Web (Uncle Scoopy)
Cameron Crowe's best movies are about
retaining one's humanity in a soul-destroying environment: big-time
sports, big-time rock 'n roll, high school. Perhaps you wonder what it
would be like if Crowe decided to go one step further, to portray a man
trying to retain his basic humanity in the most abject of conditions,
something even worse than high school - being retained in white slavery by
It would be a lot like Unleashed.
Crowe did not have anything to do with this film, as evidenced by its
frequent departures from the logic and natural laws inherent to the
universe we live in, but in the unlikely event that he would take on such
a theme, he would have to produce a result something like this. Jet Li is
the slave, Danny the Dog, who is kept on a leash like a pit bull, and was
raised to turn into a violent fighting machine when his collar is removed.
Bob Hoskins is the master, a crime boss who raised his human pit bull from
early childhood. The film begins by establishing the routine of the crime
syndicate: a visit to someone behind on his payments; a failure to pay;
the removal of the collar; mayhem. After the human pit bull has served his
purpose, he is thrust back into his tiny cage and thrown scraps as if he
were a real dog.
About thirty minutes into the film, a dramatic gangland ambush kills
the master and frees the slave, so Danny serendipitously ends up in the
gentle household of a blind piano tuner and his talented step-daughter,
who adopt Danny like a ... well, like a stray puppy. The ensuing section
of the film could easily have been directed by Crowe, filled as it is with
the simple pleasures of a wild animal learning to be a human through the
love of his new family. Of course, Crowe would probably take the scenario
off in another direction from there, but this film is at heart an
over-the-top action movie, so the plot will require us to accept that the
master, once thought dead, is still alive and will come to reclaim his
chattel. After all, Mr. Dog is not being played by Matthew Broderick or
John Cusack, but by martial arts master Jet Li, so we have to assume that
the film will place Danny and us on our leashes and lead us toward some
serious ass-kicking action.
Indeed it does. This time around, the master has a new plan to profit
from his unbeatable pit bull, not as a mere enforcer for small-time
welchers, but as the superstar of an underground fighting circuit
consisting of high-stakes tough guy contests which are fought to the
death. They are like cockfights, except with human cocks.
Wave good-bye to the Cameron Crowe section of the evening's
entertainment, and welcome Luc Besson back in the door.
It goes without saying that Danny the man will not allow Danny the dog
to re-emerge, and that the worlds of the two Dannys will have to collide.
You have to be warned that this is a Luc Besson script, and that it
therefore takes place outside our plane of existence. When we watch a
fairy tale, we accept the fact that wolves and billy goats can talk.
Besson scripts require us to accept similar conditions. Or maybe watching
a Besson movie is less like hearing a fairy tale and more like playing a
board game, in that you have to understand the rules in order to enjoy it.
Besson's personal rule book includes the following:
1. The natural laws of the universe do not apply. You must assume
that these stories are preceded by "once upon a time" and take place in
fairy-tale land. The characters are not bound by the laws of physics,
not even the basic laws, like gravity. If a character has to shoot
someone hundreds of yards away, he does not have to adjust for gravity
or wind velocity. He just aims and fires and hits. If a character falls
upon a car from a fourth story window, there is no attempt to determine
how much impact such a fall would really make. In the film, it might
seem to cause an impact like a fall from one hundred stories, or it
might cause no impact at all, depending solely on the whim of the
2. When opposing forces square off, they are not affected by innocent
bystanders or legal authorities. In Besson's scripts it is common to
have long gangland fights or shoot-outs in apartments or even in
suburban neighborhoods, but nobody ever calls the police, and no people
are ever seen except main characters and those who directly participate
in the brouhaha. Gangsters are free to draw guns or automatic weapons
and point or fire them at will in public, at any time or place, without
fear of any legal consequences.
3. However, the aforementioned gangsters will not draw such guns when
to do so would end some hand-to-hand combat.
