Jarhead (2005)

Jarhead is a movie about the experiences of a single member of the U.S. Marine Corps in the First Gulf War, or whatever the official name is for the war fought over Kuwait between the allies and Saddam Hussein. The story was originally written as a first person memoir by Anthony Swofford, a marine who was actually there and remains the central character in both the book and the movie.

It is, in fact, a very good movie which does exactly what it sets out to do, which is to allow somebody with first-hand experience of a unique situation to share what he knows with the rest of us. In at least two respects, a movie cannot really do this as well as a book. First, a film is limited by the inherent compression required in condensing a long story into a couple of hours of representative scenes. Second, a movie adds a barrier between the diarist and his audience - the interpretation of a director and his staff - while a book like Swofford's best-seller is basically a direct conversation between him and the reader.

In this case, however, both of the cinematic disadvantages were minimized.

1) Swofford's book is not just about his participation in the Gulf War as a sniper, but about everything in his life that led him there. The actual time of Desert Shield and Desert Storm takes up only a small part of this memoir. Most of his stream-of-consciousness recollection involves other things like his life as a military brat and his previous experiences in the Corps. The movie wisely chose to touch on the background elements only to the extent absolutely necessary to picture a soldier's life in the field, and how it relates, or fails to relate, to the experiences which placed him in that field. Apart from the action in the desert, the script accorded significant screen time only to the process which led Swofford to become a sniper. This was an excellent decision on the part of all who contributed to it. The compression required from the screenwriter was far less daunting than if he had tried to condense the memoir in its entirety.

2)  Swofford's voice remains essentially undiluted in the screenplay because he was an active participant in the creation of the film, and still plays an active part in the film's post-theatrical life, by participating in a full-length commentary track on the DVD.

On the other hand, a movie has advantages over the printed word. To be sure, it is dramatic to read about a platoon of marines standing in an oozy mixture of sand and oil while several massive oil wells burn in their sight-line, some of them a just few hundred yards away. It is quite another experience, a far more vivid one, to see that unimaginable image on screen in a night scene lit only by the flames spewing out of the ground, punctuated by fried Iraqi carcasses floating around in the ooze. That is a unique image which very few men actually saw first-hand, but which is now indelibly etched into the brains of millions of people who have and will see Jarhead. Because of this movie, I was there. I saw hell while I was still alive, just as Anthony Swofford did.

The film received generally positive reviews, and many of the negative ones ignored what the movie accomplished and complained about what the movie did not accomplish.  The New York Times wrote, "Jarhead is a movie that walks up to some of the most urgent and painful issues of our present circumstance, clears its throat loudly and says nothing." Another reviewer wrote "Puzzlingly hollow .... Although its portrayal of war as tedious hell scores points for novelty, the lack of a discernable point of view considerably limits the film's impact." Do you see what the reviewers are really saying? They are arguing that the film had a great chance to rail against America's militarism, or against the Bush family, or against the oil-based world economy and did not. In essence, they are saying that the author should not have stuck to the things he knew and was in a unique position to know, and should instead have devoted some of that time to liberal sermons like the ones fouynd on the editorial page of the New York Times. Those comments also indicate that the author should not have told the unvarnished truth, but should have offered lots of crazy, wild-eyed speculation like Syriana, or perhaps should have just been filled with unresearched disinformation and just plain stupidity like The Constant Gardener.

This sort of criticism was by no means restricted to liberal ideologues. The right-wingers found fault with Swofford as well, and criticized him for his lack of patriotism and his inability to keep secrets which should have remained among the band of brothers.

