I wondered what gift I could give you all for Christmas since Tuna
was presenting a celebration of the human spirit. I figured I should
celebrate Festivus and air my grievances, but upon due consideration I
thought the only possible choice for the season to be Shakespeare's
long-lost play about lipstick lesbianism.
This film is also known as The Widow's Revenge, Crazed, and William
Most scholars believe
with some degree of certainty that Shakespeare wrote 37 plays. There
are, however, fifteen other plays which Shakespeare may have written
in part or whole. Within that canon, thirteen plays are extant, the
other two have been considered lost. The most commonly cited work of
the disputed canon is "The Two Noble Kinsman," which was published in a
quarto in 1634. The original publication clearly attributed
Shakespeare and John Fletcher, but nobody can determine precisely what
Shakespeare contributed to the work. Twelve other plays are considered
Shakespearian apocrypha, about which scholars debate vociferously:
"Locrine", "The London Prodigal",
"The Puritan", "Thomas, Lord Cromwell", "Sir John Oldcastle", "Arden
of Feversham", "A Yorkshire Tragedy", "The Birth of Merlin", "Edward
III", "Fair Em", "Mucedorus", and "The Merry Devil of Edmonton."
Finally, there are two plays which were not thought to have survived
to modern times in even fragmentary form. They are "Love's Labor's
Won" and "Cardenio."
"Love's Labour's Won" is still lost, but it
was not very long ago that Louis Horvath, a great Hungarian
antiquarian and scholar, found a copy of "Cardenio" buried in a
backyard near the home of Shakespeare's parents in Stratford.
Devouring it immediately at the very location in which he found it,
his eyes darted from word to word, as his fingers pried apart page
after page of forgotten genius until he had read the entire play in
one sitting, gradually becoming aware that he had encountered not just
a lesser Shakespearian footnote, but possibly the greatest of
Shakespeare's plays, and thus possibly the greatest work of literary
genius ever penned in any language during the full duration of
mankind's stay upon this planet. Sadly, he had become so enrapt in the
plot's dazzling invention and so mesmerized by the celestial beauty of
the language that he had forgotten to take the necessary measures to
preserve the documents. The harsh toxicity of our 20th century
atmosphere, combined with the oils from Horvath's fingers and the
tears of emotion wrung from him by the sheer power of the poetry, had
played havoc with the fragile parchments so long hidden from sunlight.
No legible fragments survived. Horvath immediately ran to secure pens
and paper, and scribbled feverishly in his effort to right the wrong
he had done, at least to the extent still possible, and to recreate as
much of the script as he could while the memories remained fresh.
Together with his countryman Istvan Ventilla, Horvath assembled his
recreation into the film called Nicole.
Shakespeare begins the play with a minor character. A simple coachman
finds his wife with his best friend and kills them both "in manner
most ignoble." His act is witnessed by a countess, but he is shocked
to discover that the countess has no intention of seeing this man
"suffer the harsh flames of the king's rectitude." The coachman knows
he has done wrong, is loyal to his blessed king, and feels he should
not try to elude the executioner's axe, but the countess persuades him
otherwise. It is not long before her madness is evident, but the
coachman's fate is by then inextricably entangled with that of the
countess. His participation in the murders is to be hidden for as long
as he is willing to do the countess's insane bidding.
Whilst in her employ, he is to assist the
countess in securing a sexual dalliance with a certain local
coachmaker, then expanding that dalliance to include a young maiden who
resembles the countess herself. Those familiar with Shakespeare's
other plays will undoubtedly anticipate that the similar appearance of
the women promises that, in the bard's own words "merriment doth
transpire and oft hilarity ensueth." Sadly for the maiden, the
coachmaker, and the coachman, the steady decline of the countess's
mental health forebodes ill for all. In a typically convoluted
Shakespearian conceit, the countess plans to fortify her palace's
defenses with great beasts, thus ensuring that she will be able to
maintain the harmony within, safe from the meddling and temptations of
the outside world. (Thus reflecting similar themes in The Tempest,
which Shakespeare wrote about the same time.) Like Prospero's schemes,
Countess Nicola's go astray in a flurry of typical Elizabethan
ironies. The beasts, which Nicola hoped to employ as protection for
her maiden, ended up devouring the poor girl. Nicola's other mad
schemes caused similarly tragic fates for her other acquaintances,
until she was left alone in her palace, dressed in perpetual mourning.
Unfortunately, the film may not perfectly reflect
Shakespeare's intentions, since it has been filtered through the
imperfect recollections of a writer whose other works include "Blazing
Stewardesses," but this film is what we have, and we must give thanks.
Since the author of the film script is no longer
with us, and we have no other record of Shakespeare's lost play, all
of mankind can be thankful that certain film preservation societies
have now restored this damaged, obscure film to digital health and
For our specific purposes at the
Funhouse, we can revel in this restoration for even more reasons.
