Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool

DATELINE: Movies Imitate Life

Film Stars Film Stars!

The tragic and sensitive final days of Oscar-winning actress Gloria Grahame make for an ironic version of Sunset Boulevard, without the cynicism and cruel take on Hollywood.

Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool is the antidote to all those anti-Hollywood movies. Yet, its story is the pathetic truth about an aging film star who spent her last days with a younger man. Gloria is no deluded Norma Desmond, and Jamie Bell’s Peter is no reluctant William Holden.

With Anette Bening in form as the pouty Grahame in her failing days, the film has at its core a rather pathetic love story.  Peter Turner was a young British actor who was Gloria’s last companion. Bening certainly eschews vanity playing a woman with cancer and fighting the clock.

Jamie Bell returns to his roots as a British working-class boy with a show biz heart as Peter. He dances too like Billy Elliott, and Bell’s charm remains in full blossom. Their love story may strain credulity among many but has the world of actors all over it.

As an aging ingenue with a scandalous past, Gloria still wants to play Juliet for the Royal Shakespeare Company, however improbable. Bell and Bening have definite chemistry, even as they attend the movies on a date to see Alien.

Your Hollywood gossip reference level will be satisfied with enough detail to titillate.

Supporting Bening and Bell, you cannot do better than Julie Walters as the Liverpool mother and Vanessa Redgrave as Gloria’s mother.

With clips of the young luminous Gloria in her heyday, the film plays on echoes on the past.  Gloria won her Oscar as support to Kirk Douglas and Lana Turner in The Bad and the Beautiful, another classic Hollywood tale.

Elegiac movies often sink into sentiment and nostalgia, but this film keeps its head up throughout. Forget about happy endings. They only happened in the old movies.

Reel History: 1960’s Damned Village

DATELINE:  Creepy Kids

 Stephens & Sanders

Martin Stephens & George Sanders

We know they could not call it by the John Wyndam title of the original novel, The Midwich Cuckoos.

The marvelous little low-budget sci-fi thriller, Village of the Damned, was only 70 minutes of brilliant detail.

Only George Sanders would be not intimidated by holding his own with a bunch of British child actors who occasionally use the special effect of glowing eyes.

After the movie’s opening 15 minutes, you are utterly hooked. It’s so brilliant that what follows doesn’t matter.

With no budget, this George Sanders movie had the most chilling opening of any film of its time. Camerawork is so effective by the director Wolf Rilla.

You see charming little British village in which everyone collapses in place, into a faint for several hours. Camera pans slowly over the entire village. Chilling.

Without the benefit of science’s discovery of DNA and genetic engineering, the story proposes that during the time in which the village is knocked out, all women of child-bearing age become pregnant. It leaves for puzzled and befuddled attitudes among many.

The script uses only several incidents to indicate how dangerous these alien children are: of course, since the children are adult-like Brits, they are creepy anyhow. Add in their mental powers and you have horror. Oh, kids grow up so fast in movies.

The children admire Sanders who is professorial and so unemotional like them. He even becomes their tutor.

In the Soviet Union, a similar community is bombed with an atomic weapon. There are nests of alien children planted around the world, we learn.

George Sanders must resort to his cold-blooded manner to save the day by using his own mind tricks.

Marvelous little gem.

 

 

After the Prejudice and Before the Pride?

DATELINE: Jane Austen Goes Gay!

  chase conner    Chase Conner as Mr. Darcy.

To take the chaste Jane Austen’s comedy of manners, Pride and Prejudice, and turn it into a gay story is an interesting twist. Director and writer Byrum Geisler has entered the brave, new world fearlessly. After gay pride comes the fall?

Before the Fall is tame gay entertainment for an audience with emotional reservations. It will offend gay activists and homophobes alike for being low-key and matter-of-fact.

Ben Bennett is so straight-laced that the only clue we have that he is gay are his professed feelings. He is attracted to a straight alcoholic man Mr. Lee Darcy (Chase Conner). Without overt sex acts and nudity, so often at the heart of gay movie drama, this film’s only sin is to have a couple of queeny friends of Mr. Bennett.

