Zwartboek (2006):

Paul Verhoeven has returned to the Netherlands and has finished a new collaboration with Gerard Soeteman, who scripted all of Verhoeven's great Dutch-language films in the seventies and early 80s. This one is about a German Jewish girl who tries to survive the German occupation of the Netherlands during WW2. Based on the trailer, I'm definitely interested.

I like just about everything Verhoeven has done, in his Dutch period as well as his Hollywood years (Robocop, Total Recall, Basic Instinct, Starship Troopers). He's either made good films or fun films, and he has almost always filled them with female flesh. And, of course, he also made Showgirls, which has ridiculous plotting and dialogue, but is filled with beautiful photography of hot naked chicks.

His new star is Carice van Houten. Beautiful woman. Here's the film clip (actually the film's trailer, zipped .wmv)

Here are the collages:

Carice van Houten



Inside Man (2006):

There is no nudity in Inside Man, but if you're looking for a good movie to rent, this is absolutely terrific. It's a mystery/thriller about an elaborate bank heist.

It's a Spike Lee film, but I think you'll like this even if you don't like Spike's films. The essence of the film is the story. It has some social consciousness, but whatever points it wants to make about racism, New York, or the disparity between rich and poor are simply buried inside the context of the story by the interaction of the characters. There is absolutely zero preaching. The film is technically adroit, the tension is maintained perfectly, the characters are interesting, and the secrets are neither obvious nor spoiled too early. The story had me so engrossed that I ignored the entire world while I watched it straight through (something I almost never do). The Spikester also demonstrates his usual excellent visual sensibility, using the images to dazzle the senses, but also using them to make the logistics of the heist clearer, and to define the social status of the various characters. Just a kick-ass piece of filmmaking.

I am not going to tell you anything else about it, because whatever I write might be a spoiler, and this is one film that you do not want spoiled at all. Just pick it up if you like this kind of movie.


Summary of results:

  • A major hit ... $180 million, split about evenly between domestic and overseas. Those are big numbers for a March release. Domestically, it had the 11th best March opening weekend in history.
  • A major critical success ... 89% positive reviews. Based on that figure, it is the second-best non-documentary of the year, only 1% behind United 93. (Little Miss Sunshine will pass them both if it holds its 91% when it goes wide.)

These factors make it a strong B+ on our system, close to an A. It is the only film of the year which has been such a combined critical and box office success. (The closest contender is a chick-flick, The Devil Wears Prada, with 77% positive reviews and $113 million in world-wide grosses.)


Manderlay (2005):

I'll be briefer than usual because, frankly, I'm tired of writing about the movies of Lars von Trier. Unlike other directors, he never learns from the mistakes he made in earlier pictures, so a critic can review a new one by doing a search-and-replace on reviews of the old ones.

Like the other ones, this one suffers from pedantry, artificial-sounding dialogue, staginess, a puerile and simplistic weltanschauung, long stretches of tedium,  technical indifference, and characters which represent archetypes rather than credible individuals. Like the other ones, its strengths reside in its willingness to test the outside of the envelope when it comes to confrontational and provocative ideas, whether about cinema or the real world.

Manderlay is part two of the Dogville trilogy, using the same main character and presented in the same manner as the first part, which is to say by basically filming a stage set, using the twin conventions of minimalist theater and WKRP in Cincinnati. In other words, the actors are on an indoor stage which has rectangles painted on it, and those rectangles have labels like "Bill's house" or "Sammy's cabin." They may have a chair or two "inside" as well. When the characters enter those spaces, they cannot simply walk through the invisible walls, but must respect the imaginary barriers and pretend that they are entering real houses and cabins, as the other WKRP employees were required to do with Les Nessman's imaginary office.  Is this an effective way to present the ideas? You bet! Come to think of it, all films should be shot this way. Look at all the money Peter Jackson wasted on that Rings trilogy when he could have filmed it all right in his house, simply writing "Frodo's house" or "Sauron's castle" on the garage or kitchen floor.

