Sunday, January 29, 2012

Hedgehogs and Foxes

I hesitated, but what the heck... let's embark on a theme that is almost universally found in movies... not only American movies, but worldwide in international films, and that is love and sex. However, I am not so sure how daring I can be to approach the many movies that are very very saucy... the likes of Fatal Attraction, Basic Instinct or even In the Realm of the Senses... That is to be decided as we go along in this blog. To begin, let's talk about... the Hedgehogs and the Foxes.

In way of background, I think I should mention in passing that it helps to have some background of Darwin's work and if you are philosophical in nature, you'll feel right at home here. You may also want to look up a subject named "The Botany of Desire." Yes, all the aforementioned have something to do with love and sex... and orgasm.

In movies, I'd say Woody Allen is the best director who can approach sex and love (and also death) with panache and at the same time, he educates the mass with deep philosophical thinking that easily get lost for the casual movie watchers. Take his Husbands and Wives (1992,) a famous scene from which much have been talked about and analyzed in depth by many scholars at many famous learning institutions. The real subject under consideration was anorgasmia. You know that in medical parlance, many nouns that terminate with the suffix "mia" are bad for you: anemia, leukemia, arrhythmia... The prefix "a" says that something is missing. So "anorgasmia" must be bad for you because that says you cannot experience orgasm. That's a major theme in this Allen's movie. Why don't you watch this clip first.. then we'll talk when you return...
Well, what did you get from the clip? Let's make sure you got it by dotting the i's and crossing the t's: The movie revolves around two married couples: Jack (Sydney Pollack) and Sally (Judy Davis;) and Judy (Mia Farrow... did you notice that? Mia is a bad omen as a name, medically speaking as explained above) and Gabe (Woody Allen.) Sally and Jack separated and took on new lovers, Jack with Sam (Lysette Anthony) and Sally with Michael (Liam Neeson.) The scene is when Michael was finally able to convince Sally and take her to bed. This is when you realize that she is anorgasmia, from a session with her psychiatrist, when she confesses her continued frigidity while with her husband Jack. What you hear in the clip is her infamous "hedgehogs and foxes" analysis. She was asked: "Why were you able to have an orgasm with Michael and not with your husband?...What makes it so difficult for you?" Her answer was:

"I didn't. I was trying very hard to go with it. I was tense. I came close... (She lied, she was nowhere close!) My mind just gets racing with thoughts. You'd laugh if I told you. I get so mentally hyperactive....I thought that I liked what Michael was doing to me, and it felt different from Jack. More gentle and more exciting. And I thought how different Michael was from Jack. How much deeper his vision of life was. And I thought Michael was a hedgehog and Jack was a fox. And then I thought Judy was a fox, and Gabe was a hedgehog. And I thought about all the people I knew, and which were hedgehogs, and which were foxes. Al Simon, a friend, was a hedgehog, and his wife Jenny was a hedgehog. And Cindy Salkind was a fox. And Lou Patrino was a hedgehog..."

It is the writing for scenes like this that this movie was called a "philosophical film." The "Hedgehog and the Fox" is a famous and popular essay by the liberal philosopher Isaiah Berlin. The title is a reference to a fragment attributed to the ancient Greek poet Archilochus: "The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing." Berlin expands upon the original idea and divides writers and thinkers into two categories: hedgehogs, who view the world through the lens of a single defining idea: Plato, Lucretius, Dante, Pascal, Hegel, Dostoevsky, Nietzsche, Ibsen, and Proust; and foxes who draw on a wide variety of experiences and for whom the world cannot be boiled down to a single idea: Herodotus, Aristotle, Erasmus, Shakespeare, Montaigne, Molière, Goethe, Pushkin, Balzac, Joyce, Anderson. Tolstoy, was considered different. He had multiple talents like a fox, but was a giant thinker that qualifies him as a hedgehog.

With that as a background... Many a discussions I found about this scene immediately delved deeply into the philosophy of thinkers originated by Berlin, and none really tried to interpret what Sally was really saying. I bet you a cookie that Woody Allen was trying to say something about how hedgehog and fox relate to orgasm, which is a big thing! Only hedgehog can achieve it, because foxes only circle the wagon and generally miss the mark. What do you think?

