Hustle & Flow (2005)

DJay is a small-time pimp eking out a meager living with a small stable of hookers and a street hustler's gift for selling his product. He is also a reflective man who realizes that he's nearly 40, and has created a life that is nothing like what he ever imagined for himself. He has a chance encounter with an old schoolmate who has become a small-time music producer, and together they conclude that DJay's verbal gifts could work in a hip-hop format. They create a makeshift studio, bring in some other people they know (including one of the hookers), and have soon created the hip-hop equivalent of a garage band, and a demo tape. The next trick is to convince somebody with some influence to listen to the tape and promote it.

This is one of those films after which I sat back and thought, "I can't believe I liked that." Hell, I not only liked it, but I found it mesmerizing. Yet there's basically nothing in it that appeals to me. I'm a 57-year-old white man, and have no interest in your average "urban film" story about pimps, hos and gangsta rap. I don't mind hip-hop, but I'm no big fan either. Despite all of that, I genuinely liked this film, and that's a testament to its crossover appeal. It is not just targeted at people who love urban films and gangsta rap. First of all, it was written and directed by a white guy and it's basically a modernized version of an old-fashioned rags-to-riches yarn. Second, it's just plain entertaining. The acting is great, it's emotionally rich, it's surprisingly funny (very few reviewers noted this), and it offers an absolutely fascinating look at the detailed process of creating a song.

There is also a tremendous and completely unexpected musical bonus in Hustle & Flow. In addition to the hip-hop, there is a rendition of a spiritual in this movie by a classically trained mezzo soprano named Jennifer Bynum Green. Her solo, and Terrence Howard's reaction to her performance, are worth the price of admission alone. It's one of the best scenes in any 2005 movie. And, Lord, can that woman sing!

Although this film has a lot of the feel-good elements of a traditional rags-to-riches tale, it does not allow us to pull away from a realistic view of prostitution and poverty. By the end of the movie we are rooting for DJay to succeed, but that empathy has to be earned through the depth of our understanding of the man, because on the surface he is a complete lowlife, a pimp and drug dealer who exploits and abuses women. That the film succeeds at all, and it does, is a tribute to one of the most effective actors on the planet, Terrence Howard, who delivers DJay as another variation on his "soft-spoken yet filled with emotion" character, albeit a version less sinister than he has been asked to deliver in the past.

Terrence is now on the verge of superstardom, but back around 1998-2000, I was just about the only one who noticed what a great talent he was. He's been the best thing in a lot of bad movies. (Glitter, anyone?) Here's what I wrote about his performance in the silly film Big Momma's House:

"The strange counterpoint to all the slapstick is the always effective Terrence Howard as a menacing bad guy. And I mean this is one scary man. He doesn't play the role for any laughs at all. No exaggeration, no comic effects, just plain realistic tough and bad, and strangely charismatic. If I were casting a movie and I needed a criminal that would scare the hell out of the audience, this guy would be my choice, because his style is unlike anybody else's. He has kind of a soft manner, and he's handsome, but his polish and good looks just make him more evil. He comes off cold as ice, and you just know you better not cross him. I know one thing. I ain't writing any negatives about this man, just in case he reads it, because he scares my tired old white ass. I strongly recommend they give him an Oscar. Or even, if he asks menacingly, all the Oscars."

Paula Jai Parker - playing the same character she always plays

Taryn Manning



Traci Bingham

This zipped .wmv shows Traci flashing the goods on "Celebrity Big Brother UK," a show which demonstrates how desperate the TV execs are for reality programming.


Other Crap:

The complete archive of Bill Maher's New Rules

The screenplay for Croupier, one of the more literate noir mysteries.

"Broadway can be a gamble for Hollywood's hot stars"

  • "David Schwimmer makes his Broadway debut in a revival of Herman Wouk's "The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial"
  • C'mon, headline-writing guy. No "gamble" there!

