Transamerica (2005)

Felicity Huffman plays Bree, a pre-op transsexual who receives some shocking news a week before his ... er .. her surgery: he fathered a son nearly two decades earlier. The son is in a New York jail for male hustling, and his mother is dead. Something about the situation brings out the parental instincts in Bree. She bails the boy out of jail and takes him on a road trip across America, stopping to visit the boy's step-father and then the boy's grandparents.

The major comic complication is that Bree never tells his/her son about their biological relationship. The charade goes on for the first 2/3 of the film or more, and it works fairly well until the boy makes a pass at him/her.

Talk about a dysfunctional family!

It's a real oddball of a movie. It's essentially a warm-hearted sitcom at its core, except that the family's problems are XXX rated. And you know what? It works pretty well. It pulls in a few laughs without forcing it too much, and it generates a few tender moments along the way. It succeeds because it doesn't violate its own premise. Although the set-up is quite wild, as I described above, the execution sticks to a reasonable portrayal of how real people would deal with that somewhat surreal situation. And they are not only real people, but decent human beings. The boy may be a male hustler who has a screwed-up life, but that doesn't keep him from having the same feelings that you or I would have in the situations he has to face.

The plot description makes Transamerica sound like a depraved black comedy, but its really not. The film has a genuine Midwestern Christian sweetness to it. But I don't recommend taking grandma. It may be rated R, but it's NC-17 at heart: full frontal nudity from two males and a female, and a constant stream of male hustling and gay porno acts performed barely off camera.

I suppose it will never find an audience, but it isn't a bad watch at all.

Felicity Huffman (the frontal nudity is in yesterday's page)



The Constant Gardener (2005)

As much as this film irritated me with its naive politics, it impressed me with its skillful manipulation of characters and moods. It is not possible to watch this film without feeling emotionally drawn into the problems and rhythms of Africa - the disease, the overcrowding in the cities, the lack of arable land in the vast unpopulated interior, the poverty, the lack of progress, the corruption, the music, the faces of the children. The director doesn't really editorialize about the conditions. He just shows them. Accurately. That is enough.

Even more important than the effective use of Africa as a character in the film is the simple love story. In essence, The Constant Gardener is about a man who falls in love with a dead woman, one who was already his hastily-wed wife. I'm oversimplifying to avoid spoiling the denouement of the film, but that is the essence of it. Yes, I'm aware that this film has not been marketed as a love story, but that is what it does best. As The San Francisco Chronicle pointed out so eloquently, "It's a love story only in passing. And yet the love story is what lingers in the mind and gives energy and meaning to everything that happens on-screen." The conspiracy-based thriller has some great moments, but is generally boring, uses too many hackneyed devices (supernatural feats of hacking skill, and the presence of so many convenient incriminating letters that they must grow free in the salt flats), and involves too many minor characters to hold one's complete interest. Two things did stick in my mind: the film's compassion for the poor of Africa, and its limning of a rich and involving love story. Ralph Fiennes plays an apolitical, mild-mannered, junior British diplomat in Africa; Rachel Weisz plays his strident activist wife, a loose cannon who dies a few minutes into the story. He is obsessed by her death and haunted by her memory. As he starts to dig into the circumstances surrounding her murder, he suspects at first that he was her pawn, a convenient lover used as a free ticket to Africa. He seems to uncover painful evidence of her infidelities and a secret life she lived behind his back. He can't believe that he brought this secretive and totally undiplomatic woman into his life as a diplomat, thus hurting his career as well as his psyche. Yet he cannot turn away from the investigation and, as he is drawn deeper into his wife's web of intrigue, he finds that things are not what they seemed at first or even second glance.

This script was an excellent vehicle for Ralph Fiennes to show the power that a good actor can generate from a fundamentally undramatic part. This is no Richard Harris role. Fiennes spends no time making quiet speeches to his unborn child or waving his sword at the heavens while cursing God. Fiennes plays an inoffensive man who's really into plants. Despite a smaller-than-life role, he manages to create a lot of emotional power from that shaky old generator. As the script progresses, the Fiennes character acquires an important legacy from his departed wife - the conscience and backbone he had lacked - and this development enables the actor to show the character's growth, not in big broad showy strokes, but in subtle nuances. The best thing an actor can do is to bring the audience right into the heart of the character, and that's exactly what Fiennes did here. He even smiled a couple of times! (Although, it must be admitted, those smiles instantly transformed his handsome face into the visage of a deranged mass murderer. I can see why he hasn't tried it very often in the past.)

