Brady’s Former Bunch

DATELINE:  Back-ups to Tom

 

Sunday was a football day without much interest unless you like to sing the National Anthem while everyone stands.

Of most interest to us, three of Tom Brady’s former backups were the starting football games for other teams.

We suspect Tom was caught up in the NFL Red Zone, trying to keep tabs on his former acolytes. They range in age to young pup to old-timer. Brady was their senior, going back to the beginning.

The most successful of these QBs was the most recent of these. We speak of Jacoby Brissette, now the starting quarterback of the Indianapolis Colts. He is a temporary replacement and back up for Andrew luck, but probably looks like he deserves to be the starter.

Alas, the curse of Tom Brady is to always be the back up.

Also playing against each other were Matt Cassel, the man who took Tom Brady’s place during the one season Tom was injured. And Brian Hoyer who has kicked around for some time and is now starting for the San Francisco Deplorable 49ers. He replaces that unemployed Kapernaeck kneeler.

It’s nice to know there is life after Tom. However, for Tom, life begins at 40, whereas for the rest, it will end in the NFL much sooner.

These former Patriots form a trio that should give Jimmy Garrapolo some sense of confidence that one day he too shall start a game somewhere in the NFL.

However, if we saw anything from the fate of three Brady back ups, it was that it is a difficult task to follow in the footsteps of Tom Brady. After studying him for years, these quarterbacks still cannot ambulate like the greatest of all-time.

They are about as memorable as the trio Nat King Cole dumped when he went solo.

Sad to say, Cassel, Brissette, and Hoyer, may have already had their day in the sun. Alas, their day in the sun was a day in the shadow of Tom.

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Silver Skies: Old Stars Return 

DATELINE: Yesteryear

George Hamilton

Hamilton with director Rodriguez
 

If you want an opportunity to see a bunch of your favorite 1960 stars, Silver Skies is the movie for you. It’s the tale of our group of elderly people living in an apartment complex for a come face-to-face with eviction when their homes are converted to condos.

 
Looking marvelous, George Hamilton does not look anywhere near his age, but the biting irony of this character: he is the only one of the residents with Alzheimer’s. Former mobster actor, Alex Rocco has turned into a softer grandfather figure.
The women stars include Barbara Bain, formerly of Mission impossible. There is Valerie Perrine, like Hamilton, extremely youthful still. And, in a major role, Marietta Hartley, best known for her TV commercials with James Garner.

Even Dick Van Patten shows up for a cameo.

Though this film is billed as a family drama, that is entirely deceptive from writer director Rosemary Rodriguez. The film is quite dark and bleak at times, dealing with elderly abuse and sexual issues among senior citizens.

The old residents and stars try to organize to fight back against greedy forces that have no respect for old age. For fans, this may be a glorious last chance to see those old familiar faces at again in the limelight. There’s no professional like an old professional.

Set in Sherman Oaks, California, where many former Hollywood types reside, the characters are all basically small time workers in the movie industry. It doesn’t really save them from the ravages of old age.
The film is ultimately done in by a saccharine ending under the credits. It is interesting to see a film entirely directed to the senior audience.

Humor from Heaven: Brady’s New Book

DATELINE:  Up Close to Botox

botox forever

Just when you think there’s nothing funny to say about the New England Patriots with the new season beginning, like manna from heaven, Tom Brady gives us his new book.

Filled with bon mots but no bonbons, the book drops like the gentle rain from heaven. It’s nearly 300 Nietzchean pages long with lots of pictures. This is enough to sustain a good satirist for a year.

For those who thought Tom Brady was illiterate, how wrong you are. He admits to being a good solid B student in school. However, he had no interest in academics. His major in college was General Studies, who he thought was a Confederate Civil War hero.

How is this different from any other student?

Tom admits he never had time to read while he was in school because he had another passion: sports. Now that he’s a professional athlete he still has no time to read books, but he has time to hire somebody to write one. Hence, this book.

We do learn that there are athletes in the locker room who know how to read. Tom tells us that one of his teammates told him that ‘success’ comes before ‘work’ only in the dictionary. We looked it up. It’s true.

We also learn how Tom’s Godfather is the inimitable Willie McGinnest, no Al Pacino for sure. Tom doesn’t say Willie put any horse heads in anyone’s bed, but the Godfather did give Tom an introduction to his trainer. So, now we know where to place the blame.

This is only the beginning. As soon as the book is available on our Kindle reader we will be ordering a copy. It’s worth it’s weight in gold dust.

Time for Tom Brady to Retire?

DATELINE:  Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall

off off-season

When our Haitian home health aide tells us something, we generally listen closely. He knows everything—and he is also an expert in voodoo.

So, when we considered the post-game post-mortem on the Patriots loss to Kansas City in the opener of 2017, we realized that the mantra of “One More Time” is the equivalent of whistling past the graveyard. It was, we were reminded, the 9th anniversary of the same Chiefs crushing Tom’s leg in a game, losing an entire season.

