Mrs Dalloway is a sporadically effective attempt to bring an unfilmable
novel to the screen. Two elements make Virginia Woolf's complex novel
difficult to interpret in a screenplay:
(1) The story intertwines two stories which are virtually unrelated. Woolf
created the novel by combining two of her short stories without actually
bringing them together. In one of the stories a 60ish English matron recalls
the decisions of her youth which led her to her current station, and which
might have led to a very different life if reversed. In the other story, a
shell-shocked veteran of WW1 loses his grasp on reality, and some insensitive
decisions by his doctor provoke his suicide. Every Virginia Woolf story seems
to include at least two occasions when people contemplate suicide, often
followed by a successful attempt. Woold herself committed suicide about twenty
years after this story was published, by filling her pockets with heavy stones
and walking into a river.
The two stories have only the vaguest connection. Mrs Dalloway finds out
about the young man's suicide because she has invited his doctor to one of her
parties. Hearing his story prompts her into a Hamlet-style monologue (interior
monologue in this case) about the nature and frailty of existence. It's not
uncomfortable to treat two such unrelated stories in a novel, but there is a
major problem in forging the novel into a screenplay. If it is truly the story
of Mrs Dalloway, and if we really care about that story, all the screen time
devoted to the troubled veteran seems like an interruption of the film's
momentum. The uninformed treatment of mental patients is certainly a
worthwhile topic, and one that Virginia Woolf knew intimately and well from
the emotional distress she suffered throughout her own life, but one that
seemed too ambitious to add to the to-do list this short film.
(2) The novel is told with a modernistic narrative style, ala Joyce's
Ulysses. The actual time frame of the story is a single day in Mrs Dalloway's
life as she prepares to host a lavish soiree for the creme de la British creme.
Within that time frame are her recollections of the summer thirty years
earlier when she was being romanced by three people - two male and one female
- and her musings about how her life might have been if she had made one of
the other choices. In addition to her thoughts, the narrative slips into the
minds of others, including the disturbed former warrior.
The screenwriters had some success in meeting the second challenge. The
narrative problems seem to have been handled quite smoothly through a
combination of flashbacks and present day drama, with the occasional use
of voice-over narrative to represent Mrs. Dalloway's thoughts. Unfortunately,
the script really struggled with the other problem, to the point where the
audience is left entirely baffled by all the scenes with the deranged soldier,
and viewers feel stranded in episodes which seem at the time to have
absolutely no bearing on the main plot. Although the soldier's final day of
life does later generate an important reaction from Mrs Dalloway, that
reaction is no more dramatic than it would have been if she had merely heard
about it and imagined some details. The script came up with no good reason to
portray the soldier in flesh and blood, and would have been better off if he
had been kept as an off-camera anecdote, thus allowing more time to develop
Mrs. Dalloway's two jilted lovers. When the great party finally begins, it
just so happens that the two ex-pseudo-lovers both appear, although Mrs. Dalloway has seen
neither for many years prior to the day of the party. The viewer is left
wondering what their lives have been like in the interim, and that exposition
would have been more interesting than the lunatic babbling of the soldier
turned mental patient.
In my opinion, the film had a problem greater than the sticky narrative
structure. As portrayed on screen, none of the three main characters is very
interesting. Mrs. Dalloway seems to be a nice person, but is also a
superficial twit who thinks of nothing but her social affairs. Her husband is
a boring aristocratic bureaucrat of limited intellect and no imagination. The
jilted male suitor is whiny and spends three quarters of the time pouting.
While Mrs. Dalloway wonders whether she should have chosen the brainy,
adventurous guy, it is apparent to us that their relationship really had no
promise at all. She was too superficial to fit into his world, and he was just
too immature and idealistic to handle marriage. He was in love with her only
because he was young and she was a beautiful woman with a generous, pleasant
nature and no intellectual curiosity. In his youth he failed to realize that those were not the ideal
qualifications for a woman who would have to endure significant hardships in
sweaty foreign assignments. Mrs Dalloway never shows any depth until she
enters her "to be or not to be" monologue, but by then the credits are about
to roll, and it is too late to show us what the jilted suitor ever saw in her
in the first place.
The other problem is that Mrs Dalloway is not shown to have any real
attraction for either man. In fact, the only time when she truly seems in love
is when her idealistic girlfriend kisses her passionately, and she seems to be
transfixed under a spell of delight and satisfaction. She has no similar
response to either man! It seemed to me that the script seems to say that she
chose the one man for security over the other man who was her true love, but
the body language of the actors showed that the female suitor was actually her
true love. The female suitor also seemed to me like the liveliest, most
imaginative, best read, and most interesting of the four characters in their
youth, so I was left wondering why Mrs. Dalloway never considered how her life
might have been as a Boho lesbian! There is some defense for that in the
novel, as well as in Virginia Woolf's own existence. After all, Woolf wrote
about what she knew. She was not only a suicide and a frequent mental patient,
but a bisexual who preferred women. I suppose that Vita Sackville-West, not
Leonard Woolf, was the true love of Virginia's own life.
The thing I found most impressive about the film was the way Vanessa
Redgrave and Natascha McElhone managed to seem like the same person, even
though they do not look so much alike. I don't know how the two actresses
worked it out, but they did a marvelous job of creating a mutual set of
mannerisms which were identical down to the tiniest visible nuances: the same
way of holding their hands, the identical accent and phrasing, the same
spontaneous nervous smile, and so forth. The film featured good performances
from both women, as well as from Lena Headey as the female suitor (playing a
very young woman, although 31 at the time!) I might have been drawn into the
story if only there had been some worthy males for them to play against!
