The Fifth Element

1997, 1080hd, open matte

No, I haven't lost my mind and incorrectly placed a 1997 movie into breaking news.

The key is "open matte" - the full 35mm exposure, much of which was lost when the director created his theatrical cut. A new version has emerged, which allows us to see the famous Milla nipples in all their youthful glory.

Milla Jovovich film clip (still below)

Luc Besson's future world is light-hearted. Some of the aliens look like lumbering muppets, Bruce Willis and Chris Tucker are their usual wisecrackin' selves, and the world can only be saved by a really hot babe (Milla Jovovich, then the director's wife). There is not much gravitas here. The tone of the film is more like Raiders or Star Wars than Blade Runner. There isn't any hint of "film noir" in sight, despite the world's imminent end, so the film sort of ran afoul of those who like their earth-threatening situations to be dark and somber. Critics were divided on the film. The average palookas like me gave it a thumb up, but some of the more cerebral critics were not so impressed.

Fuck 'em.

I say: great images, great fun, great imagination, Milla nearly naked. That's more than enough for this guy.

I have often excoriated European filmmakers for wanting to make art before they learned how to light a scene. Luc Besson is exempt from this criticism. Besson isn't one of those Frenchmen who wants to make arty, money-losing films. He knows how to please the audience. He has a great sense of humor, and this film is lit and photographed with an absolute technical virtuosity. It's also filled with a campy, ironic, sorta shallow view of the future. In other words, if you didn't know better, you'd think Besson was an American! He's Spielberg, but smoking Galoises.

Well, I guess you have to say his work is sophomoric. Literally. You see, he wrote the first draft of this film when he was a sophomore, but waited decades to film it. In between, he established his competence with such films as La Femme Nikita and Leon (The Professional), earning enough credibility that a Hollywood studio was willing to invest $90 million on this film. They got their money back. The American market didn't respond as well as hoped ($63 million gross), but the film was a monster hit across the world, and paid out.

The House Bunny
2008, 1080hd, open matte

Yes, more open matte fun. This time we get to see Anna Faris's entire booty instead of just the top. Pretty nice booty. I don't have a clip yet. Below is the still capture.

This film is about a castoff Playboy Bunny who helps the girls of the nerdy sorority to become popular. She takes over as their house mother and re-makes them. The increased popularity of their sorority gains them enough pledges to retain their charter, despite the best efforts of the snobby sorority down the street. It was written by the same screenwriters as Legally Blonde and follows pretty much the same formula, with just a hint of Revenge of the Nerds mixed in. The film's strength is a note-perfect Goldie Hawn-like performance from Anna Faris, who managed to be both funny and completely credible as a Playmate, right down to the killer body in a PG-13 nude scene. (She doesn't have big breasts, but the director worked around that.) The film's weakness is that Anna's character is the only one developed at all. Her romance with the Colin Hanks character is half-baked and Hanks is given virtually no character to work with.  The girls in Anna's sorority had no real back story at all, and their pre-makeover characters are wildly exaggerated. The requisite evil schemer from the snobby sorority is a one-dimensional cartoon character. Meanwhile, back at Hef's place, the other evil schemer, the one who got Anna booted from the Playboy Mansion, seems to have been left almost entirely on the cutting room floor.

Irrespective of what I write here, your teen and pre-teen daughters will watch this film, as many other daughters did. The House Bunny grossed almost fifty million. I wish I could say that the message of the story was so redemptive as to make you pleased that your daughters are watching it, but that's not true. While the made-over girls did get a stern lecture when they turned into clones of the sorority brats who had scorned them earlier, that was a perfunctory effort, a complete throwaway in comparison to the film's overall notion that the way for a girl to make her life richer is to glam up and act slutty. The difference between this film and the comparable youthploitation films about male nerds is that the male geeks never have to change their appearance or act like preppies to get their final redemption. Nobody recommends that they start working out or wearing nicer clothes or wearing contact lenses. The alleged losers end up triumphing while retaining their nerdy appearance, by using their humor and brains and innate moral superiority. On the other hand, the girls' version of this fairy tale requires the losers to look hot before anyone will even consider talking to them. I, for one, would like to see the female geeks get accepted for who they are, just as the males do, instead of having to act like superficial but attractive twits.

