• Charlie's French Cinema Nudity Site is updated.


X-Men: The Last Stand (2006):

The Last Stand concludes the X-Man trilogy, or perhaps I should say the FIRST X-Men trilogy, in spectacular fashion. Humans have found a "cure" for the mutant gene. They offer it to the mutant community. Magneto and his minions are offended, and declare war against humanity. The X-Men end up siding with the humans. It all comes to a head in a spectacular battle sequence on Alcatraz Island, which has been made easily accessible by Magneto's having relocated the Golden Gate Bridge.

Usual stuff.

The wild card is that Jean is no longer presumed dead, and has morphed into a stronger incarnation of herself called Dark Phoenix, the most powerful mutant ever, possessing powers which Professor X had previously hidden in her subconscious, but which her near-death experience has brought to the surface. Both Professor X and Magneto are interested in her, each for his own set of reasons.

The film really has only one major weakness. It allows the usually brilliant and calculating Magneto to become less than what he has been. No longer is he the leader of an oppressed minority. Now he's a genocidal maniac, the same thing that he once accused humans of. He's not even rational. At no time in this film do the normal humans ever suggest that the mutants are required to take the magic potion. They are simply offered a choice. If the screenplay had been developed properly, Magneto would have first become paranoid that humans would eventually make it mandatory, and would then have been set into action by some foolish human actions which confirmed his fears. Instead of following that course, the film has Magneto become offended that science would even create such a concoction in the first place. Frankly, that's bullshit. The concoction offered mutants the choice to stay mutants or to become human. Many of the mutants (Rogue and Jean, to name two) were unhappy as mutants and considered their powers a curse. Others considered their mutated genes to be an intrinsic part of their nature, and a step in human evolution, and were happy with their status. In theory, the magic potion left them all free to pursue their own destiny, their own happiness. The only mistake made by the humans was to call the elixir a "cure," thus implying that mutants were merely sick humans rather than coexisting equals. That was certainly offensive to the mutants, but they over-reacted dramatically. After all, if some mutants would rather be human, well, why should the other mutants prevent that? In fact, if they liked the power involved in being mutant, they should encourage as many mutants as possible to turn human, because that would leave the remaining ones with more power, relatively speaking, since there would be fewer powerful beings to oppose them.

If the film had been concocted from a recipe a bit more to my liking, it would have had fewer characters and more screen time for the important, eloquent and amusing main characters. Wolverine could have been sassier, for example, and Magneto more thoughtful. But I think it's fine as it is, just not exactly as I would have preferred it. It actually out-performed the previous two at the box office, so movie audiences obviously took to it.

For some bizarre reason which I don't really understand, but obviously unrelated to the quality of the movie itself, there is a dedicated cadre of X3 haters out there. Check out these IMDb scores:


X-Men 1 X-Men 2 X-Men 3
% of voters awarding tens 12.1 21.3 21.1
% of voters awarding ones 0.9 1.2 4.3
Overall score 7.3 7.9 7.0


4.3% of the voters, nearly 2000 people, have decided that the proper score for X-Men 3 is 1/10. What is that all about? Are they people who have never seen any other movies? Are they Bryan Singer's relatives? Are they people who just have to hate? Are they hard-core comic fans disappointed that the film didn't follow the same storyline as the source material? Who the hell can say. The one thing you can conclude is that they are simply not rational thinkers. They have allowed some emotional issue, whatever it might be, to cloud their reason.

The final chapter in the X-Men saga is more or less indistinguishable from the previous two. As you can see from the "percentage of tens" in the table above, it inspires about the same amount of true love as the second one, and much more than the first.

The complete summary chart for the series is as follows:

X-Men 1 X-Men 2 X-Men 3
Ebert  2.5 3 3
Berardinelli 3 3 3
Yahoo voters B+ B+ B+
IMDb voters 7.3 7.9 7.0
% of tens at  IMDb 12% 21% 21%
% of positive reviews (RT) 80% 87% 57%
Per 100, average review (Metacritic) 64 68 58
Domestic box office ($M) 157 215 234
Foreign box office ($M) 139 192 221

I guess I'm about in the same boat as Ebert. I don't see any dramatic decline from #2 to #3, and I like both of them better than the first one. All three are more than simply genre pictures, but are good entertainment pictures in general.

Is this really "the last stand"? Of course not.

  • First of all, look at the box office results. Studios do not abandon blockbuster franchises which are grossing more with every film. You think they can just afford to leave all that money on the table?
  • Second, watch the ending credits of this film and see if you think Magneto and Professor X have met for the last time.

Look for a Wolverine solo film, and as many other X-Men films as the cast will agree to.


Rebecca Romijn. Oh, sure I like Wolverine, But here's my favorite mutant right here.


V For Vendetta (2006):

Mr T's contribution yesterday got me to drive to Blockbuster and look at this DVD. Here are some more captures from the film:

Natalie Portman

As for the movie ....

