Archives for posts with tag: infidelity

road-to-the-well

Laurence Fuller plays a frustrated beta male desk jockey, Frank, who discovers that his girlfriend has been having an affair with his boss. Serendipitously, an old friend of his, handsome drifter Jack (Micah Parker), breezes into town and convinces his buddy to meet him for a few drinks at a night spot, where he also goads Frank to approach a woman (Rosalie McIntire) who catches his eye at the bar. From here, Frank’s life takes a left turn down a darker avenue than he ever knew existed, with Road to the Well developing into a fantastic, albeit eccentric, little thriller sustained by painful tensions and moments of unexpected strangeness. Only one superfluous scene broadly and condescendingly characterizing conservatives as “bigoted trash” taints what is otherwise a recommendable film, and writer-director Jon Cvack is to be commended. Barak Hardley is also worthy of mention for his portrayal of spoiled millennial man-child Chris, while Marshall Teague, glaring out of the screen from the other end of the masculinity spectrum, is also highly effective. For those interested, Road to the Well was recently released on DVD and VOD.

Four-and-a-half out of five stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Road to the Well is:

8. Anti-capitalistic, with prostitution furnishing the film’s model of free enterprise. Undignified Frank continues to work for his company (in order to “build a cushion,” he says) even after learning his boss has cuckolded him. He despises his erstwhile friend Chris, however, as a “hoity-toity yuppie” – but it is possible also to read the envy hiding behind Frank’s feigned contempt for Chris’s material security. Jack is utterly dismissive of regular employment, and encourages Frank to call in sick. “I don’t work anymore,” he says.

7. Anti-war. An implicit parallelism emerges during a scene between a murderer and a military man. One character understands something about the other’s experience.

6. Judgmentally anti-slut. The wages of sin is death!

5. Pro-gay. A corny anecdote is told about a homosexual adolescent who shot himself after being bullied. A homophobic redneck landlord who makes light of his own son’s participation in the bullying is intended to represent the low standard of sophistication prevailing among opponents of sodomy. Frank’s exaggerated reaction to this insensitivity is, one assumes, meant to establish his character’s moral credentials.

4. Manospherean. Frank, over the course of the film, is taught by his experiences to man up and assert himself. “Everything is fine as long as you got some money and a nice piece of pussy” is Jack’s philosophy.

3. Anti-Christian. A chaplain (Teague) has lost his faith and become suicidal. “My faith? What the hell is that?”

2. Anti-marriage. “It’s like marriage is this weird construct we’ve made up for ourselves and handed down from generation to generation,” moans Chris, who is soon to be married. “It’s meaningless, right?” A committed relationship is “not exciting”.

1. Antinatalist. “It’s like they’re these tiny little animals and I’m responsible for ‘em,” Chris frets, imagining the prospect of fatherhood. “If I don’t change their diaper, then they just, what, sit in their shit all day? Or, like, if you touch their fontanelle, you’re like, touching their brain, and you got a dead baby. […] No thank you.”

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

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Men Women and Children

This ensemble film follows the interrelated lives of a set of high school students and their parents in the context of twenty-first century connectedness that paradoxically has resulted in a profound disconnect for them all. Jennifer Garner plays a paranoid mother obsessed with controlling and filtering her daughter’s online activities. The daughter, Kaitlyn Dever, strikes up a friendship-cum-romance with Ansel Elgort, a sensitive, gloomy boy who quits the school football team after realizing that sports are meaningless. Meanwhile Elgort’s gruff football enthusiast father, played by Breaking Bad’s Dean Norris, attempts to cope with his wife’s abandonment of the family. Norris thinks he may have found a new love with Judy Greer, whose trampy daughter, played by Olivia Crocicchia, aspires to become an actress and promotes herself online with risqué photographs. Adam Sandler, meanwhile, adds another “serious” role to his résumé as a dull accountant whose marriage to Rosemarie DeWitt has lost its magic, with both seeking sexual satisfaction on an extramarital basis.

On the whole, Men, Women and Children makes for an engrossing and mildly artsy Hollywood social commentary, but some threads of the story are definitely more rewarding than others. The insights about the debilitating effects of online pornography are welcome, and the portions of the film concerning young lovers Dever and Elgort are touching and nicely played; but the story about the straying spouses takes Men, Women and Children into regions of moral repugnancy too extreme to qualify as entertainment – a circumstance that militates against what otherwise might have been this critic’s unmitigated recommendation. The film does, however, have much to say about the consequences of living in a deracinated, nihilistic, high-tech society centered on empty civic nationalism and in which “football served as a common language for which they [i.e., father and son] had no substitute.”