It’s like having Steppin Fetchit and Butterfly McQueen in a civil rights tale. It’s the only false step. Those characters are utterly offensive.

As for the rest of the cast and actors, they are buttoned up and long-suffering.

Indeed, you might think the central casting office found the usual good looking gay actors, but there is here something far more serious and sensitive. We have to laud any so-called gay film that flies in the face of the usual shenanigans.

Filmed in beautiful Virginia, a so-called place for lovers, Ben Bennett hardly puts an overt pick-up on Mr. Lee Darcy. They go hiking, and after some guilty gossip, Bennett works to remove a legal cloud over the other man, perhaps to help him with his alcoholism.

Billed as a comedy drama, which is Austen’s stock-in-trade, the label will confound modern audiences for whom social humor is tied into text messages and Facebook friendships.

If you stick around to the final romanticized happy ending, you may conclude that gay movies are growing up.

 

 

 

Titanic Anniversary & Ominous Day

DATELINE:  Ghosts on Mill Circle

Richard Frazar White and his father, Percival, aboard the Titanic.

 

Each year on this date, we visit the grave of Richard Frazar White who died on the Titanic. His father was with him, but his body was never recovered. It is the 106th year since the ship sank into the cold Atlantic.

Richard lived here at Mill Circle. His family owned our home and, in all likelihood, he spent some time here. The caretaker had an apartment in what is now the library. We have hung Richard’s portrait there and placed it near a model of the Titanic.

This year, unlike others, began ominously. A large crash against the picture window overlooking a patio caused some concern. We found a robin, dazed, breathing hard, that after half-an-hour staggered away. We could not see the second bird, dead, that had also crashed into the window.

This is not a commonplace event.

You see our house is haunted by the spirit of Richard White. Oh, yes, psychics have come here to tell us.

We went out to buy flowers for a gravesite visit, but never made it. The car’s systems went a little crazy: the wiper warning light went on, as did the steering wheel light, and the oil light, and the brake light. Perhaps we should not go to the cemetery this year. Was it a sign? A message?

Our Haitian health aide was alarmed enough to suggest we light a white candle and fill a clear glass with cold, cold water to be placed near the table where the birds came at the window.

Following instructions, we found that somehow after an hour the candle had been blown out: perhaps some never felt draft from some odd corner of the house.

Our Haitian friend mentioned that there was one Haitian on the Titanic who also died on this date so many years ago. He was an engineer, the only person of color among the passengers, Joseph Philippe Lemercier Laroche.

This information also rattled us a bit more.

So, we wait before removing the dead bird, starting the car again, or anticipating another bird crash into the window.

It’s just another day at our haunted house.

Dr. William Russo has written Tales of a Titanic Family about the background story to the two victims of the White family. It is available on amazon.com in paperback and ebook format.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

God Squad Code

DATELINE:  The Bible Tells Us So…

god code Not Recommended!

History Channel has added another pilot for a series, using the usual formula, this time seeking the Ark of the Covenant through a Bible code. It is called God Code, just to be different.

You may have seen a half-dozen documentaries over the years about some rabbis who discovered this code in the Torah. These were secret predictive messages found by counting an equidistant number of letters on a grid of quotes from the Bible.

Now a man with no discernible credentials or degrees has written a book and called the Bible code by a revised name, God Code. He ignores the recognition of past discoveries and leaves the impression he is the first one to learn about the hidden codes.

His name is Timothy Smith, which is about as far as you can get from rabbinical scholars. Oh, his brother is a cryptographer and his family owned a construction business that worked for presidents and senators. He never states he is a freemason.

Well, he keeps wanting a perfect and early version of the Torah to make sure his bon mot predictions are mostly accurate. He starts by connecting one quote to the date of “September 11, 2001,” though the Bible attributes the terror to a Nazi organization (small matter, error ignored).

Smith wants the original text, and learns it is hidden in the Ark of the Covenant, and the text tells him where it is. So, the show takes us to Israel where he learns that the Dead Sea Scrolls are unreliable, and the actual Temple of Solomon is not where everyone thinks.

