"Kama Sutra: A Tale of Love"

Kama Sutra: A Tale of Love (1996) borrows its title from the Kama Sutra by Vatsayana. This ancient book explaines all of the mysteries of love, and, in part states that there is nothing wrong with casual sex, but that for sexual union to be transcendent, it must be between two people in love. Most modern versions only reproduce part of one chapter, which is a pictorial of sex positions and their description. This is a 16th century Indian love story, that has much to say about freedom, class differences, and who controls whom in relationships, but is amazing eye candy with full frontal nudity from both Sarita Choudhury and Indira Varma, and amazing costumes, sets, and cinematography.

Choudrhuy is a princess, and Varma, while a servant girl, is the same age as Choudrhuy, and is much like a playmate, except that she does not get the education, and is often reminded that she is the servant girl. For instance, she only gets hand me down clothes, and has to spy on classes lie the Kama Sutra teachings. When Choudrhuy is to marry a king, and insults Varma, she seduces the king on his wedding night for revenge. When she is found out, she is exiled. Meanwhile, Choudrhuy is brutally deflowered by her new husband, which would be bad enough, but her calls Varma's name as he cums. She gets furious, and he seeks his courtesans ... from then on.

Varma meets a sculptor, who takes her to love with an ex chief courtesan and Kama Sutra teacher. She falls for the sculptor, who starts making every statue look like her. The king sees his work, recognizes Varma, locates her, and makes her is chief courtesan. Were it not for the fact that Varma loved the sculptor, her revenge would now be perfect.

The film clearly shows that Varma, as a peasant, had much more freedom than the queen, and even after becoming the king's courtesan, still had more control over her life than the queen. She was also the happier of the two. The film also pointed out clearly that, even though a husband owned his wife, and a king owned his courtesans, the women yielded a lot of power over them. It was no accident that Varma was the only principle character that realized some measure of happiness.

IMDB readers have this at 5.4 of 10. Ebert awards 2 stars, as does Berardinelli. The film received a mere 33% from Rotten Tomatoes. Taken as a softcore, it is clearly a first rate bit of erotica, and therefor a C+. Either I am way off base with this film, or the themes didn't come through for most people, so, as a love story, it is probably a C-.

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  • Indira Varma (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47)
  • Sarita Choudhury (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22)

  • Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy)


    L.A. Confidential (1997)

    Some films lose their luster after Oscar day. Whatever trendy thinking caused them to gain nominations or statues seems to get revised and re-examined. Out of Africa, Titanic, The English Patient, Chariots of Fire. What the hell were we thinking of?

    Sailing in the  open seas of record international box office receipts, Titanic won eleven Oscars out of fourteen nominations. It has since run aground on the cold iceberg of reality.

    The highlighted films were nominated either for best picture of best director
    1 L.A. Confidential (1997) 8.4
      Vita č bella, La (1997) 8.4
    3 Mononoke-hime (1997) 8.2
    4 Sweet Hereafter, The (1997) 7.9
    5 Good Will Hunting (1997) 7.8
      Abre los ojos (1997) 7.8
    7 As Good As It Gets (1997) 7.7
    8 Boogie Nights (1997) 7.6
      Hana-bi (1997) 7.6
      Chasing Amy (1997) 7.6
    11 Gattaca (1997) 7.5
      Donnie Brasco (1997) 7.5
      Ice Storm, The (1997) 7.5
      Game, The (1997) 7.5
      Karakter (1997) 7.5
    16 Carne trémula (1997) 7.4
      Grosse Pointe Blank (1997) 7.4
      Ma vie en rose (1997) 7.4
      Knockin' On Heaven's Door (1997) 7.4
      Jackie Brown (1997) 7.4
      12 Angry Men (1997) (TV) 7.4
      Perfect Blue (1997/I) 7.4
      Lawn Dogs (1997) 7.4
      Contact (1997) 7.4
      Spanish Prisoner, The (1997) 7.4
    26 Cube (1997) 7.3
      Mrs. Brown (1997) 7.3
      Cheun gwong tsa sit (1997) 7.3
      Castle, The (1997/I) 7.3
      Full Monty, The (1997) 7.3
      In the Company of Men (1997) 7.3
    32 Henry Fool (1997) 7.2
      Eve's Bayou (1997) 7.2
      Insomnia (1997) 7.2
      Ulee's Gold (1997) 7.2
      Apostle, The (1997) 7.2
    37 Butcher Boy, The (1997) 7.1
      Lost Highway (1997) 7.1
      Deconstructing Harry (1997) 7.1
      Funny Games (1997) 7.1
      Face/Off (1997) 7.1
    42 Devil's Advocate, The (1997) 7.0
      Amistad (1997) 7.0
      Love and Death on Long Island (1997) 7.0
      Kundun (1997) 7.0
      Fifth Element, The (1997) 7.0
      Wilde (1997) 7.0
      Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997) 7.0
    49 Suicide Kings (1997) 6.9
      Wag the Dog (1997) 6.9
      Affliction (1997) 6.9
      Titanic (1997) 6.9
      Wings of the Dove, The (1997) 6.9

    As you can see, the Academy was walking on particularly soft quicksand that year. Titanic is no longer in the top four dozen pictures of  the year, and The Full Monty is a fairly entertaining film, but obviously had no place on the Oscar nominations list in the first place.

