Wednesday, September 30, 2009

I love a bargain as much as the next person but. . .


Tuesday, September 22, 2009


I have no words.
Click on the title of this
entry to go to the
website and just let
the insanity wash over
you. But not to close to
mealtime or I won't be
held responsible...

I simply won't.

Friday, September 18, 2009


. . . Or Afghanistan,
Argentina, Austria,
Australia, Belgium,
Brazil, Chile, China,
Cuba, Costa Rica,
Cyprus, Denmark,
Finland, France,
Germany, Greece,
Iraq, Iceland, Ireland,
Israel, Italy, Japan,
the Netherlands,
New Zealand, Oman,
Portugal, Russia,
Saudi Arabia, Spain,
Sweden, South Korea,
Sri Lanka, Ukraine
and the United Kingdom.

DELICIOUS visits 'THE BONFIRE OF THE VANITIES' and finds that it's not quite the "BombFire" we always heard it was.

Brian De Palma's film version of THE BONFIRE OF THE VANITIES was savaged by the critics with a vitriol that still seems remarkable. Remarkable because it is one of De Palma's tamer movies, no doubt eviscerated for not living up to the same image critics held in their heads when they read Tom Wolfe's enormously popular novel three years earlier. The movie's nastiest pans came from journalists comparing it to the book -- one called it a "fascinating calamity" and another, more frighteningly, commanded readers to "destroy this film."

Watered-down as it may be, Bonfire of the Vanities politically and artistically is a challenge -- a visceral wake-up call to the mind and the senses. To watch De Palma lampoon the self-indulgence of the '80s, as Wolfe did much more straightforwardly in his book, is to be forced to confront a long list of off-kilter images and incongruous tones -- embodied here by the innately good-natured Tom Hanks's performance as Sherman McCoy, a slimy, adulterous investment banker; Melanie Griffith's gleefully absurd vixen mistress Maria Ruskin; and, most important of all, the sudden and jarring shift from farce to straight-faced moral declaration that is Morgan Freeman's masterful courtroom speech.

"I don't do satire," De Palma reportedly said in an interview. And so it is true. De Palma prefers to wear his parody with a big, dumb grin -- or with his fangs fully protracted. Tom Wolfe's novel was satire; the movie is broad comedy, playing up its characters' vices and follies to viciously cartoonish levels, rendering them more laughable than contemptible. This is why it was ultimately necessary that the movie's corporate sleaze bucket be played by Hanks, who up to that point had been tied to light comedies. And why, naturally, Melanie Griffith chose to make her character more daffy than sexy; likeable or detestable, De Palma's protagonists fumble at everything they do. And it's worth noting that both actors punctuate their billboard-size representations of greed, racism, and infidelity with some of the more gut-busting moments in movie history, such as when Griffith squeals at the ominous sight of two approaching black men in the Bronx, "Oh my God, natives!"

De Palma's characterizations may not have the subtle tongue-in-cheek wit of Tom Wolfe, but his version of the story is both more comic and angrier for it. His sinuous camerawork, (expertly captured by master cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond), suggests a fiery examination of New York's racial and economic head-butts -- if critics were searching for the film's muscle, this is where it is. A glorious time-lapse shot opens the film, observing 24 hours in the city's vibrant goings-on from atop the Chrysler's building's high perch. On one hand ecstatically unifying all New Yorkers under one sky, the image is also strangely foreboding, as a peering eagle statue looking down on the landscape insinuates the precarious social imbalances that exist among different neighborhoods. Never since has there been such a brilliantly singular distillation of a city's cultural strife.

For all its polish, Bonfire of the Vanities can become stunningly hot-tempered, a quality most journalists are too quick to ignore. A cutting sorrowfulness underlies slapstick humor that can quickly turn violent. When guests at a cocktail party condescend to his downfall, McCoy runs them out by blowing shotgun pellets into the ceiling. Here Hanks's point of view is the camera's, and so his character's frustration is the audience's, and that of every one of New York's underdogs, rich and poor, who struggle to find genuine human feeling within the city's partisan theatrics (signified here by a crooked Mayor, a savage media, and a pretentious intelligentsia, one of whom hysterically fawns over a gay poet by saying, "He's on the shortlist for the Nobel Prize. He has AIDS.").

But not hopelessly, as Morgan Freeman articulates in his genius climactic speech -- absent from the novel -- playing the only good-natured character, a judge who presides over McCoy's case. With a gavel in his hand to symbolize De Palma's own measured plea for common sense, and approaching the camera directly as if to lecture the audience, Freeman turns various groups' self-righteousness back on them, exposing each one's duplicity and crying out for "decency." "It's what your mother taught you," he explains, in a down-home vernacular that reverses, radically, the movie's giddy parody into earnest speechifying. It's still self-aware, of course, but the sentiment is meant sincerely.

De Palma doesn't do straight satire, and as such his coda puts everything prior into a clarifying moral focus while simultaneously challenging the way we watch movies: In an unjust world, law is our "feeble attempt" to make things right. Bonfire of the Vanities is De Palma's.

