Gothic Lunacy: Lord Byron’s Party

DATELINE: A Dark & Stormy Movie

 

Polidori, Shelley, and Byron, aka Spall, Sands, and Byrne

 

If you want to learn about the dark and stormy night in 1816 that resulted in the creation of Frankenstein and Dracula by Lord Byron’s pals, you might look elsewhere.

Ken Russell’s hothouse and nuthouse movie about Percy and Mary Shelley and Lord Byron is pure Gothicnonsense. As was the style of Russell back in 1987, you had a psychedelic version of biography and history. It is not satisfactory.

The cast is somewhat exemplary:  Gabriel Byrne as lame Byron, Julian Sands as pretty Shelley, Timothy Spall as off-putting Dr. Polidori, and Natasha Richardson as demure Mary! Wow, you almost expect the acting alone will carry the film.

However, the director hijacks every moment and even has cast members chewing on rats. We thought the film turned into that rat-festival moviel, Willard.And, inexplicable pythons wrap around suits of armor. Yep, it’s Ken Russell.

Instead of a dark and stormy night where these highly creative people choose to write great books, we have a literal ghost story. The demons are really around every corner. You almost feel sorry for the servants who basically take a powder during the latter part of the movie to avoid these koo-koo birds.

The summer without sun inspired the writing of Frankenstein and Dracula. Byron took credit for Polidori’s work, and Byron couldn’t write prose. The stepsister of Mary is around for crazy moments in which the sexual peccadilloes of the characters is tested.

We have more than your usual homoerotic connections between the men, including some fairly passionate kisses, but Julian Sands was never prettier. Gabriel Byrne seems to have bigger breasts than the women stars. Timothy Spall is actually slim.

The film becomes increasingly erratic and difficult to watch, as befits what did in the style of Ken Russell ultimately. We had hoped to see something truly fascinating, but not quite on the level of a train wreck.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stonehenge Secrets on Ancient Aliens

DATELINE: Going in Circles

For the seventeenth episode of this highly segmented season, Ancient Alienstackles in depth the ancient monument of Stonehenge, built, no surprise, by aliens or their stand-ins.

Of course, over the years, they have done bits and pieces on the topic. Now, they are putting full focus on the location that they now report is a hotspot of UFO activity, showing an unidentifiable spot in the sky that they claim is a flying saucer.

They also tease viewers with the idea that the builders of Stonehenge have “vanished,” which sounds a great deal like Roanoke Island colony, which is the following show on History Channel. There are no accidents on History’s network.

This week featured more hopscotch than usual, both in terms of logic and logistics. Our British theorists took over travel around their own country, keeping those pesky Americans out of the area:  even Brit Nick Pope was relegated to studio duty.

The ancient theorists contended that there were many, many stone circles all around the globe, many predating the Stonehenge (which is a mere shadow of its original self), coming in at 75% destroyed.

It seems other circles are twice as old—and the heavy stones could have been transported by a race of giants whose DNA record has disappeared. How and why, you may well ask.

It seems the quartz crystals when compressed create a kind of electro-magnetic energy, meaning you needed heavy stones of a certain kind in a tight circle. This might be the means to create portals by which to travel. This is all reminiscent of the Nazi Bell circle (which no one brought up).

We also wondered why they had spaceships if they only needed to make magnetic portals by which to flee earth.

The show never addressed some of these questions but did note that crop circles were telling us how to recreate the lost technology of stone circles.

If you ask us, we have been going in circles for quite some time.

 

Roanoke: Where Did All the Flowers Go?

DATELINE: Closer than an Old Map

Zachary Quinto tackles the lost settlement of Virginia in Colonial times.  It’s like Plymouth decided to pull up stakes and not have Thanksgiving. Roanoke was the first real town in the new world of English outgrowth:  and they bailed.

In Search of….turns it high sonar spotlight on an entire community in the middle of a hostile wilderness that disappeared because there was no mass communication, no way of keeping in touch.

It’s not the biggest mystery in the pantheon, nor the most important, but it holds tight to a small corner of the “lost” market. Once again, owing to production timetables and in an effort to afford Quinto, he is absent from the episode, short of standing before a screen image.

