Post Traumatic Patriots Day

Wahlberg

DATELINE:  Boston Under Attack

On occasion, you encounter a movie that is a burden to watch, but you feel utterly compelled to stay the course as your patriotic duty. Such a film is Patriots Day.

We were in our hometown Boston when the horrific Marathon bombing occurred and lived through the four days of wall-to-wall TV coverage in 2013. It seems like living self-torture through post-traumatic stress to watch and relive the movie version produced and starring Mark Wahlberg. As a Bostonian, he wanted to be sure the movie had a Boston perspective.

It does, almost to a point of caricature, with accents flowering and scenes filmed mostly on location. Watertown residents preferred not to relive the mayhem in their backyards, and a different set was used for those climactic scenes of a Wild West shootout with two local residents turned terrorists.

If there is much to admire in this docudrama, police and detective work as well as FBI heroism is top of the list. In a matter of hours, starting from scratch, an entire operation and manhunt was created with tireless work from police, hospital workers, and citizens.

The film probably will best be seen years from now with more perspective on events, like the film Parkland about the Kennedy assassination, made 50 years after it happened. The raw nerves of the Marathon event are too fresh, still, to not feel abused again by what we know as familiar names and places and inevitabilities.

Hollywood fireworks are not missing here: as the shootout with the terrorists is stunning. Performances of J.K. Simmons, John Goodman, and Kevin Bacon, are appropriately underplayed. Red Sox star and local celebrity David Ortiz plays himself.

If any question remains, it is how to handle the people who were most unhelpful: Tamerlane Tsarnaev’s American wife and Dzokhar’s pothead UMass friends. Their reputations should be mud forever, according to this movie. We would say they got off far too easily.

Since this film may be the ultimate history lesson for viewers of the future, it stands as a moment in time, close enough to events, to ensure its accuracy. If we know anything from documentary history, it is that time dilutes, distorts, and changes the perception of the age’s Zeitgeist.

We think this one will pass the test of time.

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Who Was Heath Ledger?

DATELINE:  No Answers in I am Heath Ledger

 heath

Derik Murray has put together a series of “I am..” documentaries. They are intimate, unflinching, and hypnotic films about subjects with charisma and cult interest. Something went wrong along the way on this one called I am Heath Ledger.

So it is not surprising to find Heath Ledger being given the mythic figure treatment. He is no James Dean because he was filled with joie d’vivre and was a man with a cause and a mission.

Ledger said openly that he was on a mission to push his artistic feelings to the limit. He surrounded himself with his Australian friends from boyhood as an entourage for the most part, but there were no naysayers in the bunch. There was also no one to help him discipline himself. He was brilliant, a chess prodigy and potential major film director.

Going without sleep and pushing his physical limits, Heath Ledger was a whirling dervish of inspired talents. He was into music and film in particular, but showed unlimited artistic abilities. He took endless videos of himself, almost each snippet a movie in miniature. He was observing and teaching himself what reactions worked in a role.

He managed to improve with each role, but seemingly his happy demeanor hinted at a less satisfying deeper sense. His marriage fell apart, and he increasingly covered his beautiful body with tattoos. He used himself as a laboratory for life.

He spoke that he had limited time, like so many music and movie legends who went beyond before age 30. Was he prescient, or just a workaholic?

Heath left several stunning performances in Brokeback Mountain and The Dark Knight, but his colleagues do not line up to appear in this film tribute—only family and close friends are anguished and full of love.  Naomi Watts and Ang Lee speak about him, but the film turns on the achievements of his friends, rather than on Heath finally.

The spin of final repeated clips at the end of the documentary without words may be more telling as the film seems to spin away too.

 

 

Ancient Aliens Meets Curse of Oak Island

DATELINE: Cross-Pollination of History

We are always delighted when reality shows cross paths.

Take for instance Ancient Aliens and Curse of Oak Island. We were surprised to find the basic opening of Oak Island hijacked for the Ancient Alien episode about King Tut.

