Spanking the Monkey (1994):
When he was a precocious young man, film director David O. Russell had
one particularly unpleasant summer when his activities were restricted
by the physical demands of caring for his bed-ridden mother after she
got into an auto accident. His father, a publishing executive for
Simon and Shuster, was away on business most of the time, leaving
David to do the yeoman's work at home. It was the summer from hell.
Russell's mother was, according to many
(including Russell), a smart woman who gave up her own career plans to
be an upper middle class housewife and mother, and developed a severe drinking problem.
Without enough to occupy her time, she doted excessively on her only
son, but also pushed him hard and berated him frequently, even
slipping occasionally into physical abuse.
Spanking the Monkey is writer/director Russell's
revenge for that summer. The basic components of the fictional story
are similar to the events of that year, but include many
melodramatic embellishments. Ray, the character who represents Russell, is a
high school valedictorian who has just completed his first year at MIT
and has done so well that he's been granted a prestigious summer
internship with the U.S. Surgeon General's Office. It was to be the
summer of his life, and was spoiled because of his mom's broken leg
and his father's life as a road warrior. Life in the house is hell. He
is unable to get any real time for himself because of his mother's
lack of locomotion and her desire to manipulate him. He has to carry her to the toilet and the shower
and to assist her with other intimate processes.
Even his attempts at masturbating (spanking the monkey) fail because
of a whiny family dog who can't bear to be locked out of the bathroom.
There is one very significant place where
Spanking the Monkey (presumably) varies from the real story. It
portrays a different kind of physical abuse - not beating, but sexual
mom eventually maneuvers him into a sexual encounter, and
the frustrated son allows the incident to happen.
Talk about family fun! How did Disney pass on
Russell wrote this as a spec script,
supposedly in a seven day frenzy of output, and finally cut a
tentative deal with New Line, which offered him a million dollars to
make the film if he could offset the taboo subject matter by getting a major star to agree to act in it. Russell flew out to Hollywood in
search of Faye Dunaway, but was summarily rejected. "She laughed
in his face," said Russell's ex-wife, Janet Grillo. Even though Grillo
worked at New Line, that studio's offer was dropped when Russell could not
convince Dunaway or any other name player to appear in the film. Russell then had to put
it all together as an indie film. He raised $80,000 initially, half of it from selling
$1,000 shares to friends and family, with the other half coming from a
couple of film grants. Unfortunately, that only got him halfway
through the script, and he then had to turn to a film completion fund to
get the job done. He saved money by housing the crew for free, a deal
which he obtained by agreeing to make a promotional video for the
The filmmaking story has a happy ending. The film won the audience award at Sundance,
and New Line bought it. They only paid a lowball $250,000, but that
was enough for Russell to recoup his costs, repay his investors, and
show the world what he was capable of. Russell would soon go on to
some substantial success as the writer/director of the
critically-praised Three Kings (93%
positive reviews). New Line also ended up satisfied with the
Spanking the Monkey deal because the film took in $1.4 million at the
(The stories and quotes above come from pages
48-53 of Sharon Waxman's Rebels on the Backlot, a study of
Hollywood in the 1990's. The book is linked below. )
Whether you approve of the subject matter or not, you
concede that Spanking the Monkey is a very impressive effort for
$200,000. It looks and feels like a much bigger film. The
cinematography and editing are competent, the pacing is excellent, and the two major roles are
delivered by solid actors (Alberta Watson and Jeremy Davies). The
great weakness of the film, as I see it, is not
in the controversial subject matter as in the fact that the
treatment hovers in limbo between comedy and tragedy. The Rolling
Stone quote on the DVD box says, "shockingly funny," but that comment
seems to come out of fantasyland, or perhaps it is spin required by a
societal code that will not allow mother/son incest to be considered
anything but black comedy. In reality, the incest is handled
believably, in such a way as to involve the audience in the increasing
sexual tension, to share the POV which led to the encounter, and to
understand the incident. There is nothing funny about the sexuality
between the two characters and Spanking the Monkey is not a funny movie
in general, although it is not
without wit. Nor does the film ridicule the incestuous partners. On
the other hand, it is not quite a realistic character study either.
Take, for example, the character of the father. He is exaggerated to
the point where his rules and his self-pitying martyrdom and his philandering are a
wild caricature of people we may know - but he is not exaggerated
sufficiently to be funny, and he's not distorted enough to be surreal.
He's just a lot more irritating than your dad or some
dad you know who is like him but not quite as bad. He's an archetype,
but not a comic stereotype. Not funny.
Russell is one of those smart, introverted,
aloof filmmakers who are beloved by critics, but don't generally
generate enough warmth to elicit much love from mainstream moviegoers.
