Thursday

Tuna
"Midnight Crossing"

Midnight Crossing (1988) is a mystery/thriller that puts four people on a sailboat heading for an island near Cuba to recover $1M hidden there when Castro came to power. The four include John Laughlin as the yacht owner and son of a dead Naval Officer who participated in hiding the money, Kim Kattrall as his wife, who is sick of his interest in his charter boat and sick of the mortgage, her boss Daniel J. Travanti, who was the enlisted man who worked with the officer to hide the cash, and his wife Faye Dunaway, who is blind. Dunaway and Travanti are supposedly celebrating their 20th wedding anniversary, but it is obvious pretty quickly that Travanti is after the money, and suspects that Laughlin knows the coordinates of the small island it is hidden on. From there we go into almost every combination of double cross you can imagine.

Cattrall has a lengthy wet shirt scene, where her breasts are very much visible through the shirt. Based on the size and shape, I think that two earlier breast shots are also her, even though those two shots could be doubles. IMDB readers have this at 4.5 of 10, and the few comments and reviews abuse it as well, then admit that it is an ok film, just not great. That is my take as well. It met my three most important criteria for a C in the thriller genre. It had identifiable nudity, had no serious logic errors, and did not put me to sleep. Therefor this is a low C. Not a great thriller, but an entertaining enough way to spend 104 minutes.

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  • Kim Cattrall (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)

  • Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy)

    Basic (2003):

    Major spoilers:

    An elite U.S. special forces unit undertakes a disastrous mission in Panama. Of the seven men and women in the squad, only two return, and one of them is fatally wounded. An investigation is initiated. The healthy member of the team is being interrogated by the base investigator in Panama (Connie Nielsen), but will not talk unless he can speak with a fellow Ranger. It so happens that the base commander has a buddy in Panama who is an ex-Ranger (John Travolta), and that guy agrees to assist in the investigation.

    As Travolta and the local investigator interview the healthy Ranger, the dying Ranger, and the local medic (who was involved), they cannot seem to unravel the complex story of a local drug operation. Everyone who tells the story repeats a different version of it, ala Roshomon, the stories are in such dramatic conflict that it is not possible to determine the truth.

    Basic contains the core of a good movie, a twisty tale of illusion and reality, a complicated sting in which almost all the details are hidden from the audience until the proper time. It has a great cast and crew. In addition to Travolta and Nielsen, it stars Giovanni Ribisi, Taye Diggs, Samuel L. ) And how can you go wrong with Samuel L Jackson directed by the guy who did "Die Hard"? Sounds great. It actually scores a respectable 6.1 at IMDb, but many critics totally despised it. Roger Ebert gave it one star, and many others were equally negative. Audiences were indifferent. The film was only the third highest opener of its own week, and the total domestic gross was a mediocre $26 million.

    The problem with the film, the reason it irritated so many people, is that it went way over the top in needless complexity and deception. It became so complex, in fact, that I couldn't piece together the entire solution logically even after all the smoke was clear and every mirror was removed. Since many characters were pretending to be what they were not, and every person except the local investigator was something other than what we originally assumed, some of the interrogations assumed so many levels of artificiality as to be indecipherable. That removed a lot of the pleasure from the ultimate revelations, because the audience was left thinking, "What the ... ? But, if ..."

    For example:

    1. At one point John Travolta is interviewing the healthy surviving Ranger. But Travolta is not who he seems to be, the healthy Ranger is not who he seems to be, and in fact they are working together. If so, why are they carrying on the charade? We presume it must be for the benefit of the local investigator, who is the only other person in the room. Only one problem with that theory. Travolta didn't want her in the room in the first place. She insisted on accompanying him. 

    2. At one point the dying Ranger gives the local investigator a sign that the botched operation was a result of some action by a top secret group called Section 8. Again, only one problem. Reviewing the movie in retrospect, there is no way that soldier could have known about the group which Section 8 turned out to be! He could have known about the drug-dealing group, since he was part of it, and at that point, the local investigator (and we in the audience) thinks Section 8 is the drug dealers, so the plot twist seemed to make sense at that moment. But the fact of the matter is, that the local investigator was wrong. That soldier could have known about the group that she incorrectly assumed to have been Section 8, but not about the group that really was Section 8. (The good guys who were sent to bust up the drug ring.)