Apparently the curse of King Tut and the curse of Oak Island may be tied together by space aliens. This makes a grand opportunity to take the opening credits for Oak Island and weave them into the show on ancient alien theories.

This gives the Lagina Brothers of Oak Island a chance to do a guest starring role on another History channel show. Voilà, you have free publicity to transcend both series.

Mainly it appears that each curse, from Tut to Oak Island, has claimed seven lives. That’s the opening the Lagina reality show, which says a seventh person must die. Young King Tut has already gotten his seven.

According to Ancient Alien theorists, buried treasures have been cursed by aliens with technological incantations that send voice-activated electrocution bolts to interlopers. Whew. Who knew?

Ancient Astronaut theorists believe the Ark of the Covenant is hidden at Oak island. This ties into the stone tablets discovered in Tut’s tomb somehow.  How? Well, King Tut’s uncle, Thutmose was actually Moses, and he took the Ark out of Egypt. This theory came first from Sigmund Freud!!

The Ark contained an alien device of immense power. When it was discovered by the Knights Templar, they brought it to Oak Island.

Are you still there?

This explains the mystery stone discovered in the shaft of Oak Island as having properties of Ancient Egyptian curse tablets. This means the Ark with its extraterrestrial powers is buried on Oak Island.

We expect further pollination of shows when the tomb of Laura Palmer is discovered at Twin Peaks, proving she is a goddess of ancient Egypt.

Oh, you disbeliever. Curses, foiled again.

Franco & Quinto Canoodling

DATELINE:  Another Gay Role for Franco

canoodle

James Franco has played more gay characters than any other star this side of Franklin Pangborn, the 1930s character pantywaist for all occasions.

Franco surely has never admitted to being gay, but he has done every conceivable role from Allen Ginsburg to Hart Crane to King Cobra. Now he is taking another shot at docudrama playing a gay magazine editor married to Zachary Quinto (who is openly gay in real life).

This time Franco becomes so irritated with living in the wilds of Canada with his lover that he decides to go straight.

What? Yes, on the heels of the Matthew Shepherd murder, Franco’s real life editor decides it’s time for a change.

This movie will irritate both gay people and Christian fundamentalists. Gay life is played as lascivious, libertine, and drug addled, with Franco and Quinto in hot kisses. But, the dull Christian is even worse when Franco washes the henna rinse out of his hair and goes au naturel.

Will this film finally cure Franco out of playing gay roles on screen? Or will it scare him straight into the arms of another man in real life? Or at least admit it.

The answers are likely not in this picture of gay life from 1998 to 2008, and Michael the former gay man is not a role model for anyone. His transformation from firebrand of queer politics to turning his cheeks for God, is truly bizarre.

We think gay life is not stereotypical of the world of dance, drugs, and endless sex, but the world is easily turned from black to white in this movie.

The audience for I Am Michael may be limited to critical viewers who are gluttons for punishment.

 

 

Little Boy Lost in Lion

DATELINE:  Real Life Spiritual Journey

 Kidman and Sunny

Kidman with adorable Sunny Pawar

This international production called Lion may tap into the wide audience of movie fans in Australia and India with a true story that is reminiscent of classics like The Search with Monty Clift.

This time the lost boy, separated from his desperate and loving mother, is five years old and lost in a mass of humanity from New Delhi to Calcutta. After some brutal travails that are reminiscent of 19th century Dickens, he is adopted by acouplefrom Tasmania.

However, happy ever after is not in the script.

This also marks an interesting first for Nicole Kidman who adopts the little boy (Sunny Pawar)—and before she knows it, he is 25 and she is playing her first matron.

It happened to Mary Astor and Bette Davis with grace, and just a few short years after playing some of her most sensual roles, Kidman is into motherhood. There may be no looking back. She is, above all else, an excellent actress.

The trauma of the young boy seems to come back to haunt him as an adult. You can thank Google Earth for allowing him to conduct an armchair search of his geographical roots.

