Thursday 28 July 2005

Drugstore Cowboy (1989) - ickleReview (DVD)

Gus Van Sant movie. Possibly an influence on Larry Clark's Another Day in Paradise (1998). Matt Dillon plays Bob, a dope fiend who runs a two-boy, two-girl crew who rob drugstores - not for money, for pharmaceuticals, which they cook up and inject. It's 1971 in Portland, Oregon, where the gang move around the city, raiding and shooting up until the police get too close for comfort and force them to move on.

Kelly Lynch plays Dianne, Bob's bad influence girl; James Le Gros is Rick, the dimwit of the group, whose naive girlfriend, Nadine (Heather Graham, then only 19), hexes the crew by talking about dogs and putting a hat on a bed (superstitions established by previous bad and busted experiences of Bob and Dianne).

Then, as the ominous hat-on-bed suggests, it all goes wrong. Bob decides to get out and go straight on a 21-day methadone programme, and Gentry, the cop who has been chasing him all this time (played by James Remar), seems to be relieved and not unsympathetic that he's sorting himself out. Bob struggles less than expected to stay with it, despite his druggy past trying to catch up with him and tempt him back.

Van Sant's movie does not glamorize drug-taking and is uplifting in the sense that it suggests (without stating categorically and without ambiguity) that drug users can clean up their act to live normal, responsible lives. Tom the Priest (William S. Burroughs) provides a cameod counterpoint, reminiscing about the old days when the authorities weren't so hard on drug abuse, and fearing the future when the police might take the opportunity to establish a worldwide police network to counteract the narcotics industry.

Nugget: not always clear in its intentions, partly due to slightly deadpan acting and an ambiguous script, mottled with grey areas, which is not necessarily a bad thing because it gives the movie more life and encourages us to think for ourselves.

Sunday 24 July 2005

Finding Forrester (2000) - ickleReview (DVD)

Gus Van Sant directs this good-looking New York story about a 16-year-old black kid from the Bronx, Jamal Wallace (Rob Brown), who wins a scholarship to a good private prep school in Manhattan. Sean Connery plays William Forrester, a writer who becomes his tutor and mentor. Forrester has published only one book, which Jamal's new English teacher, Robert Crawford (F. Murray Abraham) claims is the great twentieth-century novel. A number of other story threads show through, but merely hint at a wider tapestry, thereby avoiding any over-familiar dead-end alleyways.

The central relationship between Forrester and Jamal develops slowly (Connery playing the eccentric recluse role he practised elsewhere in movies such as Entrapment and The Rock). Brown's performance is remarkable for its natural warmth. His is a real and positive portrayal of a smart kid from an underprivileged background who shines when he is given an opportunity. It's cool to be bright and well read with a switched on attitude. He challenges both Forrester and Crawford (old literary rivals). His friendship with Claire (Anna Paquin) is subtle and plausible - again one of those wisely subdued plot elements, alongside Busta Rhymes's low-key performance as Jamal's older brother.

Nugget: Even the sports action scenes are well acted and choreographed. Van Sant barely puts a foot wrong.

Wednesday 20 July 2005

The Mirror (1975) - ickleReview (cinema)

There is a joke in my family that my dad is awful at choosing videos. He sometimes goes for Russian directors, picks an awful film that is awkward to watch, too difficult to understand and not right for the relaxing weekend mood everyone else was in. This may have been one of them.

Tarkovsky is a name I first heard of in relation to the Ewan McGregor film Young Adam that came out in 2003 about something that happened, something sexual, on a barge. I gathered that Targovsky was revered, but I was unsure whether he was a poet or a filmmaker, or even what nationality he was, perhaps Scottish. (I played rugby with someone at school in Edinburgh called Targowski.)

