"The Ninth Gate"

The Ninth Gate (1999) is an International co-production directed by Roman Polanski and staring Johnny Depp. Depp is a book researcher, and a famous collector of satanic books hires him to authenticate a rare volume and compare it against the only two other copies in existence. It becomes clear that Satan, himself, coded the secret to conjuring Satan and becoming immortal into the three books. Depp has gotten into the middle of much more than he at first thought.

As the mystery unfolds, he collects a guardian angle in the form of Ammanuelle Siegner, and Lena Olin as an enemy. Olin's character shows buns and the side of a breast, but it is very likely a double. Siegner shows breasts near the end of the film.

The DVD includes a commentary by Polanski, who got very tired by the end of this film. Key points of the commentary included the fact that he preferred to shoot in studios whenever possible, he used a great deal of subtle cgi in this film, and he wasn't sure why Depp played a one note character, but thought it worked anyway. He doesn't storyboard unless cgi is to be added, as he feels it restricts creativity. The book he adapted was far too complex for a film, and he greatly simplified it and made it into a linear narrative for the film.

I thought the film lacked depth and complexity, wasted a very talented performer, Depp, in a one note portrayal, and was overly long.It did, however, look really good. Polanski saw the book as the main character, and Satan, whom we never see, as another major character. For me, there wasn't enough substance to fill the 133 minutes of running time. Polanski bragged that he didn't cut a single scene during editing, although he did shorten some. The Ninth Gate really needs more meat or a shorter running time. Research on the satanic symbols was very good, and the books were rather convincing. All in all, this is a C, an OK mystery that could have been much stronger given a very talented cast. IMDb readers have it at 6.3 of 10.

  • Emmanuelle Seigner (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
  • Lena Olin (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7)

  • Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy)

    Starsky and Hutch (2004):

    You may love Ben Stiller or you may think he sucks, but irrespective of your feelings about his comedy, you have to concede one thing - the man has a tremendous work ethic. In 2004 alone, he has had starring roles in five comedies

    1. Meet the Fockers
    2. Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story
    3. Envy
    4. Starsky & Hutch
    5. Along Came Polly

    In addition, he will have a role in the mockumentary Sledge: The Story of Frank Sledge, and he made a cameo appearance with his usual comedy buddies in Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgandy

    His five major roles encompass a pretty good variety of films. Meet the Fockers and Along Came Polly are mainstream films, essentially romantic comedies, Dodgeball and Starsky & Hutch are somewhat edgier "pure" comedy, and Envy ... well, Envy was just a very bad mistake. Throughout most of his career, Stiller has made an entire career out of just three roles: Mr Furious, the guy with too much caffeine, Mr Clueless, the guy with an IQ in single figures, and Mr Average, the guy who represents an average schmoe like us. I prefer Stiller when he works in the normal range (There's Something about Mary, Meet the Parents), or when reaches into Mr Clueless to create a character (Dodgeball, Zoolander). I like Mr Furious the least. In fact, I am sick of Mr Furious, and Stiller reprises that one yet again in Starsky & Hutch, this time playing the wound-too-tight cop who has to follow the mandatory "mismatched buddy" path by partnering up with a laid-back guy who has a somewhat relaxed attitude toward crime, paperwork, and even showing up for work.

    I liked the film best when it messed around with cop clichés. Starsky almost kills himself and the suspect in a wildly uncontrolled interrogation. We are reminded of necessary disguise details that Serpico conveniently ignored. When they lads go undercover in disguise, Starsky asks Hutch "who's your wigmaker?". Starsky admonishes Hutch for stealing his cool character voice instead of getting his own cool voice. The bad guys always say things like "hey, that's a false moustache!".

    There are about three very funny moments in the film, but they were not inspired kinds of moments, just standard sitcom stuff - for example, when the uptight Starsky gets a bad tip about a drug shipment and ends up riddling a pony with bullets, or when Starsky tries the ol' "drive the car off the pier onto the boat" trick and misses. Unfortunately, all of those great moments were trailered, so the pleasure of surprise was lost in the actual screening.

