Secretary (2002) is a romantic comedy, but the central conflict that drives the story is not as much about the relationship between secretary Maggie Gyllenhaal and boss James Spader, as the inner conflict within each of them. As the film opens, she is being released from an institution where she was placed after a supposed suicide attempt. Actually, it was not a suicide attempt at all, but a miscalculation during one of her self-mutilations, something she had been doing for many years. She clearly didn't much like the hospital, and we learn in a few very brief scenes that her father is an abusive drunk, and her mother practically stalks her, so home is not her favorite place either. She attends secretarial school, and lands a job with James Spader. The rest of the review could be considered a spoiler, so don't read on if you plan on seeing this film.
Spader, we slowly learn, is a dom, but is ashamed of his tendencies. When Spader comments on her self-mutilation, and correctly guesses why she does it, she believes that a relationship with him is possible. After he spanks her for frequent typos, she is in love, and on her way to a realization that she is a true submissive. So the real story here is her awakening, and acceptance of her masochistic tendencies. Spader is virtually helpless around her, and can't control his urges to dominate. Gyllenhaal is now in the strange position of being a submissive trying to get an unwilling dom to do what she wants. When she finally has the nerve to confront him, she uses a safe word, "time out," that she has picked up from reading about dominance and submission, and he does not even recognize it. At this point, she understands him better than he understands himself, and we see a key point about the lifestyle. Not only does the submissive have the easier job, but it really they who control the relationship.
In the commentary, the director and author repeatedly talk about scenes that were radically cut, but the cuts mostly shortened back story, letting acting deliver the background, and kept the focus on the relationship between Spader and Gyllenhaal. In the end, we see that the two have become a normal, happy suburban couple that happen to be into a D & M relationship. There is a final subtle joke in the ending, where she drops a dead roach from her pocket onto a freshly made bed, and smiles broadly, knowing that she will get the paddling she wants when he gets home. If this film has a message, I suppose it is that D & M might seem bizarre to outsiders, but it is one normal choice of lifestyle. Along the way, the film provides much insight.
It is an intensely sexual film. Gyllenhaal has two very hot masturbation scenes. and Spader one. We also get views of Gyllenhaal nude from every angle in the last act. IMDB readers have this at 7.2 of 10. Gyllenhaal, who was nothing short of brilliant, received numerous acting awards. The film won critical acceptance, with three stars from Ebert, and a rare 3 1/2 from Berardinelli. Rotten Tomatoes have it 70% positive overall, with 82% from the top critics. It is not easy to make an entertaining film from this subject matter, and the director and the writer deserve much of the credit for pulling it off. It was also very well cast. I think this film has an audience beyond those who would normally be in favor of S & M and B & D films, and is therefor a B-.
|Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy)
This is a new release today. There is no nudity, but it was a
highly acclaimed film with four Oscar nods, so I wrote about it
anyway. The plot is simple on the surface. A perfect 50s couple seem to
have a perfect 50s life. He's a successful executive and she's the
model housewife. Beneath the glittering surface, however, are
secrets which prompt a concatenation of events that destroy the
idyllic scene. The wife (Julianne Moore) comes to her husband's
office late one night and finds him in a passionate embrace ...
... with another male Brooks Brothers executive.
While he tries to "treat" his homosexuality with therapy and
counseling, the husband (Dennis Quaid) develops a drinking problem
as well. In the meantime, the gentle-hearted wife starts to develop
a very close friendship with an educated and refined black man who
is doing some work for her. Needless to say, everything goes wrong.
That's about all there is to the plot. That seems simple, but the
film is actually exceedingly complicated. You see, Far From Heaven
is a film that asks you to make some the challenging mental
adjustments which are necessary to approach it. It is the ultimate
post-modernist 1950s homage. The characters dealing with
homosexuality and miscegenation are not modern people, nor modern
movie characters, nor 1950s people. They are 1950s movie characters.
They encompass the full scope of the stilted 1950s images that were
suitable for projection in the films and television shows of the
1950s. They live in houses which are designed perfectly. The women
dress in high heels and pinafore skirts while they serve their
families hearty, nourishing breakfasts. The people all speak with a
studied indirectness as if characters in a play by Pinter or
Beckett. The acting is not as natural as it would be in a movie made
today, and is not the way people really talked in the 50s, but is a
perfect replication of how people acted in 50s films.
When the characters experience the events of their daily lives,
they are accompanied by 50s style theme music, ranging from the
syrupy/sad strains of the weep-o-matic climax to the "Riley pulled
another boner" music of the light moments, as reproduced by Elmer
Bernstein, a man who actually scored many of those 50s melodramas.
