s1e1, 720p

Kim Medcalf


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"I'm Dying Up Here"

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Ginger Gonzaga


Charmed is a TV show based on the adventures of three sisters, The Charmed Ones. There were four main women from a sex appeal point of view, Shannen Doherty, Holly Marie Combs, Alyssa Milano and Rose McGowan. Kaley Cuoco spiced things up in the eighth and final season. There was no nudity but plenty that was very easy on the eye. This penultimate set of caps are from the eighth season and were made in 2005 and 2006.

Episode 8 Battle of the Hexes (2005)

Alyssa Milano

Holly Marie Combs

Kaley Cuoco

Liz Phair

Rose McGowan

Episode 9 Hulkus Pocus (2005)

Kaley Cuoco

Rose McGowan

Spice Williams-Crosby

Brooke Johnston in Accident Man (2018) in 1080hd

Jasmine Hyde in The Unseen (2017) in 1080hd

Judith Rodriguez Perez in Woodpeckers (2017) in 720p

Annes Elwy in The Passing (2015) in 1080hd

Ludivine Sagnier in The Devil's Double (2011) in 1080hd

Saddam Hussein and his sociopathic son Uday both employed body doubles. Like many people in Iraq under Saddam, the doubles were coerced into servitude in various ways, particularly by threats to their families. Uday's double, Latif Yahia, eventually managed to escape the clutches of his twin/captor, but did so at a great cost. True to his psychotic word, Uday Hussein killed Latif's father as revenge for the escape and "betrayal." Latif wrote a book about his experiences, and this film is an adaptation of that eponymous book.

The film is accurate in the sense that the events pictured on screen really happened, but they did not all happen in Latif's presence. The story got embellished like a secret whispered around a circle. When Latif wrote his book, he made it seem as if he had been an eyewitness to many events that he probably heard about second-hand. Because he was Uday's double, it's not likely that they were often in the same place together in public, yet this story makes it seem as if they were rarely separated. The screenwriter then offered some embellishments of his own. Latif, for example, has told interviewers that he was often with Uday in public because Uday was rebelling against his father's insistence that he use a body double. That explanation was no more compelling to the screenwriter than it probably is to you, so the film script overlays a story about how Uday made the search for a body double his personal project, and ended up falling in love with the double as an extension of himself. You may then be wondering how the film explains why, if Uday really believed in the value of the program, the twins are so often seen together in public, looking identical, and thus blowing the cover. The script doesn't really deal with that issue, which is confusing. We are left to conclude that Uday was insane, drug-addled, and reckless, and just didn't care if everyone knew he had an identical twin. That may not be accurate, but it's not unreasonable.

The film also shows Latif being an active participant in, and in fact the instigator of, the assassination attempt that left Uday partially crippled. Although the gun battle happens in a crowded urban area filled with Uday's bodyguards, Latif simply walks away in slow motion, like a character walking away from an explosion in a bad action movie cliche. He is spotted by one of the bodyguards, but that particular guy spares Latif's life in repayment of a similar kindness in the past. The assassination scene is pictured much as it really happened, but I couldn't find anything in the historical record to place Latif in that scene. I haven't read his book, so I don't know if the dramatic and highly cinematic embellishments were created by Latif for the book, or by the screenwriter for the film.