Monday, September 14, 2009


Patrick Swayze, the hunky actor who danced his way into moviegoers' hearts with "Dirty Dancing" and then broke them with "Ghost," died Monday after a battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 57.

Fans of the actor were saddened to learn in March 2008 that Swayze was suffering from a particularly deadly form of cancer. He kept working despite the diagnosis, putting together a memoir with his wife and shooting "The Beast," an A&E drama series for which he had already made the pilot.

A three-time Golden Globe nominee, Swayze became a star with his performance as the misunderstood bad-boy Johnny Castle in "Dirty Dancing." As the son of a choreographer who began his career in musical theater, he seemed a natural to play the role.

A coming-of-age romance starring Jennifer Grey as an idealistic young woman on vacation with her family and Swayze as the Catskills resort's sexy (and much older) dance instructor, the film made great use of both his grace on his feet and his muscular physique.

It became an international phenomenon in the summer of 1987, spawning albums, an Oscar-winning hit song in "(I've Had) the Time of My Life," stage productions and a sequel, 2004's "Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights," in which he made a cameo.

(Dirty Dancing - "I had the time of my Life"):

Swayze performed and co-wrote a song on the soundtrack, the ballad "She's Like the Wind," inspired by his wife, Lisa Niemi. The film also gave him the chance to utter the now-classic line, "Nobody puts Baby in a corner."

Swayze followed that up with the 1989 action flick "Road House," in which he played a bouncer at a rowdy bar. But it was his performance in 1990's "Ghost" that showed his vulnerable, sensitive side. He starred as a murdered man trying to communicate with his fiancee (Moore) - with great frustration and longing - through a psychic played by Whoopi Goldberg.

"Ghost" provided yet another indelible musical moment: Swayze and Moore sensually molding pottery together to the strains of the Righteous Brothers' "Unchained Melody." It also earned a best-picture nomination and a supporting-actress Oscar for Goldberg, who said she wouldn't have won if it weren't for Swayze.

(Ghost - "Unchained Melody"):

Swayze earned three Golden Globe nominations, for "Dirty Dancing," "Ghost" and 1995's "To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar," which further allowed him to toy with his masculine image. The role called for him to play a drag queen on a cross-country road trip alongside Wesley Snipes and John Leguizamo.

Among his earlier films, Swayze was part of the star-studded lineup of up-and-comers in Francis Ford Coppola's 1983 adaptation of S.E. Hinton's novel "The Outsiders," alongside Rob Lowe, Tom Cruise, Matt Dillon, Ralph Macchio, Emilio Estevez and Diane Lane.

Other '80s films included "Red Dawn," "Grandview U.S.A." (for which he also provided choreography) and "Youngblood," once more with Lowe, as Canadian hockey teammates.

In the '90s, he made such eclectic films as "Point Break" (1991), in which he played the leader of a band of bank-robbing surfers, and the family Western "Tall Tale" (1995), in which he starred as Pecos Bill. He appeared on the cover of People magazine as its "Sexiest Man Alive" in 1991, but his career tapered off toward the end of the 1990s, when he also had stay in rehab for alcohol abuse. In 2001, he appeared in the cult favorite "Donnie Darko," and in 2003 he returned to the New York stage with "Chicago"; 2006 found him in the musical "Guys and Dolls" in London.

Off-screen, he was an avid conservationist who was moved by his time in Africa to shine a light on "man's greed and absolute unwillingness to operate according to Mother Nature's laws," he told the AP in 2004.

Swayze was married since 1975 to Niemi, a fellow dancer who took lessons with his mother; they met when he was 19 and she was 15. A licensed pilot, Niemi would fly her husband from Los Angeles to Northern California for treatment at Stanford University Medical Center.

With 'HUSH', Jessica Lange hurls herself into Grande Dame Guignol cinema with delicious results. We just dare you to try and stifle your giggles.

Anyone who's witnessed Joan Crawford’s female impersonation in Johnny Guitar realizes that it spoiled her for any “normal” roles forever after, while Faye Dunaway’s loony one-woman floor show in Mommie Dearest (playing Joan Crawford) altered her once stellar career into one as a roving mercenary actress in films as disparate and desperate as Supergirl, The Temp and Dunston Checks In. For Jessica Lange the film that transformed her from a critical darling into a misshapen, overblown character out of Tennessee Williams or William Castle is Jonathan Darby's daft potboiler HUSH. We defy anyone not to giggle as Lange waltzes around in jodhpurs playing Martha Baring, the head of a large Kentucky horse ranch called Kilronan.

When Lange's upper-crust hunk of a son, (bland Johnathon Schaech) arrives at Kilronan with his wide-eyes and his void-of-a-girlfriend Gwyneth Paltrow in tow for a down-home Christmas, Lange flares her nostrils incestuously, regarding poor Paltrow as merely a vessel for Schaech's child and simply not the "right" woman for her little man. Naturally, when she finds Gwyneth lounging naked in her son's room (instead of in her assigned spot in the guest bedroom), Lange leaves nothing to chance and puncture's Paltrow's diaphragm. (well, wouldn't you?) The kids leave but soon Paltrow finds herself preggers, and - for reasons to convoluted to explain - they return to the bowels of Kentucky to wait out the trimesters. Oh no!

