Monthly Archives: October 2010



It’s nigh impossible to review Client 9, the new documentary about Eliot Spitzer, without taking a personal position on the ex-governor of New York, so here is mine: I think Spitzer was a breath of fresh air in American politics, a hardnosed attorney general and then governor who had the balls to take on big banking, Wall Street, and crooked politicians.  I think he was taken down by political enemies over a personal indiscretion, and the country is now in worse shape because of it.

I also think Spitzer is egocentric, a bit naïve, and probably less interested in serving the public than his own private interests.  He is an annoying motor-mouth on his new CNN show, Parker Spitzer, and he was in large part responsible for his own political downfall.

Client 9, a fresh take on what I thought was a stale story, reintroduces most of the players in this tawdry saga.  Here they all are:  Ashley Dupre, the prostitute who became Spitzer’s Monica Lewinsky; Joe Bruno, Hank Greenberg, Roger Stone, and Ken Langone New York pols, businessmen and, judging by this movie, major-league assholes.  Director Alex Gibney’s documentary makes it clear that Spitzer’s biggest mistake was offending these people and, as one man points out in the film, “not playing well with others.”  Spitzer himself, perhaps with a bit of hubris, compares his tumble to Greek tragedy.

Performance artist Karen Finley makes an astute observation in the film:  “We want our political people to be God, and maybe that’s the biggest problem for us.  He’s a human being, and he’s not God.  This isn’t just a national narrative, but it’s an ancient narrative that happened and has to repeat itself into our culture.”

Maybe Spitzer’s comparison to Greek tragedy is not so far-fetched.  It’s sad to see the former Sheriff of Wall Street reduced to just one more talking head on cable.  And it’s dispiriting to see Dupre flirting on TV with Geraldo Rivera and penning gibberish for the New York Post, and to watch Greenberg, Bruno, Langone, and Stone all gloat over Spitzer’s ruined career.  Wall Street is still sick, and what we desperately need is a good guy.  Someone like the Sheriff of Wall Street.         Grade:  B+




Director:  Alex Gibney  Featuring:  Eliot Spitzer, Joseph Bruno, Hank Greenberg, Roger Stone, Ken Langone, Cecil Suwal, Hulbert Waldroup  Release:  2010


Client3              Client4

                                 Stone                                                                                 Langone

Client5     Watch Trailers  (click here)



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Just Another Boring Day in 1990  

You are a typical heterosexual male.  You’ve always liked James Bond movies – especially the “Bond girls.”  Playboy Bunnies are fantastic, as well; too bad you never meet any women like that in real life.  And then there are the starlets – those cute young things who routinely get their heads chopped off (or eyes gouged out) in lowbrow horror movies.  These eye-candy actresses never seem to go on to become Meryl Streep, so what the heck becomes of them?  They probably marry Texas oil millionaires.

So you drive to your mundane job in your cheap car, park the rattletrap, and then walk to the parking-lot elevator.   The year is 1990.  Another soul-killing Monday in your cubicle awaits.

But wait.  Who is that stunning creature sharing the elevator with you?   She looks like someone you know … you must be dreaming.  But no, you are not.  You are in this familiar, shoddy elevator with bubblegum stuck on the floor, and you can feel the band-aid on your chin where you cut yourself shaving … so you are definitely not still in bed.

But just look at this babe!  Didn’t you just see her in something?  Didn’t you just see her in something – naked?



(“The tone is crude, raunchy, and leering, with kill scenes combined with more nudity than usual; we’re even invited to check out a hot chick’s body after her face has been sliced in half by garden shears.” – Slant Magazine)



Why yes!  She was in Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning.  You just watched it the other day.  How the hell did she get in an elevator with you?



(“[Fans] were looking for sex, violence and creative kills.  This was delivered, including a pretty risqué and quite awesome sex-in-the-woods sequence, which was actually trimmed by the censors of the day.” 7M Pictures)



Maybe you should say something to her, find out if you are mistaken about all of this.  After all, what are the odds you are riding in the same elevator with a gorgeous actress from a famous horror movie – especially since you happen to be in Ft. Worth, Texas, not Hollywood, and on your way to your boring job?  The girl does not look at you.  She keeps her eyes on the floor.  Probably staring at that bubblegum.



