"Playing with Fire"

Playing with Fire (2000 TV movie) is a Black Television Network film, one of man I have screened. These have an all black cast, usually with some fine looking women and some sex scenes, but are carefully shot to avoid any real exposure. The stories are about TV daytime movie quality, and the acting is generally not Oscar caliber. This time, they missed Vanessa Williams' nipple with the arm/elbow/crossfade tricks. Williams is an executive in some sort of investment firm. She has entrusted little sister Tangi Miller with $50K, couriering it to Ghana. She returns from Ghana with a stolen priceless statue, and didn't deliver the money. She, and her boyfriend who works in the Ghana embassy are to sell it to a middleman. A customs inspector is hot on her trail, and the head of consulate security is also investigating.

Things turn nasty, except for Williams and the consulate head of security, who find true love. IMDB readers have this at 9.4 of 10, with three 10s, a 9, and an 8. That accounts for the four credited cast members and the director. There is nothing especially wrong with this film, but there is nothing right about it either. It is a very slow weak thriller that happens to have an all black cast. Nothing about the story in itself required any ethnicity, but it must be nice for blacks to see films with blacks for a change. It did keep me awake, which is a plus. This is in the C to C- range. An adequate genre effort.

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  • Vanessa Williams (1, 2)


    sonny (2002) marks Nick Cage's directorial debut, and, by most accounts, was not a big success. It is the story of a male hooker, James Franco, who is discharged from the Army, and stops in to see his mother, who brought him into the life. She now has Mena Suvari working for her, and expects Sonny to return to his old line of work. He has other plans. He wants to go to Texas, and work in a book store owned by the father of an Army pal. When he gets to Texas, the store has been sold due to debts. His friend sets him up on a date with a good Texas girl, Josie Davis. The two end up in bed, then he catches her guzzling codeine cough syrup in the bathroom, and goes postal. He realizes that squares are at least as fucked up as people he knows in the life. He returns to the Big Easy, and starts doing tricks. Tricks include Brenda Vaccaro, and local talent Janet Shea. Suvari is trying to convince him that the two of them should get out of the life and make a fresh start together. Cage plays Acid Yellow, a stoned gay pimp.

    Vaccaro shows about 34 pounds of her left breast, Shea shows breasts, and Davis shows rather large natural breasts, and buns and pubic area when Franco throws her to the bathroom floor. Suvari keeps her clothes on. IMDB readers have this at 5.0 of 10, and it grossed about $1.27 at the box office. Critics were rather negative. Cage, in a feature length commentary, seems to be the one fan of the film. I couldn't relate to the main characters, and hence never had any emotional involvement in the film. Also, some scenes were horribly over-acted. Not everyone can effectively chew the scenery as Cage can. The transfer looks great, and some of the locations were very good, especially in New Orleans. All in all, this is a C-, but I hope we will see much better from Cage the director in the future.

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  • Brenda Vaccaro (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
  • Janey Shea (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8)
  • Josie Davis (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8)

  • Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy)

    Mo' Better Blues (1990):

    I guess it is fair to say that Spike Lee is not just a black man who makes films, but is truly a "black filmmaker", in that his films specifically treat certain aspects of the black experience in America. The reason I make that distinction is that Lee has obviously given a lot of thought, perhaps even obsessed over, issues that the rest of us have never thought about, even if we are white filmmakers or other black men who make films.

    Imagine the possibilities, if you will, inherent in a very dark-skinned man in a completely dark room wearing a white suit and a white hat. Bathe him in colored track lighting, and you can create the illusion of a green hat and suit walking around, like the invisible man. Now imagine a dark-skinned black woman and a light-skinned white woman standing side by side in a room. It is nighttime, so there is no sunlight to consider. Bathe the room in beautiful blue lights. The white woman still looks the same, except maybe that she might have eaten some clams during the Red Tide. The black woman's skin, however, now takes on a beautiful blue hue. She's a blue woman. You probably never thought about those things, and neither had I, but Spike has, and used them to create a dazzling array of ultra-cool effects. Imagine Denzel Washington with a polished trumpet and Wesley Snipes with a glistening sax. Add the right kind of cool shades. Dress them in the right colors. Put them in a dark, smoky nightclub with a dark backdrop. Put some shiny surfaces and small lights behind them. Bathe the room in blue light. It's magic. Now use some indirect lighting to light the backdrop in blue as well. Now change the indirect lighting and color the backdrop rose. And so forth.

