Sunday

Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy)
The Morning After (1986)

In this movie Jane Fonda plays a washed-up actress whose career was killed by booze. She must have been an actress a quarter of a century before the film's action, because it takes place in 1986 and she is still driving her 1963 Mercedes. She is still boozing it heavily now, so heavily in fact that she has a severe problem with blackouts. We know, therefore, that she has been hitting the sauce hard for some twenty-five years. Very hard. She goes to bed drunk every night, and she starts drinking again every morning. Let's assume she's about 49 years old now, Fonda's actual age when she made the picture, and a reasonable assumption given the age of her car.

And yet she looks marvelous. Her skin is excellent. There is no cellulite on her thighs, nor wattle beneath her chin. Her legs are muscular. There's no jiggle in her triceps. Her stomach is taut and toned. Her small breasts are firm and perky beyond any reasonable expectation for a fiftyish woman. She has a perfect all-over tan.

Man, being an alcoholic is sweet! I've really been going about things all wrong with this damned teetotaling and exercising. I gotta pick me up some booze and get in shape - and catch up on years of missed fun in the process!

TOTAL SPOILERS:

Fonda wakes up one morning beside some anonymous stranger, as she obviously has done many times before, but this time is different. This guy has a knife in his chest. Conveniently enough, following one of the primary rules of movie reality, the TV is blaring a morning show in which the perky anchor is interviewing the very guy lying beside her, who seems to be an erotic photographer. She tries to shake the cobwebs out of her head and think.

First of all, she has correctly guessed that the TV show is not airing a live interview.

Having resolved that, she realizes that she is in big trouble. She is known to have alcoholic blackouts, and she once did some jail time for assault with a deadly weapon - a knife. The problem is not simply that the police won't believe in her innocence, but something much deeper than that. She doesn't even know whether she is innocent. She decides to clean up the apartment, remove any traces of her own presence, and leave.

Opening title sequence begins.

That is a pretty smart opening for a thriller. Catches ones attention. Gets one curious to know more.

She returns to the same address later in the day to finish off the clean-up, and something strange happens. As she works around a cat who obviously belongs there, she notices that the cat is suddenly missing. She hears a meow coming from inside a closed closet, and goes to open the door when she is thunderstruck by the awareness that cats can't open and close closet doors. Someone is in that closet. She gets the hell out.

You see what I mean about the effective "hook"? This was shaping up to be a really good thriller.

Unfortunately, the scriptwriter didn't have any more ideas. He had apparently envisioned an excellent set-up for a thriller, but never came up with a logical or interesting way to explain everything he had pictured.

There are several rookie mistakes, the main one being that the rule of economy of characters makes the fundamental solution too obvious. We don't know the details, but we know that the woman's estranged husband must be behind it all? Why. Because there are really only three characters in the movie. There is the actress. There is a hippie ex-cop that she ran into at the airport and cajoled into giving her a ride. There is the actress's husband. We know that the ex-cop could not be involved in any way, because she only ran into him after a half-dozen accidents and impromptu changes of plan which nobody could have anticipated. It was pure coincidence that she ended up in his car. Therefore, there are only two possibilities: the actress really did kill the guy in her bed, or the husband framed her for some reason or another. If the actress had really done it, this could have been a great movie, in the manner of Memento, but that isn't the way things work in big studio movies with big stars (Warner Brothers and Jane Fonda, respectively).

Therefore, after only about ten minutes of running time, we know that the only possible solution to the mystery must involve the husband in some way. It is only a matter of determining why and how he did it. Of course the main character is within the plot and not watching it like us, so she doesn't know that the husband is the only possible suspect, but it's no great thrill for us in the audience to wait for her to catch up with us. 

Oh, dear. The words "no great thrill" are deadly when written in a review of a thriller.

By the way, do you remember when I said that there were only three possible solutions. I turned out to be wrong. There was a fourth possibility. The murder could have been done by someone who did not appear in the film and had nothing to do with the main plot at all. I know what you are thinking. "Oh, balderdash! No screenwriter could get away with that. What would be the point?"  As it turns out, that really was the solution. The actual murder was committed by some woman from an upper crust family. Did you remember that the murder victim was an erotic photographer? Well, he had some pictures of the rich woman; she was tired of being blackmailed; end of story.

Almost.

That still didn't exonerate the husband. After all, nobody ever said that the murder and the frame-up were done by the same person.

Get the picture?