His compelling narration remains the key to the show. He delineates theories about how the problem of 1587 started and grew into a catastrophe in the making: colonists were stranded in a location that never intended to settle, and they were not sufficiently supplied. Hostile natives also seemed a problem. Over 100 people simply vanished, but coastal erosion may have erased their original fort home.

Three years later, a supply mission found them all gone, their settlement dismantled, and one cryptic message carved into a tree: letters CRO hinted at another location, as if they left a roadmap to their move.

It appears the inhabitants for unknown reasons may have moved to an earlier sieged fortress called Site X, or southward to more friendly natives at Cape Hattaras. As real historical research is depicted, we continue to have one of the brightest of all TV documentaries in this series.

The oldest missing persons cold case turns ultimately to DNA technology to discover there are descendants of English and native bloodlines who still live in that area. Case almost closed?

 

 

 

 

 

Who Was Paul Walker?

DATELINE: Short, Full Life

If you were not a fan of the action series Fast and Furious, you likely never saw actor Paul Walker appear in a big movie. Oh, you likely saw him grow up on TV, as he was a child actor in commercials and series guest roles. He was absolutely stunning to look at from the earliest age.

This documentary titled I am Paul Walker is another in a series of biographical films to study  flashy stars who died prematurely.  This entry presents us with someone you might enjoy knowing.  He was easy-going, charming, beautiful to look at, with a sense of adventure (swimming, surfing, fast cars).

The film is hagiography, without a critical bone, but what’s to criticize except the hideous monster called Fate?

The film is an homage, and really is a family photo album. His brothers and sisters, as well as parents, all devout Mormons, are as all-American as apple pie. They can be angry and have a short-fuse, or so they tell us, but their gleaming smiles and bright eyes belie that assessment. His brothers are just as handsome as Paul. His friends are like brothers.

With an abundance of videos, photos, and film clips, each more intensely picturing Paul, you have a valentine, not a movie.

Paul may not have been Olivier, but he did what he did quite convincingly and with commitment. One of his earliest boosters was actor Michael Landon.

Yet, no one points out that he was robbed of childhood by a stage mother, no matter how sweet she is, who was behind his every audition. Of course, he was always called back: he was a head turner.

Since the film puts most focus on his intense relationships with other men, it comes as a shock that fathers a child out of wedlock, and out of the Varsity Blues. Life with Paul was Pleasantville.

How could you not fall in love with him? He was a surprise and delight at every turn.

As a daredevil surfer boy, he grew into a humanitarian and amateur marine biologist, fascinated by the white sharks that surrounded his favorite surfing haunts. He used his wherewithal to help Haitian earthquake victims—and visited there. He was unconventional and ultimately transcended his outward beauty.

His death in a fiery car crash put an end to potential just starting.

Another Oak Island Fake Documentary

 DATELINE: Kidding the Kidder?

The second attempt to whet the appetite of the fans for the seventh season of Curse of Oak Island proves to be a phony countdown. Here are the 25 most likely theories about the what explains the mystery on the island.

This list of “top” items has no particular logic to it.

How does it differ from the top 25 moments on the series? Well, it all covers the same ground, atop and underneath.

This gives the series host a bunch of short bridge moments between three or four-minute segments. These rehash topics are not in any sense of urgency or chronology, as presented by Matty Blank, er, Blake.

In fact, the oldest theories about what happened on the Nova Scotia island may be the earliest and oldest items: like this is the treasure of a couple of dubious pirates: Captain Kidd or Sir Francis Drake. As we recall from our 33rddegree Mason great-uncle who went up there every summer from the 1920s to the 1960s, this was the common belief of residents.

To lesser extent, there was a belief that Marie Antoinette’s jewels may be there, or Shakespearean folios hidden by Sir Francis Bacon.

Recently the show has bought forth a bunch of neo-experts, including Travis Taylor (he brought the star map theory), or people who believe that the Aztecs reached up to Oak Island where Spanish conquistadors put the Mexican treasure,

Don’t expect answers: after all, they want you to tune into their best kept secret shows that begin in a few weeks. You will be teased with Columbus and Washington as potential treasure plotters.