Not to disappoint conspiracy theorists, he blames the ubiquitous freemasons for not being forthcoming about what they know. He even visits an abandoned Masonic Lodge in Brooklyn for proof they know something. Hunh?

He brings along a Jewish guy to help him with cultural morays in Jerusalem, but this is strictly a goyim operation.

If you expect to find the Ark in the pilot, you are not a student of History Channel. Smith wants a series and will drop a code per week on those of us who stick with his cockamamie search.

Reputable scholars are avoiding him. This is another anti-intellectual show where non-experts know all. Smith even suggests he is on a par with Sir Isaac Newton, but actually is smarter because he cracked the code.

If you want cracks, we can provide them if this crap-shoot becomes a new series.

 

 

Inventor of Xmas? Charles Dickens, Really?

DATELINE:  Ghosts for the Holidays

Dickens with ScroogeDickens with Scrooge!

One presumes Dickens would be appalled that he was given the label as The Man Who Invented Christmas because in 1842 under financial pressure, he wrote a little ghost story in six weeks. We always thought Jesus probably deserved a little credit for inventing Christmas.

Having dozens of movie versions of the famous holiday tale about the reclamation of Ebenezer Scrooge, A Christmas Carol, it seems only fitting that a charming tale, slightly mythological rather than biographical, would be the latest incarnation of the story.

Dan Stevens, hot off Downton Abbey, plays a stylish, boyish Charles Dickens, a man surrounded by his own spendthrift ways and a brood of interruptions in his home, faces a daunting deadline to come up with a novella to make ends meet.

Stories about writers are usually deadly dull and impossible to show creativity, but this film manages to show how the characters, and caricatures, came to life for Dickens.

No small feat is the marvelous performance of the difficult quarry of Scrooge in the person of Christopher Plummer. He argues he wants his point-of-view better expressed, feeling the story is too one-sided!

The cast is up to the weird exaggerations of Dickens, including Jonathan Pryce as the author’s father. Many people in Dickens’ life take a role in his story.

Cute, by some standards, we see snippets of dialogue picked off the streets as Dickens goes on his daily duties. He hears the best lines and incorporates them into his text. But, it is his debates with Scrooge who visits him in his room that is the heart of the film.

Dickens purists might take issue with the pabulum portrait by Stevens, but this is a sentimental story, intelligently told, without profanity, sexual situations, or other unpleasantness, while maintaining dramatic and psychological effectiveness.

This is a film that insists Dickens did more for Christmas than you may want to believe. Yet, this is more than a holiday fest and more than a simple biographical movie. It is charming, an addition to the Christmas canon.

 

LeCarre’s Deadly Affair

DATELINE:  Cold War Spies

Serpentine dinner

When Sydney Lumet could not use the original name of George Smiley for his spy from the famous book, he came up with Dobbs. However, the man playing Dobbs was the always-brilliant James Mason. He was Smiley in any other name in The Deadly Affair.

As a spy mystery, this movie is the epitome of sophisticated and intelligent drama in the 1960s, down to the Astrid Gilberto theme song.

Few movies would feature a background scene of Macbeth as put on by the Royal Shakespeare Theatre as part of the plot. There you’d find a quite young Georgy Girl, Lynn Redgrave, before she teamed up with Mason again in her breakthrough role.

Harry Andrews and Kenneth Haigh provide solid support as allies to Mason’s disgruntled, cold spy who learns a man he interviewed pleasantly as a routine security check was not happy and committed suicide shortly thereafter. He is suspicious, rightfully.

Simone Signoret is right off the boat of Ship of Fools, and Maximilian Schell out of Judgment at Nuremberg. You have here something special in the litany of suspects.

John Dimech, one of the young stars of Lawrence of Arabia, made a small appearance here as a waiter at the Serpentine Restaurant. It was a swan song to a promising movie career.

Back then, this was the antidote to James Bond special effects and glamour. It is full of sound and fury signifying ennui.

The script has a couple of glorious hoots among the angst of the characters. It is, after all, vintage John LeCarre and a dandy spy mystery.

 

 

 

#TylerPerry @TylerPerry & Whatever Else like @TylerPerryNews

Attention: All dedicated Tyler Perry fans!

madea sings like ma

Once in a blue moon, a great story comes out just made for the right star. We have found it: a science fiction murder mystery with just the right dose of laughs.