Not that it matters. The story pictured in the film is substantially true; it's fascinating; and it's told well. The most comparable recent film is The Last King of Scotland. If you liked that one, you'll like this one for most of the same reasons. It held my attention from start to finish and got me to the edge of my seat more than once. Uday's abusive life is pictured in all of its violent madness, thus graphically illustrating Lord Acton's famous axiom about absolute power. Uday picks up schoolgirls, rapes them, beats them, then throws them away, often after they have died. He tortures and beats Iraqi athletes who fail to win international competitions. Waving his golden pistol and backed by his entourage of thugs, Uday makes all the glamorous guests at his birthday party get naked. They comply because it's better to be naked and alive than to be a spiffy corpse. In scene after scene, Uday goes through a seemingly endless string of sex partners and a bottomless reservoir of cocaine. He's the Iraqi Scarface.
The casting was unusual. Englishman Dominic Cooper played both Uday and Latif. French actress Ludivine Sagnier, normally a blue-eyed blond, played an Iraqi courtesan with an integral role in the story, as the lover of both of the twins. She did change her hair color for the role, but did not wear contacts. There were those who criticized this casting, based on the general modern belief that ethic roles should be played by actors of similar ethnicity. I agree with that in general, and I think we've come a long way since Al Jolsen wore blackface, but I didn't see any problem with the casting here. Except for Sagnier's hair color, both actors performed with their natural coloration and features, yet Cooper looked very much like the real Uday Hussein.
In fact, I'd say that Cooper's performances were two of the best of that year.

Jennifer Tilly in The Wrong Guy (1997) in 720p

This is a laid-back comedy which is conceptually very similar to the early Woody Allen movies, except with Dave Foley playing the Woody role as the hapless, wimpy schmuck with an inflated view of his own skills. As the film begins, Dave enters his office one morning, filled with confidence that he will be named his company's next president. When he hears that the position is going to a rival named Ken, he protests because he has gone so far as to become engaged to the chairman's daughter. Turns out that Ken has one-upped him and is engaged to the chairman's favorite daughter. Dave keeps whining and the chairman is finally forced to tell him that he's a complete schmuck and a weakling who could never run a big company, whereupon Dave goes ballistic and threatens to kill his future father-in-law.

Funny thing about that. A short time later, when Dave marches into the chairman's office to offer yet another piece of his mind, he finds the big kahuna lying there with a knife in his neck. Dave tries to pull it out, then realizes that the man is already dead, while he's standing there with a bloody knife in his hand and his clothes soaked in blood. Then it dawns on him that this all happened about an hour after he threatened to kill the guy in front of witnesses. So he runs - out of the office and into a life as a fugitive, assuming he'll been hunted as a desperate, violent criminal.

Only one problem. The police have access to the company's 24-hour surveillance tapes and know that Dave has nothing to do with the murder. In fact, the police detective keeps calling Dave "the woman who found the body," because the same security tapes show Dave's reaction when he sees the knife, and he's wailing and shrieking like a 13-year-old girl at a Beatles concert. That's what the movie is about: Dave's perception of himself as a ruthless, big-time wanted criminal on the run, as contrasted to the world's perception of him as a unimportant witness and a complete pussy. In order to make things a bit more interesting, Dave's flight keeps crossing paths with the real killer, with the law hot on his trail,  and the screenwriters construct the scenes in such a way that Dave thinks the police are actually after him.

Pretty funny idea.

I originally popped this in the DVD player with minimal expectations. After all, I had never heard of this movie, and it's a twenty-year-old Canadian film which took five years to get to video. For some reason, Disney shelved it completely after having liked it enough to purchase the distribution rights in the States, so The Wrong Guy never received any theatrical release in the USA. Given all those facts, I really only watched it for the Jennifer Tilly nightie scene.

But The Wrong Guy turned out to be a pleasant surprise.

Emmanuelle Seigner in Bitter Moon (1994) in 1080hd

Nobody can accuse Roman Polanski of being in a career rut.

If you looked only at his serious early successes, like Knife in the Water, and his fairly recent award winner, The Pianist, you would conclude that he is some kind of morose, ultra-somber Northern European intellectual, like Strindberg.

In fact, you would be quite wrong.

In the 40 years between those two movies, he has flitted about like a butterfly from mood to mood, and genre to genre. He has made many horror movies, but they range from serious stylish ones like The Ninth Gate, to campy ones like Rosemary's Baby, to out-and-out farces like The Fearless Vampire Killers. He has also made a crappy pirate movie starring Walter Matthau, a beautiful and sensitive Thomas Hardy period piece, a daring version of MacBeth with a nude Francesca Annis sleepwalking scene, and one of the greatest Film Noirs ever (Chinatown).

