Crossing Rachmaninoff with Villani

DATELINE: Grand Music

Flavio in concert.

Some disparaging commenters have called Flavio Villani a mediocre talent who is the subject of a documentary on his effort to play Rachmaninoff’s Second Concerto with a symphony orchestra.

It takes a snide and cowardly person to label Villani anything but brave and courageous to make such an effort. To tackle that difficult and breathtaking piece of music in a concert is like throwing a touchdown pass at the Super Bowl.

And, the sports metaphor certainly applies to Villani who came late to music—but found himself challenged and gripped by becoming a pianist of classical order. He left his native Italy and went to study in New Zealand at age 26.

His efforts are documented in this little film that shows him walking on the beach, admiring nature, cooking, and living a normal middle-class life while he ruminates on the power of Rachmaninoff’s intimidating piano composition.

We see him practice alone, practice with a second piano, and prepare for this first attempt to play with a symphony. It is daunting, and he is committed. A gay man, alienated by both classical music and his personal life, he is a man in exile in New Zealand. He returns home triumphantly, reconciling with his family before the big concert.

We see and hear snippets of the First Movement and almost the entire Third Movement on the big night. Whether he made a single mistake or several, we might never know, so complex is the concerto. The music is staggering, dramatic, and ultimately a melodious work of genius. He acquits himself admirably.

If you have never heard this concerto, you have missed one of the great experiences of life.

If someone without as much passion and heart want to knock his efforts, they reflect on their own base misunderstanding of the human condition.

This little story of one person’s integrity and decency is a beacon in the dark world of today’s inhumanity.

 

 

 

Cruise of the Gods

DATELINE: Early Coogan & Brydon Effort

 2002

At one point in Trip to Greece  (2019),  Steve Coogan disdainfully tells his son he has known Rob Brydon for eleven years. It’s somewhat of an underestimate. Coogan and Brydon made their first movie together in 2002. It was a BBC-TV comedy called Cruise of the Gods.

The first movie is actually similar to Galaxy Quest,the far more successful tale of a 1980s sci-fi series cast that is thrown together 20 years later. Indeed, Brydon is the dominant star in this film, but Coogan takes it away when he shows up.

They starred in a kiddie show as teenagers. Brydon has fallen on hard times outside the business—and Coogan is a big TV star (Sherlock Holmes in Miami).So, Brydon accepts a fan cruise for a week (and $2000 needed bucks). They don’t even ask Coogan, figuring he is too big to do such a ploy.

Yet, he is thrilled to meet his teen fans (now middle-aged nerds). James Corden is a teen in this, chubby and nearly playing a stalker of stars.

This all reminded this critic about his friend and cowriter, the late Jan Merlin, who starred in a sci-fi show for kids decades ago—and years later reluctantly went to fan shows (for which he was compensated).

The other point of interest is Rob Brydon who has not really aged at all in 20 years. He looks essentially the same as the teenager of 1982 and the 50-year old in the last Trip  movie. He may not be handsome, but he is consistent in looks. Coogan has aged (hairdos being his bane).

Though this is billed as an affectionate tribute to fans, it is bitter and cynical, with the two stars not quite in their hostile mode for subsequent features.

 

 

Hollywood Lens of Murray Garrett

DATELINE:  Eye on Hollywood 1950s

 Odd Couple: Marilyn & Dale Robertson?

You may not know his name, but the photo-journalist of choice among Hollywood minions of the 1950s was a New Yorker with a keen sense of beauty. He protected his subjects—and they appreciated it.

Murray Garrett started out at age 16 taking photos of celebrities. He even apprenticed with one of the big Broadway photogs and learned how to visualize stars on stage, meeting the likes of Brando and Ferrer In their stage phase.

As someone who met and worked with a few celebs, we can confirm that the lessons and observations of Murray Garrett are more than a means to live with stars: it is a sense of decency that sensitive people, artistic souls, easily spot.

The documentary of his career and life shows that Murray knew how to see the best in people—and took a photo of it.  His pictures show clarity of heart, beauty and honesty in every subject.

At 16 in New York, he was to take a photo in Frank Sinatra dressing room in 1943, when the singer was first going solo. Sinatra asked for a print—and Garrett said, of course. Sinatra was snidely disbelieving, but the kid returned the next day with an envelope and left it.