It kales place in the 1930s. Our oft-abused heroine and her father end up taking control of a Southern plantation where slavery continues. This is not as far-fetched as you might think. It may not have happened in the United States because of the dramatic and violent way in which the States finally closed the book on slavery, but such circumstances actually did happen throughout Russia. Czar Alexander abolished slavery about the same time as it happened in the United States, in the 1860s, but Russia is an incomprehensibly large country, about as large as the entire continent of North America, filled with many remote areas, and its communication links to the provinces were extremely weak in the mid nineteenth century. Furthermore, there were many powerful aristocrats whose authority challenged that of the Czar himself and who complied with his declarations in a manner diametrically opposed to his intentions. (They "sold" off tracts of land to the peasants and turned them into "debt slaves" - and life continued as before.) Alexander may have officially declared the slaves to be free, but it was decades before the declaration was meaningful. It would, therefore have been perfectly possible to imagine a remote Russian estate in which serfs were still virtual slaves or possibly even actual slaves in the early 1900s, living the same lives their grandparents had lived as the legal chattel of the nobles in the 1850s. Essentially, that is the Manderlay scenario - an "evil Brigadoon" frozen in the 1850s.

Given the power, Grace decides to free the slaves, educate them, and ... well, after 139 minutes of yakking about it, nothing turns out quite like she planned. An important point of the film is that the legacy of slavery is enduring, and that's a point which is really impossible to contest.

Whatever else von Trier may accomplish, he stirs up controversy and gets people discussing important issues. I think that is a good thing. I just wish he could do it in a much shorter time without requiring the actors to play Les Nessman's Office. It's amazing that such a controversial guy can make such unwatchably tedious films. Von Trier really needs a collaborator. He needs somebody like Oliver Stone, a man who knows how to add life, imagination, and emotional punch to radical opinions, rather than just stating them outright in stagy speeches and flowery narration.

Moist of von Trier's movies are C+ on our scale. This one, however, would be a C- in that even the critics who normall praise his movies were indifferent to this one. It's a 46 at Metacritic. It was also a box office zero. It grossed only $500,000 in the entire world. Lacking both critical and popular support, this film is only for van Trier's ardent fans.

Here is a zipped .wmv of the three minute sex scene.

Here are the stills:

Bryce Dallas Howard

Grace is played this time by Bryce Dallas Howard instead of Nicole Kidman, which worked out quite well for the perverts among us, because Bryce is younger and fresher, and was willing to spread her legs on camera while the cameraman shot directly up her crotch. Ya gotta believe Nicole might have taken great pains to avoid that.






Google's analysis of click fraud: Inside AdWords: Troubling findings on how some third parties detect click fraud

Klassic Kartoons: Bugs Bunny - "What's Opera Doc?"

Bill Hicks - One Night Stand

Two film clips from Crank, an action film about a professional hit man who has been poisoned and must find the antidote

Snide Remarks - I Was a Junket Whore
  • "NOTE: This column resulted in Paramount banning me from their press screenings, and using their muscle to get me banned from a few other studios' screenings, too. There's more about the fallout on my blog, but read this first."

Like bizarre crime stories?: Five Fat Girls Sought In Toledo Milk Heist

Experts confused by the new 'Empty Spam'

Airplane door falls off, lands on supermarket

Colbert does his best impersonation of Patton

Colbert reviews the renovations in the White House press room

"Colbert Report: Tek Jansen Adventure"
  • It's time for Operation: Heart of the Phoenix - Dead or Alive: A Tek Jansen Adventure!

The Daily Show's Brian Williams interview, part two: "Brian invites Jon to cross over to the other side of journalism."

"Daily Show: Ask an Oil Company. BP's Alaskan pipeline woes may lead to an uptick in gas prices -- because summer was just too awesome."

Jon Stewart interviews Brian Williams

Daily Show: Either Lewis Black or Andy Rooney whines and rants about some trivial crap

Daily Show: Donald Rumsfeld is haunted by the ghosts of soundbites past.

Daily Show: Jon makes the most out of a pregnant pause from Alberto Gonzalez.

"Daily Show: Corddry - Crude Awakening"
  • "Rob Corddry debunks the myth of the country's strategic oil reserve."

"Group apologizes for taking three years worth of Taco Bell sauces"

The trailer for Haven, a new thriller with Orlando Bloom

No wedding bells for Aniston/Vaughn after all

Darwin Award nominee: Man dies opening grenade with sledgehammer

Jenna Fischer from The Office shows a bit of butt

Get this, baby boomers, and feel old - Opie is going to be a grandpa.

Life isn't getting any better for Screech? This time he's a mugging victim. To commemorate it, he's "mugging" for the camera.