Hang in there, fans, (or as Matty Blake calls you–“Acorns”) but these alleged hook shows are really counter-suspense and point-killers.

 

 

Air Force One is One Fat Half-Wit

DATELINE: Ford Trumps Lincoln

 Prez Ford Shoots from Hip

Can it be that Trump thinks he is Harrison Ford in the hilarious presidential/terrorist movie called Air Force One?

Delusion takes many forms: for a fat old man to see himself as an idealized President Harrison Ford may not be a stretch for Mr. Trump. Here’s a president who goes off script in public speeches, much to the shock of his aides.

Ford’s president is no Gerald and no Lincoln. He orders outrageous tactical attacks on the Ukraine in conjunction with the Russian president! In 1997’s now sentient movie about the future of the American presidency should give everyone a nightmare.

Gary Oldman shows up with a suspicious crew in Moscow who plan to board Air Force One and do mayhem. Back at the White House, Vice President Glenn Close and Secretary of Defense Dean Stockwell are at loggerheads. The U.S. government is run by buffoons. Most of the movie takes place in mid-air: They are on a jet flying around, but there is not even the hum of an engine in this aircraft.

Within a matter of moments, the terror team has fairly much wiped out the highly trained and highly touted Secret Service aboard the aircraft. Hmmm. This is not a high recommendation for American protection service. We suppose most people tell themselves that it’s only a movie meant to give Harrison Ford some heroic moments.

Since this film takes place in the years right before 9-11, there is something creepy about a stolen plane filled with hostages about to fly into some kind of explosive crash.

Of course, the POTUS here is a Medal of Honor winner who was a hero in Vietnam: no, it’s not John McCain, but it isn’t exactly Trump. However, the President is surrounded by a bunch of cowering bureaucrats or power-grabbing traitors.

In one ridiculous moment, the President must cross fuel line wires to dump fuel: we figure this is realistic because Trump crosses wires daily. As a stable genius, we presume Trump can also fly Air Force One.

It is a cynical view of entertainment.

 

 

Bill Gates Joins the Epstein Denial Club

DATELINE: LOL Lolita Express!

 Yuck or Yikes?

Lest we stir up a hornet’s nest of billionaire idiots, we want to castigate Bill Gates right out of the gate.

This week we learned that this richest man on earth type is either an idiot or thinks we are idiots. He denies he was a friend (close or otherwise) of pedophile suicide Jeffrey Epstein.

The frequent flier mileage and chronic visits to Epstein were all strictly for philanthropic reasons: not personal and not business.

Gates does write to a friend that he met a beautiful woman and her young daughter at Epstein’s manse and decided to spend the day. Hunh?

This is like Trump saying that he knew Epstein liked women, especially younger ones, and they shared that interest. Grab’em while they’re hot.

Nowadays, with money to revise history, these billionaire bozos are hiring PR men and women to whitewash the facts.

How illiterate are these clowns?

That seems to be the only excuse: each, even President Clinton, flew on Epstein’s rock and roll private jet, dubbed “Lolita Express.”

Not one had the literary acumen to recognize Nabokov’s pedophile object of desire. Not one asked why the plane was named after a pre-pubescent girl. Not one had seen the two movies on the subject, yes, titledLolita.

How lacking in curiosity can they be? Enough to know that ignorance is bliss; deniability is paramount in the world of billionaires trying to get away with murder, suicide, and pedophilia.

We have had our fill of dumb-bunny, Playboy bunny-loving rich dopes. Go to the back of the line, Gates and Trump.

Part Two of Nessie, In Search Of…

DATELINE: Sticking Your Neck Out?

 No Pencil Neck Geeks!

 All wrong, Nessie!

When you have a good one, you beat that horse to death—again. Or, in this case, that Nessie. In Search of…continues its highly impressive probe into the depths of an idyllic loch of Scotland.

Again, Zachary Quinto is around as a narrator, but does no visit to the site.