I was unsure what was going on in this film. There was a blond woman who featured prominently, and a few young boys, who didn't seem to be brothers. There were hardly any men, except the one the blond woman sometimes spoke to off camera. Early on a teenager overcomes his stutter in black and white. Then the blond woman sits on a fence and smokes while a man who says he's a doctor walks towards her, flirting. He sits next to her and the fence breaks. He makes some joke about falling in love. Soon after there is a stark change in the tone of the colour film. It may have been accidental, a process of ageing and restored prints, but it was quite clear that it got darker. There are many variations in film stock, black and white, colour, soft lighting, overcranking, archive footage of the war and Mao's Chinese cultural revolution. I didn't follow what was going on and how all these people and incidents were related. There was not a conventional narrative - not that it's a bad thing. Just don't expect it.

The overall feel I got was that I was watching someone else's dreams. There were many things that were Symbolic, but as these were someone else's symbols, they were often lost on me. There was still a certain beauty to them, though. Many books, sitting on the sill beneath an open window, or reflected in a mirror; lights of gas and fire; rain and wind. One wonders how they created such wind in the fields and the woods. Did they have a huge blower and dub the sound afterwards? There is also a beautiful shot of the blond woman levitating three feet above a bed, her hair stretched out horizontally, as if supported on a pillow. Some of the overcranked shots of rain and running are also majestic. It reminds me now, somewhat, of the avant garde films of Maya Derren, an obscure Ukranian-American filmmaker I discovered when I was writing my essay on time and space for the Anglo-American Film option of my Oxford English degree: the way that characters seemed to float and appear again in unexpected places within the same take; the merging of time and space; the blurring of narrative.

I am comfortable not being able to understand the Meaning of films (I didn't even gather the plot until I read a synopsis afterwards). That's not what I will take from this, though. I will remember an image of a rural Russia, blighted by war; stark like a Chekov story, imbued with a literature of Dostoevsky, Mandelshtam and Tolstoy that remains alien to me. Instead, I found other things to appreciate, such as the long tracking shots through the rain, or in the printing press, or through the fields and back into the woods at the end. He may not be the greatest storyteller I have ever encountered, but there is something unique about Targovsky's cinematography, something that might make him worth another look with more patience.

Nugget: I noticed the shadow of the boom mic in the opening scene of the teenager being cured of his speech impediment. Could this be an oversight when everything else seemed so carefully choreographed and edited?

Tuesday 19 July 2005

The Weight

After Finals at Oxford, he waited upon his first like a dying old man wondering if he would go to heaven. And when it did come, he realized that heaven was just like earth, except a little superior. He was glad all the same that he didn't go to hell.

Monday 18 July 2005

L'Argent (1983) - ickleReview (cinema)

French film directed by Robert Bresson based on the Leo Tolstoy short story "Feux billet". Two schoolboys use a forged bank note at a photography shop, who, dismayed at being fooled, pass it and others on to a truck driver, who is caught trying to use the fake notes (unbeknown to him) at a cafe. He is charged by the police and loses his job. In a desperate attempt to support his family, he aids a bank robbery and goes to prison. His wife leaves him and things continue to deteriorate. Meanwhile, the clerk who committed perjury to cloak the guilt of the photography shop slips into petty credit card crime and ends up in the same prison as the truck driver.

Bresson is a master storyteller, although he doesn't use the same syntax as most other cinematographers. His shots are carefully planned, the camera pans coming to rest at an exact point - the boot of a car, or a table at a cafe, having tracked a woman walking along the pavement. Everything is interconnected, so when you cheat one person with fake money, you cheat many; every action has a consequence. There is barely any dialogue. It's almost like watching a cartoon strip or an animated storyboard.

Bresson's cold morality is more refreshing than chilling. His actors are bland, almost robotic in their uncomfortable, rehearsed movements; and yet there's something oddly vital about them, as if Bresson strips them down to the bare bones of humanity.

Nugget: an astonishing, accomplished, and finely crafted film, which expects a lot from its audience, who must be attentive and prepared to join up some of the dots themselves. Rarely is anything telegraphed and illuminated by searchlights, as the same material might have been treated by one of the big Hollywood studios. A cinematic voice I haven't heard before; but shall seek out again.

