Last Exit to Brooklyn (1989):
When I was in college, in the dying embers of the sixties, there
were about five books that you had to have read (or at least
claimed to have read) in order to maintain intellectual
credibility within the university-educated portion of our generation.
I'm not talking about "To Kill a Mockingbird" or "Catcher in the Rye"
or any of the books that we all had to read because they appeared on
our mandatory summer reading lists in prep schools. Quite the
opposite. The books I'm referring to would merit detention and a phone
call to your parents if you were caught reading them in a poncy high
school. That list included such boho fare as "On The Road," "Naked
Lunch," "Tropic of Cancer" ... and "Last Exit to Brooklyn."
In "Last Exit," Hubert Selby, Jr. wrote about the lives and
problems of the disaffected urban poor. This was back in the days when
the pre-gentrified inner cities were totally run-down, and were still
filled with poor, ethnic white people wearing cheap hats and smoking
several packs per day. Selby specifically focused on the problems of
Brooklyn longshoremen struggling for a decent life amid the heroin
addicts, street gangs, and prostitutes that defined their squalid
neighborhoods. Of course, many of them used to be in the gangs
themselves, and they were generally hard men who had abusive
upbringings, and very often dropped out of school. They were racist
and hateful, in that special way that uneducated, downtrodden people
with dead-end lives can be. Selby's book showed all of that. It
shocked middle America back then in many ways, not the least of which
involved the colorful vocabularies employed by his characters. Their
language was ... well, kinda salty. English has an expression "swears
like a longshoreman," and that cliché didn't gestate without reason.
It's a depressing movie. Here are some of the events you can expect
A father finds out his daughter his pregnant, then beats her
boyfriend up, only to embrace him as a new son-in-law. He only beat
the kid up out of love. That goes on fairly well until they get into
another drunken fistfight at the wedding, and carelessly knock a baby
on the floor. But they only did it out of love.
Then a prostitute is dumped by her one and only gentle lover, a
naive army lieutenant. In order to drown her sorrows, she gets drunk
and offers herself and "the best tits in the Western world" to every
man in a bar. Oh, sure they gang-rape her violently. But they only do
so out of love.
I'm really having a hard time remembering why we felt it important
to read this book back in the sixties. I guess it was to expose us to
the seedy underbelly of America, which was filled with lives very
different from the ones we shared with our suburban prep-school
friends. In fact, we didn't even know that people like this existed.
Some of us had blue collar dads, but they weren't like the guys in
this book. My dad was a machinist who grew up in the inner city, but
he wasn't violent, even when he drank too much, and I can't even
remember him raising his voice in anger. I never heard him use a cuss
word until I was in my forties, and even then I was the one who
started it. Some of my other friends had dads who worked in one of the
Kodak plants or at the Genesee brewery, and some of my uncles were
regular working Joes, but they were all decent guys, guys who helped
out with Boy Scouts when they could, mowed their lawns, paid their
bills, bought Christmas presents, and generally disqualified
themselves from becoming Hubert Selby characters.
I knew only one down-and-outer, an uncle who became a hopeless
alkie and ended up panhandling. It's kind of a sad story. He had been
our family's most decorated war hero, but adjusted so miserably in
civilian life that he re-enlisted when he was in his early thirties.
Even though it was the Vietnam era, the Navy drummed him out when that
term was up because he was nearly forty and there was still a draft in
those days, churning out an endless supply of young guys. The family
gossip was that he had simply disappeared, or maybe that's just what
they told the young 'uns. One night when I was sixteen, I was
wandering through downtown Rochester on my way to pick up my
girlfriend from ballet class when my long-lost Uncle Joe approached
me. He failed to recognize me (he hadn't seen me since I was ten, back
before his re-enlistment), and asked me for spare change. I recognized
him, of course. He was the guy who taught me how to shoot pool,
and he was still only 39 years old when I saw him that night. Hell, he
looked about the same as the last time I had seen him. The sad part is
that he was still wearing his navy uniform - his whites, no less, with
the cuffs all soiled by slush - and he had no overcoat, although it
was the dead of winter. His situation was heartbreaking, but the point
is that he was the only low-life I had ever known, and he was
basically a decent guy who turned out pathetic, not dangerous - no
needles, no violence - so Selby's Brooklyn world seemed completely
fictional to me. It seemed like an ugly fairy tale, and frankly it
still does, even after I lived in and even taught school in places
like the Bronx.
