"Leaving Scars"

Leaving Scars (1997) is a freshman effort from writer/producer Marc Johnson and director Brad Jacques. It is billed as an action thriller, but is sort of two films in one. Lisa Boyle is an almost recognizable actress on the cusp of her big break, and sleazy produces are trying their best to work her. She is also a total self-absorbed bitch and a cake-head. A friend slips her a floppy disk at a party. After she sees her boyfriend in bed with another woman, she passes out in the bathroom, and wakes up next to a male guest who also passed out. She learns that the friend that passed her the disk is now dead, and people are after her for it. Unfortunately, she has lost it. She more or less partners with the other bathroom sleeper, Robin Downs, to survive, ad find the disk. Meanwhile, we are introduced to a dizzying array of underworld characters, and the people they screw literally and figuratively.

After act two, they kill off several characters and do 5 minutes of exposition, take a deep breath, and head into act three, where Boyle finally disrobes in a sex scene with Downs. She shows breasts and buns, as do an unknown in the opening scene, Elaine O'Meara as an assassin/hooker, and Michelle Smith as a porno actress.

This was a first effort from a fledging film company, and deserves some slack. They had essentially no budget, and imposed on friends and family for locations and extras in the Boston area. Total principle photography lasted 14 days, with a different location or more each day. The producer and director them flew to LA for 5 days to film enough establishing material to set the film in LA, and even used the same house that was used in Body Double. They stole all the shots, and never paid for a permit. The road to selling the finished film was a difficult one, and, at the time the DVD commentary was recorded, they had not yet broken even. They spend a lot of time in the commentary talking about things they would do differently, and pointing out flaws in the film. They also order and eat a pizza, chewing into the mikes.

IMDB readers have this at 4.4 of 10. There were enough ideas here for a good action/thriller film about the floppy disk, or a character driven piece about Boyle's character, her problems, and her reach for stardom. Trying to squeeze both into the same film was not a good idea. There were just too many characters, and some of the plot twists were too easily predictable. There was a lot of tinted lighting used, and some filters were also applied in post production, so very little had natural colors. There is little about it on the net, and probably deserves to be forgotten, but I hope they recouped their investment, at least, as they are not without ability. The two made a second film, also staring Boyle, that is listed at 2.2. This film is not awful, it is just not good. It looks a lot like what it was, a no budget first effort, but it managed to entertain me in parts. D+.

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  • Elaine O'Meara (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)

  • Lisa Boyle (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)

  • Michelle Smith (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17)

  • Unknown (1, 2, 3, 4)

  • Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy)

    Chattahoochee (1989):

    Chattahoochee is a grimly realistic tale of prison reform.

    Gary Oldman plays a Korean War Hero who develops some mental problems after he gets home to Florida. One day he just steps outside and starts discharging his handgun and yelling for his neighbors to call the police. The stand-off with the police eventually results in his shooting himself in an unsuccessful suicide attempt. These actions eventually land him in a brutal state institution for the criminally insane, where he eventually becomes a crusader for prisoner's rights, better conditions, and various necessary reforms.

    The film came and went without attracting much attention. The subject matter has been thoroughly covered by other films, and Chattahoochee really had nothing new to add except perhaps that it was based on a true story. There's nothing really wrong with the movie. It's well acted by the leads, including such respected names as Gary Oldman and Frances McDormand, and it's fairly well edited and paced as well. There's just nothing very new.

    There is one credibility problem in the casting. How can you relate to a movie which requires the audience to be convinced that Dennis Hopper is NOT insane? Hopper is muttering and fidgeting and rolling his eyes about as shiftily as ever, but the script requires us to think that he is being held in a mental institution unfairly. 

    Ned Beatty plays the requisite evil warden of the institution, which was convenient for him because he always enjoys canoeing in that part of the world, as well as working with toothless rednecks both on and off the set. Ah, the memories!

    Chattahoochee was director Mick Jackson's first theatrical effort after more than a decade of TV work. The film was directed well enough to attract the attention of some significant people in Hollywood, and Jackson picked up some major projects in the next two years, like L.A. Story and The Bodyguard, which were written by some major players - Steve Martin and Lawrence Kasdan, respectively. His collaboration with Martin was a winner, but unfortunately Jackson could never again come close to the peak he achieved in L.A. Story, and most of his projects in the past decade have been either for TV or of TV quality. Or worse, in the case of Volcano.

