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Let’s take a look at some great Femme Fatale flix—you know the attractive, seductive woman who will ultimately bring disaster to a man (or men) that becomes involved with her. Our first look: The Last Seduction (1994) staring Linda Fiorentino, Peter Berg, and Bill Pullman.

When the discussion of Femme Fatale films came up the first movie we here at JPFmovies immediately thought of was The Last Seduction.  Many of you probably never heard of it because even though Fiorentino’s performance generated talk of an Oscar nomination, she was deemed ineligible because the film was shown on HBO before it was released into the theaters.  October Films and ITC Entertainment sued the Academy, but were unable to make Fiorentino eligible for a nomination.  So, the film went right from HBO to DVD—what a waste.

To say The Last Seduction is a neo-noir erotic thriller doesn’t do the film justice.  It is an outstanding example modernizing the traditional stereotype of the deadly women of classic fim noir that were generally disliked, detested, and sometimes hated by patriarchal society.  Here the Director and Fiorentino bring some of the enduring cultural images of the femme fatale while bestowing her with modern, distinguishing characteristics.

 

The film opens with, Bridget Gregory (Fiorentino) pressuring and scolding the salesmen in some boiler-room telemarketing office in New York City selling worthless coins.  She knows how to use the hard sell, close deals, and manage men with fear and degradation.  She runs a tight and ruthless ship.  After work, she races to her apartment to see if an important deal her medical school husband made selling $700,000 worth of pharmaceutical grade cocaine to some street thugs paid off.  It did, the husband (Bill Pullman) had to stuff the 700K in his jacket on the way home, After Bridget makes some rude remark to her husband, he gives her a pretty good smack across the face which seems to set the wheels of this tale of deceit in motion.

While her husband is taking a shower, Bridge to use a phrase from the Steve Miller Band “go on take the money and run.”  Naturally her husband is upset but does not seemed too surprised.

 On her way to Chicago, Bridget stops in a small town called Beston to gas up. It’s in a nearby bar that we – and Bridget – meet the film’s third principal character, Mike Swale (played to naive, lustful perfection by Peter Berg). In the bar, Bridget’s order is ignored by the bartender, and, instantly attracted to her dark good looks, Mike Swale gallantly steps in to help. Bridget, however, is not interested. “Could you leave?  Please?” she asks. “Well, I haven’t finished charming you yet,” Mike responds, to which Bridget retorts: “You haven’t started.” Still endeavoring to win Bridget’s heart – or some part of her – Mike informs her that he’s “hung like a horse.”  Perhaps wishing only to amuse herself, perhaps with other, more far-reaching plans in mind, Bridget asks to see for herself, unzips his pants right in the bar, and then fires off a series of questions: how many lovers has he had? Have any been prostitutes? Does he have his own place? Does it have indoor plumbing? Before long, the two are in Mike’s apartment.  He is now under her spell.

As the movie progresses, an evil disorder dwells deep within Bridget. She seems to scorn men. She uses men to her advantage, catching them, conquering them, and bending them to her will. She values money, power, and independence over relationships. She enjoys humiliating men, deriding them as ‘eunuchs,’ ‘Neanderthals,’ ‘maggots,’ and ‘sex objects.’ A trace of revenge lurks in Bridget’s behavior towards the opposite sex.

Bridget continues to exhibit her psychopathic behavior, cunning and naked ambition.  As the film progresses we see that Bridget Gregory, is total bitch. Hot, genius smart, kinky and slinky. Feline and ruthless. Politically incorrect chain smoker. New York City telemarketer/con artist. Catty call floor conniver. Rough Rider floor boss. And I mean all of that as a compliment.

Interesting enough we try to find a linkable character in the film but no one comes to this dance with clean hands.

We could go on for pages but there will be no spoilers here.  You need to make the time watch The Last Seduction, you are getting the JPFmovie seal of approval that it is worth watching.

 
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Posted by on July 14, 2017 in Movie Reviews

 

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JPFmovies, SEJ and EJ discuss Kagi no Kakatta Heya or Locked Room Mysteries (2012). A great little Japanese mini-series involving a nerd, some lawyers and locked room murders.

Based on the mystery novel “Kagi no Kakatta Heya” by Yusuke Kishi (published by Kadokawa Shoten, July 26, 2012) here is another great example of an Asian mini-series (11 episodes) with an original theme a bit of a surprise ending and knowing when to quit.

Enomoto Kei is a security “otaku” (Japanese slang loosely translated as geek or nerd but more pejorative than in the West) working for a firm who devoted to improving security systems on a daily basis.  He is not an easy person to deal with, stoic, unapproachable, a maniac in Physics, Science, Architecture and profound in other basic theoretical sciences.  Enomoto is convinced and proud of the fact that there is no key which he cannot unlock.