    3. Travolta only survives to the end of the film because Connie Nielsen shoots the drug mastermind. Travolta had turned his back on the guy, and was walking away. The drug lord was about to pump ol' Barbarino full of lead when Nielsen intervened. Again, only one problem. Travolta didn't know that Nielsen was there. (Remember Nielsen didn't know about either the secret drug cabal or the secret undercover good guys). Therefore, Travolta should have died right then and there, and the bad guys should have won, except for a completely lucky break. Once again, it seemed reasonable at the time it happened, but proved to be a major logical flaw when everyone's true nature was revealed.

    I love sting movies, and I really enjoy the Roshomon premise in which varying accounts of an incident have to be reconciled, so I enjoyed this film in a guilty pleasure way. On the other hand, it is really my kind of movie, and I was willing to ignore the details that didn't add up because of the overall pleasure I derive from a really complicated sting. Your mileage will probably vary. I think most of you will find this too damned complicated and contrived. The ending of the film had not one surprise twist, but about four or five within a few minutes, when all the layers of the sting were revealed. At that point, I think most people were thinking "enough already".

     

     

    Bartleby (2001):

    Bartleby the Scrivener is a story by Herman Melville which is often studied in literature classes. It tells of a meek man who obtains a job as a clerk, then gradually causes havoc in the office by simply saying "I would prefer not to", to more and more requests from his superior. He continues to do some work very efficiently, but takes it upon himself to decide when he will work and which tasks he will perform. Needless to say, this frustrates his boss, who narrates the story. The story is meticulous in establishing that the other employees in Bartleby's position are incompetent shirkers, but they avoid word in socially acceptable ways. They don't refuse to work. They simply agree amenably to all tasks assigned to them, then show a complete lack of enthusiasm for those tasks, and so as little work as it is possible to do without getting fired. Even though Bartleby probably does just as much work as the others in the office, he breaks the rules of society by determining that he is the one to decide what to do.

    Literary critics find this story quite profound. After all, 90% of our adult working lives are basically spent doing things we would prefer not to do, so if we all followed Bartleby's example, society as we know it would come to a stand-still. The industrial revolution created a concept of people as cogs in a giant labor machine, and needed that concept to hold in order to function properly. Bartleby was causing the labor machine to break down.

    The boss/narrator is torn between compassion for his peculiar employee, a secret sense of identification with Bartleby's defiance, and a pragmatic need to fire him in order to maintain some discipline among the ranks. After all, he cannot afford to start the precedent of allowing employees to tell him what they will or won't do. Firing Bartleby proves ineffective, since he "prefers not to" leave, and he also lives in the office at night. The only way the office can get rid of him is to move. When they move to their new headquarters, the new occupants of their former building cast Bartleby out into the streets, homeless.

    Bartleby the movie brings this story very effectively into the 20th century, in kind of an alternate universe which is an exaggerated version of our own, featuring the suitably odd and suitably meek Crispin Glover as Bartleby.

    Melville's words make it seem like he could have had psychic powers, seeing Crispin Glover across the centuries:

    "I can see that figure now pallidly neat, pitiably respectable, incurably forlorn".
     

    The movie functions very well as black comedy, and does fairly well with farce and slapstick, but perhaps functions less effectively at the end, when Bartleby comes to a tragic ending and his former boss develops an intimate sense of identification with his mildly rebellious former charge.

    Here is the complete story of Bartleby the Scrivener

    At last, the truth can be told. Joe Piscopo and Jean-Claude Van Damme are the same person.  Click here to see a picture of Piscopo in Bartleby.

     

     

     

    Midnight Mass (2002):

    I had mixed feelings about this vampire/armageddon movie with a "punk" feel. I didn't like it, but the visuals were often composed and photographed beautifully. The script is basically the same old stuff, but there was kind of a nice twist in that an atheist was facing a real internal crisis because the most effective defenses against vampires include religious symbols like crosses and Holy Water and consecrated wine, this implying that there is some "truth" to religious mythology.

    So what's the problem with the film? Well, the editing is quite clumsy, and the vamps look kinda silly, but the main reason I didn't like the film is that the acting is so bad as to defy all audience involvement. It's really hard to get into a story when every character is either shamelessly overacting or delivering lines like a local used car dealer reading from cue cards. Sitting in the audience, you never get to crossover into their world because you're always aware they are "acting".

    I don't know if I still would have hated the film if it had been made with real actors. Probably not. The story is pretty cheesy. It starts out by informing us that the whole world is being taken over by vampires, but focuses in on only one town on the New Jersey shore, and the battle of the locals to protect themselves. The local rogue vampire/priest there keeps assuring his enemies that "the world is mine". I guess that means he's the Big Kahuna of vampires world-wide. You'd think that with the entire world to choose from, Vampires would set up their HQ in Vienna or someplace, not in Asbury Park.

