The Bette Davis Collection
20th Century Fox
If Bette Davis were alive today, what would she be doing? No, not scratching madly at the inside of her coffin, but celebrating her 100th birthday (it was actually April 5, but when it comes to marketing, a centennial b-day can last all year).
Thus it is that 20th Century Fox has released The Bette Davis Collection — not to be confused with three other volumes offered previously by Warner Bros. — a five-film box in tribute to the old gal that includes All About Eve, Phone Call From a Stranger, The Virgin Queen, Hush ... Hush Sweet Charlotte and The Nanny.
The material is late-period Davis, when the rides were not only bumpy, but turning into oddball performances of grotesque characters that range from downright absorbing (Eve) to wickedly campy (Hush ... Hush).
It's all eminently entertaining stuff delivered by a truly grand dame — the kind of acting, and the kind of roles that you just don't see much of these days. In a business where growing old is an actress' kiss of death, Davis seems to celebrate her innate corniness, and exploits her skills to great effect. Particularly of note is the overlooked Hammer Studio horror gem The Nanny; suffice to say that no one, then or now, does twisted shrew with a bitch back like Davis. —Peter Gilstrap
In the Thick 25
When golden-era screen legend Bette Davis uttered the famous line, "Fasten your seat belts, it's going to be a bumpy ride," she could well have been describing In the Thick 25. The bumps are provided by a cast of African-American ladies whose bumps are prodigious indeed: Sierra Lust, Aaliyah Brown, Sydnee Capri, Baby Cakes and the monumental (literally) Crystal Clear, all of whom fall into the deliciously curvy plus-size category.
After 24 volumes of the In the Thick series, you'd guess that director Nicky Stark would know a thing or three about getting the most out of his mega-keestered starlets. And you'd be correct, sir. Ebony expert Stark offers up three hours and five scenes of hot humping that's loud and sloppy; if the government could somehow figure out a way to harness the weight-versus-mass-times-energy expended by this quintet of dark beauties, gas prices would be dropping quicker than hanged men.
The male talent utterly fills the bill (and various other things), though prepare to be shocked and awed at ultra-thick Crystal Clear and her uncanny ability to dwarf even the most impressive manroot. One can only imagine the between-takes buffet gorging that the XXXL mama indulged in to keep that sex engine burning. Lovely Sydnee Capri is not to be missed either, the sweet freak knows how to deliver and that delivery is special. You'll be handling yourself with care. As the box cover states, "Thick girls need dick too!!" Rest assured, they get it. —Fern LaBott
Directed by Lollywood film expert Omar Khan (thehotspotonline.com) and produced by the bizarro movie connoisseurs Mondo Macabro, Hell's Ground is a case of too many good things coming together to cancel each other out. With its winking in-jokes (the main character has piles of Mondo Mocabro DVDs), the casting of has-beens (Rehan from The Living Corpse mugs for the camera), and a plot dominated by running through the woods pursued by a crazed killer, Hell's Ground hits all the marks of bad cinema. The only difference between this dreck and the lame bottom-shelf productions churned out by aspiring high-school filmmakers comes from the cast of awful actors spouting their hackneyed dialogue in Urdu rather than English. In other words, under the burqa hides the same craptastic flick we've seen before — only with poorer production values. Mistakenly marketed as Pakistan's first horror film (for better fare see The Cat-Beast, Atomic Beauty, Severed Head Man, etc.), Hell's Ground forgoes the charming weirdness and piles on the fake gore instead. Yawn. —Mike White
My Blueberry Nights
The Weinstein Company
The box cover alone should tell you something: Two out of the three gorgeous women pictured have their hands suggestively perched on their seductively swollen lips. The third woman looks dead ahead as if in some kind of pick-up bar zombie trance. Her lips, by the way, are parted, just slightly.
The trio of ladies in this romantic effort are Natalie Portman, Rachel Weisz and adult contemporary (if that phrase still exists) musical whiz Norah Jones, making her film debut. Hong Kong film fans will appreciate another first, director Wong Kar Wai's virgin English-language feature; consequently, he brings a fresh, foreign eye to this tale set in New York City, Memphis and Nevada. Which means lots of pretty visuals, but sadly lots of wasted talent among the gals (newcomer Jones applies herself well, apparently pulling off acting as effortlessly as she does music) and Jude Law, all of whom who are bogged down in a plot that founders on the rocks of sappy and dreamy.
Which consists of Law as a diner owner who tries to ease recently dumped Jones' heartbreak with blueberry pie. Poor Jones doesn't pick up on what Law is laying down, and must go on a cross country search for love when — wouldn't ya know it — love was right there at home all the time.
While far from the full-on warm and fuzzy fest MBN portends to be, thanks to the efforts of the gifted cast and thoughtful directorial touches, the film is a pleasant distraction. And it helps if you're a girl. —Peter Gilstrap