In that respect, I guess the film has some value, because it
manages to give shape to the world of its characters, whereas I never
really could have pictured these lives on my own. On the other
hand, I wasn't really convinced by it. I'll give you an example. The
prostitute Tralala was gang-raped in multiple locations by dozens of
guys who carried her from place to place. When the ordeal was over,
she was still wearing her skirt. Huh? You mean after so many guys did
whatever they wanted to do to her, not a single one of them ever
wanted to just rip off that skirt and see the goods? I'm not buyin'
it. In addition, her hair wasn't even messed up very much. By lowball
urban hooker standards, she looked fresh enough to do a Summer's Eve
commercial. Does this mean that drunken, uneducated, violent men have
a certain standard of respect for womanhood, or does it mean that the
director tried to create the "mean streets" and just didn't know how
to go about it? My guess is the latter.
So, it's a very ugly and depressing movie, virtually devoid of any
hope or optimism for the lives of its characters, and yet it still
seems like a bit of a whitewash, in a way.
The film has one characteristic that is kind of noteworthy.
Although it was lensed in 1989, it is about the fifties and the
director not only tried to re-create a fifties atmosphere, but also
used fifties-style film technique, including the pre-Strasberg acting
styles, the neatly posed group shots, and the big, symphonic
Broadway-style musical score. All of that was reminiscent of the
similarly themed films of that era. (Let's say "On the Waterfront,"
for example.) Of course, the real fifties movies didn't have any
nudity or truly hard language, so this is more like what the films of
the fifties would have been like without all the artificial
restrictions of that era.
The critics generally admired this movie, so I guess it must be
good or something. Let's assume that their 93% agreement must mean
something. I know that I'm a hard sell, but frankly I didn't like it
much at all, and the Region 2 DVD is just atrocious. It offers no
widescreen version, and has no features of any kind. The film itself
is very poorly mastered and filled with motion blur. The movie would
get a C if it were properly mastered, but
the DVD score has to be F. Unfortunately,
there is no Region 1 DVD available at this time.
Keith Olbermann reviews wacky British inventions
Bush and Cheney Break into Daniel Ellsberg's
- (Wow, talk about obscure satire.)
Cancels "Virgins for Martyrs" Program
James Cameron looking for new faces for his next
- What the hell? He hasn't made a movie in about a
decade. You think he might have come up with somebody in
all that time.
Dean of The School of Hard Knocks, and the world's
greatest film critic, is back - with a review of Aeon Flux
- "I wish I'd been hit by a truck on the way to the
Olde Town Cinema and missed Aeon Flux. Traction and a
cast has got to be better than this shit. "
- "the movie was made by a director and writers so
fucking clueless they think this is really deep
thinking, or at least original enough to presented with
an awestruck flatness."
- "I wouldn't call Aeon Flux lazy so much as it is
incompetent, like everyone involved was in way over
their heads. And I guess that's better in moviemaking
than in engineering or surgery. Fuck, if this thing were
the operating room, someone would have a hand sewed onto
his face. If it were engineering, the top three floors
of a Holiday Inn would be filled with sewage."
- "Aeon Flux is bad, bad like a cold or herpes, bad in
a way you could avoid if you tried. And you should,
because this One Finger shitfest sucks ass."
Hundreds of fans packed the Philadelphia streets Saturday
for an open casting call for extras for the new 'Rocky'
Shock Rocker Manson Reportedly Marries
- "Marilyn Manson married his longtime girlfriend
Saturday in Ireland, People magazine reported on its Web
A question from a future history test: what came after
generations X and Y?
The MySpace Generation
- "They live online. They buy online. They play
online. Their power is growing"
- Also known as "generation @"
- Hey - where does the Pepsi generation fit within the
Press Plagiarist of the Year Award
- It is a backdoor way to document when press
journalists steal material from blogs (or at least to
accuse them of doing so.)
Merriam-Webster's introduces the Open Dictionary,
their own version of a wiki.
- They have no idea how inaccurate (and obscene!) this
will get before they get it under some control!
"A drunk who claimed he had been raped by a dog was
yesterday jailed for 12 months"
Padster's choice: the filthiest joke of the week.
I dunno, the BCS system doesn't seem that bad to me.
- There isn't much doubt that the right two teams are
playing in the Rose Bowl for the championship. Texas won
70-3 in their conference championship game (and they
went ahead 70-3 halfway through the third quarter. It
looked like a lock for a century until they put in the
band and the cheerleaders.) Meanwhile USC won 66-19
against the 11th best team in the country!
