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I had heard very mixed things on this film on IMDb but the Amazon
reviews and star rating suggested it was better and I thought to myself
that it cannot be that bad. Watching the trailer looked odd, like it
was a very weird mix of genres, with humour, action and songs but the
main thing was it looked cheap. Having seen many low budget short films
or student films from people taking their first steps into the medium
of film, I decided that I would overlook the first impression and give
it a fair viewing the ability to afford all the trimmings doesn't
stop you writing good scripts etc.
Reading the plot didn't inspire me with hope but at the same time it offers potential. IRS Agent Jack Goldwater is demoted down to running a state-claimed brothel in Nevada when he racially profiles a Middle-Eastern man on a plane. However, when the same man shows up in the brothel he smells a rat and uncovers a plot that threatens America. With the help of the working girls and their colourful madam, he has to try to overcome political incompetence to save the day. As odd as it sounds, the basic idea offers the potential for what was advertised a comedy built on action, zany light comedy and comic dialogue. Even the characters and their interactions offer this. So why then does the film so powerfully fail to deliver any of it?
The problems start with the script. There are simply too many lines and scenes that offer nothing but words they don't add colour, they don't add to the speaker's characters, they aren't funny and they have no dramatic worth. They aren't terrible by any means but after a while it is hard to escape the feeling of people, standing in a room, saying......things! There is no content just words. Attempts at humour mostly fall flat; there were one or two lines that drew a little "hmph" of appreciation from me, but mostly there simply isn't anything to laugh at in the same way as there are few words to care about. The occasional attempt at comedy (I presume) ranges wildly from physical comedy with two character handcuffed together, through to prostitutes spitting into a condom to make a drunken john think he has already climaxed; none of it works but so much of it is weirdly judged, with no consistent tone.
The whole film suffers from this. So we have scenes in a brothel where girls are sexily introduced in a lightly comic fashion; scenes of running with guns; scenes of comedy terrorists; a gospel song performed on stage about Rahab; a dramatic (ish) murder scene and so on. None of them work individually but the combination of having them all beside each other while also feeling totally disconnected just undermines the film really badly. I have no problem with films trying to do several things, but it is hard to do them and be consistent this film shows just how hard it is and how bad things can be when it doesn't work. Again I could see the potential for the wacky, the sexy, the dramatic and the comic to come together, but they didn't.
The budget doesn't help but I've seen so much more done with less the problem I had was not the low-budget, it was the amateurish feel the film has. The direction is poor in terms of the cast and in terms of the shot selection. Cutaways are frequent and unnecessary, lighting (or maybe film stock?) changes give the film a different look within the same scene (although it is worst scene to scene). The musical score varies wildly from classical to "zany" music but it rarely matches the action and yet is always present. The editing is terrible not technically perhaps but in terms of selection. Almost every scene is a few seconds longer than it should be and it makes the viewer feel awkward, like I was hanging around. Far too many shots were just "there" the gun range was "there", lots of driving scenes are "there", lots of shots are just "there"; again it is hard to describe if you've not seen it but it feels very baggy indeed. And the irony is it doesn't need to the DVD runs to 1h50m or so, far long that it needs to be (or can sustain).
The cast are very mixed. The big draw is Nichols but she is poor; she never finds her character and she overacts badly in most scenes her first appearance is a wonderfully bad example of it. Against my worries Keogh was quite likable, as was Smythe they showed some relaxed charmed and chemistry, just a shame that the script kills them. Lynx is stunning and surprisingly natural while Wraith is again quite relaxed and a cool presence. Schulman is amusing in a Dom Deluise way and again I would have loved him to have had better lines as his character could have been very good. Beyond these it is really amateur hour, lots of people doing first performances and the scenes are full of "pause now say dialogue" moments (and the pauses are left in for the viewer), very few people feel natural, although the poor dialogue is a big part of this. At one point my girlfriend walked into the room, watched 2 minutes involving the brothel girls and simply asked me "have any of these people ever acted before?" and I could see her point.
Lady Magdalene's is a mess. It has potential but it fluffs it all and what few promising aspects (I actually liked several of the leads) are smothered by amateurish aspects. Content is poor, laughs are absent, action is dull, dialogue is so clunky it even kills the "ok" performances, tone is all over the place and generally the direction is poor.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Amazing, astounding, bewildering, breathtaking, extraordinary,
impressive, marvelous, miraculous, spectacular, staggering, startling,
striking, stunning, stupefying, stupendous, wonderful, wondrous,
astonishing, awe-inspiring, awesome, exciting, hair-raising,
heart-stirring, impressive, magnificent, moving, overwhelming,
spine-tingling, stunning, thrilling, boss, curious, darb, exceptional,
fab, fantastic, flash, gnarly, heavy, inconceivable, incredible, odd,
outstanding, particular, peculiar, phenomenal, primo, rare, remarkable,
singular, special, strange, stupendous, surprising, terrific, uncommon,
unfamiliar, unheard-of, unimaginable, unique, unprecedented,
unthinkable, unusual, weird, wicked, arousing.
