The Last Movie Star

Ariel Winter

High Maintenance

season two, 1080hd

Alex Auder in episode nine

Nyseli Vega in episode ten

Workin' Moms

Catherine Reitman


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Little Odessa

1994, 1920x800

Moira Kelly

Scoop's notes:

Little Odessa is a bleak, unsparing look at a merciless hit man and the dysfunctional family that spawned him.   

The hit man (Tim Roth) has always avoided taking any work in Brooklyn because he grew up there, and his mandatory professional anonymity is lost on that turf. Perhaps that's not the only reason why he has stayed away from his home borough. Although he's repelled by his ethnic Russian-Jewish background, he is also attracted to it. He has an adoring younger brother who seems like a good kid, along with an abusive and bitter father, a mother dying of cancer, and some dangling threads from a former love affair.

In a sentence, it plays out like Ingmar Bergman's concept of an urban crime drama. The cold, depressing tone of the film is accentuated by some somber classical and religious music, as well as some stark photography of Brooklyn's Brighton Beach in the wintertime, which looks like a ghost town - empty, dilapidated, covered with snow.

The film was considered a spectacular debut for director James Gray, but in the decade after this film, he has directed only one more project, and that a financially disastrous film with mixed reviews, called The Yards.



A couple of unidentified women look good in bikinis in Elysium

La Cena di Natale


Giulia Elettra Gorietti

Eat Me

2018, 1080hd

Jacqueline Wright film clip (sample below)

Ana de Armas in Sex Party and Lies (2009) in 1080hd

Rachel Weisz and Liv Tyler in Stealing Beauty (1996) in 1080hd (openmatte version)



I suppose Bernardo Bertolucci is the least Italian of all the great Italian directors. Before this, he had not made a movie in Italy in 15 years, and this one wasn't much of a homecoming in the sense that it is in English, and is really about a bunch of Brits and Americans living in and visiting a countryside villa in Tuscany.

Stealing Beauty begins with the arrival of 19-year-old Lucy Harmon (Liv Tyler), an American who has traveled to Italy after her mother's suicide, on the pretext of having her portrait created by an old family friend. Her real reasons are more complex. Her mother's diaries reveal that Lucy was conceived in this very villa, but mother's words do not reveal the identity of her real father. All of her life, she has been told that her father was the man married to her mother, but now she knows that to be false and wants to know who it really is. She also thinks perhaps this would be a good time to lose her cherry. Of course, these projects have to follow a certain chronology. It would be wise to determine who dad is first, in order to avoid sleeping with him.

That's pretty much all there is to it, and you can bet that she will find her dad and her deflowerer, and that they will be two different people, so there's no real mystery. In fact, the film even shows you who her father is before she knows. Given that complete lack of plot or suspense, the film has to rely on character and atmosphere to hold your attention.

Well, characterization ain't it. Lucy, the central character, is underwritten and what little personality she has is vacuous. She is 19, but she seems to have the mind and the emotional development of a 14 year old. We see her poems, empty-headed, lacking in talent, riddled with spelling mistakes, rhyming childishly like Burma Shave signs.

The dye (sic) is cast

The dice are rolled

I feel like shit

You look like gold

I didn't make that up. That was the real poem, verbatim. Do you believe that was written by a 19 year old whose mother was a distinguished poet?
Big sigh.
I used to teach English to high school juniors. They were 16-17 years old. The level of sophistication in their thoughts and writings were far beyond anything Liv shows in this film. One of my classes was a "sweathog" class, but they, too could express their thoughts far better than Liv does here. So the character we see in the film writes and speaks in a manner far less sophisticated than a 16 year old slow learner, yet she is supposed to be the 19 year old daughter of a noted author!!

Poor old Bertolucci seems to be out of touch with the development of humans through adolescence. Perhaps he's forgotten the kinds of thoughts and capabilities we have at certain ages. Or perhaps he really wanted the character to be 14, but couldn't face the reactions he would have gotten from the press and religious groups, so he kept the character the same,  but simply said she was 19. I don't know. I do know that it isn't a realistic 19 year old of any kind.

Hell, how many beautiful 19 year old virgins do you know? Now that I think about it, it seems that he absolutely must have written this character to be 14, only to cave to some external pressure.
It really doesn't matter, anyway, because this Lucy is really not a person at all. She's just a symbol of youthful beauty, like the blonde in the convertible that keeps turning up in those Lampoon's Vacation movies, except our Lucy is a symbol of innocent youth rather than high-spirited youth.

If the part was meant to be vacuous and beautiful, Liv Tyler nailed it. In her performance, and in the accompanying interview, she demonstrated a head devoid of thoughts, and an intellectual  maturity level less than her physical age. Her use of baby-talk terms like "ex-specially" in the interview was, well, exspecially irritating. But you have to admire the genius in casting her. She is beautiful, innocent-looking, and perfectly suited to play a girl who was deceived about the true identity of her father. That's exactly what the film needed.

The secondary parts weren't developed much better. Except for Jeremy Irons as a dying author, the characters were cut out of cardboard stereotypes and dressed up in the official Betsy McCall "eccentric wardrobe", sort of like "East Village Barbie". Irons rose above the rest of the cast, nearly carried the whole movie himself, either because his part was written better or, more likely, because he personally breathed life into it. It was refreshing to see him use his considerable talent to play a role with no sinister character traits, and he pulled it off with great dignity and genuine humanity. 

I guess you think I'm going to tell you to avoid this film. Not so. I enjoyed it.

