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"Out of Season" (1998)

Out of Season is a film few know about. It is a romantic comedy, shot in Cape May New Jersey. Nothing special so far, right? How about if we add that all three major characters are first time actors, it is the debut effort of the director, and also of the editor, and is about a lesbian relationship? Micki (Carol Monda) is a wedding photographer who has trouble with commitment, and has traveled most of her adult life, never staying in one place or one relationship for very long. Her mother talks her into taking care of her uncle Charley (Dennis Fecteau) who lives in Cape May, and is dying of lung cancer. She runs into probably the only lesbian in Cape May, Roberta (Joy Kelly) who works as the cook in the local diner that Charlie sends her to for coffee and a morning paper. Turns out Roberta is Charlie's best friend. There is an immediate spark between Roberta and Micki, but Roberta has been burned by a former long-term lover, and is afraid of getting involved. Micki is, at first, looking for a little sex and no commitment.

The owner of the dinner, played by Nancy Daly is equal parts straight and unique. The film is really about two things. The first is dealing with death. We watch Charley, Micki and Roberta as they struggle to cope with his terminal illness. It is also abut the effort and bravery required to commit to a relationship. Even if you forget that this is nearly an amateur effort, it is a lovely little film. The acting is good all around, the characters are well developed, the pace is good, and the Art Direction and photography are polished. When you add that it is done by first timers, it is amazing. I watch a lot of obscure movies, many of them bad, looking for the few gems. This is one of them. Hopefully, we are seeing a trend toward more good gay/lesbian films (Better than Chocolate, But I'm a Cheerleader, It's the Water and Desert Hearts come to mind). If so, I think we will see more of everyone involved in this production.

  • Thumbnails

  • Carol Monda (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)
  • Joy Kelly (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)

    "If These Walls Could Talk 2" (2000)

    Continuing with todays lesbian theme, If These Walls Could Talk 2 (2000), the HBO anthology of three lesbian stories was released this week. It is not really a sequel, as it is about lesbian relationships, not abortion, as the first was. It does share a format. All three stories take place in the same house, but different eras.

    The first, and easily the best of the three segments takes place in 1961. Vanessa Redgrave and Marion Seldes play a couple who have been together since childhood. Both taught at the same school. As the film opens, they are at the movies, watching "The Children's Hour." They are holding hands, and clearly enjoying the part where Shirley McClaine swears her love to Audrey Hepburn when teenage boys in the balcony start laughing, and they are forced to stop holding hands. Later that night, Seldes drops from a stroke. At the hospital, Redgrave isn't allowed to visit her because "she isn't family." Seldes dies in the middle of the night, and nobody bothers to tell Redgrave, even though she has been waiting all night. She is not allowed to make arrangements, so calls Seldes' nephew, who shows up with his wife and young daughter, and informs her that they are taking their aunts things, and will be selling the home that is in their aunts name. Redgrave is brilliant in the role. Both themes are clearly presented. First, the lesbian relationship between these women is as strong and as lasting as any other relationship. The second is the need for some legal status for people in alternative relationships to avoid the indignity that Redgrave suffered. Of course, in 1961, they had to be deep in the closet.

    The second segment is also very strong. Michelle Williams lives in the house in 1972 with three other lesbians. They are pushed out of the feminist action club because their sexual orientation is causing political problems for the organization with the school administration. The 4 go to a gay bar that night, and Michelle meets a very butch Chloe Sevigny. Her friends strongly disapprove of anyone that openly "out," but Michelle is strongly attracted to Chloe. The sex between them sizzles. This segment showed aspects of same gender discrimination that I had never considered, but the political content was second to the sex.

    The third segment is the weakest, and stars Ellen Degeneres and Sharon Stone as a couple who want a baby. After decided that a surrogate isn't going to work out, the elect to use a sperm donor. This segment is played for comedy, which mainly falls flat, and there was no chemistry for me between Degeneres and Stone. If there was a theme or message here, it escaped me.

    This one is worth seeing. HBO did a very good job, and the DVD transfer does it justice.

