Fame (1980) is a musical, not in the sense that it is based on a Broadway show, but in the sense that they use music constantly to develop the story. Normally, I would not enjoy this type of film, however, I enjoyed this slice of life story about the New York Performing arts High School very much. It is character driven, rather than event driven, and doesn't really have a central conflict, so is lacking a traditional curve of excitement, but makes up for it in pure energy and pace. Two aspects drew me in and won me over. The first was the clear reminder of the synergy that takes place when you have a large group of talented people together in an environment where they can create together. The second was a clear depiction of the self-doubt that plagues every artist. The story covers 4 years and focuses on a single class, from their freshman auditions through their senior failures and triumphs.

While entirely fictional, it was largely based on interviews conducted with students and parents of the real Performing Arts High School. While not known for nudity, several actresses showed breasts. Irene Cara shows breasts near the end in a grainy TV monitor when she does a supposed screen test with a sleazebag. Nora Cotrone shows breasts in a dressing room when male students are peeking in. There is also an unknown who shows breasts in a similar scene. Dancer Antonia Franceschi has great pokies in several scenes.

IMDB readers score this at 6.3 of 10. It is rated 1`00% at Rotten TOmatoes, but based on only 6 minor reviewers. It received several awards and nominations, including two Oscars for Best Original Score and Best Song. This is a very good musical drama, hence C+

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  • Antonia Franceschi (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
  • Irene Cara (1, 2, 3, 4)
  • Nora Cotrone (1, 2, 3)
  • Unknown (1, 2, 3, 4)

    "Half Moon Street"

    Half Moon Street (1986) is a film I saw years ago on VHS, and remembered as rather boring. I'm afraid my opinion hasn't changed. It is written as a political thriller, but has far too little action to be very thrilling. I assume you have all seen Scoop's review from last night, so I will use it as a point of departure. I never found Weaver convincing as a Harvard PhD. Her speech was wrong, and she was far too naive. Her sexuality as a woman who liked uncomplicated sex was somewhat daring in 1986. I think I more effective film could have been made emphasizing the love story between Weaver and Caine, and moving the political thriller story to the back burner. Their relationship was an interesting twist. He used escort services because he simply didn't have time for the "mating ritual," but never expected to find a female escort that was his intellectual and emotional equal. She was fiercely independent, or at least as independent as someone in her financial state could be, but found that she liked being with him.

    As far as the feminist hoopla, and the supposed crime of her being so badly paid at her day job, it is nonsense. She took the prestigious job not realizing that the pay was not meant as a living wage, and that everyone else there was either already wealthy, or there on a grant. The nudity from Weaver is frequent and comprehensive on the 4/3 version, and the Widescreen was not especially stunning, so my images are all from the 4/3 version. She shows breasts several times, buns in a stocking and garter dressing scene, and a quick flash of bush in a shower, and then for three frames getting out. Based on these three frames, I am convinced that it is actually bush.

    This film fails completely as a political thriller, but fares slightly better dealing with the Caine/Weaver relationship, so is overall a low C-.

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  • Sigourney Weaver (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 22, 33)

  • Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy)

    Old School (2002)

    Three facts should tell you more about the film than my comments.

    1. Yahoo estimated that the average critical response was a C+. That is about as low as the Yahoo summaries ever go because they have a softball rating system. For example, they converted Roger Ebert's scathing one star review into a D.
    2. On the other hand, Yahoo voters rate it 4.2/5. That's off the chart. Citizen Kane is 3.9/5.
    3. Although rated R, thus missing much of its potential audience, it grossed $75 million off a modest $24 million budget. Let me put that in perspective for you with the stats from a comparable movie. The original Austin Powers movie, although rated PG-13, grossed $53 million. Old School is also expected to kick some serious butt in the rental/retail market with an unrated DVD filled with commentary, extra footage, bloopers, and original comedy material.

    There you go. Many critics hated it, viewers loved it. My recommendation: see it and laugh your ass off ...

     ... unless you are a critic, in which case you should frown disapprovingly, then read an essay about Aristotle's concept of comedy, to remind yourself of the brighter angels of mankind's nature which have not been corrupted by that horrible lowbrow Will Farrell. Before falling asleep, smile approvingly, but fleetingly, when you think of the incisive characterizations in The Hours.