- As Comic Book Guy might write: Best ... Rose Bowl
... ever ...?
Daily Box Office - Friday, December 2, 2005
- Aeon Flux came very close to unseating Harry Potter
for the top spot!!! It actually beat Potter in revenues
per screen, and by quite a wide margin! (The film was
released on Friday and there were no screenings for
critics until late Thursday night, thus there were no
reviews in the Friday papers.)
- It will make for an interesting case study, because
reviews are now in, and the New York Post called it
the worst of the year BY FAR. Another critic noted:
"Charlize Theron has her Oscar. Now she has her Catwoman."
Uncle Scoopy's Guest House presents Mother (aka Seduction
of a Nerd) (aka Up Your Teddy Bear)
- Not only is it the Citizen Kane of Yodeling Porn,
but it is probably the only film in which Wally Cox does
a nude sex scene.
First RIAA lawsuit heads to trial
Which celebrity do you look like? It told me I look
like Jean Claude Van Damme and Mark Hamill. I don't really
see the resemblance, but Van Damme does look like exactly
like my father's brother looked 30 years ago, so I guess
it makes some sense. At least it wasn't Abe Vigoda or
Hangman promises good job
- "Mr Singh, 74, is Singapore's chief executioner and
has hanged more than 800 prisoners over 45 years."
Celebrity mug shots in needlepoint.
Wooden Laptop Works Great, Except For the Splinters
Paris Hilton Releases Her Own Line Of Computer Viruses
Jennifer Aniston Sets New Toilet Paper Fashion Trend
Letterman's "Top Ten Messages Left On Oprah's Answering
- "This is Ashton. Letterman really thinks you're
coming! This is gonna be the best 'Punk'd' ever!"
Yellow asterisk: funny (maybe). White asterisk: expanded format.
Blue asterisk: not mine. No asterisk: it probably sucks.
Starship Troopers (1997) is the strongest anti-war film ever made. Paul Verhoeven adapted it from a Robert Heinline anti-war novel, and chose to pattern it after WW II propaganda films. It is a future society where all barriers have dropped, including racial, gender and national. We are one world, The Federation, and things seem to be working well, until a group of Mormons colonize another region of space populated by arachnids. In this society, only "citizens" can vote, and you must serve in the military to become a citizen. There is little or no social stigma attached to not being a citizen. Indeed, most wealthy merchants are not.
The story centers around the son (Casper Van Dien) of one of these wealthy families. He is the football captain, in love with the prettiest and smartest woman in his class (Denise Richards), and is the object of lust for his quarterback, Dina Meyer. Since Richards wants more than anything to be in the military and fly space ships, Van Dien followers her into the military, but as his math skills are low, he only makes it into the mobile infantry, while Richards goes to flight school, along with another footballer, Patrick Muldoon, who has eyes for Richards as well. She is clearly not immune to his charms, either, creating one of the more controversial ideas in the film with test audiences.
While our main characters are completing basic training, the bugs destroy Buenos Aires with an asteroid, and war is declared. We must eradicate all bugs for the good of the human race. What follows is a series of blood and guts battles interspersed with relationship stuff among the four main characters.
The genius of the film, ironically, is proven by negative reaction to it. The critics nearly universally panned it, some for not following the themes of Heinline, but the most heard criticism was that it glorified war, and was pro Fascist. They were almost there, but it went over their heads. The keys to understanding this film are small moments at the beginning and again at the end of the film. Near the beginning, we learn that the bug problems began when we invaded their world with a Mormon colony. The bugs were simply defending their homes. This is reaffirmed at the end, when someone psychically listens to the brain of a bug, and happily announces that it is afraid of humans. The war went badly up to this point, as we knew nothing about the bugs, and assumed that they had no intelligence and no society, and deserved extinction.
Both Verhoeven and writer Ed Neumeier, as their first comment in the commentary track, state unequivocally that the message of the film was that war turns people into Facists, and that is a bad thing. One might say that they completely failed, in that audiences generally did not come away with that message. However, as was the case with WW II propaganda films it was structured after, they were sucked into the belief that it was a battle of the good guys (us) against unspeakable evil guys (the bugs), never even considering that it was the humans who started the whole thing, made no effort to understand this other race, but set out to annihilate them. In other words, the average audience member, and most of the critics as well, missed the few facts about the bugs, and bought into the propaganda. No wonder they reacted so badly when Verhoeven made the military seem Fascist, as they took this as a personal affront to their country and belief system.
