Lust, Caution


I want to like this film. I really do. It is visually splendid. It is subtle and sophisticated. It offers great insight into the sights and sounds and attitudes or another culture in another time. It has some very hot sex scenes. That's a checklist of movie elements I love, but I just can't bring myself to summon up any enthusiasm for it. It drags on and on and on.

Ang Lee's NC-17 "thriller" about the Japanese occupation of China in WW2 is 160 minutes long, and it begins with a Mah-Jongg game that is - oh, without looking at the DVD timer, I'm going to say 145 minutes long. But it's really a beautiful Mah-Jongg game. Probably the best Mah-Jongg game ever filmed. Pretty tiles! The women who are playing the game wear beautiful dresses. Everyone exchanges mysterious glances, the players cast their eyes on other players. Some of the other players meet their eyes, while others smoke mysteriously and avert their glances. Some of the players exchange glances with a man who observes the game. He is married to one of the women, but exchanges more glances with a younger women. Close-ups of hands and tiles. More glances. More tiles. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that this film is the Citizen Kane of NC-17 Mah-Jongg movies. This film is to Mah-Jongg as The Brown Bunny is to traffic.

But it's not all Mah-Jongg, nosiree. The game is followed by a flashback to a few minutes of sex, then back to the game, then kind of a surprise ending. I don't want to spoil the ending for you if you wait all 160 minutes for it, but suffice it to say that one of the Mah-Jongg players plays a really unexpected tile. And with a really subtle glance!

I'm exaggerating, of course. The film is really an Asian version of Paul Verheoven's Black Book. Both films are about a WW2 occupation (the Nazis in Holland, the Japanese in China). In both cases, the resistance enlists a virgin in the entertainment field to seduce a high-ranking politico (a Nazi in one, a collaborator in the other). In both cases, the virgin will be required to have hot sex with her pigeon, and will therefore have to be "broken in" by fellow members of the resistance before she can begin her assignment. In both cases, the woman ends up falling for the man she is assigned to seduce. The films have other common elements. The lead actress in both cases has an extremely demanding role that requires a wide range of talents, and a willingness to do some extensive nudity and vigorous sex scenes.

Beyond the point I have described, the stories diverge considerably, both in terms of the plot points and the sensibility of the films. Verhoeven's film really is a pulpy thriller which maintains a rapid pace and is filled with action, suspense, and plot twists. It is also a film which encompasses a wide range of tone shifts. Ang Lee's self-important film is really a one-note philosophical drama which focuses on atmosphere and characterization and an examination of the nature of love. If you watch it thinking you're going to see a sexy thriller, you will probably find yourself asleep in your chair after about an hour, during which there have been no thrills and no sex.

Unless you're into Mah-Jongg. If you love Mah-Jongg the way I love baseball, this is your Bull Durham, The Natural, and Field of Dreams rolled into one!

Lust, Caution is based upon a novella that was begun not long after the events pictured in the film. It was published in 1979, but Ellen Chang said that she had been working on it for a quarter of a century before that, even though it is a very short and ambiguous work. Hey, ambiguity is difficult to do well. Ang Lee tried to turn that ambiguity into a concrete storyline without losing its subtlety. The problem is that there is a point beyond which subtlety is simply tedious, and this film tends to cross it.

But what beautiful tedium!

Mixed reviews: 64% positive, but only 48% from the "cream of the crop." IMDb voters disagree, and rate it 8.1, placing it in the foyer to enter the Hall of Fame. I'm with the critics. Lots of extreme positives, but lots of negatives as well.

I think my film clips cover the exact same ground covered by others we have seen in previous days, so if you skip them you won't miss anything, provided you have already downloaded the others.

Wei Tang

Please scroll down to Vejiita's section for a gazillion more collages of Tang Wei. My collages numbered #2 and #3, and especially Vejiita's numbered #20, will give you a pretty good idea that there was real fuckin' goin' on here.



Undead or Alive


No need to worry about excess subtlety with this film. It's your basic cowboy-and-indian-and-zombie slapstick comedy.

Sean of the Dead seems to have spurred a new trend for zombie comedies. I recently saw one called Fido, which is quite good and quite professionally assembled, albeit only sporadically funny. Then I saw this, which really scrapes the bottom of the zombie barrel. Imagine an episode of F Troop or Gilligan's Island or Dusty's Trail, mentally add some wacky zombies, ramp it up to an R for comical gore and nudity, and you'll have it pegged perfectly. It looks like the director may even have used some of the old F Troop sets and costumes. Chris Kattan takes on the Larry Storch / Bob Denver role as the dumb but lovable guy who fucks up constantly, and James Denton takes on the Alan Hale / Forrest Tucker role as the easy-going leader who tolerates his dumber companion for reasons combining compassion, inertia, and amusement. Denton doesn't call Kattan "little buddy," but he comes close with "kid" (Kattan is 37 years old).

The only real positive I can cite is that Denton mercifully refrains from ever hitting Kattan over the head with his hat.

Well, I suppose the ending of the film is pretty cool and completely unexpected, but there's just no reason to watch the movie because of that ... unless you're really a big F Troop fan.

3.8 at IMDb; no major reviews. I agree with that score.

