Christmas Day

This is our own 12th Day of Christmas. It is the twelfth consecutive year in which we have had an edition on Christmas Day. Jeez, that's a long time.


Edmond (2005)

Edmond, David Mamet's 1982 play, had a highly-acclaimed London revival in 2002 with Kenneth Branagh in the title role. I suppose that the critical accolades and moderate financial success of that production gave Mamet and his investors the impression that his play could still be relevant as a film.


The styles of acting and playwriting change dramatically over time. Watch a John Barrymore film some time and you'll see what I mean. The man was so hammy that his performances would embarrass Bill Shatner, but in his time many people considered him a great actor, and he was never lacking for employment until his drinking undid him. That type of stentorian acting was in fashion once, in a world before Brando and DeNiro. Read the great American stage plays of the 20s and 30s, and you'll have a reaction something like, "People used to like this kind of stuff?" Yes, astoundingly, people used to think that it was an uplifting experience to sit in a theater and listen to professional orators (for that's what actors really were then) deliver sculpted and polished dialogue which bore no resemblance to everyday human speech. That sort of thing may even come back into fashion one day.

But this is not that day.

At least not in cinema. The hyper-literate and rhetorical style of writing and performing still exists in the world of legitimate theater, but it has totally died out from film. The intimacy of the movie camera practically places a giant "false" tag on actors when they get caught delivering lines inappropriate for their character in a manner too broad and/or rhetorical for the situation. That's what happens to Edmond as a movie. Perhaps the great Branagh can get away with declaiming these speeches on the London stage, because he's one of those actors who can make anything seem natural and conversational, but that task was far beyond the capabilities of the performers in the filmed version of Edmond. As you watch it, you will never lose the sense that you are sitting in an audience watching a play. There is never a single moment when I found myself losing my self-awareness and getting wrapped up in the characters or the story. It was like watching one of those stagy episodes of Playhouse 90 from the 1950s, or watching a play by Inge or Tennessee Williams. One character delivers some flowery or philosophical lines while the other character or characters in the scene wait patiently for their turn to speak. We are always aware that they are actors waiting for their turn to deliver lines, and get no sense that they are real people reacting in the moment.

Does the film medium demand that the audience lose its sense of "otherness from the production?" I suppose opinions vary, but my opinion is "Yes, it absolutely does," because we have developed an internal clock that tells us when we have invested too much of our time and energy in a work of art or entertainment. That clock can be ignored when we are held rapt by a mystery or a spectacle or a comedy, but when a show leaves us apart from it, with the awareness that we are watching a performance, then that clock's ticking seems as loud as fireworks in our heads. We switch from being an audience at a movie to an audience at a poetry-reading. This uses a very different part of our brain. Virtually every human being can sit through his favorite movie without being aware of the passage of time or even his own existence, but only one in a thousand, perhaps one in ten thousand, can make it willingly through the same period of time devoted to a speech about philosophy or a 76 minute poetry-reading, even if it is the best one he has ever imagined.

And so Edmond, a mere stripling of a one-act play running a tidy 76 minutes long, seems longer than Lawrence of Afuckingrabia. It stands as a reminder of how artificial and stilted the theater used to be, and it is only for the one in ten thousand.

Tuna already nailed the collages, so here are the film clips:

  • Bai Ling (zipped .avi)

  • Julia Stiles (zipped .avi)

  • Mena Suvari (zipped .avi) It seemed that she might become a star after American Beauty, but she could never capitalize on that opportunity



Joyeux Noël (Merry Christmas) (2005)

Human societies seem to have some common rules, one of which is that the young men must kill or be killed for whatever causes the old men have brainwashed them to believe. This is a movie about one of the few times in our history when the warriors told their overlords to stuff it, if only for a moment. On Christmas Eve and Christmas Day in 1914, during the first sacred holiday of the first world war, the trench warriors from Germany, France, and England set aside their rifles, ignored their orders, and walked into the no-man's land to celebrate Christmas with their enemies. First the Germans put Christmas trees up just above their sight lines, with signs that said "you no shoot, we no shoot" or "Merry Christmas." Then the Scots brought out their ubiquitous bagpipes and played Christmas Carols. The French broke out their champagne. The men shared pictures of their loved ones. They roasted some pigs together for Christmas dinner, and their chaplains held Christmas religious ceremonies. They cleared no-man's land of the rotten corpses, buried their dead comrades, and helped their enemies to do the same. When they had cleared away their dead, they played soccer where the bodies had been strewn.

This movie is a fictionalized account of the events of those two days. Peace broke out in many places along the lines, but this story centers on three lieutenants who commanded about a hundred men near a small French village, as well as two German opera singers who were there to lift the men's morale. While it is not a great story, it is good enough, because the non-fictional elements are so powerful that they hide any flaws in the film's fictional overlay. I suppose one could make a better movie on the same subject, but this is a very good movie indeed. It is rated 7.7 at IMDb and was nominated for the foreign language Oscar as well as the BAFTA. Don't let those facts create an image in your mind of a typical foreign film. Most of the dialogue is in English, and anything important which is not in English can be understood without sub-titles, since it involves many men communicating to one another without a common language. I watched the film this morning, on Christmas Day. If you can do that and keep your eyes dry, you're a much tougher hombre than I am. You may not even be human.