Sunday 17 July 2005

Euphemisms on the Tube

On the London Underground right now there are, as expected, a number of disruptions and line closures. Over the tannoy they make announcements to warn passengers that such and such section of the District line is closed; this part of that line, which was supposed to be shut down for engineering work, is no longer going to be out of service; or there are delays because a station was evacuated for a time. Yet they never actually say "because of the terrorist attacks" or the "bombings"; there's instead some bland phrase to placate passengers that may panic at the thought that they might be in danger: the "security incident" of last week or the "emergency" - the high alert equivalent of "leaves on the line", I suppose.

Silver City (2004) - ickleReview (cinema)

Independent film written, directed and edited by John Sayles (who discussed the movie after this preview screening at the Phoenix Picturehouse, Oxford). Chris Cooper plays Dickie Pilager, the right-wing gubernatorial candidate in Colorado. Richard Dreyfuss is his campaign manager, Chuck Raven, who hires an investigator, Danny O'Brien (Danny Huston), to find three characters from Pilager's past (Miguel Ferrer, Ralph Waite and Daryl Hannah) who are known to bear grudges against the would-be governor, and let them know they're being watched.

Danny uncovers more than his brief, however, joining up the deregulated dots as he attempts to identify the Hispanic alien whom Dickie Pilager unwittingly pulled out of a lake while shooting a compaign ad on location. He reveals more about the troubles of Bush's America than he solves.

Sayles attracts an impressive cast, including minor roles for Tim Roth and Thora Birch as left-wing anti-capitalist web campaigners, and Kris Kristofferson as Wes Benteen, the Colorado billionaire entrepreneur. His writing of Dickie Pilager is clearly an atack on George W. Bush, whom he says was bought the Texas governorship by big money because the previous governor Ann Richards had not been friendly enough to business. Cooper's performance closely mimicks Bush Jnr, from the Spaghetti Junction sentences to the cowboy numbnuts swagger. His father in the film, Senator Jud Pilager (Michael Murphy) is an amalgam of George Bush Snr and Florida Governor Jeb Bush, Dubya's brother.

The plot structure is rather like a slick US TV drama thriller with Danny Huston stumbling from lead to lead joining up the facts in his case by writing upon his wall at home in magic marker. There are familiar dramatic elements (treated, admittedly, without the Hollywood schmalz), such as an ex-girlfriend (Maria Bello) who regrets dumping him for her own career ambitions as a reporter; a broken marriage from a wife we never see; and a one-night stand with the nympho daughter of Senator Jud Pilager, Maddy (Daryl Hannah).

As Sayles himself said after the screening, it's important to show an alternative view of America (not that Newmarket Films would have won him much distribution at home). This movie was released in the months before the 2004 US election, but was drowned out somewhat by the less subtle diatribe of Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11. Both Sayles and his partner, Maggie Renzi, seem despondent about the current political climate in the US, where analysts talk of red "facts" (Republican voting states) as if this "democracy" is a fait accompli.

Nugget: a smarter-than-average political drama with thinly veiled attacks on Dubya Bush and Karl Rove (Dreyfuss's character), but nevertheless strong performances from an impressive cast and an unconventionally open conclusion. Pessimistic realism: the good guys don't always win.

Monday 11 July 2005

Strictly Ballroom (1992) - ickleReview (TV)

Baz Luhrmann dancing romp, which starts off like a documentary about an Australian ballroom dancing contest and turns into a delightful feelgood comedy. The Antipodean Dirty Dancing, without the ponce and certainly without taking itself too seriously.

Luhrmann makes it visually arresting with his fast cross-cutting and set-piece lighting. The script is sharp and magnetic, with a predictable but nevertheless satisfying arc.

Paul Merurio plays Scott Hastings, a young dancer with high expectations, but who suffers from the same anti-establishment scorn which his father received for inventing his own steps. He loses his partner but gains another in the frumpy but sleeping beauty of the Spanish-blooded Fran (Tara Morice), whom he first dismisses as a beginner, but then grows to love. Together they take their daring routine to the big championships, but the dancesport big-wigs don't intend to make it easy for them.

