"Lady Jane"

Lady Jane (1986) is a costumed biopic of Lady Jane Grey, who, in the fascinating battle between Catholics and Protestants that took place with the death of King Edward, was queen of England for 9 days in 1552. She was a reluctant monarch. This is a very accessible insight into 16th century English history, and is largely accurate. The story had everything, war, whipping, beheading, intrigue, philosophical disputes, etc. Everything except a love story, so they added one. In fact Lady Jane hated her husband and he was the jerk that was first shown in the film. However, much of the appeal of the film would have been lost without this change. You are starting with a premise that Lady Jane should be the sympathetic character, possibly the only one, and then killing her off for something she was not responsible in any way for. While that happens to be true, it is not very theatrical.

Helena Bonham Carter, in the title role, shows breasts in two different scenes. This is a story of an absolutely fascinating period in English history, culminating with the reign of Elizabeth the 1st a few years after the portion of the tale in this film. Scoopy has written an excellent review of this film, with far more historical background and links for more information. If you are interested in 16th century English history, chances are you have seen this film. If not, this is a rather painless way to get a feel for the period. Watch the film, then refer to Scoops review and posted links for the few inaccuracies in the film, and voila, painless history. This has huge chick-flick appeal, likely because of the strong woman characters, and the manufactured love story. I will give it a C. It is a rather accessible historic drama, and is, in fact, well made.

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  • Helena Bonham Cater (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16)

  • Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy)
    Crimson Rivers 2:

    A couple of years ago I reviewed The Crimson Rivers, a very good French genre film which was directed brilliantly by Mathieu Kassovitz, brilliantly enough to make a spooky movie from a confusing and rather lackluster screenplay. Employing no irony, I compared the film to Welles's Touch of Evil. Based on the original, Crimson Rivers 2 seemed to be a project with great potential, because the key weakness in the original had been addressed. The sequel was to be based on a script by Luc Besson, a master of juvenile fantasy movies, author of Leon: The Professional, The Fifth Element, La Femme Nikita, Taxi, and The Transporter. Perhaps Besson could bring his touch to supernatural horror!

    Boy was I wrong.

    Focusing on the major issues only, this film has exactly the same strengths and weaknesses as the original movie. The director, although not Kassovitz, brought style and imagination in spades. The script is ... well, I know "dreadful" is probably an overused word, but it surely fits here. One of the French reviewers at IMDb summarized it perfectly (I have cleaned up his English, which was not as perfect as his analysisi:

    This movie is a shame. How dare Besson propose such a silly scenario! The dialogue is all clichés and Besson simply concatenates various unrelated gimmicks from different types of fantastic techno thrillers: religious themes focused on spectacular parts of the Bible, former Nazis who want to conquer the world, new-age evangelists, secret books from the so-called Dark Ages, etc. The global story is incoherent, the individual scenes connect illogically, and the end of the movie is totally stupid.

    And I thought that reviewer was going easy on the script! He never even mentioned the fact that there is no character development of any kind, and you just won't care who lives or dies.

    In the main, the direction is fine if a bit too frenetic. There are also some great stunts, and the team chose fascinating and spooky locales. If you are a history buff, you know that the French built The Maginot Line, a chain of fortresses and artificial waterways, to strengthen their Eastern border against German attack. The fortresses are linked together by escape and supply tunnels which employ dedicated subway lines, while the waterways are controlled by a series of locks and floodgates. It is very ingenious stuff, and this film makes use of all of those rusting fortifications for atmosphere, employing secret tunnels, camouflaged machine gun turrets, passageways filling with water, doorways which haven't been opened in years, spy towers which appear to be churches, artificial lakes which can be filled or drained according to necessity. The filmmaking team had some great ingredients to work with, and they added some impressive lighting and art direction as well as some complicated and proficient camera movement.

    The film also had Jean Reno as a world-weary cop, and Christopher Lee as a French-speaking Nazi bad guy. (Lee speaks excellent French. I wouldn't know that except that the director points it out in the special features.) The DVD is filled with featurettes showing how the lighting and other effects were created.

    That was a bunch of pretty cool stuff! In fact, it should have been a cool movie based on the picture shown in our review of Crimson Rivers 2. Scoopy Junior's "Reno Rule" says: Reno + sunglasses = a cool movie. (Reno without the sunglasses ... eh ... not so much.) Yet this movie is terrible! Did Junior's theorem fail?


    Reno only wore the shades in one scene, and they were not really shades, but simply cool-looking protective goggles. The theorem holds up.