The characters' lives are encapsulated by Kodak moments in a
manner replicating the films of the period. There are plenty of
anachronisms related to the time of year, some listed below, but we
have to remember that this is not a film about Connecticut in the
50s. It is a film about 50s films about Connecticut in the 50s. In
those days, the art directors would have Spring flowers blooming in
Fall if it achieved the correct aesthetic balance, and this film
followed the old formula perfectly. For a detailed discussion of the
specific films which provide the spiritual roots of this homage,
read the Salon article linked below. They did a thorough job, and
they obviously know much more about these films that I do.
Some of the inappropriate items used to produce the artistic look
of the film:
- Although the film starts in Autumn (fallen and russet leaves
are everywhere), this particular Autumn includes newly blooming
- The Connecticut February is filled with beautiful flowers in
full bloom outdoors, and March is filled with flowering trees. It
sure looked impressive, however, to see the snow falling in the
midst of all the colorful blooms.
- As they walk through the beautiful Fall foliage, the black man
hands Julianne Moore some witch hazel in bloom. (Witch hazel
flowers in Spring.)
The film is just about awash in production design
and art design, from Moore's perfect home to Quaid's art deco
office. Everything is a marvel in gray-green and russet hues. I
guess Julianne Moore must be a "Fall". I can't really comment
on the season theory of colors, because I went to have my colors
analyzed once, and it turns out I don't have a full season, only
Ground Hog Day, so my whole color palette is "brown and furry" mixed
with "grey and dreary". This sense of style makes me sort of
conspicuous when I visit Paris or Milan to see the Spring line, but
helps me blend in perfectly in Gary, Indiana in February.
I found myself impressed by the period feel of the
film, the set design, and the cinematography, but I could never get
into the lives of the characters. The first half of the film was
more interesting to me, because it functions simultaneously as a 50s
melodrama and as a parody of 50s melodrama. The old style of acting
and the hilarious background music had me in stitches. The
filmmakers don't try to be funny. They just show us that the actual
attitudes of 50s movies simply seem funny by their very quaintness,
and the liberal attitudes of the progressives in the film seem like
they are slightly to the right of the KKK when perceived by our
newly-tuned ears. The husband is determined to "beat this thing" and
get back on the heterosexual path again, as if he simply had to quit
smoking. The wife's well-meaning words to the black man she cares
about seem painfully condescending to us, and his apparent lack of
offense seems even more embarrassing. (At least Sydney Poitier would
have told her with his eyes that she was talking to him as if he
were a child, and she would have understood.)
In the second half of the movie, however, all the irony
disappears and the film simply becomes a beautiful, cinematic
tribute to those 50s weepfests. Frankly, that is a type of
filmmaking that I do not miss, so I didn't enjoy this very much, but
if you like those multi-hankie films about the racial and sexual
hypocrisy of society, as portrayed sincerely but clumsily in the
Hollywood of the 50s, go for it.
I have to say that one thing surely surprised me about the
ending. The wife ended up a social pariah, completely ostracized
because of her very pure friendship with the black man.
The husband, on the other hand, seemed ready to resume his former
successful life as a top executive with his hot young toy-boy. Yeah,
that could happen in the 50s.
General USA consensus: four
stars. Ebert 4/4, Berardinelli 3.5, Entertainment Weekly
Nudity: none. It is a perfect 50s-style film.
This film was part of the 2nd season of "American
Film Theater", Ely Landau's series of productions in which he
created filmed version of important plays and showed them in stage
theatres for a single weekend, with advance tickets and reserved
seating like a concert. He hoped to turn these works of serious
literature into "events" for the uptown intellectuals. I'm not sure
how he planned to make a profit, but he made a lot of these films
before the idea imploded after the second year. Before the new DVD
releases, these films had virtually disappeared. I can't speak for
the others in the series, but this one has been beautifully restored
by Kino Video, with quite a few extra features.
Widescreen letterboxed 1.85:1.
It looks excellent.
various written essays on
this play, Jean Genet, and the AFT
an interview with Edie
Landau of the AFT
the AFT promotional reel
the trailers for most of
the AFT films
They filmed plays by Eugene O'Neill, Harold Pinter,
Edward Albee, Brecht, Maxwell Anderson, Osborne, Ionesco, and other
such intellectual luminaries of stagecraft. There were even some
intellectual musicals, like "Lost in the Stars" and "Jacques Brel".