"Come again, Scoop? If the plot and characterization is poor, what the hell did you like?"
Great direction is all about atmosphere. Are you impressed with the plot and characterization in A Touch of Evil? The plot is grade-z junk, and the characters were all cartoons, although Orson Welles' character was a fascinating cartoon. People think that is a great film because of its atmosphere. Same thing with Stealing Beauty. The atmosphere of the film is very similar to "Sirens". The locals live in an isolated hilltop community where they live some kind of pagan existence, amid unique statuary, golden and green hillsides, naked swimming and sunbathing, eating, lovemaking, and music. It is a moveable feast without much movement. Like Sirens, it takes place in an isolated self-contained community headed by a freethinking artist. Like Sirens, this film did for me what a good doobie used to do in the old days when I was uptight. It just bathed me in a wave of contentment, and sucked me into its hazy world. By the end of the film I was lying in a hammock in the Tuscan sunlight, talking to the rest of the characters, enjoying their comings and goings.

The film presents a marvelous and eclectic selection of music to accentuate the erotic and sensuous mood of their world. Folk, rock, classical, swing, tango - having only sensuousness in common.

And the camerawork is luscious.

Just let yourself be carried away by that atmosphere, and you'll never notice the film's weaknesses. Sure, it's just a Zalman King film with more class and a higher I.Q, but is that such a bad thing?

Cheryl Smith and others in Farewell, My Lovely (1975) in 1080hd

Bob Mitchum had a unique screen personality. To every role, war hero or criminal, he brought a presence that said, "I won't talk a lot, but I'll listen to you if you aren't too irritating. It's just that talkin' takes a lot of energy. I'll even let you give me a little shit, because gettin' riled up is a waste of energy, but pushin' me too far would be a mistake."  He was the embodiment of a certain type of quiet strength. Oh, yeah, Gregory Peck had some of the same sort of persona, but in a God-fearin', sexless way. Bob Mitchum took that Peck thing and added several more layers: sexual charisma, danger, world-weariness, cynicism, even a hint of sleaze. Mitchum even went to jail on a marijuana rap back in the days when people thought the ganja was about a hair's breadth from heroin. I suppose Peck could probably have played the menacing Max Cady effectively, but I doubt he'd have wanted too. And Mitchum probably could have played Atticus Finch, but would they have wanted him?

Mitchum, the quintessential American type, got two tries at playing the honest detective known as Marlowe, a quintessential American character created by Raymond Chandler. In both cases, the films were remakes of wartime classics. Farwell, My Lovely was a remake of 1944's Murder, My Sweet, which starred Dick Powell as Marlowe. The Big Sleep was a remake of an eponymous 1946 film (originally filmed in 1944) which starred Bogie himself. Bogie WAS Philip Marlowe, possessing Marlowe's same sense of integrity so stubbornly ingrained that it led him into inconvenient directions, sometimes even into decisions contrary to his own self-interest. More than one underage starlet reported having been picked up by Bogie at a Hollywood party and driven home - to her parents! That is exactly what Marlowe himself would have done.

I like Bogie in the role better than Mitchum, but I like Mitchum better than anyone else I've ever seen in it, and I like his interpretation of the obligatory voice-over narration better than anyone's. His voice carried just the right combination of resignation, idealism, and cynicism. Farewell, My Lovely is the better of Mitchum's two Marlowes, and in fact is quite a good movie. Chandler's novels are very difficult to whittle down to screenplays because they are so complicated, and because all the characters are disingenuous except Marlowe himself. It's difficult to follow a plot based on dialogue when every single character is lying or hiding something. The other Marlowe films have worked because of atmosphere, wit and style, not because of careful or understandable plotting. Farewell, My Lovely is different. The plot is still complicated as hell, but it's reasonably easy to follow. After watching the movie, I pulled out my copy of the book and skimmed through it to see how the screenwriter approached the project, and I finished that exercise very impressed. The film's story is like the novel's story, but details have been omitted and even changed entirely. At times the complete focal point of the story has been shifted, and it all works - possibly even better than the novel, although one always misses all the intricate details that can be explored in a book. My hat is off to screenwriter David Zelag Goodman.

I had never heard the name of David Zelag Goodman before writing this article, and was fascinated to see that he wrote some respected screenplays in the early 1970s, did so prolifically, and then just kind of disappeared. IMDb offers no clues to this mystery.

Straw Dogs (1971)
Farewell, My Lovely (1975)
Monte Walsh (1970)
Logan's Run (1976)
Lovers and Other Strangers (1970)
Man on a Swing (1974)

Goodman not only did a good job at adapting the plot, but he also layered in some clever parallels between Marlowe's cases and the events happening in the world at the time. For example, things go well for Marlowe at the beginning of the film. He solves two missing persons in two days and also manages to pick up an incredibly hot rich chick, so he mentally compares himself to DiMaggio, who was at the time just a few games shy of the all-time hit record. As DiMaggio passes the record and keeps adding to his record, a cocky Marlowe wonders if DiMaggio will just keep hitting in every game forever (implying that he may do the same, although Marlowe is too modest to say so directly). Of course, DiMaggio is finally stymied by a couple of mediocre pitchers, because all streaks must end. Marlowe's own streak meets a similar fate, disappointing him and breaking his heart, but ultimately enriching us by providing fodder for the usual poetic and melancholy voice-over musings.

The film delivers a comprehensible plot, some touching moments, and some great Marlowe narration from Mitchum. In addition, there are all the atmospheric elements you need in 1941 Los Angeles: neon signs flashing on and off, sassy dames, drunken floozies, big galoots, wise guys, ugly mugs, washed-up fighters, crooked cops, crookeder politicos, lots of street slang, and Harry Dean Stanton. In my book, that pretty much makes Farewell, My Lovely a must-see if you like film noir of the hard-boiled detective variety.