    Starsky is an average film, a mediocre comedy which will give you a few laughs, and will bore you to tears with its predictability in other scenes. It's OK, a pleasant comedy, but just OK, no better. If you want to see Stiller's funniest comedy of the five, head out to Dodgeball, which truly has some inspired, off-the-wall moments and some sustained lunacy. Starsky is basically a slapped-together one-note comedy. You don't need to rush out to rent this one. It can wait for your attention until it comes up on the HBO rotation.

    • Brande Roderick (1, 2)


    The Door in the Floor (2004):

    I guess I could tell you all you need to know about The Door in the Floor by telling you that it is quite an effective interpretation of a John Irving novel (actually part of an Irving novel called "A Widow for a Year").

    If that doesn't really mean anything to you, I may have to bore you a bit by discussing the form of the 19th century novel. Ya see, it's like this. Modernism changed the novel into something approaching the random nature of life itself - realistic, chaotic, often uninteresting. The novel format was not always so. Back in the day, novels were supposed to be more orderly than life. Characters were supposed to interweave cleverly with other characters. People always seemed to deliver those lines we wish we had thought of. Tiny details from one sub-plot would appear coincidentally and fortuitously in the main plot. The novelist's entire world had a population of not billions of people, but only dozens. If you had a long-lost sister, you could be absolutely sure that the only true love of your life, found two continents away from your home, turned out to be that very sister, thus causing you both untold grief. If you were cruel to a beggar, you could rest assured that it was no ordinary beggar, but perhaps the king in disguise, testing the generosity of his subjects, or perhaps even your own father, whom you thought lost at sea. This type of contrivance, which was then considered to be highly "literary", is now more commonly known by its modern term, "crap".

    The true novel of the literary tradition was really one big steaming pile of lies that bore almost no resemblance at all to human life. It was meant to be an entertainment, to draw people in and help them escape from life, or to improve their minds more than simple life could do. Thomas Hardy insisted that novels had to be far better than life in every way - more eloquent, more complicated, more entertaining, more interesting, more emotional. The sobs of the characters should be deeper than our sobs, the guffaws more robust. Above all, Hardy's vision of the novel required it to be more connected, and neater than life. The details and characters not only needed to be neatly intertwined, but all that twine had to get tied up into a neat little ball at the end, to offer the kind of closure rarely offered in real life stories.

    In my opinion, Thomas Hardy could not have been more wrong if he chose Moe and Curly Howard to host a royal tea party, but there have been many great thinkers who agreed with his conception, and there are many who still do.

    John Irving is one such person. He still writes 19th century novels. His characters are bigger than any people we have ever known. They suffer grander tragedies than we do, and they react with deeper emotions. Your vision of hell might well include being reborn as a parent in a John Irving novel, because:

    • You will surely lose a child or several children in tragic incidents, possibly to suicide.

    • You will probably be squarely to blame for their death. If not, you will find a way to blame yourself through some concatenation of circumstances in which you were a key link.

    • Years after the tragedy, you will not be able to forgive yourself, your spouse will not be able to forgive you, and many incidents throughout your life will somehow spring from the seed planted when you caused your child's death.

    A perfect example of a John Irving (slash Charles Dickens) contrivance is found in this movie. An author/illustrator seduces women by persuading them to pose for his books, gradually nudging them toward nude sketches, then finally making pornographic drawings of their open genitalia. He has just come from a confrontation with one woman (Mimi Rogers) who is at the end of the cycle. She has nearly killed him, and has ripped up all the obscene drawings and scattered them to the winds. Scant hours later, he is in the car with his next prey - a widowed mother and daughter who are to be inducted to the beginning of the cycle. Interested, but cautious, mom asks, "Just what kind of drawings are we talking about?"

    At that very moment, the winds decide to scatter one of the author's detailed, sketch-pad drawings of Mimi Roger's pussy onto mom's windshield.

    That's how Irving's plots work. He would probably call that "multi-layered invention", which is a fancy literary way of saying "ridiculous contrivance".

    Not that there's anything wrong with that.

