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"Cleopatra" (1999)

Cleopatra is a made for TV mini-series staring Leonor Varela. Of course, there is no nudity, but someone forget to tell Leonor's nipples. They did their best to poke through nearly every one of her costumes. For those who don't know her, she is half French and half Chilean, and mostly grew up in Colorado. She has an ever-growing list of credits at IMDB. This version of Cleopatra is based on a novel by Margaret George, and focuses on a picture of Cleopatra as a fleshed out woman, not merely a power-hungry gold-digger. Most of the budget was spent on art direction, sets and costuming, and the film shows the effort. Although a little long, it is definitely watchable. Most of the performances were good. If I had to make a criticism, Ms. Varela reverts to a Hispanic accent when she gets excited.


Leonor Varela (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20)

"Trigger Effect"

The Trigger effect was conceived when David Koepp saw the Carl Sagan PBS series Connections. He envisioned a film that would show how everyone is interconnected, and also how we have all become slaves to our toys. The film stars Elisabeth Shue as half of a yuppie couple with a baby whose marriage is not exactly in high gear. When a massive blackout takes out everything, the stress brings their marital problems to light. Their best friend arrives the morning after the blackout begins, and she invites him to stay. The rest of the film shows their efforts to survive in a world where credit cards and insta-tellers won't function. The film never explains what caused the power outage, which was probably a good plot decision.

Reviews pretty much call this one a near miss. Some criticize the second half of the film, others criticize the beginning, and most hate the ending. The film begins in a mall, where a chance trip accidently spills coffee on someone. He is then rude to another, and the chain reaction shows how even a small incident can have huge ripples. I could watch a film that followed this beginning through the whole film. It is abandoned, however, when the Yuppie couple get home to find their daughter with a high fever from an earache. Shortly after, the power goes out, and they find themselves in a real survival situation as looting and paranoia run rampant.

I won't give away the ending, but will say that I thought it was appropriate, and really made the point of the film, that the relationships we count on with other people and with technology are based on trust. This film does require a thinking audience, and there are some subtleties to the ending that many will miss. First time director Koepp probably could have made his points more obvious, but I enjoyed it. Not every film has to be a ten.


Elisabeth Shue (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8)

Johnny Web
"Othello" (1995)

Can a film be bad Shakespeare and a good movie? I surely don't see any reason why not.

Some of the actors in this film really butcher the iambic pentameter. Fishburne is below average, but it is Irene Jacob who delivers that immortal, oft-quoted Shakespearian mot, "wata neefee tware". If I'm right, and mind you I'm only guessing here, I think she meant to say "what and if it were?". Lord, save us. I guess it could have been worse. They could have cast Van Damme as Othello and Rodman as Desdemona. Rodman could have worn that dress he wore when he wedded himself. What the hell, it keeps it a bi-racial couple, even if the moor is now the female. And Keanu Reeves could have been the satanically rational Iago. And I'm sure there's a part for Kevin Tighe in there somewhere.

The filmmaking team also took the liberty of cutting about half of Shakespeare's lines, but no problem by me. I much prefer the blessed silence to Jacob's delivery. Thankfully, they didn't replace Big Bill's lines with some written by, let's say, Joe Eszterhas. They simply condensed the dialogue to the essentials.

Personally, I think that was a pretty good artistic choice. There's no market for four hour movies, and Othello has never been one of Shakespeare's most accessible plays. Iago's motivations have never really been very clear to me, and the play is talkier than usual, so it's really a play for the purists of the Old Italian Body Count School of Drama. So, a bit of condensation served the story well.

They also altered the focus enough so that it may as well have been called "Iago" instead of "Othello". In order for the play to succeed on Shakespeare's terms, Othello must fall because of his own flaws, not because he is manipulated by Iago. If Othello is nothing more than a simpleton pawn, then he is no tragic hero, is he? Yet in this version Iago seems a puppetmaster, pulling all the strings and, with his confidences expressed in asides to us, drawing the audience in as his co-conspirators, even using chess pieces to represent his manipulations to us. The identification with Iago is sealed by Branagh's performance, since he may be the best actor in the world at closing the gap between Shakespeare's words and modern audiences. He understands all the nuances, and can convey them in ways we can easily grasp. Thus, the focus of this movie becomes, "Look, I am Iago, a modern man with modern motivations like any of you. Look how any of us modern rational thinkers could control these medieval simpletons". This is a major shift from "Look, I am the very embodiment of evil. Let me see who among these supposed innocents can be corrupted and tempted."

But, you know something? I think Shakespeare would like a lot of things about the way they did it here. If he were writing it today instead of in 1600, he'd write it like this. He'd make it entertaining and simple enough to play to the groundlings. He'd focus in on advancing the story at a pace appropriate to our times, and yet he'd ask us to think about the greater implications. I feel about this film about the same way I feel about "Shakespeare in Love". It's not the way Billy Boy really intended it, but it's the way he would have done it if he could have written it in our times, understanding our audiences.