However, there is now no doubt after the second part that this may be the best, most revealing documentary ever made on the Loch Ness Monster. In fact, the careful building of a profile, in an FBI mode, turns out to show the creature does not have a long neck and may have gills, accounting for so few sightings.

On top of that, they find a similar creature washed up on an island near Scotland in 1808—around the time a canal was built alongside a shallow riverway leading to the Loch. This means the creature had now a highway to follow salmon into the loch.

A scientist disproves the notion that this monster has a neck that can break the surface: it may be more akin to a sturgeon or shark in shape.

It means the migratory pattern of going from Sweden to Scotland is enhanced. It also indicates the creature’s cyclical appearances mean it is not thee annually but may come with a decade lapse.

They have visited the loch in a good year—and armed with new information, go under the frigid surface, 150 feet below to meet up fleetingly with something.

If you are curious or are a Nessie fan, there can be no more heavenly dive than Quinto’s two-part show.

 

 

 

 

 

Alien Gray Matter? Mind Your Alien Brain!

DATELINE: Light Thinking on Ancient Aliens

 

When Ancient Aliensdecides to tackle the issue of psychic energies, there is an obvious blame game: those ancient space travelers came to earth 200,000 years ago and turned on the switch for the “neocortex” in the human brain.

 

Then, they completely undercut the theory by examining the cryptic, obscure, inconclusive predictions of Nostradamus. Their explanation for his lack of clarity (though they give him lots of credit) is that he was protecting himself from witchcraft charges and being burned at the stake. It’s around the same time that Leonardo da Vinci had the same problem.

However, the show is on firmer ground when it examines the validity behind psychic research with the discovery in 1935 of ESP.

The information about the differing methods of communications is intriguing: they specifically discuss precognition as looking at the future (as do all good soothsayers) but dismiss more quickly a look at past events (which may be post-cognition).

The show is more interested in the sensational stuff: like moving objects by brain power. These talents were given to all, but only a few select people (perhaps abductees?) are having their neocortex switched on.

Another intriguing examination is the notion that light photons emitted by the human body is a form of telepathy on which communication or messages may be received or sent. They use Biblical examples to illustrate how prophets often are glowing with knowledge.

Again, replacing the Akashic Record with something now called the Holographic Universe, the series insists that past, present, and future, are all stored in a place that is accessible.

And, the show comes full circle with Nostrodamus predicting that humans will migrate to other planets for survival.

 

 

 

 

 

Murnau & Max: Life & Death Struggle

 DATELINE: Noserferatu-too much?

Has it been twenty years since Willem Dafoe took on the role of Max Schreck as Nosferatu? And, John Malkovich played the great German director. Shadow of the Vampireis meant to be film history, horror in cinema, and ultimately docudrama to end all vampire tales.

It was like watching Burton and O’Toole in Becket in some kind of twisted duo version of clash of titans. They quibble like Fredric March and Spencer Tracy in Inherit the Wind.Yes, their screen confrontations are on this level.

Is it comedy, satire, or history? Perhaps it is all rolled into one silent screen classic, as the original depicted shadows over substance. You may laugh at the foibles of movie makers.

Unable to film Dracula, Murnau, the Herr Doktor of cinema, filmed on some remote location where an unknown actor, of Stanislavski Method, turned himself into a real vampire. Or did he?

The conceit of the movie is that Max was no actor, but a real creature of death whom Murnau located.

The film is looney in its hilarity. When Max misbehaves on the set, F.W. Murnau denies him makeup.  When Max Schreck begins to eat the cameraman, the two come to one of their marvelous argumentative scenes. Dafoe clicks his fingernails like a castanet and watches sunrise on film, moving us behind the hideous makeup. You can’t have a film like this without Udo Keir as well.

Two temperamental creatures want to make a movie to last for all time: and they do! Nosferatu’s spirit is captured in this behind-the-scenes account, however falsified or dramatized.

The ending is spoiled, purely preposterous, with Murnau directing the ultimate mass murders.

It’s koo-koo bird stuff, but dreams can be made of that too.

Removing Another Satiric Barb

DATELINE: Un-wigged!