The typical political movie operates like a Presidential press secretary. It starts with a point-of-view and then relates some facts to support that position, while ignoring any facts which tend to undermine it. Since it is fictional, it feels free to create its own, some of them implausible if not outright impossible. Many reviewers wanted this to be a political movie, but it is not. The movie version of Jarhead tells the story of the war in the way Hemingway would have told it - straightforward, declarative, first-person. The soldier knows about nothing for sure except the things he sees for himself, and he tries to share his eyesight with us, not his insight. Because his story is true and the world is complicated, some of the facts he relates will support our preconceptions, while others will undermine them. Without a specific ideology, the marine's experiences offer plenty of facts for you to incorporate into your world-view or ignore as you see fit. He is a man who trained intensely to become a hard-ass sniper, then goes off to a war and never fires a shot. The soldiers spend more time posturing for reporters than they do soldiering. His platoon comes upon an entire highway filled with cars and people - presumably escaping civilians - all fried to a crisp by American airpower. The grunts call the ubiquitous fried bodies "crispy critters."

At least one reviewer (Mike Ward, had insight into the film's strict adherence to the unvarnished facts, and said, "Some criticize Jarhead for ambivalence and ambiguity. But that's what Swofford's experience was about."


In fact, that's what life is about in general.

If I had to be picky about the film, I'd say that it really does have a major weakness, although I don't know how it could have avoided it. There are some parts of this film that can put you to sleep faster than a Hugh Hudson film festival. One of the central themes of the film is that this war was not so much hell as limbo. Desert Shield, the part where troops amassed in the desert to stop Saddam's forward progress and to lay the groundwork for an attack, went on for months and months in which the soldiers had nothing to do except sit around the desert and wait for orders. Desert Storm, the actual war, was over in four days and Swofford never even fired his rifle. Because the film tries to tell the truth, and the truth was about guys sitting around with nothing to do, the creative team gets caught in a dilemma. It can either portray that boredom or lie. It chose to tell the truth by trying to capture the "feel" of Swofford's days in the desert, but those days mostly "felt" boring. Let's be honest, soul-destroying boredom rarely makes for a compelling cinematic experience. The script told the truth, and it chose valid artistic expression over contrivance, but boredom and ambivalence are not really very interesting or engaging, by definition. That's why most films choose to lie instead. 

I therefore am painted into a corner, just as the filmmakers were. If I tell the truth, I steer many of you away from an outstanding film. As I see it, the truth is that Jarhead is an excellent movie, an honest battlefield memoir brought to life with a good script and brilliant visual imagination, but it is also a film that may infuriate you if you want it all to get tied together in a neat point-of-view, and it may bore you because if General Sherman lived today he would say "war is limbo."

The (female) nudity is a brief flash from Brianne Davis. (There is quite a bit of male nudity.)

Brianne Davis


Just Friends (2005)

This is the movie in which Ryan Reynolds donned the fat suit to play a sweet-natured teenage loser, then took the suit off to  play what the kindly fat boy grew up to become - a svelte, handsome, womanizing, shallow, big-shot record producer. He accidentally ends up back in his home town, reunited briefly with the girl who cherished him as a best friend back in school, but would never accept him as a boyfriend because he was - well, to be blunt, a fat ugly loser.

I liked Just Friends, although that may be because it is precisely the kind of romantic comedy I can tolerate, possessing the following characteristics:

1. High on comedy, low on romance.

2. Fairly close to the reality of what would happen if these characters actually had to interact.

3. Filled with mean, dark-spirited humor, yet with character redemption and an intrinsic sentimental streak, in the same general spirit as Scrooged.

I laughed quite a bit, enough to get me watching every minute of the special features, which made me laugh some more. Ryan Reynolds tones down his usual snarky cynicism, and Amy Smart is basically the film's "straight man," but big laughs are delivered by the secondary players. Anna Faris is hilarious in the third lead as a clueless, horny, Britney-type pop tart who is being wooed by Reynolds' record company. What's more, and I never thought I'd say this, Chris Klein is also very funny. Klein plays his usual "sweet guy next door" routine, but it turns out that the character really is a slimy, scheming guy who only uses a typical Chris Klein schtick to get laid!

This is basically a Christmas film, but is nonetheless worth the watch if you want a few mindless laughs.