(“Tina and Eddie sneak off to have sex in the woods.  The Act Itself is one of the steamier in the series, but the big number is after Eddie heads out to the river to wash up, and Debisue Voorhees rolls around and around to show off about 93% of her body, although she demurely crosses her legs to make sure that we don’t see something immoral.” – Antagony & Ecstasy)



You steel your nerves, clear your throat, and say hello to her.  Then you tell her that she looks familiar.  Has she acted in a TV commercial or something like that?



(“The worst Jason story, but the best nudity of the entire series!”



She smiles, giggles a bit nervously, and says no.  But by now you are convinced; you recognize that smile and that giggle.  You are in an elevator riding to your dead-end job with Debisue Voorhees, whom you later learn is also “Deborah Bradley,” erstwhile actress turned journalist working for the same company that you work for.



(“The spiciest entry in the series, it boasts the most T&A.”Slant Magazine)



The elevator reaches the ground, the doors open, and you watch as this woman a living, breathing symbol of sex in America strides down the sidewalk.  Did you just blow your only chance at dating an honest-to-goodness, genuine Hollywood starlet?




October, 2010:

Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning is on cable.  You watch it and you remember Debisue Voorhees.  You Google her.  You find her on Facebook.  You e-mail her.  Will she even know who you are?

A few days later, there comes a reply:




You are a typical heterosexual male, and you’ve always liked horror movies – and especially the starlets who appear in them. 


© 2010-2024 (text only)


by Arianna Huffington



I don’t know whether to laugh, cry, or simply shrug my shoulders.  Political books like this one often have the best of intentions, but when I put them down, I wonder if they really do no more than preach to the choir.  Huffington expresses outrage at “corporatism” and the corrupt politicians responsible for screwing the Middle Class, and I share her indignation. 

But she undermines valid points by including anecdotal sob stories from “real people” that often seem one-sided and incomplete.  Don’t some of these people share responsibility for their misfortune?  Are they all complete victims?  Huffington is also annoyingly repetitious; much of what she has to say is old news, but that doesn’t stop her from saying it – three times, if necessary.  Still … her main arguments feel correct to me, and she provides resources for the Average Joe to take some kind of action, including a segment of her Web site, The Huffington Post.


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Back in 1978, very few people knew what the term “China Syndrome” meant.  By the end of 1979, thanks to a nuclear accident at Three Mile Island and the release of this movie, everybody knew.  (The term refers to a hypothetical meltdown releasing molten material through the earth’s crust, all the way from America to China.)  Let Jane Fonda, Michael Douglas, and Jack Lemmon scare the neutrons out of you by watching The China Syndrome for free.  Click here to watch.


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It’s hard to imagine anything more terrifying than being buried alive.  It’s a legitimate fear because unlike, say, meeting Freddy Krueger in a bad dream, premature burial is grounded in reality.  According to Wikipedia, George Washington so feared being mistakenly interred that he arranged to have his burial deferred until 12 days after his death.  Over the centuries, this type of horrific error was not uncommon.

Not to miss out on exploiting anything unspeakable, movies and TV are replete with stories depicting premature burial, from The Alfred Hitchcock Hour (“Final Escape,” 1964), to The Vanishing (1988), to Buried, now playing in a theater near you.  And because this Ryan Reynolds showcase takes place in another waking nightmare, the Iraq war zone, Buried plays on even more nerves.

Reynolds portrays Paul Conroy, a truck-driving contractor in Iraq.  After his convoy is ambushed, Conroy wakes up in a wooden box, presumably six feet under.  He learns that he’s been kidnapped (“one of the only functioning businesses over here [Iraq],” we are told) and deposited belowground by terrorists demanding a ransom.  The entire 94-minute movie takes place inside his coffin – and that presents a challenge for director Rodrigo Cortes.  The horror of Conroy’s situation is obvious, but how to generate suspense from the situation?  Through a cell phone, of course.

Cortes builds some tension, but only to a degree.  Aside from one sequence involving an unwelcome “visitor” to Conroy’s tomb, I did not experience what I’d call fear.  Discomfort, yes.   Claustrophobic anxiety, you betcha.  But fear?  Not really.          Grade:  B-




Director:  Rodrigo Cortes  Cast:  Ryan Reynolds  Release:  2010


  Buried3    Watch Trailers & Clip  (click here)


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I guess now we all know why Vikings quarterback Brett Favre is so fond of the song “Pants on the Ground.”