    After all, the English literary tradition, and the form of the pre-modern novel in Europe in general, are based on ridiculous contrivance, and it's worked just fine for us for a long time.

    In fact, that moment I described was a very, very funny moment, and it would not have been possible without the preposterous and incredible coincidence.

    So maybe Thomas Hardy was onto something. Maybe a novel should be bigger than life and better than life. It certainly seems to work.

    To tell you the truth, I'm not really knocking the literary form, I'm just preparing you for what you will get in a John Irving novel or a movie made from an Irving novel. Raunchy, ribald laughs juxtaposed with the tragic loss of children. Situations which are much larger than life, coupled with people who overreact to them (yes, even beyond the reactions which such momentous events should produce). Big tears. Tragedy. Bald sentimentality. Big laughs. Lots of sex. Dancing bears.

    Yeah, I don't get the bears either, but Irving always seems to find a place for them. Just think of it as the literary equivalent of Hitchcock's inserting himself briefly into every film.

    Some people love the characters and situations Irving creates. He also has his share of harsh critics. Some people who love his depth  and sensitivity are offended by his raunchiness. Some people who love his crude humor are bored by his corny sentiment. The way I look at it, great writers should use all the colors in the human palette, so there's really no problem combining suicidal children and raunchy sex jokes, because human lives can include both.

    I think I can sum up my feelings toward Irving in one long sentence, as follows. Although I have never believed one thing he's ever written, I find every single situation he's ever created to be dripping with inauthenticity and contrivance, and I've never found one of his characters to bear even the slightest resemblance to any human being I have ever met in my far-flung travels, I still love what he does.

    What else can I tell ya?

    Well, I love it all except, maybe, for the bears. I can do without them.

    Jeff Bridges plays a writer whose marriage is in the process of dissolution. He is shamelessly involved with other women, but we don't really know whether that is because his wife is a veg, or whether he just is that way, and such behavior helped turn his wife into a veg. The wife's near-catatonia (which sometimes becomes true catatonia) was triggered by the loss of her two sons in a tragic accident some years earlier. After the tragedy, the couple had a late life baby to try to rebuild a second life, but that just didn't work out, and the wife is a neglectful mother to the girl, even though she seems to be a sweet person, because she's trapped in her own head.

    The writer coldly and calculatingly inserts a young assistant from Exeter into their lives, knowing that the boy looks like their oldest son, and that his wife will form a strange bond with the lad. Apparently he expected that bond to become intensely sexual, and it does. The story goes on from there, focusing as much on the child as on the parents. (Irving's novel carries on into the girl's adulthood, but the film is about her first memories - a single summer when she was four years old.)

    The plot is suffused with moral ambiguity. Should we blame the writer for his womanizing, or should we just shrug it off as the same thing any of us would do if we were a sexy, admired writer with a vegetative wife? Is he the cold man who manipulates his lover and attempts to seduce other women callously, or is he the gentle man who writes children's stories and truly seems to care for his daughter? Did he bring the young assistant into his wife's life to help her heal, or did he hope he could use his wife's pedophilia against her in a custody battle? Does Ted write children's books because he loves and related to children, or does he write them to pick up the pretty young single mothers who are the actual retail customers for his books? The script is non-committal, and we are left to make our own interpretations of these actions and motivations.

    The Door in the Floor was not scripted by Irving, but it may the best-ever attempt to capture all of Irving's calculated excesses on screen. I haven't seen Simon Burch, but it seems to me that Door in the Floor catches his literary flavor, his abrupt tone shifts, and his bittersweet sentimentality as well as or better than any of the previous attempts that I have seen (Cider House Rules, Garp, Hotel New Hampshire). I would have liked more of the humor, which doesn't really show up until late in this film, but I liked the way the director handled as much comedy as he attempted, so maybe a small and effective dose was better than having many clumsy laughs destroy the delicate balance between raunch and tragedy.