These words quickly crossed my mind after the first 4 minutes of this ground-breaking, genre-busting feast for the senses.
The way this film opened with the immensely suspenseful scene featuring the pretty blond woman and the reptilian monster, (drinking the evil elixir), immediately grabbed my attention and it didn't let go. J Neil Schulman then innovatively broke the fourth-wall at the end of this scene, with a direct appeal to his audience to have a "Blast" watching his film and also to not "FORGET" the masterpiece they are about to experience, by imploring them to concentrate and upgrade their memory no less than 3 times. This left me exhausted with excitement and anticipation. So much so, I tried to call J Neil Schulman on the phone number that he subliminally flashed up on screen, to congratulate him on such a brilliant first scene. Unfortunately he wasn't there. Unusually, the girl (who I presumed to be his secretary), then tried to sell me sexual dysfunction pills. I bought 14 bottles.
The rest of the film never quite reaches the heights achieved in the blonde lady/lizard man scene, but it is still better than anything else you will see this or any other year. The casting is sublime. All the actors and actresses are obvious masters of their craft, in particular the Elvis impersonator in the buffet song featured in the end credits. I really thought he WAS Elvis.
J Neil Schulman was the best actor in the film, (of course). He FILLED the screen with his presence. His performance was HUGE and FAT with subtle nuances and charisma. He gave immense WEIGHT to the character of Alistair, plus he was VORACIOUS in his CONSUMPTION of the viewer's attention. J Neil Schulman DINED OUT on the masterful script and GORGED the lines on offer. Never has an actor shown so much GUTS on screen. A masterful performance.
We must also mention the superb writing in this film. An IRS agent working for the Federal Air Marshals inspects a Muslim man and gets in trouble so they send him to a brothel full of wonderful whores and a linebacker who are also actresses, plus Uhura, in Pahrump. The whores and the linebacker and Uhura often sing in casino car-parks because they like to show they are not only great actresses but also great car park singers. Back at the brothel, by an amazing coincidence, the IRS agent sees the same Muslim man from before, who then plays a violin and kills one of the whores (but unfortunately not the linebacker) and then visits Hoover Dam to take an exciting ride down a long rope. The IRS agent then goes to a hospital, with Uhura and the surviving whores and the linebacker, where he shoots J Neil Schulman with a ketchup bottle and speaks to Cat Stevens. Uhura then shoots the Muslim man with a small gun ( which she had kept it hidden in her pink velvet pouch) and the whores lurk around looking gorgeous whilst showing off their exquisite acting abilities and some schmoo. They then go to a buffet restaurant and take the last fried drumstick before Elvis gets to it, (because Elvis has a cholesterol problem and needs to cut back).
All in all this is the greatest film I have ever seen in my entire life and it therefore is number #1 in my eyes! Accordingly, I just went and gave it a vote of 1, because its NUMBER #1!!!
HOORAY for J Neil Schulman. Without him my life would be a tiny bit less full than it already is. He entertains like few men before him and I am so so happy I discovered his wonderful talents and his endless ability to entertain.
J Neil Schulman is the best. I mean that in all sincerity
I saw this film after hearing about how the director got 'trolled' on
IMDb , with 1/10 ratings. Many of those ratings obviously duplicates.
Nevertheless, the director insists that we actually watch the film
before judging. That sounds reasonable so I did. The film is even on
The film is about some guy who works for the IRS and is accused of racially profiling some (arab?) guy on a plane, for having a violin thinking it was a bomb. To be fair the guy was also watching a video of 9-11. Anyhow he is demoted to an assignment administrating a brothel in Nevada, where he finds out that he may have been right to be suspicious after all.
The YouTube version actually begins with a 5 minute director presentation flogging his herbal merchandise. If you can't be bothered to watch the whole film I implore you to watch this first 5 minutes for it's unintentional hilarity. The director is asked questions by an overly eager interviewer, and the director himself admits to being tired as he hadn't had much sleep. I guess it's hard to describe in words but it just oozed with awkwardness. It's like a Bruce Willis interview.