    A decade or two ago, "Slobs against the snobs" was the favorite theme for R-rated youth-oriented comedies. Caddyshack and all of Rodney Dangerfield's other films fall under this rubric, along with Summer Rental, PCU ... the list goes on. The mother of all anti-snobbery youth films is Animal House, which features John Belushi against the administration and those proper fraternities filled with future generals and politicians. In the quarter century since the Deltas battled Marmalard and Dean Wormer, no film has really managed to match the originality and anarchic spirit of the original Animal House.

    Old School comes pretty damned close.

    The biggest problem in duplicating the energy of Animal House has been the Belushi gap. Any number of guys can fill in for the others in the cast, but how do you replace Belushi? People who worked with John in his stage days said that everything and everybody stopped and focused on him when John entered a scene. He commanded the stage completely, with the energy of a supernova. He had no governor on his behavior, and no limit on his energy. He could and would do anything in the world to get a laugh.

    But there is one guy in the current comedy universe who commands similar respect from his peers, and that is Will Ferrell. Everyone who has worked with Ferrell speaks of him with the same awe that people once reserved for Belushi. Like the late samurai comedian, Ferrell is capable of infinite comic improvisations, lets loose hundreds of crazy characters and impersonations, and seem to have enough energy for a hundred men. Unlike Belushi, however, Ferrell has never been able to channel his peer-acknowledged genius into very much audience or critical respect.  Most of Ferrell's over-the-top performances in the past have simply been over-the-top, as opposed to funny. Sometimes he has fallen back on the kind of stuff that causes people to roll their eyes and think "this is dumb" - the whole school of stupid hair-dos, pratfalls, and flamboyant gay gestures, for example. Ferrell has been looking for the right vehicle that would allow him to set free his comic madness while still staying inside a believable character. He was looking for his Bluto.

    He found it.

    His performance as Frank the Tank, former fraternity madman trying to settle into respectable life, is nuanced beautifully. As opposed to Ferrell's usual energy which seems to exist solely for the sake of energy, in characters that seem like characters rather than people, Frank the Tank seems like a real guy. He's crazy, and can't handle his booze, but he's a real character, not a caricature. Farrell even brought some genuinely touching moments to Frank's relationship with his wife. And there is no question that Ferrell will do absolutely anything for a laugh. One moment he's tongue-kissing Stifler in a bizarre homage to The Graduate, the next moment he's running down an urban street stark naked, the next moment he's doing rhythmic gymnastics to the tune of Chariots of Fire, all of it tapped for every dyne of comic energy. He's one crazy mofo.

    The premise of the film is as follows. Luke Wilson is a meek but talented real estate lawyer who comes home early from a convention to find his girl engaged in kinky sexual activities. He moves out on his own, scoring a recently deceased professor's home near a university. His two best friends (Vince Vaughn and Ferrell) see this as an opportunity to loosen up their friend while reliving the craziness of their own youth, so they somehow manage to convert Wilson's home into Party Central for the entire university. The Dean of the University, an old enemy of theirs, tries to get rid of them by having the land re-zoned for student housing and community service. No problem. The lads counter by pulling some legal strings to get the house officially declared a frat house. Because of a technicality in the college by-laws, they are not even required to restrict fraternity membership to existing students, so their roster includes the three thirty-somethings who star in the film, a few guys they know from work, some real students, and even an 89 year old homeless guy.

    From there, it's the steps you might imagine (1) uncontrolled mayhem from the fraternity until (2) the dean clamps down, whereupon (3) they lads must prove they belong or get even with the dean in some way.

    The script and the rest of the cast are just OK. There is nothing very original. Vaughn is OK in his usual smart-ass way, but it is Ferrell alone which lifts the film from smart-ass to kick-ass.

    The one thing Old School lacks is the reality base of Animal House and Porky's. When I watch those two earlier movies, I can recall so many incidents from my school days that I can get lost in my own mental wanderings and forget about the films for a bit. They are comedies which gain humor from wild exaggeration, so they are not purely reality-driven, yet they are very much grounded in the reality of what it was like to be young and wild when I was young and wild. Old School, on the other hand, doesn't feel real. It is a completely contrived situation which was obviously concocted by comedy writers trying to be zany, as contrasted to the script to Animal House, which consisted of some comedy writers telling genuine (if embellished) anecdotes about their own youth.

    That sense of artificiality keeps Old School from being a masterpiece, but doesn't keep it from being one damned funny movie. Humorless critics didn't care for these lowbrow hijinks, but I laughed out loud a lot.

    One of the ten funniest films of the millennium so far.