Nugget: a great bit of fun and well worth listening to the advice (which you've no doubt heard) to see this latent gem, which I never bothered to catch on its release. Luhrmann directs with vigour and originality, which he later turned to Romeo + Juliet (but then bombed with in Moulin Rouge).

One Day in September (2000) - ickleReview (video)

The most chilling photograph I have ever seenDocumentary about the terrorist kidnapping at the 1972 Munich Olympics. 8 Palestinian terrorists (calling themselves "Black September") stormed the Olympic Village apartments of the Israeli team early on the morning of 5 September, taking 11 hostages. They shot one of them in the initial struggles and a second one later when he attempted to seize one of the weapons the terrorists were carrying. He later died lying amongst his tied-up Israeli teammates in the apartment room.

The terrorists demanded that around 200 Palestinian prisoners be released from jails worldwise, otherwise they would execute the hostages at 12 noon. German police tried to negotiate with them and eventually managed to secure an extended deadline of 5pm. This, too, passed.

Director Kevin Macdonald pieces together a thrilling narrative using a rich archive of television news and film footage. This was an unprecedented world stage for the Palestinians to raise awareness of their oppression by the Israeli state in the Middle East. All the media did was help them by giving the stunt blanket coverage. At one stage, German police officers, comically dressed in athletes' tracksuits, tried to storm the building in which the hostages were being held. East German television were covering it live, however, so the terrorists could see exactly what was going on, watching the TV in their apartment.

This was just one of many atrocious slip-ups by the German authorities. The Olympic organizers were putting pressure on the police to let the Games return to normal as soon as possible. Some events were still taking place on that day - 5 September 1972 - and in awful bad taste, the Games continued the following day, after the hostage situation had come to an end. (I won't spoil the tension for you by telling you what happened.)

Nugget: a remarkable piece of filmmaking by the director of Touching the Void (2003). The world in 1972 was a much more naive and inexperienced place when it came to dealing with terrorism. Today, with our wall-to-wall coverage, which effectively encourages more attacks to take place, we are not much better, and much less innocent.

Sunday 10 July 2005


KR3 South Park
My housemates and me at KR3 (in the style of South Park): from left to right: JP, Ross, Lord John, me, EK

Fargo (1996) - ickleReview (DVD)


Wacky crime story written and directed by Joel and Ethan Coen. Jerry Lundegaard (William H. Macy), a car salesman from deep in the American Mid-West, needs to finance a real estate venture but can't borrow the money off his rich father-in-law. He arranges for his own wife to be kidnapped by two quirky crooks: watermouth Carl Showalter (Steve Buscemi) and mute Gaear Grimsrud (Swedish stage actor Peter Stormare). Their getaway is botched when they are pulled over by a State Trooper who spots they still have dealer plates on their stolen car. Gaear cracks and it turns into a messy multiple homicide.

Soon, seven-month pregnant local police chief Marge Gunderson (Frances McDormand) is assigned to the case, woken early in the morning with one of those bedside phone calls that I've only seen happen in movies and on TV. (Don't put the phone by your bed!) Nature artist stay-at-home hubby, Norm (John Carroll LynchJohn Carroll LynchJohn Carroll LynchJohn Carroll LynchJohn Carroll Lynch), gets up too to make her some eggs for breakfast.

SPOILER WARNING! The opening titles claim this is a "true story". You kinda buy into that, but realize the Coens are doing things in their quirky way. The movie's set in North Dakota and Minnesota, where 1.4 million Swedes emigrated and speak kinda funny. There are a lot of "Yah"s in this movie. To a Britisher, it feels like they're being made fun of; but according to the "Minnesota Nice" documentary on the extra features of this special edition DVD, it's more affectionate than malicious (the Coens are from the Twin Cities themselves). In most other filmmakers' hands, this graphically violent material would be repulsive, encapsulating all that is grim about America and its self-portrayal on the silver screen. But here the body disposal in a woodchipper and the gushing head of a blank range shot cop is Fargo farcical.