First, it represents Shakespeare's only known indulgence in the more
explicit details of "the saporous Sapphic supper," or as we like to
call it today, steamy girl-on-girl action. We can count ourselves even
more fortunate that we do not live in Shakespeare's time, when the
roles of the Countess Nicola and her maiden would have been played by
men. In the 20th century the young maiden could be played by a certain
"Kathy Bach," direct descendant of composer P.D.Q. Bach and former
co-star of a television show called "The Dukes of Hazzard,"
which some claim to be based on another of Shakespeare's lost works. Most
serendipitous of all, Miss Bach and Leslie Caron perform various scenes
in degrees of undress. It would be the only exposure of Miss
Bach's career, and one of only two times Miss Caron would expose a
breast in her long, distinguished career. (The other is also shown
complete the record, here is the only other time Leslie Caron
exposed herself on camera - in Madron - in which she showed a breast
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
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
- 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
- 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
write if my list does not include the one film you would vote for
as the best nude scene of the year.
Hubble finds two moons, rings around Uranus.
- Write your own line and insert here. I just can't do
it. That poor planet has been the butt of too many jokes
Merry F#%$in' Christmas, featuring William Shatner:
HITMAN.us - Professional Killings
- "our contract killers are waiting for your call 24
hours a day, 7 days a week."
- Prices start at $50,000, and Master Card is
Having failed in the opposite direction, the Colts are now
trying to set the record for most consecutive losses.
- Well, to be fair, Dungy lost a teenaged son to
suicide this week, Manning didn't play much, the Colts
didn't really try very hard to win, and the Seahawks are
really, really good.
- But why be fair when we can make snarky comments?
Daily Box Office - Friday, December 23, 2005
- Kong and Narnia are still in a dead heat for first
place, staving off two Wednesday openings and four
Friday openings or expansions.
- The highest per-screen averages went to (1)
Brokeback Mountain and (2) Spielberg's Munich, but they
are only in 217 and 532 theaters respectively.
- The Ringer opened in the five spot, while Memoirs of
a Geisha was one rung lower on the ladder.
- The two Wednesday openings held on to the three and
four positions, but they are in 3000 theaters each,
compared to 1500-1800 for the Friday films.
- Further crowding the already packed field, Rumor Has
It, Wolf Creek and The Producers open tomorrow
Al Franken entertains the troops.
- "Woot! Do Stuart Smalley again!"
- This marks the first time that the words "Franken"
and "entertains" have ever been used together in that
- Kidding aside, Franken is doing a good thing. He is
presenting a completely apolitical USO show for the guys
in Iraq who are stuck there for the holidays.
Rick Sanatorum is shocked, shocked to find that religion
was behind the teaching of intelligent design in Dover
- Can't blame him. Nobody could have possibly known
that claiming "God made it" was inspired by religion.
The 50 Greatest Gadgets of the Past 50 Years
- The Chargers and Falcons are now are out of the
- The Redskins beat the Giants, which means that they
not only have the inside lane on the wild card race, but
could actually win the division if everything goes
perfect for them!
- Did I mention that the Browns lost 41-0?
The top ten movies from Alternate Earth, 2005.
- Old Dudes on Skates – It's true that Michael Caine,
Anthony Hopkins, Robert Duvall and Jack Nicholson have
played these types of crafty codgers before – but seeing
them all on-screen together as aging roller-derby champs
back for one last hurrah was one of the year's most
heartwarming cinematic triumphs.
- The Quiet Candle – Jean Alain Dumont's somber fairy
tale about lovers (Juliette Binoche, Jean-Pierre Bacri)
sorting through the last days of their dying
relationship is a languid reflection on unopened
letters, unmade beds and long silences over cigarettes
and wine. Nothing, in fact, happens during the film's
entire 90 minutes, but that nothing is so exquisitely
photographed that its emptiness is all the more
::: Is President Bush drinking again? :::
retroCRUSH: retro Christmas pics
The most famous of all Bushisms, caught on tape.
- "They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our
country and our people and neither do we".
The all-LEGO version of
Leave it to Beaver, (and Star Wars)
From our "Oh, Come, All Ye Faithful" department:
The Japanese have their own version of Christmas,
climaxing with the ceremony in which hot topless chicks
worship a giant "hot pink" penis.
Redneck Christmas Carols
Frank Miller talks Sin City 2
Another Christmas Carol. The Ken Starr references are
now dated, but there are still some laughs to be had.
The Night Bin Laden Tried to Steal Christmas ... A
Poem by: George W. Bush"
Twelve Days of (Gangsta) Christmas
Safe Sex Dress
The trailer from Leonard Cohen I'm Your Man, a
documentary about the ever-depressing singer/songwriter.
Actor Brad Renfro Charged With Trying to Buy Heroin
Teenager marries Kaka.
- I now pronounce you dung and wife
The 30 Greatest Games of 2005
The top scientific achievements of 2005
Yellow asterisk: funny (maybe). White asterisk: expanded format.
Blue asterisk: not mine. No asterisk: it probably sucks.
It is no accident that I have chosen two beautiful films that show the resiliency of the human spirit for today. I had far too interesting a year this year, and am not especially thrilled by what I read in the news. Nonetheless, I remain optimistic about our future. I wish each and every one of you a joyous holiday season.
