* 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.








Babel is the third in a dramatic trilogy from Alejandro González Iñárritu. Both "Amores perros" and "21 Grams" were received well, but Babel has outshined both and created lots of buzz. It won the "Best Picture - Drama" award at the Golden Globes, then merited seven Oscar nominations, including a coveted nomination as the best picture of the year.

As the film opens, an American couple is spending time together in Morocco on a vacation designed to help to patch up a marriage. Back home, an illegal Mexican woman takes care of their two kids. While the Americans ride a bus through the Moroccan desert, two young Moroccan shepherds test out a rifle they received from from their father by firing it at a distant tourist bus. They hit the American woman in the shoulder. The American government immediately blames the incident on terrorism, so politics gets in the way of a proper medical response, and she gets no medical care except what a veterinarian can provide in a small town. Meanwhile, the Mexican housekeeper takes the kids into Mexico to see her son married. On the way back, her nephew gets surly with the border guards and then runs the border crossing, and dumps her and the kids in the desert. We also follow the story of a young Japanese girl, who is deaf, and whose mother committed suicide. She feels unloved, and tries to seduce a police officer. Her father, it turns out, gave a rifle to a hunting guide in Morocco, who sold it to the family that shot the American woman. 

The film manages hopeful endings for all but one of the two boys who fired the gun.

When I evaluate a film, I ask myself if the story was well told, and if it was worth telling. I have some problems with both questions in this case.

First question: Was the story worth telling? The theme of this film is that we are all interconnected, and that, because of that, the smallest action can have broad and unpredictable consequences. This is not an original idea, and only one of the main story lines was compelling.

  • The section about the Mexican woman was simply a case of stupidity. As an illegal, she should not have taken the two kids across the border, and she should certainly not have gotten a ride back with a drunk illegal with an attitude.
  • I saw little value in the shooting incident. It was believable, and the American reaction of blaming terrorists was timely and accurate, but the story showed no great truths, and I didn't much care about the wounded American woman because she is introduced only briefly before she is shot, in a scene where she is being a total bitch. Seeing her husband trying to save her was a little more engaging, but not much. I kept wanting to tell him he would be happier without her.
  • The portrait of the deaf Japanese girl, played brilliantly by Rinko Kikuchi, did resonate with me. It did cover new ground, Her segment begins with her telling off a referee who made a bad call at her volleyball game, where she demonstrates that she makes up for what she lacks in hearing with attitude. When young men treat her badly after discovering she is deaf, she flashes them al la Sharon Stone, then leaves.

As to the second question, which asks whether the story was told well, I noticed the narrative style much too frequently. Iñárritu switched time frames and locations seemingly without reason, which I found very distracting. There were also pace issues, with some scenes going on far too long after they had made their point. Even the plot line I did enjoy was not without problems. There is a scene where the girl drinks some whiskey, pops a pill, and goes to a disco. We then get what seems like hours of flashing disco lights, with the audio being turned off then on in an attempt to show disco through her point of view. I got it the first time, and didn't need the other 20. It would have been easily possible to use a linear time frame to tell these stories, so the convoluted narrative style wasn't necessary, and I don't see how it improved the film. Unfortunately, the DVD is bare-bones and lacks a commentary, so I have no idea why the structure was chosen. If the plan was to make a simple story complex with a contrived narrative structure, then it was very well done, because by the end of the film, you can place every puzzle piece into its correct location.

I expect a drama to show me something about myself, or other people. In the Japanese section, it did that. Other than some scenes going on much longer than necessary, I enjoyed Babel whenever it was in Japan, although that segment had only a very tangential relationship to the rest of the characters. While Babel is not a film that I will be in a hurry to watch again, the Japanese segment did eventually draw me in, and the film was ultimately not a waste of my time.


  • IMDb readers say 7.8.
  • It won only one Oscar, for best score, and achieved the identical result at the BAFTA awards.




Rinko Kikuchi shows everything in several scenes. It should actually have only been three scenes, except for the scatter-shot narrative structure.











Scorpion went crazy with his scanner. Here are his new portraits of some familiar faces from B movies, and even a few A-listers here and there.


The Galleries:

Brinke Stevens


Jewell Sheperd


Linnea Quigley


Michelle Bauer


Shauna Grant


Tammy Parks


Mindy Miller


Iselin Steiro



And a few onesies and twosies:

Christie Kerr Diane Lane Liz Hurley Jessica Alba Kate Winslet

Marilyn Chambers

Nicole Kidman

 (also below)

Penelope Cruz Raquel Welch Sharon Stone










Survival Island (aka Three)

With the Time Machine in for service, we have something a little more current for today. Kelly Brook with some very sexy water scenes from Survival Island.








One Spring in Paris

Two robbers want to steal a wealthy woman's jewelry with the complicity of her insurer. In a twist of fate, one of them falls in love with the victim.


Geraldine Danon



Pascale Arbillot









Arena en los Bosillos


Yohana Cobo
Clara Lago






Notes and collages

Slaughterhouse Five

... the delightful Ms. Valerie Perrine in this appropriately strange Kurt Vonnegut tale of a man who becomes unstuck in time and so lives his life out of time order ...






Eve Mendes with some pretty sweet nudity. (See Other Crap for a link to the entire pictorial.)

Lots of sexy nudity from Catalina Larranaga, one of the sexiest of the softcore babes, in Word of Mouth. (Seven film clips.)






Pat's comments in yellow...

Hillary Clinton annoyed some Southern conservatives by appearing at a black church in Alabama and putting on a fake Southern accent, drawling, "Ah don't feel no-ways tahr'd! Ah come too fahr from where ah started frum!"

* She then introduced her running mate: B'rer Rabbit.

* Hillary annoyed Southern conservatives? Stop the presses!


Today, civil rights activist Najee Ali of Project Islamic Hope will lead a protest rally at the Kodak Theatre in Los Angeles, accusing "American Idol" of a racial double standard. Four years ago, black contestant Frenchie Davis was dumped after it came out that she'd posed topless, but this year, Antonella Barba was allowed to stay, even after racy photos of her surfaced. Barba's defenders say the worst photos turned out not to be her, and the others were less-revealing private photos leaked by her friends, while Davis posed for raunchy photos for money for a sleazy website called "Daddy's Little Girls."

* A subsidiary of Simon Cowell Productions.

* Project Islamic Hope believes that, to be fair, both women should be stoned to death.


A study by Brigham Young University found that very materialistic people probably shouldn't marry each other. Couples who place a high value on things such as designer furniture have a 40 percent higher risk of having financial problems that strain their marriages. But the researchers said the problem has as much to do with how they think about money as with how much money they have. It takes less financial trouble to trigger a problem, because they think that if they can't afford, say, a lavish vacation, it means they have a bad life and a bad marriage. The researchers said the key to saving their marriages is to learn to lower expectations.

* That's the key to every marriage.