There were some most distinguished productions. Olivier directed and
starred in a Chekhov play which co-starred such rising young talents
as Derek Jacobi and Alan Bates. Ionesco's Rhinoceros starred Zero
Mostel and Gene Wilder, who also co-starred in the famed Mel Brooks
comedy "The Producers". Some of the directors included John
Frankenheimer, Arthur Hiller, and Tony Richardson.
The Maids is one of the plays which made the renegade French
playwright Jean Genet a hero of the intellectual counter culture in
the period from WW2 to Vietnam. Genet, himself a thief and a male
prostitute turned to literature, felt himself to be a champion of
the downtrodden of the world: homosexuals, the third world, the
criminal demimonde, the non-white world, the impoverished, the
anti-corporate, the underdog. In fact, as late as 1968, Genet was
involved in the anti-war protests at the Democratic convention, and
Genet was still alive in the mid 80s, Most of his plays and novels
were actually written in the forties. After Genet became a literary
cause celebre for intellectuals like Sartre, his productivity
dropped precipitously, and he wrote virtually nothing between 1960
and his death in 1986.
This particular play was inspired by the true story of two French
maids who murdered their employer in 1933. This filmed adaptation
stars Glenda Jackson and Susannah York.
The women were said to be lesbian lovers as well as
sisters. A more literal adaptation of this event was made into a film
called Murderous Maids in 2000. Genet was not interested in the
literal truth, but in the workings of the maids' minds. Genet, of
course, identified with the maids. In his version, the women play
roles constantly, assuming false deferential poses with the mistress,
then taking turns playing the part of the mistress when she is absent.
They plot to murder her. Although they do not succeed in that
particular plot, they do provide false evidence against the lover of
their mistress, and are waiting for the police to catch up with them
after their failure to murder Madame.
I haven't actually spoiled the plot.
The gist of the play's meaning, as well as the important plot
developments, really unfold after the Madame leaves
and the two maids are left to resume their bickering and role-playing.
There are no reviews available. It is rated 6.1 at IMDb, based on a
scanty 19 votes. Based on our system, this
film is a C+ - a real treasure for people who thought these
films to be lost forever, and for devotees of the great era of
the serious playwrights in the 60s and 70s. For anyone else -
well, it's all talk, folks.
There is full frontal male nudity, but only a brief
peek at Susannah York's nipple. Or not .
WHOA! Nine hours after TSG reported on the pending criminal
charges faced by "American Idol" finalist Corey Clark,
22-year-old singer was removed from the hit program by Fox
Television. Here's the
woman with a rap sheet stays put, however
words on 80 years of TIME covers
women get naked to win free cell phones. Head off to Moscow
with a few Nokias, lads, and you should have quite a time.
Norwegians play hilarious April Fools' prank on Sweden (The
Scandinavians really get into April Fools' Day)
Top 100 April
Fool's Day Hoaxes of All Time. From the Museum of Hoaxes,
which is, in itself, a hoax.
feel like lighting up a legal cigarette in a NY bar? Don't do it
if you;re watching your budget.If you want to save some cash, it
makes more sense to
fire up a doobie instead. Although pot is illegal, the
penalties on the smoker for smoking it are insignificant by the
measure of NY prices, and there is no fine on the establishment at
Does life imitate art? In a story out of Pret-a-Porter,
Weekly World News claims that nudity is the hot new fashion
whitehouse.org is getting mighty edgy.
Quoting Rumsfeld: "Remember
that the American people are a susceptible bunch of sexually
frustrated, adolescently violent hysterical grandmothers. And it
is to FOX News that this Administration looks to deliver its
soothing video morphine drip to the people."
Liz Hurley fantasizes about sex with Posh Spice. As Arthur
said in Python's Grail, "Good idea, Lord!" I'll bet she could make
enough money to retire if she made it a PPV.
How bad does
flick suck? People are comparing it to Swept Away and Shanghai
Madonna's new video pulled by Madonna herself - here's the
video without the visuals, which would be more of an audio, I
April 16th is the premiere of this. Christopher Guest and crew
(including Eugene Levy, Catherine O'Hara, Michael McKean and Harry
Shearer) have done a
"Spinal Tap" style mockumentary about windy old 1960s folk singing
Actor Robert Conrad injured, arrested after crash
are the latest movie reviews available at scoopy.com.
- 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 Lawdog or Junior or C2000 or Realist or ICMS or Mick
Locke, or somebody else besides me)
- If there is no asterisk, I wrote it, but am too
ashamed to admit it.
- Juliet Mills...very nice breast exposure from the 1972 movie "Avanti"
Be sure to pay Graphic Response a visit at his website. www.graphic-barry.com.
