Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Ben, The Kiss Of Death

Kiss of Death

It's funny, the things you end up talking about at work when you're bored.

I've made a discovery that all of you would-be actresses out there need to be aware of. Ben Affleck has the kiss of death for female movie careers.

Okay, maybe not the kiss of death; more like the Peck of Extreme Pain. Every woman who's played opposite him in a lead movie role spirals downward from there. It generally takes them three movies to pick themselves back up again. Don't believe me?

Poor Joey Adams. She'd just come off a bit role in the movie "Michael" with John Travolta, and this after suriving the horrific "Bio-Dome" with Pauley Shore. Then she gets bit by Ben in a great role in the movie "Chasing Amy"

From there she does the unheard-of "A Cool Dry Place" with the then-unheard of Vince Vaughn, "Reaching Normal" with Ellen Degeneres, and "Emergency Room 2", which apparently never got filmed. She finally salvages her career in the movie "Big Daddy" with Adam Sandler, 2 years later.

Liv Tyler never quite learned her lesson. She hooked up with Benji in "Armageddon" and everyone fell in love with those lips. Then she did a string of movies that you'll struggle to remember such as "Cookie's Fortune", "Dr. T and the Women", and "One Night at McCool's". Then, like a gift from the heavens, came the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy. Career salvaged, right?

Wrong. Obviously a glutton for punishment, she bonded with Ben once more in the critically acclaimed movie "Jersey Girl". Know what she did then? Completed a movie called "Lonesome Jim" with (get this): Casey Affleck.

It's gonna take her a long, long time to ressurect herself from this deadly combo.

Okay admittedly Sandra Bullock was already on the downswing just before she got the BenBug. "Speed 2" and "Hope Floats" at least made her a little cash, but I wouldn't have bragged too hard about "Practical Magick". But then along came Ben and "Forces of Nature"; next thing you know she's doing "Gun Shy", which I hear was a big hit in Australia. "28 Days" was up next, which ironically enough is about how long it lasted in the theaters. 2000 brought her vindication, however, in "Miss Congeniality".

First let me say, I'm not even sure why "Reindeer Games" got made, let alone got Charlize Theron to star alongside Cursed Ben. The same logic, I'm sure, got her stuck doing "The Legend of Bagger Vance", "The Curse of the Jade Scorpion (cuz post-'70s Woody Allen movies are SUCH draws), and "Trapped" with Kevin Bacon. "The Italian Job" is probably the only reason she was able to land the part in "Monster".

Don't go too far folks, I've got more!

You'd figure if anyone was immune to the Curse of the Ben, it might be Gwyneth Paltrow. Doing "Bounce" didn't exactly set the world on fire, but what did she do after her Ben-counter? "The Anniversary Party" (the What?) with Alan Cumming (aka Nightcrawler), "Shallow Hal" with Jack Black, "Possession", "View From the Top", "Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow"...

To her credit, she did manage to slip "the Royal Tennenbaums" in the midst of all this - but that was an arthouse film. Call it her way of going back to church and doing penance. "Bless me Father, for I have Ben'ed..."

Why was Ben still getting lead roles in Hollywood? Will someone please answer me that? "Pearl Harbor" was supposed to be his big vehicle, and Kate Beckinsdale was going to ride his coattails into the big leagues.

Well "Serendipity" and "Laurel Canyon" didn't exactly set the world on fire, did they Kate? Thank god for the Dungeon & Dragons and the bloodsucker crowds, because otherwise "Underworld" would still have kept her "underground".

Word must have gotten around Hollywood, because for the next few years no one wanted to be afflicted with Affleckitis. His next few movies were all male-oriented action thrillers (if you're willing to stretch the imagination) with no female leads. That leaps us ahead to:

Comic book fans around filmdom are still sending death threats to his house for "Daredevil". Jennifer Garner was obviously new in Hollywood or she would never have gone near this junkpile.

The infection contined, unlike her movie career. "13 Going on 30" was a sad joke, and "Elektra" was, amazingly, an even worse movie than "Daredevil" was. Now she's reduced to a bit role in "Charlotte's Web". Sad, sad, sad.

"Gigli". Do I even have to say anything more? Jennifer Lopez, I mean, J-Lo, probably left his sorry ass for making her do this movie with him. I'm betting he's hiding from her every time she's in town because the poor girl did the unthinkable - a back-to-back-Benflick! A year later she gets a supporting role in "Jersey Girl", quietly snickering at the downward plunge she knew Liv Tyler was in for. You should'a stayed around the block, Jenny, cuz "Shall We Dance" and "Monster In Law" earned you nothing but a big ol' Bronx cheer!