    What you have is a visual poem about the powers of light and darkness and their ability to create and transform moods. You have a jazz riff played out with a camera instead of a saxophone.

    This film is among the most artistic and aesthetically brilliant I've ever seen. In addition, Lee and DP Ernest Dickerson use the camera like Michelangelo used a chisel, transforming ordinary interiors into magical venues, transforming New York exteriors into a treasury of memories and evocative moments. They always delight and amaze me with the way the use that camera - with their creative choices for the initial set-up of the camera angle in each scene, and then with the movement of the camera through the scene.

    And it's difficult to argue with the musical choices. If you like the music of John Coltrane, Miles Davis and Branford Marsalis, you are gonna go nuts over this biography of a trumpeter who plays that kind of music with a quintet in uptown jazz clubs.

    If a movie consisted only of camera angles, camera movement, lighting, photographic composition, storyboarding, production design, interior locations, exterior locations, music, mood and atmosphere, this movie could be considered the Citizen Kane of the 90's. If you love New York City, progressive jazz, and dazzling photographic presentation, this is your film, hands down.

    Of course, there is more to a movie than that. There is a script. Storylines. Important themes. I'm not too sure those things should be weighted too heavily when evaluating this film, since it is akin to saying that the plot of Hamlet is kinda stupid, which it is, but who cares? But the scropt is the film's Achilles Heel. The great weakness of the film is that Lee's approach is completely conventional. I didn't see anything new here that I haven't seen in earlier movies like Young Man With a Horn, except that the experiences are specifically filtered through the urban middle-class black experience.

    In the opening scene, a young boy wants to play baseball but his mom makes him play the trumpet. He tells mom that he hates the trumpet. We see him next as an adult, and it is then obvious that he loves the trumpet, and values his music above his need for romantic love, over his need to fire his incompetent manager (played by Lee himself), and over his relationships with the members of his ensemble. We see that he's a good man. His incompetent manager has been his best friend since third grade, and he takes care of his friend. But as good as his intentions might be, his obsession with music and his loyalty to his friend are gradually isolating him from everyone else, and chopping off the legs of his existence.

    This is not an "important" film like the ones that made Spike Lee famous. It doesn't hammer away on social themes; there's no activism; there's no politics; there's no social injustice. There aren't any white villains. There aren't any white heroes, either. It is simply a story about a man and his surroundings. It must generally reflect portions of the middle class black experience, and it must specifically reflect some of Lee's own loves and hates, but there's no attempt to change the world, or even to remind the world that it needs changing. It's just a story about people who love jazz and New York City, told by a filmmaker who loves jazz and New York City and making movies.

    This movie received no Oscar nominations of any kind - not for the astounding lighting effects, the creative cinematography, the art design, or the A+ musical score. None. OK, I can see why it wouldn't be nominated as best picture. There's nothing so impressive about the script, and Spike Lee the actor is many levels lower than Spike Lee the director. But there's a lot of aesthetic achievement in this movie that should have been awarded, or at least nominated.

    Given the facts I am a New Yorker, I like Miles and Coltrane, and I really admire dazzling filmmaking ... well, I pretty much loved it. Based upon those variables, your mileage may vary.

    This is a C+ on our rating system.  Although it is brilliant in so many ways, I said C+ because the story is trite, and because the film isn't completely broad in its appeal. It doesn't matter whether you are black or white or any other color, but it will be very slow if you don't like the music of Coltrane and Marsalis, because the musical numbers are often played at full length. If you do like those guys, it is heaven.

    • Cynda Williams. (1, 2, 3, 4, 5) She did her own singing in this film, her screen debut, and she's good, but I don't think her career turned out as she expected. Hollywood wanted her breasts more than her voice, and she ended up whipping out those jumbo jacks in at least seven different movies (see the Encyclopedia entry). Darn the luck, the widescreen DVD in Mo' Better Blues lost the best look at her breasts from the full screen VHS.  (Shown here.)

    • Joie Lee (Spike's sister. She looks too much like Spike for my taste.)





    Other crap archives. May also include newer material than the ones above, since it's sorta in real time.



    days left until International Talk Like a Pirate Day (Sept 19)



    Here are the latest movie reviews available at

    • 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 Lawdog or Junior or C2000 or Realist or ICMS or Mick Locke, or somebody else besides me)
    • If there is no asterisk, I wrote it, but am too ashamed to admit it.