This is a good movie but, in my opinion, the critics were unduly impressed. Yahoo voters (B) and IMDb voters (7.6) seem to have it pegged more accurately. It is not a masterpiece worthy of Best Picture honors, as some have suggested. Those sentiments must have resulted from the drought of good films in the first half of 2005, like an awe-filled reaction to ordinary tepid water from a man dying of thirst. It is, however, a memorable film which leaves behind some indelible images.

Rachel Weisz


Best nude scene nominees

It's that time again. We're on the nominating process. Balloting begins the day after Christmas

Here is my list of the scenes which I believe to be valid contenders for best scene. In essence this is my hypothetical list of anything that could possibly be considered the best nude scene of the year. It should include anything which people could possibly pick with their one and only vote. I assembled this list from this longer list. If I have forgotten anything, or if some of the ones on the linked secondary list should make the short list, please let me know by mailing me here.

  • Carla Gallo in Carnivale
  • Kerry Condon in Rome
  • Polly Walker in Rome
  • Kelly Brook in Three
  • Kelly Reilly in Mrs Henderson Presents
  • Monique Parent in Lust Connection
  • Mia Kirshner in The L-Word
  • Juliet Marquis in This Girl's Life
  • Stormy Daniels in The 40-Year-Old Virgin
  • Emily Blunt in My Summer of Love
  • Embeth Davitz in Junebug (??)
  • Alison Eastwood in The Lost Angel
  • Margo Stilley in 9 Songs
  • Olga Kurylenko in L'Annulaire
  • Hélène de St-Père in Peindre ou Faire L'Amour
  • Bryce Dallas Howard in Manderlay
  • Alexis Dziena in Broken Flowers
  • Jamie King in Sin City
  • Carla Gugino in Sin City
  • Alison Lohman in Where the Truth Lies
  • Lori Heuring in 8mm2
  • Zita Gorog in 8mm2
  • Bijou Phillips in Havoc
  • Anne Hathaway in Havoc
  • Anne Hathaway in Brokeback Mountain
  • Jacyln DeSantis in Carlito's Way: The Rise to Power
  • Michelle Krusiec in Saving Face
  • Lynn Chen in Saving Face
  • Joan Allen in Off the Map
  • Jenny McCarthy in Dirty Love
  • Emma de Caunes in Ma Mere
  • Joana Preis in Ma Mere
  • Vera Farmiga in Down to the Bone
  • Felicity Hufmann in Transamerica
  • Maria Bello in A History of Violence
  • Michelle Monaghan in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
  • Kate Norby in The Devil's Rejects
  • Taryn Manning in Hustle and Flow
  • Cameron Richardson in The Good Humor Man
  • Keira Knightley in The Jacket
  • Jennifer Esposito in Crash
  • Rachel Weisz in The Constant Gardener
  • Alison Pill in Dear Wendy

Again, don't write me to tell me I missed a stray nipple somewhere, but DO write if my list does not include the one film you would vote for as the best nude scene of the year.

Other Crap:

Bush Family 2005 Christmas Letter (WHITEHOUSE.ORG)


Pennsylvania Community Officially Celebrates Festivus

Letterman's "Top Ten Signs You're At A Bad Mall" Good list:

  • "You toss a penny in the fountain and it hits a corpse"
  • "Lenscrafters promises glasses 'In about a month'"
  • "The sales person keeps offering to measure your inseam - and you're at a bookstore

What does "Alice in Wonderland" have to do with psychological testing?

  • I took a similar psychological test 30 years ago - maybe even the same one mentioned in the article - and the personnel manager told me that I scored "low in masculinity." I asked him for specific examples, and he said "This question: Would you rather be a florist or a coal miner? Women say florist, gay men say florist, hetero men say coal miner. You said florist." I responded, "I still feel the same. I don't really have any special love of flowers, but I never heard of any fuckin' florist dying of pink lung."
  • Despite this exchange, or maybe because of it, I got the job.

This Christmas Week in God

A new pic of Milla as Ultraviolet, aka Resident Evil meets Aeon Flux

Where are the Oscar nominations for this film? Combien tu m'aimes? (How much do you love me?)

