Be Wary of Movies about Blobs

DATELINE:  Robert Walker, Jr., Shines


Larry Hagman, the notorious J.R. Ewing of TV fame, directed only one movie in his career. Between stints in I Dream of Jeannie and Dallas, in 1972, he assembled his friends as cast. He chose to direct (and act in) Beware! The Blob, a sequel to the 1958 classic.

Robert Walker, Jr., hoped to ignite his career as a perennial juvenile lead with Beware! The Blob, figuring it might do what it did for Steve McQueen. Indeed, McQueen is on TV in a clip from the original in one brief scene.

Walker recently returned to the screen after 20 years to do some cameos, as the boyish actor is now in his mid-70s. His father was famous for Hitchcock’s Strangers on a Train—and his mother was the stunning actress Jennifer Jones. He played delinquents, boyish teens, and perpetually youthful characters from the 1960s through the 1980s.

Other notable faces and performers signed on to be “blobbed.”

Among the victims are Godfrey Cambridge, Dick Van Patten leading eight boy scouts, Shelly Berman as a hair stylist, Carol Lynley as a bon vivant, Burgess Meredith as a hobo hippie, and most famous unknown face, Richard Webb as the Sheriff.

It is played for laughs as the giant blob of raspberry jelly starts with a fly, goes in for a kitten, and then tries the eat the local bowling alley.

The Blob is always impervious to everything but cold. You won’t see a sequel in wintery New England.

The film looks like a low budget episode of an Irwin Allen series of the era. However, Hagman does manage to make many good effects with no money. He also gave his son Preston a role as one of the Boy Scouts.

As a time passer, the film may be better received today than any time in the past 40 years. It is an entertaining curio.


Juror Accuses Hernandez of Committing Deflategate

DATELINE: Madcap Trial Proceeds

A1 steak Undeflated

Aaron Hernandez is in enough trouble without the jury pool adding to his woe.

One prospective juror today confessed that she was not a big Patriot fan, but she knew a little bit about Aaron Hernandez.

According to her, she had heard around the water cooler at her office that Aaron Hernandez was responsible for Deflategate.

You may think others laughed this prospective juror out of the courtroom. There were only a few chuckles. We couldn’t see if Hernandez himself was rolling his eyes.

The judge immediately excused her.

At the time of Deflategate, Aaron Hernandez was already in jail for the murder of Odin Lloyd.

Today in Arizona, Michael Floyd was sentenced to 26 days in jail and three months of home arrest for DUI. We scoured the reports to find out if he too was responsible for Deflategate, causing this harsh sentence.

If the Hernandez juror is to be trusted, Deflategate may become ubiquitous in crime annals:  like jay-walking, watering drinks, or cheating at cards.

We fully expect Deflategate to take its rightful place among the Seven Deadly Sins.

We have been cogitating over the inclusion of Deflategate among the Ten Commandments. Would it fall under stealing hot air? Or is it a form of death, by denying oxygen? If you’ve deflated your neighbor’s coveted balls, you are on the list.

Can it be that Aaron Hernandez has indeed committed Deflategate? We now understand that Deflategate is one of the most original of all sins. You are born with it. Take your first breath and let it out: it’s Deflategate, all right.

When Cain slew Abel, he was the first perp of Deflategate.

Only Bill Belichick can forgive Patriots guilty of the sin of Deflategate.

Your baptism is all that can help. You have to be immersed in the unforgiving waters of the Charles River, next to Harvard, where the gates at Harvard Square deflate most who enter.

Please, someone, anyone, deflate the bubblehead of that prospective juror.






On an Island with Revis and Four Felony Counts

DATELINE:  No Man is a Felon

 revis Revis/Gilligan Island

Darrelle Revis, the Jet who found the Patriots Way untenable to his taste and returned to the Way of the Loser, may be on the verge of the biggest Patriot loser since Aaron Hernandez.

These behavioral patterns may not be psychopathic, as in the case of the tight end now on trial for a double murder, but Revis is showing distinct attitudes that could lead to another Murder One Patriot.

This week in Pittsburgh, where Revis lives inexplicably in the off-season, he was engaged in some kind of street violence for an alleged offense against his manhood. At least that’s the story his lawyer is sticking by for now.

Revis has not surrendered to police, apparently hoping to be chased while he hides in the back seat of a white Bronco.

Revis leveled a couple of fan boys or gang members, depending on your perspective. He is now facing four counts of felony. According to police, there is smart phone video footage of the encounter. Revis is not photogenic.

Apparently the Jet failure has proved yet again that no man is a Revis Island by washing ashore like a Ninja from Singapore.