Despite all that I have written, I rather enjoyed this movie. Although it never fulfilled its promise as a thriller, The Morning After turned out to be a good "mismatched buddy" flick, with the buddies in question turning eventually into lovers, as we hope they do. Jane Fonda and Jeff Bridges did a great job as the actress and the hippie ex-cop, and the scriptwriter created great parts for them, filled with depth, rich with dimensions, interesting in tiny details. They relate in ways which seem real, and I found myself growing very comfortable in their company, and interested in their conversations. The screenwriter also gave Fonda some acerbically witty dialogue, and a very capable director (Sidney Lumet1) did what he could with the film's atmosphere, even milking a few suspenseful moments out of the non-mysterious mystery.


1 Sidney Lumet is not often mentioned in discussions of the great American directors, but he probably should be. He certainly has had a distinguished career. Here are his top films:

The top three are rated in the all-time Top 250 at IMDb.


Jane Fonda

Dance With Death (1991)

"Sure," I thought, "I can sit through one more adaptation of Strindberg's greatest play. Haven't thought about it in years."

Sure, Martin Mull seemed to be a little miscast as the bitter, fierce, overbearing captain, but I figured there was no sense in trying to copy Olivier's brilliant interpretation in the 1969 film, so the director must be trying to put a completely different and more contemporary spin on the classical portrayal of a dead, loveless marriage.

And then I realized I was thinking of "Dance OF Death," as opposed to this film, "Dance WITH Death." This movie, as it turns out, is yet another one of those films in which a serial killer is gradually eliminating our precious national stripper reserve until a brave female cop or reporter - a reporter in this case - goes undercover to rip the lid off the scandal and her own wardrobe.

So what makes this film any different from the scores of others with the same plot not written by Strindberg?

  • Well, it has Martin Mull in it.
  • And it offers a chance to see a young, chubby Lisa Kudrow as she looked a few years before "Friends." (Right)

Apart from that, it is one of those plots where the scriptwriter tries to make it look like every single character, male and female, could be the killer. In fact, it goes so far as to mis-identify not one but two guys, and makes those characters go down in a flurry of police bullets before the real baddie is unmasked!

Oh, well. I guess you wouldn't be watching a serial stripper murder movie for the plot, would you?

Here's the good stuff:


Barbara Alyn Woods


Catya Sassoon


Alretha Baker


Tracey Burch


Jill Pierce


Unknown

Brainscan
'Caps and comments by Brainscan:

Scoops,

Just some quick edits today of Paulina Rubio at the latest VMA show. Junior used to say about these sorts of things: two words, both hubba.


Paulina Rubio

Hankster
'Caps and comments by Hankster:

Today we look at "In The Cut" with Meg Ryan.

What else can you say? Meg gets naked!

Granted, the scenes are dark, but hey it's Meg.


Meg Ryan


Also we have Selma Blair putting on quite a leg show on "Leno" this week.


Selma Blair

Crimson Ghost
Today is Part 2 of the Ghost's coverage of the Skinemax flick "Naked Ambition" (2005). Once again we have a couple of Adult actresses trying to earn a SAG card by doing some softcore for late night cable.



Jessica Drake


Jacklyn Lick

Dann
'Caps and comments by Dann:

"Body Language"
It's deja-vue all over again in this 1995 made-for-HBO crime thriller, but at least the nudity wasn't taken from another movie. Everything else was.

A lawyer in the middle of a big trial defending a mafia mob boss helps a beautiful young woman who turns out to be married to an abusive husband. The lawyer gets heavily involved and winds up helping her plot the husband's murder.

If it all sounds familiar, it is. You've seen bits and pieces of this plot in many other movies.

The movie is not a total loss, though, because Heidi Schanz in her first movie role is hot as hell, and the story, while totally predictable and not unique, is also fast-paced and interesting. Since Heidi plays a stripper, they were able to throw in some scenes of other women stripping as well. Watch it for the women, if nothing else.


Heidi Schanz


Mim Parker

Variety
One of the many should be Mrs. Scoopy Jrs (and probably my all time favorite someday Mrs. Scoopy Jr)....Here is Vanessa Marcil super ultra sexy as she gets on stage with The Pussycat Dolls on a episode of "Las Vegas".



DeadLamb 'caps of the very cute Camille Guaty showing some nice wonderbra cleavage in the pilot episode of the new FOX series "Prison Break".



A little Euro-nudity from Dragonscan. Here is Austrian actress Muriel Baumeister going topless in scenes from "Alles nur Tarnung" (1996).



Even more Euro-nudity...This time Kitt takes a look at "Tout le monde il en a deux" aka "Bacchanales sexuelles" aka "Fly Me the French Way", the 1974 flick by Euro-sleaze-meister Jean Rollin. Here we see JoŽlle Coeur and Brigitte De Borghese having some serious lesbo-fun.



