe to
wear), but it also creates a suburban parking crisis.
The real (and surreal) action is played out
against an undercurrent of a fictional character called The
Chumscrubber. In the movie's alternate universe, the Chumscrubber
seems to be the most famous fictional character - he's everywhere - in
books, posters, comics, video games, movies, etc. He's an icon with
the ubiquitous status of Vito Corleone or Rocky, but he's one odd
duck. He lives in a post-apocalyptic landscape and his head is not
attached to his shoulders, so he carries it around. Presumably the
Chumscrubber cartoons have some metaphorical connection to the live
action, but frankly I'm not too sure what the hell it is.
This film had some good word-of-mouth coming off the festival
circuit, and still has its ardent defenders. Its
three most common scores at IMDb are 10, 8, and 9, in that order,
indicated that it found a cult audience. One or two critics hailed it
as a masterpiece. The Christian Science
Monitor said, "Acutely intelligent, and strikingly
tough-minded, this pitch-dark dramatic comedy recalls David Lynch and
"Donnie Darko" while remaining fresh and original to its core. A
stunning directorial debut."
It turned out, however, to be one of
those films made for festival audiences, with no mass-market faction to support it.
Critics generally found it insufferably smug and self-conscious (33%
positive reviews), and one
summed it up as, "A
movie that wants to be daring but ends up feeling prefabricated."
Distributors had no confidence in it, and it maxed out at 28 theaters.
Audiences didn't care for it much either. It even did poorly in those
28 theaters, pulling in about $1000 per screen on opening weekend.
(That's about ten people per screening.)
I guess I'm one of the few that enjoyed it. I
like it when these young filmmakers just go for it and grasp for the
stars. Donny Darko ... Magnolia ... Chumscrubber ... let it all hang
out: giant rabbits, frog rain, mystical dolphins ... whatever! If it
doesn't always make sense, and if it doesn't always get the expected
reaction from the audience, at least it tried to scale the ladder to
heaven instead of walking safely under it. For my money, this film had
some misses, but it had more hits.
This movie may suck, but I have to admit this scene is kinda hot
when you see it in motion. (Zipped
.wmv) Coulda used a few light bulbs, however.
The Daily Show's senior calypsologist, Rob Corddry,
analyzes Harry Belafonte's political principles
Daily Show: The Democrats are staging a fret-a-buster
against Supreme Court nominee Sam Alito.
Conan O'Brien's quotables for the first week of January
- "Donald Trump is reportedly considering running for
President in 2008. Trump said he'll choose a running
mate and then dump her for a younger, hotter running
- "The election in Iraq was three weeks ago, and
officials are saying it's going to be another two weeks
before they announce who won. The odd part is, the
winner will be announced by Ryan Seacrest."
- "Star Jones was recently photographed sunbathing on
the beach in a bikini, reading a self-help book. The
self-help book is called 'Star Jones - Don't Wear a
- "According to MSNBC, Tom Cruise spent the holidays
with Katie Holmes' family, but it didn't go well.
Apparently, Katie's Dad told Tom, 'I don't care what you
do at your house, but under my roof, you're going to
sleep in the same bedroom.'"
- "The Washington Post reports that Vice President
Dick Cheney is limping because he injured his foot.
Cheney said, 'If you think my foot looks bad, you should
see the old lady I was kicking.'"
The R-rated (bare breasts!) trailer for Don't Come Knockin'
- Directed by Wim Wenders; written by Wenders and Sam
Shepard; starring Shepard and Jessica Lange
- "During production on his latest movie, an aging
cowboy star (Sam Shepard) walks away from the set and
heads out on a journey of self-discovery."
The trailer for Beowulf & Grendel
- An epic tale based on the famous Old English poem,
"Beowulf," which inspired Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings".
The medieval adventure, part fable, part horror story is
loosely based on the 9th century Anglo-Saxon poem,
"Beowulf," telling the blood-soaked tale of a Norse
hero's battle with a great and murderous troll.
The trailer for a sci-fi comedy, Alien Autopsy
Angelina Jolie: "Yes, I'm Pregnant. Pitt is the father,
- "Angelina Jolie is expecting a baby this summer with
Brad Pitt, PEOPLE has confirmed. The pregnancy has since
been confirmed by representatives of both stars."
Lindsay Lohan Is Not Pregnant
- "Lindsay Lohan has been released from the hospital
and is back in her home in New York. Her publicist
insists the pregnancy kit was for another friend and
Lindsay is not pregnant."
- She had a friend buy and bring her a pregnancy kit
in the hospital - for a different friend? OK. There's a
good gift exchange. It's Secret Santa for chicks.
- What she should have said: "I can't be pregnant. I'm
careful. I only take it in the butt."
ALITO SAYS HE HAS NO AGENDA BOOK ... Senate Democrats
Skeptical of Judge's Latest Claim
Scarlett Johansson does not want you to look at this
Alleged screen caps from the Colin Farrell sex tape
"A website attempting to sell access to a sex video of
actor Colin Farrell has been shut down"
Chinese ban on Wikipedia prevents research, users say
Interactive computers used in British schools to teach
children to read are harming rather than helping their
- I'm shocked, shocked to hear that they have
computers in Britain!