Vita coi figli
I didn't do this film clip of a seventeen year old Italian TV show. Never
seen it, probably never will, but when you see it you'll surely understand why
I had to do some captures. Monica Bellucci, quite naked, 25 years old and jaw-droppingly
The guy with her, of course, is the legendary Giancarlo Giannini, but
somehow I don't think your eyes will ever wander over to him.
* 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,
Who Killed Buddy Blue?
Who Killed Buddy Blue (1996) is a made-for-cable erotic thriller targeting a
Porn superstar Buddy Blue, adored by fans, and universally hated for the
creep he his by everyone in the industry, is murdered during an orgy scene on
set, which opens the film. Someone injected an air embolism into his neck.
Since they were filming, all possible suspects were on film. Only half of those
were close enough to have committed the murder. The only forensic evidence was
female genital secretions on the syringe, pointing to a woman murderer.
Detective Matt Munro (Anthony Addabbo) is divorced, his previous partner
having stolen his wife. His current partner (Scot Atkinson) is trying to get his
wife (Beth Tegarden) pregnant. The DA cuts a deal that has the porn
producer/director cooperating and Addabbo splits the suspect list into likely
versus unlikely and assigns the unlikely ones to Atkinson. Addabbo starts with
the female superstar Ivy Saxon (Kimber Sissons). He interviews her in her home
with nobody else present and he hasn't been laid in a year. Considering she is
drop-dead gorgeous, a porn star, and sexy as hell, the obvious happens. She
agrees to a lie detector test to clear her name, and passes it with flying
colors. The mystery remains -- Who Killed Buddy Blue?
Beth Tegarden shows breasts trying to conceive with her husband. Kimber
Sissons shows everything in sex scenes with Addabbo. Tane McClure, as another
porn actress, also shows everything working and being questioned. Two unknowns
also have substantial nudity in long scenes, but their characters are not
identified in the dialogue, and I did not recognize them.
IMDb readers have this at 2.8, but with only 54 votes. Women score it 8.8
compared to 2.6 from men. While the absolute numbers are meaningless, the
differential makes sense to me. The porn actresses are shown to be real people
and not brainless bimbos or sluts, and Beth Tegarden plays an attorney. A sexy
story with plot content that empowers women should appeal to the estrogen
demographic. What I haven't mentioned is that the film is intentionally witty
and low key. The dialogue is smart and clever, making it a fast watch. For
instance, in a flashback, a porn actress is doing a scene with Buddy Blue, when
he tries to enter her backdoor. She stops him, saying that is not in her
To me, this is a solid C, but is probably only for the target audience. The
sex scenes are too soft core for porn lovers, and there is too much screen time
devoted to nudity and sex for erotic thriller fans, leaving what is actually a
rather charming film with a very small audience of couples only.
It is finally available on DVD from RLDVs.com in a dual region (1 and 4)
Mexican edition. The sound track is in English, and it has optional Spanish
subtitles. Click on the image for purchase info.
Sara Montiel, one of the biggest stars in the history of Spanish Cinema,
appeared in this provocative movie in 1971. It was a remake of Comicos, another
movie from the same director, but instead of taking the story of an actress
trying to get the lead on her theater group, he changed it to a Showgirl
trying to do the same in a company.
Ana (Sara Montiel) leaves her boyfriend to start a relationship with the
director of the company, who promised her the lead in the show. She gets her
chance when the lead Showgirl, the old and washed-up Carmen gets sick. She has
a lot of success, but when Carmen comes back she loses the lead. Time goes by
and her relationship with the director changes, as both of them start to have
real feelings for each other. Carmen finally retires and Ana has the chance to
be the lead again and one more time she has a lot of success.
Notes and collages
The Door in the Floor
Yellow and Dog
Imagine the odds. Woman I have so wished to see all nekkid and stuff? Roselyn Sanchez. She is the queen of tease, exposes everything but the vital goodies, so I had been hoping she'd lose the clothes. And along comes to the Funhouse a bunch of magnifico clips from Yellow, in which Ms Sanchez plays a stripper. One in a million day.
Yet at the same time the Funhouse brings us another clip of Joanna Krupa In The Dog Problem. Now that babe seems to be as dumb as a box of rocks (in trying for a spot on the Man Show as a juggee dancer, she could not remember the name Jimmy Kimmel, despite the fact he was sitting there, prompting her) but she has a form that would leave none of us caring about what's between her ears. Lots of nekkid magazine things, including the Hefmag, but no cinematic works of note until Dog Problem. Another one in a million day. So I grabbed a bunch of frames from those clips and stuck em together.
Oh and there is a collage of another gal from that Dog Problem movie. Her name is Lynn Collins. She is quite the looker, too.
If the clips are any indication Dog Problem might be okay but Yellow appears atrocious. Embarrassing, even. Person who made it seems to be suggesting that stripping is
an alternative form of psychotherapy. Or something likethat. Ouch. There's that other stripping scene in which Ms Roselyn is painted up like some sort of cat and it's intercut with suicides and funerals and all sorts of angst. Yup that's how we like our stripper movies, when you can't see no skin and there's dead people everywhere you look. Anyway I capped it but have no real urge to put together any more collages from it. Maybe later. Maybe never.