Paradise Lost (1999):
A brilliant adaptation of Milton's epic poem.
Counselor Troi IS Satan.
I'm kidding. Milton had nothing to do with this.
It is really a no-budget eco-parable. And when I say
there was no budget, I'm not kidding. They show a crop-spraying plane flying
far overhead, then they show two people from the waist up, dusting
themselves off, apparently shaking off the crop spray. We know this
because they tell us, with witty dialogue like "what about that
spray, eh? Here, let's shake it off." The production values are exactly the same as those
mid-1970s Saturday kid's dramas like Mighty Isis, Electra Woman, and
William Forsythe plays a mega-developer who wants to
place the world's greatest resort in the middle of the jungle. His
plan is to spray a super-duper new defoliant which will instantly
clear the jungle. Marina Sirtis plays a
biologist/archeologist/chemist/physicist/physician, Mrs. Wizard, who
is working in the jungle studying ... um ... important jungle
stuff that involves microscopes and Bunsen burners and numbers
scrolling on computer screens. She has an inquisitive little kid who
hangs around and asks her questions ("Gee, Mrs. Wizard ..."), and
that is the clumsy way in which the script
handles off-camera exposition and pseudo-scientific explanations.
Marina teaches Forsythe that science must be evil, and that progress
is bad, and that we would all be happy if we could just hold hands
and sing that "teach the world" Coke song and live in harmony with
nature as the Toltecs did ... well, at least until nature kicked
their asses and made them disappear forever.
And while she's at it, Marina also teaches Forsythe to love.
And what happened then? Well, in Whoville they say
... that Forsythe's small heart grew three sizes that
The love part gave the movie its only redeeming
feature - Counselor Troi's bare chest. She had exposed the girls in
several movies way back before she got the Star Trek job, but this
is the only time she exposed her breasts on film after
playing Counselor Troi, and the only time she did a nude scene as a
mature woman. She went 14 years in between topless scenes, making
Death Wish 3 when she was 25 and this movie when she was 39. In
addition to her grainy, dark topless scene (which is further marred
by the fact that she is in motion), she also has a lot of screen
time standing still in a white t-shirt, and those scenes were shot
outside in sunlight.
Did I mention that the film also has some silly
looking monsters that are about half human, and they are
always shown in shadow, holding their hands aloft to look more
impressive. Actually, that's not completely true. There are also some
close-ups of their eyes. Well, anyway, it turns out that they are not
monsters at all and that their DNA is quite a bit closer to human
than William Forsythe's. You see the moral, kids? If the evil Forsythe had gone ahead
with his project, he would have destroyed an entire unknown species
- people who are just like us, except hairy and scary like your
Uncle Mike after he has too many drinks at your family's Fourth of
July beach party.
Not to mention, as Counselor Troi reminds us, Forsythe might also
have destroyed that elusive plant she has been looking for - the one
which might cure cancer, AIDS, and Republicanism.
If you take away Marina's topless scene,
the film is really just a preachy, G-rated episode of Mighty Isis
without the superpowers. Think about it. Looks like it was shot on
video tape; female archeologist; kid around to ask her questions;
science and respect being taught though the plot; special effects which consist
of shaking the camera a little (at best); important moral lesson
learned at the end.
Not that there's anything wrong with that.
Now that I think about it, if Joanna Cameron had taken off
her top once in a while, Mighty Isis would have been pretty cool.
This movie, however, is not.
This flick is not available in North America on tape
or DVD. The Scandinavian DVD is out of print, but purchase info can be found
here. The U.S. distributor's home page can be found
here. If you are thinking of buying DVDs from outside your
Marina Sirtis (1,
3). Did you know that her last name is
supposed to be pronounced "sir-tay"? I had no idea, but that's what
her IMDb bio says. I'm pretty sure this is some kind of bullshit,
because on the Blind Date DVD commentary, Nico Mastorakis refers to
her as "Greek Cypriot Marina 'sear-teece'" Nastorakis and
Marina are both Greek, and both their names end in "-is", so you'd
think he'd be able to pronounce it right. Something doesn't add up
Soldier Blue (1970):
Soldier Blue is a forgotten film about the Western
battles between whites and Indians in the West in the 1860s. The
movie had high-minded good intentions and might be remembered now,
except that it came out at the same time and covered almost the
identical ground as
Little Big Man,
and was markedly inferior to that film. Both films came out in 1970,
in the height of the anti-establishmentarian cultural revolution which paralleled the
Vietnam War. With the My Lai massacre fresh in everyone's mind, both
films invoked certain unflattering parallels (racism, the killing of
women and children) between America's conduct of the war in Vietnam
and war to win the West. Both films tried to show a more dimensional picture of the
Wild West by allowing the Indian side of the story to be
told, and by portraying the Indians as sophisticated, complex human
beings rather than as the whooping savages normally portrayed in
traditional Hollywood Westerns. Both films showed ordinary white
people who had lived among the Indians, and who participated in
memorable historical events with the perspective of having seen both
The two films are connected in another, more unusual
way. Both of them focus on a massacre of a village where the famous
Black Kettle resided - yet they were two different massacres.