4 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Men, Women and Children is:

6. Anti-Christian. The actions of Jesus Christ mean “absolutely nothing”.

5. State-skeptical. Garner’s surveillance of her daughter’s devices, while attacking the “helicopter parent” phenomenon as a sort of irrational paranoia, also serves as an allegory about the post-9/11 regime of domestic spying as the norm. The flaw in the analogy, of course, is that it suggests domestic surveillance is motivated by a misguided maternal devotion rather than a hostile mania for control.

4. Anti-porn. Sandler’s imagination has been vitiated by the instant gratification of online pornography. His computer, as a result, is also riddled with malware. His son, played by Travis Tope, has been rendered sexually dysfunctional by his own pornography habit. “By age 15,” narrator Emma Thompson informs the viewer, “Chris found it difficult to achieve an erection without viewing a level of deviance that fell well outside societal norms.” Now only the idea of female sexual domination arouses him, and he is incapable of performing with an actual girl. One wonders if Hollywood’s anti-porn stance as articulated in this film and in Don Jon (2013) is motivated by genuine concern for the public health or by worry about online pornography’s competing share of its target audience’s disposable time and income.

3. Slut-ambivalent. Elena Kampouris plays a girl who gets pregnant and has a miscarriage after losing her virginity in a sordid episode in the home of a friend. The audience is invited to hold blonde “bitch” Crocicchia in contempt when she says, “It’s a new era for women, okay? Just because I’m comfortable with my body and enjoy hooking up doesn’t make me a slut.” The film’s anti-slut credentials are, however, undermined by its comparatively casual treatment of marital infidelity.

2. Anti-marriage, pro-miscegenation, and anti-white. Sleazebag Sandler seeks and finds sexual gratification with a prostitute while his shiksa wife, Rosemarie DeWitt, signs up for an account with the Jewish homewrecking site AshleyMadison.com and takes the Allstate congoid, Dennis Haysbert, for her lover. DeWitt is eventually embarrassed to be found out by Sandler when he catches the witch in a bar with still another man, so that the film ostensibly shows that cheating carries risks; but Sandler’s response is tolerance, and his wife evinces embarrassment rather than actual regret. She clearly enjoys what she is doing, and Men, Women and Children makes a great to-do of eroticizing her first encounter with Haysbert. “I’m excited,” she says as she straddles the hulking, gorilla-faced lothario. “I want it […] in my mouth. I want that big penis of yours. I want it. I want your dick. I want you to destroy me with your big fucking cock.” The film, furthermore, could be argued to constitute de facto product placement for AshleyMadison.com’s AIDS-procurement service, suggesting as it does that women of Rosemarie DeWitt’s level of physical attractiveness can actually be met through the site. The viewer is left to assume, too, that, had Sandler’s wife not been caught in her infidelities, she blithely would have continued enjoying her shameless escapades.

1. Luddite. Technology has profoundly complicated the human condition, disrupting male-female relations and isolating individuals in a lonely cacophony. Like the Voyager outer space probe featured more than once in the movie, humanity has now entered treacherous “uncharted territories” thanks to technology.

Rainer Chlodwig von Kook

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Beloved Sisters

This German film tells the presumably somewhat true story of two sisters, Charlotte (Henriette Confurius) and Caroline (Hannah Herzsprung) von Lengefeld, and their shared love for Friedrich Schiller (Florian Stetter), a charming poet of frail health and uncertain fortunes. The offbeat romantic scenario and the performances are intense and largely engrossing, the love scenes erotic without being obscene; but costume drama buffs expecting another Pride and Prejudice may be put off by the gradually darkening tone of the film, which takes on the character of a tragedy without ever becoming a tearjerker, however. Beautifully staged and photographed, with a few quirky stylistic choices such as having characters address the camera directly, Beloved Sisters is unique and never feels like a run-of-the-mill Austen-derivative programmer.

4.5 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Beloved Sisters is:

6. Pro-choice. “Do you want to have the child? … Why?”

5. Anti-Christian. A mother whose bastard child is of an uncertain paternity is compared to the Virgin Mary. Schiller also recites from one of his writings dealing with the inhumanity of the Inquisition.