Critics considered him one of the best filmmakers of the 1990s, but
his IMDb scores are in the "OK, not brilliant" range. I'm not sure
whether the critics have the best overall perspective, but it does seem to me that
Three Kings is probably underrated at IMDb. A film with 93% positive
reviews and $60 million at the box office should be Top 250 material,
and it is not even close.
I don't know if I'm the only one left who still
pictures David O. Russell as a wunderkind who will soon enter the
adult phase of his directorial career, but that is certainly a
misapprehension. He is approaching 50 (he's 47 years old). If he is going to make it to
the cinema pantheon, he had better hurry up because he's not getting
any younger, and his last film was considered
a major step downward from his previous one, despite the fact that
five prime years of his life seemed to disappear between the two films.
The Straight Dope: What's the scoop on the mysterious
buried treasure at Oak Island, Nova Scotia?
The Smoking Gun offers
More Alito Abortion Insight
Odd Couple outtakes, from Jack Klugman's blog
"Eye Movement and Direction and How it Can Reveal the
Truth or a Lie "
MrTwig has the latest South Park episode.
Lindsay Lohan: A Little More Personal is streaming for
The names of 73 bands are hidden in this picture. ...
I saw a guy smashing some pumpkins, a lead zeppelin, a
queen, a cart full of guns and roses, etc.
Conan is interrupted by the traveling salesman guy.
Actress Sperber Loses Breast Cancer Fight
- "Actress Wendie Jo Sperber, who starred opposite Tom
Hanks on TV's 'Bosom Buddies' and who in his words
became 'a walking inspiration' after she contracted
cancer, has died. She was 46."
"Brad & Angelina Tokyo press conference (for Mr & Mrs
Smith premiere) is a killer, the first time they've gone
public for real. 5 minute clip, first 2 minutes in
Japanese, last 3 in English. Her very last sentence at the
end, I construe at least to be directed at Jennifer
10 sexy movie men
- The offbeat list includes Mike Nelson from MST3K
Film of a Ferrari tearing through the streets of Paris
"women fart three times more often than men"
Man acquitted in sex assault because he was asleep
Radiologists warn Cruise and Katie about performing
sonograms without a doctor's supervision
Robot or Human? Here's ACTROID
- I wondered whatever happened to Tatum O'Neal
Your chance to own Jerry Garcia's toilet.
- Is this a great country, or what? I'm going to buy
it and put it on my boat. It will be called The Grateful
Colbert asks, "Was the Black Death really that bad?"
Colbert's word for the day: confidence
The Daily Show looks at the Canadian laundering scandal,
shocked that somewhere a liberal party is in power.
The Daily Show looks at the Duke Cunningham scandal.
Jon Stewart interviews Peggy Noonan
- The author of 'John Paul the Great' talks about the
many 'isms' the Pope fought."
The Daily Show looks at New Jersey's search for a new
state slogan. Here's our short list:
- "Entering New Jersey. Who farted?"
- "We got no slogan. You got a problem wit' dat?"
- "Slogan dis!" (Grabs crotch.)
- "Hey, look, not every state can have the Big Fuckin'
- "New Jersey. Some parts are pretty safe."
The trailer from The Tiger and the Snow
- "A love-struck Italian poet (Roberto Benigni, the
French Rob Schneider) is stuck in Iraq at the onset of
an American invasion."
Seven clips from Memoirs of a Geisha
- "Based on the internationally acclaimed novel by
Arthur Golden, 'Memoirs of a Geisha' is a sweeping
romantic epic set in a mysterious and exotic world that
still casts a potent spell today. The story begins in
the years before WWII when a penniless Japanese child is
torn from her family to work as a maid in a geisha
house. Despite a treacherous rival who nearly breaks her
spirit, the girl blossoms into the legendary geisha
Sayuri (Ziyi Zhang). Beautiful and accomplished, Sayuri
captivates the most powerful men of her day, but is
haunted by her secret love for the one man who is out of
her reach (Ken Watanabe)."
Eleven clips from Syriana.