    We have exposure from Degeneres, Stone, Williams and Sevigny. That alone makes a film worth the rental price.

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  • Chloe Sevigny (1, 2, 3, 4)
  • Ellen Degeneres (1, 2)
  • Sharon Stone (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)
  • Michelle Williams (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18)
  • Johnny Web
    "The Lair of the White Worm" (1988)

    Bram Stoker wrote this story late in his life. It's about a giant white snake who has lived in a series of subterranean English caves and caverns since Roman times, and who is fed by a cult of immortal snake-worshippers who bring it virgins. I'm not sure why the virginity is necessary. I mean the frigging snake is a carnivore. What's he gonna do if he shows up hungry and the high priestess brings him a tasty 18 year old who got laid once at her Homecoming Dance? Is he gonna refuse to eat, like Morris the Frigging Cat, until he gets the properly unsullied Snake Chow?

    Oh, yeah. The snake-people work exactly like vampires. When they bite humans, they can turn the humans into fellow snakepires.

    Hugh Grant is the star, but he's not a snalepire. He's some kind of old money aristocrat with a Stately Hugh Manor. And Amanda Donohoe lives in the manor next door, venerable Snakepire-upon-the-Moors-and-Heaths-and-Heather. She's Lady Snakepire, the aristocratic head of the snake cult, and owner of the world's only scary, rotting old castle with a built-in tanning bed. (See collage #2). I haven't read the book, but I think Bram Stoker died before WW1, so there may not have been a tanning bed in the original story. Or maybe Stoker was one of those visionaries like Leonardo or Jules Verne, and could predict the modern world's need for tanning beds for vampires. After all, it makes sense. Vampires never go out in the sun, so how else can they look normal among their fellow sybarites? If they didn't tan they'd have to spend their entire lives in the company of Rose McGowan.

    Surprisingly, Ken Russell directed this. Remember him? He's the guy who did all the biographies of famous decadent musicians who dreamt about masturbating nuns. Russell brought kind of a savage head-in-the-gutter iconoclasm to his best works, like his adaptation of Aldous Huxley's The Devils of Loudon, but all that seems to be lost here.

    Russell's favorite gimmick is to look inside the dreams and visions of his characters, and he uses that schtick here to show a lame Hugh Grant fantasy abut catfighting airline stewardesses, all of which has almost nothing to do with the plot in either meaning or tone. In the campiest of the film's moments, Grant is doing a crossword puzzle on the plane when the evil stewardess and the good stewardess break into their fight. The pencil in Hugh's lap keeps pointing farther and farther upward as he watches the catfight. I didn't make that up. It really is exactly what happened.

    Eventually the good guys manage to defeat the snakepires, of course. How do they do it? You won't even believe it when if I tell you, because it sounds like the kind of crap I'd make up, but I'll tell ya anyway.

    First of all, they play snake-charmer music. At first, Hugh Grant plays an old 78 from Stately Hugh Manor, and he just happens to about a zillion high powered amplifers. Apparently he was expecting to host a Metallica concert in his back yard.

    Then, when the snakepires hoodwink his butler and get the record player, the good guys play snake-charming music on the bagpipes. You see, there's this Scottish archeologist visiting Stately Hugh Manor. He has his pipes and his kilt with him on his archeological expedition. Scotsmen never travel without those things. The snakepires can't attack him as long as the pipes are keening the greatest snake-charming hits of Roger Whittaker. Or maybe the snakepires just hate bagpipe music.

    Best of all, although they are in the English countryside, the good guys stop in to Lady Snakepire's estate with a mongoose. I didn't make that up. About 15 minutes or so after Stately Hugh and the bagpipe-playing archeologist found out about the snakepires, they had managed to rustle up a mongoose.

    Oh, yeah, and the bagpipe-playing archeologist also happens to have some grenades. He drops one of them into the mouth of the White Worm when it comes up to eat a virgin, and there you have it..

    In other words, it's a typical goofy movie that you might see from Roger Corman or Hammer Films. How Ken Russell got himself involved with this remains a mystery.

    The good news? Plenty of nudity from Amanda Donohue!

