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"Waking the Dead" (1999)

Waking the Dead opened on 62 screens on March 26, 2000. The following week, it was down to 48 screens, and 13 the week after. Total gross was less than $1 meg. DVD release was September 16, but there was some problem with distribution, and it is just now widely available. The title refers to the monumental problem the ushers had clearing the unconscious audience from the theater after each screening. As the film begins, Fielding Pierce (Billy Crudup) sees a news story that his true love, Sarah Williams (Jennifer Connelly), has been killed in a car explosion. We then begin two threads -- one starting in 1972, where Fielding meets and beds Sarah, and one in 1982, where Fielding runs for congress while trying to cope with the loss of his true love.

Fielding meets Sarah at his brothers magazine, and they fall instantly in love despite their political differences. While they are both liberal Democrats, she is a total idealist, and he is more practical. He is in the Coast Guard to dodge the draft, yet not kill his chances of holding a political office. She believes that it is immoral of him to join any military branch. He is ambitious, wanting to climb up from his middle class working man roots, while she is a compulsive do-gooder. The brother, played by Paul Hipp, is a caricature of Sonny Bono at his hippest and worst.

The non-linear time sequence, which was used effectively by Atom Egoyan in nearly all of his films (The Sweet Hereafter, Exotica, etc.), and in Fight Club, doesn't work here. As a matter of fact, with each shift, they have to print the year on the screen just to keep the audience from getting confused. This is due, in part, to the fact that the two threads are always a mere 10 years apart, and set in the same locations, so they don't look much different. Both threads also involve the same characters.

Critics pretty much agreed with the theater goers. Berardinelli gives it a 1 1/2 stars and Ebert is overly-generous at 2 1/2. IMDB viewers have it at a surprisingly high 6.2/10. The film contains a short love scene between Fielding and Sarah (images 1 - 9), which is actually a montage of two deleted scenes (images 10 - 16) which are part of the 30 minutes of deleted scenes on the DVD. If you still plan on seeing this, skip the rest of the review, as it has spoilers.

Fielding begins to fall apart just as his dreams of going to congress begin to seem possible. The reason? Sarah is either alive, or he is hallucinating that she is. Director Keith Gordon worked very hard to make sure that we never got enough information to decide which was the case, to the point of deleting several scenes, and some sub-plot, when test audiences were able to defend a point of view that Sarah was actually alive. Sarah works for a priest assisting Chileans find asylum. Fielding and Sarah have lunch at the church, and a big fight. In the deleted portion of the scene, one of the Chilean women remarks that she looks much like Sarah, and is exactly the same size. In the following scene, Sarah returns home and informs Fielding that she wants to get pregnant. There is a long and steamy love scene, at the end of which, she stops him before ejaculation and says she can't get pregnant.

Armed with these two pieces of information, the audiences believed they could prove that she was alive and in hiding, and that it was actually the Chilean girl who was in the car. The idea was to turn government policy against the evil Chilean government. As the film ends, Fielding still doesn't know if Sarah is live or Memorex, but decides that he can go on either way. I have no idea why Gordon worked so hard to avoid resolution, but, long before the end, I stopped caring. Most of the nudity was in the deleted scenes anyway, and there was no other possible reason to watch this film. Also irritating to me was a lot of strange lighting which seems to have been used because Gordon liked strange lighting rather than to establish mood or atmosphere. Connelly certainly does have impressive breasts. Lets hope she can find a more worthy role for them.

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


    Easily the most important release for next Tuesday is Jurassic Park (1993) and the 1997 sequel, The Lost World. This is a very confusing release, in that you have a whole myriad of choices. Let me see if I can clear it up. They have created 4 DVDs.

    Jurassic Park (Wide Screen)
    Jurassic Park (Full Screen)
    The Lost World (Wide Screen)
    The Lost World (Full Screen)

    You have several purchase options. You may order:

    Any of the 4 separately. $18.89
    Jurassic Park and The Lost World (Full Screen) as a set $37.79
    Jurassic Park and The Lost World (Wide Screen) as a set $37.79
    Jurassic Park and Lost World (Full Screen) Collectors Limited Edition $83.99.
    (Prices at

    Since I am becoming a collector (I now have 955 DVDs), I went for the Collectors Limited Edition, and am glad I did. It contains both films in Wide Screen DVD, a certificate of authenticity, CD soundtracks of both films, two matted prints with the real 35 mm frames they were made from, and a portfolio of 8 x 10's from the two films. All of this is packaged in a beautiful and sturdy presentation box (11 x 14 x 2 1/2 inches).