Three years later he was in Hollywood at a studio and walked through the commissary—and Sinatra recognized him! He told others the kid was a great photographer from New York, and Garrett was on his way.

He was a personal photo-journalist, and took pix at Sinatra parties.

Later, he met Bob Hope who grunted at him from the stage during a radio broadcast. Thinking he’d offended Hope, he went to apologize after the show, but Hope liked him—and wanted him to be an exclusive photographer for his shows. Their relationship last 25 years. He became a personal photo-journalist for Red Skelton and Louella Parsons too.

He was the antithesis of an “ambush photographer,” and stars could trust him to destroy any unflattering images.  Yet, it was more than that: he actually talked to his subjects before shooting and seemed to win relaxation that showed up in pictures.

 

 

 

 

Tom Brady at Skinwalker Ranch

Tom Brady at Skinwalker Ranch

Brady’s Custom Spaceship Now for Sale!

Tom Brady continues to divest himself of all things New England. Latest is his used vehicle, a customized spaceship that brings heart-warming memories back to the aging quarterback.

It can be yours for $300,000. Not since the Aaron Hernandez Death-Mobile went up for sale on eBay has there been such a chance for Patriots fans.

Among the amenities, this vehicle is super re-enforced to protect Brady against bad New England drivers. You may not recall he was involved in a car crash on the way to Gillette Stadium early in his career. After that, he wanted super-reinforced electromagnetic, interdimensional protections.

Now we presumed he worried about terrorists and kidnappers against his family, but now living in Trump country where there are no taxes and Gulf Breeze is a familiar jumping off point, he no longer needs insured protection: unless it is against space abductions by rival aliens and lost time (an important commodity for Tom).

Yes, the vehicle exceeds all U.S. Crush and Crash Resistance Laws. Unfortunately, this gas guzzler will need plenty of fuel as it goes about 3000 feet on a gallon of high octane.

This vehicle has propulsion that can travel to the stars with stars: it’s not just another pimpmobile where Julie Edelman and cronies can pile in.

Yes, this vehicle can transcend warp speed and has even been seen emerging from orange portals at Skinwalker Ranch, lending credence to the notion that Tom Brady is a shape-shifter as well as a shifty guy.

The custom seating will accommodate Brady in whatever form he takes in his universal time travels. Oh, yes, this car exceeds the DeLorean abilities of going back to the future. Tom has maintained his youthful appearance by using the vehicle as a hyperbolic time chamber in his copper-fused pajama spacesuit.

There is enough headroom in this vehicle that the Apollo astronauts would be envious.

Though it has been deceptively created to appear to be a Cadillac Escalade, it is a vehicle once filmed by AATIP jet pilots on scramble over Catalina Island.

Among standard modifications are six-way electro-magnetic chargers that gently provide you with immortality while reclining in the electric leg rests.

“Parting ways with my UFO won’t be easy. From day one it became my sanctuary from the outside noise,” the Tompa Bay Buccaneer star is quoted as saying in the listing. He hopes that the next owner will feel like Superman, a strange visitor from another planet who may also use the disguise of an NFL GOAT to hide his true identity.

 

Warhol’s Salacious Classic Short

DATELINE: Nothing Ventured?

  Big Moment on Film.

All good things must come to an end, and there may be no more edgy way to end another collection than with our first viewing of Andy Warhol’s 1963 salacious film called Blow-Job.

No one knows whether this was pure acting, or impure acting. Since more orgasmic porno is faked anyhow, we are sure that Warhol was keeping his secret. There is more edginess here than in a modern 21stcentury real thing effort.

Don’t get your knickers in. a twist. This film is the 27-minute version, and it is silent as well as black and white. If there had been sound, we may have accused the star of over-acting his role center-stage.

The star was a 24-year old actor who resembled James Dean, perhaps a fetish of Warhol. DeVeren Bookwaiter went out to do Shakespeare on stage and even appeared in the legit movie The Enforcer. We aren’t sure how many jobs he won as a result of his Warhold notoriety. We never see the costar.

The film starts slow before its inevitable climax. We suspect that foreplay may have enhanced the length—er, of the film. We see the main character only from his shoulders up, in a stylish leather jacket standing before one of those ubiquitous brick walls of New York.

