Monthly Archives: May 2011



Roman Polanski’s 1965 chiller is not exactly “scary” by today’s standards, but it’s still enormously creepy, and after watching Catherine Deneuve’s performance you might never look at a hot blonde in quite the same way.  Read my review of the movie, or click here to watch it free.


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Institutional Fails




The Press

Years ago, a tabloid published a picture of Arnold Schwarzenegger groping an obviously underage Asian girl.  The future governor of California was standing behind the girl, grinning as he reached around her and fondled her breasts with his two gigantic paws. The girl’s eyes said, “I can’t believe he’s doing this.”

Yesterday, I did a Web search for the picture but couldn’t find it, which seemed odd because it was on the Internet in the past.  What’s even stranger is the absolute failure of the press to cover Arnold’s decades-long sexual shenanigans.  The L.A. Times did publish an expose in 2003.  There was also an article in Premiere in 2001.  Somehow, most of this stuff has vanished from the public eye.




The Court System

Lindsay Lohan gets sentenced to two weeks of house arrest.  Poor thing.  Next time I get arrested, I want to be sentenced to a stay in a palatial estate, too.  No wonder so many people have no respect for our criminal justice system.






.               Anthony2                                  Anthony3


Things I managed to (mostly) avoid this week:  Oprah, American Idol, the Casey Anthony trial.

But it’s hard to overlook the pictures of accused child-killer Anthony that are circulating on the Web, so here’s another look.






This, uh, “guy” has been making the talk-show rounds, promoting his/her book, Transition.  I didn’t quite know what to expect from the former daughter of Sonny and Cher, but now I do:  Chaz Bono (pictured here with girlfriend Jennifer Elia) seems to be one of the most well-adjusted, affable, funny, and intelligent blokes you might ever have the pleasure of meeting.


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How you feel about The Queen will likely depend on how you feel about a whole host of issues:  What do you think of the British monarchy?  What did you think of Diana Spencer?  The Prince of Wales?  Do you think movie “biopics” do a good job depicting real people?  Are projects like The Queen hopelessly biased?

I have strong opinions about a number of those questions, but I’m willing to concede that – being no English historian, and certainly no royal insider – I could be dead wrong on a number of counts.  All I can do is go by what I see.  What I see in The Queen is a captivating performance by Helen Mirren as Elizabeth II, a woman charged with upholding tradition in a changing world.  When Diana dies in a car accident, Elizabeth is faced with a dilemma:  honor traditional protocol, or cave in to the will of the people?

Is Mirren’s portrayal accurate?  I have no idea.  Is it eminently watchable? Oh, yes.  In fact, Mirren’s Oscar-winning turn is the best reason to watch The Queen.  Most of the other characters are either unbelievably white (Michael Sheen as a too-good-to-be-true Tony Blair; you can practically see his teeth sparkle), or implausibly black (James Cromwell as a homophobic, misogynistic, bombastic Prince Philip).  Director Stephen Frears, who generally handles this material well, indulges in a bit of heavy-handed symbolism involving a hunted animal; who knew that traditional England had so much in common with a doomed stag?

For the record, I personally think that the monarchy is a ridiculously outdated institution.  But there are worse things.  The world has changed, whether we – and the queen – like it or not.  But as Elizabeth puts it to Blair: “That’s the way we do things in this country:  quietly, with dignity.  That’s what the rest of the world has always admired us for.”  If you buy that, is it something you really want to change?      Grade:  B+




Director:  Stephen Frears  Cast:  Helen Mirren, Michael Sheen, James Cromwell, Alex Jennings, Roger Allam, Sylvia Syms, Helen McCrory  Release:  2006


Queen3    Queen4


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The world ends today, so don’t feel obligated to read this post.  Have a beer, instead — if you have time.

I had a feeling something like this was going to happen because the other night I watched an obscure 1960s movie called Twisted Nerve, and in it Hayley Mills sees a man’s penis in the woods.  The moment I saw that scene, I knew the world must be ending.  I mean … Pollyanna?













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Poor Ray Milland.  I can’t think of another star from Hollywood’s golden age who, as his career faded, wound up in more embarrassing movies.  Milland, once-upon-a-time lead actor in classics like The Uninvited and The Lost Weekend, by the 1970s was sharing a human torso with Rosey Grier in The Thing with Two HeadsFrogs isn’t quite that bizarre, but it is, as observes, “ridiculous, yet inexplicably watchable.”  Milland plays a crusty Southern patriarch whose family members fall prey to creepy crawlies on a remote island.  Watch it free by clicking here.


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Crazy Chicks Edition




“Yes, it improved the way I look, but this surgery was necessary for medical reasons.” — role model Bristol Palin, 20, explaining the plastic surgery that gave her a new face.  Right, Bristol.  Your surgery had nothing to do with your new career as a reality TV star.  Did you learn how to lie from your mother?






The older I get, the less crazy that Shirley MacLaine seems to me.  Shirley is now promoting her new book, I’m Over All That, but I’m going to read the book that initially crowned her Queen of the Flakes back in the ’80s, Out on a Limb.  Reincarnation?  UFOs?  Hey, you got any better ideas?






