"Corporate Merger"

Corporate Merger (17 Sep 99) is the third episode of the Cinemax series Pleasure Zone. As it opens, we see Kim Yates and her date arrive at her place, and have great sex. The next morning, we learn that she is a lawyer, and guess who the new opposing attorney is. They sort of agree that they can't see each other, and we learn that they met through a Web site. They both check back in for new dates, which turn out to be disasters. Then we see him in an aborted sex scene with his date, Stella Porter.

Next, Yates has a great fantasy of doing him in her office, then he resigns from the case, and they have sex again. The plot really is that miniscule, leaving about 26 of the 30 minutes for simulated sex. We get a good enough look at Porter to see that she is wearing a crotch patch, and Yates shows some bush, along with breasts and buns. Some of the lighting was interesting, but the sex scenes were rather boring. This is a C. Uninspired Skinemax fare.

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  • Kim Yates (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44)

  • Stella Porter (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12)


    Tricheurs (1984) is a French drama about a compulsive gambler, his switch from losing to cheating, and the woman who wants to save him from it. Bulle Ogier, as the love interest, shows breasts during and after the one sex scene. The game he is addicted to, and chooses to cheat at, is roulette. While the film does portray the power of a gambling addiction, I just didn't buy most of the plot. First, I don't see why Ogier would bother with him. His addiction keeps him penniless, and, when he looses, which is nearly every night, he treats her like dirt.

    He goes on a worldwide tour of casinos with another gambler who teaches him one method of cheating, but the two manage to loose everything they win by cheating. In the end, things don't turn out the way Ogier planned.

    IMDB readers have this at 5.7 of 10. It was written and directed by Steve Baës, who adapted it from his own novel by the same name. I didn't see anything here to bring me back. I also couldn't really tell if it was a drama or a romance. Either way, I didn't understand the character's motivations. C-.

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  • Bulle Ogier (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8)

  • Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy)

    Tough Guys Don't Dance (1987)

    I admire Norman Mailer's work. I need to get that out of the way before I start taking a few shots at this movie. Mailer is the only man ever to win Pulitzers for both fictional and non-fictional books, and is one of our country's most esteemed men of letters as well as one of the most creative and articulate thinkers of the post-war era.

    I also have found him to be an agreeable person. Many people say that he's a jerk, but I once had a brief encounter with him, and he proved not to be a jerk at all.

    I was living in Norway when his CIA novel, Harlot's Ghost, came out. Always anticipating a new Mailer book, and especially this one, I had some American friends mail me a copy the day it was available. Although it is an exceedingly long work, I read it in a single weekend, really liked it, and was shocked to see that The New York Times Book Review had given it a bad review. I think I've only written two letters to the editor in my life, and this event prompted one of them. I criticized the appropriate editor of the Times, not for the fact that the review was unfavorable, because we will never have universal accord on such matters, but for the fact that they assigned John Simon, the New York Times drama critic, to write the book review. It seemed to me at the time that the most respected paper in the world, at least according to some, had the obligation to assign a literary heavyweight to review a much-ballyhooed 1400 page tome by an acclaimed author of near-legendary status. Their assignment of Simon was baffling to me. He always seemed to me like the kind of drama critic that would have panned a Strindberg play because he didn't like the actresses' make-up and the lighting effects. Not only was John Simon a poor choice because of his lack of credentials, but he had a conflict of interest as well. Simon had written some acerbic comments about Mailer's actress daughter, and had recently exchanged some angry words with both daughter and father, as I recall (perhaps imperfectly).

