The Best Nude Scenes of 2007
Scoop: The girl from Satisfaction is actually named Peta Sargeant, not Sargeant Peta.
OOPS! My bad.
French Cinema Nudity is updated. Charlie's comment: "Valeria Golino's
scene in Il Sole Nero should have been on the annual list. She was naked
for the first five minutes of the film."
I'm Not There
This is the much-discussed film in which six different people play Bob
Dylan, although none of them are actually named Bob Dylan. As the title
suggests, Bob Dylan is not a character in own biography. It's
easy enough to see what writer/director Todd Haynes is driving at with
that gimmick. As we look back upon the entertainers who have populated the
stage of pop culture in the lives of the baby boomers, some people have
never changed. Paul McCartney, who has been in the spotlight about as long
as Dylan, always seems to be the same person: approachable, sentimental,
sometimes prickly but never confrontational, a man not especially
interested in discussing the great themes or the great ideas. That was
Lennon's bag. One person could play Paul in his biopic. But Bob Dylan?
Well, he's the mystery tramp.
- He's the Jewish Minnesotan preppie who incongruously styled himself
as Woody Guthrie, although it was the late 1950s, and Woody's songs
about the depression and riding the rails seemed curiously dated.
- He's the Greenwich Village folkie who partnered with Joan Baez to
create some of the greatest finger-pointing songs of that era, and wrote
the very best neo-folk music to go with the traditional ballads which
were popular with the folk crowd.
- He's the rock star who shocked the 1965 Newport Jazz festival with
an electric set which, according to legend, caused folk legend Pete
Seeger to take an axe to the power supply for Dylan's amps. That version
ended up hanging out with Edie Sedgwick and the Warhol
crowd, although Dylan always maintained an ironic distance from those
- He's the country and western star who wrote simple shit-kicker love
songs and sang duets with Johnny Cash.
- He's the idealistic young husband and father who, together with his
wife Sara, was going to be an experimental filmmaker.
- And so forth. He had other avatars as well, but you all probably
know as much or more about him as I do, so there's no need for me to
The film's structural mistake is not in having Dylan portrayed as many
different fictional characters with different names, but in the fact that
one of the six (the poet Rimbaud, played by Ben Whishaw) is utterly
superfluous and unnecessary to the film, and that another (Dylan's
character in Billy the Kid, as played by Richard Gere) is so far afield
from the rest of the film that all the scenes involving that character
grind the film to a halt. Gere's scenes sort of take place in the Old West
and sort of take place now, kind of like the scenes involving the murder
of the contemporary historian in Python and the Holy Grail.
The rest of the film, however, works better than it has any right to.
- Dylan as a young boy is actually portrayed as an 11-year-old,
African-American, left-handed guitarist named Woody Guthrie. That sounds
odd, but those scenes capture the essence of Dylan in that era. He was
just a guy lost in time, trying to find the portal to his own era.
- The folkie, who later comes back as a folk/gospel singer, is played
by Christian Bale, doing a pretty straightforward impersonation of the
awkward Dylan of that era.
- The cultural icon is played by Cate Blanchett, doing a pretty
straightforward impersonation of the constantly opague and baffling
Dylan of that time, centering on his contentious relationships with the
press and his former folk colleagues.
- The failed husband and filmmaker, in the most poignant portion of the
film, is played by Keith Ledger. Ledger doesn't really try to capture any
Dylan seen by the public, but rather to create a vision of how Dylan
then thought his life should have worked out, and why it didn't really
go as planned.
That's three of the best actors in the world, matched beat for beat by
the little kid trying to be Woody Guthrie, who is the real revelation of
the film. In fact, I think that every single scene with the little kid
worked, and I especially enjoyed a number he played with the legendary
Richie Havens, whose distinctive voice echoes through the years. The
scenes with Heath Ledger and Charlotte Gainsborough, playing the Bob and
Sara characters, aka Renaldo and Clara, also got to me. Dylan is not the
only guy from my generation who managed to succeed in many ways while
failing at the things that should have been most important, and this
portion of the story speaks clearly to the failings of many baby boomers
who were Dylan's fans.
I'm Not There is certainly not a standard Hollywood biopic, and it is
not going to draw a mass audience. It can be rambling, boring,
experimental, pretentious, pseudo-arty and unfocused, and it lacks a
coherent narrative line. I normally hate a film like that, and you would
think I would hate this one even more than usual because two of the six
characters just didn't work. But I didn't hate it at all. A lot of things
work in this film. In addition to the fine performances and sporadically
interesting script, the film illustrates the many sides of Dylan with long
excerpts (not snippets) from the many different styles of music created by
each of the various men Dylan was or was pretending to in
the various stages of his life. When I'm Not There gets in stride it can
be evocative, entertaining, and painfully close to the bone. I would have
preferred it shorter, but when the film does hit the mark, it gets inside
the subject's skin in a way no typical biopic could achieve.
The best nudity in the film is a full frontal from Heath Ledger, but
since we don't care about that, we are left with a brief look at
Gainsborough. (Film clip)
Feast Of Love
Feast of Love is an unabashedly romantic look
at the contribution of love to human existence. Set entirely in a
beautifully photographed Portland, it's sort of a stateside version of
Love Actually, an ensemble drama about the romantic interludes of
Acting as a character but also sometimes seeming omniscient,
Morgan Freeman plays an elder statesman who dispenses wisdom tempered with
grandfatherly love. He's sort of a combination of the
Oracle of Delphi, Socrates and Jesus: all knowing, all-loving, yet always
speaking just indirectly enough and leaving just enough wiggle room in his
perfectly modulated pronouncements that those who seek his counsel
ultimately have to make up their own minds.
You know, the same role Freeman plays in every movie.
Greg Kinnear is a sweet-hearted schmuck who is clueless about women.
His first wife leaves him for another woman. His second wife never even
bothered to give up her boyfriend when she married Kinnear. Greg seems to
miss the little clues. For example, when his first wife is in a bar
after a softball game and the opposing shortstop rubs her thighs and tells
her that the song on the jukebox is now "their song," Greg takes no
notice. When his second wife has to think before, "I do." Greg doesn't
think it's all that bad.
You know, the same role Kinnear plays in every movie.
The other key relationships are between Morgan Freeman and his wife,
and between a couple of idealistic youngsters who are desperate for money.
Some time is also devoted to the chemistry between Kinnear's second wife (Radha
Mitchell) and the guy she really loves.
Although there are some interesting conversations and speeches, there
is nothing new here in the plot or the characters. On the other hand, what
the film lacks in depth and originality, it makes up for with honesty and
a generosity of spirit that will inspire you to feel better about the
human race when you leave the theater than when you went in. But keep your
hankies nearby, because it's a classic chick-flick.
I was impressed enough that I will buy copies for my niece and my new