    Picture Claire (2001)

    Although it premiered at the Toronto festival, it's not really what you would think of as typical Film Festival fare, because it is pretty much of a gimmicky, coincidence-driven formula Hollywood thriller (even if it was filmed in Toronto by Canadians). Film festivals usuallly like more personal or "cutting edge" material.

    The film is quite burdened down by technique. Since Juliette Lewis plays a character who can't speak English, she is constantly in a fog about the criminal plot which is spinning around her. People come up to her and ask for something in a language she can't understand. People shoot at her. The film uses multiple images to picture how all the events are forming into her thought process. Sometimes a split screen shows what she expects to happen on one side, and reality on the other.

    The plot depends on a lot of coincidences. It's not unreasonable that Lewis could get into a small tiff with the baddie (Mickey Rourke!) before  heading to the bathroom, and that Gershon could kill him while Lewis fixed her make-up. The storekeeper, never having seen Gershon, identifies Lewis as the only suspect she is aware of. OK. That was a believable coincidence to begin the film. The remaining coincidences are not so believable. At one point, Lewis hides on the photographer's balcony while he has sex with his girlfriend. The lovers step out onto that balcony and Lewis wants to avoid detection, so she drops to the next lower balcony and breaks into the apartment beneath.

    • Guess who lives there? You get a 100% if you guessed Gershon, the very woman she has been mistaken for.

    While she is there, the innocent Lewis decides to rip off Gershon's purse, because she's in an unfamiliar city with no money, and she's starving.

    • Guess what is in that purse? Again, you're acing your SAT in Plot Conveniences if you guessed the missing diamonds. So now she is not only the only suspect pursued by the police, but she has accidentally picked up evidence of her motive for the murder she didn't commit from a woman that she didn't know. You tell me the odds of that happening in a city with millions of inhabitants.

    There are a few more such contrivances before the film is over, until I felt that the writer was really stretching my credulity to the breaking point.

    Those comments make it sound like I hated the film, but that isn't true. Some things about it were irritating , and it isn't exactly Rear Window, but I found it to be an easy enough watch. I relaxed, watched it through, and never reached for the FF button. I liked the nudity. I liked Lewis and Gershon, and I really enjoyed the way Mickey Rourke growled through his small role. Tuna rated it a solid C, and I would have said the same if there was a widescreen DVD with some features. (The actual DVD is full-screen and featureless.) I guess it's still a C-. If you like typical Hollywood thrillers, this is an OK example, even though it is Canadian.



    Li'l Kim continues her quest to be the dark-skinned Courtney Love, with more concert exposure (1, 2)


    Other crap:

    Here are the latest movie reviews available at

    • The yellow asterisks indicate that I wrote the review, and am deluded into thinking it includes humor.
    • 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.
    • A blue asterisk indicates the review is written by Tuna (or Lawdog or Junior or C2000 or Realist or ICMS or Mick Locke, or somebody else besides me)
    • If there is no asterisk, I wrote it, but am too ashamed to admit it.

    Lil' Kim
    (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)

    The barely dressed Hip Hop star finally lost control of her clothes! In a recent concert, the tape that normally keeps her tops on didn't hold up, and her breasts got loose! Links 1-3 capture the moment. Links 4 and 5 are bonus see-thru views.

    Tracy Ryan A collage by Brainscan that I missed yesterday...the very lovely Skinemax babe in a great topless scene from "Instinct to Kill" (2001).

    Simone Kessell
    (1, 2, 3)

    The Kiwi actress looking lovely topless in scenes from "Stickmen".

    Monique van de Ven
    (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)

    The Dutch actress bares everything in scenes from the 1973 Paul Verhoeven movie, "Turkish Delight".

    Janet Kidder Canadian actress and Margot Kidder's niece, topless in a sex scene from the movie "X Change" (2000).

    Christina Rainer
    (1, 2)

    Topless in bathtub scenes from the German TV series "Samt und Seide" (1999).

    Lana Clarkson
    (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16)

    The tall, blonde and naturally busty B-movie in Señor Skin 'caps from "Barbarian Queen II: The Empress Strikes Back (1992).

    The latest news on her death as of June 5th is that music producer Phil Spector is claiming that "Clarkson Killed Herself". Spector stated:

    It's a frame up. I didn't do anything wrong. I called the police myself. If they had a case, I would be sitting in jail right now. She kissed the gun. She killed herself. I have no idea why. I never even saw her before that night. I don't know where or how she got the gun. She'd asked me for a ride home. Then she wanted to see the castle. She was loud and drunk even before we left the club. She grabbed a bottle of tequila to take with her.