Alleged Colin Farrell Sex Tape with Nicole Narain
2006 preview from 20th Century Fox!
Yellow asterisk: funny (maybe). White asterisk: expanded format.
Blue asterisk: not mine. No asterisk: it probably sucks.
Reform School Girl (1994)
Reform School Girl (1994) is one of a series of cable remakes of WIP films
from the 50s. As a genre lover, I appreciate their effort. It is a usual
story. An innocent girl is sent to reform school, and learns to survive there.
She also learns that the system sucks, with falls right in with my 60s hatred
of the establishment. Aimee Graham is a passenger in a stolen car when the
punk driving it hits a pedestrian. He runs, she is busted, and won't reveal
his identity. In truth, she is not that unhappy to escape home, and the
advances from her lecherous uncle. She becomes worried that the uncle will
simply start on her much younger sister.
She makes friends inside, and, when the warden discovers she can run, is
paced on the track team, the warden's pet project. She also has a lesbian
relationship with the meanest of all the girls. In the end, she must decide
between self-respect, and doing what the warden wants to gain an early
Aimee Graham shows breasts in a pretty hot lesbian scene. An unidentified
girl shows breasts in a car, and several unidentified women show breasts, buns
and/or bush in the requisite shower scene.
IMDb readers say 4.1. Remaking WIP films, especially ones so old that they
shied away from violence and nudity, is a great idea for my money. The
execution here was seriously flawed, as the film came across more like an
afternoon special designed to encourage kids to have self respect. It
completely lacked edge. This is a C-, and only barely. Even as a genre lover,
I only found it marginally tolerable. The early scenes did a very nice job of
recreating the 1950s look and feel, and there were some bright spots, such as
the reform school commie hating home economics teacher conducting duck and
cover drills, but, for the most part, simply was not compelling.
The Soft Kill (1994)
The Soft Kill (1994) is a mystery. A former police detective turned private
eye, also a big ladies man, leaves a woman's bed when her husband comes home.
A few minutes later, she is dead, and he is a prime suspect for everyone
except his former partner. Not only that, but she was married to an asshole
DA. Along the way, the body count rises, and it is only his ex-partner who
keeps him out of jail. Unfortunately, it is not difficult to guess who is
behind it all.
The film, as released, contains 3 Bs from Kim Morgan Greene as the first
murder victim and breasts from Carrie-Anne Moss as her sister, and eventual
love interest in the film. The DVD includes a hard-core sex scene between the
main character and someone credited as Judith Zeihn, This scene, designed to
show him as a sexaholic, is shot from a distance, and is a little dark, but
appears to be the real deal, and is headboard-banging, all-out sex.
IMDb readers say 4.4.
I thought the story had promise, but was clumsily handled. The ingredients
were all there for a good whodunnit, but they telegraphed the ending with a
very clumsy scene where the partner has a place in his apartment that is off
limits, and red herring clues, such as a cigarette lighter, just weren't
presented well enough to cause the intended misdirection, especially as we
knew from the beginning that he main character was not the murderer. All of
this may have been the fault of editing, although I suspect not. This is a C-,
but could have ended up a much better mystery.
Kim Morgan Greene
Pat's comments in yellow...
Scientists at Ohio State University report that our faces
are shrinking. A study of people's appearance over 10,000 years found that our
ancestors' faces and heads were up to 30 percent bigger than ours. They blame
the shrinkage on a switch to softer foods so that jawbones, skulls and teeth
don't have to be as strong. They say the face shrinkage is to blame for a rise
in dental problems caused by crooked or overlapping teeth.
* Jay Leno must be an evolutionary throwback.
* For some reason, all the face that everyone else is losing, Ted Kennedy is
Residents in the small town of Karlovac, Croatia, were shocked when they
woke up to discover that someone had built a snow sculpture of a 17-foot penis
in the town square. Local college students admitted doing it, saying they "just
wanted to make a slightly different kind of snowman." The police decided
to laugh it off and let it melt naturally.
* Women know that if you laugh at penises, they melt pretty
Notoriously nasty designer Mr. Blackwell issued his 46th Annual Worst-Dressed
Women List. Counting down from #10, they are Renee Zellweger ("looks like a
painted pumpkin on a pogo stick"), Lindsay Lohan, Shakira, Anna Nicole Smith
("Queen Kong"), Paris Hilton ("Hot? I think not!"), Mariah Carey ("The world
applauds your musical emancipation, but please leave that body to our
imagination"), Eva Longoria ("garish taste"), Jessica Simpson ("a cut-rate
Rapunzel, slingin' hash in a Vegas diner"), Mary-Kate Olsen ("Bag Lady rags that
look depressingly decayed"), and rising from #7 last year to #1, Britney
Spears. Mr. Blackwell called her a "tacky terror' who went "from the Princess
of Pop to the ultimate Fashion Flop."
* He doesn't like Eva Longoria's skimpy outfits? You
know, I'm beginning to suspect Mr. Blackwell might be gay.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger could face a $250 fine after his Harley crash
because it turns out he never applied for a motorcycle license. He said, "It
was just one of those things that I never really did"
* Like taking motorcycle riding lessons.