4. When the bad guy's evil minions are fighting our hero
hand-to-hand, they not only eschew guns, but they also refuse to gang up
on him. They stand dramatically posed, like the characters on the covers
of Marvel comic books, politely waiting their turns to get their asses
5. Place names are irrelevant. They are just names. Just because the
script says that the story takes place in New York or Aix-en-Provence or
Glasgow does not mean that the roads taken by the characters in those
places will lead to where those roads actually lead. Nor does it mean
that the people inhabiting those places will be like the people who
actually live there. Besson New Yorkers can take the D train to New
Jersey, and Besson Glaswegians need not necessarily be Scots. In the
specific case of Unleashed, some American reviewers mistakenly mentioned
that the film takes place in London. It's easy to understand how they
made that assumption, even though Glasgow is mentioned many times, and
the filming actually was done in Glasgow! This Glasgow includes no Scots
at all. Nary a one. Everyone in the film speaks one of three ways: (1)
proper upper crust English (2) with a Cockney accent (3) with an
American accent. In the case of Kerry Condon, she speaks with the worst
American accent ever, even worse than Graham Chapman's Yank in the Monty
Python skits, and Chapman was just kidding around! It's the American
equivalent of Dick van Dyke's famous Cockney turn in Mary Poppins. I
have no idea why they didn't hire an American actress, since they hired
Morgan Freeman to play her step-father. Kerry's accent not only sounded
comically false, but her vowels sounded nothing like the perfectly
modulated standard American tones of the man who allegedly raised her!
I guess you think that I'm going to dump on this film. I've misled you
as usual. I'm only preparing you for the levels of disbelief you will have
to suspend, for they are numerous, and many potential viewers will not
want to make the commitment to suspend them. If you don't have any trouble
with the things I mentioned above, you may get a real kick out of this
movie. The tone ranges from the cloying sentimentality of It's a Wonderful
Life to the jarring violence of Leon the Professional, and everything
about it is over-the-top. Furthermore, the logic of the script is often
annoyingly stupid. And yet it all worked for me. I just assumed the
problems resulted from the fact that it was a fairy tale, so I accepted
the talking wolves, and let the film manipulate me.
A lot of things had to come together to make the film work, and they
did. Danny the Dog was an unrealistic role, outside of human experience,
but action star Jet Li delivered it as credibly as any man could have, and
with a lot of charm. Similarly, it would have been an easy matter for the
film to turn the little old blind piano tuner into a figure of bathos, but
you don't get that kind of result when you cast Morgan Freeman. You get a
regular guy, albeit one more sensible and more compassionate than most.
Freeman was perfect, as he usually is. Most of the film's scenes have a
tremendously effective green-gray look, as if the film's universe were
sunless and permanently clouded by a light green fog, all of which which
is appropriate for the story of a man/dog who has rarely seen sunlight.
The film also includes some spectacular fight choreography, although the
fight scenes last too long and are too artificial and stylized for my
Bottom line: it hooked me in and kept me interested. That's what
fantasy films are supposed to do. As long as you give it plenty of
latitude, it might work for you as well.
The critics in the U.K. absolutely despised this film. By the
Guardian's reckoning, the average score was one and a half stars out of
four. That was a major exception to the general consensus about Unleashed.
All our other measurements show "three stars" or its approximate
equivalent, yet the British critics panned it almost to a man.
Well, for one thing, they were quite upset by the fact that there were
no Scots in Glasgow. To help you Americans understand this, imagine if a
story took place in Mississippi but every single character, even the
shopkeepers, either spoke with a heavy New York accent or an Irish brogue.
Would that put you off? I think it would, and the equivalent of that
happened here for British viewers. The Observer declared it to be "set in
a Glasgow curiously bereft of Scotsmen," while the Guardian noted,
"Bizarrely, it's supposed to be set in Glasgow - but full of no one but
Americans and cockneys."
For another thing, the British critics seem to come from the ranks of
the literati, and they despise stupidity. The found Unleashed to be
unbearably stupid, mawkishly sentimental, totally implausible, lacking in
nuance, and unrepentantly violent.
I don't disagree with their evaluation. I just don't see why they
consider those things to be negative.
I'm kidding, but you know what I mean. One need not take pleasure only
in the music of the spheres and the brighter angels of our nature.
Sometimes I am in the mood for well-constructed, unchallenging,
over-the-top, juvenile entertainment. Here it is.
Captures and comments from the Ghost.
Zipped .avis, caps, and comments by ICMS
In "Das Experiment" (2001), a German movie about a
prison experiment, two women show some skin. Maren Eggert's breasts and buns
are on display while popular Andrea Sawatzki (1,
2) stumbles upon a a sleazebag who
forces her to undress. Luckily there is some rescue under way for this damsel
in distress. I haven't seen the film but it is also available on region 1 DVD
in case someone is interested.
