Breaking and Entering
We can never underestimate mankind's capacity for self-deception. In
December of last year the Weinstein brothers rushed Breaking and Entering
into one theater to create Oscar eligibility. You'd have to call that
extreme optimism, in light of the fact that only 33% of the film's eventual
reviews were positive. It never did reach more than 95 theaters, and never
made the top thirty films in any given week. It grossed less than a million
dollars in the USA, maybe about double that in the U.K. Did they really
think this was going to pull in some award season hardware, or were they posturing? Hard
to say. The Weinsteins have been able to work Oscar magic with mediocre
films in the past (Cider House Rules, e.g.), and this film is not without
virtues, so maybe they really believed it had a chance. It has a prestigious international cast, treats serious themes and
was directed by Anthony Minghella (The English Patient, Cold Mountain,
The Talented Mr. Ripley). Above all, Breaking and Entering is full of
gravitas and a sense of its own importance.
As George Constanza might say,
"it was full of it all right."
Jude Law plays an architect who is so dedicated to his goal of
revitalizing decaying London neighborhoods that he actually moves his house
and office into a newly-gentrifying community of immigrants. It doesn't work
out. The office is soon burglarized twice - by the same people, it turns
out. Fearing a third break-in and frustrated at the lack of action from the
police, Jude stakes out his own office and soon spots the crook, a young boy
who had fled with his mother from the former Yugoslavia during one ethnic
cleansing or another.
The situation gets very complicated when Jude, who is frustrated and
bored with his long-term relationship, gets into a physical relationship
with the burglar's mother, played by Juliette Binoche with two facial
expressions - "about to cry" and "staring with dead eyes." Come to think of
it, those two facial expressions represent about 90% of Binoche's career, so
I guess she was cast perfectly. The burglar's mother gets involved with Jude
because she wants to protect her son, and is basically offering her body for
Jude's silence, but he doesn't exactly understand that, or doesn't want to.
The four main characters (Jude, his partner, the burglar and the
burglar's mother) would probably created enough emotional edge for any film,
but the script gives Jude and his partner an autistic daughter as well, and
the family ties are further complicated because Jude is not the girl's
biological father and he's not even married to the partner of ten years
(Robin Wright Penn). Then there are the issues of Jude's business partner,
the Serbian crooks, some cops, and a hooker with a heart of gold (Vera
Farmiga). Farmiga basically plays the wise but world-weary hooker role with
the stock Eastern European fortune teller accent, as handed down to her from
the will of Anne Bancroft.
The film would have done well to get rid of several of those characters.
Jude didn't really need to have a partner at all, and the hooker could also
have been dropped altogether. The daughter could have been eliminated or
made into an unexceptional child. That would have left the film tighter, and
would have left more time to develop the three key relationships which form
the true emotional center of the film (Jude and partner, Jude and crook's
mother, crook and his mother). The additional characters and themes were
probably intended to add intellectual heft and social consciousness to the
film, but served instead to divert the main flow of the film while creating a
running time which was excessive for such an inward and lifeless film.
There is some tremendous nudity in the film, but it is basically only
accessible by freeze-frame. There is a scene where Binoche gets naked and
crawls into bed with a sleeping Law, all to be photographed by her friend.
(It's blackmail evidence, if necessary to secure his silence.) The stills
show up later on Law's computer via e-mail, and we get a complete glimpse of
what the scene must have looked like originally. While the moving images
show only Binoche's breasts, and modestly at that, the still images show the
full monty front and rear from Binoche, as well as Law's bum. Unfortunately,
the computer screen is only visible for a few frames, the images are
extremely small, and it's not possible
to see the nudity without pausing.
Of course that's what we're here for!
(By the way, the DVD has several deleted and extended scenes, but there
is not a longer version of that scene.)
If I followed our formula to a "T" the film probably should be graded a D
or a D+ because it was a failure at the box office as well as with the
critics, and I didn't like it myself. But I'm going to have to call it a C-
based on the solid performances and the respectable 6.5 at IMDb (7.0 from
women). It obviously has some admirers, but it certainly gets no
recommendation from me for the readers of our pages.
* Yellow asterisk: funny (maybe).
* White asterisk:
Blue asterisk: not mine.