Bottom line: The House Bunny is not an unpleasant way to pass the time, but it's tweener entertainment by the numbers, and has an insidiously shallow point of view.

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


2001, 1920x1080

Rachel Miner

Bijou Phillips

Kelli Garner

Scoop's comments:

I have often written about directors who have great gaps between their best and worst work - like Franklin Schaffner, who directed both Patton and Yes, Giorgio. If you look at this issue with no other reference but the IMDb scores, director Larry Clark may have set the all-time record in this particular category. In one single calendar year, 2001, he released two movies. Bully is rated a very solid 7.0, but Teenage Caveman is rated 3.3, and is contending for a spot on the IMDb all-time worst list. Now that's a gap! And I think it is probably an accurate representation of the difference between the two films. Teenage Caveman is really that bad. Bully, on the other hand is a helluva powerful movie, and a surprisingly good one.

To bring you up to speed, Clark is the photographer who turned movie director at the age of 52, after never having had anything to do with the industry. His first film, Kids, was praised by many for its stark realism and its understanding of one of the seamy undercultures of America,  the teenage children of (mostly) blue-collar dysfunctional families - the violent, hopeless culture of white trailer-trash youth. Clark had some trouble finding a formula that worked for him. Kids and Another Day in Paradise both seem to me like movies created by an author looking for his true voice. Kids had some potential, but was more just plain grimy for the sake of griminess, and didn't seem to have much structure to pull it all together, or much credibility. Another Day in Paradise strayed a bit away from Clark's cinema verite roots. In Bully he managed to find a way to keep his unique "eavesdropping" grittiness, while adding form, structure, and cohesion.

Instead of writing it himself, he used a "true crime" book as his basic structure, and he hired screenwriters to flesh it out in movie form. By selecting this combination of collaborators, he managed to eliminate his credibility problem with a true story, while simultaneously adding more structure and forward movement to replace his instinctive aimlessness. The book, "Bully", by Jim Schutze, is based on a true story that occurred in South Florida in July of 1993, in which a group of stoners, misfits, and dropouts killed one of their acquaintances who was abusing some of them. The bully, Bobby Kent, was clearly a kid with major problems. Although able to affect a normal facade with adults, he reverted to psychopathic behavior in the company of other youths. He consistently used his best friend, the aimless stoner/surfer Marty, as a human punching bag, both physically and psychologically, and seemed to get great pleasure in humiliating him. When Marty got himself a girlfriend, Bobby walked on their sex, whipped the girl with a weight belt, knocked his friend senseless with a punch, and raped the girlfriend. The girlfriend, pretty much as clueless as Marty, thinks that the abusive Bobby is just what her friend Ali is looking for, because Ali is into any kind of kinky sex. Bobby proved to be too abusive even for Ali's taste, forcing her to watch gay porn, hitting her with his fists, and forcing her to scream that he's the best she's ever had. These three victims of abuse plot Bobby's murder, and eventually manage to accomplish it with the aid of some equally clueless and stoned loser friends and a would-be gangster.

To me, the best moments in the film are not in the sex and violence, but in the conversations between the kids, and in their dealings with their parents. Those moments will really make you cringe. For example, they plan the murder with no moral reservations, and call in friends as casually as they'd ask them to come out for a pizza. "Hey, Derek, we're gonna kill this guy in Lauderdale tonight, wanna come?" More frightening still is the casual way in which the invitation is accepted by kids who didn't know the intended victim. Some of them didn't even need a reason to kill a stranger. It was simply what they had to do to hang with their friends that night. Cool. When they plan the murder at Pizza Hut, they discuss it as casually if they were planning to sneak into a movie.