Occasionally he looks nervous like he may hear the police siren closing in. For the most part, he moves around the film frame, and Warhol does not. So, the star often ducks into facial shadow, so we cannot see his bliss.

This could be a farce, or just a sex romp.

Now and then he throws his head back into the light of ecstasy. You cannot hear him, but several times he seems to say the word, “Yes,” and near-on to 17 minutes he may shout out an epithet beginning with F.

The film goes in an out of a white blank, followed by the editor dots. It was either a second helping, or retakes by Warhol. His camera seems to be having more fun the actor in question.

You know you are approaching the end when he throws up both hands and rubs his head. The real tell-tale sign that our break is near, he lights up a cigarette. On the whole, the film is fairly boring. Perhaps you had to be there.

We think he said, “thank you,” near the end as smoke got in his eyes.

Well, that’s art for you.

TB12 Knocks Coronavirus Off the Scorecard

DATELINE: Deflated at Last

Tom Brady is taking his football and heading south.

You can blame the Patriots for not wanting to invest in a man who claims he has found the Fountain of Youth. We recall from history that another gentleman of the old school went to Florida on his quest: Ponce de Leon also thought the elixir of eternal and immortal life awaited him in the bays of Florida.

Bill Belichick now will show he is the genius by winning another Super Bowl without Brady. Heaven help him if his team tanks.

As for Brady, he is trading Paul Revere for Jean LaFitte. He is a trader of the first order, heading for the world of Disney and smart dolphins like Flipper.

If you wonder if he will be motivated, you never followed Deflategate, which sent him reeling into a new stratosphere.

Some never believed Belichick would let it go this far, but that parallel universe: In Bill We Trust, now is on confederate tender.

The all-seeing eye of money is looking back at the Patriot Place and finding that TB12 is a franchise that will sell more jerseys with a new logo.

As for Brady in New England, it was NEVER his home, and if you think he won for Boston, you are deluded. He happened to win while in the Greater Boston area. He would have been just as elated to win in Tampa Bay over the past 20 years.

He never spoke a bad word about Aaron Hernandez, and we figure he will give Belichick the same courtesy.

Now, the curiosity factor will follow him, eyes moving across the gridiron looking for a train wreck.

Just Friends is Just Marvelous!

DATELINE: A Sleeper to Wake You Up!

 New Stars!

We had the pleasure of watching a Dutch movie that was not insipid, nor overly obvious. Just Friends is a gay movie with a light touch.

Subtitles are secondary to the beautiful production and images, and Josha Stradowsk is stunning to look at, and he meets a Syrian played by Majd Mardo. They have chemistry and are delightful in their growing friendship.

The usual angst over coming out and family conflict are truly not part of the sophisticated tale. They are sexy, chic, and well-to-do. There are other conflicts that impede their relations, but Majd takes a job as housekeeper at Josha’s grandmother.

She is a delight too, as matchmaker and wise old lady.

These are intelligent young men, and their maturity makes for a story that appeals to all viewers. Josha is the one who has a hobby with his drone, and he sees Madj surfing from above. It is intriguing how connections are made.

Without a doubt, you seldom meet people in character movies that you really would like to spend time with, but these two are pleasant dinner companions.

What impediments to their friendship that must be overcome are not melodramatic and work out, making your time with this story fly like the drone, over the Netherlands and its beautiful world.

If you’ve been stung by horrible gay-themed movies of all stripes, you need your faith in a good film restored. This is the antidote.

Time Travel Under the Ancient Alien Dome

DATELINE:  Mojave Haven

 Van Tassel Castle

Not too often Ancient Aliens devotes a show to an important person in the UFO business, like Nikola Tesla, Leonardo, or Werner von Braun. This week they have selected the ever-forgotten George Van Tassel on the 8thepisode of season 15.

Van Tassel invented something out in the Mojave Desert forty years ago called the Integratron, a machine that ancient aliens helped him build for time travel, spirit communication, and portals to other dimensions.

Immortality is not what it used to be: Van Tassel was about to announce his invention’s possibilities when he abruptly died at age 67 of an unexpected heart attack. Almost immediately, your favorite federal government gutted the building where immortality lurked.