Because the story is all true, Saroo is a compelling figure both as a child and as Dev Patel in adulthood when his torment about his lost family becomes something that allows him to take charge of destiny.

The actual footage of in the post-script of the movie shows that Kidman’s role is not far afield of the adopting mother in the story. It will surely tug at your feelings as the young Indian’s spiritual journey is truly difficult emotionally.

When it comes to true stories, you can’t go wrong here. Since there are no lions in the story, you have to stick around for the closing to learn the reasoning behind the film title.

Twin Peaks, Trump Plains, & Celtics Lows

DATELINE:  LeBron James as Laura Palmer, Trump as D.B. Cooper

glowing orb

Chicken or egg? We can’t figure out if the Trump Administration has prepared us for the new series Twin Peaks, or whether Twin Peaks has prepared us for the continuing weirdness of the Trump presidency.

When we see President Trump putting his hands on a glowing orb, we know there is a conspiracy of billionaires to control the world. Of course, it is merely a futuristic ribbon-cutting scene from the most recent Star Wars movie. Either that, or it is opening a gateway to an alternate universe, like the plots of Twin Peaks.

By the same token, we feel as if watching the Cleveland Cavaliers with the Boston Celtics is like knitting by Madame Defarge while royalty is having their heads chopped off.

On Twin Peaks, agent DB Cooper has returned to the northwest after disappearing for 25 years. That David Lynch has such a sense of humor.  So far, McLachlan has not rubbed any glowing orbs, but has kissed dead Laura Palmer (Cheryl Lee).

On the Celtics, little Cousin IT (Isaiah Thomas) and AB (Avery Bradley) are from the same neck of the woods in Washington state which happens to be the setting for Twin Peaks. It could explain a lot about how the Celtics are playing like Laura Palmer’s body wrapped in plastic.

Even stranger, we were amazed to see Kyle McLachlan and Sheryl Lee looking just like they stepped out of a 1990s TV show.  It becomes even more amazing when David Lynch has to inject a phrase at the end of every episode of the show that the episode is dedicated to the memory of one of the cast members who is now dead. We mean really really dead dead, like the log lady Catherine Coulson and the FBI agent played by Miguel Ferrer.

As for the dead Celtics, they are merely playing in an alternate universe, sort of like Twin Peaks 25 years later. If there is a glowing orb in the NBA, they better start rubbing it now. Lebron is no Laura Palmer.

Twin Peaks Returns from the Dead

 DATELINE:  Will the Real Harry Truman Ever Show Up?

twin peaks

In the immortal words of James Cagney, “what have we got he-yah?”

Yes, Twin Peaks has returned after 25 years. For a story that hinged on a murder of a lead character who is dead from the first moment, we find the new show starting with long-dead Laura Palmer in flashback telling Agent D.B. Cooper that she will see him again in 25 years.

That marvelous opening music is back.

Well, he-yah we are.

It doesn’t take long for the Lunacy to set in.  Director David Lynch clearly is ready for his old series to begin afresh. Dead actors are as apparent has dead characters. All you can do is hold on for as long as possible, until vertigo sets in or a bad case of dyspepsia forces you to give up.

Lynch has made very few films over the past 10 years but now in one season, he’s going to do the equivalent of nine feature films. However, he clearly is enjoying himself.

You will see A glass box under observation by three cameras controlled by a mysterious billionaire not named Trump. You will find two dead bodies mismatched in a bed. You will find the magnificent Douglas firs of Twin Peaks echoing like the towers of New York City with wind between them. Lynch can do things like that.

The series Twin Peaks has now reached cult status in mythical terms. It was always a cult show from its opening moments 25 years ago. Now it is off the charts. For 18 hours.

If you’ve never seen the show, you will be as confused as anyone who has seen all of the early episodes from the original two-year run 25 years ago by the end of the first hour.

The best we can do is monitor the situation and present you with updates. You can’t spoil anything that’s based on rot setting in. Fear not.