It’s brutal being a Minnesota sports fan.  On Wednesday, we were pumped up about having home-field advantage for the Twins-Yankees playoffs.  On the same day, we learned that superstar receiver Randy Moss was coming home to the Vikings, where he would team up with Favre.  Super Bowl hopes were through the roof.

Twenty-four hours later, the Twins were facing elimination, Favre was giving new meaning to that “Pants” ditty, and we all learned who Jenn Sterger is.  Moss, of all people, was the only professional athlete in Minnesota who was behaving like a model citizen.


Moss      JennSterger

                      Moss                                                                Sterger


As for the Vikings, this is what I wrote in the “Weekly Review” on September 18:  “There is no team in professional sports more cursed than the Vikings, no team that does a better job of punishing its fans.  Let us see what horrors this new season brings.”




Thank goodness we still have Kevin Garnett and the Timberwolves.  Wait ….


© 2010-2024 (text only)




Monsters?  What monsters?

When this low-budget sci-fi flick opens in theaters later this month, I predict audiences will fall into one of two categories – and neither group will be happy. Group 1 will comprise viewers upset that the movie fails to live up to its scary title.  The promos for Monsters sure make it look like another War of the Worlds.  It isn’t.

There are aliens in the film, but if you run to the concession stand, you’ll miss them.  There is also suspense in the movie – but the suspense comes from wondering when the suspense will begin.

Monsters is an odd film, but not boring, and its promising beginning had me falling into Group 2:  viewers hoping for an original take on a stale premise (the aliens are here!).  But that promising beginning refuses to end (45 minutes expire before anything “happens”).  Thus, we spend lots of time with the lead characters, Andrew and Samantha, but they aren’t terribly interesting people.   Andrew is a photojournalist who is coerced into escorting the boss’s daughter, Samantha, through a Mexican “infected zone,” an area south of the border where aliens are sequestered by the government.  It is refreshing that – for once – a potential couple in a Hollywood movie is more curious than antagonistic about each other.  But this getting-to-know-you phase is lengthy and has zero suspense.  Maybe, I hoped, Monster’s climax would reward its audience’s patience.  It doesn’t.

With its obvious allusions to illegal immigration – there is an imposing wall keeping the aliens in Mexico, and out of the U.S. – Monsters makes a mild attempt at social commentary.  Says Andrew when the pair first spots The Great Wall of Texas:  “It’s different looking at America from the outside.  When you get home it’s so easy to forget all of this … in our, like, perfect, suburban homes.”  Would the conclusion of Monsters make a profound political statement?  Or might we finally witness all hell breaking loose?

Alas, the movie is what it is, a low-budget (reportedly $15,000) mishmash; part science fiction, part romance, and part social statement.  Of that stew, the only thing that stands out is the budget.  I suppose I could cut newbie director Gareth Edwards some slack for making his film with such limited resources but, hey, a ticket to Monsters cost me the same as a ticket to The Social Network.  So I won’t.   Grade:  C




Director:  Gareth Edwards  Cast:  Whitney Able, Scoot McNairy  Release:  2010


Monsters3   Monsters4


                                      Watch Trailers and Clips  (click here)


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James Stewart - Harvey


Imagine, if you will, a good-hearted fellow you meet at a bar.  He’s a 47-year-old man who offers to buy your drinks, and is assuredly not hitting on you.  He inquires about your health and family, and then invites you to dinner at his nice home in the suburbs.  Now let’s say that you are not so nice.  You are a con artist, or a troubled soul fresh out of prison.  What likely happens to your newfound pal?

I’d say chances are good that the patsy would be discovered sometime later, bloody, crumpled and unconscious in some alley.  At the very least, he would no longer possess his ATM card.  Or would that necessarily be the case?

Meet Elwood P. Dowd, centerpiece of Harvey, the 1950 film adaptation of Mary Chase’s delightful stage play.  Dowd, of course, is forever associated with actor James Stewart, who portrayed the eccentric tippler on Broadway and in the movie.  Dowd is a drinker who might be alcoholic, or mentally unstable – or perhaps a man who simply chose to follow the road less traveled.   As Dowd explains to a young psychiatrist:   “I’ve wrestled with reality for 35 years, doctor, and I’m happy to state I finally won out over it.”