The quaintness of the dialogue, the weird little mannerisms, the general laid-back attitude of the whole place, as the people just plod along with their lives, shows a side of smalltown American that is usually hidden. Occasionally we catch a glimpse of it in films such as David Lynch's The Straight Story (1999) or Harmony Korine's Gummo (1997 - admittedly a bit weirder and more disturbing, trailing out the freaks that hide in the backwaters). Everyone in the towns of Fargo and Brainerd is just so nice (or so it seems). Where does this violence come from? It's almost a relief to discover that it's not after all based on real events which supposedly took place in 1967. You can imagine it happening, though, thanks to movies such as Monster and Natural Born Killers and just about everything else out there that makes violence quotidian. The Coens just made it up and stuck on the abused "based on a true story" tag to see if they could get away with it, if the audiences would buy it - and they do (so sorry if this has spoilt it for you, but I did warn you. Twice. And anyway, you should have seen this by now. Where were you already?).

Nugget: one of the Coen brothers' finest, yah, but kinda funny lookin', in a general sort of way.

Saturday 9 July 2005

South Park Studio

South Park me
Have you ever wanted to be in South Park? Now you can create your own wee South Park version of yourself, using this nifty German site (with an English option). This is what I turned out like! Is that book I'm reading in Arabic? You could use it as a Buddy Icon or as the picture in your Blogger profile.

Wednesday 6 July 2005

Sound advice

"Oxford is on the whole more attractive than Cambridge to the ordinary visitor; and the traveler is therefore recommended to visit Cambridge first or to omit it altogether if he cannot visit both."

(Baedeker's Great Britain, 1887)

Tuesday 5 July 2005

Screaming Lord Such said

"Why is there only one Monopolies Commission?"

I would add: with what did it merge to become the Monopolies and Mergers Commission?

Sunday 3 July 2005

Inside Deep Throat (2005) - ickleReview (cinema)

Documentary about the notorious 70s porn film Deep Throat, which caused a scandal in the United States and provoked a number of court cases. At first the film was a cult hit in the sleazy theatres around New York's 42nd Street and Times Square. When New York Times reporter Ralph Blumenthal wrote an article headlined "Porn Chic" it became a must-see. Takings increased on an exponential scale and the New York police authorities started to confiscate prints and shut down porn theatres, making Deep Throat a high-profile victim of its attempts to clean up that part of midtown. All this scandal merely acted as free publicity for the film and interest continued to grow. A court case found the film to be obscene and it was banned from New York cinemas. Other cities in other states were still showing it, though, including Miami, where theatre manager Arthur Sommer knew one of the shady figures behind the film and purchased a print on the cheap. Audiences queued around the block to see it.

By this time, the White House and the FBI were on the case, following the NYPD's example to make Deep Throat the showpiece of their crackdown on porn. Sommer's connections were with the Miama mafia, who had moved down to Florida from New York. As he is being interviewed, his wife, Terry, sits at the other side of the room makinig caustic objections to what Arthur is saying. They make a great, undeliberate, comic duo. She is still worried about the people he used to do business with. It is obvious, now, that they enjoy a quieter life in retirement and don't want to go back to face those demons of 30 years ago. Something big obviously happened, a death-threat, perhaps, which scared Arthur out of the theatre trade and kept his mouth shut all these years.

Co-Directors Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato find a number of characters to entertain us, including Production Manager Ron Wertheim, who claims that Director Gerry Damiano's "primary motivation" for making these pictures "was to get laid. Really. And he did." Wait till you see his face when he talks about the fellatio skills of the film's star, Linda Lovelace. Her story is also told. Although the film was championed by some as an expression of female sexual liberation (the clitoral orgasm began to be talked about; it was acknowledged that sex should also be pleasurable for the woman), Linda seems to have been taken advantage of. It's claimed that her partner used to beat her and that you can see the bruises in the film; but that bruise on her left thigh, which you can see in the pool scene, could be a birth mark. Nevertheless, she didn't make much money from the film and couldn't avoid the notoriety that came with it. Years later she became a spokesperson for the feminist backlash against pornography, led by figures such as Susan Brownmiller. She even claimed: "Everyone that watches Deep Throat is watching me being raped." When she tried to make a fresh start with an office job in Denver, she was sacked when her bosses discovered that she was formerly known as Linda Lovelace. In 2002 she died, penniless, in a car crash.

