This page is in a bit early, because I'm going to lose the internet for about 24 hours.

Catch you on the flip side.

Sweet Revenge


Sweet Revenge is one of those movies which, when popped in the disc player, transports one immediately back to the 70s. It could not have been made during any other period. Intentionally disdainful of any traditional structure or any real point, it’s a slice-of-life character study that is not heavy on the drama, yet is also not a comedy. Archibald Macleish once wrote that a poem should not MEAN, but BE. By that definition, I reckon this film is a poem. Beginning in the middle, and ending a bit farther along in the middle, it just is.

Hey, man, it was the 70s, man. Being unconventional was de rigueur, except you couldn't use fancy-ass terms like de rigueur because that's the way the man would talk.  No, not you, man. I mean THE man, man. Peace, brother.

Stockard Channing plays a car thief with a dream – to own a car of her own. The woman doesn’t want just any old car, but a limited edition Dino Ferrari. Why doesn’t she steal it, since that seems to be right up her alley? Because a car like that is conspicuous and easy to trace, especially if the police know that one is missing. Therefore, she has to steal and sell a bunch of standard production cars in order to get enough cash to buy the one she really wants.  She runs into legal problems along the way, which introduces her to an earnest public defender, played by Sam Waterston as the usual high-minded, thoughtful, compassionate Sam Waterston character.

Waterston keeps trying to get our typical 70s anti-hero, the incorrigible thief, to go straight, but she continues to run a con game on him and anybody else she can use to get what she wants.  That’s pretty much all the film is about. It doesn’t have much to say, it has an ambiguous destination, and it moves very slowly toward that ill-defined end, progressing with a typically inconsistent tone for the era, but none of the passion or iconoclasm that made the best films of that time so memorable.

Although the pace is glacial, the talent involved is substantial:

Channing, Waterston and Franklin Ajaye are credible in the three lead roles.

The cinematographer was Vilmos Zsigmond, whose four Oscar nominations speak for themselves. He won a BAFTA for The Deer Hunter and an Oscar for Close Encounters. He shot most of Sweet Revenge in the Seattle area, an underused locale which provided an excellent background for the action

Director Jerry Schatzberg was a talented guy who helmed some fine films starring Hackman, Pacino, Streep and some of the other 70s icons. His works include Scarecrow, The Panic in Needle Park, and The Seduction of Joe Tynan.

Unfortunately, all that talent was essentially wasted on a rambling, seemingly pointless film. Sweet Revenge has some charms and has its moments, but it's no coincidence that it is nearly forgotten.

Stockard Channing - her one and only nude scene

Random background women in prison. Hey, it was the 70's, man.

Naked News
Adult film star Ariana Marie did the entertainment segment on July 5th

It's good to be a celeb
Jennifer Lawrence touring Versailles while the palace was closed to the public

Check Other Crap for updates in real time, or close to it.


2016, 1920x800

Isabelle Huppert

Caroline Breton

Anne Consigny

Eve Carlinsky in Levine (2017) in 720p

Nicole Bardis and Nicolette Vincelli in Pinwheel (2017) in 720p



Deborah Kara Unger and Jennifer Ehle in Sunshine (1999) in 720p



I lived and worked in Hungary for a while after the fall of Communism. In the process of looking for suitable real estate for our business, I journeyed through virtually every nook and cranny of the country. Although I lived in Pest, I could get in my car and drive to any major town in the country without a map. I did make a mental note of the ethic diversity of the population, but it never really sank in to my conscious mind that Hungary is the perfect microcosm of Europe in the 20th century.

Some Hungarians might look like Scandinavians, or they might look like Turks, or anything in between. Hungary had a substantial Jewish and Gypsy population before WW2, and is still home to many gypsies, Romanians, and other minorities. Because the Hungarian women have always been considered both beautiful and pleasant, they have been treasured as brides by Germans, Poles, Russians, and anybody else who wandered along with an eye for female pulchritude mixed with a sensible disposition. I was in love with a Hungarian woman myself, even tried to figure out a way to continue the relationship when I left Hungary, but could not and moved on. She came from a rich family that had its land restored from pre-Communist times. I wonder sometimes if I could have found some way to manage parts of her father's estates, but I didn't speak Hungarian, so there was no life for me there, and she didn't speak English, so there was no life for her here. (We communicated in German. We were both employed by an Austrian company.) I still think about her, and saved all her letters. The point is that the desirability of the women caused Hungarian blood to become even more mixed, so that you can't really say "he looks Hungarian". I don't know what a Hungarian looks like. Even in the small towns, there was a wide diversity of physical types.