Everywhere a Movie Set in La-La Land

DATELINE: Movie Myths in Song & Dance

lalla land

 

You may remember La La Land as the film that won the Oscar for five minutes. It was a mistake, for sure. We aren’t sure if the film is supposed to be a take off, or a throwback, or just to feel good old-fashioned musical. It may be much more.

La la Land is some mystic, mythic American place where gridlock results in a mile-long sing-along.  If this is your cup of tea, stay out of Starbucks. If you love movies, this has more movie references than a Mel Brooks comedy. Yet, this one is a romantic gem.

Director Damien Chazelle manages to squeeze everything from Fellini’s 8 & a Half to Rebel without a Cause into his film, while resonating Gene Kelly’s American in Paris.

Ryan Gosling’s character wants to single-handedly save jazz for a new generation—and Chazelle does too. We thought there must be a trick to Gosling’s piano performance, which is bravura at the least. He sings and dances too.

Emma Stone’s eyes may be reminiscent of Bette Davis, but she is show busy to the nth degree. Attention, movie fans, we have a movie here, right down to the fluorescent green drapes out of Vertigo.

Dreams in La-La Land may be achievable—but at great cost, though the journey is richly detailed in this hypnotic movie.

The last musical we enjoyed was A Chorus Line, which we saw a dozen times because our friend Jimmy Kirkwood wrote it. He loved show biz stories too, and this would have grabbed him.

Though this movie missed out on its big Oscar, it’s the sort that will live in legend and re-telling and re-viewing in the generations to come. You cannot miss this film and call yourself a fan of Hollywood, jazz, or creative impulse.

TB12’s A-M DB 11

DATELINE: Tom Brady to Carpool to Work?

TB12's A-M DB 11

Just when you thought it was safe to drive to work during the early morning commute, you learn that Tom Brady is having a custom-made Aston-Martin fitted to his own design specifications.

This sort of transportation transcends the Mini-Cooper and even our own BMW.  Aston Martin will pay Brady some unspecified amount to endorse their low-budget $212,000 cars (options extra).

This certainly makes Peyton Manning’s pizza deal of a lifetime of pepperoni look like anchovies under glass.

In a world of have nots and Trump-level billionaires, Tom Brady is casting his lot with the X-press Way of La Dolce Vita. He will not be allowed to commute to Foxboro from Brookline in the express lane unless he carpools with Julie E.

We don’t see that happening. Julian Edelman lives in Foxboro, not toney Brookline.

A friend of ours met Tom some years ago when he was not far removed from being a sixth round draft pick.

He and my friend met at one of those Cape Cod charity events when Tom watched as our friend had his red MB SLK 320 roof slide into the back seat.

Tom was agog, and said: “I need to get one of those.”

How times have changed.

He can now afford three of those Mercedes to one Aston Martin DB 11.  When Tom pushes a button on his new A-M, the entire car folds into the back seat.

And we were going to tell him to buy Aaron Hernandez’s used assassin 4-Runner Deathmobile SUV for sentimental reasons. He’s outdone us again.

 

 

 

 

Long Forgotten Executive Action

DATELINE:  Believe It or Don’t

 action

One of the most unusual of the early theoretical movies on the Kennedy Assassination was called Executive Action from 1973, a mere ten years after the event.

Already big questions had sparked big movie stars like Burt Lancaster, Robert Ryan, and Will Geer, as well as John Anderson (often chosen to play Abe Lincoln in movies and TV) as billionaire conspirators who want the President dead.

They select a patsy who is some kind of covert double agent. His name is Oswald.

Though the film claims to be somewhat fictional, it quotes Lydon Johnson at the movie start as saying he believed that John Kennedy was killed by an unknown group. This movie, made with the participation of early assassination doubter Mark Lane, is fairly courageous and breath-taking, even after five decades.

We must also express surprise at the stars who chose to play the men who want President Kennedy dead.

The film is no cheap, low-budget affair. It is well produced and directed by David Miller who made some interesting movies in the 1950s and was written by Dalton Trumbo, the famous blacklisted writer.

