My review of Postal on Blu-ray Disc is online at

Standard Operating Procedure


My review of Standard Operating Procedure on Blu-ray Disc is online at

There’s a tension in Errol Morris’ Standard Operating Procedure between the subject matter–the torture and humiliation of inmates at the Abu Ghraib prison outside Baghdad during the U.S. occupation of Iraq–and what Morris is really up to. Anyone who’s read his excellent “Zoom” blog for The New York Times, including his brilliant, three-part consideration of the pedigree of two different photographs taken by Roger Fenton during the Crimean War, knows that the director is concerned lately with the methodical, emotionless investigation of the circumstances surrounding a picture’s taking. He wants to know what a photo conceals in addition to what it reveals–what’s happening outside its spatial frame? Its temporal boundaries?

Story of O


I wanted to look at the new Blu-ray Disc release of Story of O (out this week from the Canadian company Somerville House) for two reasons. First, I’m interested in what happens to obscure and cult films as they make their way to the new high-definition formats, and this French sexploitation drama from the mid-1970s certainly qualifies. Second, I know that while Story of O has some kind of literary pedigree (a sort of de Sade pastiche written under the pen name Pauline Réage, the novel broke significant ground for erotic fiction as well as bondage fetishists), the film version in particular has long been a pervy grail of softcore cinema — knowledgable viewers of a certain sexual inclination find this mix of epic skin flick, softcore potboiler, and S&M psychodrama to be in a class of its own.

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Sukiyaki Western Django


Sukiyaki Western Django, Japanese director Takashi Miike’s take on the spaghetti western, owes an explicit debt to the Sergio Corbucci/Franco Nero film Django, which it references in both title and content, as well as to the history of genre crossings between Eastern and Western cinema — the way Seven Samurai begat The Magnificent Seven, and especially the way Yojimbo begat A Fistful of Dollars and then a slew of good-natured imitations. You can trace the narrative of Sukiyaki Western Django in its basic form all the way back to Dashiell Hammet’s novel Red Harvest, which is all about a Pinkerton dick from L.A. who starts investigating a murder in a small town where he ends up playing various factions against each other as a crafty third party. That story was the unofficial inspiration for Akira Kurosawa’s wandering samurai film Yojimbo, as well as for Sergio Leone’s unacknowledged remake, A Fistful of Dollars.

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Zombie Strippers!

1024_zombie-strippers.jpgMy review of Zombie Strippers is online at

It’s so dreadful, in fact, that I may be underrating it in at least one respect: Zombie Strippers! actually gives the early-1980s sci-fi porn flick Café Flesh a run for its money as the most joyless, nigh despairing movie about sexual arousal in film history.

Can’t Hardly Wait


My review of Can’t Hardly Wait on Blu-ray Disc is online at

Can’t Hardly Wait deals in a shameless, sunny-eyed idealism that

prizes sincerity and explicitly privileges the notion of true love; the

spirit of Wim Wenders even touches the film as, in one spectacularly

sweet vignette, a bikini-clad angel (Jenna Elfman, in a terrific

uncredited cameo) touches down outside a neon-lit diner to dispense

some hard-won advice to the broken-hearted protagonist. In short, we’re

a long way yet from the crass, porn-inflected attitudes of Superbad

Starship Troopers 3: Marauder


My review of Starship Troopers 3: Marauder on Blu-ray Disc is online at

Over the course of Starship Troopers 3, the human government’s

position on religion evolves from wary tolerance (because the more

pious citizens tend to oppose the war) to outright enthusiasm, once the

military manages to conflate aggression and holiness in the public

mind. “God’s back,” declares a government mouthpiece at film’s end,

“and He’s a citizen, too!”

Made of Honor

Made of Honor

First, the obvious. Made of Honor is what’s generally known as a “chick flick.” I’m not totally comfortable deploying that term,

especially in its usual derogatory, casually-sexist usage–but in a purely descriptive and possibly cynical sense, that’s what we have here. It’s a love story, featuring a conventionally handsome leading man (Patrick Dempsey) playing opposite a conventionally pretty woman (Michelle Monaghan) whose character is engaged to marry the conventionally wrong guy (blond Scot Kevin McKidd). It’s directed by a man (Paul Weiland), although to its credit there is a woman prominently involved (co-writer Deborah Kaplan), and it’s designed from the bottom up to appeal to undemanding female filmgoers.

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