All of these groups are rating the same movie:

  • British critics 33/100
  • Metacritic 62/100
  • IMDb top 1000 voters: 7.2/10
  • IMDb overall: 8.3/10 (top 150 of all time)

So it's either a laughably bad movie, or a mediocre movie, or a solid performer, or one of the greatest movies ever made. Take your pick.

It has been my observation that there are certain types of movies which are invariably overrated:

  • 1. Mediocre movies which passionately present a point of view that the reviewer passionately agrees with. (The Life of David Gale Syndrome). Scoop's First Law states that there is no harder film to evaluate than a heavy-handed one which has a viewpoint you wholeheartedly support. Every fiber of your being wants to praise it.
  • 2. Mediocre movies which are created by people customarily acknowledged to be geniuses. (Eyes Wide Shut Syndrome.)
  • 3. Mediocre movies which are remembered fondly from childhood. (The Return of the Jedi Syndrome)

V for Vendetta qualifies, to some extent or another, on multiple criteria, thus causing it to be wildly overrated by certain audiences. Let us take, for example, the ratings given to this film by voters who are either of high school age (9.0) or college age (8.4). The film is a thinly-disguised attack on the various follies of the Bush administration, and it was produced by the Wachowski brothers, creators of the Matrix films, and directed by their hand-picked assistant. In addition, it has the trappings of an intelligent movie, or at least one for intellectuals: faux-poetic dialogue, romanticized ideology, imaginative settings, a larger-than-life hero, literary allusions, vague historical references, quotes from Shakespeare, and so forth. Mining the rich vein of Bush hatred with flowery speeches and half-baked idealism, it is just about the perfect movie to be overrated by the young.

Does that mean that the British critics were right and it's a bad movie? Not at all. The British critics were, in my opinion, far too harsh. It has some irritating elements which really got under their skin. For one thing, its viewpoint reflects the typical American stereotyping of U.K. denizens who, truth be told, sometimes do other things besides watching Benny Hill and quoting Shakespeare. For another, it features Americans and Australians portraying England and Englishmen, often with inauthentic perceptions and bad accents. It is not difficult to read  between the lines of these reviews:

The Observer:

There is a sub-genre of kitschy, dystopian science fiction that's been with us at least since Logan's Run 30 years ago and might well be called dystope-opera (or just dystopera). The latest example is V for Vendetta, adapted by the Wachowski Brothers from David Lloyd and Alan Moore's British cartoon strip and directed by an Australian, James McTeigue, who cut (or blunted) his teeth as an assistant on the Matrix series and on Star Wars II. An eclectic affair, it brings together Nineteen Eighty-Four and The Phantom of the Opera and garnishes them with references to 9/11, avian flu, 'collateral' and 'rendition' in a totalitarian future Britain.

The Guardian:

The British people are living in a state of resentful oppression and dental disrepair: and they are represented in various scenes by about a dozen or so Equity members, quaintly shown at the pub or in their prole front rooms, glumly watching the state television network on which propaganda is pumped out. V has a friend, ally and, who knows, perhaps even a beauty-and-the-beast-style love interest in a young woman called Evey - geddit? - a television researcher played by the reliably terrible Natalie Portman. Portman for some reason has a thin, wittering South African accent as Evey, which may have been superior to other thin, wittering accents she tried out in rehearsal.

V For Vendetta is such an odd mixture: partly naive post-punk posturing, betraying the original's 1981 origins, and partly well-meant (but very American) condescension towards London and Britain. Like tourists with a phrasebook, the Wachowskis get people to say "bollocks" a fair bit, and there is a pastiche of The Benny Hill Show. On the higher end of the cultural scale, V declaims Shakespeare, and in honour of Guy Fawkes's subversion in the age of James I, reels off lots of Macbeth. But he fails to quote the only appropriate lines: the ones about it being a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

Not all the criticism of the film was unjustified. V does indulge in the very demagoguery it condemns, painting the representatives of authority as either corrupt cynics or drooling idiots, casting everything in the world into black and white corners, oversimplifying every issue, and blatantly ripping off 1984. Moreover, it makes no effort to create a symbolic world which also makes sense in the real one. How does one man create so much havoc in a city of ten million people? Don't bother to try to figure out the practical details.

Here's a fact that tells you a lot about the avowed anarchist who wrote the story: "Alan Moore is a practicing magician and worships a Roman snake deity named Glycon." And that guy didn't cooperate with the film because, in his words:

One of the things I objected to in the recent film ... sort of recasting it as current American neo-conservatism vs. current American liberalism. I didn't want to stick to just moral blacks and whites. I wanted a number of the fascists I portrayed to be real rounded characters. They've got reasons for what they do. They're not necessarily cartoon Nazis. Some of them believe in what they do, some don't believe in it but are doing it any way for practical reasons. As for the central character of the anarchist, V himself, he is for the first two or three episodes cheerfully going around murdering people, and the audience is loving it. They are really keyed into this traditional drama of a romantic anarchist who is going around murdering all the Nazi bad guys. At which point I decided that that wasn't what I wanted to say. I actually don't think it's right to kill people. So I made it very, very morally ambiguous. And the central question is, is this guy right? Or is he mad?