The first review of the Colin Farrell Sex Tape (or not)

Starbucks is now officially in the movie business

Catching up on this week's movies: Tristan & Isolde - 24% positive reviews

  • "A tepid, tinny modernist recasting of the epic romance...something like a WB Network twentysomething soap opera in medieval dress."
  • "He freezes his face and half-fills his eyes as lovelorn fighter Tristan; the very Madame Toussaud effigy of Andy Gibb in a tunic, he lets his leonine mane do the emoting."
  • "With a bizarre coiffure that makes him look like the lead singer of an '80s New Wave band, Franco flares his nostrils and pouts -- his performance riddled with so many Anakin-isms you'll think he's auditioning for The Hayden Christensen Story."

You knew that Australia had some strange fauna, but did you know of the giant hard spider? Man breaks leg while kicking spider

Enter the Popular Mechanics Earthmover Sweepstakes

  • Some magazines give away 12-piece cookware sets or, if you're lucky, a trip to Hawaii. We're giving away the RC-30 Posi-Track, a track loader made by ASV."

The trailer and four clips from End of the Spear

  • "The story of Mincayani, a Waodani tribesman from the jungles of Ecuador. When five young missionaries are speared to death by the Waodani in 1956, a series of events unfold to change the lives of not only the slain missionaries' families, but also Mincayani and his people.

Several clips from Glory Road, Disney's latest sports flick. (1966 NCAA - first all-black starting lineup)

The trailer from Ultraviolet

  • "Set in the late 21st century, a subculture of humans have emerged who have been modified genetically by a vampire-like disease (Hemophagia), giving them enhanced speed, incredible stamina and acute intelligence, and as they are set apart from normal and healthy humans, the world is pushed to the brink of worldwide civil war (a war between humans and hemophages) aimed at the destruction of the diseased population. In the middle of this crossed-fire is - an infected woman - Ultraviolet (Jovovich), who finds herself protecting a nine-year-old boy who has been marked for death by the human government as he is believed to be a threat to humans."

Colbert rants on about his coinage of the word "truthiness"

"Colbert Report: Cuteness/Elmo/Kareem"

  • "You've never known true euphoria until you've done a line of puppies off a stripper's ass."

Is Colbert is trying to protect Jack Abramoff because they are distant associates?

Stephen Colbert takes on Conan O'Brien face-to-face

Colbert discusses the baby boomers, and the strain they are about to put on the economy

"Carl Bernstein and Stephen Colbert discuss what Nixon could have learned from Bush."

John Stossel and Stephen Colbert discuss why kids are stupid.

Colbert Report: "Unless a judge is an activist, he just sits there, staring off into space, like a koala bear."

Stephen Colbert's "Threat-down"

  • ROBOTS: They're not powering down, and they're unkillable -- with clear survival instincts.

The Daily Show: "Supreme Court nominee Sam Alito developed his own legal forms? That is so f@*#ing hot."

Top Ten Signs You're In A Bad Sex Video

  • 3. It's less popular than the Wilford Brimley sex video

"Stung by a recent Associated Press article that didn't credit him for coining the word 'truthiness,' Comedy Central's Stephen Colbert has struck back

  • The world's oldest news organization, Colbert says, is the 'No. 1 threat facing America.' He has even placed higher than (gasp!) bears.

"Kate Beckinsale is ditching Hollywood to come back to set up home in London with her husband and daughter."

Following up on The Book of Daniel, Conan discusses the additional TV shows to features Jesus as a character

Conan interviews Ah-nuld.

The trailer for 16 Blocks

  • "16 Blocks is a character-driven action thriller that stars Bruce Willis as Jack Mosley, a broken down NY detective assigned to escort a petty criminal (Mos Def) from the precinct to the courthouse. The seemingly simple 16 block journey becomes a test of character for them when Jack's ex-partners attempt to stop them. It's the story of how two men change each other during a tense 110-minute struggle between life and death."



Movie Reviews:

Yellow asterisk: funny (maybe). White asterisk: expanded format. Blue asterisk: not mine. No asterisk: it probably sucks.