 Scalp Problem?

We see that a TV graphic headline has been called “racist,” and we thought how terrible. Then, we saw what the offensive words were: They alluded to the Atlanta/Boston/Milwaukee Braves and the situation of losing a playoff berth. Now, we have for some time thought that naming teams after Native Americans—or, as racists call them, Indians, whether they are from Washington, D.C., Cleveland, or Boston (where the Braves originated) is dicey.

We were never sure what Indians they referred to in Boston. It could be that Braves are simply people with courage, though young Native American warriors were called Braves. It was sort of like ‘grunts” or “GIs” in another framework.

So, Indian and Redskin are harder to justify. If this seems like a hairy tale, you will be forewarned to avoid head-hunters.

Back to the point of the racist claim: it struck us as a play on humor and defeat. It is known that some brutal Indian raids resulted in “scalping” of victims. This was not necessarily an action limited to Native Americans but was a kind of trophy hunting.

To say the Braves were “scalped” seems rather oxymoronic. Who did the scalping? People who sell tickets to games outside a venue?

We seem to have entered a world in which words have either lost their meaning or have become metaphoric bonfires of the vanities.

If this full lobotomy assault continues on satiric wordsmiths, we shall soon be de-fanged, de-clawed, and shorn of our satirizing locks. In a crew cut mode, we may not again use Scalpicine on our collective itchy head. Sign language could also be offensive to Native Americans, to which we raise a well-placed finger in response.

Joan Crawford as Faye Dunaway as Mommie Dearest

 DATELINE: More Like Twin Peaks?

 

Is it Joan or is it Memorex?

 

Where does one begin? Where does one end up? You could put this movie on the end of Joan’s long career—or did that happen when Feud hit the miniseries on TV forty years later? Mommie Dearest is now streaming on Amazon Prime.

Mommie Dearest is child abuse taken to levels not seen until Jeffrey Epstein chose to play the role in a Manhattan playhouse.

The twisted tale of Christina Crawford and her adoptive mother is one for the cautionary ages.

You may half expect the dead Joan Crawford to jump out of her coffin and continue to terrify the world. Was she a monster?

Bring us the axe but leave the wire hangers. We want to be objective.

Suffering the strains and stresses of aging would destroy any movie queen but being fired by Metro and re-inventing herself as a tough, savvy career woman, Joan Crawfish seems to deserve all rotten tomatoes that are tossed at her.

Our dear friend Jim Kirkwood, actor and writer of novels like Good Times/Bad Timesand There Must be a Pony, took a role in the movie as the MC who gives Crawford an award: he later had nightmares that his movie star parents would come back to haunt him for participating in this hallucinogenic version of Sunset Boulevard.

The film cannot be viewed on any normal level today, nor could it back then! It had transmuted and altered itself into a zombie of movie history.

Norma Desmond and Joan Crawford were the same height. It was the movies that got small.

Oak Island Specials Headline New Season

DATELINE: More of the Same Again!

 $ Cash Down Logo!

To whet your appetite for season seven of the Curse of Oak Island, the series is beginning the season with early-bird specials. Fans cannot get enough of the Lagina Brothers and their motley crew of treasure hunters.

Tonight is a count-down of the group’s accomplishments over the past six seasons. And, you better believe they give credit to no one except themselves.

What have we got here? Well, it’s the same old wine in a semi-recycled bottle. Yes, the clever producers of the show have found yet another way to repeat, ad nauseum, the same events we have seen repeatedly, over six seasons.

Never let it be said that the Lagina brothers don’t know how to beat a dead horse. This is marketing at its most brazen. By packing the two-hours in the guise of a count-down, you have a way to introduce the show to new viewers. And, if you are an old hand, you should avoid these two hours, lest you are bored, bed-ridden, and/or your remote control is broken.

What’s more, the ever-irritating, fawning Matty Blake is your host, on the Lagina payroll.

To start, the show deals with 25 great discoveries over 220 years. So, you have to include all the historical data: like boys finding a hole and digging in pre-1800. You must include the reasons why Marty Lagina and Dan Blankenship had to move to Oak Island (after reading a Reader’s Digest article), and then you have to list the appearance of the Restall family, and on and on.