4. Feminist/pro-gay. The sisters, who share Schiller sexually, also dress as men in order to attend one of his boys-only lectures. Caroline longs to be “a free woman, a single woman.”

3. Anti-marriage. Beloved Sisters depicts multiple unhappy unions, with marriage described as “tragedy”. Caroline’s husband is an “evil elephant” who “wants a dozen children, but only because he won’t come into his father’s inheritance otherwise.” Consequently, he “keeps pestering” her. The sisters, says Wilhelm (Ronald Zehrfeld), sent Schiller “not to paradise, but to the solitary confinement of marriage.” An incident in which a woman who fakes her death to escape her boring husband and run away with her lover demonstrates “international flair”.

2. Reactionary! Initially, Schiller is a naïve radical fired by the ideals of the Enlightenment. “I think humanity will evolve through knowledge and the sight of true beauty,” he says. Later, in the bloody wake of the French Revolution, and after having heard the horror stories of his friend Wilhelm, who has witnessed the carnage of the Terror firsthand, Schiller has more sobering thoughts. “Shouldn’t we have known, Wilhelm?” he asks. “Yes,” his friend replies. “Everyone who rang the bell for renewal should have known.”

1. Racist! That a movie – a German movie, no less! – would have the nerve to present a primitive, pre-multiculturalist Europe as something other than a totalitarian nightmare, and a place, indeed, of great natural charm and civilizational order, is a crime that this critic cannot forgive. Internet bigots obsessed with those supposed Cologne “attacks” will no doubt find much to admire in this dainty, escapist portrait of a racially homogenous society.

Rainer Chlodwig von Kook

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gunman

Sean Penn, who co-scripted, plays an ex-mercenary haunted by his assassination of a Congolese mining minister. Eight years later, now a damaged man in more ways than one, Penn discovers that someone with knowledge of his past has put out a contract on his life. Penn spends as much of the movie as possible shirtless so as to show off his impressive physique, and in one scene even taps into his inner Spicoli and catches a few African waves.

Less incendiary than one might expect for a Joel Silver production, The Gunman is an action movie that wants desperately to be an art film, aiming for poetic moments like that in which a battered and dying assassin is juxtaposed with a matador’s speared bull. The action, once the movie gets around to it, however, should be brutal enough to compensate for the more pretentious material. There is also a love triangle to keep the women interested.

4 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that The Gunman is:

6. Anti-tobacco. “That’s really healthy,” Ray Winstone says sarcastically on seeing Penn light a cigarette.

5. Anti-marriage. Penn’s love interest (Jasmine Trinca) regards her creepy husband (Javier Bardem) as a creditor, her loveless wifely duties the repayment of an obligation.

4. Multiculturalist and pro-immigration. European-accented non-white professionals put in a good word for immigrants’ ability to assimilate into western societies. London and Barcelona appear as peaceful and orderly multi-ethnic metropolises. Penn atones for his sins by working to improve the lives of Africans.

3. Ostensibly anti-war. Rape and machete attacks are noted as weapons of war in the Congo. Penn’s combat experience has left him with brain damage.

2. Anti-capitalistic. Corporatocracy is behind the world’s evils, with the “growing demand of the western world” to blame for the Congo’s sufferings.

1. Globalist, giving the false impression that NGOs (non-governmental organizations) are strictly humanitarian and apolitical entities. In reality, NGOs are frequently the unconventional tools of Zio-American foreign policy and therefore have been dubbed “missionaries of empire”. Brit-accented television reporters – still more tools of Zio-American globe-grasping – are presented as reliable sources of information. That the poster has the chutzpah to say both “armed with the truth” and “from the director of Taken” probably says all that prospective viewers need to know.

Rainer Chlodwig von Kook

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The Ideological Content Analysis 30 Days Putsch:

30 Reviews in 30 Days

DAY NINETEEN

The Runner

Set in the aftermath of the BP oil spill, The Runner is about a liberal Louisiana congressman (Nicolas Cage) who struggles to hold onto his integrity, maintain his commitment to his impoverished constituents, and resist the perpetual temptation to sell out to Big Oil. Cage is making progress and raising national awareness about the plight of the Gulf Coast fishermen when a sex scandal involving another man’s wife derails his momentum and sends his personal life into a spiral. The meaning of the title is threefold: in addition to the lamely gratuitous scenes of Cage going for jogs and the fact of his running for office, he is a man who runs from his problems and loses himself in dissolution. Not a bad movie, but not much fun, either, weighted down as it is by an incessant mood of moroseness and Cage’s uncharacteristically somnambulant performance.