I rather liked it.

Irene Jacob. By the way, I don't mean to deprecate Jacob as an actress. I like her. She can act with her eyes and her body, and in other movies she has even been capable in the English language, when her rhythms and accent were appropriate to the role. Plus she's absolutely gorgeous, and she has a really sexy voice for both speaking and singing. The only problem is that she just can't recite the blank verse.

Jacob (1, 2, 3, 4)

Graphic Response
  • Alison Eastwood, flashing the goods from "Friends and Lovers".
  • Skin Cinema
    Jewel Shepard
    (1, 2)
    Comments by SC:
    Here are a few more Rare Vidcap collages. These first two are American actress Jewel Shepard who went to Spain to star in the film 'Cristina'. She made numerous American films in the 80's. This is her most explicit and most revealing film and it has never been seen in the US!
    Lilli Carati The second is Lilli Carati, this time in the Fernando Di Leo's film - 'To Be Twenty'.

    SC invites everyone to check out the video-clips for these 'caps at:

    Serena Grandi
    (1, 2)
    Now here is something you don't see everyday...A large breasted woman shedding her clothes, but not showing her chest! Sure, she drops her shorts, and leaves nothing to the imagination below the equator, but it just isn't the norm. Vidcaps from the Italian movie "La Signora della notte".
    Pam Anderson From 1993's "Snapdragon". From Pam's earlier days, before she became 100% fake looking. I find it absolutely amazing how much difference real eyebrows can make!
    WhyScan's Page Three Report
    If Page Three is unfamiliar to you, this link describes the Page Three tradition.
    Today's Page 3 Sophie from August 24, 1999 (1, 2, 3, 4)

    Bonus pics
    Topless paparazzi pics UK TV babe Melanie Sykes from News Of The World (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)

    Plus, more topless paparazzi pics Lea Kristensen, from some UK game show.

    The Walrus
    Melanie Sykes
    (1, 2, 3)
    More of British TV host topless at the beach. #3 wasn't sent in by Whyscan, so that one is new. #1 is a larger scan, and #2 is a nice collage.
    Britney Spears From her video for the single "Lucky". Is it me, or does it look like she is trying to act?
    Unique 1
    Helen Mirren
    (1, 2)
    Comments by Unique 1:
    Caligula, The Movie that wins the onscreen everything award:

    assassinations, adultery, backstabs, beheadings, betrayals, bush close ups, cancer sores, castrations, disembowelments, ejaculations, fingering, fondling, forced liquid overdoses, fornication, gluttony, hand jobs, hand shoves, idolatry, incest, jerks, killers, lickers, liars, lovers, mammaries, maimings, masturbation, milkings, murder, nighties, oddities, orgasms, orgies, penetrations, poverty, primitive cum-rogain, puppies, rape, rim jobs, Sloth, S&M, spreadshots, stakes thru the privates...

    Did I miss anything?

    Jr's Comments: Nope, I think that about covers it!
    These 'caps come from the Uncut X-Rated DVD version. Not to sound like a pansy, but some of these images are pretty hard core. So, just incase disembowelments, primitive cum-rogain, and stakes thru the privates aren't your bag...I've separated, and hopefully labeled the images appropriately.

    Extreme S&M
    (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
    #1 features the dreaded "stakes thru the privates".
    Unknown, large breasted women
    (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9)
    Nothing hardcore here...
    Teresa Ann Savoy
    (1, 2)
    Topless and bottomless, but nothing too graphic.
    Miscellaneous and mostly hard core 'caps
    (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8)
    Here's the breakdown:
    Link #1...More Extreme S&M, and some baby batter. Link #2...More goo. Link #3...fingerings and disembowelment. An odd combo, but talk to U1 about that. Link #4...Mammaries and maimings. Link #5...Oddities and Penetrations. Link #6...Orgies and Orgasms. Link #7...not hard core, Caligula grabbing a handful. Link #8...lesbian love, up close and personal.
    Viewer requests
  • On Saturday, July 29, in Malibu, California. Jennifer Anniston became Mrs. Brad Pitt. A loyal Fun House viewer asked if we could declare today an official Fun House Day of Mourning for Jennifer giving up her single status. Well, all I can say is buck up little camper...there are other celebs in the sea! But, we all deal with grief in our own way. So, for those of you feeling the loss, I offer a moment of silence.
  • Say, does anyone have.....
    A Fun House viewer passed along this tidbit of news....Apparently at the British Open there was a streaker on the 18th hole waiting for Tiger Woods. She was said to have been wearing 'just a tattoo' and was dancing around with the cup's flag. Is this a tabloid rumor? Does anyone have any pics?

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