Coming Soon now has both trailers (domestic and
international) for Marebito
- The international trailer is R-rated
- "Masuoka is a cameraman possessed by the craving to
understand fear--what it is and where it ultimately
leads. He wanders the Tokyo streets, a voyeur, hungrily
looking for clues. Obsessing over the haunted
expressions of the faces he has captured in his daily
filming, in particular a man who committed a grisly
suicide on the metro. He returns to the scene to better
comprehend the dead man's reasoning. Following his final
gaze leads Masuoka to a door, an entry into a bizarre,
cavernous underworld. Here among the ghosts and the
subterranean robots called Dero's he finds a beautiful
young girl chained to a rock. Saving her from her
imprisonment he takes her home. But watching her from
his web-cam at work each day he begins to suspect there
is something truly inhuman about this girl with sharp
teeth and who walks on all fours. When he begins to
uncover her horrifying secrets Masuoka realises that he
has found the key to gaining the terrible knowledge he
The trailer for Take the Lead
- "Inspired by a true story, Antonio Banderas stars as
internationally acclaimed ballroom dancer Pierre Dulane
in the family drama 'Take the Lead'. The film revolves
around a professional dancer who volunteers to teach in
the New York City public school system. But when his
classic methods clash with his students' hip hop
instincts, he teams up with them to create a new style
of dance and becomes their mentor in the process. 'Take
the Lead' co-stars Alfre Woodard and marks the feature
directing debut of veteran music video helmer Liz
Friedlander (U2, Blink 182, Simple Plan)."
There are now two trailers online for The Libertine,
with Johnny Depp
The international trailer for Steve Martin's upcoming
bomb, The Pink Panther
Six clips from The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The
Witch and The Wardrobe
BUSH SETS TIMETABLE FOR WITHDRAWAL - OF CINDY SHEEHAN
... Antiwar Mom's Protest Could Be Over Next Week,
Paris Match required to pay a stiff fine for publishing
the truth about Prince Albert.
- They revealed, accurately, that Albert had an
- The French legal system can seem incomprehensible to
outsiders raised to believe that newspapers are always
on solid ground when they publish the truth about public
figures. The court ruled against the publishers for
violations of French privacy laws. (Although the Prince
himself is obviously not a French citizen.)
Protecting America's Borders: President Bush Announces
Bill of Rights for Non-Terrorist Brown Folk Sneaking Into
the Nation Of Texas (WHITEHOUSE.ORG)
"Jeremy Piven (HBO's Entourage) is in final talks to star
in New Line Cinema's untitled man vs. nature project.
The film will mark the first starring, above-the-title
credit in his career."
Rolling Stones 1997 -- Bridges to Babylon album
- Submitter wrote: "Man, is this video hot. Song was a
minor hit and was co-written by kd lang (who probably
got a boner watching it)."
The saga of the VIKING MARTHA STEWART?
Julia Roberts still ranks as Hollywood's highest-paid
Larry David's monologue on Earth to America
"Saddam Hones Stand-Up Routine ... Uses Trial To Make Fun
The domestic trailer for The Syrian Bride
- "Mona's wedding day is the saddest day of her life.
She knows that once she crosses the border between
Israel and Syria to marry Syrian TV star Tallel, she
will never be allowed back to her beloved family in
Majdal Shams, the largest Druze village in the Golan
Heights, occupied by Israel since 1967. 'The Syrian
Bride' is about physical, mental and emotional borders
and the will to cross them. A story about a family
trying to cope with its ability to draw boundaries and
deal with them - focusing on Mona's sister Amal, a
modern woman trapped in a tradition and culture she
wants to break out of. Once you cross the border there
is no way back and at the end of a long day, the family,
the government and military officials and all those
gathered on both sides of the border find themselves
facing an uncertain future, trapped in No-Man's land
between Israel and Syria."
Gregory Peck's Hollywood Star Is Stolen
Moby Dick: The Musical
Kevin Costner sues over alleged breach of movie contract
- "The movie about a gruff divorced man who refuses to
sell his failing vineyard to a nearby golf course was
Yellow asterisk: funny (maybe). White asterisk: expanded format.
Blue asterisk: not mine. No asterisk: it probably sucks.
With These Hands ... (1971)
With These Hands... is a British film released by Jezebel under the title
Sex Clinic. Jezebel generally releases British sex comedies, and IMDb has this
one rated at 3.0, with the following summary, "Homosexual and heterosexual
adventures in a so-called clinic." As you may well imagine, I was expecting a
terrible soft core effort. I was pleasantly surprised, however. Although the
film contains nudity, it is actually a story about a self-serving owner of a
massage therapy salon who schemes after bug bucks and gets her comeuppance.
She treats wealthy customers personally, and extorts huge cash sums from them
using any tool in her possession, including sexual teasing, lesbian servicing,
and blackmail. When a wealthy widow runs out of cash, she cuts her off, making
the woman distraught. While Ann (Polly Adams) has never enjoyed sex, she
finally meets the man of her dreams and falls in love.
Adams does full frontal and rear nudity, Carmen Silvera, as the aging
lesbian, shows breasts. Several unknown women show body parts at a party
organized by Ann.
While IMDb is possibly the most useful site on the Internet, when they blow
it, they really blow it. The acting was not at all good, some aspects of the
story-telling were a little heavy handed, and I guessed the ending about half
way through, but this was an attempt at a story with a little bit of nudity
thrown in. It is probably best labeled exploitation, and is marginally
watchable. This is a low C-.