This particular Polanski film, Bitter Moon, is a sexy trash movie, basically the kind of lurid lowbrow erotica you'd expect from Zalman King. In fact, you could probably watch this as a trilogy with Wild Orchid and Two Moon Junction, and never know you'd switched directors.

Here are Hugh Grant's comments on working with Polanski on Bitter Moon:
Well, you know he's a nutter. A genius but bonkers. Coming from a cozy English tradition, and going to Paris. He doesn't work in the morning at all. (Impersonates Polanski) "I hate the morning." So you come in at lunch time and go into make up. Instead of someone saying, "Do you want a cup of tea and a donut?", they say, " Would you like a line of cocaine?" And then his wife will be there in make-up, usually topless, (another imitation) "So you like these?" Yeah, they're great. Very bohemian. "Bitter Moon" had trouble finding a distributor until after "Four Weddings" but I like it. And there are other psychotics who like it
The film's premise:
An English couple (Hugh Grant and Kristin Scott Thomas) is taking a cruise to exotic ports, seeking to add zest to their bored lives. Grant makes a pass at a sexy Frenchwoman (Emmanuelle Seigner) one night, is rebuffed, and is then warned away from the woman by her crippled husband. The husband says he is not protecting his wife, but is being solicitous of Grant. He claims his wife is a monster. The husband (Peter Coyote) claims that the Frenchwoman is responsible for his withered condition, and he then proceeds to explain how all that happened in a series of flashbacks. Grant listens to the stories because - well, what else is there to do to pass the time in the evenings on a long ocean voyage?
The flashbacks detail a sexually obsessive relationship between two people who created a world of their own, then didn't know how to function when they became sexually bored with one another, experienced a painful break-up and an even more painful reunion.

Hugh Grant, being Hugh Grant, pays no attention to the husband's advice, and pursues the sexy woman, resulting in wild, lurid, over-the-top consequences for everyone, involving perverted sex, humiliation, sadistic manipulation by Coyote and Seigner, murder, suicide, serial vomiting, and other expected shipboard activities.


The story is "sex gratia sexis", so forget about the plot. That isn't the central allure of the film. Your reaction to the movie will depend on whether you'd like to see Mathilde Seigner in various stages of undress performing various sexual practices. There are some very sexy ones. Seigner plays a dancer, and one night she performs a dance while wearing only a transparent nightie. This scene includes a graphic gynecological shot of Seigner, who is director Polanski's wife. In another scene, Seigner intentionally dribbles milk from her mouth onto her body, then gets Coyote to lick it all off. Seigner and Scott-Thomas even have an onboard lesbian tryst in which Scott-Thomas flashes her own body. It's pretty steamy stuff, if you're in the mood for an erotic entertainment.

I thought it was tawdry, and the three main characters were all detestable, but it is very sexy, in a very sleazy way, and I think that's all it was supposed to be.

Robin Wright in State Of Grace (1990) in 1080hd

I was really surprised to see that there was a movie as good as this that I had never heard of before watching a DVD. You see, it's a 1990 film and I lived in Europe from 1990 to 1993. While some American movies make it over there, possibly even concurrently with their run in the States, not every movie makes the migration. There was no reason for European distributors to take a chance on this New York Irish gangster film. It didn't even interest anyone in the United States. (It took in a whopping two million at the box office).

So I had never heard of the film, and it was a pleasant surprise.

It's about a cop who goes back to his old neighborhood under cover, with the intent of busting the racketeers there, who basically consist of all of his oldest and closest friends. The cast includes Sean Penn, John Turturro, Ed Harris, Gary Oldman, and Robin Wright, with lots of great character actors in supporting roles as well.