    Graphic Response
    • Stacy Haiduk, showing off her wonderful breasts in scenes from "The Beneficiary" (1997).

    • Corey Chang, robo-hooters and very nice rear nudity in more scenes from "The Beneficiary".

    • Robin Wright, the "Forrest Gump" star topless in scenes from "Moll Flanders" (1996).

    Be sure to pay Graphic Response a visit at his website.

    'Caps and comments by Dann:

    "8 1/2 Women"

    After the death of their Wife/Mother, a father and son open up a brothel inhabited by 8 1/2 women. They are inspired by the Fellini movie "8 1/2".

    I confess I simply don't get most British comedies. I didn't get this one. It's way too slow-paced and subtle for my taste. On the plus side, there's plenty of nudity from the women, and some really weird characters they are, too. Some will love this movie, while others simply won't.

    Catherine Bell
    Jennifer Aniston
    (1, 2)

    Great 'caps from a bootleg DVD of the Jim Carrey movie "Bruce Almighty". "JAG" star Bell looks gorgeous and shows plenty of cleavage....Mrs. Pitt doesn't look too shabby either.

    Jewel The pop singer/songwriter trying out yet another look (her 83rd this year) during an appearance on the Hulk's favorite show..."Pepsi Smash".

    Marne Patterson Another look at the hot blonde actress playing a fluffer and really workin' a blow pop on last week's episode of the FX series "Nip/Tuck".

    Keira Knightley A partial nip-slip from the "Pirates of the Caribbean" co-star at a red-carpet event.

    Katharine Isabelle (possible body double) From the current box office champ, "Freddy Vs. Jason". Not exactly sure who they belong too, but someone owns a great pair of breasts.

    Candace McKenzie All 3 B's in scenes from the slasher flick "Pinocchio's Revenge" (1996).

    Daneen Boone
    Delphine Pacific
    Kristen Knittle
    Odette Miro
    (1, 2)
    (1, 2)

    Plenty of beautiful breasts plus the occasional bum view in scenes from "Justine: In the Heat of Passion" (1996). 'Caps by Videoot.

    Marla Sokoloff
    (1, 2)

    Thanks to DAI for these great images of the young actress really filling out her bra in scenes from the made for TV movie "A Date with Darkness: The Trial and Capture of Andrew Luster" (2003).

    We of course know her best from "Dude, Where's My Car?". Of course she's also co-starred in the TV series "The Practice" and the teen films "Sugar & Spice" and "Whatever It Takes".

    Halle Berry
    (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)

    A few 'caps by the Skin-meister of Halle gettin' it on in scenes from the Euro-Version of "Monster's Ball".

    Pat Reeder
    Pat's comments in yellow...

    They Must Think We're Dimbulbs - An Arab paper printed a letter supposedly from al-Qaida, claiming they caused the blackout by hitting two power plants in the US and Canada, "its ally in the war against Islam." They claim they brought "dread to Americans' hearts," brought down the Internet, and struck a blow against the stock exchange. Actually, New Yorkers peacefully walked home, the Internet never went down, and the blackout hit after the NYSE closed. It was over by Monday, and the Dow hit a 14-month high.

  • Stock in companies that make flashlights and candles went through the roof!
  • If that's how they attack us, then I'm with Bush: "Bring it on!"
  • So they got everything wrong, including the insane idea that Canada is helping us in the war.
  • They also claim they caused that tropical storm in the Gulf of Mexico.

    Even The E.U. Is Laughing - Lillie Haws, the owner of Lillie's Bar in Brooklyn, is organizing other bars to fight what she says is an unfair blizzard of tickets from the cash-starved city government. They say the harassment includes smoking inspectors demanding to be let in to check for smoking when the bar is closed...getting cited for illegal smoking because there was a trace of ash under a tarp on the patio...and one bartender was fined $200 for drinking a glass of water behind the bar, then fined again for not wearing a hair net while slicing lemons, even though he's totally bald.

  • The only hair he could give you is a little hair of the dog.
  • They want him to wear a net over the hair sticking out of his shirt.
  • This is driving bar owners to drink.
  • But the city needs money to pay for all those inspectors!