Enomoto’s abilities are initially put to the test when a young idealistic legal associate, Junko Aoto (Erika Toda), locks her boss, Serizawa Gou, in a bank vault on a Friday afternoon and because of the vaults timer can’t be opened until Monday morning.  Within 17 minutes he opens this a seeming impenetrable vault door while explaining to the young associate that there are more than 100,000,000 combinations.  That day, Enomoto is asked to help reveal a mystery behind a “locked room” murderer.  While he lacks any interest in solving the mystery, he is inevitably intrigued by the term, “Locked Room” and decides to take on the case.  Enomoto works side by side with Aoto Junko and Serizawa Gou, who are lawyers working at a major law firm.  Because of Enomoto’s abilities to solve the “locked room” crimes, Senzawa is given all of the credit and becomes known as a locked room experts-though the real brains behind the mysteries is Enomoto.

I really enjoyed the series because of its unique premises and surprise ending (the good guy goes bad).  It is well cast and the number of episodes is right for a movie binge.  I may even read the novel assuming it has been translated into English.

SEJ and EJ of course have their own interesting take:

Both have a lot to say about this series starting with the opening credits which they describe as both “clever” and “weird.” EJ in particular enjoys the suspense filled music and the graphics used to open the show.

SEJ specifically says “this series is overly dramatic and at times even corny but has a clever starting sequence and great music.  The characters are mostly likable and pause for too long but overall it is a great film.”  As for the ending of the series “. . . HE CAN’T!”  But he did.

The clips should give you the flavor of the music and Enomoto’s demeanor sorry about the cut off subtitles they were difficult to hard-code.

 
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Posted by on October 30, 2015 in Movie Reviews

 

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Don’t Drink the Wine–It Does Not Taste Fine. Cary Grant in Arsenic & Old Lace (1944)

Emma and Sally Review Arsenic and Old Lace: Charge!

Why did you want to see A and OL?

Emma: Because it’s a good movie.

Sally: Because I love the Teddy Roosevelt thing. It’s really funny.

Can you describe the plot?

Sally: It was a pretty good funny movie.

Emma: It’s about two old ladies who kill people. They poison them and bury them in their cellar.

Sally: And they think it’s a good thing and their not real nephew finds out about it and he knows that it’s bad so…

Why do the old ladies think it’s a good idea to kill people?

Sally: Because they’re putting them out of their misery.

Emma: Because they are only killing people who are lonely and have no friends.

Sally: They only kill old gentlemen.

What’s your favorite part of the movie?

Sally: When the other guy who doesn’t think he’s Teddy Roosevelt charged up the stairs.

Emma: I don’t know.

Do you think Cary Grant and his new wife will live happily ever after?

Sally: No, I don’t think so. I think they’ll live insanely. Possibly happily.

Emma: I don’t know.

Do you think the aunts belonged in the insane asylum?

Emma: Well they were murdering people.

Sally: And they are kind of crazy. They were murdering people and thinking it was a good thing. They’re insane.

Do you think Teddy belonged in the insane asylum?

Sally: Yes. Although if they had a lot of stairs it might be not so good.

Do you belong in the insane asylum?

Sally: NO. That insane asylum was for people who thought they were historical people. And he said they were a little short on Napoleons.

Emma: Not necessarily. The aunts didn’t think they were historical people.

Sally: True, but they were still insane.

Who did the best acting job?

Sally: The person who turned out not to be a Brewster.

Emma: Mortimer?

Sally: Yeah.

Emma: I thought it was Teddy Roosevelt.

What did you think of Boris Karlov?

Emma: It said that it wasn’t actually, at the end. I thought that he was but he wasn’t. He looked a lot like him though.

Sally: He was weird.

What would you have thought if you were the cab driver?

Emma: I would have been annoyed.

Sally: I would have been really annoyed too.

What did you think of the police officer?

Emma: They all seemed pretty oblivious.

Sally: Yeah, they seemed pretty oblivious.

What did you learn from this movie?

Sally: Nothing.

Emma: Nothing.

Would you have tea with the aunts?

Sally: No.

Emma: I might have TEA with them.

Sally: Yeah, I might have tea with them.

Emma: Just not elderberry wine.

Sally: But you don’t drink, so…

Emma: Yes. Exactly.

What would you do if the aunts invited you to services in their cellar?

Sally : I would ask them why.

Emma: [shrugs]

Which of you is most likely to be found to be insane when you are older?

Sally: Emma!

Emma: Sally!

Explain your answer.

Sally: Well, she’s kind of crazy now.

Emma: So are you.

Sally: No I am not!

Emma: Well, you kind of are.

Sally: No I am not!

Do you consider this a girl power movie, and why or why not?

Sally: No, because it doesn’t really have girl power in it. The girl is just kind of helpless and the two aunts are insane. It’s not really girl power.

Emma: No, because the two aunts are insane.

Did you know that this play is commonly done by high school drama groups? Would you want to be in the play?

Sally: No.

