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"A Price Above Rubies" (1998)

A Price Above Rubies (1998) is a character driven drama, and an art film dealing with the Hasidic culture in New York, and the experiences of a vibrant young Jewish wife trying to survive in that environment. Her young husband is very religious and a scholar, and thinks sex is a mitzvah (blessing) and should happen in a pious manner. She would like to get laid frequently and with enthusiasm. As the film begins, she is a young girl talking with her brother. Even then, she questions parts of the faith. Her brother, to prove something to himself and her, decides to go for a midnight swim (he was a non-swimmer) and drowns. Cut to the present, and she is taking her newborn to his bris, but is not happy about it.

She is having much trouble coping with her libido, the difficulties of raising a newborn, and her husband's indifference toward her. She is also under the thumb of her sister in law. Finally, relief of sorts comes from her husband's brother, who gives her a job running his under-the-table jewelry business, and nails her on top of the table every morning. As she struggles to make meaning of her life, she is frequently seen talking with her dead brother, who, in some ways, is her conscience. She meets a young Puerto Rican jewelry artist, and wants to represent him. Shortly after meeting him, her husband and his sister decide that she is to be shunned, divorced, and expelled from the community.


You can probably figure out the rest of the plot from here, and, in fact, the film makers let you do that, although they visually complete it during the end credits. One of the symbols in the film is a ruby, which is a symbol for Sonia (Renee Zellweger), and is her birth stone. The artist has created a wonderful ring setting for his muse. He says he is saving it for when he finds his muse, then he will know which stone to set in it for her. The film ends with her husband giving her a ruby, and admitting that there was no fault to assign for their failed marriage, but that they just were not compatible.

The jeweler tries to give her the ring, and she asks him to hold it for her for a while. During the closing credits, they show the ruby being set into the ring -- extra closure for those who were unwilling to reach the logical conclusion. It was very refreshing for a film to give me credit for some insight and intelligence.

End Spoilers

This film purportedly has a nipple slip of Zellweger, but it does not exist in the Widescreen version that I saw. There are some poke throughs, when she wakes up in a thin nightgown next to the jewelry artist. There is also excellent breasts and full-frontal from an actress I could not get a positive ID on, but who is probably either Asia Minor or Rosanna Plasencia. Maltin says 2 1/2 stars, but advises genre fans to see it. Berardinelli says 2 stars, complaining that all of the characters are stereotypes. Ebert really liked it, to the tune of 3 stars, and, in an excellent review, notices all of the things about the film that I did. IMDB readers have it at 6.3/10. The film grossed just over $1.m in a limited US release. I liked it a lot, but we all know I sometimes have weird taste. Zellweger's performance was wonderful, and I enjoyed this glimpse into a culture very foreign to me. I award a B-. You know by now if you are going to see it or not.

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  • Renee Zellweger (1, 2, 3, 4)
  • Unknown (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)

    "No Safe Haven" (1987)

    I grew up in Southern California. There is an island next to the Long Beach, Los Angeles, San Pedro coast connected to all three cities by bridges named Terminal Island. An eclectic little island, it is home to Naval Ship Yards, a Navy Base, a prison, the Coast Guard, and a bunch of tuna canneries on Tuna Street. As a side note, members of my mother's family owned a lot of the island before WW-II, before the Navy took it over. When the canneries were active on a hot summer day, the stench was the sort of thing that twists your nose in a knot and makes you gag. What has this got to do with a film review, you ask? This films stinks far more than Tuna Street ever did.

    A star football player is told to throw a football game (semi-finals, next stop Superbowl) by his South American drug buddies whom he owes money to. Rather than throw the game, he breaks his arm. The drug lords didn't enjoy losing the $3meg they had bet, so they execute him, his mother, and his young brother. They didn't count on a second brother who worked for the CIA in Honduras. The rest of the film is all revenge action. Problem one, it was just plain poorly made. I have seen boom mikes dip into films before, but never most of the mike, a lot of the boom, and the hand holding the boom. Problem two, the acting was on a par with psychodrama in a deeply disturbed ward of a mental hospital.

