The Mysteries of Pittsburgh


This film should have been a winner. It would have made for a great article. The director is an indie auteur who didn't have enough money to acquire the rights to a Michael Chabon novel and to film it the way he hoped to. So he saved his pennies for years and worked as a hired gun on any mass audience project with a good paycheck, until he finally had enough money to self-finance his dream project. He bought the rights, wrote the screenplay, produced, directed, and probably cooked for the crew. He also assembled a fairly impressive B-list cast which included Peter Sarsgaard, Sienna Miller, Nick Nolte and Mena Suvari. He actually shot the film in Pittsburgh.

Look at the indie cachet. What locale could be better than Pittsburgh, which is virtually the birthplace of the modern indie film, the city where George Romero shot many films, including two of the best indies of all time: Knightriders and Night of the Living Dead? What star could be better to tap into the indie vibe than Sarsgaard, a fine young actor who would rather appear in a meritorious film or play than collect a good paycheck?

All the stars were in alignment.

The only problem is that the film really isn't very good. Entered into competition at Sundance in 2008, it picked up some scathing reviews, failed to draw a distribution deal, and disappeared for more than a year, when it popped up on 20 screens in April of 2009 and grossed a grand total of $79,000. Next stop: DVD in August.

What went wrong? I suppose a dozen critics would have a dozen different opinions, but as I see it, the film has two critical flaws:

1. It is too literary, insufficiently cinematic. The screenwriter had so much respect for Chabon's prose that he retained a large chunk of it as narration. There is so much narration that it's almost unnecessary to watch the screen. The film could be offered to the blind as a book on tape.

2. The film might have survived despite the incessant voice-overs, but there was a bigger problem. I will catch some hell for this, I suppose, but the real problem was Peter Sarsgaard. As I mentioned, he is a fine actor, and I'm sure he delivered the role as he envisioned it. Unfortunately, that characterization stripped all credibility out of an already improbable story, and robbed the film of its proper dynamic. His character was supposed to be a low-level mobster who was bisexual. He gets involved in a three-way relationship with another bisexual man and a straight woman who loves them both. The characters have sex in all combinations. In order for Sarsgaard's character to work, he has to be both charismatic and intimidating. Sarsgaard brought charisma to the role, but played him swishy: the kind of lisping, mincing guy who would command no respect from anyone without a gun in his hand, and who would certainly not be welcome in the company of mobsters. Sarsgaard did to this role what another great actor, Marlon Brando, did to Fletcher Christian: he stripped away all the testosterone. Let's face it, nobody is intimidated by Lyle, the effeminate heterosexual. You think this guy would be out collecting protection money? This guy couldn't have intimidated Les Nessman. If he walked past a playground, the bullies would beat him up for his lunch money.

Would the film have worked if Sarsgaard's character appeared to be really rugged and intimidating, then turned out to be bisexual? Well, that would have helped, but I can't tell you that such a change would have made this a successful film. Coming-of-age dramas usually concentrate on everyman characters, those who represent the audience, looking at an uncertain future. The audience has to be able to identify with the everyman. This storyline involves the son of the head of the Pittsburgh mob who is headed for a sure-fire six-figure job in his uncle's brokerage firm. While studying for his brokerage exam in the summer after college graduation, he gets involved with a boho young couple ends up falling in love and having sex with both of them. Of course, you might be able to make a good film out of that story. You can make a good film out of almost anything. But it would be very difficult to make a successful film, one which would appeal to a wide audience, if the everyman character, the one who represents you and me, is pictured having sex with a guy. That reduces the appeal and makes it the kind of film which opens in 20 theaters, then disappears, even if it is quite brilliant.

So I guess it didn't really matter too much whether it was good or not.

Never mind.


Lots of nudity:




Miss March


Typical youthploitation sex comedy. It is basically a two-man show. The same two guys wrote, directed, and starred.

On the night of senior prom, a sensitive virgin about to lose his cherry takes a bad fall and lapses into a coma. He wakes up four years later and nobody is left in his life except his goofy stoner friend. His family has moved away and his once-virginal girlfriend is now a Playmate of the Month. Moreover, his body has atrophied from having been unconscious in bed for four years. He and his stoner pal eventually undertake a road trip to the Playboy Mansion, where he hopes to meet up with the ex-girlfriend and speak his peace.

Blah, blah, blah. The humor is pretty dark for a goofball youth comedy, but it does manage a few sick laughs here and there, and the real Hugh Hefner and some real playmates appear to lend a little credibility.

Those two guys must be the world's greatest salesmen. Not only did they somehow persuade Hef to appear in their modest little film and let them shoot it at the mansion, but they somehow also managed to get their typical straight-to-DVD product distributed to more than 1700 theaters, where it proceeded to attract absolutely nobody. This film took in about $1300 per screen on its opening weekend, which was $300 less than the legendary Gigli.

There is some nudity:



  • * Yellow asterisk: funny (maybe).

  • * White asterisk: expanded format.

  • * Blue asterisk: not mine.

  • No asterisk: it probably sucks.


Catch the deluxe version of Other Crap in real time, with all the bells and whistles, here.








"Six Feet Under"

Season 5, Episode 8

Tina Holmes film clip. Approximately Blu-Ray quality. Stills below.








Wham! Bam! Thank You, Spaceman!


Part 2

Today we have part 2 of the Time Machine's trip back to the seventies

Maria Aronoff shows it all as she gets it on with her lover and the spacemen. Caps and a clip.

April Grant (the brunette) and Talle Wright are getting it on

 until Talle is uploaded to the spacemen's ship.

 Both show off all their assets, April just very briefly. Here's a clip


Part 3 tomorrow








Notes and collages

Last Exit to Brooklyn

Jennifer Jason Leigh














Holly Eglington does not look like Steven Seagal's lap-dancer in Driven to Kill. Her robohooters are much more inflated and she was always a brunette. I'll have to see the DVD next week (at the earliest) to ID her.







B-movie legend Sybil Danning in Daughter of Death

More of Michelle Williams in Incendiary in Hi-def

Biel butt, but not bare

Lady Gaga butt, quite bare


Film Clips