Señor Skin 'caps of the cute and topless Ashley Rhea in a Hankster appoved "Babe in Bondage" scene from her one and only IMDb credit, "The Halfway House" (2004). For all of you die-hard mega-lo budget movie fans, let me clarify that these scenes are actually from the Director's Cut. I wouldn't want anyone missing out by renting just the regular version of this superb example of grade-z cinema.



Movie Reviews

MOVIE REVIEWS:

Here are the latest movie reviews available at scoopy.com.

 

  • 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 Junior or Brainscan, or somebody else besides me)
  • If there is no asterisk, I wrote it, but am too ashamed to admit it.

Other Crap
Scientists prove chicks are dumb. The measurement used was their opinion of "The English Patient." Seriously, scientists will debate the implications and causations for years, but I think this is the most interesting conclusion of the study: "Up to the age of 14, there was no difference between the IQs of boys and girls. But beyond that age and into adulthood there is a difference ... "

Family Guy - The Seven Prostitutes (Don't miss the last line.)

Lasse Hallstrom's Casanova to premiere at Venice

Chief Justice Rehnquist has died.

John Grisham to Donate $5M to Katrina Relief, challenges others to get involved.

If you want to donate money or time to the Katrina recovery, contact the American Red Cross

QUESTION: What is "Gavin, the singing and dancing penis."

(MY GUESS: I believe this is what his fellow students used to call John Ashcroft.)

President Bush Orders Mardi Gras Moved to Astrodome

  • "Moving swiftly to stem criticism that his response to the devastation in New Orleans has been 'slow, indifferent, and sadly inadequate,' President Bush announced last night that by executive order Mardi Gras 2006 will be held in Houston's Astrodome. Bush also announced that naming rights for the event had been purchased by Federal Express for an undisclosed seven-figure sum."

The trailer for Nine Lives

  • "'Nine Lives' is a moving exploration of the individual experiences of nine women as told through nine single unbroken takes. As characters from one story reappear in supporting roles in others, Rodrigo Garcia interweaves a grand tapestry of universal resonance that hinges on performances from an incredible ensemble. By depicting nine different characters at emotional crossroads, 'Nine Lives' examines how we so often find ourselves captive in relationships, both past and present. Sandra (Elpida Carrillo), is literally in prison and wants desperately to connect with her visiting child. Diana (Robin Wright Penn) confronts the sudden flash of a past relationship long after she has moved on to a new life. Holly (Lisa Gay Hamilton) can�t seem to move forward until her stepfather acknowledges the pain he has caused her. Sonia (Holly Hunter) reels from her boyfriend's disclosure of an intimate secret to their closest friends. Teenager Samantha (Amanda Seyfreid) is caught in a static loop as the peacemaker between her parents. Lorna (Amy Brenneman) attempts to comfort her ex-husband after his wife's suicide and finds herself implicated in the tragic death. Ruth (Sissy Spacek) considers straying from married life during a motel rendezvous. Camille (Kathy Baker) faces the limitations of her previously dependable body. Maggie (Glenn Close) allows her own life to be eclipsed by that of her young daughter, Maria (Dakota Fanning). Filmmaker Rodrigo Garcia (Things You Can Tell Just By Looking at Her) plumbs the depths with these nine everyday women who meet the travails and disappointments of life with a resilience that is at once heartening and heartbreaking."
 

A clip from Keane, a drama in convenient thriller format.

  • We first meet William Keane (Damian Lewis) in the Port Authority bus terminal where he is desperately searching for his 6-year-old daughter, who has been missing for months. Repeatedly drawn to the site of the purported abduction, Keane wanders the bus station compulsively going over the events of that fateful day. Veering between days of relentless searching and nights of alcohol and drug induced extremes of self-destructive behavior, he seems to be teetering precariously on the edge of sanity. Then one day he meets a financially strapped young woman, Lynn Bedik (Amy Ryan), and her 7-year-old daughter, Kira (Abigail Breslin), who are also staying at the same transient motel in New Jersey. He reaches out to them and soon the mother entrusts him to pick up Kira after school and bring her home. As he becomes increasingly attached to the child, the story moves to a whole new level of poignancy and tension, as Keane searches for redemption through the little girl. Working in a handheld veritť style, director Kerrigan and DP John Foster, plunge us directly into Keane's profoundly unsettled universe. Damian Lewis's riveting, visceral performance of a man grappling with the effects of a profound loss makes "Keane" a complex, deeply humane and unforgettable portrait.