    IMDB summary: 5.5 out of 10.

    DVD info from Amazon.

  • Donohoe (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)

    "Shanghai Noon" (2000)

    I really like Jackie Chan movies. This is a charming one, and its gentler than the typical Chan fest, as befits its Touchstone origins.

    On the surface, it's the usual corny 1950's Hollywood cliche that you'd expect from a Disney flick. Chinese Imperial Guardsmen have to go to California to rescue the kidnapped princess. Nothing special there.

    It is impressive how they keep coming up with gimmicks for these fight scenes, and these are imaginatively and wittily choreographed, but that isn't what makes the film special either.

    So, if it isn't the plot or the fight scenes, or even the humor, what makes it work for me?

    It's a great buddy picture. Jackie Chan and Owen Wilson are the best cowboy buddies since Redford and Newman. In fact, there is a Cassidy/Sundance homage near the end of the film, and joky tips of the hat to a bunch of other films along the way. (Chan's character, by the way, is named Chon Wang - Americans pronounce it "John Wayne", get it? The chief evil dude is named Van Cleef).

    Owen Wilson is hilarious as the decadent and self-centered but essentially gentle hearted California surfer guy who has somehow ended up in the Old West as an incompetent outlaw and conman. And Jackie Chan is Jackie Chan. Together they take on Chinese gangsters, Sioux, Crow, corrupt marshalls, outlaws and the pretentions of the western film genre.

    Very pleasant way to pass a couple of hours when you want to have a beer and you don't feel like thinking.

    I only have one complaint. The DVD comes with about a dozen deleted scenes, and the theatrical release has some continuity lapses caused by cutting out so many scenes. I would have preferred if they just stuck the scenes back in the film and had it all make sense. (With a couple of exceptions, which wouldn't have made sense because they changed something)

    No nudity in the movie proper, but Jackie Chan's Sioux wife (Brandon Merrill) did a unrevealing but cute nude scene in the deleted scenes.

    Box Office: It probably didn't do as well as they expected, because they dedicated a $55 million budget on it and opened it in 2700 theaters, but it took in $57 million domestic gross, thereby assuring a handsome profit with foreign, video, and other revenues. The Mickey Mouse boys were happy enough that they already gave the green light to Shanghai Noon 2.

    General consensus: a bit better than three stars, and I feel that is pretty accurate.

    IMDB summary: 7.5 out of 10.

    Rotten Tomatoes summary. 74% positive, and 75% from the top critics.

    DVD info from Amazon. Not a spectacular DVD, but a very solid one. Good looking widescreen transfer. Commentary, deleted scenes, two short featurettes, some lame trivia games, the trailer, the music video

  • Merrill

    "Time Code" (2000)

    I spent more than 20 years in the convenience store industry, and looked at hundreds, maybe thousands of hours of security camera footage. The most common technique uses four cameras throughout the store, with all four views available simultaneously on the monitor in quadrant format.

    Holy moley! I should have saved it all. It was cinematic genius. Imagine a robbery. One camera captures the innocent clerk reading his Hustler, while another captures the robbers hiding behind the Fritos waiting for the legitimate customers to leave, and still another camera is on the actual innocent customers, unaware of what is developing. Sheer genius.

    Remember Mike Figgis, who so surprised the world with the power of Leaving Las Vegas? Well, he decided to build an entire movie based on 1985 convenience store security techniques. Now that's innovation.

    Figgis has been going in some odd directions since "Vegas". First there was the pretentious "Loss of Sexual Innocence", and now the highly experimental "Time Code". Maybe too experimental. Experiments are always risky. The farther they are from the traditional methodology, the greater the risk. It is difficult to keep in emotional contact with your audience when you decide to throw out every rule at once and thereby leave everyone disoriented.

    Here's what Figgis did in this movie:

    1. He used four different camera shots in the four corners of the screen.

    2. Each of the four digital video cameras began filming at exactly 3:00 one afternoon, and filmed for 93 minutes without stopping or cutting.