    Jeff Bridges was an inspired choice to play the amoral writer, because he managed to make a potentially monstrous character likeable without being too likeable, sympathetic without being empathetic. Irving tends to write his characters too "big" and too affected, but Bridges is always natural, and about the least affected actor I can think of - he's The Dude, fer Chrissakes - so he managed to sand off the hard edges of the affectation and bring Ted down to earth. When are they going to give this guy an Oscar? What a career he has had. For thirty something years - in comedies, dramas, and thrillers - he's been a great leading man, a loveable rogue, a baddie, and a character actor. He's been Redford and Cary Grant and Michael Douglas and Dustin Hoffman rolled into one, but he's rarely mentioned when people tick off the great actors. 

    Kim Basinger? Well, she had to deliver two things in this role:

    • First, she had to be a 50 year old woman so beautiful that a high school kid could want her real bad.

    • Second, she had to be deeply wounded, so wounded that her lover and the audience could think she must be a good person no matter how many bad things she did.

    I don't think there is any doubt that Kim is capable of delivering on those two counts. In fact, I can't imagine that they could have considered anyone else for the part. Even at 50 years old, she may still be the most beautiful woman in films, and she could play a thirty year old if she had to, assuming the cinematographer knew what he was doing.

    What else can I tell you? Sure I found parts of it artificial and cloying, but I laughed out loud a couple of times, and my eyes seemed to get a little moist a few times. I wished I could take their daughter away from both of them. I wished it could have been me in that bed with Basinger. Isn't that kind of involvement what effective filmmaking is all about?


    I don't have any pics from this film yet. I have not seen a screener - I actually went to a theater to watch it! But here's the nudity summary. There's lots of great nudity, but it is all from people in their 50s. Well, in theory. Mimi Rogers is supposed to be 48, but  ... um ..., I think I've told this story enough times already. Short version: she graduated from high school in 1970, so she can't be 48 unless she graduated at 14. I pointed this out about six years ago, and the IMDb bio promptly changed - not to correct her age, but to claim that she DID graduate at 14! (Hey, at least somebody at IMDb reads our page.) Her bio still claims that, so it is fair to say she is 48 if she graduated from high school at 14.

    • Mimi Rogers does very clear full frontal and rear nudity, occupying the full frame, in natural light. (She is posing for a drawing.) Her public area is also exposed very briefly by a gust of wind in a subsequent scene.
    • Jeff Bridges is seen naked from the rear twice, the second time at medium distance, outdoors, in daylight.
    • Kim Basinger is seen partially naked in three sex scenes with young Jon Foster. She looks slim and beautiful and young, but the exposure is not very explicit. Her breasts are visible in the first scene, but one is not really aware of them because of the camera's position and distance from her. Her bum is shown for a split-second in the second scene.
    • Jon Foster jumps off Basinger when he is surprised while taking her doggy-style. I guess there must be some pecker wood exposed, but it happens too fast to see exactly what the exposure might be, except for a fleeting look at his butt.




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    • 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 Junior or Brainscan, or somebody else besides me)
    • If there is no asterisk, I wrote it, but am too ashamed to admit it.


    Words from Scoop.

    .avi's from Shiloh.

    .wmv files made by Scoop from Shiloh's .avi's.

    NOTE: because of a unique combination of circumstances with the Windows media player and some substantial bandwidth theft, we will have to do all of our movie files in zip format. Left click on the files as you normally would to view a picture. When you get a choice, click on "save", and put it on your hard drive in the directory of your choice. UnZIP and play from there.

    I know this is not especially convenient, but it allows the film clips to continue. I can protect .zip files from hot-linking in the same way I can protect still images. For some reason, if I protect .avis and .wmvs from hot-linking, they will not play in the Windows media player, and I can't get a satisfactory work-around. Perhaps I will find a better solution, but for now this new policy allows you to continue getting the movie clips you want to see, which is much preferable to my abandoning the clips altogether.


    can there be Too Much Flesh (2000)

    The title of this movie could describe Elodie Bouchez's career. She is a strong contender for the all-time nudity championship (excluding straight-to-vid women). I think Nastassja Kinski had about 20 nude appearances in theatrical films. Bouchez already had something like 15 at age 28, but has ground to a halt in the past three years, except for a peek at her breasts (with her head cut out of the picture) in Le pacte du silence last year.



