BABEL (2006):

Alejandro González Iñárritu burst onto the film scene in 2000 with a remarkably well crafted Spanish language feature called Amores Perros, which was nominated for the Oscar as the best foreign language film. The basic theme of the film was that:

1) everyone's lives in Mexico City are intricately interconnected

2) and all those lives suck

Having received so much positive feedback for his debut, he decided to expand his theme to a larger stage, and directed 21 Grams for the larger English-language audience, this time positing that everyone's lives in all of America are intricately interconnected, and that they also suck. In fact the American lives pictured in 21 Grams sucked even worse than the Mexican lives in Amores Perros. Oh, I'm using litotes. Let be be more direct. The American lives in 21 Grams sucked worse than the lives in Requiem for a Dream. But Iñárritu had even bigger dreams. In this third film, Babel, he has expanded his vision to the ultimate stage, and now posits that everyone's life in the world is interwoven with everyone else's and (all together now) everyone's life really sucks.

Man, what a fun guy Iñárritu must be, huh? I gotta get me down to Mexico City and party with that cowboy!

I just hope they don't let him direct the Fantastic Four film, because you just know that Galactus will win, and eat Earth, but then the mighty Galactus will be unable to digest earth, and will die, and the energy shift caused by this will generate a massive simultaneous aftershock in the entire universe, which will mean that every life in the universe will be interconnected, and will suck worse than a Pauly Shore film retrospective.

To be fair, Iñárritu has grown up a lot since 21 Grams. That film, one of the most depressing ever made, is nothing more than a sequence of completely unbelievable contrivances and coincidences which force the point about interconnectedness and just plain pile on the melodrama for the sake of making the film as bleak as possible. It was pitched at the NYU student film level of self-important and self-indulgent tragedy-wallowing. Babel is a much more sophisticated work. In fact, the film is not based on preposterous coincidences, but on an illustration of how lives really are interrelated. The connections are completely plausible. A Japanese hunter in North Africa is so pleased with his guide that he rewards him with a high-powered rifle. Some time later, the guide trades the rifle to a goat herder who needs it to protect his flock from predators. The goat herder's young sons test the purported long range of the rifle, and end up wounding an American on a tourist bus. Because the American woman is bleeding to death in a Moroccan village, the couple cannot return to America as planned, and their Mexican nanny has to watch their children for an unscheduled period. Since the nanny, an undocumented alien, is supposed to attend her son's wedding in Mexico, she takes the children with her, ultimately causing major problems when she tries to re-enter the States. All of that could really happen. The politics are also reasonable, reflecting the kind of real problems the couple would face in Morocco and their nanny would face on the Mexican border.

Iñárritu not only took care to make the scenarios plausible, but he also let each plot develop in a sensible way. Although each major character goes through a crisis, making this an intense and often very depressing film, the crises do not all end with the melodramatic gnashing of teeth. Some of the character's lives end in total tragedy, some situations turn for the worse, some come to satisfactory resolutions, and some are unresolved. It works out the way life itself works out. That's a major improvement over the artificial non-stop hand-wringing in 21 Grams.

Given the new, more nuanced scripting, the complex narrative, the heavy themes, and the complete command of mood which Iñárritu exercises with the images and music of three continents, Babel is a powerful film and can fairly be called a masterpiece, as well as a genuine work of art. He has demonstrated that he's one of the world's best filmmakers. Because of the presence of some big stars like Cate Blanchett and Brad Pitt, it is one of the very few highly artistic films which might attract enough attention to earn a best picture nomination at Oscar time. But be forewarned, it is intense and nerve-shattering, a painful film to watch, and a complete feel-bad film through most of its running time, although it does offer most of its characters some hope at the end.


Rinko Kikuchi (zipped .wmv)




  • Eileen Daly hoovers the hardness in the notorious Danish Dogme film All About Anna. (zipped .avi.)





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





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




American Pie presents The Naked Mile (2006)

One more woman from the recent youthploitation comedy.


Unknown full frontal nudity




Forever (1992)

Keith Coogan plays an music video director with no job prospects. When his car dies, he ducks into a house to use the phone, where he finds a house full of antique furnishings, and a lovely ghost. The next morning, he is awakened by a real estate agent. It turns out that the house belonged to a murdered silent film mogul named William Desmond Taylor, and the ghost he saw was a famous silent star named Mary Miles Minter (Sean Young).

Coogan contacts his agent, and it seems his luck has suddenly changed, He has won an MTV award, and been given a huge and lucrative contract to make 12 videos.  His agent, Sally Kirkland, expects sex - and plenty of it - as part of her commission, but Coogan is falling in love with the ghost of Minter, who appears to him, along with many other silent era stars, whenever he runs the old silent films through an antique movieola editor. In fact, he is so taken with Minter/Young, and so busy trying to discover who really shot William Desmond Taylor, that he nearly defaults on his contract to produce the rock videos.