French actress Virginie Ledoyen (1,
2) wants you to
admire her breasts and buns in 1998's "En plein coeur". Can you refuse?
Nine more collages from the Rodriguez technical masterpiece, from the master of
collages, Zononon Zor
'Caps and comments by Hankster:
Today we visit a 1991 movie "Bikini Summer," and I am sure you can tell what
this movie is about.
Sadly, it's a horrible flick with only one redeeming feature and her name is
Melinda Armstrong. She's not well known but she has done several movies.
So here are the only highlights as Melinda displays every inch of her
absolutely stunning body.
Katie, from The Real World
Bonnie Lee Bakley. Baretta was on trial for (allegedly) murdering her.
Brittany Murphy. HQ of a pretty sweet see-through.
Here are the latest movie reviews available at scoopy.com.
- 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 Junior or Brainscan, or somebody else besides me)
- If there is no asterisk, I wrote it, but am too
ashamed to admit it.
HAVE demons been talking to you lately? Don't panic! You can learn
loads of valuable information from the chatty minions of Satan
-- including tidbits about future business trends you can use to get
True art or a hastily created fake? A quiz.
Condoleezza Rice Releases Hip-Hop Album To Combat Own Whiteness
I don't know if this is the headline of the day, but it's one of
the stranger headlines ...
"Japan's shy geeks boast huge financial clout"
Conan's Yankees vs. Angels recap, plus the Columbo Day Parade.
Seven clips from the movie adaptation of Doom, the video game
Say it ain't so ...
Fox Cancels 'The Simple Life'
Jude Law, Sienna Miller: It's Over
FEMA TOO LATE TO SAVE NICK AND JESSICA'S MARRIAGE ...
Beleaguered Agency "Caught Unawares" By Marital Meltdown
- For his part, FEMA’s head said that the agency had learned its
lesson “the hard way” from the Nick and Jessica breakup and would
be better prepared the next time: “We are going to be monitoring
Ashton and Demi very, very closely.”
NEW ORLEANS RECOVERING FASTER THAN ANDERSON COOPER ... Newsman
Still Sobbing One Month After Katrina, Federal Officials Say
- “The Anderson Cooper situation has been extraordinary in the
annals of sobbing. We really haven’t seen anything like this since
Halle Berry won the Academy Award.”
I haven't tried to figure out the biggest financial disaster of
the year in the movie biz, but here are some contenders:
was made with a production budget of $60
million. Last week it grossed less in 779 theaters than Capote
grossed in 11! It will finish with a domestic box office total
below three million dollars.
A Sound of Thunder has similar numbers with an even larger
budget - $80 million budget, two million gross.
Those numbers look relatively worse than the comparable
figures for Stealth, but I think Stealth has to have lost more
money. It grossed $32 million (and another $30 million overseas),
but had a production budget of $138 million.
Some sources reported that Son of the Mask had a production
cost of $100 million. If so, it is a serious contender, with only
$17 million in domestic gross.
I was surprised to discover that Kingdom of Heaven is not on
the list. It took a shellacking at the box office in the USA, but
was a mammoth hit overseas. ($47 million domestic box, but $163
Daily Box Office - Monday, October 10 and Tuesday, October 11, 2005.
It's interesting to see the difference between a holiday and a
There was no school Monday, so Wallace & Gromit completely
dominated the action, pulling in more than the next two films aded
together. Corpse Bride finished a respectable fifth.
- School resumed on Tuesday. Wallace and Gromit dropped to
third, and Corpse Bride almost dropped off the map, falling to
ninth, with only $106 per screen.
- In terms of revenues per screen, the top film on Tuesday was
Waiting ... , the critically reviled lowbrow comedy. In terms of
total gross, the top film was Curtis Hanson's chixploitation film,
In Her Shoes. In second place was the Pacino sports gambling film!
- Absent the kiddie market, there's just no champion in the
Crony Jobs - Choice government careers for the taking. No experience
Van Gogh drawings to be exhibited. "Vincent van Gogh's paintings
have a universal appeal, but curators at The Metropolitan Museum of
Art hope it will be his drawings that will take New York's breath
"Our friend puberty" (spoof of 1950s sex ed film)
PhotosConfirm Kutcher and Moore Wedding. Kutcher is wearing a
white suit and fedora, while Demi is wearing a floral print muu-muu
and support hose.
"Dali gave sculpture of Christ to his exorcist." Man, I'll bet
the other exorcists were so-o-o jealous.