    There was exposure, first, before the opening credits, by unknown topless bathers at a party, and then by Paula Preston getting laid in the back seat of her car outside a bar. What did the exposure have to do with the plot? I don't know either. Paula isn't listed at IMDB as being in this film. There are no reviews anywhere, and no box office information. The 7 IMDB people who have voted have it at 4.1/10, which is 4 points too high in my opinion. Even if you can turn your brain off, and ignore the technical problems, there is no curve of excitement and no suspense. Stay upwind of this one.

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  • Paula Preston (1, 2, 3, 4)
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  • Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy)

    I owe you all an apology. I have been talking about the worst movies of last year without an important piece of evidence. I just now got around to Ethan Hawke's Hamlet. 'tis a foul abomination of stench most wretched, and to the manner stillborn. Obviously, the Razzies guys never saw this, either, because it makes Battlefield Earth seem in comparison to be Raiders of the Lost Ark. Hawke's Hamlet would be the worst performance in the history of the English language, had they not also cast Bill Murray as Polonius. A wretched movie, so bad in fact that I recommend watching it for the sheer mad poetry of its incompetence, silliness, and complete disrespect for the serious ideas and evocative language of the greatest writer in our history. How in the world did the brilliant Liev Schreiber agree to appear in this crap? (he was terrific, by the way, but that just showed how bad everyone else was. If I was Ethan Hawke, I would have insisted on dropping Schreiber and casting Kevin Costner in the part.)

    The next time one of you thinks I have an easy life, imagine an entire day watching and thinking about Ethan Hawke as Hamlet.


    I looked at The Ladies Man. It is hard to imagine a week in which The Ladies Man would not be the worst film. Thank you, Ethan Hawke.


    I looked at The Base 2. Straight-to-vid-or-cable. Part of a series with Antonio Sabato as an undercover military policeman.


    I continued I  Like to Play Games Too

    • Today, Stephanee LeFleur. (1, 2, 3, 4)


    I did Billy Elliot. Disappointing. No flesh.

    Graphic Response
  • Caroline Ducey From the mainstream French movie that just barely does not qualify as a porno, "Romance" (1999).

  • Brainscan
    Okay, so here's another ostentation of Pets in the adult movie biz, in ascending order of scenes doing the nasty.

    Mason Marconi, Pet in Oct '97, is a B movie bim who did a tiny bit of hardcore work involving plastic toys or some such.

  • Mason Marconi (1, 2, 3)

    Slightly more active was the luminous and late Leslie Glass. Have sung her praises before, but it bears some repeating that this woman was a frigging goddess. Have seen on the web scans from a hardcore Penthouse shoot involving Leslie and her boyfriend (you guys who subscribe to the Penthouse site no doubt have them on your hard drive); would send them along but that copy of the guccioni mag has not passed through the shop. Anyway, Ms. Glass did some B movie work after appearing in Penthouse Jan '92, and then shot some hardcore stuff before her untimely demise.

  • Leslie Glass (1, 2, 3)

    Next on the list is Stephanie Adams, Pet of Jan '88; this is not the painfully cute Stephanie Adams who was Hefmate in the 80's, but a brunette turned bleach blonde who did the 6-month-wonder routine in fuck films after she posed for the Penthouse cameras.

  • Stephanie Adams (1, 2, 3, 4)

    Taylor Wayne ran that play in reverse: porn then Penthouse. I read somewhere she has had a half-dozen sets of robohooters installed and removed over the years. Geez, Goldilocks needed only three shots to get it just right.

  • Taylor Wayne (1, 2, 3)

    Nanna Gibson, Pet of Feb 98, is a real honey who has screwed just about everyone on the planet while acting under the name of Dina Jewel. Well, everyone but me, as it turns out.

  • Nanna Gibson (1, 2)

    And we end today's exercise with the exotic Tera Patrick, Feb 2000 Pet, who has made a couple of dozen adult videotapes and so far as I know is still very active. Or so we hope.

  • Tera Patrick (1, 2, 3, 4)

  • HBS Grafix
    Natasha Gregson Wagner
    (1, 2)

    Excellent topless 'caps from "Modern Vampires" aka "Revenant".