When you offend the masculine pride of an NFL star, whether past or present, you could face violent consequences. In the case of Hernandez, he waited with loaded gun to shoot a car filled with objects of his indignation.

Revis used fists. We suspect a gun might have resulted in a couple of homicides.

To the Patriots’ credit, they made no effort to sign him for a second season after he helped the Super Bowl winning team a few years back.

This season in New York, he looked like a satire of his earlier self, having lost more skills or will to win than your usual Jet flops.

His lawyer said he will turn himself in sooner or later.

Eisenstein Meets Greenaway in a Duel of Geniuses

DATELINE: Movie History Revised


Elmer Back as Sergei Einsenstein

Peter Greenaway may be one of those ignored geniuses of film.

He has been making movies for decades—with only a small, dedicated army of fans and critics in a state of constant amazement.

The United States is not where he usually finds an audience, but he has found the right material in Eisenstein in Guanajuato. Examining the manic Russian filmmaker, whose 10 Days That Shook the World and Battleship Potemkin remain landmarks, Greenaway has taken a biographical angle:  Played by Elmer Back, Einsentein, unhappy in Hollywood, went to Mexico where his life was shaken.

A Soviet superstar of movies, he was a Stalin favorite (whether he liked it or not). Soviet agents followed him everywhere, likely afraid he would defect to the West.

In Mexico, the exuberant director met a staid professor named Palamino (Luis Alberti) who served as his guide, and later lover. Their sex scenes defy the line between simulated and real in this film, making it not for everyone who may be squeamish.

With Prokofiev music, the film itself is breathtaking in its conception and realization. Greenaway uses the screen with imagery and metaphor that is totally absent from American films. The closest to this stunning movie is A Single Man, turning queer cinema into something more than a 90-minute cruise.

Einsenstein knew all the greats—and knew his métier among them. In Mexico for his epiphany he faced sex and death. Indeed, the Mexican holiday, Day of Death, may be the most apt metaphor for this film. Watching Eisenstein dance with a skeleton on an illuminated hotel floor is only one treat.

For those able to handle the subject, Sergei Eisenstein’s life will be a revelation.


Jumping into Hernandez Jury Pool

DATELINE: Avoiding Civic Duty

toms-drinkSpilling a Drink on Hernandez as Motive for Murder

If there is anything more amazing today than being selected to serve on the historical, legendary, and pop infamous Aaron Hernandez trial, we cannot come up with an event.

You can be one of a million drunken revelers at the Patriot Victory Parade, but only 16 people will have the privilege to witness up close and personal the murderous rage of the former Patriot against Daniel Abreu for spilling a drink on an NFL star.

So, those brought in on a second pool were determined to be tossed out with the latest spent cartridges of the killer.

If you don’t want to serve on this jury, wear a Patriots hat (as one did).  You could also proudly announce you support Trump (like all good Patriots)—and you will be excused.

You never know to what lengths the public will go to fulfill their civic duty. Another batch of citizens will come in on Thursday with the chance of winning the murder one lottery.

In the meantime, Jose Baez has already earned his pro bono salary by having the court camera behind Hernandez and favoring the side profile where no ugly tattoo is protruding over his prole collar.

As for the indicted and convicted killer, he always gives his fans, in this case the jury pool, a cheery good morning. You never know when a psychopath will lose his good mood, however.

Usually he gives a stone-face stare that would wither Charles Bronson in Death Wish.

Tom Brady: Cockroach

DATELINE: Patriot Movie Updates


Tom Brady needs a better publicity agent. This week the Atlanta Zoo made good on a bet against a Rhode Island zoo. The loser would have to name a baby animal after a notable Patriot player.

Tom, of course, seems right for the honor. So, the new born baby hissing cockroach is now baptized Tom Brady.

On the other hand, Malcolm Butler’s agent, Derek Simpson, is working hard for his client and himself.

He just sold the rights to the life story of Butler to a movie producer. Many likely titles will be proposed for the film script, from The Butler Did It to Don’t Call Me Rhett.  However, his agent revealed that its working title is “The Secondary.”

This is not a reference to coming in behind Tom in Super Bowl MVP voting.

A smart agent makes himself part of the deal, and part of the movie. So, Simpson’s tale of inspiration will feature how he negotiated that his client, working at Popeye’s Restaurant, be given a try-out by the Pats.

Butler went on to make the phenomenal interception on the goal line to win one Super Bowl in his rookie year. This season was just icing on Tom’s avocado ice cream.

