The Skeleton Key (2005)
Built on several unexpected twists and a surprise ending, The
Skeleton Key is one of those films which is impossible to describe
without spoiling. Briefly, a young hospice worker decides to leave
institutional work and go into private care. Her first client is an
elderly man living on a crumbling Southern plantation in the Louisiana
bayou country. She finds that the house and the surrounding area are
teeming with hoodoo, a form of black magic which traces its roots to
African tribal lore. I hesitate to say any more other than that it can
be considered a supernatural suspense yarn.
film's strongest positives center around its visual appeal: texture,
mood, and atmosphere are all delivered in spades by a beautiful
combination of spooky bayou exteriors and interiors cluttered with the
paraphernalia of frightening and unknown practices. Within that Gothic
foundation, suspense is built slowly and scares are earned without any
cheap shots like the inevitable hidden cat. The negatives involve a
very formulaic Hollywood studio script and that the showdown involves
the usual undefeatable villain who seems to recover several times from
For me, the factor that
tilts the scale in the positive direction is the "look back" factor.
When one writes about a bad mystery film while knowing the ending, the
process of recapping the earlier details for others unearths a myriad
of contradictions and several things that seemed to make sense at the
time but no longer add up, given the ending. When writing about a good
mystery film, the opposite happens. The ending provides illumination
to tiny details that didn't make sense at the time. As I was watching
the film I was getting irritated by certain details, thinking things
like, "How could she know that? She wasn't there." There were about a
half dozen apparent gaps in the film's logic. When I knew the ending,
however, all of those details did make sense. If I had approached all
of those contradictions with a different attitude, replacing my
skepticism with trust that each apparent contradiction was a piece in
a carefully-assembled puzzle, I might well have solved the mystery
before the solution was fed to me.
My only real complaint is that it's a little
draggy. After all, it's basically just a typical 1950s comic book
story from the likes of "The Vault of Horror," so I couldn't shake the
feeling that the same story could have been delivered more effectively
as a 60 minute HBO show. At any rate, it's a pretty slick little puzzle,
with an ending that I didn't anticipate but which nonetheless fit the
facts, and it's dripping with atmosphere along the way. The
critics seemed to want more, but I think that's
pretty much all you can reasonably expect from the genre, and
audiences seemed to agree. If you look at the measurements,
you'll see that the critical scores are quite low, but the audience
scores are solid. (IMDb 6.3, Yahoo B-, Box Office $48m). That sums it
up. It's not a
genre classic, but it's a satisfying summer flick.
didn't watch this again. Frankly, I didn't like it the first time,
even though Jodie Foster is sexy in it. These caps are taken from the
ICMS videos, which are a very good thing. (See his section below.) You
see, every known DVD of this film includes only the widescreen
theatrical aspect ratio. On the other hand, the German TV stations
broadcast the full 35mm frame, and that means more Jodie. ICMS was
lurking, waiting for his chance, and he captured the goods. Jodie
seems to be speaking German, but I'm guessing you probably won't even
Oh, Deutschland, you really are über
alles. Just don't take that too seriously this time.
First review confirms our worst fears:
'Pink Panther' painfully unfunny
Oprah Reverses Her Endorsement of the Bible, Citing
Next Christmas day, we will celebrate an important
birthday of a gentle man who brought the world a message
- I am speaking, of course, of Jimmy Buffett, who can
call his next album "A Pirate Looks at 60." Feel old, ye
boomers, for on Christmas day this year the son of a son
of a sailor will be 60 years old. Florida's #1
citizen/spokesman can then officially change his name to
Jimmy "Early Bird" Buffett.
- And, yes, I am a parrot-head and proud of it. I do
wish, however, that Jimmy had not decided to open a
chain of Cheeseburger in Paradise restaurants.
ROTTEN TOMATOES: 7th Annual Golden Tomato Awards
Conan O'Brian demonstrates what his show looks like when
watched under the influence of drugs.
The Simpsons - Four Beheadings and a Funeral
"Kiwi film-maker Lee Tamahori faces up to a year in jail
and a $7200 fine after his arrest in a Hollywood
- Here's the best part - he wasn't consorting with a
female prostitute. He WAS one.
- Tamahori is perhaps best known for directing one of
the Bond films, but his masterpiece is Once Were
highly regarded film about the Maori legacy in New
Headline of the day:
"Whale vomit could net family millions of dollars"
Here's the trailer for Nacho Libre, starring
Jack Black as a masked Mexican wrestler.
Rare Licensed DVD's has an excellent value this week:
eight uncensored and rare Jess Franco films in a boxed set
with a sticker price under $100. I have to warn you about
one thing: although the DVDs are all-region, they are in
PAL format. In general, that means Americans can play them
on a computer a DVD drive, but will not be able to play
them on a standard TV from a standard stand-alone DVD
player. If you are in an area where PAL is the standard,
it's smooth sailin'. Check the linked site for more info
about these matters. (Or write the guy. He's very good
about answering his mail.)
We're about to see Mohr-Cox
- I knew that would happen when Brokeback got the
Asian-American actors Takai, Phillips honored
- The only reason I linked to this is that I was
completely surprised to find that Lou Diamond Phillips
Homemade shirt-folding device
Grandpa Munster Dies at 95
Top Ten Reasons A Snowboarder Is Looking Forward To The
Daily Box Office - Friday, February 3, 2006
- The biggest surprise of the day is that When a
Stranger Calls opened much bigger than expected. The
predictions said "mid teens," but it took in $9 million
on Friday alone.
- In contrast, Something New seems to be weaker than
expected. The forecasts said $7-9 million, but Friday
was below $2.