2005 NFL Cheerleader Tour - Day 22 : Tennessee Titans
Every once in a while a team comes from out of the blue to
surprise you. The Titans always had some impressive members, but
were hampered by one big problem. Guys. This is definitely a
prime example of addition by subtraction.
The website for the new-look
Titan Cheerleaders has a lot of nice extras that make it
something for other squads to look at. The prime example is the
extra photos and video in the bio section. With one look at the
easy navigation for the additional photos of
Brooke, you can see why this would be a positive addition
for other web sites. Some other places that must be visited on
this site include the slideshows for
Leigh. I would still like to see some more content to this
site. There are no photos from games or from community
appearances. There is also no mention of any kind of calendar.
They have come a long way. Look for this team to keep
climbing the charts for the next few years.
Rating 8.0 out of 10.
Weekly World News: "HOW TO SCORE HOW TO SCORE WITH REAL-LIFE
DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES! ... They're not called 'desperate' for
- I wonder if any member of the Weekly World News staff has ever
been with a woman. If it ever happens, they should do a headline
story on that.
The first three minutes of Saw 2
Page title speaks for itself:
Cameron Diaz's ass!
Letterman's "Top Ten New York Yankees Excuses"
- "Due to typo in latest memo, Steinbrenner demanded players
Canadian Hinterland: The Petroleum Jellyfish
Britney hires Federline's ex to be her nanny. "They hope that by
uniting all of his children under one roof, and creating a cosy,
domestic atmosphere, he’ll want to spend more time at home." Because
if Britney were to lose Federline, however would she go on?
Jennifer Connelly is in talks to star opposite Leonardo DiCaprio in
director Edward Zwick's dramatic thriller The Blood Diamond"
AstroPic o' the Day: "The surface of Saturn's moon Tethys is
riddled with icy cliffs and craters." Incredibly detailed photo.
Comcast proposes video on demand with a DVD follow-up
PETA comics: Your daddy kills animals
PETA comics: Your mommy kills animals.
Pat Reeder - www.comedy-wire.com
WHITE HOUSE DENIES GOD SPOKE TO BUSH
A Burning Bush Story - The BBC is backing away from a claim that President Bush
told Palestinian officials that God told him to invade Afghanistan and Iraq and
create a Palestinian state. The White House strongly denied that Bush said God
talked to him, and the Palestinian official who quoted Bush now says he didn't
think Bush meant it literally.
* I could believe God spoke directly easier than I could believe Dubya spoke
* God also issued a statement denying He had anything to do with the Iraq
* The New York Times headline will read, "Bush Denies God."
UNICEF FIREBOMBS THE SMURFS
Blue Blood - The Belgian arm of Unicef wanted an attention-getting TV ad for
their campaign, "Don't let war affect the lives of children." So they made an
animated spot showing happy Smurfs dancing in Smurf village with bunnies and
bluebirds. Suddenly, warplanes appear and napalm them. The ad ends with Baby
Smurf crying, surrounded by flames and prone Smurfs. They plan to air it only
after 9 p.m., but a preview on the evening news left adults shocked and children
crying in terror. The ad agency said they originally wanted to make it even
more like a real war, with Smurfs losing arms and heads, but Unicef said no.
* They had a real battle over it in the conference room.
* That's the trouble with Unicef: no sense of humor...They should've let the
"South Park" guys make it.
* A real war would traumatize children almost as much as this ad does.
* That's horrible! They shouldn't napalm the Smurfs! They should napalm
* In the words of Oscar Wilde, "It would take a heart of stone not to laugh."
CELEBRITY COCAINE NEWS ROUND-UP
Do You Really Want To Snort Me? - Early Friday morning in New York City, Boy
George was arrested after police responded to a call about a burglary at his
apartment and allegedly found five grams of cocaine. However, George's rep
claimed the drug was not his and must've been left by a guest. If convicted,
George could get up to 15 years in prison.
* Although he's instructed his attorney to try for 20.
* Are they sure it was coke, and not just a pile of face powder?
SPORADICALLY HONEST THIEF
But Consistently Stupid - Police in Medford, Oregon, are searching for a thief
who is sporadically honest. He rode a bike up to a coffee stand and ordered a
cup. He then told the owner he had a gun and demanded money. She handed
over her cash. He handed some of it back to her to pay for the coffee, then
* Hey! He's a thief, not a moocher!
