The Jury

s2e2, 1080hd

Jo Hartley

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Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day

2008, 1920x1080

Amy Adams

Soul Surfer


Soul Surfer is the story of Bethany Hamilton, a surfer who lost her arm to a tiger shark. Coincidentally, last week (Friday) she was inducted into the Surfers' Hall of Fame in Huntington Beach.

No nudity, just plenty of bikinis by:

AnnaSophia Robb

Helen Hunt

Lorraine Nicholson

Sonya Balmores

Another Jennifer Connelly film festival. All the comments today are by Scoop.

Waking the Dead


Jennifer Connelly film clips, including deleted footage (collage below)

Scoop's comments:

To paraphrase Chandler Bing, "could this movie be any worse?" Well, frankly, yes. It could be the exact same movie without Jennifer Connolly's topless scene. It could be the same DVD without the additional deleted topless scene. Jennifer's chest, one of the best in the world, is a good reason to look at any movie. But I sure can't think of many more reasons to look at this one.

Here's the set-up. Jennifer Connolly and Billy Crudup are a typical conflicted couple in the early 70's. Although they agree on the world they want, they don't agree on how to get there. Crudup wants to be a U.S. Senator, maybe president, and change the system from within. Connolly is an outspoken left-wing activist who wants to tear the system down, with revolution if necessary. They can see that their lives are coming into conflict. Crudup, a politician, needs to avoid making enemies, but when Connolly attends parties with him, she expresses her outspoken views, and tells people what she really thinks of them.

They love each other, but it's obvious that Connolly is never going to be the ideal politician's wife. The situation seems to be resolved when Connolly is killed in Chile while on a mercy mission with some priests, except that eight years later Crudup seem to be seeing her again, hearing her voice. Then she calls on the phone. Then she's actually there. Or is she?

Man, this movie is so-o-o-o dull. Most of the film seems to be either Crudup and Connolly looking into each other's eyes and feeling the heat or the pain, or Crudup whining and sniveling because he misses her so much.  How much of that maudlin b.s. can you take? I don't even know how people stayed awake during the theatrical run. Well, after looking at the box office stats, I guess not that many people gave it the opportunity.

In addition to the glacial pacing, there is no character to latch on to. Crudup often seems cruelly single-minded in his ambition. Connolly often seems moronic in her simplistic world-view. They often say cruel things to each other in cruel ways, not in the respectful ways that people who care for each other find to express dissenting opinions. Crudup and Connolly are beautiful people and can easily play sympathetic lovers, but they didn't have the tools to build that kind of connection in this script. Ultimately, that means that you don't care if they split up or get together or live or die. You just want them to do it fast so you can do something else.

The script isn't the only problem. The direction is clichéd, repetitive and irritating. The director relies on two "tics":

First, he whites out for every scene transition, so the entire film seems about as sophisticated as an old episode of Electra Woman and Dynagirl. Maybe he also made a "whooshing" sound when he did that, or maybe I just imagined it. I don't know, Babs, but I do know this - I ain't watchin' it again to find out.

Second, he does those stop-start things constantly, where the character says the first sentence of something, then the director cuts back and repeats the first sentence again before continuing, and you get that "jump" effect in the character's head movements. I guess this was designed to show Crudup's agitation and disorientation, but it's really irritating.

The DVD includes 30 minutes of deleted footage, which they cut to try to make the pacing peppier, but it's still not peppy, and with the cuts they dropped several sub-plots with no explanation to the viewer. Because of the edits, it is not clear to us why they had a former congressman (Ed Harris, a pretty big star reduced to a cameo by the cuts) in the plot, or why they belabored another sub-plot. Moreover, certain references make no sense, although they would follow logically if the deleted scenes were still in the film.

In spite of all the problems created, I sure as hell support the cuts. Personally, I would have cut 105 of the remaining 106 minutes, and just released it as a naked Connolly .mpg.

The Heart of Justice


Jennifer Connelly film clip, non-nude (collage below)

Of Love and Shadows


Jennifer Connelly film clip, non-nude (collage below)

Scoop's comments:

Of Love and Shadows (1994) is two films in one.

First, it is a love story between Jennifer Connelly and Antonio Banderas.

Second, it is about the atrocities and abuses of power committed by the military leadership that declared a state of emergency in 1973 in Chile.

Connelly attempts to play one of the privileged elite who closed their eyes to the abuses around them. As the story begins, she is single, but engaged to an Army officer, and works for a fashion magazine. In walks Banderas. He was a psychologist before the takeover, and is now hoping for a job as a photographer. There is much more to him, however. His father was a strong anti-Fascist in Spain, and his priest brother, with his help, is collecting evidence of human rights violations. Although Banderas is not on any blacklist, he is working "in the shadows" to overthrow the military government.

Inevitably, Connelly and Banderas fall in love, and, just as inevitably, Connelly starts seeing the reality of torture and oppression.

Not my kind of movie at all.

I don't like historical trivializations in the first place, the whole school of  "Oh, that darned Hitler, he really messed up my love life," so you can imagine I wasn't thrilled with a story that used fascist tortures as a backdrop for a silly Harlequin Romance. I did learn much from this film, however. I learned that the privileged classes can find human rights abuses to be, in their own way, almost as important as fashion.

I also find these international co-productions irritating. The Spanish speakers all have different accents. Connelly, who doesn't speak Spanish, came up with yet another accent. I don't know if anyone sounded like a Chilean. I think some of the minor roles were actually spoken in Spanish, then dubbed into English, making everything sound hollow and artificial.

Add to that the problem that the direction in this film is primitive. There are useless shots, scenes that seem to end at the wrong time, and clumsy scene transitions. That makes a fairly straightforward plot seem confusing.

Finally, the acting in the film is no better than the direction. You know you're in trouble when you have an English-language movie in which Antonio Banderas is the anchor of the acting troupe. Jennifer Connelly's acting skills have traveled a great distance in recent years, allowing her to turn in credible, even award-winning, performances in A Beautiful Mind and Requiem for a Dream. Back in 1994, however, she was only at the beginning of that journey.

Just for a laugh: at one point Connelly and Banderas escape from the fascists in their false identities (seen here). Note the glasses and moustache, which caused the evil generalissimos to wave them through, because, gosh darn it, they looked nothing like Jennifer Connelly and Antonio Banderas. Both obviously studied at the Bobby Valentine School of Disguise. This is approximately the same sophisticated level of ruse that Heckle and Jeckle used to get into the bullfight, except that racist cartoon actually had better Spanish accents.


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