Movies about Tom and Deflategate will never be given the green light without Tom’s cooperation—and so far, there is no other movie coming from the Patriots.  Oh, wait, we forgot about Gronk’s forthcoming USA film, American Violence, or his work with the late Alan Thicke in The Clapper, or with Eric Roberts and Steve Bauer in Deported.  His starring role in Divot, about golf, has yet to begin production.

No one can keep up with Gronk when it comes to movie rights.


Danny Amendola & Jeremy Meeks: Just too Sexy

DATELINE:  Catty on the Catwalk

Rough Trade     

Danny Amendola is in fine fettle and rather surprising company.

He embarked on a new twist to his stellar career as a Super Bowl winner and principal actor at the Victory Parade in Boston last week. Without Julie Edelman anywhere nearby, Danny was doing a cakewalk on the catwalk.

The New England Patriot with the buns of steel was a model at the Phillip Plein New York Fashion Week. He wore black leather, looking like rough trade, and studded earrings for that manly appearance. Alas, it’s the style most wanted when out for a night on Fire Island.

We could not help but wonder if Giselle Bundchen, Tom Brady’s wife, gave Danny a few pointers on how to do that power walk.

Making matters either better or worse was the company he kept as a model. You probably would recognize the other notable face and figure. He is Jeremy Meeks also known as the ‘Hot Felon.’ He’s the one with the piercing blue eyes, recently released from prison.

He became a media sensation for his mug shot last year. Now he is a working boy, strutting on the runway with Patriot winners. He’s definitely too sexy for his shirt.

And Danny is too sexy for his pants.

Hold on to your Super Bowl ring, Danny. Your pinky will be a target.

Danny looked like he was auditioning for the remake of Cruising, the old Al Pacino movie. He could’ve certainly worn backside open chaps at this show.  His buns of steel would have made him the star of the night.

Among those observing Danny and Meeks were Madonna, Paris Hilton, and Kylie Jenner, something for everyone.  Look for them at the Mine Shaft nightclub.

Hernandez Trial Has Day Off

DATELINE:  Be His Valentine and/or Witness


Alas, justice will be delayed one extra day.

Aaron Hernandez will be receiving a snow day from the Suffolk County Court.

Jose Baez has been begging the court for a delay, but this may not be quite what he wanted, but he will take every paid day off at his disposal. He claims he is overwhelmed by the 200 witnesses the prosecution plans to call. And, he can find no experts to testify on behalf of the former Patriot.

The long-awaited double murder trial for the former Patriot will commence on Valentine’s Day, not a week after his former teammates went on a million-fan march not far from the courthouse.

If Hernandez had not taken up the hobby of murder and witness intimidation, he too would have been kissing the Lombardi Trophy and matching Gronk, tattoo for six pack, when he doffed his shirt on the receivers’ float during the parade.

As it is now, Hernandez may have to doff his shirt in court so that the judge can determine if there is a confession on his bicep, tricep, or pec. We always thought he’d most likely confess on one of his glutes.

If there is one Patriot who disagrees with Bill Belichick, it is Hernandez who wants all the days off he can find. Belichick chanted, “No Days Off” at the Patriot rally last week.

There is no word is any of his former teammates plan to visit him at the trial—with the exception of those under subpoenas.

As for the new logo, “Blitz for Six,” to be forthcoming for the New England team, we believe that three dead is the final total, though he did try to kill at least one witness.

Jerseygate: Tom Brady’s Stolen Game Shirt

 DATELINE: Case Closed?

putin  Memorabilia Collector

In practice, Tom Brady’s #12 jersey is always red. That means you can’t tackle him, or hit him, or breathe on him if you have a cold.

The white game jersey he wore in the Super Bowl has been infamously reported as stolen. However, now, unconfirmed reports, aka fake news, are indicating the Texas Rangers have hit a great wall in their investigations.

No, not the Trump border wall: the evidence wall.

Cynics who decry the Patriots as cheaters have contended that a teammate of Tom took the jersey for his own aggrandizement. And, now, without an obvious lead, the story may die—unless a new theory proves accurate.

Tom ought to call Interpol about famous Patriot collector Putin.

Texas Ranger detectives claim now that the jersey was packed, quickly and unceremoniously by an unknown party, into an equipment truck that is not yet unloaded in Foxboro.

Can the Sherlockian case of the Missing Jersey already be solved? It would not be the first time a mysterious situation is being handled “in house” as they usually say.

If the truth is embarrassing and undercuts the legendary camaraderie of the team, you can bet your #12 Bobblehead that the culprit’s mea culpa will never reach the media.

It seems a violation of the natural gas law to discover Tom’s jersey disappeared into thin air.

When the story of a $500,000 sweat-equity jersey goes into lockdown, you know someone has buried the evidence.  When the mealy-mouthed media grow silent, and the Texas Rangers bail out, you know this case is closed.

