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Gaby Hoffmann and Carrie Brownstein

The Reluctant Fundamentalist


No nudity but Kate Hudson is in her underwear.


2013; 1080hd

Libby Munro film clip (collages below)

Lize Feryn and Dewi Reijs in Een echte Vermeer (2016) in 1080hd

Joelle Kayembe, Dominique Jossie and Inge Beckmann in Zulu (2013) in 1080hd




Elisabeth Shue in Cousin Bette (1998) in 1080hd

Cousin Bette is a 19th century period piece, a bawdy sex chain (a loves b, b loves c, c loves d, etc) filled with misunderstandings, all based upon a novel by Balzac. Jessica Lange is the titular Cousin Bette, and she is out for revenge on her own family for various affronts. When her pampered cousin dies, Jessica thinks that the widower has proposed marriage, but he has actually only invited her to become his housekeeper. Then a bit later, when she falls in love with a starving artist, the artist is stolen away by her young and beautiful niece. So she plots her manipulative revenge on all of them, enlisting the aid of a beautiful actress, and manipulating the resources of the richest man in Paris, who has his own score to settle with the niece and the artist.

It isn't easy to direct or perform 19th century sex farce. The 19th century was an age when newly emergent freedom allowed the middle and intellectual classes to cast an ever-broader net of social satire, in which every character might be an object of ridicule. The successful presentation of this hinges on maintaining the correct tone when the characters speak ironically to each other, as well as when they make sincere comments that we viewers recognize to have additional ironic complications because of details which we know but they do not. This is difficult to perform because it's so unnatural. Think about it. Your beloved cousin, from whom you were expecting a marriage proposal, says "Well, Bette, you don't need love. After all, you've gone your entire life without love and it hasn't done you any harm now, has it?" Now the camera goes to you and you have to make an appropriate facial expression without turning into Jerry Lewis or Gilligan.

Given that difficulty, I thought they pulled this off rather well.

The one weakness in presentation might be the lack of a true Gallic flavor in a work of a great French writer. Although the story takes place in France, and was actually filmed there, the actors make no effort to effect a sense of France. The three stars are Jessica Lange, Elisabeth Shue and Bob Hoskins, all of whom speak in their natural accents. If you don't see the buildings, you might think it takes place in London or Philadelphia. When you get right down to it, this movie really takes place in some undefined country somewhere, one which looks like France.

But I can't conclusively call that a weakness, because I don't see that it really matters where they are, as long as the movie is fun, which it is. Great costumes, stylish period settings, and a certain lively flavor make this move fast and deliver a few chuckles, even if it all amounts to nothing more than a bagatelle.