    I sure as hell ain't any man of letters, but if I had been in the undoubtedly fashionable shoes of the Times editor, I would have felt the need to compete on at least the same elevated level of prestige as their prime competitor, The Washington Post, whose Book World editor had assigned Anthony Burgess to review Mailer's book. That's Anthony Fucking Burgess to you, another man who had succeeded brilliantly in both fiction and non-fiction, as the author of A Clockwork Orange and other acclaimed novels, as well as scholarly analyses of the works of James Joyce. Now I ask you, if you were the Times editor, and the Post had contracted Burgess to review a new book, wouldn't you take that pretty damned seriously? I think you would have been going through your Rolodex to see if you had any contacts who might have a line on Rushdie, or Eco, or Pynchon, or some other comparable heavyweight. Pan the book if you care to, but at least establish the proper level for the dialogue to take place!

    Personally, I thought it was a terrific book. Despite its length, it was a quick read as a Clancyesque work of espionage and intrigue, but it was also a serious meditation on the ebb and flow of American values, as reflected in, or perhaps sometimes subverted by, the country's top intelligence agency. 

    When I sent that letter off to the Times, I also sent off a copy to Mailer's publisher. Then I forgot about it. I figured the Times would never publish the letter, since it was quite long, and since I was actually criticizing the person who made the decision about which letters to publish. Not to mention the fact that my writing style was probably at a level of suckitude unacceptable to high-falutin' literary muckity-mucks. But at least I felt better, having gotten my whining and sniveling out of my system.

    A couple of weeks later I opened a hand-addressed envelope at my apartment in Norway. There was no return address. As I scanned immediately to the signature beneath the body, I saw that Mailer himself had written me a thoughtful hand-signed letter which clearly demonstrated that he had read my entire essay. I think my hands were trembling as I went through it. What a feeling to see a letter signed "Norman Mailer". He's basically a good guy.

    Now that I have cleared that off the table, let the carnage begin.

    On to the movie version of "Tough Guys Don't Dance"

    Point One: I just can't understand the way these characters think.

    In an early scene, we see Ryan O'Neal in a state of complete alcoholic despondence because his wife has left him.

    Now here's the situation: O'Neal played an ex-con who was sweeping floors and bartending when he was wooed by a beautiful, bitchy, rich woman he had known and pleasured in the past. Eventually, she left him, her former chauffeur, walked out the door with a her new chauffeur (the guy from The Mod Squad!) and the promise of new sexual adventures.

    O'Neal's reaction: despair. Each day he writes a number in shaving cream on his bathroom mirror, representing the number of days since she left. His male ego is shattered. Women are a prize which men compete for, and he had just become an official loser, probably having lost his wife to someone better, someone with a much bigger dick

    My reaction would have been: joy. Just a few months earlier he had been a penniless ex-con. Now he would get half of his wife's wealth if they divorced, or possibly even all of it if she got herself killed. He was rid of a bitchy, castrating woman. He had a glamorous retreat in Provincetown, a lean athlete's body, and he looked a lot like Ryan O'Neal, who most women seem to find pretty easy on the eyes, so he wouldn't be lonely for long. The rest of his life was going to be a non-stop party, even though just a few months earlier he had been sweeping the floors in the local bar.

    How do you relate to a movie when you simply can't make any sense of the way people behave? To me, everyone in this film seemed to be from another planet, one with life-forms similar to ours in appearance, but with different behavioral traits. I couldn't understand why any of the characters did the things they did, or said the things they said. I have never met anyone like a single character in this film. Anything relating to homosexual men is weak and cowardly. Women are sought out merely as trophies, or as evidence of one man's power over another. (Me take your woman. Food good. Fire bad.) Heterosexual men come together only to square off and prove which of them is the alpha male.

    Point Two: the dialogue is unrealistic.

    In general, Mailer's writing is very rhetorical. At the edge of the envelope, his words resonate with Churchillian eloquence, and soar majestically above ordinary prose. When he leaves the envelope, however, his words can seem artificial and overblown, edging perilously close to self-parody. In a novel, one may disguise lofty rhetoric in many ways, by subsuming it within an omniscient narrator's voice, for example. In a movie, narration is generally ineffective. Everything, character development and the exposition of ideas alike, has to be done with dialogue and pictures. I have never heard people speak the kinds of lines the characters speak in this film. People just don't talk like this.