It was also somewhat confusing for audiences that the soldiers were made to seem so heroic. There is currently some lip service being given to the idea that you should hate war, but not the warrior. The fact that the Starship Troopers here were fighting an immoral war that their leaders instigated does not make their actions any less heroic. The film shows very well how you turn youth with moldable young minds into soldiers. The mobile artillery here seem heroic and altruistic here because they are.
Test audiences raked Verhoeven over the coals for having a female character who not only picked career over a relationship, but also had feelings for two different men. I find it fascinating that audiences could not accept a female character who was more ambitious than romantic, and found more than one man desirable. Clearly, there is still a double standard at work. These same audiences never questioned Van Dien and his relationship with two women in the film.
Some found the film a good popcorn movie with lots of neat action and special effects, but marred somewhat by the inclusion of a love story, and they were a little bothered by the fact that us, the good guys, sometimes looked uncomfortably like Fascists. Others thought it was glorifying war. The special effects and visual effects are extraordinary. The action sequences are top notch. But to me, the greatest achievement of the film is that they did such a good job on the military propaganda aspect of the film that most people were sucked in, and never noticed that the Federation was the bad guy here.
There are many buns, male and female, in a shower scene, including Dina Meyer. Meyer also shows breasts in a love scene.
This is a film that gets better every time you watch it. I saw it first with no pre-conceptions, as I had never read the Heinline book, or read any reviews. I can't help but wonder if the public reaction was not at least somewhat caused by some initial reviews. The correct score is C+. People who like this kind of action film can enjoy it at that level. I would encourage those of you who may have seen it once to watch a second time, especially in light of my theory as to what it is about.
2 actresses, 2 movies, 7 clips. Playing today.
Schtonk! (1992) was German Veronica Ferres' de facto film debut. The movie
won or was nominated for several awards, including an Oscar nomination for best
foreign language film in 1993. Since then Veronica became a big star in the
German speaking part of Europe. In this year's "Klimt" she stars alongside John
Malkovich, but according to messages on the IMDb, the film is struggling to find
a distributor. Anyway, in these three clips you can see Veronica as we like her
French actress Florence Pernel stars in 1997's made for TV Mon amour. It
looks like she doesn't have much luck in her love-life. In one clip she gets
roughed up in a rest-room, in another she's tied (hankstered?) to a bed. All in
all 4 clips with Florence showing breasts and buns.
Needless to say that both Veronica and Florence have their own entry in our
beloved Encyclopedia, which is far more interesting than those you can buy from
traveling salesmen, don't you all agree?
A few things I found on the web of the most attractive actress, Benedetta Valanzano. A couple of them are scans from Interviu magazine. The rest are the fruits of the paparazzi.
'Caps and comments by Dann:
"The Scorned" (Unrated)
The gimmick of this 2005 horror/thriller is that the cast is composed of ex-Reality TV contestants. It should come natural to them, because there's certainly nothing real (or unrehearsed) about reality TV.
A guy is boffing his fiance's close friend when the fiance interrupts. She's none too pleased, and during the heated and violent argument that ensues, she winds up nose down in the hot tub with her throat cut. Yeah, that's really the plot....I couldn't make this stuff up.
Many months later, our guy rents the beach house out to four friends for the summer. They are, of course, unaware of what took place in the house. Things turn nasty when what appears to be the ghost of the victim turns up with a real bad attitude, and the renters start to become deaders.
I don't watch reality TV. The brief portions of a few shows I've seen were more than enough to convince me that the whole genre is pure crap, and there's nothing realistic about it. Even so, lots of people like it, and for them, it may be enjoyable to watch people who pretended to be in an unscripted contest pretend to be actors. As a horror B-movie, however, it's pretty weak.
||Stacie Jones Upchurch
'Caps and comments by Spaz:
"Degrassi: The Next Generation"
From the episode 'The Lexicon of Love part one'. Sweepsweek two-parter starring Jay and Silent Bob from
Clerks with some lesbianism thrown in.
sexy kissing Lauren Collins.
From episode: 'Baby Bomb'. First episode of the minseries. Tara Spencer-Nairn shows dorsal nudity in the obligatory sex scene during the first five minutes.
""Intelligence" (TV) (2005)
Television pilot from the makers of Da Vinci's Inquest, Da Vinci's City Hall and the upcoming Da Vinci's Banana Republic. Taylor Hill (not to be confused with the porn actress of the same name) is seen in her bra and panties.
A 1990, sci-fi thriller starring Billy Zane.