Lange immediately takes possession of Schaech and Paltrow like Hitler invading Poland. A visit by Gwyneth to grandma Nina Foch, (a game old broad who knows where all the bodies are buried), reveals Lange's evil past and the suspicions surrounding the death of her husband. From then on, Lange turns into a psychopathic harridan. With the aid of powerful horse medication, she succeeds in inducing Paltrow's pregnancy. The result is a harrowing home-birth sequence that will forever after give natural childbirth advocates a bad name. This ordeal finally ignites Paltrow's anger. When she is able to walk upright again (a mere 24 hours later!), she goes hunting for Lange and revenge.

Movies this bad can't happen by accident, and Lange (who must have realized she didn't have a campy-psychotic role under her belt yet), treats us to some of the funniest scenes involving rats, horses, pregnant women and naked old ladies that you'll ever want to see. She drawls, vamps and guzzles the scenery with gusto. It's like she's competing in a late career Bette Davis contest and Glenn Close just took the lead.

But the true find here is Johnathon Schaech. Actually, his acting talent is tougher to spot here than his name is to spell. But if they ever decide to make a film entitled "Barbie & Ken: The Genitalia Experiment", here's your Ken.

Bernice took the cutbacks to her household allowance very hard.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Today, my darlings, we attempt to ride with C.C. AND COMPANY. This much fun cannot possibly be intentional.

"You've seen too many motorcycle movies!" cries fashion designer Ann-Margret to some lust-crazed bikers at one point in the irresistibly awful 1970 biker flick C.C. AND COMPANY. Well, somebody has. Our guess is that it was Ann-Margret's husband, Roger Smith, who penned this laughable compendium of chopper cliches about five seconds after EASY RIDER became the number-one box-office smash all over the world.

Football hero Joe Namath, making a (thankfully) brief stab at screen stardom, plays a thieving, lowlife biker who, while cruising the desert with two fellow gang members, comes across mini-skirted, maxi-haired Manhattanite Ann-Margret stranded in a broken-down limo. "You guys gonna sit there like 'The Wild Ones' or you gonna give a girl a hand?" A-M vamps, as only a half-clad sex kitten stranded in the middle of nowhere might think to do.

When Namath's pals predictably move in on A-M and one threatens to strike her, Namath nobly intervenes with this bit of roadside rape etiquette: "Man, you don't hit something that looks that good. I mean, laying her is one thing, but bruising her--that's something else again." After the two ill-mannered bikers ride off, A-M realizes that Namath was only saving her for himself, but before she gets a chance to show him how much she doesn't mind, a tow truck shows up and he takes off.

Fortunately, the star-crossed lovers meet again soon, this time at a dirt-bike track where A-M is overseeing a fashion magazine shoot of models wearing her latest couture designs while bikers race around them. When Namath appears in the background of the pictures, A-M has to ask him to sign a photo release, for which she promises him what sounds suspiciously like what the studio must have offered him to star in this movie: "Your name in a magazine, fan mail from oversexed housewives, a year's subscription to Popular Mechanics -- anything but money."

But Namath balks at signing, whereupon A-M utters the fateful words, "I need a release!" With that, Namath puts the comely fashionista on the back of his Harley for a long, hard ride, then takes her go-go dancing, and then gets naked with her. After a happy-lovers montage to the sound of A-M's own voice crooning, "When you smile that special smile/As you listen to whatever I say/You've given me such tenderness/You satisfy me in every way," Namath abandons his biker pals to move into A-M's digs.

Alas, the resentful roughnecks, believing Namath has made off with the group's cash, kidnap A-M and unleash their own skanky motorcycle mamas on her. One Harley hussy buries her face in A-M's bountiful boobage and exclaims, "Oh, fragrance divine!" Then she grabs A-M's titian tresses and snarls, "A natural redhead, you suppose? Only her hairdresser knows for sure." When Namath rides to the rescue, he's told that if he doesn't come up with the missing moolah, "Little Orphan Annie here gets a royal gang bang." Namath proposes instead a tough-guy bikes competition -- a hog-off -- so everyone heads to a deserted university track to watch the race. A campus security guard threatens to break things up, but one of the chopper chicks talks him out of it by explaining that they're actually students making a movie: "It's a cross between Antonioni and A.I.P."

Naturally Namath wins and takes off with A-M on his motorcycle, which leads to the portended Antonioni homage. Stopping at a meaningfully empty intersection where a red light blinks "Don't Walk," A-M asks, with ineffable ennui, "Where are we going?" Namath replies, "I gotta split for awhile." Full of angst, A-M growls, "Remember when we talked about looking for something? I'd like to look with you. For a while, anyway." With that, a green light blinks "Walk" and the two roar off into the night, searching, presumably, for better scripts.


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