[WARNING: SPOILERS]

3.5 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that The Runner is:

4. Anti-drug. Cage, himself an alcoholic, warns his dying father (Ghost Rider costar Peter Fonda) against drinking and smoking. Hypocritically, Cage then drinks and drives, crashes through the gate to his home, and wrecks the car against his garage door.

3. Pro-miscegenation. The hero’s penchant for grabbing at black booty temporarily torpedoes his political career when an episode of elevator lovemaking winds up going viral on YouTube.

2. Green. Cage at one point says he hopes to phase out oil drilling in Louisiana. The film illustrates the devastating impact of the oil spill on wildlife as well as the local economy.

1. Anti-marriage. Cage’s relationship with his wife (Connie Nielsen) is without affection, and he enters into a love affair with his publicist (Sarah Paulson), who is also temporarily separated from her own husband. The liberal idealism Cage shared with his spouse in their early days together has now transferred to the younger woman, who encourages his political commitment. His eventual return to his wife signals his sell-out as a politician, as she has been the one lobbying all along for him to get into bed with Big Oil.

Rainer Chlodwig von Kook

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The Ideological Content Analysis 30 Days Putsch:

30 Reviews in 30 Days

DAY ELEVEN

Madame Bovary

Sophie Barthes adapts Flaubert’s great novel as a film that covers the essentials of the narrative, but proves as unfaithful as its protagonist in reproducing the author’s tone and his mordant humor. Madame Bovary succeeds, at least, in evoking the nineteenth century, and no frame of the film is unattractive. Mia Wasikowska, who plays the lead, is not to blame for the choice to depart from the novel’s attitude, and her presence does much to sustain viewer interest; but the character’s bitchiness is toned down, her agency in her mistakes diminished, and her selfish culpability in the campaign to convince her husband, country doctor Charles Bovary (Henry Lloyd-Hughes), to perform a disastrous experimental surgery is deemphasized – the cumulative effect of which is to make the character less intriguing. Surprisingly, given that it is the current year, even some opportunities for eroticism are neglected. “Perhaps Bathes’ intention was to do her part to prevent anyone from wanting to read the novel?” speculates Cinema de Merde. “Regardless, that remains the most interesting thing about this film: wondering what the director’s intentions possibly could have been.”

4 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Madame Bovary is:

4. Anti-Christian. Emma finds no solace in the Church.

3. Pro-miscegenation. Emma’s first extramarital love interest is the clerk Dupuis, played by weird-looking Jew Ezra Miller. Cinema de Merde is again worth quoting at this point: “Ezra Miller […] looks like the face of a young Alan Rickman emerging from within a hairy vagina. It’s the sort of thing where you think: ‘Maybe women find that attractive? Is that possible?’”

2. Anti-capitalistic. Aggressive, insinuating merchant Lheureux (Rhys Ifans) is the cause of much of the Bovary household’s trouble. (Why could Ezra Miller not have been cast as Lheureux?)

1. Vaguely feminist. The camera obsesses over the lacing of Emma’s corset, the idea apparently being to squeeze sympathy from her unenviable plight as an oppressed woman presented with no options for self-actualization by nineteenth century society. Then, too, her husband is shown to be a sexually inattentive lover. She even has a brief, inarticulate rant about how insidious men are – though this viewer was somewhat perplexed as to whether or not this scene was supposed to be comic. Enough of Flaubert remains, however, for the protagonist’s behavior to be inexcusable on account of patriarchy.

Rainer Chlodwig von Kook

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Blue Jasmine

Embarrassing for a white nationalist to admit, Jewish pervert Allan Konigsberg (alias Woody Allen) remains one of this writer’s favorite directors despite the auteur’s corrosive persona and poisonous cultural influence. Now, with Blue Jasmine, the seriocomic pedo-provocateur furnishes Cate Blanchett with her best and strongest role to date as the fallen Park Avenue socialite spouse of sleazebag Wall Street operator Alec Baldwin, who, after being caught “up to his ass in phony real estate and bank fraud” and committing suicide in prison, has left her penniless, alone, and psychologically brittle. Moving in with her blue collar adopted sister Ginger (Sally Hawkins) in San Francisco, Jasmine struggles to adjust to her lowered station in life – a situation Konigsberg expertly fondles, balancing audience schadenfreude with surprising sympathy. The cast is perfect, the jazz is hot, and Woody is in top form. Fans will enjoy.