The all-time worst onstage meltdowns of the rock era

Blair Tells Bush They Should Start Seeing Other People ... British Prime Minister Signals End to Exclusive Relationship

Friends star Jennifer Aniston and her long-rumored beau Vince Vaughn are reportedly engaged

P.J. O'Rourke on Adam Smith and today's economy

Maurice Clarett maced by police, arrested after chase
  • Scary shit. He was wearing a bullet-proof vest and carrying four loaded guns.

Playboy Posts a $3.3 Million Loss for Q2 2006

The world's LEAST competent building demolition

Goodell named new NFL commissioner
  • Rozelle and Tagliabue were like the Louis XIV and Louis XV of foorball in that they reigned 47 years between them.

Katie Price shows how to use a cell phone as a vibrator

Funny video: Criss Angel is my bitch

MELISSA THEURIAU video collection ... 41 videos and some rare topless pictures.

Yet another cloud photo from Other Crap, your one-stop cloud shop. Rare Cloud Forms Above Antarctica

Zooey Deschanel has been selected to play Janis Joplin after Pink withdrew from the project

How to have two vaginas

The (frankly kinda crappy) trailer from Catacombs, a horror thriller from the producers of Saw.
  • "Victoria (Shannyn Sossamon, star of 'A Knight's Tale') heads to Paris to visit her wild sister Carolyn (Alecia Moore, a/k/a music superstar Pink). One night, Victoria is swept into the Parisian underground rave scene, literally under ground - into the city's Catacombs. It is here--among the bodies of the dead which have rested undisturbed for centuries - that the easily frightened Victoria finds herself lost in the darkness, pursued by someone or something more terrifying than she could have ever imagined..."

The trailer for The Return, a new supernatural thriller starring Buffy.
  • "A tough young Midwesterner is determined to learn the truth behind the increasingly terrifying supernatural visions that have been haunting her. Joanna has made a successful career for herself, as sales representative for a trucking company. But her private life has been difficult; estranged from her father (Sam Shepard), stalked by an obsessed ex-boyfriend (Adam Scott), and with few friends, Joanna fears that she is losing control. She sees and feels the brutal murder of a young woman she's never met, at the hands of a heartless killer - a man who appears to be making Joanna his next target. Determined to fight back, Joanna is guided by her nightmares to the murdered woman's hometown. Once there, she will discover that some secrets can't be buried; some spirits never die; and that the murder she is trying to solve may be her own."



Movie Reviews:

Yellow asterisk: funny (maybe). White asterisk: expanded format. Blue asterisk: not mine. No asterisk: it probably sucks.


Headhunter (2005)

Headhunter is an ultra-low budget horror offering shot on High Def video for the home market.

 Benjamin John Parrillo is a successful insurance salesman who feels like he is in a dead end job. His wealthy client, Mark Aiken, gives him the name of headhunter Kristi Clainos. He meets her in her office late one night, and she quickly finds him a job for a much bigger salary, but with an oddity. He will be working graveyard shift in an office. Two things happen immediately:, he realizes there is something odd in the office, and Clainos seduces him. He eventually figures out that Clainos has been dead for ten years, but is missing her head, and hence can't rest in peace. Parillo must find her head, and return it to her body, or he will die, and become trapped forever in the office building.

IMDb readers say 4.8. The few reviews tend toward positive, calling it a good enough horror effort, especially given the budget. This is a C-.


Kristi Clainos has a sex scene in which a body double, Linda Rochelle, shows breasts.







Sharon Tate in Valley of the Dolls

Salome Stevenin in Cold Showers

Aimee Leigh in Hellraiser 3



Pat's comments in yellow...

The Choson Sinbo newspaper of Japan reports that dog meat is becoming increasingly popular among North Korean women because they believe it prevents wrinkles.  While dog meat is a Korean delicacy, animal lovers have been trying to make it less popular.  But a chef in Pynongyang says more and more women are ordering it because they're convinced the nutrients in dog improve skin tone and make it fine and resilient.

*  I guess they're never seen a Shar-Pei in North Korea.

Arthur Hawes, the Church of England's Archdeacon of Lincoln, suggested
that for the convenience of parishioners who have to drive a long away from
rural areas, churches should install cash machines

* Or for a human touch, they could hire moneychangers.