    3. There was no real script. The actors improvised around a predetermined structure.

    4. All four cameras filmed interrelated parts of the same general story (sort of), all occuring in the same real time. Therefore, the timing of certain incidents had to be perfect, so that the images would match up.

    5. Sometimes two cameras covered the same action from different angles, or characters wandered from one storyline to another.

    6. In th editing room, the director muted or reduced the sound on some of the stories, allowing a focus on whichever one he wanted us to follow at the moment.

    Now, some FAQ.

    Could this technique work? Sure. Why not? There is no hard and fast rule that says a story needs to be told one picture at a time. Movies like Pulp Fiction could easily tell more than one story at a time instead of cutting away from them and rejoining them later. There is also no reason why he had to do all of these experiments at the same time. Figgis could have done the same general thing, but allowed for scripted lines, retakes and edits, in order to produce a slicker product. After all, we viewers don't really care if it was actually filmed in real time. Only that it appears to be. How he gets it that way is his business.

    Did he pull it off technically? Yes, more or less. The timing was excellent, and there was some emotional impact in the story, and some savage humor . Some of the actors have some very bad moments, and people sometimes miss their marks and fall out of the camera or out of the light, or other similar technical flubs, but what can you do when there's no retakes? You just keep going. If it doesn't last long, nobody notices, because there are three other images to watch.

    Is it a good movie? You know, a lot of critics praised it for its innovation and pioneering. But I won't kid you. It is innovative and daring, sometimes very funny, and it may single-handedly invent the future, but it stinks. The Emperor is naked. I wish I could say it was dynamite. I love it when new techniques work to perfection, as in "Lola Rennt".

    Well, nothing wrong with the technique here, but .....

    Technique isn't enough. You still need content. When Thomas Edison recorded himself singing "Mary Had a Little Lamb", that was brilliantly innovative, and marked the dawn of a completely new medium. But not many people want to buy "Edison's Greatest Hits" from their local Wal-Mart.

    ... hey, Figgis. Now that you have a new way of saying things, how about figuring out something to say?

    IMDB summary: 7.4 out of 10. Apollo rated it 82, users rated it 69.

    Rotten Tomatoes summary. 60% positive, and 50% from the top critics.

    DVD info from Amazon. No review of the DVD. I watched it on video.

    No nudity.

  • Graphic Response
  • Mädchen Amick in "Love Cheat Steal"

    Comments by GR:
    One of the sexiest woman alive IMO and the only thing I have seen of her is from "Dream Lover" which everyone has capped many times including myself.

    According to Bare Facts this is the only other film where she shows any nudity and I am afraid not very much at that. The hot scene in this film does not show much, but it's still pretty hot.

  • Lots of Variety...
    Jessica Alba Another great collage from "Idle Hands", by ABYS.
    Charlies Angels A very cool, 70's-Disco-Karate Pose with all three of the new Angels, by NMD.
    Jodie Verdu Thanks to everyone for helping to identify this no longer unknown actress from the movie "Gunshy". For those looking for more of Jodi....
    1.There several movies named "Gunshy"...she was in the '98 straight-to movie with William Petersen, Michael Wincott, Diane Lane. Not a great movie, but not bad either. If I recall correctly, I think Diane Lane shows some skin too.
    2.Her only other signifigant credit is "Emmanuelle: First Contact".
    Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio Topless scene from "January Man", by Watty.
    Tania Busselier
    (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9,
    10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15,
    16, 17, 18)
    A billion images from "Ilsa the Wicked Warden", by Umpire. As is the norm for the "Ilsa" movies, lots of nudity! Topless, full frontal, posterior shots, lesbo scenes,etc.

    These images mostly feature an aquatic theme...Tania being hosed down, Tania fighting another nude chick in the showers, etc. Your basic 70's "Women behind bars" exploitation stuff.

