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This week:


Filthy says:
"I go to the movies to ignore sermons, not get them."

Time to vote - The Reader's Choice Survey is now open!

I've got a question for you guys: Does anyone know about something called Tantric Sex? I read about it and they say people can have sex for like twelve hours straight and have orgasms the way monkeys have bananas, but I can't find any information about how it works. I doubt the shit is true because even Lacey Titts lasted only eight hours in Gang-bang 2000, and she's world famous for the endurance of her privates. Still, I am curious.

Mrs. Filthy isn't. She says she doesn't have time for marathon sex after working all day and picking up after me. So maybe I'm not interested in Tantric Sex so much as Tantric Masturbation. I can think of worse way to spend my days than with twelve-hour jackoff sessions. As it is, I'm shot five minutes after waking up and then spend half the day in a self-loathing stupor. If you know anything about Tantric Pud-pulling, e-mail me.

Tantra has nothing to do with Traffic, Steven Soderbergh's latest flick that is getting a lot of hype. I'm not really sure why. It's a frequently good movie, eventually sinking under too much preaching and too many government statistics. What's that? We can't win the drug war? Stop the presses!

Traffic weaves four stories about the trafficking of drugs between the U.S. and Mexico. Benicio del Toro is a moral man weary of working for the "entrepeneurial" Mexican police. Pregnant and formerly-hot Catherine Zeta Jones is the wife of a rich-fuck drug importer (Steven Bauer ­ he looks a hell of a lot like Anthony Robbins) whose fucking sick yuppie La Jolla life is disrupted when her husband is arrested. The wonderful Luis Guzman and Don Cheadle are two DEA agents protecting ratfink Miguel Ferrer, who tattled on Jones's husband, Steven Bauer. Michael Douglas (skanky old husband and impregnator of the formerly hot Ms. Jones) is the newly-appointed U.S. drug czar and he naively thinks he can win the war even while his own daughter sinks into a heroin haze.

Del Toro learns that his Mexican boss is joining forces with Douglas to stop the Tijuana drug cartel, but his boss isn't doing it to win the war. He's doing it to help another cartel he's in the pocket of. In the U.S., the Tijuana drugs go through Ferrer, who works for Bauer, and Guzman and Cheadle try to keep him from getting killed before he can testify. Jones goes from being completely unaware of her husband's business to ruthlessly running it in an effort to maintain her swank-uluxe lifestyle. To save her husband, she schemes to have Ferrer killed.

Soderbergh is a fucking master, no doubt about it. Early in 2000 he got Julia Roberts into slutty push-up bras. Now, he manipulates Steven Gaghan's script like they were two double-Ds and pushes them up almost as attractively. This is his movie.

He keeps things moving nicely for two-and-a-half hours. He distinguishes each story, both in tone and photography, so you never wonder which story you're in or where you are. Best of all, he doesn't fall into Hollywood's typical trap of neatly wrapping up the stories with a bow. While they intersect, there is no urgency to get the characters all in one place where they hug and congratulate each other, and there is not one solution to fit all.

Soderbergh also does an amazing job of humanizing some of the stories. Del Toro is fucking great. He fills out the worn-out police officer who has to rediscover his self-respect, and he shows us a much more human Mexican than Hollywood usually sees them as, which is as the people who missed a spot on their BMWs at the car wash.

Guzman is one of my favorite character actors. He's funny and angry, and he smartly reels off his lines. He and Cheadle work well together in the most interesting, human and suspenseful storyline, the best of the bunch. Ferrer is a great actor, too, always more than eager to act like a dick. He's a modern-day deadpan Jack Webb, talking fast, furious and always certain that he's right.

The movie gets shitty, though, whenever Douglas is on screen. This is partly because he's sucks ass because he's so wound-up and one-note. Mostly, though, it's because his story is the only one that isn't human. Whenever he's acting as the drug czar, we see a bunch of talking heads spouting facts and figures. Orrin Hatch and a bunch of fucking politicians I don't want to pay to see show up to plug their drug agendas. And James Brolin - his wife broad eats all the Vienna Sausages at the Filthy Awards every year - plays the exiting drug czar. The drug czar story is so obviously a setup, it's a phony and easy way to beat the point home. And the only people who will disagree with Soderbergh are the same people that won't listen anyway. Well, fuck, why should they since they came to be entertained, not lectured?

Douglas's home life is equally weak. His daughter, despite being a straight A student in some fancy-ass school, is a drug addict who likes smoking heroin more than a drag-queen nympho likes smoking dick. It's all SO IRONIC that it goes beyond believable and enters the world of forced. It's a cheap device, obvious and bludgeoned beyond any point of subtlety. It gets worse when we see Douglas swilling scotch and waters, only to have the irony of that explained to us too. Jesus, Soderbergh, we're not all that stupid.

In his effort to differentiate the stories, Soderbergh uses blue filters for the East Coast scenes, a dirty yellow filter that looks like someone pissed all over Mexico, and there is almost no filter for the sunny California shots. It works well to show us where we are early in the story, but Soderbergh uses them all the way through and it grows annoying and gimmicky. He could have let up a bit once we got the idea, maybe let a little color into Mexico and a little less blue into D.C.

Three Fingers for Traffic, probably as good a movie as we'll ever get about drug trafficking. It's a hell of a lot better than Cheech and Chong's Up In Smoke, but also a lot more preachy and with less nudity.


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