Nobel Son

Nobel Son is about a despicable Nobel Prize laureate (Allan Rickman) whose son is kidnapped for the Nobel money. It combines the elements of a thriller with black comedy and hip editing techniques, following kinda sorta in the footsteps of Tarantino and Guy Richie.

For nearly three years, no distributor was willing to take a chance on it. It was filmed in October-November of 2005 and screened at Tribeca in April of 2007. It finally made it into theaters in December of 2008.

The distribution moguls were correct in their assessment that Nobel Son had no box office potential. In fact, it is one of the worst box office performers in history. Among films in 600 or more theaters, it had the third-worst opening weekend of all-time, grossing $333,000 in 893 theaters. That proved to be the highlight of its theatrical distribution. The following weekend it set the all-time record for the biggest drop in history from weekend one to weekend two: 95%. I'm not sure what the record is for the biggest drop from weekend two to weekend three, but it has a shot at that one as well, with 96.7%. And it also owns a share of the unbeatable record for the biggest drop from week three to week four: 100%. Of course, there was some good news. That 100% drop only represented a loss of $546.

The critics were not much more liberal with their words than the audiences were with their wallets. Rotten Tomatoes estimates that 25% of the reviews were positive. Metacritic estimates that the average rating was approximately 28 on a 100-point scale. To put that in perspective, the Razzie "worst picture" winner, The Love Guru, averaged 24 on the same scale.

So what's wrong with Nobel Son?

To begin with, it fails to pass the basic minimum hurdle for the thriller genre, which is that the plot must make sense upon second viewing, once all the secrets are known. I won't go into detail since this is a thriller with absolutely nothing else going for it but wacky plot twists, but I will warn you that if you re-watch it after all the veils have been lifted, you'll just be scratching your head.

The other major problem is that it pairs baddie against baddie, breaking all the Vince McMahon rules of drama. Rickman is supposed to be playing a terrible human being: arrogant, philandering, and dishonest. The flaw of the film's basic structure is that the character is interesting, and Rickman is a complex and fascinating actor. Couple that with the fact that the rest of the parts are obnoxious, boring, crazy, underwritten, or totally irrelevant, and the result is that Rickman's sneering, insufferable blighter is by far the most intriguing, and arguably even the most likeable, character in the film. The director thus managed to turn his strongest asset (Rickman) into a liability, because I was actually rooting for Rickman to outsmart everyone and keep his money, even though the script assures us that he did not deserve his Nobel. If the film had been cast with Alec Baldwin or James Woods as the professor, at least we would be rooting for the right team.

A third point of irritation: as part of the theoretically hip editing techniques, the film uses wacky cartoon background noises, like the "whooshing" of Speedy Gonzales flashing by. All it needed was the trademark "tinkling foot noises" to qualify it for the Hanna-Barbera hall of fame. Except, of course, that the Magilla Gorilla cartoons had more interesting characters.

Finally, the authors didn't do a lot of research into the life of Nobel-winning scientists. You don't find many of them (probably none) teaching survey courses in amphitheater-style classrooms, or grading their own students in such massive classes, as Rickman's character does. Then again, that doesn't matter much, because nothing else in the film was credible either.

There is one clever scene. The kidnappers use a particularly convoluted scheme to pick up the ransom money in a suburban shopping mall while dozens of cops watch the drop point. That scene was ridiculous and improbable, but original, and a nice bit of genre fun - the sole oasis in a barren Sahara of a film.

Eliza Dushku was kinda sorta naked, in that her buns were only partially covered by a small, thin pair of panties.

(Bryan Greenberg provided the only real nudity.)


In the interest of fairness, or maybe just because it's utterly baffling, I'm duty- and honor-bound to report that this film is rated 7.8 at IMDb.




Here's your recipe for instant cinematic genius: a melodrama about the tragic personal consequences of international terrorism - written and directed by the director of Bridget Jones' Diary. Oh, by the way - she has no previous credits for fiction writing. The less said about this, the better. It began with honorable, noble ambitions but descended into a cheesefest with ham-handed scripting, and several of the sub-plots just seemed to disappear in an abrupt ending.

The history of the project has been riddled with tragedy. The novel, which is about a terrorist act on a 9/11 scale in London, hit the newsstands on the very day of the London subway bombings. Then the movie premiered at Sundance on the day Heath Ledger died. Given Ledger's status in the film community, his death would have been distracting enough if he had no connection to the film at all, but as it turns out, Ledger is the father of Michelle Williams' baby, and she is the star of this film.

Williams is the film's only real plus, but that's a substantial plus. I had no idea she had this kind of talent. Her performance is spectacularly good, as good as or better than the female performances nominated for this year's Oscar. She might even have earned that nomination because 2008 was a year with few spectacular scene-stealing performances, but Incendiary was not eligible for Oscar consideration. It screened at Sundance and Cannes and had a brief theatrical run in the UK,  but it never appeared in any theaters in the USA. (The UK data: 16 theaters on October 24th. Total gross for that weekend: $30,000.)

The good news: lots of nudity from Michelle Williams. I did that film clip linked to the left, but all the collages below come from third parties.


  • * 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.








Friday the 13th: Part Three


Tracie Savage 1920x800 film clip. Collages below








Mary Carey for Governor


Yesterday we gave you no nudity, so today we more than make up for it with our favorite politician,  Mary Carey, in 'Mary Carey for Governor". Yes, it's porn and Mary shows all - and watch out for lots of "Tool Time" action. Caps and a clip.




TV Land

TV Land for today features Kiran Chetry looking leggy on "American Morning".












Notes and collages



s5, e18

Rose McGowan









Best of Kitana Baker

Part 4 of 8

Kitana Baker is the brunette who was in those catfight commercials for Bud Lite about a thousand years ago. Tempis certainly does fugit. The clips are more than sorta interesting - acres of boobage, some righteous bum and a few long, lingering looks at the bush - certainly nothing to sneeze at.










Major upgrades on those Aniston pics from GQ

Evan Rachel Wood in Max Italia

Sylva Koscina in the subtly titled giallo, The Slasher is the Sex Maniac

Film Clips