Forever is labeled as a horror/mystery at IMDb. I can't imagine why they applied horror to this offering. From my viewpoint, this is no more horror or mystery than The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, but rather is a gimmicky romantic comedy, and not an especially good one. Keith Coogan, who was 22 at the time, looked about 16. Believing him as a music video director, much less a bed partner for the mature Sally Kirkland, required more imagination than I have. One reviewer commented that the silent film characters were not portrayed accurately, and I will have to defer to his knowledge there, but that seems like only one small misstep in what is 93 minutes of missteps. Had they starred a more believable male lead, gotten the silent era parts right, and actually come up with something new after all the dithering about  the famous murder, this premise might have developed into something.  As it is, I will generously give it the lowest possible C-.

IMDb readers say 4.9.


Scoop's notes:

I haven't seen this film, but I have certainly read plenty about this murder. I don't understand why Mary Miles Minter would appear to the guy at Sean Young's age. That makes no sense. Minter lived well into the 1980s, and was 82 when she died. On the other hand, she was 19 when Taylor was murdered, and never appeared on screen after the age of 21. Sean Young was in her early 30s when she made this film, so was therefore either much too young or much too old for the part! (It would be much too old if I understand correctly that the ghost is supposed to appear from Minter's movie images.)

Minter had purportedly started an intimate relationship with Taylor when she was still underage and Taylor, a noted lothario, was 30 years older. Hollywood was scandalized when the youngster's love letters were found in the murdered man's bungalow, and even more so when she kissed his corpse full on the lips at the wake. The real capper, however, was that she then turned away from the body and started to exclaim to the crowd that Taylor had just spoken to her from beyond the grave, having professed his eternal love!

It was rumored that her mother was also Taylor's lover, and the overbearing stage mother was considered a very strong suspect in the Taylor murder, with jealousy a possible motive. Irrespective of her mother's role in the affair, Miss Minter's bizarre involvement with Taylor effectively destroyed her career. Although she had been a big star and was contracted by Paramount at $2250 per week -  roughly equivalent to a million and a half dollars per year in 2006 dollars - her public could never forgive her, because her image was supposed to be one of doe-eyed innocence. (She was considered Paramount's answer to Mary Pickford.) Minter would be completely out of show business within two years of the murder, banished from the industry at the tender age of 21, never to return, although she would live another sixty years.

The William Desmond Taylor page at Wikipedia gives some of the less colorful details of the famous murder case, which was never solved.






Sally Kirkland



Sean Young







Doris Hick

 in an episode of Kaisermuehlen Blues

Karen Boehne

 in Ueber Wasser

Laura Tonke

 in Baader

Liane Forestieri

 in an episode of Die Blendung

Martine Carol

in Lucretia Borgia - nudity in 1953 in color!

Sabine Petzl

 in an episode of Komissar Rex

Wiltrud Schreiner

in Menschenfabrik




The Time Machine is back in 1979 for "The Amityville Horror." Margot Kidder (my favorite Lois Lane) with some very sexy in the mirror breast exposure. Almost.








The Departed (2006)

In an attempt to halt organized crime in Boston, Billy Costigan (Leo DiCaprio), a young policeman, is sent undercover to infiltrate the gang of the notorious mobster Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson). However, Costello has his own mole, in the form of Special Investigation Unit officer Colin Sullivan (Matt Damon), who is trying to uncover Costigan's true identity, and vice versa.

The Departed is a remake of the the 2002 Hong Kong film "Infernal Affairs". Being a big fan of "Infernal Affairs," when I heard they were making a remake I thought, the only thing they can do is mess up a good story, and they did.

  • They put a love triangle there that wasn't in the original. Each of the two main characters had their own love interest in that one
  • The Mark Wahlberg character didn't exist in the first one, and was the only character I liked in this one, but they only put it there to add a lame new ending.

I can't understand the obsession of making remakes from movies that are not even 5 years old, releasing the originals in theaters would be the right thing to do. There is talk of Scorsese finally getting the Oscar, but this time he doesn't deserve it, hope he doesn't get it, because in my opinion "The Departed" is a very bad movie.


Vera Farmiga






Notes and collages

The Supernatural Ladies

Jennifer Beals in The Prophecy II
Now this is a film I can talk a lot about: in this sequel to "The Prophecy," Christopher Walken reprises his role of Gabriel the avenging angel in his continuous quest to annihilate the human race. Jennifer Beal is the pawn in this film (impregnated by another angel to create a halfbreed which is supposed to turn the tide in the angelic war in heaven;) if you look at the collage you will see that angel squatting on top of her bed's headboard as a winged creature would do.

I recommend viewing the original film first to understand what is going on (plus the original has a great cameo appearance by Lucifer who comes to mankind's aid for his own reasons.)











Supposedly a very young Diora Baird in a photoshoot


Keeley Hazell in Cashback


Emily Galvin in Long Distance (2005)



A pretty cool unknown from Dirty Deeds