The moments of blackest humor are generated when parents poke their heads through the doors. The kids are plotting the murder in one of their bedrooms when mom opens the bedroom door, says something like "What mischief are you plotting?", and makes sure that they've all had enough supper and brushed their teeth, talking to them as if they were eight. (Although their eight year old little brothers seem to be no more innocent than they.) Of course, they all do a "Yes, Mrs Cleaver." The brief intrusion of the adult perspective into their world makes it clear just how little their parents really know about what they think and feel.
Although, now that I think about it, mom gave them good advice, and should have done so even if she had known they were going to kill. The American Dental Association probably does advise to brush and floss your teeth after every major crime.

There are many different ways to create a powerful movie. Ever since I can remember, independent auteurs have been talking about how to break free from the Hollywood Fantasy Factory and make films that seem real. This cinema verite movement has always been more popular with the turtleneck crowd than with mainstream filmgoers. The challenge for cinema verite has always been to make something which simultaneously seems completely real, yet also has form and structure so that the film seems to have a point or a plot or both. Larry Clark has come pretty damned close to achieving that. The interaction between the characters seems so uncontrived that I could easily believe it was real kids being filmed with a hidden camera, but at the same time, the film has a beginning, middle and end that flow as naturally as the slickest Hollywood product.

Did I like it that much? No. I admired it and I have to acknowledge the emotional punch that it packs, but I didn't like it. It doesn't want to be liked. It wants to eat into you, make you feel nauseated, shock you, and make you feel that it's all real.

I guess that hand-held cinema verite is not really my cup of tea, but I did watch it all enrapt, was never aware of any lag in the pacing, was gripped with horror at their casual attitude toward violence of all kinds, and felt their tension after they committed their crime and were basically just waiting to be caught. I wouldn't put Bully on my list of Top 10 favorite films for the year, but I can see why it made some lists as one of the Best 10. If you let yourself get into it, it can knock your teeth out.

(Footnote: do not take the film to be a true story. It has modified the book to produce a more compelling story, and the book itself was panned by many critics for taking too many liberties with the facts of the case. Seen through this double filter, the story can't be considered a representation of reality, except in a figurative sense.)

There is a New World Somewhere

2015, 1080hd

Agnes Bruckner film clips (collages below)

Two Lovers and a Bear

2016, 1080hd

Tatiana Maslany film clips (collages below)

Florence Foresti in De Plus Belle (2017) in 1080hd

Eliza Dushku in Banshee (s4e6) in 1080hd - adjusted for better light and color

Diane Lane in Vital Signs (1990) in 720p

Vital Signs is a soap opera about third year medical students. You know the drill. When off duty, the dedicated doctors have romances with one another. When on duty they scream, "Live, damn you!" as they pound furiously on their patients' chests.

There is one great mystery surrounding this film. Perhaps you think of yourself as a rational and skeptical person who believes that time travel is impossible. Well if that is so, this film will test your confidence in that belief. Somehow, a 1982 genre parody called Young Doctors in Love managed to parody Vital Signs almost scene-for-scene even though Vital Signs was released in 1990.

I can only offer two possible explanations:


1) Vital Signs represents the only case in history where a serious movie was created by stripping the humor from a parody, thus allowing itself to be pre-satirized for your protection. It would be the exact equivalent of taking the script from Blazing Saddles, removing every bit of humor and the silly modern day epilogue, thus creating an inspiring, cliché-ridden Western.

Or, and this seems to me the more likely explanation:

2) The writer and director of Young Doctors in Love journeyed into the future, watched Vital Signs, and wrote a parody of it.

I guess I could stop being a smart-ass and admit that there is undoubtedly a far more rational explanation available. I must be unaware of or have mercifully forgotten at least one and probably several pre-1982 films which are completely indistinguishable from Vital Signs. I will wager that this particular version of the story is distinguished from similar earlier films only by the graphic and sometimes bloody detail in the surgery scenes and other medical emergencies.

That paragraph alone should tell you whether you want to see it.

Anyway, that's all I'm going to write. If you want to see Young Doctors in Love minus the jokes, this is your movie.

If you just want to see Diane Lane's breasts, just watch the clip above.

More of the Lily Collins wardrobe malfunction

An Ireland Baldwin wardrobe malfunction

More of Nicole Scherzinger's breast exposure on the beach

Mary Elizabeth Winstead in a see-thru bra