Harry Reems, the actor who played Dr Young, was even more put upon. In a federal case brought by the puritan prosecutor Larry Parrish from Tennessee, Reems was convicted of obscenity (strangely, the Director and Linda Lovelace were immune) and faced five years in prison. However, after Jimmy Carter won the Presidential election in 1976, the appeal hearing quashed the verdict because Reems's conviction depended on a Supreme Court ruling that was made after the film was produced. New Hollywood actors Warren Beatty and Jack Nicholson defended him, but Paramount later objected to his being cast as the high school coach in Grease (1978); and from there he turned to alcoholism and drug addiction. We learn later that he has, surprise surprise, become a Christian and is a licensed real estate broker in Utah.

This is a well constructed film: first detailing the movie's production; then following the impact of its release; and finally tracing the affect it has had on the people who made and distributed it (none of whom made any money out of it, apart from the mafia). It's a solidly conventional and dependable arc, but the research feels sound and the archive footage that splices together the talking heads is aesthetically interesting, without being too gimicky (which documentaries such as The Corporation and Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 are guilty of). They speak to all the necessary parties, but only include archive interview footage of Linda Lovelace towards the end (earlier they had spoken to her high school friend and sister). For a judgement on the wider social impact of the film they speak to writers Norman Mailer and Gore Vidal, Watergate reporter Carl Bernstein, and sexologist Dr Ruth Westheimer. Another New Hollywood icon, Dennis Hopper, narrates in a low-key style, his voice resembling somewhat - and being confused with in my mind - that of the FBI agent who was ordered by President Nixon to find cases through which they could please the religious right by attacking pornography.

One angle I would have preferred to be widened was that whose apex was Nixon and Watergate. Carl Bernstein appears only briefly to confirm that the codename for his source "Deep Throat" (revealed last month as W. Mark Felt) came from the journalistic jargon "deep background". More could have been made of the connection between Nixon's convervative electioneering zeal and the need to cover up his own crooked networking (but that would have been another, much longer movie, perhaps one for Errol Morris).

Nugget: an important piece of filmmaking, but perhaps at times it did exaggerate the influence of Deep Throat, which merely crested the wave of sexual and moral revolutions that were already latent in 1970s American society.

Saturday 2 July 2005

Deep Throat (1972) - ickleReview (cinema)

Infamous porn movie starring Linda Lovelace, who claims to her friend that she doesn't enjoy sex very much, that it doesn't set bells a-ringing or bombs exploding; just a slight tingly feeling. So her friend encourages her to experiment...with fourteen different one session! They arrive at the house and are allocated a number, being called up in pairs.

But that still doesn't quite do it for Linda Lovelace, so she goes to see Dr Young (Harry Reems), the horny sexual therapist. He gives her a physical examination and finds that she has no clitoris, which would explain why she fails to reach orgasm. He asks her how she enjoys sex the most. She replies, "Giving head." Dr Young is intrigued and examines her throat as a normal doctor would when he puts a lollipop stick on your tongue and asks you to open wide and say "Ahh." Freakishly, he spots her clitoris way down at the back of her throat.

Kindly, he offers to let Ms Lovelace give him a blow job to practise the "deep throat" technique, when the penis is taken deep inside the mouth, relaxing the throat muscles, as far as it will go. She obliges and shows off her remarkable new skill. Sure enough, bells ring, rockets blast off and fireworks explode.

Ms Lovelace becomes Dr Young's assistant, giving many other physical therapies to his patients. Meanwhile, Dr Young bangs his other nurse while dictating case notes.

Eventually, Linda Lovelace finds the perfect man for her - or at least he would be perfect if he weren't "4 inches away from happiness" (the man she wants to marry must have a 9-inch cock). Will Dr Young be able to save the day again?