The varied ethnic composition of the people is the lesser component of the formula. The greater component of my microcosm theory is the political history of Hungary in the 20th century. Imagine this. The country began the century with an emperor. There was a Communist revolution in Hungary a couple years after the USSR was formed, but this first experiment with Communism was short-lived. The Communists were overthrown by a right-wing military coup, and this rule eventually became so fascistic that it Nazified, and Hungary fought for the Axis in WW2. When the war ended, the Soviet Union gained hegemony over the country, and the second period of Communism began. Ten years later, the Hungarians tried to gain their freedom from Communism in a revolt which turned into one of the great televised spectacles of the era. The Hungarian revolt was suppressed by Russia, but not until the end of a brave and quixotic struggle which pitted Russian tanks against barefoot Hungarian children in the streets of Pest. The rag-tag revolutionaries held their own for a few days, even captured a few tanks. They exploited a flaw in the Russian communications system to blast some of the Russian tanks away with other Russian tanks, and even got some Russians shooting at other Russians by swapping the flags on their tanks. Of course, the Magyar struggle against mighty Russia was doomed without help from the West, and the Western democracies had no taste for waging a war on the nuclear precipice, so they sat by as the Soviets eventually squelched the pseudo-revolution with sheer muscle.

The 1956 Hungarian Revolt ended up in the Western consciousness as an embarrassing example of our spinelessness. Many people in Europe and the Americas were ashamed that they sat back and let the gallant Hungarians be crushed.

But the Russians were far more embarrassed and, in a typical Soviet move, eliminated the Hungarian revolution from their textbooks completely. "That's right, comrade, it never existed. The glorious Soviet system is so ideal that surely nobody would oppose it. And if a bunch of dirty-faced children did oppose it, surely they wouldn't hold their own against the glorious might of the Red Army which single-handedly defeated the Germans!"  To this day, my Russian friend Elya, who was educated in the USSR, still only half-believes me when I tell her about it. For the most stirring account of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution, I recommend that you read James Michener's "The Bridge at Andau".

I guess the point I'm making here is that Hungary was the perfect setting for one of those multi-generational family epics in which fictional family members mix freely with real historical figures. Hollywood used to make zillions of these pictures and mini-series in which the family improved its economic fate every generation, but perhaps lost the original integrity of the patriarch. You know the genre. Immigrant grandpa was sweeping the floor when Edison invented the light bulb, and the swabbie dad played a game of 8-ball once with FDR when the great man was Secretary of the Navy, and the lawyer grandson was a Nixon aide who went to prison. Usually they tried to make the fictional character responsible for something integral to the world. Ol' grandpa would be the guy who somehow recommended tungsten to Edison, and dad would tell FDR he looked stirring in firelight, and the kid recommended the taping system to Nixon. Forrest Gump was both a satire of and an homage to this kind of film. (Actually, the book was a satire, but the film lost most of that edge in a sentimental deluge of mush.)

This is one of those multi-generation thingies. It is kind of a soap opera like "Rich Man, Poor Man," filled with people marrying their stepsisters and humping their brothers-in-law and such, but it is also an incisive look at the social milieu of 20th century Europe and its specific relationship with its Jewish minority. The family consisted of prosperous and proud Jews at the turn of the century, but as the generations passed, they first changed their name to Sors to become more Hungarian, and then some of them became Roman Catholics to assimilate still further. Ultimately, their efforts didn't matter. The middle generation consisted mainly of a championship fencer who was applauded by the Nazis in the 1936 Olympics, then was killed in a concentration camp despite the fact that he was a national hero of a German ally, and a Roman Catholic by faith.

At last, the final generation in the film went back to the old family name, stopped denying their heritage, and "someone in our family breathed freely for the first time in generations"

The film really does a good job at showing how and why people allied with various movements that seemed repulsive in retrospect. Many Jews were happy to see the first socialist regime deposed and the military take power. They were prosperous, successful people who had no interest in socialism. Of course, that reign turned to fascism. Needless to say, many Jews subsequently became Communists when Communism emerged as the sworn enemy of the Nazis.  Later, many Jews became anti-Communists when Stalin sought to disprove the common belief that Communism was a Zionist conspiracy. Well, you can imagine the methods that Stalin, being Stalin, chose to make his point.

Alignment was the story of the 20th century, wasn't it? It isn't just Jewish people that got caught in the -isms. The middle of the century turned out to be a great struggle between two great monsters, Hitler and Stalin, with two monstrous ideologies. For the Jews, Hitler was the ultimate enemy, so there were many Jews who ended up on the Communist side of the struggle. But for American capitalism, Communism was the ultimate enemy, and many Americans ended up sympathetic to Germany because the Germans stood as an obstacle to the spread of Marxist-Leninist dogma. Many Americans wanted to stay neutral in WW2, and the country did stay neutral long after FDR was convinced it could not be. It was only the attack on American soil that finally forced the USA into the war.