In other words, an anarchist who worships a snake deity thought the script based upon his story was lacking in subtlety. Are you surprised that teenagers think it's a great movie?

To be honest, the film is neither a great film nor a bad one. My thoughts upon leaving the theater were these: "Well, that wasn't subtle or sophisticated, but it was completely different from any other movie I've seen in the past five years. Just the fact that it is not run-of-the-mill made it kind of a special experience."




Club Dread (Movie House Commentary). Terrific HDTV clip of Jordan Ladd. (Zipped .avi). You picked this as the fifth best nude scene of 2004. (2004 Rankings)

The Gift (Movie House Commentary). Terrific HDTV clip of Katie Holmes. (Zipped .avi) You picked this as the very best nude scene of 2000. (2000 Rankings)





Sex, gambling and computer game sites being abused by government employees with internet access.

"Lucasfilm is getting out of the movie biz."

How the HELL did this guy manage to stay on his surfboard?

Top 15 Movie Mistakes Illustrated

"Canada's Worst Driver"

Harvard to Stop Awarding Degrees to Advantaged Students

Trey Parker And Matt Stone Tipped To Be Target For North Korea Nuclear Test

6'2" Tamara Dobson, star of the Cleopatra Jones movies, has died

Candidate says, "Vote for anyone but me." The reluctant candidate continued, "Well, maybe not ANYone. Not Nader, for example, but anyone who isn't a douchebag."

From our "yeah, right" department: Bust-Up chewing gum can 'enhance breasts'


The trailer for The Nativity Story (I think you know what this is about.)

The trailer for Blood Diamond - HD

  • Set against the backdrop of the chaos and civil war that enveloped 1990s Sierra Leone, "Blood Diamond" is the story of Danny Archer (Leonardo DiCaprio), a South African mercenary, and Solomon Vandy (Djimon Hounsou), a Mende fisherman. Both men are African, but their histories and their circumstances are as different as any can be—until their fates become joined in a common quest to recover a rare pink diamond that can transform their lives. While in prison for smuggling, Archer learns that Solomon—who was taken from his family and forced to work in the diamond fields—has found and hidden the extraordinary rough stone. With the help of Maddy Bowen (Jennifer Connelly), an American journalist whose idealism is tempered by a deepening connection with Archer, the two men embark on a trek through rebel territory. More than a search for a valuable diamond, the journey could save Solomon's family and give Archer the second chance he thought he would never have.

The trailer for 300 ... (Haven't seen the movie, and don't know if I could handle 100 minutes of this, but this is a VERY cool trailer.)

  • Based on the epic graphic novel by Frank Miller, "300" is a ferocious retelling of the ancient Battle of Thermopylae in which King Leonidas (Gerard Butler) and 300 Spartans fought to the death against Xerxes and his massive Persian army. Facing insurmountable odds, their valor and sacrifice inspire all of Greece to unite against the Persian enemy, drawing a line in the sand for democracy. The film brings Miller's (Sin City) acclaimed graphic novel to life by combining live action with virtual backgrounds that capture his distinct vision of this ancient historic tale.

"An embarrassed Keith Richards says he was merely sitting on a tree stump rather than climbing up a lofty palm tree when he fell and hit his head."

"Foley Now Blames Behavior on Postpartum Depression"

  • "Like millions of Americans, I suffered from postpartum depression," said the embattled congressman, choking back tears. "Instead of seeking professional help, I self-medicated by sending instant messages to hot congressional pages."

Jacko wants to fill Foley's seat

  • As well as the seats of many of Foley's former acquaintances.
  • Jacko sees this as a chance to close one chapter of his life and turn over a new leaf. As soon as he gets to the bottom of the page.

Warriors in the Wind--cast paper sculpture by Allen Eckman



Movie Reviews:

Yellow asterisk: funny (maybe). White asterisk: expanded format. Blue asterisk: not mine. No asterisk: it probably sucks.


Bliss - Season Two

Medium Cool (1968) is a docudrama filmed in 1968 with the backdrop of the Democratic National Convention. I must have missed this when it was released, probably because I was on a merchant ship. I certainly remember the events depicted in the film. 1968 was not a stellar year for the USA. It started with the Tet Offensive, then Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King were assassinated. Lyndon Johnson, who couldn't make a personal appearance anywhere in the US without being drowned out by protestors, decided not to seek reelection. Of all the memorable occurrences of that year, my most vivid memory was democracy in action Richard Daley style. The counter-culture had decided to attempt influencing the Democratic convention, which had a strong peace candidate in McCarthy, with non-violent demonstrations. The National Guard went into intensive training to cope with the expected disruptions, and Daley turned the Guard and the local police loose on the demonstrators. The police and guardsmen went berserk, and brutalized everyone in sight.