An exciting and new science-fiction murder-mystery has a great role for everybody’s favorite Madea, impresario and master of movies, Tyler Perry.

Featuring some interesting comic situations, the character of Ma Hattie, rhythm and blues singer, takes on time-traveling space aliens and assassination conspiracy buffs as she helps her niece, an FBI agent, crack the case.

Second Shadow War is a story made for Tyler Perry’s unique talents.

Long-time fan and author Ralph T. O’Neal III, co-founder of the Black Union Conservative Caucus and Booksnbars an educational program for federal inmates, has created a role made in heaven for Tyler Perry’s unique style as director and actor.

Now if only someone can get the idea to Tyler, we’d be cooking.

You can find a website on Facebook, and Instagram for the story @shadowwarseries.

The Second Shadow War!

DATELINE:  Sci-fi, murder mystery, and romantic fantasy combined!

 

2ndShadowWarkindlecover RECOMMENDED! A True Sequel to Rider Haggard’s She!

Now available on Amazon in both paper and e-book

Author Ralph T. O’Neal III is co-founder of BooksnBars for federal prisoners and knows something about the political and shadow government operating in the United States!

 Following the characters and situations raised by the first Shadow War about the conflict between MJ-12 and the Vatican, the Second Shadow War takes on the motives and conspirators behind the Kennedy assassination. It’s a concoction of alchemy, merging three genres into something totally unusual.

Ralph T. O’Neal III has done it again, throwing the JFK’s assassination into the mix of MJ-12 conspiracies.

An evolving series, the characters repeat their roles and become enhanced with familiarity. Central character is a mysterious teenage boy who is half-human and half-space alien, the work of black ops in the federal government.

According to reviewer Mal Tempo: “If Agatha Christie and Arthur C. Clarke collaborated with H. Rider Haggard, this book would be the result.”

It is not a graphic novel, but something like it –but special, using Foto-Footnotes or illos to annotate the text.

A stunning story and a shocking conclusion! Conspiracy buffs and feminists will come alive reading this tale about She Who Must Be Obeyed, never gone from Earth and back for more.

 

RECOMMENDED! ALLEGED BOOK!

DATELINE: Penknife Mightier than the Sword

Patskindle

Now read all your favorite blogs for the year in one handy location: your tablet, your smartphone, or your computer.

PATRIOTS PLAY POLITICAL FOOTBALL 2017

Now available, The Loser’s Edition.

Normally we compile a book of annual snide comments about the winner of the Super Bowl, but this year we change horses in the fourth quarter.

Now you can trace the sour grapes of Malcolm Butler up to the sacking by Coach Belichick in the final hours!

Now you can see the complete reviews and reactions to Tom Brady’s reality TV series and all its deadly fallout!

Now you can learn how Trump has poisoned the Patriot well of victory!

Now you can find the fake news about Gronk’s Hollywood career!

Now you cannot find much about Julian Edelman, but he still shows up on the pages now and then!

Now you can see how the Yalta Peace Talks between Kraft, Belichick, and Brady really came about and really went nowhere!

Now available on Amazon, cheap price, cheap words, cheap ideas!

Recommended for smart readers always!

 

 

Wry Catcher: Why J.D. Salinger?

DATELINE:   Movie Bio

REAL SALINGER Angry Salinger Wants to be Alone

Director Danny Strong joins a list of people who are violating every standard that J.D. Salinger lived by. He hated publicity and adoration of koo-koo bird fans.

You could say the new movie of Salinger’s life Rebel in the Rye is nothing short of a misnomer, however well-intended and well-done.

We are always impressed with Nicholas Hoult, who again here, gives us an American New Yorker accent and a man who lost his mind in World War II after seeing horror up close. The British actor has turned into a new nationality in his movie roles, and adds brown contact lenses to cover up those startling blue eyes that he is famous for. It is another superior performance in a growing litany of interesting films.

