Prozac Nation (2001)
The saga behind the release of this
film is probably more interesting than
the film itself.
Although that would not be difficult to achieve.
The history of
yoghurt would probably be more interesting than this film. Listening
to old people discuss their lumbago would probably be more
interesting than this film, particularly if, unlike me, you know
what the hell lumbago is. By the way,
Lawrence is the patron saint of lumbago, and a damned fine
Seaway to boot. See, you old people, I was listening!
yes, enough of the more interesting matters. Let's return to Prozac
Nation. It is the film version of Elizabeth
Wurtzel's self-portrait which focuses on the battles she fought with
depression in her school years. The film zeroes in on her years at
Harvard as a scholarship student, during which she apparently
managed to alienate everyone she came in contact with, including her
family, her suitors, her roommate, and even her shrink. The film was
lensed in 2000, and had various release dates come and go,
having been postponed about once or twice a year until the film
finally by-passed North American theaters altogether and went to
cable and DVD in 2005. One of the few people who got to see it was
Elizabeth Wurzel, which is fitting since it is supposed to be her
autobiography. She pronounced it "horrible." On the other hand, that
may not be meaningful, because if she is like the character who
represents her, she gets really depressed and pronounces everything
"horrible." In fact some industry insiders said that one
of Wurtzel's public outbursts managed to abort the 2001 release
single-handedly. The film was shown at the Toronto Film Festival on
September 8, 2001. Three days later,
al-Qaeda hijacked the airliners and
promptly made some offensive public comments. Let's just say that the promotional plan for
the film probably never included any Tonight Show appearances for
the film truly "horrible"? Nah. The
problem with this film is not really its quality. It was directed by
an excellent helmsman,
Norwegian Erik Skjoldbjærg, who took this on as his next project
after his highly acclaimed Insomnia. It features a competent central
performance from Christina Ricci and a solid support cast:
Jason Biggs, Anne Heche, Michelle Williams, Jonathan
Rhys-Meyers, and Jessica Lange. That's a lot of talent. So if
quality isn't the problem, what is? Well, to be blunt, it is a
boring story about a totally unlikable person, and thus fails
miserably to clear the Gene Siskel Hurdle. If you aren't familiar
with that term, Siskel would often get right to the point in his
reviews and ask himself if he would like to have dinner with the
film's characters as they discussed their interests. If the answer
was "no", then why, he wondered, should he spend the same two hours
with them in the theater. The central character in Prozac Nation is
egotistical, condescending, whiny, antagonistic, unreliable,
depressing, and depressed. Moreover, she lacks a sense of humor. Is
that the kind of person you would like to have dinner with? Of
course not. She would be a conversation-deadening force even if she
had something interesting to say, but here she does not.
Let's face it, we can tolerate
"boring" and "annoying" separately in small doses. Ben Stein? Boring
as hell, but not annoying, so potentially droll and entertaining in
small doses. Dick Vitale? Annoying as can be, but not boring, so
able to hold our attention in bursts. But if you place
boring and annoying together, they form a lethal combination. For
long can you listen to Bob Novak? Well, this movie is like two hours
of Bob Novak.
Although if Novak looked like
Christina Ricci and did his shows naked, I could tolerate him a
Not only would the Ricci character make a
poor choice as a dinner partner, but she is not even the kind of
person who really moves you to care about her fate at all. Even if
she faced a life-threatening situation in the film, which she does
in the form of suicide, the outcome wouldn't draw in your
involvement because you wouldn't really care whether she lived or
So why release such a film?
is a professionally crafted and performed movie, but the real
problem with it, as was obviously noted by the studio execs who kept
postponing its release, is that one cannot imagine why anyone else would want
to watch it. One might argue that it has some artistic or
educational merit, but it is completely non-commercial. I don't know if the book Prozac Nation could have been
made into a watchable movie, but this review of the book gives a
"By turns emotionally powerful and
tiresomely solipsistic, her book straddles the line between an
absorbing self-portrait and a coy bid for public attention."
