Magnum Magnus Magnet



He is the Mozart of Chess.  Starting at age 5, he showed a distinct streak of genius you may find in certain violinists, composers, mathematicians, and physicists.

Magnus Carlsen is a Norwegian icon of 21st century power .

His likeness has even appeared on The Simpsons as a challenger to Homer. However, it is best to learn all about Magnus in the 2016 documentary of his life. It is appropriately titled Magnus.

His father kept such home movies of the child, pre-adolescent, and teen, that we have an intimate portrait of a young man who is introverted, competitive and charming, despite a sullen streak.

He lives chess. In that way he is a parallel to the prodigy disaster of America, Bobby Fischer. Magnus will not fall into the Fischer trap. He is already a cottage industry.

He knows how to play the game, off and on the board. His match at age 13 with Gary Kasparov drove the Grandmaster slightly bonkers: he tortured himself over every move—and the kid took two seconds to respond.

At age 23 Magnus won media chops by playing ten masters, blindfolded, back to the boards, all at once at Harvard in 2013.

By memory of moves alone, he defeated each player. These are the kind of Barnum and Bailey stunts to guarantee cult following.

Magnus allows cameras to intrude on his withdrawn moments in which he shuts out all distractions—to the ceremonial honors he basks in, with a showman’s eye to what his job as a Grandmaster must be. Benjamin Ree puts together a remarkable film.

We think Magnus is more of Van Cliburn than Fischer. He is a media darling and shows no signs of crashing and burning like many introverted geniuses. The documentary of his young life and career is riveting and hypnotic. Take a look at this delightful documentary.

50% Chance of Snowden

DATELINE:  Paul Revere or Benedict Arnold?


Only the redoubtable Oliver Stone would dare to take a story filled with blanks and replace them with carte blanche in the political conundrum, Snowden.

Edward Snowden, former CIA and NSA operative, turned over a cachet of documents to the media—and now resides in Moscow as the Man without a Country, 21st century version.

Hero, scapegoat, or nutcase, Snowden leaves ambiguity in his personal wake, turned into whatever the reader wants to make of it. His wake is most desired by the military-industrial lobby.

We remain skeptical that a man with no formal education could rise to the top of American security. When asked about it in the film, he answers he is self-taught. He passed all those government aptitude tests with flying colors—which ought to raise a flag or two.

There is much to admire about Snowden—if we overlook his emotional problems treated with medications (but not enough to remove him from sensitive material).

We might agree his brilliant mind overwhelmed his mentors and teachers in the intelligence/oxymoron community. He seemed to lack a sense that he was surrounded by extremely dangerous people.

Oliver Stone always populates his film world with extraordinary performers like Timothy Olyphant, Nicholas Cage, Scott Eastwood, Rhys Ifans, Tom Wilkinson, and Zachary Quinto. They more than fittingly support Joseph Gordon-Levitt who can provide the proper sympathy for Stone’s central figure.

The actual Edward Snowden appears at the film’s end in Moscow, obviously giving credence and blessing to the project of Oliver Stone’s direction and writing.

If Snowden is the new Paul Revere, these nouveau redcoats will catch him sooner than later. Recent reports are that Putin may turn him over to Trump to curry favor with the new POTUS. The deadly forces of spy networks may never let it come to that if this movie has any currency.

Oscar Goes To Twilight Zone


doomsday twilight zone

It was an Oscar fiasco waiting for Trump jokes. But it was sidetracked by a trip to the Twilight Zone.

We correctly predicted the Oscars.

The movie we have not yet seen is Best Picture. Actually, both films announced as Best Picture are movies we have on our bucket list.

And the real winner is Moonlighting. We thought that was the TV show with Bruce Willis, but how wrong we were. This is a film about growing up in the ghetto (you were expecting Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?), and it is on our Netflix list for this week with a bunch of other nominees.

Rest assured, we have not yet seen Lala Land either. It was almost the Best Picture of The year. However, it had a couple of disadvantages going for it. First and foremost, it was about white people who sang and danced. We never heard of anything more racist. It was also about heterosexual love. Something we thought was totally out of fashion.