The movie has one big problem: Kevin Spacey. He plays the mentor and admirer of Salinger, editor and discoverer Whit Burnett, who seems almost to have a fetish when it comes to his prize pupil. Alas, Spacey’s personal history almost circumvents the movie and makes us think he was groping Nick Hoult between scenes, or that Burnett was groping Salinger. Yikes.

The producers have left Spacey’s name off the publicity because it’s such a turnoff. Not everyone has Ridley Scott’s money to simply replace Spacey with computer effects.

It’s a shame because Spacey’s presence does distract, though his performance is brilliant—and the movie proceeds on its mission to present us with a writer who loved to write, but hated his readers.

Salinger was no genius, but he had his finger on the pulse of Zen Buddhist seclusion. The attempt to turn him into his own character, Holden Caulfield, seems a bit forced. Boswell was not Sam Johnson, though he wrote about him.

The film is worth it for fans of Salinger, even if they are not wearing red hunting caps and stalking writers who hide out in New Hampshire.

1974’s Murder on the Orient Express

 DATELINE:  Another Christie Version

1974 all-star murder

Before we tackle the newest Orient Express by Branagh, let’s look at the oldest version.

The star-studded Sidney Lumet version took Agatha Christie out of the hands of  1960s-style Margaret Rutherford and Miss Marple.  Murder on the Orient Express is bumpy in the night.

Indeed, the cast is spectacular, one of the last gasps of Old Hollywood gone mad. The suspects are so rococo and bizarre that they make Albert Finney’s weird Poirot look positively like Sam Spade crossed with Richard III.

As the names of stars pass in the opening credits, your jaw may drop. Bacall, Bergman (Bogart’s leading ladies), Perkins, Connery, Gielgud, Redgrave (later to play Christie herself), Widmark, and stellar second bananas too, like Balsam, Bisset, and let’s catch our breaths! Wow.

Lumet is not so much interested in atmosphere as glamour.

If Margaret Rutherford had not died the year before the film, she likely would have been cast in it too. Christie never liked the idea of Miss Marple joining forces with Hercule—but in this sort of movie, you almost expect it.

The new auteur Kenneth Branagh version cannot touch the sheer aristocracy of actors in this film. You have to savor each little gem from Lumet’s cast, as these great stars finally can play it to the hilt one last time and first time as an ensemble.

Agatha Christie was the Shakespeare of crime plots—and so we will have more remakes. After all, we have seen about seven great Hamlet movies. Christie cannot be far behind.

We do condemn the music score that lightly sounds over the credits at the end—which is completely wrong for the mood of the film.

Fincher’s Movie Zodiac in Contrast to History TV

DATELINE:  Docudrama Versus Reality TV

 Fincher style Gyllenhaal & Downey Play Detectives

The new series on History inspired us to go back to 2007 and see what David Fincher did in his big budget, all-star movie called Zodiac.

Suffice it to say, there is some overlap: and the series claims to have discovered an earlier killing by Zodiac at UCLA that was shown ten years earlier in the Fincher film version.

Of course, Fincher uses poetic license to personalize victims and their final conversations; we have no idea what was really said, but his version is fairly likely.

The movie uses big stars in rotating coverage: the newspaper cynical reporter is Robert Downey, Jr., who calls Zodiac a latent homosexual—and then fears for his life that he will be a target.

Mark Ruffalo is the San Francisco detective in full 1960s fashion mode, and quite amusing. Brian Cox steals every scene playing flamboyant attorney Melvin Belli.

The most important character is Jake Gyllenhaal’s Chronicle cartoonist who is an amateur sleuth and is equal to the trivia that Zodiac was fond of using. He notes that Richard Connell story, “Most Dangerous Game” that Zodiac admires—but the movie never did its homework. The story was a short story, not a book.

You may well wonder at the enormous stupidity of everyone at the newspaper, passing around evidence and ruining fingerprints, etc., with nary a thought. And you may wonder why a cartoonist is at the high-level meetings. Described as a “retard” and “Boy Scout,” throughout the film, Gyllenhaal looks like he is auditioning for his next role as a gay cowboy.

If you haven’t had your fill of demented serial killers (called mass murderer in the movie), then you might want to annotate the TV series with a first-rate movie.