No nudity, but Amy Smart spends about the first five minutes of the film in her panties, spreading her legs!

Amy Smart

Mircea Monroe

Other Crap: drops HD DVD titles

  • "The first batch of Warner HD DVD titles have abruptly disappeared from Wal-Martís Web site, three weeks after the retailer started taking online pre-orders for the high-definition discs. Consumers who had place pre-orders received e-mails from beginning March 8 telling them their orders had been canceled. The items 'may become available some point in the future,' the e-mails said."

Remember that story about how blondes will be extinct in 200 years? Turns out to be total bullshit.

Paul Lynde as bachelor #1 on The Dating Game!

You've Got Mail - if the authors really understood computer lingo

Photo Gallery - The "Growing" Legend Of Barry Bonds

The Geography of Seinfeld

The Top 10 Strangest Lego Creations

Jessica Simpson Dumped by Adam Levine via Four-Word Text Message ... (webmaster making notes for future use)

If only the story were as good as the headline. "Eva Longoria's lesbian crushes"

Wow - that is some unscrupulous and devious sports psych-out!

Face recognition software. Whom do you look like?

  • My #1 match: George W. Bush! #2 Kevin Kline (Do they look alike?)

Is this Eddie Van Halen, or the crazy brother of Doctor Emmit Brown of Back to the Future fame?

Sandra Bullock will star in a film about 'Peyton Place' author Grace Metalious

"I'm Pregnant," Britney Reveals

  • Britney Spears and husband Kevin Federline are telling friends that they're already expecting a second child.

One more reason why guys should not stop to ask for directions.

Urban Legends: There is NO David Letterman list of Top Ten reasons why there are no black NASCAR drivers.

Jacko ordered to close Neverland

"The BBC has got a first glimpse of the 21st James Bond movie, Casino Royale, starring Daniel Craig as the all-new 007."

retroCRUSH takes an advance look at Ask the Dust

  • It sounds like a good movie. Of course, the important element is this: "I'd say that there's a good 4-5 solid minutes of eye popping Hayek nudity in this movie. Even some full frontal shots."

Movie Reviews:

Yellow asterisk: funny (maybe). White asterisk: expanded format. Blue asterisk: not mine. No asterisk: it probably sucks.




"Abigail Leslie Is Back"

Abigail Leslie Is Back (1975) is a Joe Sarno soft core shot and released at the end of the exploitation/soft core period. Within months, hard core would completely replace soft core in the adult movie theaters, and that would be short lived, as video tape would prove to be the death of the entire adult theater business. Interestingly, with DVD and cable, soft core still has an audience. New soft core makes some profit, and the vintage exploitation softcore is big business for companies like Something Weird Video and, in this case, Retro Seduction Cinema.

This film was lovingly remastered from Joe Sarno's personal print, and, with major color grading of one scene that never looked right, is the best looking version ever seen anywhere.The DVD includes a commentary with Joe. Unfortunately, Joe is getting along in years, and those with him were using IMDb to jog his memory, but a very interesting fact or two emerged. First, some of this film was shot behind the "Amittyville Horror" house, months before the famous murder. Far more interesting is that, while Joe never showed hard core action explicitly, he encouraged his performers to have actual sex, but was careful of camera angles. He felt that made for better scenes.

This film stars primarily hard core performers, who, when asked to actually act, did so rather convincingly. The cast includes porn legends Eric Edwards and Lamie Gillis, and Mary Mendum, Jennifer Jordan, Chris Jordan, Anne Keel, Julie Sorel and Jennifer Wells. Also, look for Sonny Landom, who made the switch to mainstream films, including 48 Hours, Prediters and Lockup, and even ran for Governor of Kentucky. Joe had nothing but praise for his cast and crew, which is not unusual for him, and everyone I have ever heard who worked for him felt the same way. Joe is known for true to life characters, and spending the time to do character development. His sex scenes often have real heat, probably due to the fact that it was often real sex.

