The Piano
This movie is notable in several ways. Holly Hunter won an Oscar for best actress despite speaking almost no dialogue, and participating in a role highly charged with sexual situations and nudity. The movie itself is an artistic and beautifully photographed film from a female director, the kiwi Jane Campion , who also directed The Portrait of a Lady. If your taste runs to action movies, this is not your cup of tea, but if you appreciate some thoughtful filmmaking, you'll enjoy this story about a Scottish woman who goes across the world to an arranged marriage with a stranger who lives in in a bleak part of New Zealand. Her new husband is so insensitive that he will not help her transport to his home the piano she dragged from Scotland to New Zealand. Harvey Keitel, a roughneck who has virtually gone native Maori, trades Hunter's husband some land for the piano, and then allows Hunter to buy it back key by key with sexual favors. Keitel looks like a native, but turns out to be far more tender and complex than the man she came to marry (Sam Neill). A background of still nature and piano music, splendid acting, and some artistic photographic composition of the coasts and rain forests, make the film a masterpiece in many ways. It won (tied, actually) the Golden Palm at Cannes, which probably tells you all you need to know about the type of film it is. Links:
  • IMDb listing
  • Ebert's review: (4*)
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    Features: This was one of the first films to be mastered on DVD, and it doesn't have many features. You can choose widescreen or normal, both satisfactory prints, and there is a theatrical trailer and a couple bios, but no genuine extras.

    Monty Python's The Meaning of Life
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    Patricia Quinn

  • IMDb listing
  • Features: regrettably, this DVD has no special features
    OK, so it isn't as good as the Life of Brian, or as funny as The Holy Grail. It's still the Python troupe, all alive and together, in their prime, and who's funnier than that? Not many people. Kick back and sing along with Catholic Michael Palin when he croons "Every Sperm is Sacred", or puke along with Mr Creosote

    The first four collages are a condemned prisoner who gets to choose his own method of execution. Surprisingly, he passes on the Spanish Inquisition and chooses being chased over a cliff by topless women. The last one is Cleese and Quinn teaching sex-ed to a room full of schoolboys.

    Melvin and Howard
    This is a surprisingly engaging movie, a true story (well, one version of it, anyway) about a lower class guy who ends up in one of Howard Hughes' wills because he once gave Hughes a charitable ride into Vegas when Hughes looked like an old bum out in the desert. Melvin Dummar was one of life's losers, and this movie tells us that. he's a nice guy, and he has some charm, but he's never succeeded at anything until he finds himself the inheritor of $160 million in the Hughes will, and the subject of national scrutiny and attention. As I mentioned, although it is based on an actual incident, it is fundamentally Dummar's version of the incident. It's a pretty good yarn though. Dummar forces Hughes to sing (or walk home!), and their time together is touching. Mary Steenburgen's nude scene is one of my favorites, although it's in funky strip-club lighting. She quits her job as a stripper by tearing off her costume completely, and walking out of the club stark naked. The movie was directed by Jonathan Demme (Silence of the Lambs) Links: IMDb listing Collage #1

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    Features: It has the usual theatrical trailer and talent bios, but more important, it has an audio commentary by Jonathan Demme. It is available in widescreen format only, and it's only an average print.

    If you haven't seen this movie, well, shame on you. Actually, people love it or hate it. Ebert, for example, hated it. It looks like it was made in someone's basement (although it still looks a step up from "Clerks"). The acting is impossibly bad, especially Michael Rooker as the guy like Dean Wormer. It is slapstick and sophomoric. Now forget all that, because it has a sharp and demented cutting edge, and there just isn't any humor with an edge any more. John Landis stopped making Animal House after ... well, after Animal House, but these guys never stopped. The director, Kevin Smith (Clerks, Chasing Amy), has a satiric anarchistic edge and a casual style that always break me up. Elya and Katya were laughing as much as I was. Smith is also the funniest character in all of his movies - the legendary Silent Bob. This movie is worth watching if for no other reason than to see Jay and Silent Bob, the two chronic stoners, kick the shit out of the Easter Bunny when they take another character's joke completely seriously. It ain't "Love and Death" on the intelligence scale, but it made me laugh, dammit!

    Links: IMDb listing Ebert's review (1.5*)

    Joey Lauren Adams
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    Features: This thing has more features than a Lexus. It has more than an hour of additional footage, and commentary through every scene and every bit of extra footage. Alternate openings, alternate endings, original screen drafts. You name it. A great DVD if you are a fan. Just more slapstick crap if you aren't.

