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
(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:
- (8.40) - L.A. Confidential
- (8.00) - Heat (1995)
- (7.90) - The Insider
- (7.60) - The Last of the
- (7.50) - Wonder Boys
- (7.30) - Red Dragon
- (7.10) - X-Men: The Last
- (7.10) - Manhunter
- (6.30) - Crimes of the
- (6.30) - Frankie and Johnny
- (6.30) - The Comfort of
- (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.
it took much too long to get rid of Dermot Mulroney. And it never got rid of
Ellen Degeneres at all.
* 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,
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
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
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
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.
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.
Another day of Kim Cattrall, with a triple-feature.
Kim's face is hidden by a towel but we get some T & A as she leaves the
A sexy scene from "Sex and the City" with breast exposure as she gets felt
And from "Split Second" more tits in the shower.
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.
Notes and collages
Another Quebec sitcom with a lot of nudity.
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.