In case you didn’t hear, a geriatric tipsy actress announced the wrong picture as the best film. If you’re reading off a cue card, we can understand a mistake. However, when you open an envelope and misread, you have given functional illiteracy a boost.

Yes, the Oscars called on the geriatric versions of Bonnie and Clyde to steal the Oscar for Best Picture. And, they did a bang-up job of presenting the award to the wrong picture. This certainly gives Mr. Trump cause to ridicule the proceedings.

Apparently the notion of “re-take” in Hollywood is alive and clapping the clap-board.

As someone who used to live in Marblehead, Massachusetts, we were surprised to hear that Manchester-by-the-Sea is a downtrodden fishing community. It was always considered upscale out there. It was kind of a rich man’s Gloucester.

If you remember ancient movie history, Gloucester was where Spencer Tracy lived in Captains Courageous. Now Manchester by the Sea is where fellow Cantabrigian Casey Affleck lives in the new movies.

We now must return to our smartphone and Roku stick to watch the winner and almost winner of 2017 (and we are not referring to Trump and Clinton). Movie reviews will eventually follow.




And the Winner Is….not Oscar!

DATELINE: No Republicans Wanted


Dem Oscar funnies;  It’s not going to be a Grand Old Party!

Was there ever a time when Oscar was not political?

In the first Trump year, it may be more off-kilter than usual. What’s more, the movies don’t seem especially better in style, art, or matter. Politics tends to ground art into a mundane statement that may not survive once the age’s politics pass into oblivion.

If you thought that Blue Ribbon everyone was wearing was to honor Pabst Beer, you’d be out of touch.

Overrated actors and unseen motion pictures were praised. We usually use Oscar night to discover what films we should see before our neighbors.

Self-congratulations seem to be epitomized by a statuette shaped like Mr. Clean if he met Goldfinger.

If you were from a banned travel country, you were a shoo-in for this year’s short, international, best sounding movie featurette.

You could be right if you thought the best movies were made for television viewing—by download or streaming. We might even watch a good film on our smartphone. That way, the popcorn is much cheaper and we can go to the bathroom whenever we want by shutting off the movie.

If you have nothing good to say about President Trump, chances are you are sitting in the front row at the Oscar presentation, or have an aisle seat.

We always know ahead of time which movie will be best picture of the year: it’s the one we have not yet seen.

We thought the commercial for Feud: the story of Bette Davis and Joan Crawford looked like the best picture of the year.

Last Year at Carnival of Marienbad Souls

DATELINE:  Great Films Cross Paths

Last Year at Marienbad & Carnival of Souls on a Double Bill

Comparing two films released in mid-1962 may not be unusual.

The films come from different ends of the spectrum: one was made as a low-budget psychological horror film about death and ghosts—and the other was a high-end art film made in Europe by intellectuals.

Herk Harvey’s Carnival of Souls used the backdrop of an abandoned amusement park in the salt flats of Utah—and Alan Resnais’ Last Year at Marienbad featured the elegant milieu of a notable spa and hotel grounds. Each found the setting to be most unsettling.

Delphine Seyrig and Candace Hilligoss are beautiful, detached women caught up in a maddening free-fall into the world of spirit and nightmare. Each faces a dance of death: Hilligoss seeing the zombies waltzing in slow motion in a pavilion of yesteryear, and Seyrig’s waltz is in a slow motion ballroom of high society.

As both films were released nearly simultaneously in the spring of 1962, it is doubtful they knew of the other using a similar means to portray a traumatic event.

One film, artfully if not coyly, refuses to settle the score and claim it is about ghosts—and the other uses supernatural to convey the frightful experience. Neither film resorts to cheap theatrics and special effects. You are cast into a nightmare by following the journey to its end.

Each film has run its parallel course to cult status, admired and praised by all too few viewers. It has been fifty years since the movies came to the attention of audiences—one at drive-ins on double bills, and the other in lost art houses of foreign motion pictures.