    Unfortunately, the director was saddled with a preposterous script. The film leads one to believe it will be some kind of apocalyptic or theological thriller based upon a man who seems to be the reincarnation of Jesus, and his twelve disciples who are being murdered one by one, leading inevitably to the end of days. As it turns out, the plot has nothing to do with the end of days. It is a bunch of ex-Nazis following some historical mysteries ala The DaVinci Code, in order to retrieve some stuff secretly hidden away in the Middle Ages. The Jesus guy has nothing to do with it, other than the coincidence that he and his disciples saw something they were not supposed to see, and therefore had to be killed because they were witnesses. The fact that they were Jesus and the disciples was ultimately irrelevant. They could have been The Village People, and the baddies would still have had to kill them. The Jesus Team thought the entire plot involved the Angels of the Apocalypse because they seemed to be stalked by faceless creatures with supernatural powers. It turns out (you are not gonna believe this, but it is really the explanation, not my exaggeration) that the creatures were a bunch of ordinary guys wearing monk's robes and blackface to make their facial features disappear. How did they get their powers? Just before the end of the war the Nazi scientists developed ultra-powerful amphetamines. Yup - the secret Nazi steroids! The same ones that Barry Bonds eventually used to hit 73 homers. Amazingly, the Nazis still managed to lose WW2 despite the ability to give all their soldiers super powers.

    There were some scenes in this that were almost too irritating to discuss.


    • At one point, Christopher Lee's henchmen break into a room where Jean Reno and his partner are hiding. They are carrying massive WW2 machine guns with bullets about five inches long, and they use these to strafe the room. Now I think it is safe to conclude from these thousands of rounds of armor-piercing ammo fired in Reno's direction, that the Nazis wanted him dead, not captured. Right? So when the Nazis finally do subdue Reno by throwing sleeping gas into the room, do they kill him? Hell, no. They tie him up so they can tell him the plot! (And so he can eventually foil their evil plans!) It's just like a mid-1950s episode of The Lone Ranger!

    • Oh, yeah, how did Reno manage to avoid being killed by the powerful weapons? He turned a table on its side and hid behind it.

    • A bit later, Reno is tied, and is talking in his normal voice to his collar, where he has a transmitter hidden. In fact, he is even shouting into it as he gives directions and calls for back-up, because the officer on the other end is having trouble hearing him. Reno is also giving escape instructions to his partner, who is tied up nearby. Amazingly, ol' Christopher Lee does not find any of this suspicious, or even seem to hear the comments, although he is standing only a couple of feet away. Reno, however, can hear every word Lee says to him, even though Lee is speaking in a quieter voice. As you watch this, you will be thinking, "How can Christopher Lee not hear that?" While I was watching, I thought at first that Reno was talking to Lee, until I heard what he was saying and saw him turning his neck into his collar.

    • When the main room is flooded, everyone who is free is drowned, but Reno and his partner were smart enough to be tied up, so they escape!

    • Finally, as Reno and his partner plan to escape a flooding tunnel, they need to turn an old rusted wheel to open a floodgate. The wheel has not been turned since WW2, and will not budge. Our heroes seem doomed to die, except ... in an earlier scene, they remembered to pocket a few bottles of the Secret Nazi Steroids! Fortunately, they filched the Instant Steroids and not the inferior time-release kind, so the two men are immediately capable of getting that wheel to turn faster than Rumplestiltskin's spinning wheel in a barn fill of straw.


    To make things even more irritating, the DVD box has an incorrect summary of the plot: "A murder victim has the same DNA as Christ." Interesting idea, although I don't know how you'd get Christ's DNA for comparison. Interesting, but unrelated to this movie.

    So my counsel to you boils down to this: if the guy who wrote the DVD box couldn't follow the incoherent plot, what chance do you have?



    Ae Fond Kiss:

    Ae Fond Kiss is the latest variant on Romeo and Juliet, a cross-cultural romance between a young Pakistani man growing up in Glasgow and a music teacher at a Catholic grammar school. The film is not romantic fluff, but the kind of hard-edged social realism that one would expect from old-time director Ken Loach. Loach is 69 years old now, and virtually unknown in the USA, but his pointed, politicized films have won him just about every award that can be given for "highly competent guys with good intentions and compassion for humanity who make completely non-commercial films." He makes films that bring social conditions to the attention of ministers and cause laws to be changed. If Lincoln Steffens and Upton Sinclair could come back to life and make films, they would be Ken Loach.

