Goodbye Lover

This project was inspired by the same letter which inspired Exit to Eden:

"I would like your opinion of Goodbye Lover (1998). To my way of thinking, this is similar to Exit to Eden and just as frustrating to watch. If I didn't know better, I would swear both of these movies had directorial changes during the filming. Goodbye Lover features Patricia Arquette, looking outstanding, and Mary Louise Parker, looking equally appetizing, in an erotic thriller that was living up to its category. Then, once again, in the middle of the movie, two moron cops enter the picture and from then on it's a dumb and dumber comedy. I'm not sure that erotic thriller and comedy ever go together, but they sure don't in this movie. This movie was working very nicely as an erotic thriller, and it may be Patricia Arquette's juiciest role to date, but what happened to it later is criminal.  If you haven't seen it, the first half is well worth the time/rental."

I'm not sure I agree with you on this one. I don't think the film had just turned to comedy when the cops showed up. It started out silly, with the offbeat sex scene between Arquette and Don Johnson at the church organ, followed by Dermot Mulroney's crazy string of obscene comments about a high-profile client of his posh firm, enhanced by Patricia Arquette's nutty wardrobe and her obsession with The Sound of Music. It seems to me that this was an idea that just didn't quite work right. It was supposed to function simultaneously as an erotic thriller and a parody of erotic thrillers, kind of Basic Instinct and Fatal Instinct rolled into one. That's not an unworkable concept. After all, Shane Black basically took the same kind of idea and made it into a brilliantly funny noir in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, which is a great story, a good comedy, and a sexy movie all rolled into one. But it takes a genius to pull it off. Shane Black is. The writers of Goodbye Lover are not.

I think you've already hit on two of the three main problems with the film in your letter.

(1) Too little erotica. With a little more sex and nudity, it might have made for a good little piece of erotica, but it cheated in that department. There is basically nothing but cleavage, albeit very impressive cleavage, from Arquette; and there's only a few quick peeks at Mary-Louise Parker.

(2) Too much "clown suit" comedy. I enjoyed the fact that the film took the basic thriller plot seriously even while spoofing it but I also think, as you pointed out in your letter, that it should have been a hair more serious about the police investigation. The film really could have benefited from a little less goofing around by the cops. Some suspension of disbelief is necessary in a comedy, but the Mormon cop was a bit over-the-top and stretched my credulity too much, so that whenever he was pontificating about Jesus or something, I suddenly felt that I had been jerked out of a reality-based universe and dropped into a Rob Schneider movie, particularly at the end when he broke the fourth wall and addressed the audience directly.

Both of those points are valid. I think, though, that you've missed the main reason why this film doesn't quite work. The four main characters are all, without exception, completely amoral and impossible to identify with. The fifth and sixth characters are a supercilious Mormon cop and Don Johnson. 'Nuff said. While Gay Perry and the Robert Downey character provided the audience with an moral and emotional anchor in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, there are no characters for us to like in Goodbye Lover. How cold is your movie when the most likable part is played by Don Johnson? The result of this situation is that the audience is left uninvolved in the tricky one-upmanship and has no emotional stake in the double-crosses. We are essentially left watching a WWE match between bad guys.

Having made those points, I think the film has a lot of good points as well. The Patricia Arquette character is offbeat and imaginatively developed; some of the plot twists are interesting and unexpected; and the photography is absolutely outstanding. The sex scenes are creatively filmed, and in some respects I like very much where the director and DP chose to place the camera in these scenes. While I'm praising the cinematography, I should also mention that I loved the vertiginous 3/4 overhead angles of the penthouse conference room. Of course, the photography ought to be good. The cinematographer was two-time Oscar nominee Dante Spinotti, who has lensed a few films you may have heard of:

  1. (8.40) - L.A. Confidential (1997)
  2. (8.00) - Heat (1995)
  3. (7.90) - The Insider (1999)
  4. (7.60) - The Last of the Mohicans (1992)
  5. (7.50) - Wonder Boys (2000)
  6. (7.30) - Red Dragon (2002)
  7. (7.10) - X-Men: The Last Stand (2006)
  8. (7.10) - Manhunter (1986)
  9. (6.30) - Crimes of the Heart (1986)
  10. (6.30) - Frankie and Johnny (1991)
  11. (6.30) - The Comfort of Strangers (1990)
  12. (6.20) - Nell (1994)

In fact, Spinotti is so good that it's kinda surprising that he agreed to do Goodbye Lover. He was nominated for Oscars for The Insider and L.A. Confidential, and could have been for Nell and Last of the Mohicans as well. (He WON the cinematography BAFTA for Mohicans, but Oscar passed him over completely.) I had forgotten that he did both versions of Manhunter (Red Dragon is a remake.) They are both filmed beautifully, but the photographic approach is as different as the two directors who helmed the projects.