Ryan Reynolds & Helen Mirren Fight for Klimt

DATELINE:  One of the Golden Girls


Ryan Reynolds is Harvard’s Hasty Pudding Man of the Year. He likely won because of Deadpool, but his far better movie of the year is Woman in Gold.

Lacking car chases, fights with super powers and other special effects, the film obviously has had a much smaller audience.

Co-starring with Helen Mirren as the niece of the woman in the famous Klimt painting, Reynolds is a nebbish attorney, grandson of Arnold Schoenberg.

As they confront the dubious art leaders of the museum, Mirren compares her lawyer to Sean Connery and James Bond—an era when technology and special effects supported a good plot.

The true story centers on the efforts of an aging refugee of the Nazi regime in Austria. She is trying to retrieve the $100 million painting that hangs in a Viennese museum. What she encounters are a bunch of crypto-Nazis.

Reynolds represents her as a favor to his mother, against his own law firm’s wishes. Mrs. Altmann feared traveling back to the place where her family died—and her nightmares and rush of memories emerge at every site.

A protracted court case, going to the Supreme Court of the United States, and ending with a hearing in Austria, wears on them. Mrs. Altmann wants to take her Aunt Adele (in the form of the art work) to the United States. Mirren seems a tad young to be a girl from the 1930s in Austria (story is set in 1997).

We will abstain from analyzing the painting, which may not be flattering at all.

A few marvelous actors adorn the film in golden cameos: Charles Dance, Jonathan Pryce, and Elizabeth McGovern.

In an age of cartoon/comic book tales, the gold Klimt image of Adele Bloch-Bauer may seem like a super-heroic woman—but it is her niece with the determination to finish a battle to honor Adele’s murdered family.

In De Palma of Your Hand

DATELINE:  Filmmaker Talks


DePalma with documentary producers

Brian De Palma went to college with Robert DeNiro and cast him as his principal actor in the early 1960s. In the narrative of his life, De Palma shows scenes with his the great actor. He also grew up as a director with names synonymous with great films: Coppola, Spielberg, Schrader, and Lucas. They were musketeers planning to take over Hollywood. And they did.

De Palma is worth more than watching his body of work.

De Palma was the most sensational of the bunch, making the greatest number of flops and memorable moments. He took chances and tried to follow as an acolyte of Hitchcock.

Yet, even in hindsight, Brian De Palma’s movies were overwrought, exaggerated, lacked subtlety that the Master of Suspense gave every film.

The derivative director of many pictures from Carrie to Obsession, from The Furies to the Untouchables, from Mission: Impossible to Dressed to Kill, from Scarface to Blow Out, he is remembered for excess. Brian De Palma will be the first to tell you his films were flawed, some through his own faults, others from circumstances.

He worked with all the great stars of his era: Michael Caine, John Travolta, John Cassavetes, Orson Welles, Tom Cruise, Kevin Costner, Sean Connery—and he relates honest and fascinating anecdotes about all of them.

He provides exegesis of his films—and works that influenced him, notably Vertigo.

In the final analysis, and likely his own opinion, he is the least of that bright generation of directors, his friends all. Yet, after failures, mistakes, and concessions to budgets, his oeuvre stands there without parallel.

You may not like his movies, but you will respect the director who made it a point to stay as true to his art as he could. This documentary spotlights a filmmaker’s lifetime achievement.

The Man Who Came to Trump’s Dinner

DATELINE: Mr. X Dines with Trump & Kraft


A mystery dinner guest has confounded the sports world.

President Donald Trump and his wife Melania hosted Japan’s Prime Minister and his wife. Also along for the dim sum is Patriots’ billionaire Robert Kraft.

Mr. Kraft’s date for the night is an unknown, burly man, presumed by most to be another member of the billionaire’s club.

The New York Times and even the New York Post were in the dark as to the man who came to dinner. In an effort to keep up the spirit of fake news, we believe we can offer some suggestions.

The highest authority informs us that it is not Tom Brady because Melania and Tom’s wife Giselle Bundchen will not stand for the same Polaroid.

We know too that the mystery man is not Martellus Bennett, LaGarrette Blount, or Devin McCourty who refuse to be in the same picture with President Trump.

We have ruled out any of the federal Circuit Court judges whose stupidity is well-known to President Trump.

It is possible this guest is the man supposed to pick up the dinner tab. However, sources are indicating that this unknown man is Donald Trump’s Official Food Taster.

This is a position that serves both in the National Security and in the Kitchen Cabinet. We have heard that he is not yet confirmed by the Senate, but he is on the job—eating up a storm before the President does.