* But he spilled the hot coffee on himself, and now he's suing her.
NEW CHESSBOXING CHAMPION
No Queens Allowed! - Tihomir "Tiger" Titschko of Bulgaria has won the first
European Heavyweight Chessboxing Championship in Germany. Competitors alternate
four-minute rounds of chess with two-minute rounds of boxing. It can go for a
maximum of 11 rounds, or until either a knockout or a checkmate. Titschko beat
German champ Andreas "Doomsday" Schneider with a checkmate in the 9th round. A
spokesperson for the World Chess Boxing Organization said, "The basic idea in
chessboxing is to combine the #1 thinking sport and the #1 fighting sport into a
hybrid that demands the most of its competitors, both mentally and physically."
* Except the really good chess players are usually weeded out in the first
* The decisive move came when Tiger picked up his bishop and embedded it in
* This sounds like the way my family used to play Monopoly.
* They're thinking of turning it into a triathelon by adding either
skeet-shooting or harpsichord.
FRENCH REALLY DO STINK
Eau de Fromage - A study by the Paris magazine Le Point confirmed that the
French really are stinky. The French usually dismiss that image as bigoted
slander, but the study found that nine out of ten do not wash regularly, almost
one in 25 never bathe, and one in 33 never brush their teeth. However, 90
percent of French women and half the men do apply fragrances.
* But not enough
* French women wear perfume to cover up the smell of the men.
SEX THEME PARK COMING TO LONDON
Mr. Toad's Wild Ride - Friday, developers announced plans for a
multimillion-dollar sex "theme park" near Piccadilly Circus in London. But they
said the London Academy of Sex and Relationships would not be sleazy and
titillating, but an interactive, multimedia educational attraction, teaching
about everything from STDs to improving your sex life in an exciting, amusing
way. A spokeswoman said, "It is long overdue that the U.K. faces up to its
responsibilities in the sexual arena. We cannot simply avoid mankind's leading
preoccupation and the issues that go with it."
* Sure, you can! That's what being British is all about!
* Leave it to the British to take everything sleazy and titillating out of sex.
* And what a great place to go on a first date!
* Yes, there WILL be a waterbed ride.
* Wow, Michael Eisner's only gone a week, and Disney takes a whole new
NOBEL AND IG NOBEL PRIZE NEWS
The Smell Of Grant Money - Here are some more Ig Nobel Prize winners, given for
the most dubious achievements of 2005. The prize for Biology went to the
University of Adelaide for smelling and cataloging the odors produced by 131
different species of frogs when feeling stressed. The Nutrition prize went to a
Japanese researcher who photographed and analyzed every meal he ate for 14
years. And the prize for Fluid Dynamics went to the author of a study called
"Pressures Produced When Penguins Pooh: Calculations on Avian Defecation."
* And to think, his peers said that study was a pile of crap!
* He photographed and analyzed every meal the penguins ate.
* It's being turned into a family movie called "Farts of the Penguins."
RABBIS PROTEST MADONNA
The Law And The Profits - Some rabbis are calling for Madonna to be thrown out
of the Kabbalah community because her upcoming album, "Confessions on a Dance
Floor," has a track called "Isaac" in honor of 16th Century Kabbalah scholar,
Yitzhak Luria. They say Jewish law forbids the use of the holy rabbi's name for
profit, and Madonna could face divine retribution for releasing this album.
* Madonna faces divine retribution for every album she's ever put out...What's
* Madonna's not concerned: she knows she's already going to Hell just for the
movies she's made.
* The only way to make amends is through prayer and giving all the profits to
the Kabbalah Center.
* Catholics are just happy that she's found a new religion to offend.
BIEL NAMED "SEXIEST WOMAN ALIVE"
He Must Be Over 60 - Esquire magazine chose "7th Heaven" star Jessica Biel, 23,
as the "Sexiest Woman Alive," replacing last year's sexiest, Angelina Jolie.
But their list also includes three in older age brackets: Gong Li (39), Sharon
Stone (47), and Rene Russo (51). Editor David Granger said, "It's easy to
appreciate womanhood without any consideration of age. Youth isn't the
automatic turn-on it used to be."
* That's true: Ashlee Simpson is young.
* He's right, you can be older and still hot, like Angelina Jolie.
* Besides, thanks to PhotoShop, they all look 19 anyway.
* When they need a sexy leading lady for an actor over 70, they can get Rene
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