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
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
Jennifer Jason Leigh
are the still captures in a .rar file, also on RapidShare
Elizabeth Whitcraft in Working Girl
Top Ten Reasons
Dick Cheney Won't Resign
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.
Iraq Anniversary. Stephen honors the courage and sacrifice of the
Iraqi people with a cake.
Movies Destroying America: The Libertine
The Daily Show:
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
INSURGENTS WITH PRESCRIPTION DRUG PLAN"
... Military Launches "Operation Incomprehensible Program" Across
of Jamie-Lynn Sigler undulating in her undies on The Sopranos
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:
his latest rap effort.
(Not safe for work. Loud, filled with profane language, plays
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
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
Tom Sizemore says he humped
the daylights out of Liz Hurley while she was still with Hugh Grant
Soriano refuses to take the
"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 ...
Is Whole Foods Wholesome? -
The dark secrets of the organic-food movement.
Jared Leto to appear on
Aircraft carrier entirely made
Fox orders two more seasons of
(This assures 19 seasons. The record is 20, held by Gunsmoke.)
"toads can be turned into
Remember the joy buzzer? Now
there is a high-tech version.
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
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
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
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.
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?