    • “I see ghosts all around me… they say ‘dance for me’… I say ‘tough guys don’t dance’… they say ‘keep dancing’…”
    • "Oh, is daddy mad at brand new red hot mama?"
    • "Are you just gonna sit there and tickle my stick?"
    • "Hey, why don't you do me a favor? Drink my piss!"
    • "I like marijuana, especially home grown. It puts feathers on my ass."
    • "The blood coagulated with a ripple."
    • "Oh man, oh God! Oh man, oh God! Oh man, oh God! Oh man, oh God! Oh man, oh God!"


    Point Three: the "mystery" doesn't work because of clumsy exposition.

    At one point, Ryan O'Neal is warned by the new Chief of Police (Wings Hauser, playing a tall Dr Evil with a full head of hair, every bit the Doc, right down to the flamboyant hand gestures) to move his marijuana stash, because the state troopers are on to him and he is, after all, an ex-con. Ryan goes out to the mysterious spot in the woods where he's hidden his marijuana, and finds a human female head there.

    Now let's recap the action, shall we? Hauser is new to town, yet he knows that O'Neal has that cache of dope deep in the woods. More than just knowing about it, Wings must have actually been there, because he obviously must have sent O'Neal out there to find the head, not to check on his dope. Yet Hauser could never have found that place on his own, not even with a map. It was nothing more than a rock in the forest. Lift up the rock, there is a hole underneath it. No way you could ever find it unless you knew which specific rock in the State of Massachusetts to look under. Even if you went there once with someone else, you could never find it again. O'Neal's wife is missing. There was another blond woman in town, in O'Neal's house and car and bed, the night that O'Neal's car was covered with blood.

    What do you think happened? 

    Obviously, O'Neal's wife told Hauser about the stash, and actually took him out there personally at the very time when the head was placed there. That is the only way Hauser could have known the place existed, and the only way he could have found it. Therefore, it is probably not the wife's head, since Hauser had to have some other reason to get the wife out there in the first place. Therefore, it is the head of the other blond woman, and that woman must have been killed by either Hauser or O'Neal's wife. It's more obvious than Colonel Mustard in the conservatory with a candlestick. Well, that is the mystery, or at least the start of it, but it is all completely transparent from the outset. The script tries to offer a decoy by suggesting that O'Neal may have killed that woman in one of his "black-outs" (people surely black out a lot in moviedom), but that was never a possibility because of the other elements, like Hauser knowing about it. The exposition problem was exacerbated by the fact that the O'Neal character couldn't seem to figure out the obvious points I just made. You'd think that even a complete moron in a constant state of inebriation would think, "Hey, why did ol' Wings send me out there? He knew there was something wrong. Hey, how could he know that? And how could he know where the location actually was?

    Instead of reasoning all that out, O'Neal goes home to bed. While he tosses and turns, a woman's voice repeats again and again on the sound track, "Whose head it it?" That was just downright goofy, not to mention the fact that the recurring dream-voice is a technique that went out of style about midway through 1927, about a week or two after the first talkies started to appear.

    Mailer needed another way to tell this story. Perhaps the narrative structure could have been re-edited so that the transparent phony-baloney mystery would not have been important. The narrative now begins in the middle, proceeds to O'Neal's flashbacks (including flashbacks within flashbacks), then starts to progress forward until other characters start flashing back to fill in the details that O'Neal didn't know. I thought that narrative structure might have been unwieldy, and inimical to focusing on the correct elements,

    Point Four: the "mystery" doesn't work because the musical score thwarts any development of tension.