The banner year of '03 - the Year of the Affleck - continued it's curse as Uma Thurman, on the heels of the fantastic "Kill Bill", found herself sideswiped in doing the ill-fated "Paycheck". Well I hope she got a big one for it, because she followed that piece of crap up with "Be Cool".

Know what she's filming right now? "the Bee Movie", a cartoon with Jerry Seinfeld. And we all know how well he's done after Seinfeld, don't we?

"Jersey Girl". Liv, Liv, Liv. I love the lips...but not too bright upstairs, are we?

So who's next on the Ben Hit List?

2005 brings us "Man About Town", co-starring the unknown Ling Bai, the mysterious assassin in "Sky Captain". I guess Gwyneth loved getting her butt kicked by Ling so much she passed along Ben's contact info. Her next movie? "Edmond", with William Macey. She's listed in the credits as "Girl". Which I guess is better than "Bystander #4".

Next year (yep, he's still making movies!) he plays George Reeves, the original Superman, in "Truth, Justice and the American Way". Co-star? Diane Lane, who's riding high coming off strong performances in "Unfaithful", "Under the Tuscan Sun", and "Must Love Dogs".

Wanna know what she has on her movie-plate for next year? "Killshot". With Justin Timberlake. And Mickey ("somebody hire me please") Rourke.

Please. Ladies. When it comes to Ben...just say no!

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Sex For Sale

...bet THAT grabbed your attention real quick, didn't it?

Here's the deal. Reading the Law Journal as I'm wont to do (usually while bored sitting in my boss' office waiting for her to get off the damn phone) I stumbled across this little tidbit in yesterday's news:
A Manhattan judge has enunciated the legal distinction between prostitution and paying someone to participate in sexual activity to make a pornographic film.

I'm sorry...what?! Here's the deal. A woman in Manhattan's upper east side was on trial for running - I'm sorry, allegedly running a prostitution ring. Multimillion dollar ring, I might add {waggling the finger at some of you}. Her defense came up with what i'd call an absolutely brilliant strategy: that "'no legal distinction' existed between a man who paid for sexual activity to be performed on him and a nonparticipating third party who paid for an actor to participate in sexual activity, because both involved the essential elements of prostitution: sexual activity in exchange for a fee".

Wow. And why hasn't this come up before?

Think about it. Why is prostitution illegal, but pornography a big business - and legal? Seriously folks, is there a difference? In each case, you're paying for sex. Show me the money, honey! The only real question might be who the recipient is, of that sex.

This was the judge's ruling:
Penal Law §230.00 defines a prostitute as one "who engages or agrees or offers to engage in sexual conduct with another person in return for a fee." The word "fee," Goodman wrote, represents the key to distinguishing prostitution from paying someone to perform sexual activity in making pornography.

The "fair import" of the word "fee" is "payment in return for professional services rendered," Goodman wrote, quoting People v. Block, 337 NYS2d 153.

"Because the definition of prostitution is generally confined to a bilateral exchange between only two parties, escort services and 'Goliath' corporations are not similarly situated," he concluded.

The "court concludes [that] because the pornographic motion picture industry has flourished without prosecution since its infancy, that industry was not intended to be covered," Goodman wrote. "If it had meant to be covered, the legislature would have taken up the matter long ago."

Wowzers. So because the law didn't specifically cover pornography, and because the legislature hasn't done anything about it yet...it isn't illegal.

Now...I'm not even remotely suggesting that pornography should be illegal. Cuz I have enough problems with the RIAA, I sure as hell don't need the Feds busting down my door because of my porn library!

But...does this even make sense?

He goes on to rationalize his decision even further:

Prostitution, as traditionally defined, requires person A paying person B for sexual activity to be performed on A.

Pornography, on the other hand, involves person C paying B for sexual activity performed on A.
Now...if person C ponies up the cash for person B to have sex with person A, and watches it...that isn't prostitution, if person B is getting paid to have sex with A? Are you telling me that the only real distinction, according to this court, is that I can't be the beneficiary of the transaction?

Well hells bells, man. Can you see the buddy system kicking into full gear after that decision? "You spot me this week, I'll spot you next!" The term wingman takes on brand new life! If A pays B to have sex with C, and it isn't illegal - it's porn, because they're going to FILM it...wow. Talk about having your cake and eat it too!

It'll be like going on one of those rides at Disneyland, where they take a picture of you screaming after a big drop. Your buddy pays, you get to ride, pick up your video on the way out. Have a nice day!

It isn't prostitution. It's pornography.