    Sonja Kirchberger
    (1, 2)
    Awesome quality vidcaps by HBS Grafix. Very coincidentaly, here are more images with an aquatic theme as we see Sonja getting it on in the shower in "Die Liebende".
    Stefanie Schmid
    (1, 2)
    Another round of German vidcaps by is Stephanie going topless in scenes from "Laila".
    Uschi Digard
    (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7)
    For those who love the is the big breasted beauty showing off her all natural physique in Russ Meyer's "Supervixens".
    Misc. Nudity
    (1, 2, 3)
    Unknown babes acting zany and losing their clothing from 1983's "Screwballs".
    Big Brother Nudity
    (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)
    This is Natalie from the Belgian Big Brother. Once again proving how much the American version really blew. Apparently these pictures were taken as the "artistic" portion of her bio.
    More Big Brother Nudity This time the from the German verion. This is Daniela posing topless, as well as full frontal. Thanks to Scanman for the collage.
    Anna Falchi
    (1, 2)
    Two more of the lovely Anna. #1 has a hint of nipple exposure, and #2 has some clear exposure.
    The Funnies

    Many comedians have said that Dan Quayle was the single greatest thing to happen for comedy. Well, with the election coming up, and with statements like these, seems like George W. may turn out to be the next Quayle!

    Oct. 10: George W. Bush says Al Gore's tax plan would "require numerous IRA agents"

    Sept. 26: At a town hall-style event in Redwood City, Calif., Bush was askedby an audience member if he would have an "evenhanded" policy when dealing with the Middle East. Bush reassured the potential voter, "I will have a foreign-handed policy."

    Sept. 25: Asked about the environment, Bush noted if you own land, you would be the one "making sure that land is pristine and functionable." Later in the day, he said, "The people who care more about that land, are the hardworking farmers and ranchers of your part of the state of Washington D.C."

    Sept. 14: Campaigning at a drugstore, Bush was asked by a voter if perhaps he had "a dyslexia issue," as had been speculated in Vanity Fair magazine by writer Gail Sheehy. Bush replied, "The woman who wrote that I had dyslexia, I never interviewed her."

    Sept. 12: Fending off questions from reporters on a Republican attack at that was criticized for possibly containing hidden messages, Bush said no fewer than four times that there were no "subliminable messages" in the ad.

    April: Trying to praise a teacher, Bush said, "What easy is when you see excellence to herald excellence." Later, discussing the promise of volunteerism, Bush profoundly noted, "The benefits of helping somebody is beneficial."

    March: Talking about the need to improve the military, Bush vowed that as president, he would "use our technology to enhance uncertainty abroad." Speaking to a crowd filled with people involved in agriculture, Bush declared, "I understand agriculture, I have a vision . we ought to be the country feeding faces all across the world." Also this month, Bush said, "I'm going to be a president who hails success as well as failure."

    February: "If you're sick and tired of the politics of cynicism, polls, and principles, come join this campaign," Bush urged South Carolinians. Speaking about the need to improve relations with Latin America, Bush said, "It's going to require a president who understands it's in our strategic interests to have a peaceful and economically vile hemisphere."

    From mispronunciations to incoherent meandering on key policy issues, Bush had given his opponent more than ample fodder for its offensive. He has, for example, vowed to "use our technology to enhance uncertainty abroad," promised "to be a president who hails success as well as failure," and pledged to help one woman "put food on her family."

    Arkansas Humor
    A young man graduated from University of Arkansas with a degree in journalism. His first assignment for the newspaper which hired him was to write a human interest story. Being from Arkansas, he went back to the country to do his research.

    He went to an old farmer's house way back in the hills, introduced himself to the farmer and proceeded to explain to him why he was there. The young man asked, "Has anything ever happened around here that made you happy?"

    The farmer thought for a minute and said, "Yep! A while back one of my neighbor's sheep got lost. We formed a posse and found it. We all screwed it and took it back home."

    "I can't print that!" the young man exclaimed. "Can you think of anything else that happened that made you or a lot of other people happy?"

    After another moment, the farmer said, "Yeah, I remember way back one time my neighbor's daughter, a good looking girl, got lost. We formed a big posse that time and found her. After we all screwed her, we took her back home."

    Again, the young man said, "I can't print that either. How about this, has anything ever happened around here that made you sad?"

    The old farmer dropped his head as if he were ashamed and after a few seconds looked up timidly at the young man and said, "I got lost once."

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