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We here at JPFmovies had the pleasure of getting a first-hand entertainment perspective from an expatriate who splits time between the US and Japan. It was a very interesting conversation and, as a tribute to our mutual love of Japanese media, let’s take a look at a series known as Bengoshi no Kuzu, loosely translated as Scum of Lawyers (2006).

As anyone who follows the JPFmovies site knows, we have a certain affinity for Asian entertainment, firmly believing that Hollywood has lost its creativity and sold out to the lowest common denominator of film viewers. Whereas over the past couple years we’ve seen what’s been known as “riding the Korean wave,” referring to the fine entertainment coming out of South Korea as well as Japan and Hong Kong—Asia’s contributions to what has become, in our opinion, a superior form of entertainment.  We firmly intend to express the downfall of Hollywood Cinema as we know it at the 2018 Raspberry Awards, where we will vote on the worst movies made by Hollywood in numerous categories. But more on that later. Let’s get to the show.

 

Like many Japanese TV shows and films, Bengoshi no Kuzu is based on a manga.  What sets this drama, or should we say comedy drama, about the practice of law apart from your typical series glorifying the legal profession (which in reality is a grind), is that in the Scum of Lawyers, the main character will do just about anything if it means he can win.  This guy is a high school drop-out, lover of money, booze, and women, and has a rude demeanor and a vulgar mouth.  He has a totally different perspective on the law, and more importantly justice, in that he believes that lawyers aren’t on the side of justice, the law isn’t meant to punish people, it’s meant to save them! At least, that’s this guy’s secret motto. This back-alley lawyer seems to know all the scams and has to take on the firm’s new associate, who works his way through a number of cases, which proves that the scum bag attorney’s theory is right in the end.  By ferreting out these cons, that both plaintiffs and defendants are trying to use the legal system for, he opens his naïve associate’s eyes as to what Justice can really mean.

It is especially interesting to watch him go up against blue chip law firms while picking his nose in their conference rooms, only to expose his opponent’s client’s veiled attempt to somehow cheat the system and, more importantly, his client.  Perhaps what makes this scum bag lawyer’s intuition so keen is that he is in fact a (or at least a reformed) con artist who hasn’t left many of his bad habits behind him: he loves gambling, money, women, booze, and pretty much any other vice you can think, of he’s got his finger in it.  Being able to understand the scammer’s mind obviously gives him the edge he needs to win cases.  He practically falls asleep in court while waiting to cross-examine his opponent because he has already figured out what their devious, self-serving testimony is going to be and has a plan to expose it.  And during about half of his meetings with clients or opposing counsel, he is as hung over as a sailor back from shore leave.

See the following clip for an example of the scum lawyer figuring out his own client’s deception in order to get a novel she wrote published, which was plagiarized by an actress/model because his client was “attractive.”  It was a very sophisticated plot indeed—but con artists think alike.

The show, however is not only about him. The senior partner of the firm is a children’s and human rights advocate who gives the firm a veneer of respectability, and there is the competent hard-working experienced female attorney that our young associate often looks to for guidance while he is stuck in these moral quagmires that the scum bag has got them into.

There are also some support staff who allow selective sexual harassment and generally add to the humor of the show.  The show ran for about 12 episodes and all of them were good.  If you get a chance, watch Scum of Lawyers. It is a nice change of pace from your typical legal drama.

 
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Posted by on July 20, 2017 in Movie Reviews

 

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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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Wild Things (1998) I like it not because it could be considered “racy,” but because Bill Murray and Robert Wagner are outrageous in this film.

The story centers around Blue Bay High School a community filled with the snobby, high-income elite.  During a senior class lecture, all four of the central (but not necessarily the best) characters in the film materialize in one form or another at the lecture.  First we have Sam Lombardo the guidance counselor (Matt Dillon), Ray Duquette the corrupt policeman (Kevin Bacon), Kelly Van Ryan the daughter of the wealthiest real estate mogul in town (Denise Richards), and Suzie Toller the girl from the caravan park across town (Neve Campbell).  All four of these characters have large secrets they’d rather not share.  Their façade begins to peel off when Lombardo, our sensitive and well liked guidance counselor, is accused of raping the rich girl Kelly Van Ryan.  Her story is initially backed up by “trailer trash” Suzie Toller, but then things get a little out of the ordinary.  Enter Bill Murray in one of the (if not best in my opinion) cameos ever who is Ken Bowden, Sam Lombardo’s lawyer.  Murray manages to show the court that things are not as clear cut as they initially appeared.  He gets Suzie Toller (Neve Campbell) to recant her testimony on the stand and admit the rape accusation was a lie.  Why?  Well we have to wait and see to learn the full story.

Along with Murray is another lawyer-cameo played by Robert Wagner, acting as the wealthy Van Ryan’s family attorney.  The Van Ryan’s are humiliated by the scandal, and Lombardo and Bowden negotiate a hefty settlement: 8.5 million dollars.  Lombardo leaves town to retire after this, and encounters Kelly and Suzie at his hotel.  It turns out that the three of them had been working together the entire time, and planned to split the money.

However more unexpected twists are revealed at the end through a series of flashbacks, that Suzie had planned the whole thing in order to get all the money and not just a third (as well as the revenge on Duquette for killing her love years before) she was also a very, very smart woman.  Other characters begin to die off as the movie comes closer and closer to the end.  In the final scene, Bowden (Murray) meets Suzie at a tropical resort, and gives her most of the money—minus his “usual fee”—and tells her to “be good.”
Overall, however, you can’t really go wrong with this film for an evening’s entertainment.  It doesn’t feel the need to talk down at its audience, it doesn’t resort to excess simplicity to make itself understood, and it just tells an unusual story and tells it convincingly well.  I think that Wild Things was an excellent film and was not just some “dark porn,” as many of the media tried to portray it, rather a fantastic and “different” film that was quite entertaining.

 
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Posted by on August 29, 2010 in Movie Reviews

 

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Dr. H & JP Collaborate Again on “Looking for Mr. Goodbar.”

Looking for Mr. Goodbar is not about finding a candy bar.

Diane Keaton gives us an outstanding, fearless performance.  Remember  Mr. Goodbar was released the same year Keaton won an Oscar for her role in “Annie Hall.” I find it difficult to believe that Keaton was the same actress in both Mr. Goodbar and in Annie Hall.  She pulls off a multi-layered, charismatic performance that you don’t see often in an adult movie.
By day Keaton plays an affectionate teacher with her deaf kids.  At night, however, she turns into the proverbial Mr. Hyde, cruising bars, having sex with many different types of men, leading a promiscuous and seedy life which ends violently.  Indeed, one gets the sense that she actually derives more and more pleasure as the sex-act, the drugs, or the situations become more and more dangerous.
Mr. Goodbar also features early performances by Tom Berringer and Richard Gere–who plays similar characters in the classics “American Gigolo” and “Breathless.”

It would be a crude oversimplification to regard this movie as a romanticized walk down memory lane for the wild 1970’s.  It is a much more complex insight into various characters against the backdrop of the disco era.  At the time, the country was in a transitional phase where the Vietnam war had just ended and the momentum of the 1960’s had faded away.  It was a time of high unemployment, rampant drugs and not enough social support for the needy.  For better or for worse, a new reality was right around the corner as the Reagan era would be born taking the country in a whole different direction and this movie captures it perfectly.

This is a Rose for the ages.

 
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Posted by on March 25, 2010 in Movie Reviews

 

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