Saturday, January 22, 2011


After watching Marnie, I decided I was really into Sex Mysteries, so I thought I would watch the ultimate Sex Mystery. Critics were not kind. Audiences were. Gays were not kind. Audiences were. Feminist were not kind. Audiences were. People who believe that life is worth living were not kind. Audiences were. It raises the question of why would something that is universally panned and LOATHED become a huge, teetering on legendary, film? Don't ask why? Ask why not?

The only REAL way to watch BASIC INSTINCT is to watch the director's cut. I mean, you are already going down the BI road, just go all the way. It only hurts for a little while, then it is over. 1992 was a VERY sexy year for film. LOVE CRIMES,starring Sean Young came out. Along with TRACES OF RED, DAMAGES and WHISPERS IN THE DARK the market was overflowing with sex mysteries. But none of them would gain the attention the way BI did. What was it's draw? Why was everyone talking about the movie, but the other sex mysteries died a quick death and struggled to find a place on home video? The answer is quite simple.
None of the other films had a beaver shot in the theatrical version. A very publicized beaver shot at that. A movie based completely around the beaver shot. A big budget, tightly edited film with a leading man with marquee appeal and a beaver shot. Folks lined up.

Paul Verhoeven had created the askewed testosterone driven films RoboCop and Total Recall and gained some recognition stateside after being the darling of Dutch Tv and a handful of interesting of smaller films. It would be Basic Instinct that would bring him to screenwriter Joe Eszterhas. Now, Eszterhas can write the FUCK out of a movie, whether it be Flashdance or Jagged Edge, he proved over and over again that he is not really in touch with his feminine side, but can produce hits. His characters are always flawed and mysterious and ALWAYS sexy. Men and women. He exploits the sexually out of both. It is said that Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus, but when dealing with Eszterhas, both genders are from Pluto. No one makes good decisions when it comes to relationships and they tend to find themselves in "sticky" situations. You can feel the male hormones raging in his films. It seems like every screenplay he pens comes with it's own hairy chest.

Michael Douglas was in the middle of the zenith of his career. Every film his was making was a huge hit or at least a good chunk of BadMovieArt (Shining Through anyone?). He was in complete control of his career and every film he made, he BASICALLY (HA!) had some sort of control over it. But in BI, he lets himself GO! As detective Nick Curran, he let Verhoeven and Eszterhas guide him and turned him into something that he really hadn't been known for in his career. A STUD!!! True, he had been sexy in Romancing the Stone and Fatal Attraction, but he THROWS DOWN in Basic Instinct. He is shirtless for a majority of the film, walks around naked and even shows his dick. And the best part about Douglas in this film, is that he is so cocky and proud to be strutting around in the buff. Good for him. It took two dudes to make him a sex machine!

Of course, the real star of the film is Sharon Stone. She had bumped around Hollywood for the greater part of the 80's. Highlights include the Wes Craven killer Amish film DEADLY BLESSING, which someone should release on DVD stat! She Kate Capshawed her way through two Allen Quaterman films and then scored big with ACTION JACKSON! Never afraid of her sexual allure or a bad script, she would take just about anything that was semi-big budget. It would be her role in Verhoeven's Total Recall that would guide her into Basic Instinct. The buzz and media that surrounded her casting was more inspired than the actual casting itself. American audiences were lead to believe that Hollywood had discovered a new blonde femme fatale and word on the street was the film was being cut heavily because of all the sex and violence. News got out that she flashed her beaver and the movie became the film to see!

Playing smart and sexy, Catherine Tramell, Stone became the poster woman for horny men and a new film diva for gays. Women had already started backlashing the film as misogynistic and hateful, but the dudes were on board. The film was released and became a HUGE hit. Dads were actually going to the movies alone and gays were confused by the draw of a kick ass female character, but the homophobic undertones were pretty blatant. Stone's character is bisexual and is used as a plot device. The early nineties were a shitty time for Hollywood to do this to the gays. Men and women who enjoyed the company of same sexes had fought for DECADES to get some positive face time in Tinseltown and just as we were starting to make strides, the community got slapped with this film and it was EVERYWHERE!! Picket lines formed and the legendary status started. The BEST way to get a hit is to have people picket the film.