    The DVD transfers are superb, and each is loaded with special features. The most interesting, to me, was a 50 minute making of featurette narrated by James Earl Jones that covered pre-production, shooting and post production. It gives great insight into how the dinosaurs were made to appear so realistic, and just how far the state of the art was pushed for this film.

    In case there is some reader who is not familiar with the film, a scientist has figured out how to create dinosaurs from DNA material in prehistoric insects trapped in amber. He has created a theme park, but needs some experts to certify it as safe, as his backers are becoming nervous. Three scientists, Jeff Goldblum, Samm Nell and Laura Dern are invited for the weekend. A tropical storm, and an employee who is selling embryos to a rival company and turns off security systems so he can deliver them make sure that Murphy's law is followed. Now we have man in a battle against dinosaurs -- something that never actually happened before.

    There is no nudity, but Laura looked great throughout. The film won three Oscars for sound and special effects. It was made for $63 m, and grossed $913 m worldwide. It has earned nearly $213 m in rentals alone. IMDB users give it a 7.2. I didn't much like it the first time I saw it on VHS and a small screen. Watching a clear Wide screen copy on a large screen made all of the difference in the world, and there was enough scare factor to increase my pulse rate. Rent this and watch it with the kids. If you are going to buy, I suggest the Collectors Limited Edition.

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  • Laura Dern (1, 2, 3, 4)
  • Johnny Web
    Almost Famous (2000)

    The question here is how did this movie - essentially a big budget Hollywood release - avoid all the usual pitfalls and end up so frigging good.

    First, it has the perfect combination of an indy spirit and a studio budget. They let Cameron Crowe make the movie the way he wanted to. He wrote, he directed, and he didn't have to listen to script doctors or marketing dudes. It's his vision, and he made the film the way he wanted it. Nobody told him what was funny. Nobody told him to dumb stuff down. Indy auteurs do this all the time, but they don't have DreamWorks supporting them. Crowe has had some real artistic and commercial successes (Say Anything, Jerry Maguire), and DreamWorks rolled the dice on him.

    Second, this is his one great story. Most artists have exactly one great story inside of them. Tarkovsky had Andrei Rublov- cut in the passion of his love for the forces that shaped Russian history. Spielberg had Schindler's List - which was fed by his emotional involvement with the number one story of our century. Welles had Citizen Kane, which was fueled by his own relationship with Citizen Hearst. This one is Crowe's one big story, telling his most interesting life experience. I should point out that he also wrote the book Fast Times at Ridgemont High out of his own experience in going back to high school "undercover" in order to analyze the social interactions of adolescents. That was a great story as well, but not quite as universally interesting as his own work for Rolling Stone in the very heartbeat of American pop culture.

    Third, it just so happens that in his case the one story is based on his own life, and real people that he knew. And, as a bonus, he didn't tell the story until he was far enough distanced from it, and old enough and wise enough to see it more clearly.

    Fourth, it just so happens that his story is about something that most of us think is a very interesting topic indeed: art, truth, stardom, and retaining one's humanity in the world of big time rock 'n roll. That was especially interesting in the 70's, when rock was less important than rock stars.

    A great combination of factors.

    I think the characters are beautifully realized. Crowe created them vividly in real human form, he painted them with a love for humanity, and he cast the roles beautifully. Then he somehow communicated to his actors what those characters were about, and got them to deliver his vision. Billy Crudup, Kate Hudson, Frances McDormand, unknown Patrick Fugit, and Philip Seymour Hoffman deliver uncanny multi-dimensional characterizations of real people.

    And the dialogue is dynamite. As always, his characters actually say interesting things to each other in interesting ways. The phone conversation at the end between the kid and Hoffman is as intelligent and touching and honest as any dialogue I've ever heard in a Hollywood movie. I also like the chats between Crudup, the taciturn but charming rock star, and McDormand, the loquacious professorial mom.

