Mrs Parker and the Vicious Circle (1994)

This is an ensemble drama (or dramedy) directed by Alan Rudolph in the manner of his mentor, Robert Altman, filled with an enormous cast of characters and overlapping dialogue.

In the period between the great wars, there was a flourishing of literary societies in Paris and New York. Paris had the greater literary giants like Hemingway, Joyce, and Fitzgerald, but New York had the sass and wit of people who polished funny dialogue - especially the aspiring playwrights from a time when New York's theater scene was the center of showbiz existence, and the newspaper columnists from the heyday of New York journalism when many newspapers tried to one-up each other for the most sophisticated audiences. The New York group gathered daily in the 1920s for lunch at the Algonquin Hotel, where their gigantic round table became the center of New York's literary life, a daily feast of bon mots, dutifully recorded each day by the ever-present scribes for the next day's editions.

Given the group's reputation as an association of the funniest people alive, one would expect this film to glitter with non-stop wit and fun. There is some of that, but the author seems to subscribe to the cliché that all clowns hide broken hearts, and at its core the film is a tragedy about the inability of Dorothy Parker, the group's ringleader and sharpest tongue, to find happiness. The film even provides its own criticism in the form of a psychiatrist character who latches on to the famous group,  and reminds Dorothy how dysfunctional it is of them to feel a constant need to amuse one another like children at recess, and nags her about finding some deeper connections with people.

The shrink might have added that Dorothy may have come to a happier old age if she had done anything in her youth besides making nasty comments about people. In defense of her integrity, one might note that she seemed to be as harsh in judging herself as she was in judging others. I suppose the shrink was right to have som many misgivings about their hollow pseudo-happiness, especially given the fact that he actually represents the voice of a screenwriter who knew what would happen to them.  Dorothy herself would eventually blast her way through various bad relationships, endless affairs, failed romances, infidelities, repeated suicide attempts, and alcoholism before turning into a pathetic drunken has-been in her final days. For reasons presumably related to a desire for focus and compression, the script ignored the contribution which Parker's radical leftist politics made to her decline in Hollywood during the McCarthy Era.

Along Parker's bumpy journey, the scriptwriters try to shoehorn in just about everyone who was in the entertainment field in any capacity in the twenties, with most of them showing up at the table to say "hello, my name is _____," as if living nametags. Many, if not most, of these cameos are pointless. The brilliant humorist Will Rogers introduces himself to the group, for example, but his interaction with them produces nothing amusing or important to the storyline, and the audience is left wondering why the screenwriter felt Rogers's appearance to be worthwhile.

Jennifer Jason Leigh offered an odd voice characterization as Dorothy Parker, using a clipped Northeast delivery which was  long on bitter mumbling under her breath and short on vulnerability, as if Katharine Hepburn had gotten drunk at a party and decided to impersonate W.C. Fields. I don't know whether that captured the real Dorothy Parker, but if it did I am glad not to have known her. In general, the film is replete with so many mumbled lines and so much overlapping dialogue that I decided to watch it with English subtitles, a process which I recommend, since I picked up some good lines from the captions which I would otherwise have missed.

The main take-away from the film seems to be that Dorothy Parker would have been a nicer and happier person if the great love of her life, supposedly playwright Charles MacArthur, had loved her back. Is that accurate? More important, even if it is accurate, is it a good reason to make a movie about this group? I think most of you could probably think of a better one, like capturing the legendary wit of the round table on film. There is some effort in that direction. The strength of the film is the fact that a good percentage of the dialogue is taken from Bartlett's quotations, representing some of the best puns, wordplay, and wisecracks of some of the 20th century's most famous wits. I wish there had been more laughter, badinage, and cameraderie. I would have preferred if the script had stayed with the "clowns as funny guys" angle rather than slipping into "clowns are really heartbroken" mode.

This is a respectably good movie, but given the potential of the subject matter, one can't help but view it as a missed opportunity.




Jennifer Jason Leigh
Gwyneth Paltrow



Other Crap:

RapidShare Video: Elizabeth Whitcraft in Working Girl

  • Here are the still captures in a .rar file, also on RapidShare

Letterman: Top Ten Reasons Dick Cheney Won't Resign

The Weekend Warrior makes his predictions for the upcoming weekend

  • He thinks Inside Man, with Jodie Foster and Denzel, will take the #1 spot from revenues in about 2800 theaters.
  • Larry the Cable Inspector and Stay Alive are expected to reach 1700-1900 screens, and open modestly in 6th and 7th.

Colbert gives a big thumb down to the earth's axis.

Colbert interviews Connie Chung

Colbert Report: Iraq Anniversary. Stephen honors the courage and sacrifice of the Iraqi people with a cake.

Colbert Report: Movies Destroying America: The Libertine

The Daily Show: "Clive Owen confirms that he has worked with a crazy prick, but he won't disclose who it is."

Colbert and The Daily Show pay tribute to the Irish for St Patty's day

The Daily Show discusses Global Warming

The Daily Show: Iraq the Gathering

Info and spoilers for Superman Returns.

A classic TV moment: The Hulkster puts Richard Belzer in a sleeper hold.

An oldie but goodie: Kate Moss doing her crazy topless dance.

Dancer loses job due to large breasts

Museum of bad album covers: the worst album covers ever!

'A Prairie Home Companion' -another full trailer

The Gawker Stalker - a mapped record of Manhattan celebrity sightings

"U.S. CONFUSES INSURGENTS WITH PRESCRIPTION DRUG PLAN" ... Military Launches "Operation Incomprehensible Program" Across Iraq

RapidShare video of Jamie-Lynn Sigler undulating in her undies on The Sopranos

  • Also on RapidShare, here is a .rar file of 18 high definition captures from the same scene.