When all fingers point to Catherine as the murderer in a VERY brutal sex crime, she takes a likening to the detective investigating the case, played by Douglas. Both emotional cripples they can't keep their hands off of each other. She uses the situation for the plot of her new novel, SHOOTER and he just likes to fuck on cocaine. She gives him a reason to start smoking and drinking again, much to all of his friends disgust. There are car chases that ranges from mildly annoying to high octane. We get lesbian kisses that range from mildly annoying to full tongue. OH LOOK OUT FOR A CLUE! Jeanne Tripplehorn, playing Douglas' lovelorn friend, has one of the craziest plot devices in a thriller. A Bart Simpson key chain. File it. You will need it later. Also just as interesting, but not a real CLUE, is Stone's television playing HELLRAISER 2 in the background. I thought this would somehow work it's way back into the story, but no luck. The plot tries to be so unpredictable that it becomes predictable. Actually, the movie is rather unexciting. Like, Stone's wardrobe, the film is shrouded in beige. It muddles along from sex scene to sex scene, with some of the most inane dialogue. My favorite line is when the cops discover a secret and they all look at each other and say, "SHE KNEW...."

The best part of the film, hits more than halfway through. The club scene is by far the most entertaining sequence of Basic Instinct and the most sexual. Lured into a hot spot in L.A. Douglas finds himself in a hot green pullover and in a smoke free nightclub. JOY! Sharon Stone is there doing coke in the toilet while her lesbian lover rubs her tits and two boys french kiss! SCANDAL!! I guess at the time it was shocking. With age, everything that tries to be shocking becomes less shocking. The club scene has Stone at her most beautiful though. Her gold dress hugs her curves and she does a little bump and grind with Douglas while her Taylor Don't lover does some of her best Nomi choreography.

After all that fun, we get a dick shot courtesy of Douglas, a fuck of the century and a Herbie Goes Bananas car crash, which is very enjoyable. Using the Com-Put-er, we discover all the clues we need to solve the crime, except for one! Where is that gosh durn key chain? Tripplehorn loses her shit and screams, "SHE'S EVIL! SHE'S BRILLIANT!" and the movie is over.

We do get one last orgasm with an ice pick under the bed. Credits roll. SEXY!

19 years later, lots has changed with Basic Instinct. There is no way to take it seriously now. The stereotypes that raised such a fuss almost two decades ago are so bland and boring. The caricature of a murdering coke head bisexual is actually kind of refreshing when the film is viewed now. It's hard to get mad at Basic Instinct because it is so utterly stupid. It is an amazing time capsule though. In the time that the film was released and now, the gay and lesbian community has become a major player in the film industry and now have many, many voices in cinema, not just a handful. I'm not saying Basic Instinct paved the way for queer movies, but it does have its place. Everyone has seen the film and has been touched by it in some way. It won't go away easily. It is kinda like that cousin you have that you don't talk to much, but you have to see every ten years or so just because they are still around.

Years later, Sharon Stone gave us some more of her crazy in BASIC INSTINCT 2: RISK ADDICTION. With camp lovers taking over the theaters on opening night, we were treated to a socko of an introduction and then had to sit and be bored for two hours. Thanks for nothing.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


It's true. There ain't no party like a Marnie party. If you haven't had one, you really, really should. Fresh off the success of PSYCHO and THE BIRDS, Alfred Hitchcock, took his birdwatching leading lady and gave her what would be her ultimate role. Tippi Hedren tears the screen up as MARNIE. It is an actor's dream role. The film would eventually cause the unraveling of the Hitchcock/Hedren merger, but for two hours and ten minutes, Tippi shows us that there is more to her than trying to get birds out of her hair.

The novel MARNIE by Winston Graham, which I am dying to get my hands on, was WAY too racy for the sixties silver screen.
But luckily, Jay Presson Allen penned the screenplay. Allen is best known for her screenplay for Cabaret. You want someone to turn the shit out? Get Allen. Most of her work is ahead of it's time and underappreciated. I guess that is why Alfred Hitchcock personal asked her to write Marnie. That is an opportunity you don't just pass up! So, she took a stab at adapting the psycho-sexual tale of greed and abuse, with Hitchcock behind the lens. The film censor board were always some hard cats to get past, but if you were clever and smart enough, you could. This pairing sailed right by. It's all there. You just have to look for it.

When Grace Kelly turned down the role, Hitchcock went to his newest blonde muse. Tippi Hedren has got to be just about one of the most beautiful women in the world. Strikingly gorgeous, she has possesses two qualities that I love in a woman. Glamour and a sense of humor. The two are a difficult match, but if you can pull it off, you definitely leave an impression. Tippi does it. Rather easily it seems.

A dashing and VERY tan Sean Connery is her leading man. He was already an established film star with a couple of classic Bond films under his belt, but even he paled in comparsion to the movie's real star. the director himself, Alfred Hitchcock. Style and Substance. Always his first two rules. He makes me feel like he went into work everyday with a goal to make the best film he could possibly make. And he always kept challenging himself. And his next feat would be if he could make Marnie a marketable hit with the general public. He succeeded, but why isn't Marnie talked about when someone brings up Hitchcock? I think it is because Marnie is really dark. Most Hitchcock movies are bathed in darkness, but soaped up with a little fun, Marnie is darker, but also a little more fun. It is just past that line that most people seem to not like to cross with Hitchcock. The film is a deeply rich character study about a woman tormented by her past and haunted by what the future holds for her. Hitchcock likes to keep it real and tawdry and calls it a SEX MYSTERY! That sells better than a boring old tag line that reads CHARACTER DRIVEN.