"An Angel at My Table"
An Angel at My Table (1990) was the first feature from New Zealander Jane Campion. Based on the autobiographies of poet and novelist Janet Frame, it was intended as a TV mini-series that simply got to good not to have a theatrical release. Campion was very resistant to the idea after being booed at Cannes for a short film. They finally persuaded her to screen it at an Australian festival, and it received probably the best reception in the history of the festival. Campion specializes in stories about women struggling to find their own way in society, and Frame's real story was a natural for her. Frame grew up as a shy overweight girl in a large but poor farming family. She was an outsider in school, and lived in the shadow of her beautiful outgoing sister at home. She escaped into writing at an early age.
The first serious trauma in the story occurs when her older sister dies as a teenager, drowned in the public swimming pool. The story, like the autobiography, is told in three parts. The first is childhood. The second covers her school days, where she has decided to become a teacher. At university, the administration convinces her parents that she should be committed to a mental institution. In her eight years there, she was misdiagnosed as schizophrenic and given over 200 electric shock treatments. She was on the short list for a lobotomy when her first book of short stories was not only published, but won a prestigious award. This convinced the doctors not to operate, but rather to rehabilitate her.
In part three, she is introduced to, and stays with another author, where she writes her first novel. When it is accepted for publication, he sends her to Europe to give her more exposure. While in Spain, she meets an American teacher on sabbatical and has her first sexual encounter with him -- an affair that lasts through the summer. She is, of course, devastated when he returns to the states. She seeks psychological help, and that is where she discovers that the schizophrenia diagnosis was wrong, and therapy helps her work through the issues that her hospitalization and treatment caused. She then returned to New Zealand to write.
Kerry Fox, as the adult Frame, does full frontal and rear nudity.
IMDb readers have this at 7.4. Ebert loved it at 4 stars, and found Campoins treatment of this story straightforward and compelling start to finish. It was not an easy project for many reasons. First, they had to be true to a very famous living author. Second, the entire first part of the story was mainly child actors who carried the entire narrative. Campion in known for employing non-linear time, and radical camera and lighting ideas, but she wisely chose not to here. The true story was eloquent enough on its own, and Campion kept everything simple and straight-forward, She also made a creative decision to keep the camera height at the level of Frame at each age, giving the viewer a sense of intimacy with her main character. Campion fleshed out the story somewhat with episodes from her own childhood in rural New Zealand. Performances were excellent throughout. I was especially impressed by the work from the children, and also that all three actresses who played Frame managed to sell being the same person. The film won a variety of awards, both technical and artistic. Interestingly, it won every award it was nominated for. This is one of the best biographies I have ever seen, and was about someone interesting enough to warrant a biography. Campion did everything right, making this film a total joy. This is a B.
"When Father Was Away on Business"
When Father Was Away on Business (1985), or Otac na sluzbenom putu, is a wonderful film from Yugoslavian director Emir Kusturica. The story is set in 1950 Serajevo, when Tito had decided to split from Stalin. This was a very confusing and politically dangerous time for good Yugoslav communists. Kusturica chose to show his story through the eyes of a small boy, six year old Malak. He lives with a nerdish older brother, a philandering father who travels on business, a mother who sews for additional income, and a Grandfather who hates baths. He and his best friend help an eccentric janitor collect herbs to sell to a local business for a little cash, hoping to buy a leather soccer ball.
Malak's father (Miki Manojlovic) is currently diddling Mira Furlan on his business trips. Coming home on the train, he makes an offhand remark that a political cartoon goes too far and isn't funny. She, angry because he won't divorce his wife, reports this comment to the local party head, who also happens to be his brother in law. Father is arrested on the day of his two sons' circumcision ("My brother says we are done for. They are going to stretch out our pricks, then cut half of them off."), but tells the boys that he will be away on business. Life isn't easy for the family while father is first forced to work in a mine, and later moved to a small town for "social reconditioning." At least, in the small town, the family is permitted to join him.
At 136 minutes running time, there is little danger of giving away too many of the wonderful moments in this film, but here is a personal favorite. After his father is taken away, Malak begins sleep walking. His brother rigs up a bell on a string to tie to his toe. Malak goes with his mother to visit father at the mine, and they spend the night in an abandoned train station. Malak is rigged with the bell, and, after he is presumably asleep, his parents try to make love. Malak is wide awake, however, and keeps interrupting them by ringing the bell.
The film is full of such moments. All of the characters are believable, and the rather serious political climate is made less oppressive to the viewer because of this constant comedy. Mira Furlan shows breasts, and Mirjana Karanovic as the mother shows her right breast.
IMDb readers have this at 7.7. One comment there calls it the best film ever made. Fortunately, we have a rating system that compares a film to others in the same genre. This is an absolute gem, and I didn't mind the subtitles at all. I was completely involved in the story, start to finish, loved most of the characters, and found the glimpse into 1950 Yugoslavia fascinating. This is a B-. Even if you don't usually like foreign period films, you likely would enjoy this one.