Van Tassel’s white dome house out in the desert had its guts removed: all those particle trackers and collider stuff were carted off.

As for Van Tassel, his death seemed to be regarded at biting irony for a man who wanted immortality and his premature death was dismissed as fate, rather than cold-blooded murder.

Van Tassel was considered a genius—and among his benefactors was Howard Hughes. And, if he is to be believed, a series of extra-terrestrials who came to him in the desert.

Not surprisingly, he held major outings each year in the 1950s that attracted bigger and bigger crowds, allowing Ancient Aliensto compare him to Moses– of UFOs.

He built his Integratron on Ley Lines, on a latitude with the Great Pyramid, which he also believed served a similar purpose ten or twenty-thousands of years ago. Most intriguing is the resemblance between this building and a depiction of Solomon’s Temple by Raphael, which housed the Ark of the Covenant.

 

 

 

 

Boston Stars Join Police Lineup in California!

DATELINE: Wine Chaser?

Call it Selfie Destruction?

Julian Edelman is preparing for off-season surgery by jumping on the hood of an expensive car in Beverly Hills. It’s called drunken vandalism.

Only in Beverly Hills is jumping on a MB SLK considered a misdemeanor.

Now arrested for vandalism, he will appear in the airport courthouse next month—that is, if he’s out of the hospital and Bill Belichick’s doghouse.

Tom Brady’s close chum was out celebrating not being in the Super Bowl with a bunch of former Boston stars; Danny Amendola (his usual mate and partner in crime, and the unusual addition of Paul Pierce, notably of the Celtics Past).

One can presume the stars were imbibing beyond the limits of good sense.

It may be that Edelman is planning to jump ship and is checking out the teams on the West Coast (he is originally a Bay butt). If he is on a mission to scout out teams for Brady, they may be going there in tandem. He may be practicing his jump skills by jumping on car hoods.

We presume Pierce is a technical advisor, and Amendola (as always) is a partner in crime and unnatural activities. They have also done Mexico last year on a skateboard tour.

The latest scuttlebutt from the butt buddies of Edelman is that he will have at least 2 surgeries to repair damage from his insane play at age 34. It’s enough to figure that Bill Belichick wouldn’t take him back or give him a plug nicklel for his future.

No wonder Tom is sending him out to test the TB12 market in the Bay area. Unfortunately, Julie has been derailed in Beverly Hills, a far cry from the Raiders  franchise. Josh McDaniels can have Cleveland! Give the Brady Bunch something of Hollywood.

The Peter Pan Syndrome is alive and well in anyone who thinks they can play NFL football beyond a certain age. How low can down-low go?

Boston Celtics Dynamic Duo

DATELINE: Young Guns

The Boston Celtics have a problem: it is a nickname to be applied to their young tandem 30-points each in a game stars. We haven’t felt a giddy issue in the Celtic world since we heard Larry Bird isn’t walking through that door.

The Celtics are no longer looking to trade one or both: you can tell that from the new public relations spots in Boston that urge fans to vote them as teammates to the All-Star squad.

The big problem is their nickname: for past vainglorious stars like Bird and McHale or Russell and Heinsohn, nicknames were superfluous. But social media and youth must be served. Young fans want to label their new generation of superstars for the upcoming decade.

Originally Jalen Brown wanted to call themselves 7-11. Open all night, or something, but Jayson immediately changed his number from 11  to 0.  Such are the results of testosterone and competition.

Jayson once said he would be Brown’s trainer for free if he no longer had an NBA career. His pay: a room in Jalen’s big house, which appalled Jalen.

Scary Terry Rozier thought they were simply two annoying youngsters.

They are not your average Batman and Robin.

To their teammates, they are simply JT and JB. And, they are a new version of Bird and McHale, who also never had nicknames, and also had a rather contentious intra-team rivalry: their mutual glue was Danny Ainge, which may be the same factor today.

When McHale scored 50 points one night, Bird said in laconic fashion, “It’s not enough,” and promptly went out and scored  more points a week later, leaving McHale with a record setting for one week.

Some contend they have never seen Jayson pass the ball to Jalen. Perhaps that’s strictly a metaphor. They are two of the most unassuming, quiet, soft-spoken types you would ever meet. They are not flashy or overwhelming in any public way.