A film, of course, must reduce a
complex book to a two hour condensation. Perhaps the film could have worked if
it had pared down the running time by discarding the "tiresomely
solipsistic" and featuring the "emotionally powerful."
Unfortunately, it took the opposite tack.
||Here is a
zipped .wmv of
Ricci's nude scene.
If you really want the full monty, here's
a zipped .vob (Anamorphic
DVD file - to be played by a pure software DVD player like Power
DVD). Big file - 31meg - but perfect quality.
My Name is Tanino (2001)
My Name is Tanino is an Italian coming-of-age comedy
which never reached the States and is not available on North
So why the hell am I watching
an Italian DVD and writing about this film?
The primary reason is that it features topless
nudity from a young Canadian starlet named Rachel McAdams who was
virtually an unknown when she did this movie, but is now on her way
toward A-list stardom after a string of successes like Mean Girls,
Wedding Crashers, Red-Eye, and especially The Notebook.
McAdams plays Sally, an American student who is
vacationing in Italy when she encounters a helpful young Italian
teenager. They spend some time together and exchange a brief kiss,
all of which is just casual for her, but is built up in his mind as
a great romantic opportunity, to the extent that he leaves Italy to
track her down in America, with comical consequences. She is
embarrassed to see him on her doorstep and tries to get rid of him
as gently as possible, but a concatenation of circumstances leads to
his being invited to stay with her family. This creates even more
outrageous circumstances which lead Sally's father to assume that
Tanino is the long-suspected lover of Sally's mother. Poor, clueless
Tanino ends up fleeing the house at rifle-point.
Tanino, who is a film student back in Italy, then
spends the rest of his American holiday making a pilgrimage to see
the great director "Chenowsky," during which he passes through
various Italian-American households and experiences more comic
misadventures and cultural misunderstandings.
It seems like a good movie. I enjoyed the
situations, and I could follow the movie in a general sense, but
only a small portion of it is in English and there are no subtitles.
(Well, to be more precise, there are Italian subtitles during the
English portions!) Even Rachel McAdams performs most of her lines in
Italian, even in the American scenes, because Tanino's grasp of
English is as bad as my grasp of Italian, which is to say somewhere
between zero and rudimentary. McAdams speaks to Tanino in Italian,
and also has to translate her family's English for Tanino. I
therefore can't offer much in terms of analysis since I couldn't
enjoy the dialogue, or understand the jokes, and I didn't even look
at the second disk full of special features because I knew I'd be
You all know what this is. (If not, here are my comments,
The special edition DVD features the charming and funny P.J. Soles nude scene which
was shelved for a quarter of a century, so I suppose we should take
another look at it! (Zipped .wmv)
Words and poictures from Brainscan:
Glitch! is a Nico Mastroakis movie made in 1988, It
really gets up my nose.
Now, why is that? Well, I have seen From Justin to
Kelly. Yes I have and that makes me part of a very
small community since all of eight people have fessed
up to either buying or renting that turkey. Seems
Justin/Kelly was made in 2 weeks for $1 million.
Well, Glitch has the feel of a movie that was made for
one-third that amount in half that time. It looks
like a porn film. But that isn't what bothers me,
Glitch! (gotta remember to put in the exclamation
point) has girls in it. Dozens of them. Lots of them
naked. And, in the end, that is what bothers me.
Despite all the gals and the opportunity to make a
real winner of a nudie exploitation film, ol' Nico
must have figured he could just flash some tits and
have a whole bunch of gals wander around in bikinis
and that would be enough. What kills me is that quite
a few women wore thongs, but there seems to have been
no real attempt to exploit that fact. And yep some
women do get nekkid but they are on screen for times
shorter than the half-lives of most trans-uranic
elements. He even cast Teri Weigel in the year she
started to make porn films and yet he shows off her
topless bod for exactly three frames. And a lot of
the gals he hired for this silliness went on to do
lots and lots of nudity in lots and lots of other
films, so it isn't as though they were dead set agin'
So WTF was Nico thinking? Did he not know the
screenplay was an utter disaster and that all the
flesh he could shoot was all the flesh he was going to
need to save this thing? And why didn't the editor
rescue poor Nico and cut out all that scenes with that
awful purile humor and just show us more of the gals?