5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Blue Jasmine is:

7. Drug-ambivalent. “You drink, you become a jerk.” Characters imbibe throughout, sometimes to the impediment of their judgment. Overcoming addiction is presented as an accomplishment, but Blue Jasmine constantly runs the risk of promoting a kind of nervous breakdown chic given how good Blanchett looks in the film – at least until the concluding scenes, when her traumas and bad habits show on her face. “Have you ever gotten high on nitrous oxide?” asks randy dentist Dr. Flicker (Michael Stuhlbarg).

6. Liberal. “The government took everything,” moans hypocrite Jasmine. “The first thing you gotta know,” her husband earlier warns, “is how to not give half your money to the government.” Resistance to taxation and redistribution of wealth is thereby framed as the scheming of a white financial criminal to avoid paying his fair share of the common burden. Working for the State Department, meanwhile, is “glamorous”.

5. Multiculturalist. New York and San Francisco appear as peaceful and orderly multi-ethnic metropolises. A note of discord is struck when Jasmine, working as a dentist’s receptionist, snaps, “Can you just put someone on [the phone] who speaks better English?” Presumably, though, this is only supposed to mark the character as a bit of a bigot instead of a person with a valid dislike of America’s multicultural experiment.

4. Pro-miscegenation. The film includes multiple white/Asian pairings. In one scene, a white man and Asian woman gawk in bemusement as Jasmine hallucinates and talks to herself. The mixed couple is thus the face of normalcy, the fair Nordic that of pathology.

3. Pro-slut. “It’s not like we’re engaged, so, you know, I’m free.” Ginger, quickly seduced by a man she meets at a party, shamelessly discusses her sex life within earshot of her children.

2. Anti-marriage. Baldwin plays a serial philanderer. Jasmine says her sister’s husband “used to hit her.” Louis Szekely (alias Louis C.K.) plays another cheater.

1. Crypto-Zio-capitalist. As with Arbitrage (2012), The Wolf of Wall Street (2013), and Assault on Wall Street (2013), it is the hated European gentile male and not the Jew who serves as the representative figure in financial shenanigans. “Jesus Christ almighty,” Konigsberg’s script has “philistine businessman” Baldwin gripe when arrested. Jews instead come across as the victims, with Baldwin bilking brother-in-law Andrew Clay Silverstein (alias Andrew “Dice” Clay) and his ostensibly Catholic but Jewish-looking and therefore subtextually Semitic wife out of all of their lottery winnings and savings. Audience sympathy is generally with the down-to-earth crypsis-Jews rather than with the snooty elitist blonde. Hilariously, Baldwin’s innocently idealistic Ivy League son and heir Danny, who rejects him after learning of his fraudulent dealings, is played by a Jew, Alden Ehrenreich. All of this, of course, only serves to obscure the reality of Zio-financial hegemony and Jewish supremacism.

Rainer Chlodwig von Kook

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Contagion

Steven Soderbergh directs an ensemble cast including Laurence Fishburne (cool, calm, and collected), Matt Damon (heartbroken and desperate!), Gwyneth Paltrow (autopsied!), Kate Winslett (who, sorry to say, does not appear nude), Jennifer Ehle (scientific!), Bryan Cranston (insignificant!), Jude Law (slimy and limey), and Elliott Gould (Elliott Gould!) in this frightening film in the tradition of 1995’s Outbreak. A planet goes literally batshit crazy when a virulent new virus ravages its way from China to the U.S.A., causing a panic and the potential for societal collapse. If nothing else, the flawlessly paced Contagion demonstrates that the inevitable breakdown of civil order, whatever its cause, will not be fun. (Naturally, the disorder also provides an irresistible opportunity to depict ravenous white men rioting and robbing blacks.) A neat and polished product with an effective electronic score to match, this respectable but gruesome (and ideologically servile) entry on Soderbergh’s resume may suffer only from slight dearth of soul.