  • "The film offers endless shots of an unclad Monica Bellucci being beautiful from all sorts of angles"
  • "a particularly low-brow sex comedy set in a faux high-brow, very stylised version of the Parisian night. Anyone who thinks that sounds appealing (and/or anyone willing to shell out some dough to drool over Bellucci’s assets) has found his or her match."

Suicide Girls Steal X-Mas - Topless

  • "Nothing but coal in suicide girls stockings. Ouch! Chloe Suicide is totally hot. Even with Santa down for the count, his groans still sound like 'Ho,Ho,Ho.'"

"Step aside, Frosty, make way for Snowzilla ... 16-foot-tall snowman attains celebrity status in Anchorage"

Sienna Miller finds her boobs in 'Casanova'

The British trailer for Seven Swords.

  • In the early 1600‘s, the Manchurians have assumed sovereignty and established the Ching Dynasty. A highly oppressive reign thus began. To fight against the brutality of the new government and save the innocent, seven unlikely heroes gathered together and became the Seven Swords. Each sword carries its own character – The Transience Sword, The Dragon Sword, The Heaven‘s Fall Sword, The Unlearn Sword, The Deity Sword, The Celestial Beam Sword and The Star Chasers Sword.
  • Nuff said. I think you already know whether you might like it

Here's the trailer for Bubble, Soderbergh's latest.

  • "Residents of a small town in Ohio puzzle out the details of a murder which took place at the local toy factory."

Nine clips and five TV spots from Hostel, Eli Roth's follow-up to Cabin Fever.

Osama's Niece Poses in Racy Photo Shoot

  • That reminds me. Don't miss our next pictorial, The Girls of al-Qaida. Our photo editor wore out 23 airbruses for your entertainment.

Autopsy results: Tony Dungy's 18-year-old son committed suicide

Britain's Prince Chuck wants to be King George

  • I'll tell you what would be cooler than that. His name is Charles Phillip Arthur George Windsor. How does King Arthur sound?

GALLUP: Americans Inventory Their Gadgets

  • Most gadget ownership (DVD players, for example) is fairly constant across all age groups until 65, when it drops dramatically.
  • The exception is gaming systems, where the big drop occurs at age 50. Surprisingly, people aged 30-49 are just as likely to own game systems as people 18-29 (For their kids or for themselves? It doesn't specify.)

Dr. Evil gets divorced, custody of Scotty undetermined.

Dick Cheney in Afghanistan: Vice President's Holiday Remarks to Troops in That Other Arabiac Wasteland Which Nobody Cares About Even Though It Actually Harbored the 9/11 Terrorists (WHITEHOUSE.ORG)

The trailer for the remake of The Hills Have Eyes

  • "A new take on Wes Craven's 1977 film of the same name, 'The Hills Have Eyes' is the story of a family road trip that goes terrifyingly awry when the travelers become stranded in a government atomic zone. Miles from nowhere, the Carters soon realize the seemingly uninhabited wasteland is actually the breeding ground of a blood-thirsty mutant family...and they are the prey."

The trailer for RV, a comedy with Robin Williams. Robin is basically playing the Chevy Chase role from those Vacation movies.

Should Microsoft buy Opera?

"French Parliament Votes to Legalize File Sharing " because nobody cares to share French movies or music.

"From 2006 Britain will be the first country where every journey by every car will be monitored "



Movie Reviews:

Yellow asterisk: funny (maybe). White asterisk: expanded format. Blue asterisk: not mine. No asterisk: it probably sucks.




"The True Story of Eskimo Nell"

The True Story of Eskimo Nell (1975) is an Australian sexploitation film based on a dirty poem called the Ballad of Eskimo Nell. Obviosly, this poem was way to obscene to bring to the silver screen in the mid 70s in Australia, but they retained the character names, and something of the spirit of the poem. The unlikely duo of Mexican Pete the cocksman, and Deadeye Dick the inept become mates, and adventure their way to see Eskimo Nell, whom Deadeye Dick is sure is the best lay and the most beautiful woman ever.

The intent was to create a cowboy film in the tradition of Blazing Saddles based on the poem, taking advantage of the new R rating in Australia, which finally allowed nudity in cinema. It is uneven at best, but does feature nudity from four women. Abigail does full frontal, as do Paddy Madden and Elli Maclure. Kris McQuaid and Victoria Anoux show breasts.