Emma: Yes.

What part would you want to play, and why?

Emma: One of the aunts.

Sally: Yeah, I suppose one of the aunts. If I had to play some part.

Emma: It would be fun.

Sally: I don’t really want to be the other person, so…one of the aunts.

What is your favorite line from the movie?

Sally: Charge!

Emma: I don’t know.

Interviewer: My favorite is when Cary Grant says to one of the aunts, “You’ve just admitted to me that you have been murdering people and burying them in the cellar,” and she replies, “Yes, but you don’t think I would stoop to telling a fib!”

What rating do you think JPFMovies should give this movie, and why? On a scale of 1-10?

Emma: A nine.

Sally: A six.

And why?

Emma: It’s a funny movie.

Sally: Yeah, it’s a pretty fun movie. Especially the [imitates trumpet blowing] and charge!

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on June 17, 2012 in Movie Reviews

 

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JPF Looks At One Of The Greats: Roman Polanski’s Chinatown.

Director Roman Polanski has had a tough and turbulent path through life—some of it his own making some of it just plain back luck.  Part of my decision to review Chinatown was his legal problems resurfacing again in September of 2009 when he was arrested in Switzerland at the request of the U.S. Government for extradition back to the States to face criminal charges involving alleged sex with a minor from the 1970’s.  On July 12, 2010, however, the Swiss rejected the U.S. request and instead declared him a “free man” although all six of the original charges are still pending in the U.S.

In 1969, before he was personally involved with our criminal justice system, Polanski’s pregnant wife, actress Sharon Tate, was murdered by Charles Manson and his band of  twisted followers.  Despite the personal hell one would go through under such circumstances, Polanski directed Chinatown which was released in 1974.  Chinatown is a 1974 American neo-noir film based on Robert Towne’s screenplay and starring Jack Nicholson, Faye Dunaway, and John Huston.  The film clearly embodies the film noir genre with its multidimensional tale that is part mystery and part psychological drama.

The film, set in 1937 Los Angeles was inspired by the disputes over water rights that had plagued southern California.  Nicholson plays JJ ‘Jake’ Gittes, a private detective who concentrates on matrimonial matters.  He is hired by a phony Evelyn Mulwray when she suspects her husband Hollis, builder of the city’s water supply system, of having an affair.  Gittes takes the case and photographs him with a young girl however, he was hired by an impersonator and not the real Mrs. Mulwray.  When Mulwray is found dead, Jake is plunged into an intricate web of deceit involving murder, incest and governmental corruption all stemming from the city’s water supply.

Polanski even makes a cameo appearance in film (the clip of course shown here) as the individual who famously cuts Jack Nicholson’s nose forcing him to wear an obnoxious bandage throughout much of the film.  Perhaps most importantly, Chinatown has one my favorite lines said in a movie “Forget it, Jake — it’s Chinatown” (again clip provided for your viewing pleasure).  It is also the last line of this great film.  You are a fool if you don’t make time to watch this one.

 
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Posted by on January 12, 2011 in Movie Reviews

 

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The Confessor–I can’t believe I am confessing that I watched this movie.

The Confessor staring Christian Slater is flat out Crap.

It is clear to me that the cast and crew were suffering from dementia before they made this piece of work.  I didn’t think the film would ever end.  This movie had a decent cast that was totally wasted.  Frankly I expect more from Christian Slater.  He has made some great movies: Pump Up The Volume, Heathers, Wind Talkers, Broken Arrow (a John Woo Flick) and Murder in the First.  Why Christian, oh why would you make such crap?  I can understand if you needed the money, but that is about the only excuse I’ll accept.

Slater plays a worldly and urbane priest who can raise money like a demon.  That said, there is no way the viewer for even a second believes that Slater is a priest.  What ever his other talents are they don’t involve him playing a holy man.  Another priest is involved in a murder and accused of the crime.  Slater’s character is asked by the church’s big cheese to find out what went on and minimize the damage to the church.  Slater even gets the help from his former journalist girl friend, Madeline Finney, (Molly Parker) who works at a TV station.  Naturally there has to be some sexual tension when a priest and a woman are involved so Slater has to stay at her apartment overnight where he “accidentally” sees her in her birthday suit while she is taking a shower.  Oh the drama–a chimp chained to a typewriter could write this stuff.

To anyone with half a brain, this movie is solved when the co-star is late for dinner as there was no doubt where he was and that he had just murdered someone.  After that there was no suspense and it takes about 85 minutes of your life away that you will never get back before the “mystery” is solved.  Speaking of confessions, I must confess that the weaknesses in the plot makes me wonder just how dumb the screenwriters, the director, Christian Slater, Molly Parker, and Stephen Rea were when putting this abortion together.  Perhaps it was a comedy and I forgot to laugh.

The film is a load of muddled and pointless Crap.

 
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Posted by on March 27, 2010 in Movie Reviews

 

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