    1. (6.80) - L.A. Story (1991)
    2. (5.63) - First $20 Million Is Always the Hardest, The (2002)
    3. (5.57) - Chattahoochee (1989)
    4. (5.55) - Clean Slate (1994)
    5. (5.21) - Bodyguard, The (1992)
    6. (5.21) - Volcano (1997)

    There are plenty of naked men (including a frontal from Gary Oldman), but there's no female nudity in this film. I watched Chattahoochee because a guy who worked as an extra told me that Frances McDormand did a nude scene in this flick, which was filmed back when she was still a young babe. Unfortunately, that scene is on the cutting room floor somewhere. It wasn't the only thing cut. There are several scenes in the trailer that aren't in the movie! Apparently the director pared out lots of flashbacks to the war and to the earlier, happier days of Oldman's marriage, thus focusing more tightly on the prison story. So it goes.



    Wonderland (2003):

    This is our weekend for as-yet-unreleased Val Kilmer movies

    Wonderland is a recreation of the 1981 Wonderland murders, in which a famous Hollywood mobster named Eddie Nash was alleged to have ordered the murder of some small-time crime figures and their women as retribution for their having robbed him. The grisly case (the victims were bludgeoned to death with tire irons) attained an extra measure of fame because one of the accomplices to the murder was said to have been John Holmes, the biggest star in the history of porn (in more ways than one). Holmes's bloody handprint was found on the scene.

    The incident was portrayed fictionally in the second half of the notable P. T. Anderson film, Boogie Nights. The Mark Wahlberg character was based on Holmes. The Alfred Molina character was based on Nash. 

    Holmes eventually claimed to have been present and to have participated unwillingly in the murders, supposedly forced by Nash to participate because of Holmes's putative involvement with the earlier robbery. At one point, Holmes was tried and acquitted on the murder counts. Holmes went to his grave in 1988, a victim of AIDS-related illness, without ever admitting to voluntary participation in the events. Since Holmes was generally acknowledged to be a compulsive liar, nobody knows if any of his versions of the story were true.

    Although Nash was never convicted of involvement in the Wonderland murders, he was indicted on federal RICO charges in 2000, and reached a plea bargain in 2001, which the US Attorney announced as follows: "After pleading guilty to federal charges of leading a racketeering enterprise and conspiring to commit the notorious “Wonderland murders,” Eddie Nash was sentenced this afternoon to 37 months in federal prison. A plea agreement between the government and Nash was unsealed today, revealing that the defendant has agreed to fully cooperate with federal, state and local authorities who are continuing to investigate Nash’s racketeering enterprise and other criminal conduct of which Nash has knowledge. John Curtis Holmes, the pornographic film star ... was a member of Nash’s narcotics trafficking enterprise, and ... orchestrated the robbery of Nash that led to the murder conspiracy." Unfortunately, that tantalizing revelation was to be the last public access to Nash's confessions to this date, and the public has still not seen Nash's specific statements about Holmes.

    The film gives two versions of the robbery/murder sequence. The first is told by a member of the Wonderland Gang, the only one who escaped death because he wasn't in the house on the night that Nash's minions arrived. The second version is related by Holmes himself (Val Kilmer). The audience cannot be sure what to believe, because both men are notorious for their inability to tell the truth, but the film concludes with a "objective" version of the murders, a scene which must represent the filmmakers' personal conclusions about what really happened.

    Unfortunately, the film makes one very major factual error or misstatement (the filmmakers probably felt justified under the guise of dramatic license). It shows a bloody, tearful Holmes washing himself off in his wife's bathtub after the murders. She thinks at first that he has been hurt, but then realizes that the blood is somebody else's. Presented in the film as if from an omniscient narrator, it represents damning physical evidence to support Holmes's participation, and it must have been reported by Holmes's ex-wife, who was a disinterested third party to the crimes, and the only other person in the room. Right? Only one problem. The incident never occurred. Holmes did make the famous bathtub confession to his ex-wife, but he did so three weeks after the murders.  Therefore, there was obviously no blood involved, and without that physical evidence, it was just another John Holmes story, no more or less reliable than any of the many other versions he told over the years. The film is not a documentary, so it has the right to some license in the interest of compression, art, and comprehensibility, but it was leading us to believe that the last version was the truth, and I don't think that was an appropriate time to fictionalize the actual events.