    There were some very good films that year, but in this one we have history's judgment as the rightful winner, Curtis Hanson's brilliant entertainment picture, L.A. Confidential, a revisionist noir tale about crime and police corruption in L.A. in the 1950's, set against a backdrop of popular post-War cultural phenomena like the new scandal magazines, the demise of the Siegel/Cohen rackets, and the rise of an up-and-coming medium called television.

    The story is fundamentally the story of three pretty good cops who are not necessarily good men. Ed Exley (Guy Pearce) is a political animal, a weaselly college graduate with the ability to spin everything in his favor. Bud White (Russell Crowe) is the department tough guy, the kind of cop who gets people to confess, and who'll plant evidence on guilty guys. Jack Vincennes (Kevin Spacey) doesn't seem like a cop at all, but a movie star, a perception heightened by his job as the technical adviser on Dragnet. They start the film working on separate matters, but their cases all seem to wind together, and all seem to be related to the struggle to take over the territory of mobster Mickey Cohen after his federal bust of tax evasion.

    As usual with this type of film, the plot is so complicated that the details seem impossible to follow, but that doesn't matter. This is a character study, and the script gave all three actors a chance to shine. Spacey already was a star, but future superstars Guy Pearce (Memento) and Russell Crowe (A Beautiful Mind) were virtual unknowns before this film. Of the two Aussies, Crowe was the bigger star, having built something of a reputation in Australian cult hits, but he was not known internationally. I suppose you all know who his is now. Pearce was a virtual unknown except to the hard-core film buffs who recognized him from Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. L.A. Confidential gave him a resumé, and Memento eventually made him a star, albeit on a smaller scale than the feisty, ubiquitous Crowe.

    Director Curtis Hanson did a magnificent job on this film in many more ways than just good casting and writing. Although the script is quite similar to the classic 40's noir films, Hanson deliberately eschewed the stylistic approaches of those films. There are few of those characteristic opportunities for long shadows in lamplit scenes. Most of the action takes place in natural light, often in the hazy daylight that L.A. is famous for, and the sets concentrate on the things that were new in L.A. in the 50s, not the elements that reflected the glory of the 30s and 40s. Although the action takes place 44 years before the film was made, the cinematography leaves the viewer with the "we live in a brave new world now" feeling that California embodied for post-war America. 

    • General USA consensus: four stars. Ebert 4/4, Berardinelli 3.5/4.

    • The film was nominated for nine Oscars, winning only two (supporting actress and adapted screenplay) in the face of the Titanic juggernaut.

    • Metacritic.com. 95/100. That's also about as good as it gets. #17 of all time.

    • IMDB summary. IMDb voters score it 8.4/10.  That's also about as good as it gets. #41 of all time. Yahoo voters score it 4.8/5, which is the highest I have ever seen.

    Based on this description, this film is at least a  B+, probably an A. It can be argued that it rivals "Raiders" as the best pure entertainment picture of the past 30 years, and it is universally acclaimed. Rated in the all-time top 50 by everyone, even better by some.



    The Whole Nine Yards (2000)


    Critics drew a line in the sand with this film. The indy guys declared that if you liked it, you were against everything independent film stands for, and you lost your soul. Reel.com scored it 1/4. Film Threat 1/5. Matinee Magazine 1/5. The Austin Chronicle 1/5.

    That's just crazy. Sure it is a formula picture, and it isn't a masterpiece, but it is basically a fairly pleasant watch spoiled by some occasional comic overacting. Despite some hammy minor characters, Matthew Perry was fairly funny in his usual terrified schmuck persona, and Amanda Peet was dazzling and amusing as a hitwoman in training.

    As for the reviewers with some grasp on reality, the general consensus was that it was a sometimes tolerable Hollywood formula comedy. Some thought it was barely watchable, others found it quite entertaining. James Berardinelli scored it 2/4, Ebert 3/4, and my guess is that that represents the "correct" range. It's probably more of a guy flick, and favorable audiences probably skew younger than average, the CinemaScore and IMDb demographic analyses show fairly strong consistency across age and gender groups.

    Matthew Perry plays a Montreal dentist whose home life is a disaster, his hours filled with his detestable wife and her equally despicable mother. Perry's problems begin when a famous hit man (Bruce Willis) moves in next door. Perry recognizes him and does not have the sense to keep his mouth shut. He tells his wife (Rosanna Arquette) who the new neighbor really is, and she then concocts a plan to have the professional killer kill her husband. Her plan turns out to be completely inept and the hit man decides to use the situation to catch up on some loose ends in his own life. Blah, blah, yadda, yadda. Love quadrangle. Multiple double-crosses. As Canadian dentists say, you know the drill. Eh?