It’s difficult to come up with resonating naicknames for two who speak softly and carryi big balls.

We don’t like Triple Double 0-7, and we don’t like Green Jays.

They seem to accept Kid ‘n Play as something workable. They are too accommodating. We still don’t know who’s the kid sidekick.

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To Be Taken by Takei

DATELINE: Across Culture and Sexual Stereotypes

George pulls an Errol Flynn Moment on Star Trek!

You have known him as the original Sulu on Star Trek since 1966. George Takei is as familiar as an old shoe. His autobio- documentary is To Be Takei.

Yet, his life is both moving and horrifying. As a child he was sent to several Japanese camps in Arkansas because his family was deemed disloyal and dangerous. He was subjected to an American concentration camp—and though embittered, never let it ruin his life.

Howard Stern’s radio program gave him a voice outside his acting—and made him an activist in the gay rights scene. He was in the closet until 2005 when he charged out and married his 20-year companion Brad Altman.

The little bio is filled with clips of his performances—from Twilight Zone to Rodan (voice-over) to costarring with John Wayne in The Green Berets. His family supported his acting career, but felt he would be typecast and given limited roles. He appears to have transcended the Asian stereotype while becoming the new Franklin Pangborn.

There are surprises, of course: Leonard Nimoy genuinely liked and respected him—and the animosity between Takei and Shatner is beyond uncomfortable. We don’t know what put these two into feud mode, but there it is in this film at every turn.

If the life-story tends to focus considerably on his life partner, it is understandable—as they fought for gay marriage in California. They ran into hostile people like Schwarzenegger, but George also won over Ronald Reagan to win restitution for the Japanese Americans who suffered in camps during World War II.

His busy life continues with no end in sight. To be Takei is to be a show biz dynamo/dreidel. He continues to spin and provide everyone with a big charge.

 

 

 

 

Making Montgomery Clift

DATELINE: Extraordinary Film

The man who turned down the lead in Sunset Boulevard and East of Eden made it possible for other stars to have their great moments. Montgomery Clift played down his refusal to do those films, but we think he would have reached latitudes and heights later denied to him.

Monty Clift’s nephew Robert has made a biographical film documentary to correct decades of misinformation and misjudgments. It is better late than never and tries to address the legend that he was a self-hating, self-destructive homosexual.

The charges against Clift, salacious and mean-spirited, may have been vestiges of homophobia he constantly encountered, even from sadistic directors like John Huston (our late friend Jan Merlin who made List of Adrian Messenger with Huston confirmed this—and we have been dunned for saying it).

Robert Clift interviews those still around so many decades later—like Jack Larson (Superman’s Jimmy Olson) and his mother Eleanor Clift. They report Monty was a funny creative man with a giving personality. He was an actor and used life experiences all the time in his art.

Brooks Clift, Monty’s brother, collected and kept everything about his brother to the point of obsession and taped conversations. Yet, it was he who was duped into providing info that would disparage the man he most loved and admired in life.

Robert Clift is to be highly commended for sorting through all this data to give us a more balanced, kindest view. Robert was born long after his uncle died, and he does not have the benefit of a personal relationship. Yet, the trove of collectibles, never seen or heard, provide insights that might only come from sitting down with Monty.

Most people looked at his later performances as biography, not art. He loved being alive and enjoyed being artistic, but it was a world of cruelties and harsh realities.

This is a brilliant work, worth your time and should send you scurrying for any Montgomery Clift movie you can find.

Josh & Kyle Allen, Twin QBs of NFL

DATELINE: Boys Will be Quarterbacks!

 Siamese Twins?

Are we seeing double? Are they separated at birth? Are they twins?

The Red Zone of NFL has given us a double dose of cutie-pie QBs. We are now in double jeopardy of wondering how the NFL can allow players to take the field before they can shave.

Josh Allen and Kyle Allen are among the new generation of NFL quarterbacks. They have leapt into the Internet social media and beefcake dreamboat category simultaneously.

They are not joined at the hip because we saw them in different cities on the same day. However, we still cannot tell them apart without a scorecard.

Of course, one is always a tad shocked to find out that the star players are so young that they look like teenagers who could play the Hardy Boys in a new cable series.

TeenBeat might be featuring them on the cover. They could play Tom Brady’s sons in a movie.