[WARNING: POTENTIAL SPOILERS]

4 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Contagion is:

9. Pro-gay. The virus at one point mutates into some funky kind of variation on AIDS, reminding viewers of how urgently the world needs a cure for gay cancer.

8. Anti-miscegenation. Unusual interspecies contact has brought the new disease into existence. “Somewhere in the world the wrong pig met up with the wrong bat.”

7. Black supremacist. The juxtaposition of a black doctor (Fishburne) and a white janitor (John Hawkes) says it all.

6. Egalitarian. Pesky “socio-economic factors” affect people’s susceptibility to the plague. When a vaccine finally becomes available, it is rationed by lottery so as to democratize the suffering.

5. Anti-slut. An adulteress (Gwyneth Paltrow) is Patient Zero.

4. Pro-family. Contagion features two touching father-daughter relationships.

3. Green and anti-capitalistic. An American corporation’s blundering program of deforestation displaces a population of oriental bats and so sets off a chain reaction that ironically takes the life of one of the company’s own executives. Black Friday crowds and confusion exacerbate the epidemic. Consumer culture must be regulated or Nature will have its vengeance! Undercutting Contagion’s environmentalist credibility, however, is its illustration of how convenient expendable laboratory monkeys can be during a catastrophic pickle.

2. Conformist. Alternative media receive a condescending send-up and a thrashing from Contagion. Decidedly de-glammed Jude Law portrays Alan Krumwiede (the name speaks for itself), a fringe blogger and crackpot conspiracy theory peddler who accuses the CDC of colluding with pharmaceuticals manufacturers, only to be exposed himself for profiteering on the crisis by stoking fears of the end of the world and defrauding the public by hyping an ineffective wonder drug called Forsythia. The lesson, one assumes, is that dissenters and those who promote distrust of government officials are not to be tolerated. Contagion is thus cronyism-tolerant in seeking to discredit those who would point out the distasteful symbioses between privileged corporations and grasping government.

1. Statist and pro-military. Self-sacrificing agents of the CDC, DHS, CIA, and other agencies contribute to the effort of saving humanity. Great pains seem to have been taken to show that the federal government has learned from the mistakes of Katrina. Laurence Fishburne’s wise technocrat even implies that the central government might do well to subsume all regional autonomies when he frets, “There are fifty different states in this country, which means there are fifty different health departments, followed by fifty different protocols.” In other words, why not just have one gigantic bureaucratized managerial leviathan to handle everything? End credits offer “special thanks” to the U.S. Department of Defense. Kate Winslet leaves the audience with the memorable image of woman-government-agent-as-Christ.

Rainer Chlodwig von Kook

Fading Gigolo poster

Celebrated pedophile Allan Konigsberg plays an elderly pervert who gets the idea to pimp his buddy John Turturro to rich New York bitches Sofia Vergara and Sharon Stone. Vanessa Paradis, meanwhile, is a rabbi’s widow and object of Turturro’s infatuation, while Liev Schreiber is the neighborhood watchman who has his eyes on both Paradis and Turturro for different reasons. If one can get past the goofy concept of Sharon Stone paying to have sex with John Turturro, Fading Gigolo is a nicely played (if imprecisely titled) drama that shines particularly in moments of intimacy. The film conveys a real sense of the tension, suspense, and awkwardness that occur when a man and woman meet and find themselves alone in a room. Writer-director Turturro’s storytelling is slightly sloppy, and one character’s arc makes a rather abrupt angle without sufficient articulation or warrant; but the fine performances make most of the material work.

3.5 of 5 possible stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Fading Gigolo is:

5. Multiculturalist/pro-miscegenation. Konigsberg’s family is black. Arguably the most disturbing moment of the movie (given Konigsberg’s history) is when a black kid comes out of the bathroom and announces, “My butt hurts.”

4. Anti-marriage. “Fuck you, Claude!” Stone shouts at a photograph of her husband as Turturro screws her.

3. Pro-slut. The film at no point evinces a judgmental attitude toward any of the various characters’ nihilistic depravity. Prostitution is no more or less respectable a profession than fixing pipes or driving a cab.

2. Anti-religion. Conservative Judaism places unnatural constraints on Paradis, who is never at leisure to feel comfortable as a sexual being. A gathering of rabbis appears as backward and petty.