    I don't know if this could be "best picture" or "best director", there's till plenty more to see, but I'll sure be surprised if anyone writes better dialogue.

    And finally, how many movies have the elements necessary to please both the mass audiences and the toughest critics? Cameron Crowe - you are DA man.

    General consensus. I guess you have to say four stars. Some of the highest scores I've ever seen at IMDb or Rotten Tomatoes.

    Kate Hudson was topless briefly. The captures/collages were done by Sing, not by me.

    Fairuza Balk was seen in a see-through top. (Not pictured here)

    Still in theaters. Box Office is doing pretty well, but it doesn't look like it will be a megahit, and won't provide a spectacular return on its lavish 60 million dollar budget. It has been the #3 movie the last two weeks. The most current week, it was #3 behind Remember the Titans and The Exorcist, but it is sure to drop further, since Meet the Parents (also DreamWworks) is pulling in some spectacular numbers this weekend.

    Cinema Score: All A's except for one B+, and that from young women. (Meet the Parents scored straight A's, but was schooled by Remember the Titans, which scored a perfect straight A+'s)

    IMDB summary: 8.9 out of 10. (Meet the Parents 7.8, Remember the Titans 8.0)

    Rotten Tomatoes summary. 86% positive, and 82% from the top critics. ( Meet the Parents scored 85/88, Remember the Titans scored 71/71)

  • Kate Hudson

    "Gitano" (2000)

    I haven't seen Gitano, so I've brought in our sometime movie reviewer, the New York Guy, who reviews all Laetitia Casta movies for us:

    "You want a review? I'll give you your review right here (grabs crotch). Laetitia Casta naked. Now review this (hands you captures from the film)."

  • Casta

    Baseball stuff

    Who is the greatest right handed hitter in baseball history? Is it possible that he is playing now?

    Maybe. I know this. An active veteran has the following road stats over a long career:
    batting .350, slugging .616. On the road he hits ten points better than Tony Gwynn (who is second in the category), and slugs 25 points better than McGwire (who is second in that category).

    Who is this superman?

    Plus: Who leads active players in triples? Who leads active players in OPS? RBI ratio? Hitting with the bases loaded? Earned run average?

    Take the career leaders quiz here.

    Hey, I would have failed this quiz.

  • Graphic Response
    Comments also by GR:
  • Kathleen Turner from "The Man with Two Brains" (1983)

    Not a whole lot of nudity but a very funny movie. There is a controversy over whether a body double was used but I don't think so.

  • Brainscan
    Comments by Brainscan:

    Winona Ryder
    (1, 2)
    Gawd how I love the way starlets dress. Winona Ryder received a star on the Hollywood walk of fame on Friday... the 2156th recipient of such an honor. I figure they started handing out these things about the same time the Baseball Writers of America began voting in members to The Hall (so far as I am concerned, the one, the only Hall). How many members in The Hall? Fifty-six? Which means either folks in Hollywood are veeerrry generous or that baseball writers are veeerrry discriminating. To be sure, most baseball writers I have run into are assholes who (as a recent SI article said) could not hit sand if they fell off a camel. But I digress. Winona showed up at the unveiling of her star in a very loose, rather thin gown and not much else. These pictures, I would bet, are only the tip of the iceberg, selected for minimal exposure by AP and Reuters 'cuz they are to be carried by family newspapers. If you look at the second pair you will see that Winona did some judicious covering as she bent over her star but, again, I bet some right nice shots of the fair damsel's uncovered breasts are in someone's darkroom at this very moment. Tick Tock... how long do we need to wait?
    Carina Roma
    (1, 2, 3)
    Today's Page 3 babe is the obscure Carina Roma of the 1980's. Obscure but with a near-perfect bod.

    Oh, and Oz's collage on Saturday of unnamed babes in the Patrick Swayze movie, Road House? The woman in the bottom right is Laura Albert, whose filmography is really long; and the woman in the top left pair of caps is Dawn Ciccone (I think) whose entire filmography is Road House. This movie is the guiltiest of guilty pleasures for me. I love Julie Michaels, think her strip scene is the just dandy and find the gratuitous nudity and violence... and the final revenge scene... to be, well, entertaining. My way or the highway, indeed.