    "Little Voice" is a cool little movie, in which three of the four principals were nominated for acting awards, and the fourth is Ewan McGregor, who ain't so bad his ownself. It's about a young woman who hasn't left the house since her father died. She is meek and totally browbeaten by her loudmouth alkie mum, so she withdraws into her beloved dad's favorite music. Turns out she can perfectly mimic all the singers on those albums (Judy Garland, Shirley Bassey, Marilyn Monroe and others), so a sleazebag third-rate talent agent (Michael Caine) sees her as his way out, and will do anything to con and exploit her into performing publicly. The Brits seems to have a knack for these oddball films filled with quirky characters. Jane Horrocks is dazzling in her singing role. The picture of her is simply a portrait to show you how cute she looked. The girl can sing, too, I mean really sing - she did all her own songs for the film.
  • Jane Horrocks portrait
  • Karen Gregory as a stripper.
  • IMDb listing
  • Ebert's review (3*)
  • "After Dark, My Sweet" couldn't be much worse. Well, yes it could. How? The director could have noticed that Rachel Ward's nipple was slightly visible and cut it. I've never seen this frame before! Since Ward is a great beauty, that almost justifies a trip through this with the fast forward. Bruce Dern is a corrupt ex-cop looking for an easy payday. He figures ex-boxer Jason Patric is a not-too-bright patsy for his criminal scheme. Although Patric seems to be a dullard, he actually turns out to be not so dumb. It's one of those where nobody knows who he can trust. In the triangle, Patric can't figure if Ward is aligned with Dern or him, or just out for herself. Who cares? Now that Don Johnson shaves regularly, Patric has taken over the 5 o'clock shadow award.

    The DVD is completely featureless. It doesn't even have a main menu. And it's a lousy print as well.

  • Rachel Ward's nipple
  • a non-nude nude of Ward.
  • I did this for my male site, but Rachel Ward looks quite sexy with her legs spread underneath Patric.
  • IMDb listing
  • Washington Post review
  • "Arlington Road" is a completely new release. It has an unremittingly bleak world view, and it doesn't pull one punch. No happy ending, no hero saving the day. The hero, in fact, screws up everything. It is a pretty taut thriller about a guy (Jeff Bridges) who suspects that his neighbor (Tim Robbins) is a right-wing fanatic bomber. The movie fooled me because I kept waiting for it so crack and let the audience relax, but it never did. It isn't a great movie, but I admire its lack of compromises. Unfortunately, no nudity. Hope Davis showed a little hint of nipple under her nightdress, but it's really not even worth a look.

    The DVD has complete commentary, and an alternate ending with commentary.

  • Hope Davis
  • IMDb listing
  • Ebert review (2*)
  • You know "The Last Boy Scout". It's another one of the seemingly infinite string of movies in which Bruce Willis emerged as the Burt Reynolds of the 90's. Willis plays a former secret service agent, a hero once, whose career was burned out by his own integrity. Shut out by powerful men he ticked off, he now resorts to working as a private eye and has lost all his self-respect. This is good for us, because his doomed gallows humor is the real saving grace of the movie. Willis is great - vintage Willis in his quintessential smart-ass role. The movie stinks, despite Ebert's three stars. The plot, along with virtually every minute of action, is totally implausible. Willis teams up Damon Wayans, who is also funny, to foil a massive sports gambling scheme. Barney Rubble seems like a real guy compared to the characters in this movie.

    Halle Berry is in the movie, but her stripper shots are probably a body double. (No face) She does have a decent nipple-poke in another scene. Some miscellaneous strippers and party girls get topless.

  • Halle
  • Denise Ames
  • Sara Suzanne Brown
  • Halle (body double)
  • Halle (body double)
  • IMDb listing
  • Ebert review (3*)
  • "Army of Darkness" has been re-released in a director's cut, with several scenes restored. It walks a very strange line between humor and horror. It is another one that people love or hate. A 20th century store clerk is transported back to medieval times, during which he messes up a search for the fabled Necronomicon, and in so doing, raises an army of the dead to fight against the humans he meets. He's back in those times with his car and a McCulloch chainsaw and a shotgun that never runs out of ammo or has to be reloaded and - oh, hell, it doesn't matter. A lot of people love this thing. I like many things about it, but I fast forwarded through parts of it. Funniest thing: everyone mumbles during the fight scenes, just like Popeye and Bluto, and if you listen to them, the mumbling is quite funny.

    Embeth Davidtz was in a topless love scene that was restored in the director's cut (not present in the theatrical release, which also comes in the 2-DVD set), but don't get your hopes up. It's so dark I can't see a damned thing, and so short I don't know why they bothered cutting it. In another scene, a human woman is a prisoner of the dead army, and she is chained and topless.

  • Prisoner
  • Prisoner
  • Davidtz
  • Davidtz
  • IMDb listing
  • Ebert review (2*)