In the French movie On ne meurt que deux fois (1985; litterally meaning "you only die twice") the question is whether or not
Charlotte Rampling killed Charlie. Not our
Charlie of course who provides us weekly with our dose of Gallic nudity. The
police inspector who has to find the answer is Michel Serrault, who joins a
stark naked Charlotte Rampling in the bath room. Luckily for us Mike keeps his
clothes on. All in all you can see Charlotte in all her 40 year old splendor
for over five minutes.
A certain Agnès Cassandre also
a brief nude appearance in this film, aka He
Died With His Eyes Open, that seems no longer available on region 1 DVD. It is
still available in France though.
Now I'd like to come back to the link to that Dutch 50 Cent
parody in Tuesday's Fun House. I don't know what 50 Cent originally sang, but
for those of you who don't understand Dutch, this is what you hear in the
parody translated into English to the best of my ability:
Refrein : Pijpen, beffen, wippen, lekker naaien,
Refrain: Give blow-jobs, eat pussy, bang, nice screwing,
neuken, trekken, dikke tieten graaien
fuck, wank, grope big tits
Pikken, hoeren, tieten, laat je likken,
Dicks, whores, tits, let lick yourself,
klaarkomen, sperma slikken.
come, swallow sperm.
Schaamlippen, penis, anus, vingeren,
Labia, penis, anus, fingering,
met je lange piemel slingeren.
swing your long willie.
Hete wijven met je blote knaller,
Hot chicks with your naked shooter,
op je wallen naar de wallen ???
up to the red light district ???
In de hoeren roeren, vuistneukend geil,
Pokin' in the whores, fistfucking cum,
biseksuelen natter dan een dweil.
bisexuals wetter than a floor-cloth.
Condoompje lek, vibrator in je kont,
Little condom leak, vibrator up your ass,
ejaculeren in haar mond. ejaculate
in her mouth.
Klemmen op m'n tepels, touwtje om m'n zak,
Clamps on my nipples, little rope around my sack,
nylons, hoge hakken, jarretels, lekker strak.
nylon stockings, high heels, garters, nice and tight.
Handige slavin, die zich niet meer wast,
Handy slave-girl, who doesn't wash anymore,
alles likken wanneer ze heeft geplast.
Licking everything when she has pee-ed.
Met de snollen dollen, sperma opgespaard,
Horsing about with the floozies, saved up sperm,
lul schoonvegen aan haar paardenstaart. wipe
cock clean with her ponytail.
Parkeerplaatsseks, perverse vent,
Parking space sex, perverted dude,
voorpin, pikken, impotent.
front pin, dicks, impotent.
I hope this is what you all may have expected, or is it? What
is even more astonishing is that this clip aired on Dutch network TV around 8
p.m. Anyway, that's all for today. I'm still trying to get that song out
of my head.
Here are a couple of scans I pulled off the web; they show
a different angle of Kelly Brook's topless romp.
Gotta wonder just how many photographers came along for the ride on this one.
And please oh please I do hope someone got some video. All I want for
Pat's comments in yellow...
JACKSON'S KIDS NOT REALLY HIS
Definitely Not From Tito! - Michael Jackson's
ex-wife Debbie Rowe has
finally admitted to an Irish newspaper that he is not the biological father
of their two blonde children, Prince Michael Jr. and Paris. He got the
sperm from an anonymous donor, and she has no idea who it was.
* Michael Jackson showed up at my house carrying sperm, I
wouldn't want to ask where he got it, either.
* Michael Jackson, living with children who aren't his own?! Why, it's
"HUGE" CONDOMS NOT TRUTHFUL ADVERTISING
Well, Huge Compared To French Condoms - A new
company is about to market a product called "HUGE Condoms." They'll appear
first in Florida, then be sold nationally in 2006. The condoms are no larger
than regular condoms, but they come in a larger box and have the brand name
"HUGE" stamped on them in big letters. The makers expect men will buy them,
just for the name.
* In Florida, the letters have to be huge so the old guys on Viagra can
JESSICA AND NICK DIVORCE MAY GET UGLY
"A Pre-Nup? Is That One Of Those Electric Cars?" -
The New York Post's Page
Six reports that back in 2002, newlyweds Nick Lachey and Jessica Simpson
were so sure they'd be together forever, they didn't sign a pre-nuptial
agreement. Jessica has reportedly hired a top celebrity divorce lawyer
because she made most of the money, including $35 million last year alone,
while Nick's career stalled, and she could end up paying him big alimony.
* That will really upset Jessica, once someone explains
to her that
"alimony" is not a type of seafood.
* How could she BE so stupid?!...Oh, wait...
* Fortunately for Jessica, her lawyer has a great case for claiming mental