I don't mean to oversell it. It's good, but the film doesn't cover any new ground. In fact, it uses the official American Gangster Movie Plot which seemed to form the basis for every crime film made in America in the 1930s. Tough Irish kids grow up together in Hell's Kitchen. One kid grows up to be a notorious gangster (Jimmy Cagney or John Garfield), his best friend grows up to be a priest or an honest cop (Spencer Tracy or Pat O'Brien). Eventually their paths must cross, and the priest or cop must decide whether to enforce the law or remain loyal to his friend. Almost invariably, one of the friends is in love with the other's sister (Anne Sheridan), who gets caught between them. Or maybe the gangster is now involved with the girl who used to date the priest in his pre-padre days. Various members of their old neighborhood gang will also get caught in the struggle, like the lovable but dumb guy (Huntz Hall) who doesn't understand what's going on.

For a comparison, see the plot summary of 1938's Angels With Dirty Faces. That's the same ground State of Grace treads upon. Gary Oldman and Ed Harris filled in for Cagney and Bogart as the street criminal and the slick criminal. Sean Penn filled in for Pat O'Brien in the "cop or priest" role. Robin Wright took the Anne Sheridan role, and John C. Reilly took over brilliantly for Huntz Hall as the doofy-lookin' guy. If they ever do a Huntz Hall biopic, Reilly is my choice for the role.

1934's Manhattan Melodrama played the same tune with Clark Gable as the gangster and William Powell as his childhood pal, the crusading D.A.

1937's Dead End told the same story with Joel McCrea as the model citizen and Humphrey Bogart as his childhood pal, the tough Baby Face Martin.
State of Grace doesn't add much very new except color photography, the modernization of the crimes (drugs) and threats (Haitians trying to muscle in), and more explicit modern levels of sex and violence than you would have seen in the days of the Hays Code. But a movie doesn't have to possess earth-shattering novelty to be good. This film has the usual story, but it's done very well, and acted exceptionally well, so it was a pleasant surprise.

Valerie Perrine in Lenny (1974) in 1080hd

George Carlin on Lenny Bruce:

I don’t need many words to say this: Lenny Bruce was a revolutionary comedy figure because he brought honesty into a form which previously had been little more than an empty crowd-pleasing truth, and he took it down the path that led to acceptance of the complete English language in his performance. The greatest gift I derived from knowing him and his work was the importance of honesty, in the words and on the stage. Lenny made being full of shit old fashioned.

Ralph J. Gleason on Lenny Bruce

And Lenny Bruce was really, along with Bob Dylan and Miles Davis and a handful of others (maybe Joseph Heller, Terry Southern and Allen Ginsberg in another way) the leader of the first wave of American social and cultural revolution which is gradually changing the structure of our society and may effectively revise it.

Lenny Bruce on Lenny Bruce:

I'm sorry if I'm not very funny tonight, but I'm not a comedian, I'm Lenny Bruce.

Paul Krassner (Lenny's friend and editor) on Lenny Bruce:

He was still funny, but he didn't get a laugh every 15 to 25 seconds. He was funny sardonic....


Can you read what those comments are really saying?

Between my sophomore and junior years of high school, Newsweek magazine published an article about the obscenity arrests of hipster comedian Lenny Bruce, and this more or less certified his status as an Underground Cultural Demi-God. Dissent was not popular in those days, children were supposed to be seen and not heard, and even comedians - guys who were supposed to make fun of people - told innocuous mother-in-law jokes or kidded about their golf scores or their tightwad friends.

And then Lenny came along, and changed all that. He had been an inept schtick comedian, but he became the darling of the underculture when he started to take on society's sacred cows. He was completely fearless on stage. He'd come out in favor of minority rights, he'd talk honestly about how men really think about women, he'd discuss the dangers of Kennedy's reckless brinksmanship in a nuclear world, and he'd say absolutely anything to shock. He'd joke about how Jews killed Christ, or how LBJ probably killed Kennedy. He touched whatever raw nerve he could touch.

