We had a clip from this last week, and that motivated me to
It turns out that the Cynda Williams nudity is pretty much the
entire attraction of this movie. Essentially, it's one of those
"modern relationship" movies which thinks it can get by on small
talk alone. A repertory company of young actors plays a diverse
group of friends who struggle to understand each other's
sexuality. The group includes gay males, lesbians, and straight couples
- each combination including
all sorts of racial mixes. The entire movie consists of people
sitting around and discussing their sex lives
or having very brief sexual interludes.
Given the assortment of quirky eccentric characters, I think it
is supposed to be a comedy, but it includes a lot of elements that
are extremely heavy-handed by comedy standards. One gay guy responds to gay-bashing by
overpowering and raping his male heterosexual tormenter. That'll sell
some tickets, eh?
It's rated 7.0 at IMDb. God knows why. It should be in the 5.5
Anyway, here's Cynda Williams. (Zipped .wmv of two brief sex scenes with
Lori Petty, but no nudity from Lori.) Collages follow. The first
collage is from a scene with Serena Scott-Thomas, which lasts
about one frame.
This film was reviewed by the
San Francisco Chronicle on November 12, 2004 because it was
playing at two theaters in the bay area. Anything weird about
that? Look at the film's date! Lensed in 1998, shown at one film
festival in 1999, Junked made its grand theatrical appearance five
The Chronicle was not entirely enthusiastic.
I don't quite agree with that review. I have a real problem
with the word "almost." To illustrate my point, I offer exhibit A,
an actual frame captured from the film and shown below without any
The plot revolves around a street hustler who tries to go
straight to save himself and his kid sister from a life of drugs,
prostitution and degradation. This crime drama was allegedly
"inspired by actual events." There's no indication what those
events might have been, but surely one of them was the big bang,
which gave birth to the physical universe, and without which this
fine film might never have been made.
Much of the film takes place in a derelict warehouse,
specifically in a room with shattered windows, graffiti-painted
walls, and an old mattress in the center. It's basically a play
with one set and four characters who hang out and debate about
what they should do. Their concept of debate is that any argument
is won by the person who speaks the loudest. A lot like
"Crossfire." They spend so much time waiting for things to happen
that Godot would get bored. In fact, I think Godot showed up and
decided to seek some livelier action.
Bad movie. The Chronicle had it right. It could not be much
worse. Bad sound editing. Overacting. Weak direction. Weak script.
Bad DVD barely above VHS quality, if at all. No features, not
The only possible reasons to watch this film are the following:
1) Thomas Jane and Jordan Ladd have become fairly big stars
since this was lensed, and you may be curious about their pre-fame
efforts. The writer/director of this film originally wrote it as a
play in which Jane played the lead role, a street hustler named
Switch. When the play was converted to a screenplay, Jane
continued to play the role he had originated. Switch is a
bi-sexual ... a switch-hitter, get it? Interestingly, Jane broke
through as another switch hitter, playing Mickey Mantle in 61*.
2) Jordan shows her bum for a few frames, walks around in her
underwear, and provides a few very impressive downblouse looks at
After the death of his brother, an expert street dancer goes to Georgia to attend Truth University. But his efforts to get an education and woo the girl he likes are sidelined when he joins in his fraternity's effort to win a step dancing competition.
The 37-year-old actress sued Peter Brandt in December 2005, claiming he invaded her privacy by using a telephoto lens to photograph her inside her home when she was topless or partly dressed. She did a pretty good job of damage control. I don't believe I've ever seen those pictures.
The numbers are unimpressive because the Labor Day weekend is traditionally one of the weakest frames of the year.
Backed by glowing reviews, and appealing to young males with a crazy, high-energy concept, the thriller Crank took the #1 spot on Friday.
Jason Statham is emerging as the king of Labor Day. Last year, another of his over-the-top thrillers, Transporter 2, topped the holiday weekend.
Two other movies with good reviews, Little Miss Sunshine and The Illusionist, continued their climbs up the ranks to finish 4-5.
Last week's champ, Invincible, held fairly strong at #2, despite facing down three new releases.
Then there were the other new entries. Nicolas Cage is an actor who loves to take risks. Many of his offbeat projects, like The Lord of War and Adaptation, have turned out well despite minimal box office appeal, but The Wicker Man just proved to be a complete embarrassment in every way. The critically reviled (13% good reviews) remake took the #3 spot, and earned Cage a spate of ridicule in the process.
The even more harshly maligned Crossover (0% good reviews) finished far down the list as predicted. Crossover did suprise some experts with a higher "per screen" average than Wicker.
Yellow asterisk: funny (maybe). White asterisk: expanded format.
Blue asterisk: not mine. No asterisk: it probably sucks.
Brazil takes place in an Orwellian dystopia where bureaucracy rules. The
story centers on the life and dreams of a minor clerk working in the
information storage ministry. His mother, who spends her life getting plastic
surgery, has connections, and tries to get him promoted to Information
Retrieval, but he has no ambition until he literally meets the girl of his
dreams (Kim Greist), and needs a better job to access stored data on her.
In case you have just recently arrived on the planet, Brazil is rated 8.0
at IMDb, number 233 in the top 250 of all time. It won numerous awards,
including two BAFTAs, and was nominated for two Oscars. The film had been
released and was doing well in Europe, but Universal Studios, which owned the
US distribution, felt it wasn't commercial enough for a North American run,
and was demanding changes before they would release it. The huge problem was
that they wanted a happy Hollywood ending, and they wanted it in a film short
enough to be shown twice per night per theater. Writer/director Terry Gilliam
was contractually obligated to deliver a 125-minute film, but also had final
cut rights. Had he simply shortened the film, there would have been no fight,
but he felt that the 142 minute version was correct, as demonstrated by its
worldwide acceptance, and elected to fight for his version.