The answers to these questions are really very simple:
Nico wrote it, Nico directed it and Nico edited it.
The boy even produced it. We have no one but him to
blame and he had no one with any sense to rescue him.
In the end we have a film that really does have a lot
of great looking women parading around in bikinis.
And maybe that was the problem. Nico coulda used the
money to hire fewer gals who woulda taken off their
clothes but that, he figured, would detract from the
simple sweetness and clever dialogue of an
award-winning film. Too bad he didn't make one.
BTW, the IMDb score for this thing is about par for
the Nico course ... around a 3.4, much like the majority
of films. He has a couple of sub-3's and a couple of
5's but most sit a tad above 3, in a land of toxic
So about the nekkidness:
Some new state quarters.
Six new clips from The Brothers Grimm, Terry Gilliam's new
film which opens Friday.
UW-Madison is the top party school. Brigham Young finished
Rocker Mick Jagger can't GIVE no satisfaction
BOTH EVOLUTION AND INTELLIGENT DESIGN FAIL TO EXPLAIN BUSH
... Scientists in Oslo Debate Origin of President
President Bush Delivers Statement on the Forced Withdrawal of
Israeli Religious Zealots From the Gazarian Strip (WHITEHOUSE.ORG)
Women like R-rated laughs
- I guess that's obvious, but I never would have guessed
that "Women made up 54% of the audience for The 40-Year-Old
Virgin, distributor Universal Pictures says. And they have
made up the majority of the audience for Wedding Crashers,
which has taken in $177.9 million."
The Future of Terrorism: What al-Qaida Really Wants "the
organization's master plan."
- They pretty much want the same things we all want - a good
life for their kids, affordable medical care, true love, some
decent cable channels, and a painful death to all
A very big gallery from George Clooney's Good Night, and Good
Luck, about Sen. McCarthy and Ed Murrow.
Iron Maiden vs Sharon Osbourne at Ozzfest
- Iron Maiden was "continuously pelted with ice, bottle
caps, and eggs."
- Hey, one thing I don't get. If you're some kind of bad-ass
heavy metal pseudo-Satanic dudes, doesn't that kind of
audience hatred mean that you're doing your job correctly? I
mean that's the way Andy Kaufman always played it when he was
Tony Clifton or the woman-wrestler. Or are people supposed to
love up Iron Maiden like they do with Steve Lawrence and Edie
Film Jerk's Early Report for August 22
Say gals, looking for a way to avoid anal sex?
Why not tattoo your asshole to look like a second vagina?
More Nobel Prize candidates!
Scientists prove that we are annoyed by annoying people and
Conan O'Brien spends an evening as a Security Guard.
The international trailer for In Her Shoes
- "Alternately hilarious and heart-rending, 'In Her Shoes'
is about two sisters with nothing in common but size 8 1/2
feet. After a calamitous falling out, they travel the bumpy
road toward a true appreciation for one another -- aided along
the way by the grandmother they never knew they had."
Here is the trailer from Doom which was shown at ComicCon
- "Something has gone wrong at a remote scientific research
station on Mars. All research has ceased. Communication has
failed. And the messages that do get through are less than
comforting. It's a level 5 quarantine and the only souls
allowed in or out are the Rapid Response Tactical Squad -
hardened Marines armed to the teeth with enough firepower to
neutralize the enemy... or so they think. The research being
done at Odluval station has unwittingly opened a door and all
hell has broken loose. A legion of nightmarish creatures of
unknown origin lurk behind every wall and stalk the countless
rooms and tunnels of the facility, killing what few people
remain. Sealing off the portal to Earth, Sarge (Dwayne 'The
Rock' Johnson), Reaper (Karl Urban) and their team must use
every weapon at their disposal - and some they find along the
way - to carry out their orders: nothing gets out alive."