Three clips and a trailer from Everything is Illuminated, a drama starring Elijah Wood, directed by Liev Schreiber

  • "Based on the critically-acclaimed novel by Jonathan Safran Foer, 'Everything is Illuminated' tells the story of a young man's quest to find the woman who saved his grandfather in a small Ukrainian town that was wiped off the map by the Nazi invasion. What starts out as a journey to piece together one family's story under the most absurd circumstances turns into a surprisingly meaningful journey with a powerful series of revelations -- the importance of remembrance, the perilous nature of secrets, the legacy of the Holocaust, the meaning of friendship and, most importantly, love."

Three clips from An Unfinished Life

  • "A pair of grizzled old farm hands (Robert Redford and Morgan Freeman) find their lives interrupted by a woman from the past (Jennifer Lopez). "

Two clips from The Matador, starring Greg Kinnear and Pierce Brosnan.

  • "A chance encounter between a travelling salesman and a lonely hitman triggers a strangely profound relationship which provokes each to act in ways neither would have imagined possible. Fate steps in to form a friendship between two men from irreconcilable worlds that will alter the lives of both forever."

Two new clips from Lord of War, which features Nic Cage as an arms dealer in crisis.

A trailer and a featurette for Bee Season, a drama about spelling.

  • "Eliza Naumann (Flora Cross) has no reason to believe she is anything but ordinary. Her father Saul (Richard Gere), a beloved university professor, dotes on her talented elder brother Aaron (Max Minghella). Her scientist mother, Miriam (Juliette Binoche), seems consumed by her career. When a spelling bee threatens to reaffirm her mediocrity, Eliza amazes everyone: she wins. Her newfound gift garners an invitation not only to the national competition, but an entree into the world of words and Jewish mysticism that have so long captivated her father's imagination. But Eliza's unexpected success hurls the Naumann family dynamic into a tailspin, long-held secrets emerge and she is forced to depend upon her own divination to hold the family together. 'Bee Season' is based on the nationally best selling Myla Goldberg novel of the same name."

AstroPic o' the Day - The appearance of Venus beneath all those clouds.

Zimbabwe president says CIA is behind Kidman movie: "President Robert Mugabe's government has attacked the suspense thriller 'The Interpreter,' starring Nicole Kidman, claiming it is part of a propaganda campaign by the CIA." I think the CIA may have been behind Deuce Bigalow as well.

Transporter 2 wins the Friday box office race. The Constant Gardener matched it per screen, but was in only 2/5 as many theaters, finishing third in total $. The other two new releases were, as expected, weak also-rans.

Modern humans, Neanderthals shared France for centuries, claimed scientists after seeing a Gerard Depardieu film festival.

Vacation is Over... an open letter from Michael Moore to George W. Bush

  • I'm not a big fan of the flabby filmmaker, but he threw some pretty good punches here, and did so with some wit.
  • "Any idea where all our helicopters are? It's Day 5 of Hurricane Katrina and thousands remain stranded in New Orleans and need to be airlifted. Where on earth could you have misplaced all our military choppers? Do you need help finding them? I once lost my car in a Sears parking lot. Man, was that a drag. Also, any idea where all our national guard soldiers are?"

"The six broadcast networks are setting aside their traditional rivalries and joining together to produce a prime-time benefit concert to aid victims of Hurricane Katrina."

  • My mom and dad were always nostalgic for World War Two because, even though it was a scary time for mankind, it was also a time when good people set aside partisan quibbling and worked together for a common cause. My folks really missed that spirit, and felt that it had passed forever from the American soul.

    Maybe they were wrong.

'Sound of Thunder,' smell of garbage : "Movie a waste of everybody's time -- especially yours" By Paul Clinton For CNN.com

  • "That sound you hear while watching 'A Sound of Thunder' is actually audience members thundering toward the exits in an effort to get away from this ghastly film. People at the studio screening I attended began fleeing after 10 minutes -- and they got in for free. The overall look of the film resembles a cheap video game you could find at your local mall back in 1984."
  • Geez - I almost went to this today because the idea sounded kinda cool. I guess I saved eight bucks.

Kanye West Rips Bush During NBC Concert. He claimed "George Bush doesn't care about black people," which simply isn't fair. President Bush loves rich black Republican people.

For the hard-to-please woman on your Christmas list: a $1500 vibrator. ... "Made from sterling silver and handmade in 18 K gold-plate, it is rechargeable, splash proof and extremely quiet."

Tuna

Currently on disability. If you'd like to get in touch with him, his email address is tuna@scoopy.com

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