Yup, amazingly, Black Kettle was on the receiving end of two famous
massacres, Chivington's attack at Sand Creek and Custer's attack on
the Waushita. Somehow, Black Kettle managed to survive the Massacre
at Sand Creek. He was one of the few. Chivington himself hated Indians and
his volunteers were basically lowlifes, not professional
soldiers. This massacre happened during the Civil War when the real
soldiers were fighting Johnny Reb. Colonel Chivington's brigade
slaughtered men, women, and children indiscriminately, and the
colonel was reprimanded severely by the Army.
It's amazing enough that the same chief was involved
in both massacres, but what makes it truly astounding is that he was
a peaceful chief. Black Kettle was a sensible and compromising man
who, in both cases, was flying the Stars and Stripes as well as a
white flag of peace. Despite what he had seen in his own experiences
including the Sand Creek event, Black Kettle continued to believe
pragmatically that the Cheyenne should make a partnership with the
white men who seemed to possess overwhelming force and technology.
Sadly, that belief did not help him to create such a partnership.
After the Civil War he was attacked a second time, this time by the
regular Army, the 7th Cavalry, under the command of the famous
Bottom line, I guess you might say that Soldier Blue,
although it was released some months earlier, is the grade-B version
of Little Big Man. Little Big Man was among the top ten grossers of
1970 and a critical smash. Soldier Blue came and went virtually
unnoticed and unappreciated. Soldier Blue obviously features a much
smaller star, Candice Bergen, as opposed to Dustin Hoffman in Little
Big Man. The greatest difference between the two is the
sophistication of the point of view. The star of Little Big Man
lived as an Indian and as a white man, and saw the good and bad and
the humor in both sides. The star of Soldier Blue lived as an Indian
and as a white woman, and really only sympathized with the Indian
point of view, so the script ends up being preachy rather than
observant. While Little Big Man is art, Soldier Blue is merely
counter-propaganda. It merely substitutes the traditional
one-dimensional view of the struggle with the opposing
There was a lot of that going on in 1967-73.
The film pretty much ignored historical accuracy in
Soldier Blue exaggerates the facts of the Sand Creek
Massacre, despite the fact that there was no need to do so. The
simple truth was horrifying enough to begin with.
Early in the film, Candice mentions Custer's regiment
being wiped out at the Battle of the Little Big Horn, even though
that event would not happen until 12 years later.
Candice Bergen talks in 1970-speak, delivering lines
like "get your ass up here."
The Indian extras all look like the same Italian
extras from The Untouchables
When the film is not portraying massacres, it is a
typical example of one of those "incompetent man and competent
woman" adventures, like The African Queen. Only two white people
escape an Indian massacre in the first scene: an army private and a
woman. It turns out that the woman was once married to a Cheyenne
chief, can survive in the wilderness, and speaks several Indian
languages. The guy is pretty much of a complete douchebag, the
kind of jungfrau who makes Gilligan seem to have the survival skills
of Conan the Barbarian. Needless to say, the mismatched
couple eventually falls in love, and he comes around from his
foolish naiveté to a complete understanding of the fact that the
United States totally sucks. Subtle stuff!
Soldier Blue was revolutionary in one respect. It
portrayed violence graphically. The white soldiers are shown
chopping off the heads of Indian women on camera, ripping off all
their clothing and raping them, and mutilating their bodies by cutting off their breasts with knives.
After the battle, the soldiers were dancing around, waving Indian
body parts impaled on sticks. I can assure you
this was considered profoundly shocking material in 1970, not just because it
represented a new level of violence in mainstream cinema (this was a
Candice Bergen movie, fer chrissakes!), but also because it
whites mutilating Indians, rather than vice-versa.
For 90% of the film, it's pretty lame, lightweight, lowbrow
stuff in general. The bickering love relationship is almost on an
Ozzie and Harriet level, right down to the sitcom style music, and
the major villain is dotty (Donald Pleasance) rather than menacing.
That sort of fluff is followed by a horrific and graphic massacre.
Imagine if F Troop had done its usual schtick for 20 minutes, then
had turned into a serious drama in which O'Rourke and Agarn had
massacred the Hakawis brutally on camera, including graphic rape and
I feel guilty being so harsh and making jokes about a
film which takes on such serious themes as genocide. After all, this
subject matter is basically the Native American equivalent of the
Holocaust, and it is difficult to attack the film because by doing
so one seems to lack sympathy for the victims. Oh, well, I've said
it before and I'll probably say it again many times in the future when
Oscars go to crappy films about weighty topics - an important topic
does not make an important film.
I did learn something important from this film,
From the fight scenes in this film, I managed to
learn why white men won the West - the Indians went into
hand-to-hand combat wearing headgear so large they could not turn
their necks. As a result, they could not win a fight unless they
were attacked directly from the front. Look at it this way:
In the event of a 180 degree direct attack, the
Indian held the advantage. In all other cases, the white man held
all the cards.