    Perhaps these tips will help if you have trouble with the codecs for these movies:

    Shiloh says:

    FYI when I hypercam vids to make the file size smaller I use DivX MPEG-4 Fast-Motion for the video compressor, then I use virtualdub to compress the audio. The properties for the vids says the video codec:  DivX Decoder Filter & audio codec:  Morgan Stream Switcher which I'm not familiar with. When I compress the audio with virtualdub I use MPEG Layer-3.  A friend of mine told me about compressing the audio about (6) mos. ago. Like I said previously, only been capping for a year & a half & I'm no expert. Hopefully this info will help members with the proper codecs for my vids.
    When I cap big brother's I use hypercam mostly & sdp & asfrecorder if the set up allows me. I stopped using camtasia cause the file sizes were always too big, could never figure out the process, over my head lol, plus it cost too much to buy in my opinion.

    A reader says:

    You mentioned that some users were having trouble with the videos on your site. There is a tool designed to determine what codec is needed for a video. Hope this is useful to you or your users.

    Scoop says:

    I made the .wmv versions of each video. The codecs for these: Windows Video V8, Windows Audio 9. The upside of these is that you know the codecs, and they'll play in the Windows Media Player. The downside is that they are slightly larger, and slightly lower quality.


    De-lovely (2004)

    Okay, we’ve all asked for it and now it’s here. A fag hag relationship set to music.

    The Linda Lee – Cole Porter relationship has been scrutinized and speculated about for decades, and now it’s shown for the first time in a biopic that has basis in fact.  Never mind the Cary Grant – Alexis Smith offering of the fifties that glossed over the real nature of the Porter – Thomas relationship.  It didn’t even come close to accuracy and was shamefully saccharin.

    The new movie can be candid because "fag hags" are out of the closet.  Today there are clubs and associations for the ladies who prefer the company of homosexuals.  Maybe there are still whispers, but not nearly so many as in the twenties and thirties, the period of De-lovely.  And perhaps today’s whispers are more like brief acknowledgements of things suspected.  Nowadays, Carrie, Madonna, and Liza conduct their choices with only the softest murmurs from the press and the public.

    The Cole Porter – Linda Lee Thomas relationship was kind of ordinary by today’s standards of public behavior. She was the older and stable female, a wealthy woman who need not ask him for material things. She was a woman offering to mother and nurture him through his many moods and emotional swings. He was obviously no sexual threat to Linda because ... well, you know.  It was a reciprocal feeling. She may or may not have been asexual but, in any case, she was not a sexual threat to Porter in their daily lives. She even, at times, facilitated and encouraged his liaisons.  Together, they thoroughly enjoyed their celebrity and the social whirl that accompanies success in the arts.  And (how lucky can we be?) their life is now set to music.

    I probably liked the film better than most who have seen it, mainly because I count the music of Cole Porter among my favorites.  Avant-garde for its time, the music is a little light in spots today but deep and complicated in other spots. He collected all his emotions and wove them skillfully into his music – gayety (watch it), sadness and passion constantly found their way into his melodies to accompany all the other feelings he would touch from time to time. And the best of his work will last forever. The words are especially memorable. Cole Porter not only soloed in writing his music, he wrote all his own lyrics. He was a master of the interior rhyme and used it often. 

    If the director, Irwin Winkler, intended a musical review, why did he have Kevin Kline sing? We’ve been told that Kevin Kline, who played Porter, had to sing worse than is his want, because Cole Porter had a voice that could scatter music lovers. Maybe. When you see the movie, stay to the end, and you'll hear a recording of the real Cole Porter during the credits, and he sounds a helluva lot better than Kevin Kline. Fortunately, not all of the songs were sung by Kline.  We’re willingly captured by some people who can sing, including Elvis Costello, Alanis Morrisette, Robbie Williams, Natalie Cole and Sheryl Crow in some fine performances. Jonathan Pryce even cuts loose with surprising gusto.

