Empire of the Wolves (2005)
Empire of the Wolves is a high-concept French thriller targeted
specifically at the audience which embraced Crimson Rivers as a cult
hit. Like Crimson Rivers, it is based on a novel by Jean-Christophe
Grangé about two cops investigating a series of
grisly murders. Like Crimson Rivers, it features Jean Reno as one of
A young Parisian cop is
stymied by the complexities of "Little Turkey" in his investigation of
three murders which seem to involve ritual mutilation. Knowing that he
needs help to solve the case, he reluctantly calls on a disgraced cop
(Reno) who has an intimate knowledge of Little Turkey and useful
connections within the Turkish community.
Unfolding parallel to this story is another
which initially seems unrelated, about a French housewife with a
particularly mysterious case of Cinema Amnesia. In this particular
variation of the disease which has crippled so many film characters, the
victim can remember everything except her husband. And I mean
everything. She can remember the names the 1906 Cubs and Martin
Bormann's third cousins on his mother's side. She can recall the
vehicular traffic counts at every major intersection in Estonia. She
remembers the big white house on Elm Street, and her little sister
Dagmar, and her big brother Nels, and Papa. But most of all, she
remembers Mama. Yet show her a picture of her husband and she's as
baffled as President Bush trying to read Finnegans Wake.
What do these two ostensibly unrelated stories
have to do with one another? Your desire to know that is what will
keep you watching the film, assuming it is enough to reels you in. It
worked for me.
It is an extremely complicated plot which
folds in upon itself like an Escher painting, and it's really too
contrived. I won't spoil the exact plot of this film, because some of
you will find it worth watching, but I'll give you a parallel example
to illustrate its potential for confusion. Suppose you are a professor
with some kind of problem with the mob, a problem so bad that you have
to get plastic surgery and assume an identity as an illegal Mexican
farm laborer. Now suppose that some insane scientists are trying to
prove that they can take any simple old Mexican farm laborer and
re-program him so completely that he can pass as a professor. Of all
the paperless laborers in the world to kidnap against his will, the
mad scientists choose you, the one who really is a professor posing as
a laborer. That isn't actually what happened in this movie, but it
gives you the general idea of the kinds of things to expect. The
scientists don't know who you really are because they had no idea that
you were living undercover when they kidnapped you. The mob doesn't
know who you are because you don't look the same, and there is no way
for you to betray yourself, because you don't know that you are you.
Can you see the potential for extreme complexity
and confusion in that premise? It would be like adding more layers on
top of The Bourne Identity, a film with which Empire of the Wolves has
certain common elements. Well, the actual case in the movie is much
more complicated than the example I gave. The plot is just filled with
twists and turns and secret societies and ancient gods and unexpected
revelations and everything but the kitchen sink. To make matters even
harder to follow, one of the two seemingly unrelated storylines splits
into two story threads. Reno and the young cop split up for
various reasons which I can't reveal, so their stories are thereafter
told separately, and the narration must then shift between three
stories instead of two, and we are wondering if they will ever cross
Do they? Watch it and see, if you
are curious. Tip one: if you are curious, don't pay the full price for
it. It has been offered for less than ten bucks NEW, and you can own a
used copy for about the price of a Blockbuster rental. Tip two: you
might want to suffer through the sub-titles, because in the dubbed
version Jean Reno sounds like a 20 year old junior at the University
The film is too
complicated and too contrived by half, but it's also entertaining and
engrossing in a lot of its own over-the-top ways. I'm not sure I
really understood what the hell was happening in the last 25 minutes,
or even how all the various elements tied together at the end, but
even the most confusing elements looked pretty cool! On the other
hand, I am a fan of Reno and Grangé, so your mileage may very
The Matador (2006)
A salesman and a hit man walk into a bar ...
Dark, hip "unlikely
buddy" comedy with Greg Kinnear and Pierce Brosnan. Generally pretty
good reviews. Not all that much nudity. The woman in this zipped .avi
is Azucena Medina, and you'll see the top portion of her ass-crack.
The Seahawks score a bunch and shut down Carolina's
vaunted passing attack.
- Delhomme had a QB rating of 35 for the game. For
an NFL starter it doesn't get much worse than 15 for
35 with 3 INTs! And that's all she wrote.
So much for the Broncos being undefeated at home. The
Steelers had The Right Stuff, and Roethlisberger
showed he can do more than just tackle.
Here's today's Sundance Insider, in .pdf format
"Little Miss Sunshine" wows 'em at Sundance
- Prolonged standing ovation
- All-time record sale
Maggie Gyllenhaal Gets Really Naked - again!
- "She debuted in Sherrybaby, in which Gyllenhaal
plays a wayward, alcohol- and drug-abusing paroled
mother whose child is living with her brother- and
sister-in-law. On its face it seems like a Lifetime
movie, but Sherrybaby is fairly edgy. Gyllenhaal
gets good and naked and has at least one explicit
sex scene with a stranger played by Rio Hackford."
Kidnapped garden gnomes found in snowy Swedish forest
- A letter from the "Garden Gnomes Liberation
Army" claimed responsibility for their
disappearance. I didn't make that up.
Denise Richards and Neve Campbell Lesbian Scene,
in slo-mo, from the Wild Things special edition
Great Britain faces critical shortage of the letter
Walter Cronkite says we should pull out of Vietnam and
use the money to fund Project Mercury
Judge: Jolie's kids can take Pitt's name and start
wearing cool shades.
- They are now named Brad Zahara and Brad Chivan.
And little Brad Zahara is a girl.
Weekend Box Office Results
- It was a very healthy weekend for the box
office, and that was unexpected. Last weekend had
been down 12% from the equivalent weekend in the
previous year, but this weekend was 17% better than
last year's equivalent!