One of them plays for the Buffalo Bills and the other now has taken over the Carolina Panthers. They are not your average blue-collar city boys. They are fresh off the farm.

Gleaming smiles and boyish good looks are not the kind of tough guy image you expect from grizzled NFL leaders, like Troy and Peyton. This is the new generation following in the footsteps of botox Tom Brady, whose looks now try to defy the twenty-somethings whom he must play against.

Of course, there is a big difference between looking young and actually being young. We don’t know if the Bobsey Twins of Josh and Kyle will fall into the youth movement of 2040 and find silicone to fill their wrinkles and cracks.

Right now they are so adorable that you wish the time machine would hold still for a few years.

We wish them long careers and hope they never are able to grow a beard like Ryan Fitzpatrick and cover up those beautiful doll looks. Movie contracts are sure to follow.

Yes, Tom Brady Wants Out of New England

DATELINE: Better to Receive than Deceive 

 Unimpeachable Source?

If you listen to the experts in Boston sports, apart from us, you have learned this week that Tom Brady is greasing the skids to slide out of town at season’s end.

Tom knows which way the wind blows:  and it is blowing westward toward the San Andreas fault, where Tom can shake the earth on his own terms.

We must agree with the details that Tom Brady is done in Boston, though the bigger picture may be smaller.

It seems that Tom has two reasons to leave: and they are Bill Belichick and Robert Kraft, both of whom have left him stranded without a receiving corps in an annual denuding of first-rate players. Whenever Tom finds someone to his liking, that player is sent packing for reasons usually salary-related.

And Tom remains among the lowest paid superstars at QB position. Taking a hit for the team has grown tiresome for Tom.

It may be that Tom wants to prove, finally, in his golden years, that it is he, not Belichick, who won six Super Bowls.  If New England wants a seventh, he may provide it on the way out. The door may slam on someone’s ass—but it won’t be Tom. Bill Belichick will stay on. Perhaps Josh McDaniel, beloved Babe, will follow out west.

Tom can win two or three more Super Bowls playing for the Raiders in his hometown. Fifty may be the new retirement goal.

Then again, Tommy—and Belichick too—want to show they never needed the other to win the next SB. Unfortunately, they both do need each other—and only will a final separation prove it to them and to the world. Belichick will hold on until his son can become the new King of the Patriots coaching corps.

For New England fans it will be too late and a bitter pill. Tom doesn’t love you anymore.

In the meantime, Tom snipes at the Boston press—whom he has grown to dislike more than ever—and he and his best friend-trainer, the Svengali of TB12 methodology—have put their Massachusetts homes up for sale in prep for the next season in Oakland.

Yes, you can go home, Tom. And Boston was never home, even after 20 years of suffering through fame and fortune, bad weather and a hundred-fold of receivers.

Sam Darnold Sees the Phantoms

DATELINE: Ghost Hunters

If you saw New York Jest Quarterback Sam Darnold, of mono fame, on Monday Night Football, you saw a man spooked.

Yes, the young and callow big QB was mic’d up as they say for the cameras. He did not disappoint. When all the cursing is done, and whitewashed out, you had the tall drink of water having the worst night of his life. If you dismiss the night he caught mono…

He ended up with a QB rating of 6.5, which sounds nearly as abysmal as anything this season by anyone.

That conjurer of ancient gridiron spirits, Merlin Bill Belichick, apparently sent Macbeth’s witches to bubble up some trouble for young Darnold. Too damn young for being darn old.

The Jets main man said on the bench after one appalling interception that he was seeing ghosts out there on the field.

We, of course, believe him, as we have seen the power of orbs flying by at breakneck speed. These little photons of light are really the spirits of past football for Darnold, and they are making mischief that would do poltergeists proud.

Marley’s Ghost might have offered him some sound advice on how to deal with the Patriots defense that was fired up to deny the existence of ghosts.

Perhaps Hamlet’s fatherly ghost might have warned him of a coach would pour poison in his ear. That Jets coach was heard to tell him that he knew what to do. Apparently the coach did not know or have the number of an exorcist on his speed dial.

You can scare children with ghost stories, or conversely you can scare QBs like Josh Allen and Sam Darnold who look like giant kids playing a game of chess with the Grim Reaper. Shades of Shades.