Absence Goes to Twilight Zone


   In 2013 Stephen Mangan sees himself in a 1961 art film.

We came across an amazing British short film made in 2013.  It’s a 20-minute featurette entitled “L’assenza.”  That translates to The Absence.

A middle-class British couple watches what looks like an Antonioni film on television from 1961. This nugget gave director/writer  Jonathan Romney the great chance to make a satiric version of those existential Italian movies of the 1950s, whether by Pasolini, Antonioni, or Fellini.

The Italian movie is done with subtitles in glorious black and white with those arid, but rich, estates as the setting. The modern British couple is in color in their living room, later take in the movie at a revival house.

The wife alerts her apathetic husband that an extra looks just like him. The husband laughs it off as his “Uncle Aldo.” Yet, he becomes intrigued and researches the movie—to look for DVD copies (unavailable). He attends showings to learn his double is changing in every scene.

His curiosity becomes obsessive—and he must understand why the character, his Doppleganger, develops and begins to look out of the movie and directly at the young British viewer.  In all subsequent screenings, he finds his character has a more expanded role.

His wife grows alarmed when he stays up all night to see the movie again and again, or to go out to the cinema to hang on the mercurial plot instead of work.

The film is utterly hypnotic and is like discovering Antonioni’s lost sequel to Blow Up or L’Avventura.

When the husband learns of a special screening in Paris, he takes the night train across the Channel to enjoy multiple viewings in French—until that pesky Twilight Zone ending comes to delight us.

Of particular interest to film aficionados and those who enjoy an intellectual challenge (often found in those existential Italian films of the 1960s), L’assenza packs an amusing power.


Swiss Army Lunacy

 DATELINE: Dead Again

swiss-cheeseDaniel Radcliffe and Paul Dano

Since we complain endlessly about the lack of originality in Hollywood movies, and how we are subjected to remakes and sequels galore, how can we review Swiss Army Man? Let’s count the ways.

The film features what I can only recount as a tasteless exercise in movies. We recall Sir Ralph Richardson in a film in 1964 called Woman of Straw in which he dies and must be paraded around a cruise ship dressed up as though he were alive by his nurse Gina Lollobrigida.

Then, there was another tasteless series after Weekend at Bernie’s, in which dead Terry Kiser must be dressed and cavorted around the beach by Andrew McCarthy.

Of course, there is the seminal Trouble with Harry, the Hitchcock film about the dead body who keeps being killed by the cast.

Now we have Swiss Army Man—about Manny, a corpse who washes up on an island to become the playmate and companion of Hank. Manny is dead all right in the person of Daniel Radcliffe.

This time the animated corpse begins to converse and to protect his Gilligan-style friend. It seems to be the result of insanity and loneliness by Paul Dano’s character.

There are philosophical discussions about death and sex. The corpse, aptly limned by Radcliffe, uses his cheesy flatulence to act as a jet ski surfing the ocean—or even as a water purifier.

Tasteless and puerile certainly gives the film appeal to anyone with unrefined taste or under 16 years old. If your idea of wit is a growing homoerotic and necrophiliac relationship centering on the corpse’s erection, you may be in your element here.

As for us, old fogey types, we found the entire adventure not surreal, but exasperating.

Disinvitations Accepted by NE Patriots

 DATELINE:  Hell, No, Don’t Go!

Hynkel's Dance Partner 

We certainly have to admire the chutzpah of the New England Patriots.

After attending the largest New England rally for Donald Trump on Tuesday after the Super Bowl, a growing list of Pats are refusing to visit the White House. Hightower, Blount, White, Long, and McCourty, have set the bar of first refusal.

We find this all rather amusing. Tom Brady did not set the precedent when he refused to go to the White House to meet Barack Obama, but it has caught on.

As one who always declines invitations to go anywhere, especially the White House, we know the value of a pre-emptive strike. Your best plan is to decline any invitation you think you may receive in a long-shot.

Trump may only invite a half-dozen friends from New England over for a Rose Garden moment. That would be chummy.

It is always nice to be asked to a party, even if you have no intention of going.

However, when last we looked, the New England Patriots have not, as a team, been invited to go to the White House.

We recall when a historical moment at the White House had some intrinsic value, but that may be way before any of the current crop of players were born. You actually felt the invitation came from the nation as a whole, represented by the president as an individual.

Symbolic or emblematic value seems to have gone the way of Pat Patriot, the long ago image of the Patriots. He’s been replaced by the Flying Elvis symbol of the Kraft family.

We hope that Mr. Trump does not invite the new-fangled Pats to the White House, but instead tells them to take a flying Elvis off the nearest NFL stadium.