1. Jewish supremacist. Notwithstanding Fading Gigolo’s irreverence toward Judaism, there is one revealing scene in which Konigsberg, in giving Turturro a pep talk before an appointment, compares the necessity of enabling (gentile) women’s debauchery to a butcher accustoming himself to dismembering cattle. A sinister meaning might also be read into a scene in which Paradis explains the best way to cut a fish into fillets.

Rainer Chlodwig von Kook

"Can we talk?"

The needle on the Jewometer just broke.

Joan Rivers and Friends Salute Heidi Abromowitz (1985) ****

Joan Molinsky (alias Rivers) appears as herself in this Showtime comedy special about a star-studded Las Vegas tribute to notorious (fictional) nymphomaniac Heidi Abromowitz. A veritable constellation of A-and B-level celebrities is in attendance to toast this tart, “the biggest tramp since Charlie Chaplin”. The only problem is that nobody can find her, so that cantankerous hostess Joan is reduced to rushing around a hotel trying to find out where Heidi is holed up probably getting gang-shagged.

This incredibly raunchy campfest mostly consists of hit-and-miss one-liners (Heidi is alleged to have invented “eightplay”, or simultaneous foreplay with two guys) and nostalgia-tickling cameos from the likes of Kris Kristofferson, New York City Mayor Ed Koch, Anthony Perkins, Brooke Shields, Selma Diamond, Robin Leach (who of course gets to spoof Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous), Joyce Brothers, Ruth Westheimer, Willie Nelson, Tony Randall, Erma Bombeck, Little Richard, Betty White, Suzanne Somers, Ali McGraw, Howie Mandel, Elvira, Garry Shandling, Vincent Price, Morgan Fairchild, Father Guido Sarducci – and more! The Solid Gold Dancers even put in an appearance, taking the stage to the tune of Olivia Newton John’s hit “Physical”.

80s buffs will be thrilled by the totally retro references to Mother Theresa, Mr. T, and Boy George (“Just what England needs,” Joan kvetches, “another queen who can’t dress!”). The highlight of this extravaganza, however, is not a celebrity, but a hilarious troupe of trained orangutans, one of which specializes in flipping the bird. The only real drawback to this trash treasure is its off-putting Talmudic attitude in promoting juvenile sexuality. “Harder! Harder!” Heidi is supposed to have exclaimed as a newborn when the doctor slapped her bottom, and she is also supposed to have enjoyed an outdoor orgy with several boys as a girl. The best line in Joan Rivers and Friends Salute Heidi Abromowitz definitely comes from negro janitor Vernon Washington: “Joan Rivers? Sheeeit. I thought you was Tony Orlando.”

4 out of 5 possible stars

Post-op cyborg

“We’ll say United 93 went down in this trench here in Shanksville . . .”

How to Murder a Millionaire (1990) ***1/2

Joan Molinsky, the grotesque diva to out-bitch them all, gets to display her sensitive side in this tacky TV comedy feature about a privileged, rich housewife whose life revolves around shopping, hoarsely kvetching to best friend Morgan Fairchild, and watching interviews with transvestites on Monique in the Morning followed by Monique in the Afternoon. Unfortunately, Joan’s idle idylls are thrown into chaos when she begins to suspect that husband Alex Rocco may be trying to murder her – and, even worse, that he may be having an affair! (“What possible motive could he have?” her friend hilariously consoles her. “You look great.”) Desperate for refuge, Joan hides out in a ghetto rat’s nest (“This place just screams for a decorator”) with Fairchild’s thieving black maid (Telma Hopkins) and even goes to work with her as a housecleaner.

All of this, of course, is just an excuse for such fish-out-of-water scenes as Joan cleaning a toilet and trying to make herself comfortable on a disgusting black person’s couch – but not before covering it with sanitary tissues. How to Murder a Millionaire is something of a rarity in Molinsky’s list of movie credits in that it is a genuine starring vehicle for her as opposed to a cameo. For that reason alone, Molinsky admirers (i.e. homos) will probably want to check it out and treat themselves to such TV candy as Joan slumming in her expensive fur coat, washing a window with her rump, and self-pityingly crying while treating her eyes with cucumber slices. Nostalgiacs, furthermore, should enjoy the chintzy early 90s muzak and period cultural references to Leona Helmsley, Arsenio Hall, and the forbidden dance of lambada. What other movie, pray tell, has the sass to ask the question, “Does a bear shop in the woods?”

3.5 of 5 possible stars.

Rainer Chlodwig von Kook

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