    The script traces a realistic path that such a relationship would lead, treading along the prejudices of both Catholicism and Islam, and forcing the lovers into squabbles over which of them is enduring more bigotry, and which of them is sacrificing more for the relationship. The film is cast in shades of gray. If it succeeds at all it is by staying true to life, avoiding contrivance and stereotypes, and not providing any pat answers to complicated questions. Unfortunately, the film just seems to meander off into predictably unsatisfying and unresolved territory, just as life so often does, proving once again that realism is overrated as a screen device.

    The film is, however, beautifully photographed and reasonably well acted, if that sort of thing sounds like your cup of tea.

    • Eva Birthistle (1, 2, 3, 4)


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    • The yellow asterisks indicate that I wrote the review, and am deluded into thinking it includes humor.
    • If there is a white asterisk, it means that there isn't any significant humor, but I inexplicably determined there might be something else of interest.
    • A blue asterisk indicates the review is written by Tuna (or Junior or Brainscan, or somebody else besides me)
    • If there is no asterisk, I wrote it, but am too ashamed to admit it.

    Jr's Polls
    This week's poll is another look at a poll from a few years ago...

    Best Sex Scene in a Mainstream Movie
    For this poll it's A-list only. No skinemax or adult stuff. You'll also notice a lack of lesbian lovin'....I'm saving that for another poll.

    Here are the results of our most recent other polls...
    The Top 20 Nude Scenes of 2004
    The Best Nude Film Debuts of the 80s
    The Best Nude Film Debuts of the 90s
    Which actress has been the most convincing playing a stripper.
    Who has the best bum in Hollywood?
    Best All Time Television Comedy
    Best Nudity in an Oscar-winning performance.

    Email Scoopy Jr. with more nominees, comments or suggestions.

    Crimson Ghost
    NOTE: We currently have to do all of our movie files in zip format. Instead of viewing them online, save the zip files to your hard drive in the directory of your choice, un-zip and play from there.

    Today from the Ghost...A softcore flick featuring several hardcore babes. 'Caps and clips from "Model Lust" (2003).

    • Diana Espen aka April Flowers. Breasts, bush and some pseudo-sex. By the way, the dude in this scene should be a poster boy for the "Men should not wear thongs" society. (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)
    • Diana Espen zipped .wmvs (1, 2, 3)

    • Juliana Kinkaid also bares breasts n' bush, plus the occasional rear view while gettin' it on in several scenes. (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14)
    • Juliana Kinkaid zipped .wmvs. Clips 1-3 match 'caps 1-3. Clips 4-6 go with 'caps 4-6. Clips 7-8 match up with 'caps 7-10. Clips 9-13 go with 'caps 11-14. (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13)

    • Diana Espen, Mary Carey and Holly Hollywood (aka Stacey Leigh Mobley) in a 3-way lesbo scene. (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
    • Diana Espen, Mary Carey and Holly Hollywood zipped .wmvs (1, 2, 3)

    'Caps and comments by Spaz:

    "The Real Blonde (1997)
    Comedy about struggling actors, actresses and models. Very little nudity which could have passed for a Superbowl Halftime Special at the time. A glaring continuity error is Bridgette Wilson is clearly topless in the opening photo but wore breasts shields for the actual photoshoot shown later.

    'Caps and comments by Dann:

    "Face of Terror"
    No real surprises in this 2003 action/thriller, but plenty of action, some beautiful women, and a cool car chase make it worthwhile nonetheless.

    An L.A. cop goes to Spain to search for his sister after not hearing from her for three months. She's there to do modeling, but normally keeps in touch.

    No one knows the girl's whereabouts, but as he digs deeper, the cop steps into a world of drug deals, and then stumbles onto a terrorist who has the interesting technique of seducing young women, then having them "deliver" a briefcase which, unknown to them, is loaded with C-4 explosives. It's a one-way trip.

    Again, no new ground broken, but plenty of action, and fun to watch.

    Beth Riesgraf
    (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8)

    Johnny Moronic 'caps of the indie and B-movie actress topless in scenes from "The Summer of My Deflowering" (2000). Some folks may recognize her from season 4 of the MTV series "Undressed". Riesgraf and "Mallrats" star Jason Lee have a child with a name that may take the grand prize for silly celebrity children's names. Their son is named Pilot Inspektor Riesgraf-Lee.

    Tatum Adair
    (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10)

    Topless in bed and in the back seat of a car in scenes from her one and only IMDb credit, "Ghost Lake" (2004). 'Caps by the Skin-man.

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