    I won't belabor this point, because it's not clear to me when the musical score was meant to underscore the tension and when it was meant to be dripping with irony. Perhaps all the things I am about to mention were done in the interest of genre parody or black comedy. That is a distinct possibility. But just for the record:

    • when O'Neal hears noises downstairs and creeps down with a crowbar in hand, the musical score plays some "Sylvester sneaking up on Tweety" music.
    • the syrupy musical theme in the opening credits seems to foreshadow a classic yarn in the style of old-fashioned Hollywood, ala The Betsy or The Prince of Tides. I guess there is some of that in this film, but it is more like a noir comedy, or perhaps a parody of noir.

    Let me iterate that I may be off base. That music may have been irony which I assumed to be fecklessness. Hell, maybe that defense works for the entire movie, I don't know, but the whole thing seemed really odd to me, and I could never tell when Mailer was taking himself seriously. The same defense could certainly be offered for the dialogue. Same with the acting. Some of it was way over-the-top, and I'd be surprised if any scenery survived this filming without significant teeth marks, but I hesitate to criticize that for two reasons: (1) Mailer's dialogue is very difficult to deliver credibly. Pretend you're an actor and have to say the lines quoted above. You'll see what I mean. (2) they may have been overacting on purpose in order to deliver the satire, and/or to get the Gothic feeling that Mailer was looking for.

    So maybe it's all a very clever joke that I just didn't get

    Point Five: the last twenty seconds are just too weird for words.

    And frankly, I don't know what the finale was supposed to mean. I know it was supposed to be creepy and ambiguous, but mainly it was just bizarre and incomprehensible.


    Does the movie have strengths?

    Yes, some.

    • I loved the scene near the end where O'Neal and his dad (played by veteran character actor Lawrence Tierney, who was the best thing about the movie in general) took five bodies far from shore in a small boat and unloaded them one by one into the wine-dark and fog-shrouded sea, joking and bonding all the while. Neither of them killed any of the five people, by the way, but it was just easiest to clean everything up. Long story. Watch the movie to see the details. That particular scene was worthy of Tarantino in terms of juxtaposing everyday banter and violent grotesquerie in a spectacularly cinematic setting, and it featured the only relationship in the movie that seemed to be genuine, that between the father and son.
    • Mailer came up with some excellent photographic composition of some very atmospheric locales. He was no expert on camera movement, but he might have learned to be a director if he had made that his exclusive desire.

    You know, there was the core of a decent movie here. It had to decide whether it wanted to be genre or genre parody (I vote for pure parody), and it had to revise the narrative structure so that the non-mysterious mystery wasn't an element of plot focus, but given those elements, Mailer might have been able to make a good flick with a couple more million dollars and a couple more months.

    Even as it is, Tough Guys is still fascinating. It is not in the "so bad it's good" category, but it can be called "so horrifying that it's fascinating",  Norman Mailer's staged train wreck. By that I mean that you will react to this film exactly the way rubberneckers react to violent derailment wreckage by the roadside. You will feel that you should turn your head away, but you won't be able to. I agree with Tuna's C-.

    • Deborah Sandlund (1, 2)
    • Katrina Marshall (1, 2, 3)






    • Updated volumes: Deborah Caprioglio



    Hey Scoop, I had just picked up Behind Bedroom Doors and also The Mummy's Kiss, before I read your review (of BBD) yesterday.
    Your review was accurate, but failed to mention the poor acting in general and some of the worst dialog I've heard. Does anyone say "Let this remain among friends?" One of the characters kept repeating the line "What do you mean?" as in "Pay me $100,000 or I'll tell your wife, "..."What do you mean?" He must have said it on 5 or 6 different occasions.

    I've never understood why soft-core movies that already have an R-Rating for nudity, skimp on delivering really good nude scenes. There were pubes shown in a girl-girl-boy scene, and frontal nudity in the scene you mentioned.  Why not from the other actresses as well?