On balance, I think Goodbye Lover has enough positives that it can fairly be described as a watchable movie, albeit a disappointing one that could have been so much better. While it failed as a theatrical release with a gross below $2 million, it was far too slick to be a straight-to-vid, and it does pass my two litmus tests for popcorn movies on DVD: (1) it never moved me to reach for the fast forward button; (2) it had the good sense to knock off Don Johnson early.

Unfortunately it took much too long to get rid of Dermot Mulroney. And it never got rid of Ellen Degeneres at all.


Mary-Louise Parker


* Yellow asterisk: funny (maybe).

* White asterisk: expanded format.

* Blue asterisk: not mine.

No asterisk: it probably sucks.


Catch the deluxe version of Other Crap in real time, with all the bells and whistles, here.







Ken Park

The film is the portrait of five High School aged friends and the adults they interact with in the small town of Visalia in central California. The four boys are all skateboarders, and all five have odd or inappropriate relationships with adults.

The film opens when one of the five skates to a peak in a skateboard park and blows his own brains out. We never fully know why, but he had a pregnant girlfriend. One of the young men is happily screwing a girl his age, and her sexy mother, played by Maeve Quinlan. In fact, there is an amazing conversation between him and Quinlan, where he compares her daughters vaginal odor and sexual preferences with her own. Another young man does not get along with his stepfather, who is an unemployed drunk with a pregnant wife who constantly rides him for doing faggot things like riding skateboards rather than drinking beer and lifting weights. The last young man lives with his Grandparents. They seem relatively normal, although gramps tries to cheat at Scrabble. He is seriously bent, practices strangulation masturbation, and ends up stabbing both of them to death. The young lady, Tiffany Limos, lives with her religious fanatic father, and looks much like her dead mother. Dad is not pleased when he returns home and finds her in a bra and panties on top of her boyfriend, whom she has tied to the bed. The film ends on a high note, when the three that are alive and not jailed have a loving and pleasurable menage et trois.

Based on the reviews, I expected a sex film. Fortunately, that is not what I got. In fact, there isn't a single frame of vaginal penetration, and it has less nudity than most soft core efforts. What is does have is several male penises (or is that "peni"). There are also a couple of instances of mouths and genitals touching. While many decry the explicit nudity and sex, I simply didn't see anything gratuitous. The contrast between the sex involving adults and the sex among the three kids is amazing. Clearly, while the kids do not have their lives completely in order yet, they at least relate in normal and healthy ways with each other. It is only where the twisted parents get involved that things are truly screwed up.

The fairly high IMDb rating (6.1) is a little surprising considering the themes and full frontal nudity, but not as surprising as the demographic breakdown, which is fascinating. This controversial film, it turns out, is a chick-flick, granny division. What's up with that? Men score it 6.0, women 7.0. When you get to voters over 45, you have 6.9 from men, and 8.5 from women. I would never have predicted this. So, is it worthless trash, or a brilliant film? Well, it looks very good, no doubt because Larry Clark hired a great DP this time around. It uses the universal theme of sex to show who these kids are, and, in some cases, why they might be that way. I believe the film accomplished its goals. Further, I think the sex and nudity were used to further the story, and don't believe it would have had the same messages with less explicitness. Shorten the sex scene between Maeve Quinlan and her daughter's boyfriend, and you wouldn't have the way she was teaching him on the fine points of giving head, a very useful lesson indeed for a young man. Shorten the strangulation masturbation, which actually only lasted for 110 seconds on screen, and you wouldn't have realized how twisted that character was. Even the real money shot showed how serious he was about this behavior. And the normal sex among the three teenagers was too short for my taste. I do find it hard to believe that a relatively small town would have this many kids in the same class with seriously screwed up adults in their lives, but it does present a believable portrait of how these adult/teen relationships affect the teens, and why some suddenly erupt. If you believe that strong erotic content can be employed in a serious film, you might find something of value here. I admire Larry Clark's nerve, and look forward to him discovering a more important script, and applying his talents.

Scoop's notes:

The question of whether Ken Park is a sex film is debatable. The debate hinges on your definition of terms. Is male masturbation a sex act? If your answer is yes, then Ken Park is an extremely explicit sex film. It shows that act in full, in real time, including the money shot. It is not possible to be any more explicit than that. On the other hand, if your definition of sex is restricted to intercourse, you will not see any portrayed explicitly, so it is definitely NOT a sex film. If your definition excludes masturbation and male erections but includes cunnilingus and fellatio, you would be stuck in a limbo between softcore and hardcore. It would be rated NC-17 based on the oral sex scenes, but he cunnilingus scene hides the genitalia, and is no more explicit than the one in the director's cut of Basic Instinct, while the fellatio scene shows only the initial contact between lips and genitals.