The first 30 minutes I was somewhat hooked from the obvious so bad it's good. The acting and writing is clumsy and robotic. There is the scene early on where this IRS protagonist is appealing to the tribuneral. The response from the female head of this tribunal, and i'm not sure if it's the acting, writing or both, is is bland and overly long. It's like a long sentence with no punctuation. Unfortunately the so bad it's good loses it's appeal after the first 50 or so minutes. The film is surprisingly long for what it is and would have been better if it was at least 20 minutes shorter than it is. The film is also not so subtle in it's libertarian messages.
Is it the worst film ever? No, not even close. The sound is good. I can hear what the actors are saying and that automatically puts it above many of the dreadful indie films you see on those obscure TV channels. Enjoy it for what it is.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"Lady Magdalene's" combines an inventive story with a cast and crew
(and a writer - director - producer - supporting actor - composer -
lyricist) who are clearly having the time and delight of their lives.
Their enthusiasm shows up on screen.
It also ends up having "six genres in a head-on collision," as author Brad Linaweaver described it. That won't be to everyone's taste, especially for those wanting a straight-ahead plot. Yet it has considerable rewards if one is patient with it, as I admit that I had to be.
This "suspense/comedy" has an IRS investigator, on inter-agency exchange duty as a federal air marshal, being called out for making a misstep in apprehending a suspected terrorist. He's actually right in his suspicions, though he doesn't know that.
Yet his supposed screw-up gets him sent to one of the oddest corners of IRS purgatory: He's made the latest receiver and manager of a legal brothel, long troubled and owing taxes, outside Pahrump, Nevada. (This was inspired by an actual case.)
The lovely, erhm, working women all around him may be hiding a few surprises, including links to the case that put him in career limbo. And is the pleasure-fulfillment engineer he's falling for exactly who she seems? He's determined to track these mysteries, and his chase goes from a shooting range to Hoover Dam to a mysterious medical research facility. Oh, and to a Pahrump casino with two-for-one dinner buffets!
Nichelle Nichols is the determined, beset, but always sexy madam of this establishment, trying to clean up after her late lover (its former owner) and his losses at the craps table. She has the girls join her in a stab at gaining local respectability that's too pleasing and unexpected to be spoiled here.
The tracing-the-terrorists action, ultimately weaving through the silken curtains of Lady Magdalene's pleasure dome, does gets too intricate in the last half-hour, though the story leaves no loose ends. It also is more clearly told in the DVD / demand-video version than in the earlier theatrical screenings, with background details being placed in flashbacks.
Presenting all the detail without confusion finally gets beyond the acting confidence of most of the undeniably lovely working girls though not at all for Nichols, nor for fellow leads Ethan Keogh and Susan Smythe. Yet they're all game for the effort, and their enthusiasm ends up winning out, right up to and through the closing credits.
I saw this film being developed over several years of updates from protean creator Neil Schulman himself at libertarian venues. (Although I have known him for a decade, I had no role in this production, nor did I write this review at his instigation.)
It doesn't have high polish, yet it makes more out of a half-million dollars than most big-studio "high concepts" do with fifty times the budget and a tenth the intelligence.
It did save money to have Neil's mother, daughter, ex-wife, and late father (!) manage to take part in the proceedings, as well as other friends who add anti-authoritarian asides that never lose the comic beat. (The plot does have digressions, but they end up being meaningful in retrospect.)
This is an independent creation that makes the most of current tools, but does suffer at times from the limitations of its budget. The sound levels and editing are inconsistent, though such faults are less evident on the small screen than on the large. Some of the visual contrasts and transitions don't work smoothly, though the DVD edit improves on earlier screenings.
Yet if you're in the mood for an audacious esthetic goulash not at all evenly cooked to one consistency of tone that combines thriller, comedy, musical, camp, satirical, and political sensibilities, you will very likely be well-entertained.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I hate movies. I haven't seen a good one since about 1990. I'm sick of seeing blood, guts, naked people, and things being blown up all accompanied by foul language. I'm a live theater fan; even high school musicals are better than most movies out there. I had to see Lady Magdalene's because it was about an IRS agent and I'm in the business. It was hilarious. I especially liked the terrorists singing, like terrorists would actually sing. Mullahs don't like music. I have now seen it twice, once over a year ago at the Culver City Film Festival and again with friends from my own copy of the DVD. This is pure farce. Anyone who has been battered and hardened by the stuff coming out of Hollywood these days will not get it. Anyone tired of "Blow'em Up #6", "The Horror: one More Time", and such will find it a welcome change.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
With the unsurpassed talents Nichelle Nichols this movie shines.
Someone who can distribute this movie needs to see it.
Although the title might suggest something else this movie is very family friendly.
Bravo Miss Nichols still has got it and in abundance and I am a witness to that.
Laugh out loud comedy not in the rude sense but in the old way its made to be funny not vulgar.
I see this movie becoming a cult classic for those who see it will want it for there movie library.
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