No asterisk: it probably
Catch the deluxe
version of Other Crap in real time, with all the bells and whistles,
Sacrifice of the White Goddess
Sacrifice of the White Goddess (1998) is a zero budget jungle
holocaust offering that has turned up on a triple feature DVD, which
also includes Naked Amazon (1954), a kind of cross between National
Geographic and a Doris Wishman nudist film with actual Indian
breasts; and White Slave, AKA Forest Slave, Amazonia: The Catherine
Miles Story, Cannibal Holocaust 2: The Catherine Miles Story and
Captive Women VII: White Slave. I have covered the cannibal movie under
at least one of its names, and I doubt that anonymous native breasts
will be of interest, I stuck with Sacrifice of the White Goddess.
As the film opens, Francine Chevalier is an archeology student with
no money, no goals, and a boyfriend she is sick of. Then she reads a
Mayan text from the school library, and decides to dump her
boyfriend and go to Mexico to search for treasure. She finds being
broke in Mexico even less fun than being broke at school, at least
until she meets Lisa Beavers. She wins the lottery and the two pick
up Steve McKinney in a bar, and head for the jungle armed with a
tourist Mayan treasure map. After the obligatory topless scene with
Lisa Beavers in a small waterfall. Lisa falls three feet off a log
into a calm river and drowns.
And then there were two.
Some random Mexicans make short work of Steve, and are about to have
their way with Francine, when a Mayan High Priestess (Holy Crossen)
shows up with her groupies and takes her back to a ceremonial site,
where Holy Cross-en shows her breasts and then carves Francine's
heart out. Note that this is not a spoiler, as it is the opening
scene, with everything else a flashback narrated by Francine.
IMDb has yet to hear of this, and both Lisa Beavers and Holy Crossen
have zero credits, but I would not be surprised to learn that they
were porn actresses. The transfer was obviously mastered from a VHS
copy. In fact, this one may well have been shot on video tape to
begin with. It is a complete failure as a jungle holocaust film, but
has amazing bad movie appeal. Were it the only offering on the DVD,
I would hesitate to recommend it, but the triple feature is a
bargain, with two oddities and a pretty good Italian genre effort
supposedly based on a true story.
Richard Ramsey (Andrew McCarthy) gets a phone-call from a man who
claims that Richard's wife hired him to kill him for $10,000. When he
meets him one evening, the hitman is shot to death himself. Not much
later his wife Sarah Ramsey (Kate McNeil) is also murdered, and Richard
is the main suspect. After that the story gets more complicated, and
there are several people who could have murdered both. For example Abe
Shinoda, a Japanese partner of Richard's. Also Richard's stepfather Owen
Jessop could have had his reasons to do it. And then you have Leslie
Bullard, a friend of Sarah and Richard ...
Notes and collages
Love on a Branch Line
The Comedy Wire
Comments in yellow...
California legal experts say Paris Hilton's request for a pardon from her 45-day
sentence is ludicrous because between early release due to jail overcrowding and
time off for good behavior, she probably won't spend more than 3 to 5 days in
* Well, that's hardly any deterrent! I think we can all
agree, this case requires the death penalty.
Police in Rio de Janeiro arrested a British man who thought he'd planned
the perfect murder. He wrote up an 11-step plan, including arriving at his
victim's apartment at 3:15 p.m., asking if he's alone, putting on gloves,
hitting him, undressing him, tying him up, breaking his neck with a monkey
wrench, putting pills in his mouth, taking all his cash and credit cards,
checking his computer archives, locking the door with gloves on, and leaving at
7:30. But he made two mistakes: when he tried to attack the victim, the man ran
into an elevator and hit the alarm. Also, police found his entire 11-point
perfect murder plan on his laptop
* He forgot step 12: "Delete perfect murder plan."
Military officials in Cyprus have banned the Love Bug 2, a small personal
vibrator, on national security grounds. The sex toy is popular throughout
Europe, but the maker, Ann Summers Inc., had to add the warning, "Not for use in
Cyprus," to the user manual because it's operated by a remote control with a
range of up to 18 feet. A Cyprus military spokesman said they'd never even seen
one, but they have classified it as a "small range device" whose radio
frequencies could interfere with military communications.
* This is a dream come true for men: they can give a
woman an orgasm using a remote control and never have to get up from in front of
Tuesday night, the Milwaukee Brewers held an unusual promotion: Prostate Exam
Night. Anyone who agreed to take a "free and confidential" rectal exam got two
free tickets to a future Brewers game.
* Rectal Exam Night? So that's what the giant foam
On this day in 1933, Nazi Germany staged massive public book burnings.
* And this was before Jackie Collins had ever published a