    I'd love to know what Nash has told the law enforcement people in the process of his co-operation with the 2000 indictment.

    Although it's a bit show-offy in terms of technique, the movie is skillfully made. It is also unrelentingly ugly and grim. It is a sordid telling and re-telling of incidents involving people taking vast quantities of drugs, living in squalor, and committing ugly and violent acts upon one another. It's ugly non-stop. The final portrayal of the killings, the objective version, is brutally honest and honestly brutal, almost at the level of Irreversible.

    The grotesque drug-addled lives of the participants are enhanced by speed-ups, multiple images, sudden changes in saturation and lighting, a grainy shot-on-video newsreel feel, and other techniques designed to draw the audience deeper into the lives of the people portrayed. Those people are uniformly unpleasant and evil. It is not possible to sympathize with Eddie during his humiliation in the robbery, because he's the biggest scumbag in L.A. It's not really possible to sympathize with the murder victims, despite the brutality of their slaughter, because they are not far below Eddie on the scumbaggery scale. In fact, they more evil than Eddie, albeit less successful at turning evil into profit. There are really no major characters that are attractive or likeable in any way, although Holmes's girlfriend and ex-wife are portrayed as innocent victims of his crazed lifestyle, and one does feel for them.

    The truth does justify the ugliness of the portrayal, and I support that in theory, but that doesn't mean I liked watching it. I didn't. I wish I hadn't. I admired a lot of what the director accomplished, but I never got involved in the film at all.

    Although it is a movie about a porn star with one of the biggest working schlongs in history, it has minimal nudity. Val Kilmer shows his butt. Kate Bosworth only shows the side of her hips, and even then  no face is in the frame.



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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.
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    Vejiita takes a look a nude cinema favorite, the 1998 movie "Denial" aka "Something About Sex".
    • Hudson Leick aka 'The Evil Callisto' from "Xena" topless in one of the best sex scenes scenes ever. (1, 2)

    • Leah Lail, best known as the nerdy sidekick from the Pam Anderson show "V.I.P.", in a brief topless scene. (1, 2)

    • Shawnee Free Jones, breasts and some rear nudity while gettin' it on. (1, 2)

    • Amy Yasbeck, showing serious pokies and some see-thru views. (1, 2)

    Janit Baldwin
    Sissy Spacek
    Angel Tompkins

    Scenes from the 1972 Lee Marvin/Gene Hackman movie, "Prime Cut" (1972).

    Baldwin goes full frontatl, Spacek bares all 3 B's in her first real movie, and Tompkins briefly bares her breasts.

    Eva Gelb
    Margot Werner
    (1, 2)

    Eva shows off her nipples, and Werner is topless while gettin' it on in scenes from the German movie "Lieb Vaterland magst ruhig sein" (1976).

    Sarandon Susan Sarandon looks absolutely fantastic topless in scenes from the 1978 movie "Pretty Baby".

    Julia Nickson-Soul
    (1, 2)

    The ex-wife of "Starsky and Hutch" star David Soul briefly going topless in scenes from "Amityville: A New Generation" (1993).

    Nora-Jane Noone Full frontal nudity from "The Magdalene Sisters".

    Jewel The singer/songwriter/poet and sometimes actress showing off one of her many new looks in a recent video. Fortunately for us, this look features very nice cleavage and tight t-shirts.

    Tia Carrere The star of "Wayne's World", "True Lies" and the syndicated series "Relic Hunter" bending over and giving us one helluva down blouse view at a Glamour magazine press thingie.

    Tamara Tunie Topless in scenes from the 1997 Keanu Reeves movie, "The Devil's Advocate".

    Leticia Brédice
    (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9)

    Very lovely, soapy breast views in Señor Skin 'caps from the Spanish movie "En la ciudad sin límites" aka "The City of No Limits" (2002).