The Break-Up (2006)
If you don't recognize the title, this is the Vaughn-Aniston
comedy, finally on a commercial DVD.
Critics had a lot of trouble with this film, perhaps because it
is a very difficult film to pigeonhole. Given the stars, one
expects either a traditional romantic comedy or an edgy black
comedy about a disintegrating romance, ala The War of the Roses.
In fact it is neither, and it would disappoint people expecting
- If you expect a zany type of black comedy vehicle for two
hours of Vince Vaughn riffs, you'll be disappointed to see that
he doesn't actually clown around much. The good news, at least
for me, is that it doesn't have an ugly underlying tone like The
War of the Roses. Sometimes it is sweet, sometimes mean,
sometimes ugly, sometimes funny, sometimes sad. I suppose it's a
lot like life itself.
- If you hope for a rom-com, you'll find that it is neither
very funny nor very romantic, and includes neither a fairy-tale
atmosphere nor a happy ending. It portrays the way people really
behave in these sorts of tense situations when a love once new
has grown old and may not survive. It's actually kind of close
to this genre, and could have been converted to a traditional
romantic comedy with some minor tweaking and a happy ending, but
that's not where the creative team wanted to go with the film.
What kind of movie is it then? It is basically a romantic drama
which presents a very realistic look at a break-up. The parties do
break up but are forced to live together until they can dispose of
their condo. The play the same game of pull-me-close, push-me-away
that good people play in this sort of difficult situation. Will
they get back together? Are they breaking up because they want to
break up, or are they using the break-up as a tool to alter the
other's behavior? Frustratingly, they never seem to be ready to
forgive one another at the same time. She finally makes a
conciliatory overture and he misunderstands it. Then he makes one,
and she has changed her mind about reconciliation.
It does have some good humor in it, but it occurs naturally
within the context of the characters. Vaughn plays a witty Chicago
tour guide whose bus and boat tours always have a waiting line
because he does some funny schtick while he's describing the
sights, and all the tourists have a ball. This profession allows
Vaughn to be very funny while his character is working, and since
the character is a quick-witted guy, some of that carries over to
the rest of his life as well. But most of the time he is engaged
in serious, even contemplative discussions about what is going
wrong in his life. The intense emotional impact of the break-up is
a wake-up call for him to be less jaded and self-centered, and by
the end of the film he is actively trying to make himself into a
better person. In other words, this is a surprisingly sincere film
about people we probably know caught in situations we are
uncomfortably familiar with. We identify with them and hope they
can work it out but , like the Cub fans portrayed by Vaughn's
crowd in this film, we realize that we may be backing a loser.
It's not a mean-spirited film, as some critics suggested, but
it does have long stretches without laughs and, if you react as I
did, it will leave you feeling ... well ... sad. I was pleasantly
surprised to see Aniston and Vaughn give credible performances in
roles which were credibly written. It's a very competent film,
good in many ways, and the DVD has plenty of extra features and
additional footage, but it's all about expectations, isn't it?
People just don't expect to leave a Vince Vaughn film with a
wistful tear in their eye.
- Critics were less than lukewarm. It received only 33%
positive reviews. (Ebert and Berardinelli awarded two stars
- Audiences were more receptive than critics, and ponied up
more than $100 million domestically, bringing the grand total to
more than $200 million worldwide.
- IMDb is between those extremes with a tepid 5.8 rating.
- It's a nice solid C on our scale
Third party videos:
- A little clearer look at Maria
Sharapova's slip at Wimbledon in 2004 (Zipped
- Two of the stars of the rarely-seen Rapid Fire, the last
Brandon Lee movie released in his lifetime. (The Crow was
Hankster is back! Oddly enough, I got two e-mails yesterday
asking about him!
Yellow asterisk: funny (maybe). White asterisk: expanded format.
Blue asterisk: not mine. No asterisk: it probably sucks.
Black Venus (1983)
Black Venus is a work of typical 80s erotica supposedly based on a Balzac
story. It decidedly has the feel of Victorian era erotica. The film begins in
a fancy house, where Emiliano Redondo is given a tour of the two way mirrors
into the themed bordello rooms, and sees a face he knows. He then relates her
Exotic Venus (Josephine Jacqueline Jones) meets a starving sculptor,
and the two fall instantly in love. She becomes the inspiration he was looking
for and he begins work on her statue. Unfortunately, he is broke, and when the
landlord tries to rape her in exchange for the rent money, she decides to go
to work as a model. Models can earn lots of money, provided that they do more
than modeling. The sculptor can't cope with being a kept man, and tosses her
out. She ends up kept by a married lesbian (Karin Schubert), until hubby
returns with a tart of his own (Florence Guérin) and forces Venus to bed her.
This is not a problem, but his returning with several party guests to turn
them into an orgy does. Meanwhile, Venus has made a friend for life. The
sculptor has now finished his masterpiece, but refuses to sell it, and is
losing everything, including his health, brooding. Venus again meets up with
Florence Guérin, who convinces her to come to work in a brothel, whose
employee list includes a 20 year old Monique Gabrielle, who looks stunning.
Finally, Emiliano Redondo buys freedom for the two of them and takes them to
This film aired in an 80 minute version on cable, and the same version is
available on VHS. It is being released on DVD October 31 of this year in an
uncut and remastered 95 minute version. It is being released by a new
distribution company called Private Screening, a spin-off of Severin (who
brought us Gwendoline). They will concentrate on International erotica, and
are off to a running start. If they continue with equally worthy material and
decent transfers, they will be getting a lot of my money.
IMDb rates this 4.4, but that is based on the 80 minute version. This film
is wall-to-wall full frontal and rear nudity, with some suggestion of hetero
and lesbian sex among two or more people, has a lovely cast, some exotic
locations, and claims literary parentage. What more could you ask for?
This is a C+, top-notch genre fare.
Josephine Jacqueline Jones, who
shows everything, was born in the Bahamas, and was Miss Bahamas in 1979. This is
one of her best films. |
and several unknowns|
Pat's comments in yellow...
Tuesday, Wesley Snipes, star of "White Men Can't Jump" and the "Blade"
trilogy, was indicted on eight counts of tax fraud for allegedly failing to pay
nearly $12 million in income taxes and not filing returns for six years. The
feds say Snipes hired a tax preparer with a history of filing bogus returns. In
2001, he allegedly filed an amended return for Snipes seeking a $7.3 million
refund for taxes paid in 1997, claiming Snipes' adjusted gross income was zero.
If convicted, Snipes could face up to 16 years in prison. The IRS said he
hadn't been arrested yet because they don't know where he is.
* Look for his next movie, White men can't jump bail.
Since only one of the seven wonders of the ancient world (the pyramids of Giza)
still exists, the non-profit monument preservation group New7Wonders.com is
asking people to vote for a New Seven Wonders of the World. 200 suggestions
were narrowed down to 21 candidates. The choices only had to be built before
2000, so they range from obvious choices such as Stonehenge, the Acropolis and
the Great Wall of China to more recent candidates, such as the Eiffel Tower, the
Sydney Opera House and the Statue of Liberty.
* And, of course, Donald Trump's hair.
Madonna released an open letter, claiming that she adopted her Malawi
baby "according to the law, like anyone else," and tabloids claim she now
wants to adopt a baby African girl
* What, was Malawi having a "Buy one-get one free"
Al Sharpton is launching a fundraising campaign to sue Cracker Barrel on
behalf of Chris Rock's mother, who claims she was seated at one of their
restaurants in South Carolina and not waited on for an hour
* If Chris Rock's mom has to eat at Cracker Barrel, she
should sue Chris