    Jr. Here...A little update from the LA perspective.
    Yup, it seems like they give away stars like candy. For example, Paula Abdul and Patrick Swayze have stars. So does Big Bird, and the Simpsons for that matter. I once heard that it really isn't that difficult to get one of those puppies. But for those interested, here is a link to all of the "official" info, including the entire list of celebs and the locations of their stars from the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce.
    Helena Bonham Carter Comments by PAL
    After a long time of absence I'm back. Lots of things changed in my life and I had to take a break. But now I'm back with capping and some images. Not from the latest movies and no unknown scenes but I think it's worth a look.
    First up, Helena going topless in a shower scene from "Margaret's Museum".
    Isabelle Mergault Topless scenes from "Levy and Goliath"
    Marie Trintignant Scenes from the movie "Betty".
    Snappy Pappy
    Stevie Case
    (1, 2)
    Who? Pappy gave me a link to her official website. Apparently she's a celeb in the PC gaming world. By the way, for those of us near or above 30, who remember the days before computers...being a celeb in PC gaming is like being a world champion Dungeon Master. No matter how you slice it...a nerd is a nerd. But that's just my opinion. (by the way, I think that insult counts as 15 hit points of damage, even if you're protected by the magical healing elf.)
    Lil Kim
    (1, 2)
    Up to her usual barely dressed antics.
    Britney Spears Again, more barely dressed antics. (although she is more dressed than Lil Kim)
    and ...
    Monica Bellucci
    (1, 2, 3)
    Great pics of Monica from one of the various Euro GQ's. #5 features partial side breast exposure. #7 and #10 are the same picture, with #10 being in color, and both almost showing full frontal nudity!
    What does 'almost' mean, you ask? Well...Monica is submerged in water, with the water line carefully leveled off in order to show an ever so subtle hint of pubes. Great stuff.
    Susan Holmes
    (1, 2, 3)
    A hot, nekkid blonde....Some folks call that heaven. These images from Cafe Magazine. #1 and 2 are great topless images. #3 is a B&W semi-nude desktop wallpaper image.
    Claudia Harrison
    (1, 2)
    Comments and images by C2000:
    Claudia Harrison appeared in the new BBC internet drama Attachments. This was her debut on TV and her very first appearance on British TV was nude. I hope she keeps up the good work in the future. Unfortunately she didn't show much, but there are plenty of episodes to come!
    Lara Flynn Boyle
    (1, 2)
    Lara doing the wild thing from the movie "Susan's Plan"
    Cheyne Coates
    (1, 2, 3, 4)
    I first heard of Cheyne yesterday. I guess she's a pretty decent popular celeb down under.
    Here are a few more scans from Black and White magazine. (yet oddly they're all in color. Hmmmm). As Brainscan pointed out yesterday..."she is in the Aussie singing duo, Madison Avenue. Nice face, nice... south of the border."
    Barbara Hershey
    (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10)
    All kinds of exposure by Unique 1 from the 1999 movie "Drowning on Dry Land". Let's see...we have topless, wet t-shirt, and lots of clips from scenes with Barbara gettin' in on. The 'caps are a little a dark, but it looks like she's still in pretty darn good shape for someone in her 50's!
    Annalise Braakensiek
    (1, 2)
    2 scans of the popular model in a body paint, Daisy Duke outfit. #1 is the end result, and #2 is a 'work in progress' pic.
    Vittoria Belvedere A very lovely, and topless Italian actress.
    Montana Newman You'd figure that with a name like Montana she'd be easy to find in the IMDb. Nope, sorry. No listing at all that I could find. Regardless, courtesy of Donbun, here she topless in "Tales of the Kama Sutra " (aka "Perfumed Garden").
    Martine McCutcheon 'Caps of Martine from a TV appearance, by Chumba.
    Katja Riemann Topless scan of the German actress by Surfmarcus.
    Andie MacDowell Brief topless exposure from "Ruby Cairo", by The Night.
    Brigitte Skay
    (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
    Images and comments by RDO:
    Talk about your disappointing movie. I still have no idea what "Bay of Blood" is about! The opening was so dull I just fast forwarded to the nudity. And that was limited and badly transferred. I think the DVD was digitized from a VHS master, it was so bad. Oh well...

    Click Here!