Only Churchill stood above all the -isms with a clear head. When asked if he thought that England should align itself with such a monster as Stalin and such a monstrous ideology as Communism, Churchill replied in unambiguous terms that if Hitler were to invade hell, he would at least make a faboprable mention of Satan in Parliament. The problem was that Churchill seemed to be the only man in America or Britain who caught on right from the beginning. Plenty of people thought that Hitler could be trusted, or that he was our point man against Communism in Europe.

At any rate, Hungary's history and ethnic variety make it the perfect country to represent the history of the 20th century, and a Jewish family was the perfect choice for the generational study. The film is grand and sweeping, and it incorporates enough juicy gossip and character development that you'll find it to be a painless history pill in chewable form. Ralph Fiennes plays the lead part in three consecutive generations of the family, and he does enough to make his characterizations believable as three separate men. Luckily for Ralph, none of the characters had any sense of humor, so Fiennes' only weakness was not evident, and he brought a sturdy integrity to the project, supported by a powerful cast of various Europeans and North Americans, with real Hungarians in most of the background roles.
The film was written and directed by Hungarian Istvan Szabo, and much of it was filmed on location in Hungary.

Martha Keller in Marathon Man (1976)

"Is it safe?"

I have mixed feelings about this international thriller classic. On the one hand, it has some tremendous positives:

1. Dustin Hoffman and Lord Larry Olivier? It doesn't get much better than that, and both were cast ideally.

2. Marthe Keller with her clothes off.

3. Some of the best individual scenes I've ever seen. The famous dental torture scene; the scene where Hoffman throws the diamonds into the waterworks (very reminiscent of the sewer scenes in The Third Man); the shot of Olivier's face shot from below - up through the diamonds; the scene with Hoffman in bed with a flashlight; the scene with Hoffman in the tub; some of the scenes with Roy Scheider in Paris; Devane's fake rescue.

4. There is brilliant camera positioning, tension, spectacle, good performances, things that aren't what they appear to be, everything you'd want in an Cold War Thriller.

5. I very much liked the way they built up the mystery with Roy Scheider's character. For the longest time, you think he's probably evil, but you don't know what the hell he's doing. Then you think he's OK. Then you don't know, even at the end, if he was just a simple thief all along.

5. When the film is over, you get the feeling that you've watched something substantial because the film manipulates your emotions in the ways it intends to, and seems significant, perhaps more significant than it really is.

On the other hand, thrillers are supposed to be plot-driven and I have to tell you, this plot made no sense at all in some places. It throws a double whammy at you - you can't figure out some scenes when they happen, then they still don't make any sense when you have all the explanations. (The following will only be meaningful if you have seen the film.)

So why did those two guys in the park mug Hoffman and Keller again? As a warning to Scheider? Can't be, because then they would have done it when Hoffman was alone, to avoid blowing Keller's cover. Because Hoffman was with Keller when it happened, Scheider heard the story and immediately suspected Keller was somehow involved.

Why did they think Hoffman would hit on Keller in the library? He was a scholarly man who never hit on anyone, but she made it exceedingly difficult, and he ran after her for blocks?

What is the point of the bomb blast in the baby carriage? (Except that it was a cool scene) Nobody knew where Scheider would park, or even when he was coming. (He was three days late, as the script points out)

What is the mysterious soccer ball all about? Is there a missing scene?

Why did Devane go over to the dark side?

Was Scheider just a common thief, after all. That was implied by Olivier's explanation.

Why did the American intelligence guys protect Szell, a known major Nazi, in order to get his info on a bunch of small fish? If any of the Americans wanted a career boost and headline power, turning in Szell was the way to go.

Why did the death of Szell's brother change anything? Scheider already had received the key from him before the accident. That was the key that Scheider was carrying around, wasn't it? Or was it something else?

Why didn't the brother just take out the diamonds little by little and convert them to cash a bit at a time from 1946-1976. After all, he had the damned key.

Worst of all, why did Devane give Hoffman the correct address of the bank? One second after Hoffman went out the door, Devane followed him, intending to kill him, so obviously he lied when he said "I'll give you Szell for your brother". But why didn't he also lie and say, "Szell is at a bank at 33rd and Lex" instead of giving Hoffman the correct address. C'mon, the guy was a trained spook. Obviously, Hoffman would have said OK, and left, just as he did with the real address, because he had no idea which one was real.

Perhaps the novel explains all these things in depth, but the movie is confusing, and sometimes just plain wrong, as in the last item with Devane giving Hoffman the correct address. I would have cut a lot of scenes out of this film to make it more comprehensible and tighter.

Good performers, some great scenes, in search of better continuity and logic.