To make matters worse, the highest ranking Indians
wore the most cumbersome headdresses, and were thus most vulnerable
to being killed. The only way they could survive to old age was to
keep from getting promoted to large hat status, thus allowing them
to fight naturally. Unfortunately, since the same logic dictated
that their chiefs were likely to be killed, there were all too many
opportunities for promotion. "Listen, Soaring Eagle, we have good
news and bad. The good news is that you are now chief, since Mighty
Bear was killed when unable to move his head in a knife fight. The
bad news is that you now have to wear the headdress that got him
killed in the first place. Good luck, son."
When you look at it that way, it's a wonder the
so-called Native Americans survived as long as they did.
Candice Bergen (1,
various women (warning: there is some graphic violence) (1,
New York Times to Buy About.com for $410 Million
UK kicks ass in piracy! The U.K. accounts for an
astounding 38% of the world's TV piracy - five times as much as
the United States. In a possibly related story, the U.K. also
accounts for nearly 40% of the world's sales of parrots and
eyepatches. Hey, the British practically invented piracy, didn't
they? What nationality do you think Long John Silver was?
An interview with Sandra Bullock. Three interesting
- "I was making some crappy choices, things that maybe I
shouldn't have done"
- She states that she has now turned things around.
- Her next film is Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous
I think that Star Wars kid is at it again, this time
with Boogie Fever.
How to make a USB turd.
- The Daily Show:
While Iraq may no longer be "axis-worthy," Syria is staking its
claim as new evil kid on the block.
The Daily Show's Rob Corddry looks at the latest fad diet -
exercise and sensible eating.
Eleven clips and the trailer from Be Cool, the sequel to Get
Berchtesgaden, Hitler's notorious hideaway headquarters in the
Bavarian Alps, is now being promoted as the ideal vacation getaway
for yodeling and thigh-slapping dancing. The new resort
opens next month. Do you think this will create a "furor"?
- The Parents Television Council conveniently presents the
Worst TV Clips of the Week, an archive of what offends
them the most.
- URL says it all. It must. I just don't know what "all" is.
Pictures of Tiger Woods practicing off the heli-deck of the Burj
Al Arab hotel in Dubai, UAE.
- "For best effect, view pictures in the order shown. The last
picture really puts it in perspective. Extraordinary!!!"
Russell Crowe wants Aussie director to salvage Eucalyptus.
The Australian newspaper also said the film, which was postponed
last week following the acrimonious departure of director-writer
Jocelyn Moorhouse, would probably no longer star Nicole Kidman
George Clooney makes fun of Russell Crowe.
- The outspoken Aussie has criticized celebrities like
Clooney, DeNiro and Harrison Ford who "mis-use" their celebrity
to promote products. Clooney promised that he and the other guys
would drop that mis-use and start mis-using their celebrity to
promote their crappy new rock band, following Crowe's
- Crowe must be really pissed that Paris Hilton is outscoring
him at "Am I Annoying?", but he's doing everything possible to
regain the top spot.
Five actresses face down the big four-oh
"Aniston sadly but firmly gave her husband a quiet ultimatum: Take
me back now, or let me go for good... and file for divorce!"
- Now, see, this is where women go wrong. Obviously, what any
guy would do in response to that ultimatum is tell her he's
taking her back, then go right on philandering behind her back.
That way he gets to start having sex with her again, and doesn't
have to give up the other sex with Jolie or Clooney, or whomever
Pitt likes to love long time.
- Wow - the Smoking Gun has outdone itself with this one.
Inside The Jacko Grand Jury - The Smoking Gun obtains and
publishes all 1903 pages of the Grand Jury record
- Weekly World News:
FAT GAL SMUGGLES ILLEGAL ALIENS INTO U.S. - UNDER HER MUUMUU!
Rather to Host His Own Farewell Tribute on CBS,
although he will hire other people to check his sources. This
seems unusual, since he is the only source, but I guess one can't
be too careful.
Prosecutors in Pennsylvania said yesterday they would not file
charges against entertainer Bill Cosby in connection
with a 31-year-old woman's allegation that he drugged and molested
her. The District Attorney pointed out that the decision was
unrelated to his childrens' unexplained acquisition of a lifetime
supply of pudding pops.
- Will Julia Roberts have to step down for the new queen of
Sarah Jessica Parker will star in Love Walked In, to be made from
poet Marisa de los Santos' first novel.
Letterman's "Top Ten Secrets To Winning The Westminster Kennel
Club Dog Show"
Letterman's Top Ten Most Common Questions About "The Gates"
The new crop from American Idol includes the son of baseball great
Other Crap archives. May also include newer material than the
since it's sorta in real time.
to submit a URL for Other Crap
are the latest movie reviews available at scoopy.com.
- The yellow asterisks indicate that I wrote the
review, and am deluded into thinking it includes humor.
- If there is a white asterisk, it means that
there isn't any significant humor, but I inexplicably determined
there might be something else of interest.
- A blue asterisk indicates the review is written
by Tuna (or Junior or Brainscan, or somebody else besides me)
- If there is no asterisk, I wrote it, but am too
ashamed to admit it.