Forget those “bobby dazzlers” found by Gary Drayton. Those are at the end of the show.

What emerges of interest is the stuff the producers never think is interesting: like the fact that Oak Island is now a big tourist attraction, or that it has a money-making museum with unusual artifacts (TV props included).

You see throngs of tourists being led by some of the TV show personalities in walk-arounds. You begin then to see the mammoth scale of this money-maker for History Channel, and the Lagina family.

There is never a discussion of cost of security, or other requirements to protect the island. It must be steep: Oak Island is no longer a forgotten speck off the coast of Nova Scotia. You are looking at a Grand Canyon of Mysterious Tourist Traps.

 

 

Sam Cooke: Lady You Just Shot Me!

DATELINE: Why Was Sam Cooke Killed?

 You Still Send Me!

How long ago it was! Sam Cooke was a budding, all-American giant of music, but even more amazing, he was the boy next door who was African-American. The film is Lady You Shot Me!, a frightful documentary about the life and death of Sam.

He was murdered, executed, or shot under mysterious circumstances. A religious gospel singer, it seemed unfathomable back than that Cooke was in a “seedy” motel room with some street-walker.

Of course, we know nowadays this may be more often the norm. Yet, with Sam Cooke it seemed improbable. He was lumped in with Muhammad Ali and Martin Luther King as the three titans of Civil Rights.

You probably never hear much about Sam because his music is owned by Allen Klein and his associates: and some theorize they had something to do with stealing his profits and doing him in. Klein died in 2009, but he and his followers have stopped many a documentary about Sam from being made without their control.

So, this latest is also one without the most compelling part of Cook’s legacy: you will not hear his music. It isn’t allowed. He wrote “Wonderful Life,” ironically enough, “Cupid,” “You Send Me,” and “Another Saturday Night,” another delightful ditty about being alone. Now you seldom hear his music.

And you certainly don’t often hear the horror and tragedy of what happened to this talent. An inquest quickly dispatched his death, ruling justifiable homicide to a motel manager who shot naked man who had no weapon. She testified in dark glasses and had no attorney. She didn’t need one; the fix was in.

A few of his nephews contribute to the storyline—and also have done what they could to keep Klein’s company out of their lives. The documentary consults noted coroner and lawyer Cyril Wecht who examines the evidence but cannot sign on to a conspiracy of murder.

However, there are enough legal mumbo-jumbo moves by Allen Klein to take over Cooke’s music estate and run with all the profits to think he, at least, took advantage of an untimely death. Of course, it’s not the first time that an uppity black man was put down.

Fair or not, it is a strong backbone to the story of a man killed fifty years ago in a senseless action in Los Angeles. It was more than black America’s loss, it was the loss of a generation of music he would have created for everyone.

In Search of Nessie, Part One!

DATELINE: Zachary Quinto & Loch Ness

The return of Zachary Quinto’s series In Search Of... is a welcome sight!

With spectacular new photographs of the Loch Ness and with an assembly of rare and remarkable historical documentary footage, you could have in a two-parter, the most thorough and entertaining investigation yet. In Search of..is back with even better production values.

There is the colorful background provided for a full report: over 1400 years ago, it was thought to be a dragon—which certainly transformed the artistic depictions and sent them in a popular direction.

If there is a drawback to the episode, it is that Zachary Quinto is seen standing in front of a screen image of the Scotland territory. He did not make the trip. Unlike the previous episodes that put him central to the action, he is here merely a voice-over with an occasional image.

That logistical concern may be overlooked when it comes to careful assessment of evidence and no-holds punches that we have come to expect in the series. Alas, part of the charm of the show is seeing Quinto on location, actually interviewing people who appear.

One new piece of info features a similar creature in a Swedish cold-water lake, which is reachable by the North Sea from Scotland. Their histories and descriptions are identical. The Loch Ness monster may well be a migratory fish or some sort.

Ending the first part is the theory that a 30-foot Atlantic or Baluga Sturgeon may be an armored version of Nessie.