The mystery is how on earth Chase, Stewart, and everyone else involved pulled this stuff off so well.  Is Harvey a product of more innocent times, or is it the result of a talented writer making magic?  Last year, it was announced that Steven Spielberg planned to direct a remake, possibly with Tom Hanks in the role of Dowd.  Even though Spielberg is Spielberg, and Hanks trod similar terrain in Big, I have my doubts that an update would work, and Spielberg (wisely, I think) later dropped out of the production, reportedly after “a dispute over his vision for the project.”

There’s no doubt that Elwood P. Dowd had visions – and not just of his imaginary friend, the towering “pooka,” Harvey.  “Years ago,” Dowd explains, “my mother used to say to me, she’d say, ‘In this world Elwood … you must be oh so smart, or oh so pleasant.’  Well, for years I was smart.  I recommend pleasant.  You may quote me.”      Grade:  A


Harvey2    Harvey3


Director:  Henry Koster  Cast:  James Stewart, Josephine Hull, Peggy Dow, Charles Drake, Cecil Kellaway, Victoria Horne, Jesse White, William H. Lynn, Wallace Ford, Nana Bryant  Release:  1950


Harvey4    Watch Trailer and Clip  (click here)


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When I was 10 years old, roughly the same age as the young stars of this 1968 musical, I saw the movie and was faced with a choice:  Should I identify with Oliver (Mark Lester), boy-hero of the film, or with the Artful Dodger (Jack Wild), that irascible pickpocket?  Easy choice.  Lester seems fine to me in the role now, but to my 10-year-old self, his angelic face and wimpy manner were much too girlish.  His voice was high-pitched and tremulous – also too feminine.  The Dodger, on the other hand – now there was a role model for a young boy.  But I digress.  What matters are the music, 1800s settings, and performances on display in this Carol Reed-directed classic.  Watch it for free by clicking here.


© 2010-2024 (text only)


OKeefe Boudreau

                           O’Keefe                                                                              Boudreau


Times are tough at CNN, and the folks who work there aren’t getting any sympathy from the vultures at MSNBC and Fox News.  Here’s a list of recent kerfuffles and shenanigans at the world’s first cable-news network:

1)  CNN, all bubbly over the launch of its new Parker Spitzer talk show, suddenly must find a replacement for the volatile Rick Sanchez.  Sanchez was canned for the sin of actually speaking his mind — something of high value at rivals MSNBC and Fox, but not so much at CNN.

2)  Judging from the previews of the Parker Spitzer show, CNN might have another ratings disaster on its hands.  Eliot Spitzer seems to be ego incarnate, and it’s embarrassing to watch Kathleen Parker try to get a word in edgewise when he’s yapping.  Perhaps if the show does nightly segments on high-price hookers, Spitzer will be forced to clam up.

3)  CNN went all out hyping news babe Abbie Boudreau’s “expose” of conservative muckraker James O’Keefe.  O’Keefe was busted attempting to hoax Boudreau with a taped “seduction” aboard a boat stocked with “a condom jar, dildos, posters and paintings of naked women, fuzzy handcuffs and a blindfold.”  But Boudreau, whom O’Keefe referred to as a “bubble-headed bleach-blonde,” came off as a pissed-off woman intent on personal payback, and not exactly a serious journalist pursuing a story.

4)  Meanwhile, Larry King keeps getting caught on camera slurping his false teeth, and earnest Anderson Cooper stutters and stammers in a series of bizarre, indignant interviews in which he tries too hard to toughen up his Boy Scout image.

This is all very sad to watch.  It looks like the once-proud network is going down, which will leave us news junkies with only those howling jackals at Fox and MSNBC.  Larry King and his false teeth must clatter at the thought.




You Don’t Miss It Until It’s Gone




Speaking of sad tidings … it looks like Blockbuster is biting the dust.  Yes, the late fees were outrageous, and yes, they failed to stock the right movies, and yes, they bulldozed a lot of mom-and-pop video stores.  But who among us won’t get a little misty-eyed if and when the chain disappears?  I, for one, will never forget the teenage, acne-ridden clerk who would examine my video at checkout and then loudly announce to everyone within earshot, “Bubble Headed Beach Babes will be due back on Tuesday, sir!”






I know, it’s disrespectful and in poor taste to make light of the passing of a fellow human being, but dammit … this has to be the funniest headline of the week:


Segway company owner James ‘Jimi’ Heselden dies in England after riding a Segway off cliff


© 2010-2024 (text only)