Both Kattan and Denton show their butts, but the only female nudity comes from a dance hall girl who becomes a zombie. It's a shame too, because the gorgeous Navi Rawat does a skinny dipping scene, but the director decided to handle that coyly.



  • * Yellow asterisk: funny (maybe).

  • * White asterisk: expanded format.

  • * Blue asterisk: not mine.

  • No asterisk: it probably sucks.


Catch the deluxe version of Other Crap in real time, with all the bells and whistles, here.










Cloaca is a film created for Dutch TV from a stage play of the same name. It centers around 4 middle-aged former college pals. Number one is married with children, not getting along with his wife, and expects to be made a cabinet minister. When he stomps out of his house, he goes to see number two, who was a prominent lawyer, before wigging out on coke, waking up nearly naked in Barcelona, then going through both rehab and institutionalization. He now works writing fashion blurbs for a Web site. They go to see number three, a gay man who studied art history, but ended up working in the ministry of culture. The gay man has a problem. For each of his past 21 birthday presents, the ministry allowed him to take the painting of his choice from work rejected by the city. He had good taste, and now some of them are valuable, and the city wants them back. He gets buddy number two, the lawyer, to help him. Buddy number four is a single theater director who is starring number one's daughter in his newest production, and banging her after rehearsal, even though she is only 17. Her father has no idea.

The question becomes, do these four men still have enough in common to pull together?

I found it to be much like I would expect from TV fare that has its roots on stage. It is possible that the dialogue is really clever in the original Dutch, but relying on subtitles for what is a rather talky film destroyed that aspect.

IMDb readers have this at 7.9, and comments would lead you to believe that this is the best thing in Holland since Verhoeven. 



It is available from on an all region PAL with optional English subtitles. There is a director's commentary, but it is in Dutch.

Caro Lenssen, as the young girl, does full frontal in two scenes, and shows breasts in a sex scene. Marleen Stolz, as a hooker, shows breasts.


Caro Lenssen


Marleen Stolz












Today we have a brief look at a new horror movie. Gabrielle Richens provides the nudity, with some T & A. Be warned: the last two are a little bloody.







Notes and collages

Deadlock (aka Wedlock)

Mimi Rogers

I happen to own this film on VHS. It was called "Deadlock" then. I bought the DVD for the purpose of collaging, and the DVD title is "Wedlock" so that's what I used for the collages.

In terms of movie history this film is a turning point for a lot of people:

  • Joan Chen was a hot Hollywood commodity back then: where did she go?
  • Rutger Hauer was at the peak of his career after "Night Hawks," "The Hitcher" and "Blind Fury;" now he does straight-to-video stuff.
  • James Remar is probably best known from "48 Hours" and "The Warriors" which was a long time ago.
  • Mimi Rogers still had a body to kill for back then: notice those skin tight pants. Can panties fit in those pants?
  • The only guy from the film with a real career these days is the guy who played the prison warden, Stephen Tobolowsky: he's now the ruthless character "Bob Bishop" in the amazing TV series "Heroes."






Lust, Caution







Film Clips


Older material - I think this is an upgrade of a Jessica Alba shot.
And I believe these are better versions of the famous Uma Thurman cleavage shots from 2002. Her son was born in January of that year, she was breast feeding, and she had not yet started her rigorous training for Kill Bill. In other words, she had one humongous rack on 'er.






The Comedy Wire

Comments in yellow... reports that the conservative Heritage Foundation is urging Americans to take a "pork vacation tour" and spend their breaks visiting some of their money that Congress has spent.  The itinerary includes lobbing tennis balls at the Andre Agassi prep school in Vegas ($200,000 of federal money); dinner at the Prosser, Washington, wine and culinary center ($250,000); golfing at Buhl Farm in Pennsylvania ($300,000); biking on trails in Highland, Indiana ($400,000); cheering the human-robot teams at Texas A&M ($750,000); walking across St. Louis' Heart of America Bridge ($750,000); and fishing for the catfish genome at Auburn University ($878,000).  They encourage people to take their kids to these places and explain to them, "No matter where you live, you paid for it."

*  It's an expensive vacation, but Congressmen can
take it free, at taxpayer expense. 

Saturday is the Winter Solstice, with the longest night of the year, and that means it's time for the second annual Global Orgasm for World Peace Day, founded by the anti-war group, Baring Witness, who protest war in the nude.  People around the world, especially in nations with lots of violence and WMDs, are urged to orgasm simultaneously at 6:08 a.m. GMT (1:08 a.m. in New York).   They say this "instantaneous surge of human biological, mental and spiritual energy" will reduce violence, hatred and fear.
*  Except in New York, where you'll have to leave the bar afterward and take the subway home. 

Sen. Ted Kennedy told Army Secretary Pete Geren that he was shocked to read that soldiers can buy military test answers online and urged Geren to stop the cheating and make sure all soldiers prove they deserve their promotions.  It prompted the Wall Street Journal to note that Kennedy was expelled from Harvard twice, once for cheating and once for paying another student to cheat for him.  He then joined the Army, but mistakenly signed up for four years.  His dad pulled strings and got that reduced to two years with him stationed in Paris, not fighting in Korea. He then returned to Harvard, never having been promoted beyond Private.

*  See?  He got the military position he deserved!