The outstanding thing about Marnie is that we get lots of Tippi in it. We don't see her face for the first ten minutes of the movie, but when we do she never escapes us again. Almost in every scene, Hedren had to WORK IT. Tippi's film credits are odd. Still working today, she has never slowed down in film and television productions. But there is nothing like Marnie. It is her finest two hours.

As the film opens, she see a woman who appears to have just walked away from a white collar crime. Then, we see a woman washing the color out of her hair. This is always a good sign of intrigue to come. When we finally see Tippi's face, you are glad you waited for it. She is a woman on the move though. It is never questioned that Marnie took off with her boss' money. Unlike, Marion Crane, she ain't planning on giving it back. The entire first 45 minutes is white knuckle. Everything is a clue and you must pay attention.

I also love that Marnie can land any job she wants too. I envision her circling a Want Ad and marching right into the office and seizing the job. She has got work to do. She can type well, takes notes and wins the trust of all her co-workers. But all this typing shit is a cover-up her real job, STARING! And she works hard for the money, honey. She watches everything single movement by every single person at the office. She learns to read body language and takes mental notes on people who make the same mistakes over and over. With all this staring she might be able to get what she really wants. INSIDE THE SAFE! She has poker face down to a fine science. Ah...but unbeknown st to her, someone else is watching and studying her every move. He has only one objective and that is get inside Marnie! HOLLA! One of the joys of Marnie is that we know that he knows that Marnie doesn't know that he knows....It's complex. Naturally, as anyone else would, he falls in love with her. She so lovable with all her staring and such. She screams anytime a man touches her and FREAKS the fuck out when a thunderstorm rolls in. She is nightmare prone and ain't afraid to scream in the middle of the night and wake up everyone. Tons of fun! He will learn that Marnie cannot be loved. Marnie doesn't have time for romantic side plots. She has got to get back to STARING!

What follows is a frenzied display of Mechanical horses, Stare Offs, Red Menace and lots of Diane Baker sassing off to anyone who will listen. Characters action are questioned and answers aren't handed over to you. You have to work form them. In one of Tippi Hedren's finest scenes, she goes to visit her mother, which is NEVER a good idea. Her arch enemy is Jesse, the little girl next door. This bitch has moved in on Marnie's territory and has snatched all the attention from her Mother. Now, Marnie's mom doesn't have a lot of love and attention to be handing out, so to have it yanked from you and given to some little brat hurts like fuck. The scenes between Tippi Hedren and Kimberly Beck (Roller Boogie and TRISH!) have an amazing chemistry between each other. Hitchcock kids are always the best.

The nightmares start to come more frequently and when the shit hits the fan, the entire cast descends upon Mamma Marnie's home. The truth SUCKS. But I guess you gotta know to move on. It's a pretty good pay off and we get a great mural of a ship full of horny sailors.

But on the DL, the best part of Marnie is Marnie's clothes. And we get to see her in two different looks. We get middle class glamour that seems to involve lots of twill and then SUPER RICH glamour when Marnie hits the big time. Whenever a opening credit reads COSTUMES BY EDITH HEAD, you know you are in for a good time.

Marnie remains one of my favorite Hitchcock films. It is a great film to rediscover and it hasn't be over saturated in pop culture. It also dares you go out and practice your STARING!

Thursday, January 6, 2011



This one's for the ladies....My past experience with SOMEWHERE IN TIME was brief, but constant. I use to spend the night with my Grandmother every Friday night for years when I was a youngster. It wasn't that fun, but she always got Sonic and had cable. Two MAJOR pluses in my book. She went to bed at eight in the evening and I stayed up all night watching SHOWTIME. I would fall asleep around one in the morning, only to wake up around 6:30 in the morning, because my body had itself timed to NEVER miss Faerie Tale Theatre. I had to allow myself a little leeway so I didn't miss a single moment. So I always caught the last twenty to fifteen minutes of SOMEWHERE IN TIME. It played for months at 5 a.m. And with just that little bit of the ending, i knew two things. It is weird to see Christopher Reeve NOT in hot tights and SOMEWHERE IN TIME is super boring. Recently, I found myself studying the film works of Jeannot Szwarc (of SANTA CLAUS: THE MOVIE and SUPERGIRL fame) and couldn't resist trying SOMEWHERE IN TIME on for size, now that I am a little older and seemingly a little wiser. What i discovered shocked me. And I also found the ladies LOVE this movie. SWOON TIME, BITCHES!