Eight people have this at 3.8 at IMDb. It did not age well. At the time, it was risque enough, and the source material was well enough known, that it would have been worth the admission price. By today's standards, it is rather silly, with more fart jokes than nudity or sex. It is currently only available on Reqion 4 DVD. This is a D+.


Elli Maclure

Kris McQuade

Paddy Madden

Victoria Anoux


Frist up from the Ghost...raspy voiced Angel, Bond babe and of course Beast-mistress, Tanya Roberts. Here she is showing some partial breast views while wearing only undies in scenes from "Purgatory" (1988).

Next up is the most infamous name in adult films...Traci Lords. She became a decent B-movie actress back in the late 80's and hasn't shown any nudity since "Not of This Earth" (1988). But here she is showing off some of her very nice body in scenes from "Extramarital" (1999).

Today on this day before the holiday we go with some "Hankster Light".

This is truly something different as we take a walk over to TV Land and crank the Time Machine back to 1986 for a visit with "Sledge Hammer". "Sledge" was a truly off the wall series about an L.A.P.D. detective who's best friend was his .44 Magnum. It was a comedy that ran on ABC for only two seasons, but developed a cult following, "Sledge" the shoot first and ask questions later detective was played by David Rasche.

Now here's the real reason I liked it. His partner was played by Anne-Marie Martin, sexy and leggy, and boy could she do some leg kicks. So take a trip down memory lane with "Sledge Hammer". Oh, and in one scene Anne-Marie even becomes a "Babe in Bondage".

Anne-Marie Martin

'Caps and comments by Spaz:

"Cinema Real: Naked"
News documentary about using public nudity for protesting and calendar fundraising which aired on Canada's CBC Newsworld last December 1. The hostess Mary Bissell doffs her clothes for a wetlands calendar, Andrea Collins (mother of actress Joely Collins and ex-wife of rocker Phil Collins) poses nude for a Salt Spring Island calendar, naturalist Briony Penn does a topless Naked Godiva ride, and sisters Suzy Webb and Sasha Webb show the full monty in a couple of nude protests. "We rather show our bush than wear fur" indeed.

Andrea Collins Briony Penn Briony Penn

Mary Bissell Mary Bissell Sasha Webb Sasha Webb

Suzy Webb Suzy Webb Webb Sisters Webb Sisters

Here is the very cute Melissa Sagemiller ("Get Over It", "Sorority Boys") going topless in scenes from an episode of the the made for Showtime series "Sleeper Cell".

From the Skin-man, here is Opie's little girl (and co-star of "The Village") Bryce Dallas Howard baring all in scenes from the Lars von Trier film, "Manderlay" (2005).

Pat's comments in yellow...

Bush's Favorite: Benjamin Franklin - Thursday, President Bush signed a law to create dollar coins featuring all 37 of America's dead presidents. The Treasury hopes to make a lot of money from coin collectors, and they also hope it boosts the popularity of the Sacagawea dollar, which hardly anyone wants.

* I didn't even know Sacagawea had been president!
* The only people who'd take that are the poor saps trying to get rid of their Susan B. Anthony dollars.
* The Garfield dollar will be snapped up by confused comic strip fans.

I Say "Egg Nog," To Survive The Relatives - In Germany, birthplace of many Christmas traditions, a Focus magazine poll asked what is the most essential ingredient for a good Christmas. More people chose their tree than their relatives. 75 percent said they couldn't imagine Christmas without their tree, but only 65 percent said spending time with relatives was essential. 57 percent said they couldn't do without carols, 42 percent said Christmas requires gifts, and 3 percent of Germans said they'd just like to skip the whole thing.

* Their Christmas tree is more important than their family tree, and far more attractive.
* 35 percent said NOT spending time with their relatives was essential to having a good Christmas.
* For Al Gore, being with his tree and being with his relatives are the same thing.

I Blame Drunken Frat Boys - A businessman in Moravia, New York, went hunting with some buddies in Quebec and bagged 10 caribou. Before processing them for meat, he hung them up outside his business. But children at a nearby elementary school had to be reassured after they became terrified by a rumor that the dead caribou were Santa's reindeer who'd been shot by hunters. The rumor is believed to have been started by older kids.

* That sounds like a safe bet.
* They better watch out.
* One was an easy target, thanks to his glowing red nose.
* They haven't shot Santa's reindeer...Not yet, anyway. But they are building deer blinds on their roofs.