Stone’s Throw to Consequence in JFK

DATELINE: Movie History Literally

 Kirkwood's Grotesque  

Twenty-five years after Oliver Stone’s conspiratorial extravaganza, with more Kennedy assassination documents released weekly, it may be time to re-consider JFK.

The movie has become legend—and now checks in at a length worthy of Ben Hur or Lawrence of Arabia. Yet, that still is not enough.

The movie is the ultimate docudrama, providing theory and re-enactments about the death of an American president in Dallas in 1963. Many of the arcane details that made Stone’s movie seem fantastic have become ingrained into the epitome of fake news turned into fake history. As Pontius Pilate once succinctly put it, “What is truth?”

Stone takes the same approach as Jim Garrison: he uses the system to present ideas, in some ways abusing the process and going outside the usual parameters.

Oliver Stone went for the sensational: casting the most minor roles with notable, famous actors. It gave credence to the view that many people, especially celebrities, agreed with his perspective of the facts. He believed Clay Shaw was an assassin’s conspirator.

On top of that, he even cast the aging Jim Garrison as Chief Justice Earl Warren interviewing Jack Ruby in his prison cell shortly before his fateful death from cancer. Tommy Lee Jones made a dandy Shaw, and Kevin Bacon sizzled as the ersatz Russo.

Garrison’s conspiracy case against Clay Shaw, New Orleans businessman with a salacious private life, was built on reports from Perry Russo, who died in 1995 shortly after the movie was released. But, the Russo character turned to stone, or a pillar of salt, suddenly called Willie O’Keefe, a gay hustler who put Lee Oswald into the maelstrom of New Orleans double agent gay life. Russo always claimed he was maligned, but not by his associations.

Whether the connected dots actually mean there was conspiracy, or just coincidental dots connecting, may never be known with witnesses wiped out by accidents, murders, illness, and mystery deaths over the decade after the Kennedy assassination.

We are far more likely today to accept a movie as our historical reference than ever before. With that, Oliver Stone’s well-produced film gains credence. The viewing public who won’t read history are clearly condemned to accept re-enactments in a movie.

Garrison’s case was a case of self-delusion, or invisible and secret government sabotage.

Our friend Jim Kirkwood covered the original trial and befriended Clay Shaw, but Jim always had a penchant and soft spot for killers and those accused of unsavory acts. He called his book on Clay Shaw and Jim Garrison by the appropriate title of American Grotesque.

When we tried to bait him over drinks about the Clay Shaw case in the 1980s, he wouldn’t bite. It left us uneasy then, and later when the JFK movie came out, we were confounded. Jim Kirkwood was gone to the undiscovered country and so was his insider knowledge.

Today, when the latest documents hint at deeper, uglier, unpleasant details, we wish Jimmy Kirkwood were still here to see us dangle on the hook of conspiracy.

Stone’s JFK throws us for a loop still.

Dr. William Russo has written two timely books: Riding James Kirkwood’s Pony, on Kirkwood’s life, and Booth & Oswald, on the assassins.

New Book of Movie & TV Reviews

 “A compendium of enormous balderdash and overwrought and underthought insights!”

Mal Tempo, Long Time Ago book consultant

                                                    kindleredcarpet

If you enjoy Ossurworld’s movie and television reviews, with their unique and odd insights into what’s really happening in your favorite movies, then you are in luck! 

Red Carpet Tickets: Movie & TV Reviews collects the best of the blog reports in one place for easy access and reading.

The books is available for smarter readers, both in e-book and print formats, from Amazon.

If you want the perfect time-killer, Red Carpet Tickets is your ticket to ride. 

Ossurworld’s blogs on movies (& TV streams) select only films that you can and should devote time to watching. Bad films are rarely considered for examination. Bloated budgets, ridiculous acting, and skimpy budgets, will not hurt a film’s chances if something intelligent is presented. Ossurworld will let you know.

You can find Ossurworld’s new book online by simply clicking on this blue highlight!

Red Carpet Tickets: Movie & TV Reviews.  (This blog is a self-serving, commercial, and otherwise blatant attempt to win your appreciation of our mini-labors of Hercules.)