This returned Grandpa Walton to the bad guy roles that made him famous early in his roles, and Will Geer is notably sinister. This was also Robert Ryan’s final film.

The angles, once thought to be outrageous, have become more acceptable in recent research. The film may not be a genuine biopic or docudrama in the sense of trying to achieve 100% truth, but this may be closer than anyone thought back in the 1970s.

More than a curio, this film is downright compelling to watch.

Antidote to Perry Mason and Precursor of Law & Order

DATELINE:  The Defenders

son & father defenders

The precursor to Law & Order, and arguably the best legal show ever on television, The Defenders has finally come to DVD with its first complete season. Back in 1961, you had a choice of two shows going head to head: Perry Mason with Raymond Burr—and the more socially conscious, New York-filmed show with E.G. Marshall and Robert Reed as his son.

Back in those days Reed played Ken Preston, and was considered an up-and-coming dramatic star. You may wonder why he chose to move into sit-com after seeing him here. E.G. Marshall was an unusual lead character, a highly paid lawyer who often gave bad advice or even made a bad decision. Unlike Mason, Marshall’s Preston even lost cases often.

The show remains remarkable, topical, and intelligent, ready for discovery by a generation that likely never heard of it. However, they will know the guest stars. It reads like a litany of New York stage actors and movie stars in their early days.

In the first few episodes, the show tackled mercy killing, traumatic stress disorder, multiple personalities and legal insanity, and drug addiction. It shocked audiences of the early 1960s.

It also gave many actors a chance at a serious television drama in the wake of the Golden Age of anthology shows. You will see Gene Hackman and Jack Klugman in one drama, another with 1930s character actor Frank McHugh and Western star Clu Gulager. Also on tap is Frank Gorshin playing a nightclub imitator of movie stars with multiple personalities—one who has committed murder.  And, almost in premonition of his future as the father of the Brady Bunch, Robert Reed plays opposite 9-year old Richard Thomas in his pre-Waltons days.

A prison show featured an unbilled Godfrey Cambridge and a costar Ossie Davis with Gomer Pyle’s Frank Sutton as a psychotic rioting prisoner.

The first season is now available, but future seasons were considered even higher quality by viewers. This is a treat that should not be missed by Law & Order fans—and those who appreciate solid drama. And, E.G. Marshall was always marvelous.

Tom Brady & Trump Face Inflategate

DATELINE:  More Fake News or Inflate-gate 

 Trumped

Tom Brady’s wife, Gisele Bundchen, has just hammered the quarterback with the Madden curse. If you don’t have enemies, your wife may be just as good as a substitute.

Maybe bachelorette Julian Edelman knows something he should have explained to Tom.

With supermodel Giselle’s announcement of Tom’s unreported and secret concussions over the years, she has made more trouble for him than actual concussions.

There’s nothing worse than a latent headache. You can bet the NFL will now subpoena Brady and hire a special researcher.

Before the new 2017 season begins, Tom will be under investigation for covering up medical injuries. Will we learn that he has a private Russian doctor recommended by President Trump? Has the FBI enough agents to send a few to locate Tom Brady’s secret medical file?

Since Roger Goodell has seen the light of brain disease associated with football, he now has more reason than ever to stop Tom Brady’s career dead in its tracks. There’s nothing more exciting for Goodell than to beat a dead horse. His favorite derby nag is Tom Brady.

We are now convinced that Tom Brady’s showboating by smashing a mirror and walking under a ladder were signs of concussive behavior. He had brain lock.

If this is not the same as a Madden Curse, this scandal will do until a good one comes along.

Tom and his representatives are not issuing a statement. The Patriots are not issuing a statement. Bill Belichick is not issuing a statement.

Tom’s only comments today: he wished LeBron James and Isaiah Thomas good luck in their playoff extravaganza. It was Big Papi sitting courtside, not Tom Brady. Tom will have another day in court.

Tom will have to hide from the press about as much as former FBI Director James Comey. Questions abound and rebound.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Concussion-gate Rivals Trump-gate

DATELINE: Move Over, Watergate and Deflategate

 duke & duchess of Foxboro

Not tonight, dear. He has a headache.