    The Mummy's Kiss had the look of an Unrated movie cut down to R for video outlets like Hollywood and BB. There were just too many cutaways and incomplete scenes to think this is the version intended.  Although there were some nice costumes, frontal nudity was very limited. From watching this movie, you would conclude that the only students that take archeology and history in college are mini-skirted coeds who drop their tops at every possible occasion, including school hallways and classrooms.  If it were only so.


    Hey Scoop,

    You'll probably get a hundred e-mails saying so, but the Oracles are wrong about Potsie if you include TV work with films. Anson Williams has never been involved in theatrical films at all according to the IMDB, even directing work (his primary career since Happy Days). If you include TV work, you have to include the Happy Days appearances of film folks like Penny Marshall and Robin Williams...both with Arnie and Bacon scores of 2, giving Potsie a rather low score of 3 to both. In other news, I -really- should get a life.

    Keep up the good work,



  • :: MAXIM ONLINE :: Sword Swallowing: "Whether your girl is a little reluctant or just plain hates going downtown, we give you some tips on how to make your leaning tower her favorite destination"

  • An Explanation of l33t Speak. I'm working on my new dictionary to translate Snizzle to l33t to Pirate. I believe that if Jack Sparrow, Snoop Dogg, and online gamers can live together in peace then, gosh darn it, so can we all.

  • SYLVESTER Stallone - who's directing 'Thugz Lives,' a movie about the murders of Biggie Smalls and Tupac Shakur - likens their deaths to the assassinations of the Kennedys. 'It's like the JFK conspiracy to the black culture,'" says Sly

  • retroCRUSH tribute to the Landers sisters

  • "Increasingly, we are seeing evidence that Saddam Hussein intentionally created the false impression that he was somehow responsible for 9/11 in order to confuse seventy percent of the American people, the President said." That must have been right after he sent out those double agents to make Bush think he had WMD! Little did he know he was on double secret probation at the time.

  • Six trailers for The Matrix: Revolutions

  • a brief history of newspaper comics

  • Robert Altman movie comes true. The new fall fashion? A completely bare bum.

  • Ronald Reagan's letters show that he thought sex was evil. Ronald Reagan wrote letters? I'm impressed that he even knew the alphabet. A sample: "Dear Mr. Senators. I don't know anything about those Iron Contras! Are they the tag team with Volkoff and the Sheik? Your friend, Gipper"

  • National unemployment figures to plunge - J-Lo to hire back 100,000 hangers-on to console her.

  • Dave Barry - on The Great Outdoors

  • TV 101 - Everything you always wanted to know about the tube

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  • Heather Carolin, Playmate of April 2002, Free Nude Gallery Courtesy of!

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

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    • 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.

    More Emmy Awards Stuff
    A few collages by DAI from last night's Emmy Awards.

    'Caps and comments by Dann:

    "Anger Management"
    Cute but sometimes draggy comedy about a man who winds up sentenced to anger management class after a series of mishaps not really of his own making. Jack Nicholson was brilliant as the absolutely looney tunes shrink in charge of the class.

    While there was no nudity, Heather Graham, Krista Allen and January Jones all had cool scenes in some very sexy outfits.

    As promised...part 2 of TomKru's very thorough coverage of Deborah Caprioglio's nudity in the Tinto Brass movie "Paprika" (1989).

    Once again we see breasts, bums, bush, close ups, strap-ons, gyno-views...everything from pretty much every angle!

    Keira Knightley
    (1, 2)

    Great bootleg 'caps by Zorg of the Brit actress in scenes from "Pirates of the Caribbean. Link #1 features her wet and showing some see-thru pokies.

    Odessa Munroe Showing off her jumbo-jacks in a completely gratuitous topless scene from "Final Destination 2".

    Anna Falchi The paparazzi catch the model and star of Italian cinema letting a nipple slip. Thanks to Squiddy.

    Heidi von Palleske
    (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12)

    Topless and gettin' it on with the "Soul Man", C. Thomas Howell. Vidcaps by Señor Skin featuring love scenes from the grade D movie, "Cybercity" (1999).