'Caps and comments by Brainscan:
Two A-list babes today in roles where they sho nuff got nekkid but kept stuff between themselves and the camera...most of the time. We got Catherine Zeta-Jones in "Entrapment" and Daryl Hannah in "Roxanne".
- CZ-J gets caught sleeping in the buff but the onliest things you can see are three motion-blurred frames of one natural wonder (collages 2 and 3) and sorta something when the obscuring foreground object moves (collage 5).
Otherwise you get her perfect face (all collages) and her frame in really tight pants (collages 8-10).
- Daryl was nekkid in an early scene from Roxanne, when she must slip off her robe to get back in her house... or something very much like that. You see her disrobe with the camera aimed tragically too high (collage 1) and then you see her run around a lot behind fences and trees and green, leafy bushes (collages 2-4). You do see fleeting and faraway glimpses of her bum, however (collages 2 and 4) and an interesting someting or other in the middle frame of collage 2. Sigh. This scene coulda been a contender.
|Topless in several scenes from the Eric Roberts movie "Sensation". The transfer to DVD is not that good but is better than a VHS.
||Topless in scenes from the two Coreys flick "Blown Away".
Topless and very hairy in scenes from "Blood Moon:
'Caps and additional comments by Dann:
This is one of the more interesting werewolf movies I've ever seen, but it's not really a werewolf movie. This is also one of the more interesting horror movies I've ever seen, but it's not really a horror movie.
Made in 2001 as a TV movie called "Wolf Girl", Blood Moon is really a morality play about how poorly we treat people who are different. It's also a love story.
A teenager in a traveling freak show has the rare condition hypertrichosis, which causes her to have heavy hair all over her body. Dressed up in fake fangs and claws, she indeed becomes the wolf girl for the audience, although she is actually a sweet, kind-hearted person. When a shy local boy grows to love her, he gives her an experimental drug that his mother is working on. It does indeed cause the hair to go away, but some unexpected side effects complicate things.
This story has many, many sub-plots and is well worth your time, in my opinion.
|Señor Skin 'caps of the cute blonde topless in scenes from the Kari Wuhrer movie "Poison".
||Full frontal shower nudity from the German Big Brother.
|Vidcaps by PKOrion of assorted babes going topless, frontal and showing a bit of bum in scenes from the Hankster favorite, "The Abductors" (1972).
|Pat Reeder www.comedy-wire.com
Pat's comments in yellow...
FORMULA FOR A PERFECT COUPLE
1.10: Too Tall! - Dr. Boguslaw Pawlowski of Poland's Wroclaw University
claims to have developed a formula for the perfect couple. After studying
600 women between 19 and 50, he decided that genetically, women prefer
taller men and see them as having higher social status and earnings, and
they automatically seek a partner of a certain height who will give them
the right size children. But they adjust their height requirements so
their mate will match their own physique. For most women, the perfect mate
is 1.09 times taller than they are.
For men, the perfect woman has breasts 2.1 times larger than his hands.
I thought women liked tall men so they wouldn't look stupid while slow
Here's a man's formula for a happy couple: "Man plus woman plus food
plus sports minus nagging."
CHER DUMPS ON MICHAEL JACKSON
They'll Probably Grow Up To Be Gay! - Cher is an old friend of Michael
Jackson's, but she told Entertainment Tonight that she'll never buy his
records again because she's so upset about his treatment of his children.
She said she didn't care about his face, "he could just erase it as far as
I'm concerned," but "this guy is nuts" and "if it were up to me, he
wouldn't have those babies now." Cher said, "I watched him grow up and all
that, but, you know, you dangle a baby over a balcony, that's it for me."
Proving at last that Hollywood celebrities DO have limits.
She would've been frowning when she said this, if she could.
This is bad news for Michael: Cher was the last person still buying his
MICHAEL MOORE OSCAR SPIN #4!
Actually, Scorsese Was Scratching His Nose - Michael Moore now claims the
bad response to his Oscar speech was an illusion created by the show's
director. He said the booing was "oddly amplified," the cameras were
"desperately trying to find people who were disagreeing with me and
couldn't," and they cut away from people like Martin Scorsese who were just
about to applaud. Oscar producer Gil Cates called that "bull," said he
showed a live event just as it happened, and fumed, "The man is paranoid!"
Michael says if he's paranoid, it's only because George W. Bush and the
CIA's secret trained dolphins made him that way!
His cap size is too small for his fat head, and it's cutting off
They cut to Salma Hayek, who was applauding wildly, but the audience was
too transfixed by her bouncing breasts to notice.