I do not blame Mr. Gilliam for fighting so hard for his cut. I can't
imagine how this film could be any better. The details of this amazing film
defy description. I am told that some people don't get it, and there were
usually walkouts in the theaters, but that many people adore it. Put me
solidly in the second group. Gilliam's vision of an oppressive bureaucracy
ruled by excess information gathering would have resonated with me at any time
in history, but seems especially pertinent given the current administration's
penchant for illegal eavesdropping, and illegal arrest and incarceration.
Even though the film themes are serious, the film itself is wonderfully
entertaining, and all 142 minutes are densely packed with layer upon layer of
ideas. For anyone wondering about the title, it was taken from a potential
opening that was never filmed in which Gilliam planned to trace the creation
of a monumental report from cutting down a forest of trees to making the
paper, through the printing process, to the final document ... a dissertation
on saving the rain forests!
The centerpiece of Criterion's three-disk set is a pristine transfer of the
full 142 minute version, just as Gilliam conceived and delivered it. The set
not only includes the director's cut but also a TV version created by
Universal that gives the film a happy ending, dubbed the "Love Conquers All"
version. There is also an entire disk of special features, including the
history of the battle between Gilliam and Universal.
This is a B, one of the great ones.
Here are my comments from the review I wrote of the 3-disk Criterion
edition when it first came out back in 1999.
If you know a little bit about this movie, you know that Terry
Gilliam had to fight for more than a year to get this film released in
the USA at all. He even took out ads in the trades saying things like
"where is my movie?" He fought for the full 142 minute
version which was shown in Europe. The studio had prepared a 94 minute
version that they preferred. The studio hated the bleak ending which was
so totally emotionally unsatisfying. Gilliam argued that it would be
plumb stupid to have a happy ending in a movie about a dehumanized
bureaucratic society. His whole point was that the individual was
submerged in the society, and it couldn't follow from the script that
one little bureaucrat could somehow triumph over an institutionalized
behemoth. He could only fantasize about it.
In my opinion, Universal should simply have swallowed
their pride and treated this film as a prestige product. We live in a
world full of copycats and formulae, so when geniuses like Gilliam come
along, we have to give them the freedom to realize their visions, and we
must nurture them. Sometimes they may miss the mark, but we still need
them, and film studios need those occasional uncommercial Oscar-winners
to give some artistic credibility to their otherwise businesslike
Eventually, Gilliam managed to negotiate 131 minute compromise and
the film was released to an unenthusiastic reception. It
grossed only $9 million, Roger Ebert gave it only two stars, and the
BAFTA committee gave it only two technical nominations. Yet this is a
movie now considered a 20th century masterpiece of the imagination, on a
par with Fritz Lang's "Metropolis." In my article on the
winners, I noted that Brazil got one of the all-time hose jobs from
Oscar. It is now rated 8.0, but was not even nominated for Best Picture,
despite the fact that the winner that year was the lowest-rated film
ever to win the Best Picture Oscar!!! (Out of Africa, 6.7)
Whatever your opinion, you must concede that
"Brazil" is a unique film from an imaginative genius. Gilliam's original
vision was to extend a view of the future as seen from the past.
Remember all of those "Popular Science" magazines in the 40s and 50s
which pictured the world we would someday live in? If not, imagine their
world, absorbed by Bauhaus and Art Deco, ruled over by Stalin and
Hitler, then imagine how the people of that time would imagine life
today. They would take the trends of the day, both political and
artistic, and extend them. Gilliam held this concept quite consistently
throughout, detouring only to deliver the occasional smirk based on
knowing how it really did turn out.
Jonathan Pryce stars as the insignificant bureaucrat
whose only happy moments occur in the flights of his imagination, in
which he soars like an angel and battles various symbols of the State
Behemoth. Pryce was stirring, but my favorite character was Robert
DeNiro's "terrorist." In a world that requires hundreds of forms to be
filled out before anything can happen, DeNiro is a HVAC man who
intercepts calls to the official state repair agency, then answers the
calls promptly and simply fixes things. That's it. That's his act of
rebellion - he fixes things without requiring any paperwork. Then he
slides into the night on high-wire cables, like Spiderman. Needless to
say, the State considers him highly dangerous.
Brazil is a visual masterpiece, no question about it,
and there are moments and concepts I like very much, but the pacing is
much too slow and the humor much too obvious for my taste. The whole
schtick of the Monty Python troupe really came down to carrying all
points out ad nauseum. As you know, sometimes that could be very funny,
and sometimes it was just guys acting silly after the joke was already
over. There is a lot of the latter here, in my opinion. I admire Brazil,
but I wouldn't watch it over and over again, despite its brilliant
conceptualization and design.
The Criterion collection 3-DVD set of "Brazil" is a tremendous
addition to the collection of any film buff. First of all, it includes
the entire 142 minute cut that Terry Gilliam wanted. In addition, it
includes all of the usual bells and whistles, plus:
The studio's ludicrous 94 minute cut
A full-length commentary
"The production notebook," featuring the screenwriter, composer
"What is Brazil" - a funny 30 minute film made on the set.
"The Battle of Brazil" - a documentary of Gilliam's battles
against the studio.
Kim Greist shows buns and a
hint of breast, as well as a good see-through near the end of the film.
Lindsay Lohan - Again? How
often does this girl go to the beach? She must own the all-time record for
most time in the sun for a freckly chick.
Consuelo de Haviland in Dancing Machine. She is
the woman who did the sexy reverse spread-eagle scene in The Unbearable
Lightness of Being