"Naked Lies"

Naked Lies (1998) can't be dismissed as just another weak Skinemax cop thriller. First of all, it is a little light on the sex and nudity, and heavy on the plot. The physical locations in Mexico were very nice, as was set decoration and cinematography. Shannon Tweed does very impressive martial arts kicks. The plot had enough elements to make a good film, but they didn't quite do it. It seamed to me like they had numerous rewrites, orphaning some plot elements. For instance, There are two suggestions that Tweed's boss has a drinking problem, and that he and Tweed had some previous relationship, but the subplot was underdeveloped.

The basic problem was that I never felt Tweed was in danger undercover. She was too strong, and seemed in full control of all situations. I will give points for making the Latino bad guy a counterfeiter rather than a drug lord, and making him totally charming. With a little more effort, this could have been a decent modest film. Tweed showed a glimpse of nipple in an early shower scene, and there was a sex scene, in each of the three acts. In the first, Mineko Mori shows breasts and buns in a rather dark and tame simulated sex scene. The hottest of the sex scene occurs in act two, with an unknown blonde having sex with the bad guy on a balcony. She shows all three Bs. Tweed finally has her sex scene in act three, showing breasts, and buns from the side.

IMDB readers have this at 3.4 of 10. As it is, the film is a C-, failing greatness, but marginally acceptable as a genre effort.

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  • Mineko Mori (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14)
  • Shannon Tweed (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9)
  • Unknown (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7)

  • Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy)

    Dark City (1998)

    Helluva movie!

    Very few films are capable of creating an entirely different world in which humanity may dwell. When such movies come along, works of imagination like Fritz Lang's Metropolis, we tend to form cults around them and we never forget having seen them. There were three great ones in the 1980's, Terry Gilliam's Brazil, Ridley Scott's Blade Runner, and Tim Burton's Batman, and then the well went dry for about a decade until, in the dying embers of the previous millennium, there were two formidable new entries into this arena: Jean-Pierre Jeunet's City of Lost Children (1995), and Alex Proyas's Dark City (1998).

    Dark City features a mini-world in which humans think they are in charge, but in fact are just stuck in the experiments of another race, like rats in a very complicated maze. The Strangers are a dying race who can alter time and space through sheer will, but cannot figure out how to keep their race from dying out. In fact, they are melding into a single group consciousness, and losing all sense of individuality. They admire the liveliness and passion of humans, and are trying to determine how to incorporate human emotions, joy, and individuality into their own race. They change the entire world every night at midnight, when they stop time and humans sleep.

    If you erase a mass murderer's consciousness and give him Albert Schweitzer's memories, will he become a philanthropist, or will something in his genetic composition steer him back to murder? And what about our surroundings? If you change them, do you change us? Probably, but if so, how much? We really don't know the answer to these questions, and ultimately that's what The Strangers think they need to know if they are to understand individualism.

    Rufus Sewell, who appears despite all evidence to the contrary NOT to be Joachim Phoenix, plays the part of a murderer who awakens in his bathtub. At least he thinks he might be a murderer. Some people think he is, but he doesn't remember anything about anything. In fact, nobody in town seems to really know much about anything. They aren't sure how to find other parts of town, or the towns they grew up in. Oh, yeah, and nobody can remember the last time they saw daylight, but they don't seem to worry about it. 

    Life isn't always fair, and success in the film industry is sometimes the most unfair of all life's elements. If this movie had been a major success on the level of The Matrix, which it resembles in many ways, Rufus Sewell would now be a major star. It wasn't, and he isn't. In 1998 he was in at least three meritorious movies (He appeared in Dark City, Illuminata, Dangerous Beauty, and two others I haven't seen). In 2002 his only theatrical release was Extreme Ops, a schlockfest about international war crimes and snowboarding. Whoa, gnarly, fuhrer dude.


    Dark City film revives the old German Expressionist school of cinema. The primary themes of Expressionism are based in the ongoing human struggle to make sense of the world around us. Instead of epic heroes who triumph over adversity, or tragic heroes - great men who collapse from their tragic faults, Expressionist films present ordinary men as anti-heroes who simply can't figure out the answers to life. The original Expressionist films were defined by a unique visual style, in which powerless men were lost in a confusing and oppressive world of soul-destroying machines, mass confusion, and horrible creatures, and in which the settings did not reflect reality, but the emotions of the characters. Examples include Murnau's Nosferatu, Lang's Metropolis, and The Cabinet of Dr Caligari. That artistic movement was a product of the German consciousness at the conclusion of WW1. Germany was defeated, humiliated, and destitute, and the dark mood of the Expressionists seemed to find an emotional connection to the depression of the people who lived through those times.

    Dark City's revival of German Expressionism is a clever and completely appropriate conceit, because the settings in this film are literally the product of the psychology of The Strangers. When they want to change the settings, they need only to think about it. The humans are generally oblivious to The Experiment, since they are re-implanted with false memories and lives according to the whims and scientific goals of The Strangers. Humans are simply the rats in their maze, until one human (Rufus Sewell) acquires the ability to stay awake during the nightly changes, then starts to investigate the elements of life that don't make sense (why is there never any daylight, although there is daylight in their distant memories?), then starts to acquire powers that match and perhaps even exceed those of The Strangers.

    I admire the visualization and pure imagination of Dark City very much, and I think it succeeds grandly at creating the mood it seeks, but I do wish the script was coherent. It is just filled with logical flaws. The Strangers change around many things every single night, and they need a human to help them (they have the same relationship with this human that Dracula has with Renfield, and Kiefer Sutherland even does some kind of Mad German Doctor accent to play the official Renfield/toady part). They show this Mad Doctor creating the memory implants and injecting the humans with them - but wait a minute. If this is the only human who does the injecting, what happens to the thousands of other humans who wake up in a world filled with different surroundings from they ones the saw when they went to sleep? The one doctor doesn't have the time to create and inject the sera for all those people. In addition, if the humans only sleep during the nightly "tuning", and the doctor works all that time, when does the doctor sleep? We know that he does his lab work during the other times. Apparently he never sleeps, even though he is a normal human.