The chick-flick thing actually has an explanation. Men and women probably tend to like the film about the same, but many men tend to vote down films with abundant male nudity. The female nudity in Ken Park is quite disappointing, while the male nudity is quite explicit. Shortbus, an even better film with far more explicit male nudity, shows the same sort of male-female profile. If the profile could somehow sort gay and straight guys, I'm pretty sure the rating for "straight guys only" would be even lower for both films.

Larry Clark, like many directors, seems to be developing to the point where he will finally produce a truly worthwhile film. The problem is that those other directors are in their 20s and 30s, while Larry is 64, a Vietnam veteran, and still hasn't decided what he wants to be when he grows up. He's three years older than Steven Spielberg, who has directed nineteen films rated 7.0 or higher and produced 39 such films. Granted ol' Larry didn't start directing until he was 52, but the fact remains that he has yet to come up with a flight plan while his crew is already announcing the Final Approach.

It's fun to listen to Clark's commentary on "Another Day in Paradise." He sounds like a dumb redneck talking about a film he doesn't quite understand, which I could understand if he were talking about 2001 - A Space Odyssey, but he's talking about a film he directed! Most of the people who make arty films are accused of being pretentious, but nobody can accuse Larry of that, or even of being able to spell it. While there's something to be said for savvy insider commentary from thoughtful and highly opinionated moviemakers like Oliver Stone, there is also something very refreshing about hearing an "average joe" talk about a process in which lighting and performances seem about as important as finding an adequate supply of Slim Jims and Malt Liquor.

Here's an interesting essay from Larry's MySpace page. The last few paragraphs are about Clark's new short film, Impaled, a documentary about making a porn film.


Maeve Quinlan



Tiffany Limos










Kim Cattrall

Another day of Kim Cattrall, with a triple-feature.

From "Hold-Up" Kim's face is hidden by a towel but we get some T & A as she leaves the shower.

A sexy scene from "Sex and the City" with breast exposure as she gets felt up.

And from "Split Second" more tits in the shower.






Condition Red

Dan Capelli (James Russo) is a prison guard with a major attitude problem. After repeatedly getting too violent with inmates, he is temporarily transferred to duty in a women's prison. There, he is seduced by sexy female inmate Gidell (Cynda Williams) and becomes involved in a sexual relationship with the hard-edged temperamental professional singer doing time while protecting her rotten boyfriend Angel (James Calderon) by not ratting him out for money laundering.

The confused guard gets further addled when Gidell's badass lover mistreats her during a prison visit and goes off on him. This results in a suspension. To ease the pain he begins drinking too much and loses his self-control. When Gidell tells him she is pregnant, he helps her escape. Then things go from bad to worse, as he's in trouble with the prison authorities and her boyfriend is after him.

Cynda Williams







Notes and collages

"Wonder Woman"

Part II of the Lynda Carter series ...










États humains

Another Quebec sitcom with a lot of nudity.


Isabelle Brouillette











Lots of goodies from SI - the nudity and near nudity




(with samples as available)

Three from the latest episode of The L Word

 ... Katherine Moenning and Kristanna Loken (no audio on this one)

 ... Rachel Shelley and Sandrine Holt (some nice nudity in this one)
... Jennifer Beals and Marlee Matlin
Julianne Nicholson in Flannel Pajamas. Very sweet stuff. (Warning: dudity)
Keeley Hazell being filmed while doing a photoshoot






Pat's comments in yellow...
A group of astronomers and other scientists say that an asteroid named Apophis has a 1 in 45,000 chance of hitting the Earth on April 13, 2036.  Even if that doesn't happen, they say there are many other asteroids out there to track, and we need to develop a system for altering their courses.  The group called on the United Nations to assume responsibility for deflecting Apophis and other asteroids.
*  The U.N. leaped into action and voted to impose sanctions on the asteroid.


 University of Nevada psychologist Mark Ashcroft believes he's discovered why people who are worried about math tests don't score well on them.  His study found that the part of the brain responsible for fear and dread of math tests is the same part that provides the working memory needed for doing advanced math.  So you might actually flunk your math test because the part of your brain needed to do math is too occupied by math anxiety. 
*  You might call this a Catch-22, if you were able to count up to 22.

Australian artist Justine Cooper wanted to satirize the way drug companies market drugs to a gullible public, so she created an entire marketing campaign for a fake drug, "Havidol," which treats a fake condition, "Dysphoric Social Attention Consumption Deficit Anxiety Disorder" or DSACDAD.  She created a website and mock ads, which are on display at Daneyal Mahmood Gallery in New York.  Not only do some visitors believe the condition is real, but the website has garnered over 250,000 hits and been incorporated into several real websites for depression, panic and anxiety disorders.
*  When the people at those sites learned they'd been fooled, they became depressed and panicky.

The Bahamian Minister of Immigration who was photographed in bed with Anna Nicole Smith has resigned, but he insisted her fast-track residency followed "long-established immigration policy"

* The policy that everyone who wants a fast-track residency has to sleep with the Minister of Immigration.