Ironically, in terms of today's standards, he was 100% politically correct. He was a social liberal who used naughty words and sex jokes to draw attention to his political agenda. As Lenny himself put it, he gave us an education in "how to talk dirty and influence people". He was pushing the liberal, anti-establishment social agenda. If Lenny and Hillary Clinton could have met and compared notes, they would have been in 100% agreement on the issues, although Lenny would have stated his opinions a bit more colorfully. And of course, Lenny wouldn't have thrown any ashtrays. Ashtrays were sacred to him, and breaking one would have been a sacrilege.

Being interested in anything spicier than the mainstream of postwar American culture, I determined to find out everything I could about Lenny after I read that article.  I did learn something about him, and about America, but most of what I learned had to do with the nature of humor.

You see, Lenny wasn't funny. His material wasn't inherently funny, and his delivery was worse. He talked so fast you couldn't understand what he was saying half of the time. When I read his words written out, I realized that he was intelligent, he was incisive, he was daring, he was hip, and I agreed with every word he said. And hindsight has certainly shown that he never should have been prosecuted. Hell, every comic seems to do a variation of his act today. Lenny was arrested for saying "cocksucker", but even Meryl Streep and Jessica Lange said "cocksucker" in famous Oscar-winning performances some years later. Yes, Lenny died for our sins. But the motherfucker wasn't funny.

He struggled along as a bad mainstream comedian for years, until he realized that he could provoke audiences with shock elements, as I just did above. Language was part of it, but only part. He talked about all the stuff your parents wouldn't ever tell you. Only from Lenny could you hear what it's like when you go down on someone and they fart in your face. But he wasn't any funnier after he became successful. He was the same old bad comedian, but he was more daring, and he said the things the counter-cultural people wanted to hear. There were plenty of people in America who called Lyndon Johnson a cocksucker in their mental monologues, but Lenny said it out loud.

Back then, when I was 15, I first began to realize that "humor" is often mistaken for "things people want to hear". Let's face it, when the Nazis got together, ol' Goering would say something like "we're really teaching those fucking Jews a lesson, I wanna tell you", and the table would roar with laughter. Bob Hope would make a reference to long-hairs looking like girls, and the GI audiences would roar with laughter.

Hey, wipe that smug look from your face, young man, because we all do the same thing, to some degree. Including me. Any mention of David Hasselhoff or the Harmonicats tends to get a laugh out of me, even if it isn't clever or witty. I have just internalized that ridiculing David Hasselhoff merits the laughter of agreement. When those 60's hipsters laughed at Lenny, they were laughing the laughter of agreement, and the laughter of appreciation, and more than a little nervous laughter of discomfort. Lenny wasn't really a comedian. He was a jazz poet and a social reformer who used shock to entertain and educate.

He did have one line that always cracked me up. "Ok, I admit it, we Jews did kill Christ. And you're lucky he didn't come along in the 20th century, or all those parochial school kids would be wearing a little electric chair around their necks"   

One other thing you may not know about Lenny if you buy into the conventional wisdom: we wasn't destroyed by his prosecutions. In fact, that's what made him a star! He was destroyed by his incoherent and unfunny post-trial performances. A great comedian - a George Carlin or an Eddie Murphy, a Jerry Seinfeld or a Steve Martin - could have turned those trials into comedy gold and become a national institution. Bruce only turned them into tiresome, obsessive kvetching. Was he a martyr for free speech? To a great degree. A trail blazer? Certainly. A genius? Maybe. A great comedian. Not hardly.

The film was made in 1974, and was told in such a way as to approach documentary style, framed by contemporary interviews with his wife and agent. If you did not recognize the actors, you could easily have assumed that it was made with real B&W documentary footage. I think it is done beautifully. Because Lenny was essentially a jazz poet and not a comedian, Bob Fosse was the perfect choice to direct. Since Lenny was not very funny, Dustin Hoffman was a perfect casting choice, although many people have criticized the casting of the humorless Hoffman in the movie, versus the hilarious Eddie Izzard in the London version of the play.

Well, of course Dustin Hoffman wasn't funny. He is a perfectionist, and he was playing Lenny Bruce. He was doing his job. Brilliantly, I might add.