    Tabatha Cash
    (1, 2)

    Full frontal 'caps of the former adult actress. Very nice quality images of Tabatha feelin' her self up a bit.

    Halle Berry From "Introducing Dorothy Dandridge" (1999). Nothing revealing of course, but there is one frame of Halle being groped. I'd say that earns at least a few points.

    Krista Allen An interesting look for the former Emmanuelle. Very slight see-thru nipple exposure.

    Coral Diaz The exact opposite of the Krista exposure. There's really no reason for her to even be wearing a top in this one.

    Halle Berry Semi-see-thru thong view.

    Vibe Sorenson
    (1, 2)

    Excellent topless pose in #1, and very sexy partial breast and bum exposure in #2.

    Adrienne Posta Setting the way back machine all the way to 1977. Here are a few nip slip frames from the UK movie, "Adventures of a Private Eye"

    Linda Regan One more from "Adventures of a Private Eye". Great cleavage, as well as clear breast exposure and a bit of pubes.

    Lynda Bellingham More British 70's fun with this scene of Lynda's breast popping out from "Confessions of a Driving Instructor" (1976).

    Something a little different from Helcrom today...regular, non-Skinemax movies.

    Patricia Healy Topless plus a simulated sex scene from "China Moon"

    Madeleine Stowe Close up topless and far off full frontal scenes, also from "China Moon".

    Kate Hudson Topless in "Almost Famous".

    and ...
    Ute Christensen Topless 'caps from German TV. Here's Ute in "Tatort - Peggy hat Angst" (1983).

    Clare Higgins Single exposed breast from one of the "Hellraiser" movies. Vidcaps by Snowblind.

    I read in the IMDb that there will be yet another installment in the "Hellraiser" series this year, along with Friday the 13th in space..."Jason X", and yet another Halloween movie..."Halloween H2K: Evil Never Dies". It seems that not only does evil never die, but neither do sequels!

    Eva Herzigova
    (1, 2, 3)

    Fantastic see-thru breast exposure from "Les Anges gardiens". My apologies for the Depardieu in #3. Not to worry...the see-thru is best in #3, so I figure it cancels out the evil.

    The Funnies by Number 6
  • A new warning sticker to be used by the Air Force.

  • Due to increasing products liability litigation, American beer Brewers have accepted the FDA's suggestion that the following warning labels be placed immediately on all beer containers:

    WARNING: The consumption of alcohol may leave you wondering what the hell happened to your bra.
    WARNING: The consumption of alcohol may make you think you are whispering when you are not.
    WARNING: The consumption of alcohol is a major factor in dancing like a retard.
    WARNING: The consumption of alcohol may cause you to tell your friends over and over again that you love them.
    WARNING: The consumption of alcohol may cause you to think you can sing.
    WARNING: The consumption of alcohol may lead you to believe that ex-lovers are really dying for you to telephone them at four in the morning.
    WARNING: The consumption of alcohol may make you think you can logically converse with other members of the opposite sex without spitting.
    WARNING: The consumption of alcohol may make you think you have mystical Kung Fu powers, resulting in you getting your ass kicked.
    WARNING: The consumption of alcohol may cause you to roll over in the morning and see something really scary.
    WARNING: The consumption of alcohol is the leading cause of inexplicable rug burns on the forehead.
    WARNING: The consumption of alcohol may create the illusion that you are tougher, smarter, faster and better looking than most people.
    WARNING: The consumption of alcohol may lead you to believe you are invisible.
    WARNING: The consumption of alcohol may lead you to think people are laughing WITH you.
    WARNING: The consumption of alcohol may cause a disturbance in the time-space continuum, whereby gaps of time may seem to literally disappear.
    WARNING: The consumption of alcohol may cause pregnancy.

  • Things you don't want to hear during Surgery:

    * FIRE! FIRE! Everyone get out now!
    * Don't worry. I think it's sharp enough.
    * D'oh!
    * I don't think that was supposed to come off.
    * Gonna have to stop here, his insurance won't pay for the rest.
    * Five o'clock? Put down the scalpel, it's Miller Time!
    * Does anyone have a Band-Aid?
    * When is my Tee Time???
    * I'll be damned if this takes me more than twenty minutes!!!

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