    Maybe it's best to say that the director shows some promise for future projects.


     

    UPDATES:

    • Updated volumes: Jenny Agutter, Cameron Diaz

    • New volumes: Angel Boris, Kathy Bates, Carroll Baker, Hsu Chi (the girl in The Transporter), Susan Featherly, Julie Gayet

     

    OTHER CRAP:

    Other crap archives. May also include newer material than the ones above, since it's sorta in real time.

     

    MOVIE REVIEWS:

    Here are the latest movie reviews available at scoopy.com.

    • 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.

    Graphic Response
    • Isabelle Adjani. The French actress bares all in scenes from "Diabolique" (1996).

    Be sure to pay Graphic Response a visit at his website. www.graphic-barry.com.

    Hankster
    'Caps and comments by Hankster:

    Today we begin an extended look at "Killing Me Softly" starring Heather Graham.

    The first is a single shot of the most widely seen scene from the movie. The next nine caps are from the first sex scene in the movie where Joseph Fiennes lifts here top and gropes, fondles and kisses her breasts.

    Variety
    Laura Rogers
    (1, 2)

    The sexy, brunette B-movie babe in a hot, although much too brief sex scene from the Angie Everhart movie "Bare Witness" (2002).

    Pink nmd 'caps of the pop singer in a bikini top, and showing a hint of her thong behind the scenes at a recent video shoot.

    Kristanna Loken No skin, but the T3 babe was looking pretty good on Tuesday night's episode of Leno.

    Kelly McGillis
    (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)

    The "Top Gun" co-star topless in a lesbian scene with Susie Porter (who is nearly full frontal in link #4). Vidcaps from "The Monkey's Mask".

    Angelina Jolie
    (1, 2, 3)

    A few production stills from the upcoming "Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life" (2003). No nudity, but link #1 features her in a skin tight body suit with pokies.

    Lara Flynn Boyle
    (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7)

    "Men in Black II" was a very poor sequel, but at least Boyle showed off a ton of wonderbra cleavage. 'Caps by Watty.

    Angela Featherstone
    (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8)

    Señor Skin 'caps of the Canadian actress topless and even being groped by Eliza Dushku in scenes from "Soul Survivors" (2001).

    Pat Reeder www.comedy-wire.com
    Pat's comments in yellow...

    McDONALD'S TO OFFER INTERNET ACCESS
    World's Greasiest Keyboards! - Tuesday, McDonald's announced that it would offer wireless Internet access in 75 restaurants around San Francisco. McDonald's hopes to boost sagging profits by charging $4.95 for two hours of Internet access while you eat. Some critics scoffed that McDonald's lacks the upscale customers who would use it, but they plan to offer special promotions, like free Internet access when you buy a Big Mac and fries.

  • You can access websites on how to deal with a heart attack.
  • While you're eating that, you can order a Domino's Pizza online and have it delivered to your table.
  • McDonald's will be the only place where you can pick up a Happy Meal and download porn at the same time!


    ELVIS' TOOTH FOR SALE
    A Hunka Hunka Elvis' Head - The owner of a hair salon in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, is selling an unusual collection of Elvis Presley memorabilia on eBay. It consists of a gold record for "Love Me Tender," a lock of Elvis' hair and one of his teeth, which is not officially authenticated. The seller turned down an offer for the tooth from a European cloning firm. As of Tuesday, bids were over $200,000, and the reserve hadn't been met yet.

  • Wow! When I was a kid, all you could get for a loose tooth was a quarter!
  • It must be Elvis' tooth: it's still got peanut butter and banana stuck to it.
  • Well, we now know that "TCB" didn't stand for "Takin' Care of Bicuspids."


    BRITNEY NOT A VIRGIN ANYMORE!
    "W" Stands For "Whatever!" - It's official: Britney Spears is no longer a virgin. She told W magazine, "I've only slept with one person my whole life." She said that after two years with Justin Timberlake, she thought he was "the one;" but they broke up, and he went on Barbara Walter's show and "sold me out." She says she hasn't had a boy in a long time, and "I'm really craving...Just a kiss would be nice." Ironically, one year ago, she told People that the loss of her virginity was "nobody's business," and "trust me, I'm not going to have a press conference to announce it."

  • And she didn't: she gave the exclusive to W magazine.
  • It's such a private and personal matter, she waited over two years to announce it to the media.
  • She shouldn't go around announcing that she's damaged goods! What man would want her now?!
  • In an equally shocking story, Christina Aguilera announced that she, too, is no longer a virgin.
  • Britney is truly the Doris Day of pop music.