- The only other unexpected development was the
reappearance of Walk the Line in the top ten, despite
NOT having been nominated for its anticipated Best
"Pam Anderson may hold the record of total amount of
cleavage ever displayed. (Not that there is anything
wrong with that.) I feel that a lifetime achievement award
is in order here!"
Yellow asterisk: funny (maybe). White asterisk: expanded format.
Blue asterisk: not mine. No asterisk: it probably sucks.
Mad Cows (1999) is a comedy from the UK staring Anna Friel and Joanna Lumley. Many of my pleasant surprises in films come from quirky British comedies ( Little Voice comes immediately to mind). Unfortunately, this wasn't one of them. Friel has had a baby, only to be spurned by the father, a rich spoiled brat and TV personality with dreams of running for his local MP seat. Friel feels unprepared for motherhood, has no money and has illegal alien status, as she left Australia to be with her boyfriend. She turns to Lumley for a hand. Lumley is aging, and not attracting the sort of men she was used to. Further, after some bank collapse, she is using her plastic somewhat creatively, and the bill collectors are after her.
In a market, Friel stuffs a packet of frozen peas down her bra to stop her over-full breast from aching, and is arrested for shoplifting. Once in jail, a corrupt councilor tricks her into signing adoption papers. She has Lumley smuggle the baby out of prison, and then escapes. She is now a fugitive, an illegal alien, penniless, and doesn't know where Lumley is with her baby. Not only that, but the couple the councilor was selling her baby to is after her.
As I re-read the above, it seems rather more serious than funny, which may well be why most to the jokes fell flat for me. Heavy accents made some of the dialogue hard to follow as well.
Friel shows her right breast in a sex scene.
IMDb readers say 4.3. The BBCi Films review awards 4 stars out of 4, and then goes on to say:
"WARNING! THE FOUR-STAR RATING IS ONLY FOR THE QUALITY OF THE DVD! THE FILM ITSELF SUCKS!
"'Mad Cows' is a desperately poor and unfunny enterprise. But fans of Joanna Lumley will doubtless enjoy her performance in what is essentially an excellent transfer to DVD."
I don't see how I could put it better. There is nothing notable about this film. This is a D, but one of the better looking Ds I have watched.
"Girl Slaves of Morgana Le Fay"
Girl Slaves of Morgana Le Fay (1971), or Morgane et ses nymphes is an early soft-core French film. Director Bruno Gantillon learned film making in the army, and landed a job with a trendy TV magazine called Dim, Dam, Dom. After this experience, he approached the producer Catherine Winter about making a feature film. She was not willing to trust an unknown with that much money, but funded a short, which did well. Based on that, he was given the nod for a sex film, which was suddenly marketable. The film he made was cut by the censors, but managed to make a profit in France anyway, and made it to some other countries, but not England or the US.
Fans of Jean Rollin will feel comfortable with his premier films, which features young lesbians in an old castle, either naked, or wearing long, flowing pastel robes, all with a very languid pace. The story is straight forward. Two girls are on a road trip, and, after stopping in a really creep pub, where they are warned to turn back, they run out of gas, and spend the night in a cold stable. Naturally, they have sex to keep warm, although we don't really see that. One of them wakes up, and her friend is gone. An evil dwarf guides her to a magic boat, which leads her to a castle owned by Morgana Le Fay. After her training with Merlin, she landed her current gig as mistress of a tribe of lesbians. She gives the women brought to her two choices. Either eternal youth and hot lesbian sex, or wasting away in a dungeon with all of the other stupid candidates. It is an easy decision for one of the pair, but not as easy for the other.
Meanwhile, the evil dwarf has been waiting for centuries to become master, and have Morgana switch from beautiful young women to his wrinkled dwarf body. Like that is really going to happen.
Mireille Saunin, as one of the two girls, shows breasts and buns. Régine Motte, as one of Morgana's favorites, shows breasts. Several unknowns show breasts, and one shows bush.
IMDb readers have this at 5.3, with only 37 votes. That pretty much sums it up, as a forgotten film that many think should have been forgotten. On the other hand, the imagery is lovely, and the acting was not bad. The castle location is wonderful. Those who enjoy the imagery of Jean Rollin might want to see this one, as the story is a little more coherent and the eye candy about the same. This is a C-.
First we have six clips of Jodie Foster from the European fullscreen version of Backtrack (1990, aka. Catchfire). Most of you are probably aware that all commercial DVD's of this film are widescreen and missing Jodie's full frontal shower appearance. The version that aired just a couple of days ago on German TV remedies that problem and although they didn't air the sharpest copy in the world, it is still a nice improvement on VHS based clips.
Both Scoop and Tuna have reviewed this movie in the Movie House and they weren't impressed to say the least. While I can agree with most of the shortcomings they mention, I still found the film a pleasant watch. For once I didn't mind the logic gaps too much and quite liked Jodie in the role of a sensuous sexpot, it makes quite a difference from the cerebral, intelligent but somewhat distant women roles she usually plays.
What can you expect in the clips?
Clip #1. Jodie in a sheer nightie caressing her pussy (I didn't lie did I?)
Clips 2 and
3. Frontally nude in the shower, dorsally putting on some clothes
Clips 4, 5,and
6. Panties and garter-belt while putting on stockings
To compensate for the lack of nudity in the last three clips I'm adding two clips from a German TV-movie. In 2002's Ein starkes Team-Kinderträume Saskia Schwarz puts in a triple B performance . Saskia is not that well known but she seems so happy to bare it all that I think the download is still worth the while.
From "Mutant X" to X rated....
Once again, here is Canadian babe Lauren Lee Smith baring breasts and bush in several explicit scenes from "Lie with Me". Look for it on DVD just in time for Valentine's Day!
Polly Shannon also stars in the movie, but doesn't show anything.
Lauren Lee Smith