If you think the part of the movie which shows the Scots wearing their kilts and carrying their bagpipes in the frozen trenches seems to stretch your credulity, let me offer two responses. First, that really happened. Second, I have a story. I have a girlfriend from Central Asia who used to be a mountain-climbing guide in that region. If you have ever climbed, you know what you do not want one extra ounce of weight on your person. If you can make it up and down a mountain with two crackers and a vitamin pill, you do not want to add a third cracker. Every yard up the mountain seems to double the weight of the load. Yet one of her tourists insisted on carrying bagpipes up a Central Asian mountain so he could play them at the summit. I believe you can guess his nationality.

The real-life aftermath of the spontaneous truce was shock among the high commands of all three nations. Nothing could be more disastrous for the world's sense of proper order than to have young men of opposing countries declaring their comradeship and refusing to kill one another. Why it's downright socialist! Generals from all countries declared this peacemaking to be treasonous, and the spontaneous outbreak of peace was quashed by Easter of 1915, when the men would again resume the unquestioned killing of one another on behalf of their common God, who apparently issued the two sides contradictory orders. Before Armistice Day in 1918, an entire European generation was lost. Some thirty million young men would return to their homes wounded. Their mothers were envied by the ten million others whose sons would not return at all.

As I write this on this Christmas Day in 2006, when many young men are still dying for old men's causes, it gives some hope to look back on that Christmas of 1914 and recall the foot soldiers who proved that, despite all indications to the contrary, we do have brotherhood within us, if only we reach for it.  

Merry Christmas

Diane Kruger




  • Sheitan (2006).  Hey, sheep and shepherds! Sounds like very Christmassy stuff!

    Per IMDb: "Sheitan' tells the story of a group of youngsters who exit a disco late one night and accidentally run into a shepherd who has prepared himself for a night of Satanic worship."

    OOPS! Maybe not that Christmassy.




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




Penetration Angst (2003)

Penetration Angst (2003), A German film shot in England in English will be released in the US on DVD next week with the title shortened to Angst. IMDb lists it as horror, and I have decided that I have no idea what horror means. In my youth, it was easy. Horror was monster pictures and sci fi films, usually very low budget, and the occasional Edgar Allan Poe story. Then came the Eurotrash horror, including cannibal films and Gialli. We also saw the nature-run-amok films, and the supernatural thriller added to the horror genre. Then came the US slashers. Obviously, horror is an already crowded genre. This film has violence and an impossible premise, but is not based on science and hence is not science fiction. If you follow the plot line, it is a dark comedy that is ultimately a love story. But then there is that pesky violence and impossible premise. Enough mental masturbation. For me, this is a dark comedy and love story.

Fiona Horsey is waiting in front of a club. A nerd of her acquaintance is trying to get a date with her, but she is waiting for her macho boyfriend to pick her up. The boyfriend shows up, takes her parking, and reaches "down there." When she keeps stopping him, but offering a blow job, he agrees provided she show him her pussy. He manages to get her to turn around with her head out the window, then rolls up the window to trap her and rapes her. He is pumping away, and disappears. She is upset, of course, and goes to a gynecologist. He puts her out to examine her, and sends his nursing staff home. She wakes up later with a used condom between her legs, and his clothes in a pile on the floor.

The mystery is solved when her pussy starts saying feed me. Yes, she has a man-eating snatch. She moves to London and becomes a hooker to take care of her pussy's appetite. Meanwhile, the nerd follows her. He first gets tangled up with Siamese twins, one a slut, and the other a bookworm. He falls for the bookworm, but the slut drives them nuts and he tries to separate them with an electric turkey-carving knife. The surviving twin is not happy about this, so he goes into hiding with a stripper/hooker and wannabe bank robber.

That is enough to give you the general idea.

Fiona Horsey shows breasts frequently. Jaye Macauley shows full frontal and rear nudity as the stripper/hooker/bank robber, and Beth and Amy Street show breasts as the twins.

The premise is unique, it is filled with dark humor, and Fiona Horsey is not only easy on the eyes, she is at ease in front of a camera. I thought the film ran out of energy in the last act, but still enjoyed it very much. I predict a cult following for this film, and many who bothered to comment at IMDb feel the same way.

This is a solid C, but for a limited audience.

IMDb readers say 4.4, which is a little low.



Fiona Horsey



Jaye Macauley



Beth and Amy Street












Antes de nada aprovecho esta ocasión para desarte Feliz Navidad.

Por otra parte - las capturas de "Décalage horaire" aka "Jet Lag"  (2002)


Before anything else, I'd like to wish you a Merry Christmas.

In addition, here are the captures from Jet Lag




Juliette Binoche








Seasons Greetings to one and all. Here's a little Christmas Stocking full of Eva Green in that never-to-be-forgotten movie "The Dreamers." Take care and have a safe and happy holiday.











(click to enlarge)

Notes and collages

The Supernatural Ladies


Catherine Chevalier in Nightbreed
... I can't recommmend this tedious adaption of a Clive Barker mini-novel; I can recommend Clive Barker as a writer if you like horror tales with a twist.


Charlotte Lewis in The Golden Child


...a fun film; sadly for Ms. Lewis her career did not take off (as it should) after this role.










Daniela Bianchi in From Russia With Love



Geraldine Chaplin in Voyage en Douce



Dominique Sanda in Voyage en douce



Massive-chested Diora Baird of Hot Tamale, Wedding Crashers, and Texas Chainsaw