    Good non-Kline singing? Porter's music and times? So what’s wrong with the movie? Why didn't I like it more? It lacks life. There is life in the music, but not in the story or in the characters.  Even when Porter is trolling for male flesh, Kline, a fine and capable actor who gave us such a sensitive performance in “In and Out”, isn’t permitted to act eager, passionate or disappointed.

    Nevertheless, the music is magic and the guest performances are de-lightful, so De-lovely is awarded two and a half Milk Duds.

    'Caps and comments by Spaz:

    "36 Hours to Die"
    Kim Cattrall uses butt double for shower scene. That is not Samantha's butt!

    "Expect to Die"
    Dreadful action centered around virtual reality game.

    "Steal" aka (Riders)
    This is not the movie to see Natasha Henstridge nekkid. He uses a body double at every opportunity. Including the underwear shots!

    "The Mangler 2: Graduation Day"
    Horror starring funhouse favorite Lance Henriksen and Dominique's goth sister Clelse Swain. But Daniella Evangelista stole the whole movie by running around in a tiny bikini. So the Hollywood moral is even if your sister is famous you still have to compete against the blonde bimboes.

    "I've Been Waiting for You"
    Dreadful teen witch horror starring Sarah Chalke. A poor effort in the costuming department. Sarah never looked sexy even in a nightgown, bathing suit, wet sweater, or undershirt.

    "The Glow"
    Horror about bloodsucking seniors kidnapping young people in order to extract their nutrients.

    "The Contract"
    Action about a female assassin.


    • Johanna Black showing some cleavage in an earlier movie "Melanie Darrow".

    'Caps and comments by Dann:

    "Love Object"
    This very good 2003 thriller/horror tale starts off predictably enough, but then really rocks your world at the end. We start with a technical writer geek named Kenneth whose whole world revolves around his work. Stiff, meek, lonely, and shy, he has no social life apart from peering through his apartment door's peephole as his older neighbor brings home conquests.

    When he is introduced to the concept of a lifelike sex doll by tormenting co-workers, he does what all geeks would do....looks into it further on the Internet and winds up paying $10,000 to order "Nikki", who, without realizing it, he has made up to look like his typing assistant Lisa, whom he has admired from afar without having the courage to make an advance. As he becomes intimate with the doll, it builds up his confidence to want the real thing, and a relationship with Lisa soon develops.

    Things then take a very dark turn as our writer starts to loose grip with reality, and a very different and warped Kenneth emerges. The ending will be a very big surprise to most viewers because just when you think you're sure where the ending is headed, you're blown away with a major twist that I won't reveal, but be WARNED: the collage may give it away.

    I thoroughly enjoyed this movie and highly recommend it. One oddity is that you'll probably notice the film is very grainy, because it was shot on 16mm and then upsized to 35mm for the release prints. I imagine this is done either to cut costs (it had only a million dollar budget) or simply to give the movie a certain kind of "feel". Still a great movie, though.

    'Caps and comments by Oz:

    "Tongan Ninja"
    Another shocker from the Antipodes is Tongan Ninja with only some minor sex appeal by Linda Tseng to compensate.

    There was a lot of pushing up by Joey Lauren Adams bra in these caps from Bruno.

    "The 'burbs"
    There are some pokies visible by Wendy Schaal but it's the hot pants she's wearing that make these caps from The 'burbs interesting.

    • Wendy Schaal (1, 2, 3, 4)

    "Fatal Lessons - The Good Teacher"
    The main thing you get these days from Erika Eleniak is silocone-enhanced cleavage and in the telemovie Fatal Lessons - The Good Teacher it's no different.

    • Erika Eleniak (1, 2, 3, 4)

    "Tales From the Crypt: Demon Knight"
    Plenty of topless women in Tales From the Crypt: Demon Knight. There's Peggy Trentini, Chasey Lain, Traci Bingham and many not easily identified. There are some also nice caps of Jada Pinkett, Tina New, Kathy Barbour and Brenda Bakke.

    "Chato's Land"
    Revenge and champion of the oppressed was a common theme in many of Charles Bronson's movies and Chato's Land was the same. However, this time it is set in the wild west of the 1800s. Full frontal nudity by Sonia Rangan and a brief breast flash by Verna Harvey.