Correction:  It appears we committed a grievous error in the March 13 edition of the “Weekly Review.”  Apparently we misidentified Kate Middleton’s royal rump.  It now appears that the bikinied bottom we reproduced belongs to Middleton’s wild-and-crazy sister Pippa.  We apologize to Kate’s arse, and to Pippa’s arse, which is rising in popularity now that it has its own Twitter account:








Hilary Swank is a movie star who, let’s face it, is not blessed with movie-star looks.  But L.A. radio host Kim Masters was a bit harsh when she told Swank, “[Meryl Streep] is not a pretty girl, and you’re not either.”  Swank took the insult in good humor.  Good on Swank, bad on Masters.




Media Bullshit of the Week:  David Letterman (age 64), Chris Matthews (age 65) and other TV knuckleheads have been calling the late Osama bin Laden “old.”  Bin Laden was born in 1957.  It is scientifically, socially, and journalistically not possible for anyone born in 1957 to be “old.”

Now get off my lawn.




Is there anyone more physically repulsive than the American politician?  Someone, I forget who, once said that the average politico is an egotist too homely to go into acting, so he (or she) pursues public service instead.  Anything for attention.

What makes the politician even more repellent is his vanity — these guys, cringe-inducing as they are, actually believe that they are attractive.  This is made possible because they have power.  People will overlook a pile of feces in the street if there’s money buried beneath it.

I am ranting about this because I just watched a politician named “Dutch” Ruppersberger on the news, and I didn’t hear a thing he was saying because I was too distracted by the ridiculous toupee on his ancient pate.  Is no one in this guy’s inner circle courageous enough to tell him he’s making an ass of himself?




To me, the hands-down winner of any Ugly on a Stick competition has to be Newt Gingrich:  fat, smarmy, scrunch-faced, slit-eyed and with an attitude that says, “Tom Cruise, eat your heart out!”  Would the nation ever recover from a president this ugly?






We can’t conclude this week’s “Review” on such an ugly note, so let’s forget about politicians and instead remember Yvette Vickers, the Playboy Playmate who, sadly, was discovered dead and mummified in her California home last week.  Here is Yvette back in her 1950s Playboy glory days:





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The makers of Bridesmaids are going to great lengths to convince prospective ticket buyers that their film is not one of those dreaded “chick flicks.”  Don’t let them fool you, fellas, because Oh.  Yes.  It.  Is.

Bridesmaids brings to the table nearly everything clichéd about the much-maligned wedding movie:  the self-pitying heroine (Kristen Wiig), who watches in horror as her best friend dumps her in favor of material bliss; the caddish lover (Jon Hamm); the long-suffering “good guy” (Chris O’Dowd) who puts up with all manner of female foolishness; the wisecracking girlfriends.  In other words, Bridesmaids is a female version of a Judd Apatow movie – and that’s not a good thing.

Apatow, perhaps stung by criticism of the string of male-oriented Porky’s clones on his resume, produces this vehicle for Wiig (she also co-wrote the screenplay) and, I’ll have to admit, on the few occasions that I actually laughed, it was during scenes that featured an Apatow specialty:  gross-out humor.

But this movie is no step forward for the romantic comedy.  Showcasing actresses who behave just as immaturely as the boys do in movies like Superbad and The Hangover is not exactly an advancement for feminism in Hollywood.  Proving that girls can do everything boys can do only matters if what they do is worth doing.  Alas, just as The Hangover insisted it was the bachelor party that matters most, in Bridesmaids it’s the wedding that is all important – not marriage itself.

Despite what the promoters of Bridesmaids would have you believe, this movie is not about “relationships” between anyone – male or female.  Each character is there to serve a simple function:  set up the next (usually lame) comedy sketch.

Whatever happened to the good “chick flick” – movies like Four Weddings and a Funeral and Terms of Endearment        Grade:  C+




Director:  Paul Feig   Cast:  Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Rose Byrne, Melissa McCarthy, Chris O’Dowd, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Jill Clayburgh, Jon Hamm, Ellie Kemper   Release:  2011

BRIDESMAIDS         Bride4

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     by Timothy Schaffert    



Ordinarily, if you tell me that a book is “charming,” “lyrical,” and set in small-town Nebraska, I’ll ask you to hand me the TV remote on your way out the door, but Coffins is an exception.  Schaffert’s plot is slight and a bit far-fetched:  A cornfield community gains notoriety when the national media descends to cover an alleged child abduction, while a publishing house chooses the same burg to surreptitiously print a Harry Potter-like book.

It’s the characters who matter in this novel, in particular three generations (grandmother, grandson, and his teen niece) of one family.  They reassure us that in 2011 Mayberry might be battered, bruised, and a bit less innocent, but its wholesome values survive at least in one Midwestern town. 


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OK, so it’s not quite of the same caliber as All the President’s Men, but no one smouldered quite like Paul Newman, and very few did “spunky” as well as Sally Field.  Watch them duel as a journalist (Field) is duped into printing a damaging story about an innocent man (Newman).  Sydney Pollack directs.  Click here to watch it free.


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