"Internal Affairs"

Internal Affairs (1990) is a testosterone contest between Richard Gere, the most respected police sergeant in the department, and Andy Garcia, a newcomer in Internal Affairs. He and his lesbian training officer, Amy Wallace, soon discover that the case they are investigating about a young officer using excessive force is just the tip of the iceberg, and that Richard Gere is the real problem. Proving it nearly costs both of them their lives.

IAD officers do not win popularity contests with other police anyway, and they are after a very popular policeman, who just happens to also be a womanizer, major crook, and possibly much worse. He has most of the cops in his division beholden to him, as he gets them moonlighting jobs.

Gere fights back by getting close to Garcia's young, attractive wife. He also eliminates anyone who might be able to testify against him. Since Garcia has so much ego involved, he is easy to manipulate by the clever Gere. Just in case you don't get it, director Mike Figgis has Amy Wallace saying, "Why don't you two just pull them out, and I will tell you which one is bigger."

Faye Grant shows her right breast in bed with Gere.

IMDb readers say 6.4, which is about right. It is a good enough Crime'Action/Drama, or a C.

Faye Grant


Stricken (1998) is a film of superlatives. It is Judy Greer's film debut, and it features the worst idea for a film I have ever heard, the worst lightening I have yet seen, terrible acting, and the most inept editing of all time. For instance, when they had two version of a sequence, one with a deleted scene, and the other without, they left both version in the final DVD back to back. Instant De ja DooDoo (I have seen this shot before). They don't establish the characters in the beginning of the film, making it impossible to figure out who is who. The entire script relies on an unexpected death during a practical joke, but I never could figure out what the joke was supposed to be, or how it became fatal. There was also a whole story line about redneck locals who hated college students that, as far as I could tell, had nothing to do with the story.

Judy Greer shows breasts clearly, and breasts. buns and bush behind a shower curtain.

IMDb readers say 3.1. This is WAY too generous. eFilmCritic said, "It takes more than a Best Buy charge card to be a filmmaker" and awarded half a star. Give this one a very wide berth. F.

Judy Greer


Today from the Ghost....long time Lady of Late Night, Gabriella Hall baring breasts and bum in several scenes from the Skinemax series "Intimate Sessions".

Another Hankster "Grab Bag" today.

First from "Expecting Mercy", we have a topless Heather Prete in bed, and then later appearing as a 'Damsel in Distress' with her bra exposed.

Heather Prete

We close out the batch with a few from "Mean Girls".

First up in "SNL" news anchor, Tina Fey taking off her shirt to reveal her bra.

Tina Fey

And Lindsay Lohan shows off a little leg and a buch of cleavage.

Lindsay Lohan

The one, the only, the Alba. Here are some 'razzi pics of Jessica Alba looking amazing in a bikini.

New on DVD, here is "The Mummy" star, Rachel Weisz briefly going topless in scenes from "The Constant Gardener".

From the Skin-man, here is Roxanne Kernohan showing a bit o' bum, as well as her robo-goodies in scenes from 1988's "Critters 2: The Main Course".

Pat's comments in yellow...

Taste The Thighs! - PETA spokesperson Pamela Anderson is demanding that Kentucky officials remove a bust of KFC founder Colonel Harland Sanders from the state Capitol. She released a statement calling the bust a "monument to cruelty to chickens." The governor dismissed Pam's protest, saying that Col. Sanders was one of Kentucky's most distinguished citizens.

* Although he must admit, Pam has a more distinguished bust.
* Ironically, Col. Sanders would've like Pam...He was a breast man.
* Pam is responsible for more chicken-choking than Col. Sanders ever was.

An Entertainer Would Lose Them In The Divorce - Engaged couple Jojo Gator and Jackie Kidney of Warwick, Rhode Island, have put themselves and six relatives up for lease on eBay. For $1.5 million, all eight will move into a rich person's mansion in a tropical location to work as cooks, gardeners, mechanics and so on for five years. They say they've had a few serious inquiries, including an entertainer who might buy their family for the publicity.

* Dave Chappelle might find it amusing to own some white people.
* They finally figured out the problem with slavery: there was no money in it.
* If the relatives are all boys under 12, Michael Jackson might be interested.
* For that much money, I'd expect to own their descendants in perpetuity.