I saw this movie at 11.30pm on a Friday night in an almost deserted cinema. The ambience was spot-on: they even had sleazy jazz playing before the film started. I wanted to see it before the documentary Inside Deep Throat, so that I could form my own opinions on the original film first.

Written, directed and edited by Gerry Damiano, it's from the old days of porn, shot on film (before the video era). Many of the takes (especially at the beginning) are very long, while the credits roll. The soundtrack is funky and highly comical. It's more of a comedy than an erotic movie. One of the best lines comes right at the beginning. Linda's friend is enjoying cunnilingus on the kitchen table when Linda comes home. The friend hands her a cereal packet from the shopping she's just done to put away in the cupboard. Then she asks her lover, "Do you mind if I spoke while you're eating?"

Some of the verbal soundtrack is awful, especially in the outdoor scene beside the pool (it's barely audible). I did actually find myself caring about the plot. When the sex is so explicit (and, oh boy! it is), it's not always that arousing. My tastes find it more erotic when I have to use my imagination at least a little bit.

I'm sure if you wanted to, you could find some deeper meaning in this film. A funk version of Beethoven's "Ode to Joy" (from Symphony No. 9 in D minor) plays over the opening credits when Lovelace is in the car - perhaps glorifying the liberties of the American Constitution and the First Amendment right to free speech; or the freedom of the mass-produced motor car. '72 was, of course, the year of Watergate; and there is indeed a connection between Linda Lovelace's Deep Throat and the "Deep Throat" (W. Mark Felt) who leaked the Watergate scandal to Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, according to page 4 of this Washington Post article. It will be interesting to see how this connection is explored in the documentary, which I'm going to see tomorrow night.

I gather from the trailer of Inside Deep Throat that the film caused outrage when it broke into the mainstream as a major commercial success (adjudged the most profitable motion picture of all time: made for $25,000, making $600 million), causing a conservative backlash. The cynical xenophobe within me wonders whether this might be less about the sex and more about the outrageous scene in which one of Dr Young's patients fulfils a fetish by drinking Coke (Coca-Cola, not a solution of cocaine...or aren't they one and the same?) out of Ms Lovelace's pussy using a test tube and a long, curving straw (a homage, also, to the bong?), accompanied by a new version of "I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing", which was itself pastiched in an ancient Coke advert, "I'd Like to Buy the World a Coke", rated by Channel 4 last week as the top TV ad tune later to hit the charts.

There also seem to be more symbolic shots at the end, when Lovelace fucks her hubby-to-be and the bells ring out like never before - cue more clockwork brass animals and images of reminiscent of the star-spangled banner and Independence Day. One thing you might notice, which may or may not be deliberate, is a hair on the frame during the opening credit roll, on one of the shots looking through the car windscreen. I couldn't help wondering if this was pubic.

This movie doesn't take itself too seriously; nor should you (or society) it. As a porn film I'm not sure if it works (not that I've seen much to compare it with); but as entertainment it surely does. I giggled like a schoolboy in parts; wideeyedinamazement in others; and found myself waiting for the action to stop and the plot to progress (quite the opposite to the boring musical inbetweens in 9 Songs). At least the bangin' and grindin' scenes in Deep Throat have some kiddyshow musical accompaniment. It's almost like Benny Hill.

There is some attempt at artistic mis-en-scene with a nice geometrical balance of a man's chin and neck between Lovelace's legs while another shoots to pooper. (I wonder, do modern porn DVDs take advantage of the multi-angle function?) And there's some rather jolly jump-cutting when Linda's bells ring.

So again, this is not one to watch with your folks, but worth a look if you want an hour or so of good, not-so-clean fun and a bit of an anatomy lesson (although I wouldn't go looking for your girlfriend's clitoris in her throat, unless you're called Huey and she's called Ruth).

Nugget: I wonder, could these guys have made a non-X-rated comedy movie? The acting may be filched, but they certainly play it for laughs.