In this film, Abigail Leslie returns to her home town of Baypoint (actually shot in Ammityville, Long Island), a couple of years after a scandal forced her out of time, when she was found in bed with her best friends husband. The men are not at all unhappy at her return, but the women are less than thrilled. The one who has the most to lose is the former best friend whose husband she had seduced, Mary Mendum. Of the main players, Mary is the only relatively sexually pure and repressed characters. Chris Jordan, from the poorer side of town, is thought to be asexual, but Abigail (Jennifer Jordan) discovers that she had a lengthy incestuous affair with her brother. This is the same brother that has become friends with Mary Mendum, who, while faithful to her husband, is not all that happy with her marriage. Before the film is over, Abigail will seduce everyone in town and organize orgies, proving that she is no more of a slut than any of them.

We have full frontal from Chris Jordan (barely), Jennifer Jordan, Mary Mendum and Julia Sorel, and breasts from Anne Keel and Jennifer Wells.

IMDb readers say 5.9. Joe flles that soft core died when it did because distributors wanted hard core, not because the audience evaporated. I tend to agree. I film with lots of nudity, hot sex scenes, and a little story and acting still does well, as do these DVD revivals. This is one of Joe's best, and he is a class act to begin with. This is a C+.

Anne Keel

Chris Jordan

Jennifer Jordan

Jennifer Welles

Julia Sorel

Mary Mendum


Today from the is former pro-cheerleader turned lady of late night Beverly Lynne doing the softcore thing in scenes from an episode of "Hotel Erotica Cabo".

Beverly Lynne

Today we have the rest of the women from "Bounty Huntress 2". They all show breasts and a hint of bush.

Dru Berrymore

Nikita Cash

Susan Hale

Next up...From "Death Tunnel". A topless cleans up her act in the shower.

Kristen Novak

From DeadRed...Here is Charlize Theron topless and going full frontal in scenes from "The Devil's Advocate".

Italian mega-babe Monica Bellucci shows off just a little bit of breast exposure in scenes from "Agents secrets" (2004).

Mr. Nude Celeb takes us down memory lane with a few 'caps from the Zalman King movie "Two Moon Junction" (1988).

Sherilyn Fenn looks amazing while baring all three Bs. Kristy McNichol also shows a bit of breast and an upskirt panties view.

Sherilyn Fenn

Kristy McNichol

Fenn and McNichol

Pat's comments in yellow...

Not The Health Department? - Thursday, California authorities ordered Michael Jackson's Neverland Ranch shut down. Jackson was fined $169,000 for failing to pay his employees and maintain workers' compensation insurance. Animal welfare officials were sent to care for the zoo animals. Jackson cannot reopen Neverland or hire anyone else until he pays $306,000 in back wages plus fines and insurance fees.

* To pay that much, he might have to hock his teddy bear collection.
* But he has to hire someone else! He desperately needs a back-up parasol holder!
* Michael just forgot to pay his employees...He's not used to paying off people over the age of 12.
* Unlike Michael, zoo animals live on meat, not magical pixie dust.

We Won't Be There For You - America's love affair with the sitcom "Friends" is officially over: NBC brought the spin-off "Joey" back from hiatus Tuesday, and it drew only about 4 million viewers. That's 300,000 fewer people than tuned in "Contra Viento Y Marea" on the Spanish language Univision channel.

* If they dubbed "Joey" into Spanish, Univision might take it.
* Joey Tribbiani won't be the first actor to give up on L.A.
* The concept wasn't believable: what are the odds that a good-looking guy with no brains or talent could become a Hollywood star?

Who Says All The News Is Bad? - reports that Madonna has decided to quit acting in movies. She said critics don't appreciate how much effort it takes to make a movie, and they pan her movies before they're even release. She said, "What film can survive people saying it's going to be a bomb from the second it's announced?"

* Maybe a film that doesn't have Madonna in it.
* Critics pan Madonna movies before they're made because it saves so much time.
* She's going to quit acting in movies? When did she start?