A couple of images from the movie have been stored in my mind frame for years. I recall slow movement. Clocks ticking. Women with parasols. Someone looking in a mirror. Christopher Reeve's super tight pants. It all came flooding back as the Yentl inspired credits started rolling. One of the most surprising credits was that it was based on a story by Richard Matheson!!! The genius behind I Am Legend, Hell House and Duel!!! Somewhere In Time is based on a story called Bid Time Return. Suddenly, I got very interested in SIT. Would it be kinda fucked up? Had a tense thriller eluded me all these years? Had I dismissed it because there weren't any major Hollywood stars dressed up at pigs or frogs? Questions. Questions. SIT was gonna put the record straight finally.

The year. 1972. An old woman breaks into a play rehearsal and finds herself a hunk of a man. Mr. Christopher Reeve. She struts up to him and whispers, "Come back to me." And is OUT the door. Jump ahead to 1980 and Reeve has not forgotten the old woman, but has kinda moved past it. He is basking the the riches of his hit play, TOO MUCH SPRING. I agree. He heads out to the countryside for a little R&R and maybe to knock those cobwebs out of his noodle and start writing a new hit play. No such luck. He wanders into the Hall Of History located in the lobby of his hotel. Alfred, the head bag man, ask, "Don't I know you?" WEIRD!
Once inside the room he spots a picture of a woman of mystery.

Reeve now is convinced the woman in the picture is his beloved. He starts to become consumed by the thought of being with her. He stares at the picture while sweating. But more in a sexy way than a just in from jogging sweat. At one point I thought, "Is this bitch gonna jump through the fucking wall?". It is some Xanadu shit for sure. He acts like a lunatic. Then, the film uses one of my favorite devices to speed the plot along. Reeve goes to the LIBRARY!!! And it isn't one of those libraries with computers like nowadays. There is a whole scene with him searching through a card catalog! A fucking card catalog! I was in heaven! He proceeds to dig through boxes of old records looking for clues. The librarian comes to him and states that they are about to close, but Reeve has a secret weapon he can use against girls and gays that render us powerless. I like to call it his HANDSOME. He just has it. It is not like he has a handsome nose or handsome eyes. It a combination of things that don't look handsome, but become handsome. Here look at this:

Reeve now has only one option. He must hypnotize himself into the past. It is kinda of muddled over, because it is kinda satanic. Moms don't like satanic things. They just accept it and move on. And for some reason SOMEWHERE IN TIME pulls it off! That is some Matheson shit I wasn't expecting! POOF!! He is somewhere in time. Everything is in soft focus and has a a days of yore lighting to it. But as we know some things are timeless. People in the olden days drink COKE too ya know! We are 45 minutes into the movie and the lady in the picture, played by Jane Seymour, has not even had any screen time. But don't fret, she is coming and she is going to show you just how beautiful she can be! She is a real English lady with an accent and all! She isn't freaked out by Reeve and his story of time travel and lustful longings. She is actually into it. Some of the great things about SIT are in the details. An old time vacuum cleaner that only works if two people are operating it. For all you LACE fans, you get to see the Lace girl's arch enemy, Piggy Fastbender, in her early years. She might be a kid, but she is STILL a bitch!!! And sneaking treats. Some things never change.

The two love birds go on boat rides, take strolls and stare into each others eyes. They kiss, but never any tongue. BUT! Reeve is a smooth operator and finally gets Seymour in bed and they have a hot and steamy (PG style) sex scene. Jane even gets to shake her hair loose as Reeve takes the ribbon from her hair! Just as everything is going great, Reeve discovers a penny he left in his pocket from his real time and is immediately thrust into modern world. Which has no parasols or soft focus. It's the pits. Now he is has completely gone off his rocker and tries to hypnotize himself back into time. Will his love be lost in time forever? Will he start dry humping a picture frame? I ain't gonna spoil if for you, but it's a doozy. STUPID PENNY!

SIT, which was a classic mom movie has now become a classic grandma movie. I don't know if today's generation of moms have the patience to get through it or would even buy the storyline. It inspired many made for TV movies about time traveling horndogs. Most starred Susan Lucci or Lindsay Wagner.

Leisurely paced, but suspenseful in a strange way, SOMEWHERE IN TIME seems like a movie lost in space. It still plays well, but you need to be prepared to be sitting and thinking about life and time travel for awhile when viewing it. I had cheese with crackers and a nice bottle of wine. It helps.

The film managed to develop a cult following, which lovers of the film gather at the hotel and have parties and get to meet other SIT fans. The cast still shows up (sans Reeve). TEAR. And even got some fan art!