    The film could make sense if The Strangers only made some minor changes each night, but we see hundreds of buildings changing shape during each "tuning". How can it be that nobody notices? The doctor doesn't have time to inject all of the people affected by these changes.

    Oh, well, I don't think you're supposed to subject this to any analytical thinking. Expressionism is the art movement which brings human emotions to life, often divorced from human logic. You aren't supposed to subject Munch's The Scream to logical analysis, you're just supposed to feel the pain of the screamer. You're supposed to let the art wash over you. And it is some very impressive art simply because it is nearly pure emotion. Although Munch's painting technique is technically mediocre and the depicted situation has no logical connection to any specific reality, everyone who has ever seen that painting can remember it, even if they can't name the artist or the work itself.

    Dark City is to cinema as Munch's The Scream is to painting. It is also some very impressive art, and it is also approaching the level of pure emotion. It is almost an unquestioned masterpiece like Blade Runner, except that Dark City has two ingredients that keep it from that level:

    1. Blade Runner's dialogue is almost as memorable as that in a Shakespearian play.

    "I make your eyes"

    "If you could see, old man, what I have seen with your eyes".

    Because the humans of Dark City are formed from generic personalities, they speak generic dialogue. Lacking the resonant genius of Roy Batty or the resigned noir integrity of Deckard, Dark City lacks the poetry and eloquence of Blade Runner.


    2. Excluding the dialogue, Dark City is as strong as Blade Runner for about 75 minutes, until Rufus Sewell finds out all the secrets of Dark City. After that point, there is an anti-climactic battle between Sewell and The Strangers in which Sewell goes from being a powerless, confused murder suspect to possessing the power of God himself. The last 20 minutes play out exactly like a 1960s Marvel Comics battle between Dr Strange and Dread Dormammu, and because of this epilogue, the film ended up losing the essence of what makes Expressionism and film noir so powerful, namely that the individual can attain only limited personal triumphs in his battle to retain his soul against the all-powerful State. He should finish the story with some hope, but he can't suddenly BECOME the all-powerful state. It is as if Munch painted another companion piece in which the screamer had a big smile on his face, because he realized that the cause for his previous despair was a false alarm.  


    Other crap:

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    • 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.
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    • If there is no asterisk, I wrote it, but am too ashamed to admit it.

    'Caps and comments by Hankster:

    A real quickie today from 1999 "Advice from a Caterpillar".

    This one stars Cynthia Nixon of "Sex and the City" fame. Here she is showing some breasts in this non-blockbuster of a movie.

    • Cynthia Nixon (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7)

    'Caps and comments by Spaz:

    "Killer Love" (2002)
    The latest direct-to-video czechploitation by the director/writer team of Lloyd Simandl and Chris Hyde, this time with vampires. More gore but less nudity.

    Released only in Europe and South Africa. May be released in Japan/USA under the title "The Dark Rose" or "Dark Labyrinth".

    NUDITY REPORT: Kari Wuhrer and her czech co-star Tereza Duchek (aka Tereza Duchkova) only show cleavage and pokies. The nudity is provided by the supporting Czech actresses.

    "Chained Heat II"
    Available on DVD only in Japan with unremovable subtitles and the worst of all, all the frontal nudity fuzzed out. Keep away from this.

    "Chained Heat 3: Hell Mountain" (1998)
    Non-sequiter Chained Heat sequel which follows more the Empire of Ash storyline. What cuts you see depends on what side of the Atlantic you're on. The US version removed part of a softcore love scene while the UK removed the more violent flogging and rape scenes (this is what the MPAA approves and disappoves?!). The UK DVD is available but very hard to find, try this link

    "Rage of the Innocents"
    There doesn't seem to be any cuts as a strategically placed blanket is used to hide the Justine Priestley's naughty bits in the obligatory softcore sex scene.

    "Chained Rage"
    The bedroom scene where Klara Hlousek strangles the forewoman is cut entirely in the UK.

    BONUS: More Simandl babes identified:

    In "Heaven's Tears", the wrong maid was identified. Here are three maids:

    From the Canadian movie "Century Hotel" (2001).

    Keira Knightley The young UK actress topless in scenes from "The Hole".

    Sigourney Weaver Showing some cleavage in the mother and daughter con women movie, "Heartbreakers".

    Glenda Jackson Full frontal nudity in the 1970 Ken Russell movie "The Music Lovers".

    Cláudia Ohana The Brazilian actress going full frontal in scenes from "Fábula de la Bella Palomera" aka "Fable of the Beautiful Pigeon Fancier" (1988).

    Lisa Marie Scott
    (1, 2)

    The pint sized actress and former Heffer (February '95), topless and showing some very nice thong views in scenes from "Ringer" (1996).

    Shannon Whirry The naturally busty B-actress going full frontal in more scenes from "Ringer".

    Laetitia Casta The French mega-model turned actrss showing just a hint of areola in scenes from "Rue des plaisirs" (2002).

    Rene Bond The early '70s porn star showing all 3 B's in scenes from the 1970 softcore flick "Country Cuzzins". Collage by ZonononZor.

    Frances McDormand
    (1, 2, 3)

    Señor Skin 'caps of the Oscar winning actress topless and full frontal in scenes from the Robert Altman movie "Short Cuts".