Monday, January 23, 2012

The Worst Movie Ever

Today is the first day of a brand new lunar year, the year of the Water Dragon. Let's celebrate and watch a clip of the worst movie you'd ever find: Super Shark!

This is my verdict: Worst movie, worst director, worst actors, worst actresses...But they have the best shark, and it is much better than the one used in Jaws!

Remember this name: Fred Olen Ray. He's a movie director and easily made it to my list of worst movie director ever! The man likes women in bikini, obviously, judging from the movies he made over the years: "Bikini Time Machine", "Bikini Frankenstein", "Bikini Royale", "Bikini Royale 2," "Bikini Jones and the Temple of Eros," "Super Ninja Bikini Babes," "Bikini Chain Gang," "Bikini Drive-In", "Bikini Hoe-Down", "Bikini Round-Up." I never saw any of his movies and am not qualified to say much, except that I have seen a clip of his latest movie: Super Shark, a new movie that will be released in DVD soon, on February 7th of this year. What? No bikini word in the movie title? That's a first! But, as expected, all the women appearing in this movie wear bikinis. This movie is so bad, I'll let you watch its climactic scene, which really is a movie spoiler, and be the judge yourself. So, a word of warning... if you intend to see this movie because that's the kind of movie you like, do not watch this clip because it's a spoiler. Here we go... watch and grin... or cringe. Here he comes, the Super Shark!

The premise of the final scene is this: the military has a walking tank to battle the WALKING shark (it's super, remember?) the super plan is to have a radio station with a super DJ to broadcast and taunt the shark so he'll swallow the radio baited with dynamite and blow itself up! Good enough? Wait until you see the tank karate kicks the shark, it's a scene not to miss! It's only 9 minutes and 13 seconds so you will not suffer too long.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Toshiba English Intelligence

Do you know that today is the eve of the new lunar year, the year of the Water Dragon? Let's have a festive time with something not quite serious or Academy Award caliber, but funny. This film is as silly as George of the Jungle, and it helps to bring a chuckle or two, or more... to our lives. It does mine!

Johnny English is a 2003 British action comedy film parodying the James Bond secret agent genre. The film stars Rowan Atkinson as the incompetent titular English spy, MI7 Agent Johnny English. The film received a largely mixed response from critics.

A sequel, Johnny English Reborn, began filming in September 2010 and released on October 7, 2011 in the United Kingdom, and on October 31, 2011 in the United States, in which Johnny was shown to be training in Tibet when MI7 head Pegasus calls him back to London, where Johnny is sent on a mission to investigate a plot to assassinate the Chinese premier. Here is how it started. Have fun watching this very short clip of only 6 minutes 26 seconds. I turned on the English subtitles so you don't miss any of the jokes.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


Let's rewind the clock 40 years and revisit a young and sexy Sophia Loren in a film by Vittorio de Sica, Sunflower. de Sica was a great Italian movie director with films like The Bicycle Thief in 1948 and The Garden of the Finzi-Continis that won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Movie in 1970. Sunflower was also produced in 1970 when Sophia Loren was 36 year old. There are three clips combined into one: when she met, fell in love and married Marcello Mastroianni... He then was sent to the Russian front during the war and did not return. The second scene shows an almost universal anti-war theme in Italian movies: Sophia went to Russia to look for him. The sunflowers are metaphors for the longing of the missing soldiers. The third and last clip shows a radiant Sophia looking for new love after she found the husband with a new wife and daughter in Russia.

This film shows the world how beautiful Sophia Loren was and how Italian women rode motorcycles... not so tame as the way Audrey Hepburn did it in Roman Vacations. Of course, Sophia had to show off her beautiful legs so the director made them fall off the motorcycle as a pretext. Sophia is now 77 year of age, but remains as sexy as ever. Her last film appearance was in Nine, with the role of Mama, Guido's stunning mom.