Each deserves your attention repeatedly.

David Ortiz in the Glass Booth

DATELINE: Ortiz Unleashed


Fanboys and media mavens insist that retired Red Sox star David Ortiz should be in the broadcast booth this season.

As expected, Tom Werner– self styled media guru and Red Sox owner– has been hesitant to give an answer.

Ortiz says he wishes to work as a Sox commentator this season, and the Red Sox are coyly responding that he could be in the booth sporadically. Fans are putting their trust in the same group that fired Don Orsillo after so many years of loyal service.

If you’re putting your trust and Big Papi’s future in the hands of these benighted snakes in the grass, then you are likely to be disappointed. The Red Sox are more likely to send John Wilkes Booth after Ortiz than to put him in the booth.

The Red Sox broadcasting glass booth has suffered more than its share of brick-a-bats in recent years.

NESN, the Red Sox on the television network, is giving serious thought to putting Ortiz in the studio for analysis. At least that’s their story.

The problem with Ortiz is the Red Sox have no idea what he may say. If you remember his comments after the marathon bombing, they better have the censor button handy.

Ortiz hands out F-bombs like a fighter pilot.  That tends to make the Red Sox brass a little nervous. In an age when everything is scripted, especially sports ad libs, Ortiz is the most dangerous game.

Expect some kind of Midas-touch muffler on Big Papi to hold down the noise.

Fake Celtics News by Boston Media

DATELINE: Trading Off Media Fakersaging-ainge

Donald Trump would understand what Danny Ainge is going through.

Boston sports pundits and experts are raking aging Ainge over the coals because he made no trade at the NBA trade deadline on Thursday.

This is fake news at its worst.

Boston sports media maroons spend endless hours, speculating on inconceivable trades. They have done so for months. They use these fake stories, rumors, and speculations, to fill hours and hours of empty hot airtime on radio and TV.

Now, because there is no trade, the sports pundits begin to look like fools.  Heaven upend, they are fools.

Sports network pundits and their endless overpaid existence must be justified. Hence, there are brutal attacks on Ainge for not making a trade—and not making the alleged smart guys look smart. They want blood now, not a trade.

They are attempting to roil up the fans, lest someone note these emperors of airtime have no clothes.

We suspect Ainge has been burned by the Kendrick Perkins trade so many years ago. It undercut and devastated the chemistry of the Celtics team back then. Who can blame him for being cautious?

Boston has a team of interesting Celtics players, doing far more than anyone could expect. We always like to accept what is on the court and play with what we have, rather than not play at all.

Oak Island Curses Postponed Till Next Season

DATELINE:  Finally!


oak island

Eureka!   Or what passes for it on Oak Island. If you’re waiting for someone to die from the task of treasure hunting, tune in next season.

We have to offer our apologies again to the Lagina brothers of the reality show Curse of Oak Island. After four seasons, on the finale, they appear to have struck pay dirt, not mere payola from the ratings.

We don’t want to give away all the spoilers, but we can assure you that plenty of digging is left for another season.

Women finally showed up on Oak Island, and they proved to be most interesting.

In particular, we loved Dr. Lori, an archaeologist who knows her stuff from Penn State University. She brought good news on several occasions and brightened the show with her sharp energy. She dated material brought up from the dregs of 170 feet below the surface to the 1575 to the 1675 era.

It looks like Spanish galleon stuff stolen from Central American goldsmiths and lost empires.

You probably will get some pleasure out of seeing what they dig up after suffering many frustrating episodes over four years. We felt happy that the theories of 93-year-old Dan Blankenship have been supported –and he was there as a witness.

A few others, like Alex Lagina, son of Marty, were absent despite all his work for the past four years. And Marty goes all out to commend brother Rick if no one else will. Take that, you skeptical bloggers.

There’s nothing sweeter than self-congrats.

The amazing discoveries put a strong denial on our past charges of fake news.

Yes, it got quite interesting at the end of season four. We are left hanging from the yard-arm until next year, matey.



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 to 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.

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.


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.

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.