All this was detailed in the off-season book about the Patriots called The Most Off Off-Season Ever. For those with elephantine memories, you will recall that Tom Brady dismissed talk of curses and superstitions by taking the proactive stance of smashing a mirror with a hammer.

Well, we cringed then—and now a series of freakish injuries has decimated Tom’s receiving corps. The esprit de corps is now in a MASH unit in North Korea.

In no short order, Tom Brady has lost Edelman, Amendola, and Malcolm Mitchell. Other Patriots look like the walking dead from cable television: notably Gronk.

So, when our health aide said Tom Brady is too old to play quarterback, our ears were pierced with the shrill cry of a banshee in the night.

We were reminded of Muhammad Ali’s comment to Howard Cosell about age: “Ask your wife, Howard. You are not the man you were seven years ago.”

Yes, the mirror may mean that Tom’s next comeback will be in seven years: that’s a lot of IR under the bridge. Just ask any troll you find there.

You may dismiss superstition when you are the 1968 Mets, but you don’t go walking under a ladder and asking black cats to jump into your 50-yard line of vision.

Tom Brady should retire? Who’d have thunk it two weeks ago? But today, Tom looks like the man who smashed a mirror out of arrogance.

Twin Peaks: Revised and Unresolved

DATELINE: Confounded Yet Again

dead but not gone

If you walk with David Lynch, you play with fire.

Despite our wishes, David Lynch did not put the entire cast in a bus and drive it off a cliff at Twin Peaks. Perhaps he should have.

If you thought everything would be wrapped up as the story seems to end (as if ever possible), you’re looking for a Christmas present under the wrong Douglas fir tree.

Everything comes full circle, and Twin Peaks brings us right back to the first episode 25 years ago. There, you will find a rewrite, revisions galore, to the original story, as agent D.B. Cooper returns to meet Laura Palmer before her fate. His mission seems to be to prevent the murder that started the entire 25-year odd odyssey.

Thank heavens Kyle MacLachlan and Sheryl Lee have not changed one whit. They play themselves 25 years ago, no mean feat. And they don’t look too bad in the process.

Lynch does assemble the entire cast in the Twin Peaks police station, and there seems to be some kind of paranormal activity with spirits, smoke, and bad lighting.

However, unless you own some kind of Ouija board or crystal ball, you will not understand what on earth is going on. As a Greek chorus, the mobster  Jim Belushi standing there for no good reason also asks the question, “What the hell is going on?”

The actors themselves look befuddled as they perform the scene. Well, as long as the paycheck doesn’t bounce, actors will perform in any tripe being of any stripe.

This episode ends with the late Jack Nance being fondly remembered at the end of the credits this time, “in memory of.”  Yes, he starts the original series once again by not finding the dead Laura Palmer wrapped in cellophane on the shore.

Alas, the more things change, the more they remain the same.

No Night Too Long for Suspense and Mystery

DATELINE:  Lee Williams: Full Frontal and Center

Lee Williams

At first glance, the murder suspense mystery No Night is Too Long, from 2002, seems like Hitchcockian crime drama, but deep down it is purely in the mold of James Cain, author of The Postman Always Rings Twice. Guilty parties are always caught for a crime they did not commit.

Tim, a beautiful bisexual college student, seems to attract people, including a young college professor and paleontologist. Their torrid affair is told in flashback, as Tim has murdered someone unknown in his narrative. Alas, he is being tormented by anonymous letters by someone who knows what he did.

And someone is stalking him too.

Lee Williams is perfect as the sociopathic lothario who admits to murder, but seems to be suffering guilt and blackmail.

If you want a gay subtext used as a key plot device, but miles ahead of your usual soap opera gay movies, then you could do with a dose of No Night is Too Long.

It’s not what you might expect.

Williams is hynoptic and equally adept in the sack with boys and/or girls.

Director Tom Shankland knows how to put together suspenseful mystery, and uses the setting of a tourist boat to the Alaskan wilderness as a fitting backdrop.

Your usual stereotypes are certainly undercut every step of the way, and suspects abound who seem to be even worse than Tim, the self-confessed killer.

How do these little gems fall off the radar? You might be put off by the sex motives, but the performances and storyline are utterly engaging. Supporting cast, including Marc Warren, all hit the right notes.

Look for this one.

What Becomes Legendary Cary Grant

DATELINE:  Transforming Archie Leach

Cary

With permission and cooperation of his daughter Jennifer, we discover Cary Grant took many home movies of his life off-screen—and wrote an autobiography never published.

These are the basis for an extraordinary documentary called Becoming Cary Grant. Indeed, Archie Leach became movie star Cary in a titanic demonstration of willpower. To go from a poor, abandoned child in Bristol, England, to the world’s epitome of a debonair, charming superstar was not an accident of fate.

Yet, fate played a hideous joke on Cary. At age 11, his mother simply disappeared—and his father went off to marry another woman and raise a new family. Archie Leach was sent to a grandparent. Lonely and confused, he discovered vaudeville where people were happy, had fun, cared and performed on stage. He joined instantly, settling in New York at age 18 to become a dashing stage actor.