Filmmaker Haskell Wexler chose to tell the story as a pseudo-documentary, incorporating some real footage of the time, and seen through the eyes of a fictional TV photojournalist (Robert Forster). The fictional overlay adds a minor theme about journalistic integrity, since the journalist is a totally dispassionate observer of what he is filming. The photographer also had a love interest, played by Verna Bloom, whom he chose over former girlfriend Marianna Hill, a nurse. Bloom plays a single mother of a young boy from Appalachia. As the love story develops, Forster is fired for turning over some outtakes to kids doing light shows, and filming material uncomplimentary to the FBI, which has been reviewing 100% of the film shot by newsmen. Finding out that the blacks he had interviewed were correct about him being a "fink" began to involve him in what he was seeing, as did Verna Bloom and her son. The ending is chillingly real.

The cast was superb, and there was a great deal of bravery involved in shooting this film in the middle of what was going on. Wexler had some insight into what was going to happen in Chicago, and elected to send his actors right into the thick of ground zero, achieving a remarkable blend of fiction and reality. The MPAA was told not to like it. They gave an X rating for language and nudity, but when Wexler offered to take out the language and nudity, they said that wouldn't help. The administration and Hoover's FBI were not about to let young people watch this film in 1969.

For me, this was an amazing piece of celluloid, bringing back all of the outrage and disbelief I experienced watching these events unfold over national television, even though the news was heavily censored. There is no way for me to rate this film impartially. Certainly my reaction speaks to its effectiveness. For those who, like me, lived through this, so many of the plot points will bring back memories. For those who don't know what I am talking about, this would be an excellent film to learn what happened there.

The entire idea was avant garde, and the film is an excellent example of what independent cinema can accomplish. The DVD includes a feature length commentary. I will call this a B-.

IMDb readers say 7.3. Ebert awarded 4 stars, which was typical of the critical reaction. 

For anyone interested in further reading on the 1968 Democratic Convention and its Republican counterpart, there is a great coffee table book of photography from David Douglas Duncan called Self-Portrait USA that is available used and reasonably priced at Amazon.



This is a brilliant photo essay contrasting the Democratic Convention in Chicago, and the Republican Convention on Miami Beach. If you are the sort of person who visits used book stores, you might watch for it there as well. Since it is oversized, it may well be affordable.


Marianna Hill does full frontal and rear nudity in a playful scene with Forster early in the film.



The Heist (1989)

The Heist is a made-for-HBO caper film staring Pierce Brosnan, Tom Skerrit and Wendy Hughes. Brosnan has just been released from prison after four years, and returns to the San Diego racetrack where he ran the security company with a partner (Tom Skeritt) who framed him for emerald smuggling. Not only did the partner frame him, but he stole his girl (Wendy Hughes) in the bargain. Brosnan swears revenge. At that point, everyone knows that he is going to rob the racetrack, and everyone, including a nosey cop, knows when. Can Brosnan stay a few steps ahead of them?

I am a complete sucker for heist films, especially the clever caper variety, and I think Skerrit is a natural villain, so I loved this film.

Let's call it a C- as a caper film. Genre lovers will enjoy it, others ... not so much.

IMDb says 5.9.

Wendy Hughes, in what you have to call a nip slip, shows her right breast from the side in a sex scene.








How long has PAL been gone? Long enough that I don't have a cute little logo for his column. It's great to have him back.

Here are his comments:

"Well Scoop, it's been a very, very long time. I needed a break and it lasted more than a year.  But sometimes I felt I had to do something and so I tried some new caps and I hope they are at least as good as my earlier ones. I can not contribute in a regular manner any longer (did I ever??), but from time to time I'll try to send in some stuff and I'd be happy to see it on your site. This bunch of pics is ...... well a real bunch. Just see for yourself. A very mixed bag.

Carol Alt in The Protector

Alison Egan in Spider

Linda Finzi in My Man Adam

Pam Grier in Fort Apache, The Bronx

Linda Kozlowski in Backstreet Justice

Helen Mirren in Pascali's Island

Mandy Moore in How to Deal

Jennifer Nitsch in Shock

Shauna O'Brien in The Protector

Madeleine Potter in Slaves of New York

Patricia Skeriotis in Backstreet Justice

Rachel Ticotin in Fort Apache, the Bronx




"Reeker" (2005):


- Arielle Kebbel



"Shadow Man" (2006):


- Eva Pope

- Corina Toader






Jenya Lano in Stealing Candy