    The "serious" romantic dialogue is absolutely as bad as the indie reviewers contended. I don't know why the actors said those lines instead of telling the director they just weren't natural. And Perry is completely unbelievable in the love scenes, but the serious stuff is just throwaway material. The romances and the crime noir elements just aren't good enough to work on their own

    Frankly, the comedy doesn't work that well, either, abut it had some moments. Rosanna Arquette and Kevin Pollak tried for laughs, but simply weren't funny at all. Natasha Henstridge didn't try to be funny, and Bruce Willis played it fairly straight. That left only newcomer Amanda Peet to provide the comic balance to Matthew Perry. She did well, providing lots of charm and energy, a thousand watt smile and some really sexy nudity, in a performance which stands apart from the rest of her career, demonstrating a wonderful comic potential and an enthusiasm that has never really been exploited elsewhere.

     The rest of the entertainment came from Matthew Perry himself, Chandler Binging his heart out, giving it the ol' college try.

    • General USA consensus: two and a half stars. Ebert 3/4, Berardinelli 2/4, BBC 3/5

    • Box Office Mojo. It was budgeted at $40 million for production, and the distribution/advertising costs are estimated around $23 million. It grossed $57 million in a maximum of 2900 theaters. (The studio hoped for much better, but it was a moderate hit.)
    • Exit interviews: Cinema Score. Straight B+ from men of all ages. A- from young girls, but B or B- from grown women.

    Based on this description, this film is a C. A pleasant watch, but lacking in big laughs. The noir plot sometimes slowed down the pace of the comedy, and for my money the stretches without laughs are too lengthy. Young audiences should like it more than I did.

    • Amanda Peet (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)

    • Rosanna Arquette (1, 2)


    Other crap:

    Here 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.

    'Caps and comments by Brainscan:

    The Croupier is an interesting movie, yes it is, and it has a full-frontal scene by Alex Kingston, which makes it the best thing I've seen since Y Tu Mama Tambien. Tuna and Scoopy Sr. described it well; all I have to offer is a bunch of collages of Alex and a couple of other women.

    • Alex Kingston, full-frontal in 1 and 2, el primo hooties in 3-5, downblouse in 6, pokies in 7. (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7)

    • Katie Hardie shows breasts in a clothes-changing scene

    • Gina McKee gives us some cleavage

    • Vida Garman reveals the side of her bum in a zipless sport-humpin scene.

    'Caps and comments by Hankster:

    The time machine got stuck in 1983, but that's a good thing because we get to see the star of "My Tutor" today.

    Caren Kaye, probably not a real well known babe, but she had a long and varied career including lots of television work.

    In "My Tutor" she played the tutor who wound up doing a lot more for Matt Littanzi than tutoring him.

    She loved his swimming pool which gave us some pretty nice breast exposure of a very nice body.She has been a favorite of mine for a long time.

    Halle Berry
    (1, 2)

    From her Oscar winning role in "Monster's Ball". Cleavage in #1, Halle gettin' it on and showing the goods in #2.

    Patricia Skeriotis
    (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9)

    Great breast views from the Greek-American B-movie babe in these 'caps by Señor Skin from "Dreammaster: The Erotic Invader" (1996).

    Pat Reeder www.comedy-wire.com
    Pat's comments in yellow...

    A Lotta Bananas - Fox TV is planning a special called "Play For A Billion," in which 1,000 people chosen at random will compete for a $1 million prize, then the winner gets a 1-in-1,000 chance to win $1 billion, if he can predict the order in which a series of numbers will be selected by a monkey. The producer said, "It's the ultimate slap in the face to evolution: the fate of a billion dollars will be in the hands of a monkey." But he said they first must find the right monkey because "monkeys don't grow on trees."

  • Actually, I think they kinda do.
  • People willing to go on reality shows do grow on trees.
  • It's hard to find a monkey who can't be bribed.
  • If he wants a chimp, try looking in the Fox programming department.
  • Every high-rated Fox reality show is a slap in the face to evolution.

    Take A Mulligan - Feminist Martha Burk's protest over the Augusta National Golf Club not allowing women turned into an underwhelming freak show. Only about 50 supporters showed up to see Burk with her giant inflatable pig and 7-foot cardboard Klansman. Jesse Jackson was a no-show, but there was an anti-war protester in clown makeup, flag shawl and black garter belts; an Elvis impersonator in rhinestone jumpsuit; a man in a sandwich board sign that read "I Will Kiss Martha Burk For a Ticket" to the Masters Tournament; and one actual Klansman, but he wore a plaid shirt and jeans and only wanted to show off photos of his poodles.

  • Boy, they're just not making Klansmen like they used to.
  • On the plus side, it was a lot more entertaining than watching a televised golf tournament.
  • You know you're in trouble if there are TV cameras and Jesse Jackson doesn't show up.