Friends of Isaac Hayes say that he did not quit South Park - interesting read.

Musical genius department: "K-Fed" releases his latest rap effort. (Not safe for work. Loud, filled with profane language, plays automatically.)

Die Hard: The Ballad of John McClane (Very well done, but one strange concept - Die Hard re-mixed as a B&W silent movie.)

The trailer from Little Miss Sunshine

  • "A family determined to get their young daughter into the finals of a beauty pageant take a cross-country trip in their VW bus."

Whiny, Insecure Kids Grow Up Conservative... (This study is based on 95 kids studied over 20 years.)

"A 2,500-year-old stone coffin with well-preserved color illustrations from Homer's epics has been discovered in western Cyprus "

A gazillion pictures of Jennifer Aniston

Tom Sizemore says he humped the daylights out of Liz Hurley while she was still with Hugh Grant

Soriano refuses to take the field.

"South Park creators plan to cook Chef's goose"

Marvel and DC claim to have the exclusive joint right to use the term superhero.

Several variations of the What Is Love? skit

Whatever happened to ... Pac-Man?

Is Whole Foods Wholesome? - The dark secrets of the organic-food movement.

Jared Leto to appear on Desperate Housewives?

Aircraft carrier entirely made of Legos

Fox orders two more seasons of The Simpsons (This assures 19 seasons. The record is 20, held by Gunsmoke.)

"toads can be turned into beer."

Remember the joy buzzer? Now there is a high-tech version.


Movie Reviews:

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




Jive Turkey (1979)

Jive Turkey is apparently a reissue of a film called Baby Needs a New Pair of Shoes (1974). It tells of the struggle between a hip numbers kingpin and whorehouse operator named Pasha (Paul Harris) and the Italian businessmen who want his turf, and also with the honky mayor whose re-election campaign centers around a promise to shut down Pasha and his operation. Pasha, like any good black hero, stays one step ahead of the rest despite a traitor in his organization. He gets a little help from a cross-dresser called Serene, his main hit man, and Moma Lottie, the madam of his whorehouse, who also sells a little opium for use on the premises.

Throats are cut, men are gunned down, and everybody plays the numbers. What makes the film somewhat unique is that it is told from the black perspective, and Pasha is probably the most sympathetic of the main characters. Scenes in the hood have the ring of truth, and I wouldn't be surprised if many of the cast had never acted, but simply played themselves. It is a watchable crime drama with an interesting slant, and is therefore a C.


Breasts and buns from Karmello Brooks as Pasha's wife
Breasts from Pat Edwards, who is doing the nasty with the preacher when Pasha comes to work out a deal to set up shop in the church.






Another "Babe in Bondage" kicks it off. Monique Gabrielle is suspended (fully clothed) in "Deathstalker 2."

Monique shows some breasts in a attempted rape scene

Some leftovers from "Showgirls."

 Gina Gershon examines Elizabeth Berkley's tits.

Elizabeth Berkley and Rena Riffel show off the goodies onstage.




Dann reports on Corpses:

Gory and expectedly bad, but funny throughout, pretty much describes this 2004 horror epic. The plot is actually a little different, and while some of the laughs were intentional, some obviously weren't.

A small-town mortician is in danger of losing his funeral parlor due to slow business. He discovers a way to revive and control the bodies he's working on, for a few hours at a time. After that, they need a shot to continue to function, so they're plenty willing to do his bidding.

In order to solve his financial problems, he sends his zombie crew out to do robberies. Unfortunately, since they're zombies, they also do their share of killings, something he hadn't counted on. All this action draws the attention of the local police chief, played by B-movie regular Jeff Fahey. Another bad-movie regular, Robert Donovan, plays the mortician.

Loaded with B-movie badness, plenty of laughs, and enough nudity to keep it interesting, this is a fun watch. Surprisingly, and unusual for her, B-movie queen Tiffany Shepis, another co-star, kept her clothes mostly on, but did do several bra scenes.


Tiffany Shepis Lorielle New Eva Derrek





Mr Skin adds to the filmography of Charlotte Gainsbourg #1

Ils se marièrent et eurent beaucoup d'enfants (2004)

Mr Skin adds to the filmography of Charlotte Gainsbourg #2.

Passionnément (2000)

Mr Skin adds to the filmography of Charlotte Gainsbourg #3

Anna Oz (1996)



Pat's comments in yellow...

Two recent polls found that the Indian call centers that handle customer service for American and UK companies are also adopting Western morality.  One in four workers admitted to casual sex, and one in five said they'd had an affair with a colleague.  A New Delhi police official said companies have to set standards on drugs and sex to prevent call centers from becoming "dens of evil."

*  If you've ever tried to get computer help from one, you probably already think of them as dens of evil.

*  Are they sure they admitted having sex with colleagues, or is that just what it sounded like they said?

*  They have to have sex with each other...They tried phone sex, but their partners couldn't understand a word they said.

A court in Israel sentenced Simon Sofer to two years in prison for pretending to be a doctor, running an unsupervised clinic, and promising to make people up to 3.9 inches taller and increase their penis size by up to 2.4 inches.  People who wanted to be taller were suspended upside down in
the air by their arms and legs or had their bodies stretched with weights.  Sofer admits advertising genital enlargements, but claims he didn't perform

* I wonder which parts of his body will be stretched bigger in prison?