- Every film reached or exceeded expectations
except Hostel. Many exceeded expectations by 30% or
- Underworld: Evolution did as well as predicted,
despite some scathing reviews.
- Hoodwinked expanded to 600 more theaters, and
thus performed nearly as well as it did last week.
- Transamerica and Cache turned in some solid
per-screen averages in micro-distribution.
Dave Barry's blog flushed out the headline of the
day so far:
"Soybean paste turns toilet industry on its head"
Alexander the Great, the Michael Jordan of hockey,
makes an insane goal.
- "Even Wayne Gretzky, who was coaching the
opposing team, commented 'that was pretty sweet.'"
- Kid will be around a while. He just turned 20!!
Undeterred by his last failure (BloodRayne), Ewe Boll
presents the trailer for his next flop (In the Name of
- It's a medieval tale with the usual knights and
castles - and a cast that includes ol' Gator
McKlusky his ownself as the king (!) and Shaggy as a
- Ray Liotta and Jason Statham are also on hand
because even ancient kingdoms needed lower-level,
- Leelee Sobieski, Kristanna Loken, and Claire
Forlani are also in the cast, so we can at least
hope for some nude scenes.
- Oh, yeah, and Ewe also employed John Rhys-Davies
because (1) somebody in the damned film had to speak
the King's English (2) all movies about ancient
kingdoms have to include John Rhys-Davies. It's in
the Magna Carta.
- I have read that the budget for this film was
$60 million dollars!
Bryce Dallas Howard discusses her explicit nudity in
New York Post Online: Celebrity Photos at the Golden
The trailer from Stick It (menu to the right)
- Jeff Bridges will play the coach of a team of
rule-abiding gymnasts who develop a taste for
rebellion after a renegade member (Missy Peregrym)
joins the crew. Vanessa Lengies co-stars as
A clip from Tamara
- After a teenage prank on the unpopular girl in
school, Tamara (Jenna Dewan), goes horribly wrong,
the pranksters decide to cover their tracks and bury
the body. However, death won't keep Tamara down as
she's a witch. Returning from the grave with a new,
seductive look and a motive for a revenge to match,
Tamara hunts down and kills all those involved in
Yellow asterisk: funny (maybe). White asterisk: expanded format.
Blue asterisk: not mine. No asterisk: it probably sucks.
Asylum (2005) is an English Indie about Natasha Richardson as wife of a rising public health psychiatrist, and her Lady Chatterly-like affair with one of the patients. There are no likeable people in this film, with the possible retiring director of the asylum. It is peopled by Stepford Wives of stuffy shrinks with private agendas, a snotty husband more concerned with work than family, a brat of a young son, the mother-in-law from hell and Richardson's character, which was entirely too self-centered to be sympathetic. I generally do not like films full of people I would not voluntarily spend time with in real life. This was a noticeable exception. I have no idea if this was a love story, a psychological thriller, or an indictment of the mental health system of the 50s, but, whatever it was, it held my interest.
Breasts and buns from Richardson helped, of course. The nudity is frequent, and in clear light. The sex scenes also had a great deal of raw passion. Finally, while I had some inkling where the story was headed, it was not entirely predictable.
IMDb readers say 6.3. Ebert gives two stars. It did nothing in a limited US theatrical release. I am honestly not sure why I enjoyed this, but demographics at IMDb predicted it. In the 45+ age group, men rated it 7.3, with women at 3.8. For other age groups, it is near chick flick territory below 30, and even from 30 to 45. Clearly, this film appeals to young women and older men, but I am at a loss to explain why. This is s C.
"Wilder Napalm "
Wilder Napalm (4.7), quite simply, is one of the stupidest ideas for a film I have ever heard. To compound this, the cast includes the likes of Debra Winger, Dennis Quaid, and Arliss Howard, all of whom are credible performers. Quaid and Howard are brothers, both having the ability to start fires with their minds. After a tragic accident when they were young, Howard elected to suppress his power, and try to live a straight life. This is made more difficult by wife Debra Winger, who is something of a Pyromaniac, and is under house arrest for arson as the film opens. Brother Quaid revels is his powers. He works as a circus clown, but is about to break into TV based on his ability to start fires. When Quaid shows up to tell Howard that he is going public, and to steal Winger, things heat up, so to speak.
Winger, who has a brief nipple slip in a dark sex scene, is honestly a hoot in this film, and seems to have had great fun in the part chewing the scenery. The pecker contest, fireballs at 60 paces, between Howard and Quaid wasn't nearly as entertaining. IMDb readers say 4.7. This was intended as comedy, but the battle between Quaid and Howard just wasn't funny. This is a low C-.
I have something unusual for today. These are scans from the July 1976 edition of the British men's magazine, Mayfair, that showed up on the web just the other day (I worked on them just a wee bit). Usual lovely bit o' tail in the mag-- of particular interest are two women who were part of the American B-movie scene in the 70's. One of them is Angel Thompkins, famous for movies such as Prime Cut (which has been capped beautifully in recent weeks). Angel posed under her own name. The second gal posed as Olivia Paddon but it is the goddess, Lenka Novak, who appeared in Kentucky Fried Movie, The Coach and Cheerleader's Wild Weekend. Lenka looks fantastic in these scans; and unlike her topless-only appearances on the silver screen, here she gives up all three B's. I've seen a few other scans of Lenka...one of them from the Hefmag...but these are numerous and more than sorta okay looking.
From C2k, here is "Underworld" and "Thunderbirds" babe, Sophia Myles showing just a bit of nipplage in scenes from the UK movie "Colditz".
Classic 80's nudity by Dai with Joyce Hyser topless in scenes from "Just One of the Guys" (1985).