Clever Movie Title Sequences Designed by Saul Bass
One poll shows the President's job approval rating at a new low,
heading for Carter Country.
- He still has plenty of goals left to reach if he can just
get those gas prices up a little more! Four presidents have
made it into the 20s. Bush's dad crashed to 29 from his high
of 89. Carter, who had the lowest average rating for an entire
Presidency (45), hit a nadir of 28. Nixon plummeted to 24 just
before he resigned in August of 1974, and Truman set the all
time record of 23 when he fired MacArthur.
Presidential Approval Ratings, 1953-1999 . (The Truman
info can be found in the Gallup "65 years of polling" link
Gallup Poll Quiz - trivia about 65 years of polling.
I didn't know that!
Can you guess which state has the highest SAT scores? (.pdf
Arthouse hotshot Atom Egoyan faces an NC-17 rating for his new
movie, over a threesome between Kevin Bacon, Colin Firth,
and Rachel Blanchard. The producer says, " It cannot be cut
without compromising the central scene of the narrative and thus
rendering the mystery of the film incomprehensible."
TRIVIA: the guy who wrote the book upon which this film is based
(see below) also wrote the words and music for the Pina Colada
"Records related to Kennedy's assassination are still being
hidden for reasons of 'national security.'"
Damn, I love Norway.
Norwegian police have to call a taxi to respond to emergency
Coors pays $60 million per year to be the official beer of the
Wal-Mart Charges Master Thieves $175 for Stolen Sheep Shit
Goalie attends rock concert, Belgian youth soccer team suffers
50-1 defeat. The general manager of the Kansas City Royals
is currently trying to book a match against them.
Norwegians behave oddly "when passing sheep in traffic."
- I'm shocked! You mean Norway now has cars faster than
- What they really mean is even sillier. Norwegians are more
likely to slow down when they see sheep than when they see
- Well, of course. It's illegal and immoral to stop and have
sex with children.
The Straight Dope: Did New York water pressure drop because of
toilet flushing after the Super Bowl?
Snoop starts his own youth football league.
- People in the rival league are complaining because Snoop
runs a better program and charges half as much!! Oh no, not
that! Why can't he offer poor quality at a high price like
everyone else? That no-good S.O.B.! Why does he hate America?
English as She is Spoke
The official blurb:
- In 1855, when Jose da Fonseca and Pedro Carolino wrote an
English phrasebook for Portuguese students, they faced just
one problem: they didn't know any English. Even worse, they
didn't own an English-to-Portuguese dictionary. What they did
have, though, was a Portuguese-to-French dictionary, and a
French-to-English dictionary. The linguistic train wreck that
ensued is a classic of unintentional humor, now revived in the
first newly selected edition in a century. Armed with Fonseca
and Carolino's guide, a Portuguese traveler can insult a
barber ("What news tell me? All hairs dresser are
newsmonger"), complain about the orchestra ("It is a noise
which to cleve the head"), go hunting ("let aim it! let make
fire him"), and consult a handy selection of truly mystifying
"Idiotisms and Proverbs."
- According to McSweeney's, Mark Twain read this book, and
wrote "Nobody can add to the absurdity of this book, nobody
can imitate it successfully, nobody can hope to produce its
fellow; it is perfect."
Master Little teaches kids how to live with a small penis.
Make your own Magazine Cover
Coogan says he has not impregnated Courtney Love.
- The BBC considers it news that somebody denied fucking
Courtney Love? I'd like to see them find somebody who'd admit
fucking Courtney. Now THAT would be a story. What did they
expect Coogan to say? "Oh, yeah. (Blows on nails. Shines them
on chest.) I tapped that ass. Fucked her in every one of her
needle holes. Fall on your knees in admiration."
How did Jude Law turn into Tommy Lee overnight?
WTF? Salvador Dali story of the day.
"Sacha Baron Cohen was dunked in the sea by Pamela Anderson's
bodyguards - after rugby-tackling the actress at her dogs'
wedding." The only thing that would make this story better
is if the dogs wrote their own vows.