Like his friend Donald Trump, Tom Brady has a big headache.

No, it isn’t James Comey. It’s Tom’s wife, Giselle Bundchen. The superstar model gave an interview in which she announced Tom had a concussion this past season on the road to the Super Bowl.

In fact, she said he had many concussions over the years. Uh-oh.

This was news to the NFL and Roger Goodell as well as the Players Union. There are rules about medical reports and who can play if he is concussed.

Goodell never ducks an issue like concussions, and now Giselle has given him another shot at Tom’s head.

You know there is trouble when the doctor who was played by Will Smith and blew the whistle on concussions in the NFL has called Giselle heroic.

Tom may have another word for her.  We may now see who wears the pants on the runway at Tom’s house.

Trump could fire Comey, but Tom may be up the creek with Giselle and her half-billion-dollar bank account. The Patriots are staying mum on Tom’s children’s mum, but we know that Jose Baez will be the first to offer his services if Concussion-gate gets messy.

We think Julian Edelman may have to recuse himself, and we aren’t sure if Bill Belichick will be subpoenaed to appear before Congress.

The Patriots may need to ask for a second opinion before the man with the Fountain of Youth admits he has feet of clay.

 

Shot Down by History Channel

DATELINE:  Disinvited and Unvisited

Not faked

Just two weeks after airing the first episodes of their series JFK Declassified, the reprehensible History channel has pulled the show. It’s the ultimate political shell game.

That essentially means it has gone into hiatus limbo.

Though the show was mercilessly criticized for a variety of reasons, not the least was dubious history, and most often cited as having the most egomaniacal host, Bob Baer, the show has gone, disappeared like the gunman on the grassy knoll.

Okay, okay, we were in that chorus of boohoo despisers of the fake news that the CIA is feeding us fifty years after the death of the murdered president.

Yet, there is something unseemly about the way this has been handled.

History has killed the show leaving four unaired episodes. When they will appear may be as certain as the trajectory of a magic bullet.

They could show up in a month, or a year. Or never.

Leave to History to shaft their viewers. A few may have enjoyed seeing another theory, no matter how half-baked or made to order to exonerate the CIA.  Now, they will not have any satisfaction.

Perhaps it is better to be infuriated and disappointed than to have nothing. It is an appalling mistreatment of the audience and viewers of that cable lightweight, History.

Single handedly they have gone for broke on destroying anything legitimately resembling documentary.

If you want to know who killed Cock Robin, or even JFK, you might look to the people who have killed history for a profit. They run the History channel.

 

 

Tom Brady’s Get-Rich Scheme

DATELINE: Co-starring Julian Edelman

 home Tom & Julie at home

The Boston Convention Center will be hosting an event on June 8 to guarantee Tom Brady will get richer quick. You will have your wallet deflated instantly.

Yes, the improbable Tony Robbins has roped in the Patriots star, and his sidekick, Julie Edelman, as guest speakers at his money-making extravaganza.

For $3000 you will receive priority check-in, which means Homeland Security will laugh at you. You will also have lunch in the Diamond Lounge, but Tom and Julie will be long-gone by then.

For $3000 you will sit in the Diamond Stage area and have a meet and greet with Tom and Julian. If you chose the $200 gold seats, you will be so far away from Tom that he couldn’t throw a pass to you with a bazooka.

This is billed as a “Systematized wealth plan.” Indeed, someone will be making big bucks off your ticket. And don’t ask for a refund. They claim you will love the event, but there are no money back guarantees. If Tom comes down with dyspepsia and misses out, so will your credit card.

How long will Tom speak? Our guess is about as long as the zeros in Tom’s bank account.

You will also receive Tony Robbins’ new book, which will be on the remainder table at Amazon in about a month.

We have learned that Julian has written a children’s book.  Beware, mom. It’s about a squirrel named Jules who collects big nuts. Most of them will be at this event.