Later he went to Hollywood where a test led to something akin to instant stardom. Around that time he learned his mother had spent 20 years in an English lunatic asylum. He rescued her from that fate—and became Cary Grant almost simultaneously.

Interestingly, he chose his darker film roles as autobiographical commentary. He let directors like Hitchcock, George Cukor, and Henry Hawks, transform him into something remarkable: a man for all seasons. He could play cold-hearted cads or epicene nerds with equal likeability.

Jonathan Pryce reads Cary’s own words over many film clips that have new insight to his real issues. Grant was neither English, nor American, in his tone. He appealed to both men and women, and he was always well-mannered and self-deprecating. No wonder he remains the camera’s favorite leading man.

Whatever Cary’s personal troubles, he worked hard at becoming a better person and happier in his personal work and life. The documentary exudes with his hypnotic personality, his magnetic appeal. No matter what problems beset him, he gave the world something special.

 

 

Space Children: Jack Arnold Classic

DATELINE:  1958 Gem

brothersPlaying brothers: Johnny Crawford & Michel Ray

One of the great under-appreciated directors of the 1950s is largely forgotten now, Jack Arnold. Among his best known films are Creature from the Black Lagoon, It Came from Outer Space, The Incredible Shrinking Man and No Name on the Bullet. He transcended genre.

In 1958 he tried another science fiction flick that didn’t quite win the cult following of his earlier movies. That was his interesting examination of a space alien that puts mind control on kids in The Space Children.

Mind you: this was way before sweet E.T. and monstrous Children of the Damned took over the minds of juveniles.

It helped that Arnold was fearless with child actors. He simply found the best and let them play it. In this case he used Johnny Crawford, before the Rifleman, and Michel Ray, before Lawrence of Arabia. As brothers, they are as good as the Hardy Boys.

He also cast some of the well-known character actors of the era:  Raymond Bailey (of Beverly Hillbillies), Jackie Coogan (of Addams Family), and Russell Johnson (of Gilligan’s Island), as his adult problems for the kids.

Michel Ray is particularly effective with eyes that seem to presage Nick Hoult 60 years later. It’s Ray who has the ray-beam power to paralyze adults, through his alien host.

These kids are children of rocket scientists—and their mission is to sabotage their fathers’ prototype Star Wars missile program. Yes, this movie is a tad ahead of its time.

The film is subtle and not given over to the histrionics we have come to expect from puerile space movies.

Perhaps the title misled audiences: this was clearly a movie for adults to ponder, not to titillate the popcorn set.

This lost gem can be streamed on your viewing device and clocks in at 68 minutes: it’s a dreamy entertainment.

Twin Peaks 3: Episode 14 Update

DATELINE:  We See Dead People

bowie

Late David Bowie With Early MacLachlan

If we have learned any lesson this season, it is there is no such thing as a spoiler in Twin Peaks 3.  David Lynch’s surreal series is moving toward its conclusion, and the old characters, however dead they may be, are still viable plot movers.

Old time fans will be glad they have hung on to the lunacy by this time. Lynch now has begun to weave clips of the original show, 25 years ago, into the new plot.

This episode featured old Lynch as FBI Director Cole recounting a dream to Miguel Ferrer as his assistant Albert. In it, we see dark-haired young Lynch in conversation with young, still-dark haired Kyle MacLachlan as Agent Cooper. Director Cole’s old partner and friend shows up from 25 years ago, and it is none other than the late David Bowie.

He is in a scene with the late Miguel Ferrer.

Dana Ashbrook is now on the Twin Peaks Police Force, and James Marshall is now a night watchman in the infamous Twin Peaks Hotel. There, he works with a British boy who looks like his son—and has been directed to Twin Peaks by cosmic forces to find his “destiny.”

Lynch continues to be a grand proponent of directing actors to stare blankly at each other. It is both insightful and hilarious. He does it best with Ferrer who notes the absurdity of the universe.

We now learn too the connection between missing agent Dale Cooper, his assistant Diane, and the weird counter-point of Naomi Watts as Mrs. Dougie Jones.

The episode is dedicated to the memory of David Bowie who probably wished he could return to reprise his role in this grandiose season.

Unsolved History: Death of Marilyn 1962

DATELINE: Carted Away

carted away

So long, Norma Jean

The old Discovery series holds up as a marvel of scientific accuracy. Take, for instance, their 2003 look at the strange circumstances surrounding the death of legendary actress Marilyn Monroe.

As the third episode of the second season, it may be worth your streaming download to put to bed all those conspiracy theories that she was murdered for threatening the Kennedy brothers (President and Attorney General) that she would reveal secrets about UFOs.

The episode brings together a witness from the original autopsy, a pharmacologist, and a forensic psychiatrist. It also pulls together a brilliant re-enactment and actual photo evidence.

Since the location of her death, a modest cottage in Los Angeles is now a parking lot, they build the room in which she saw her last minutes of life.

Using old mimeographed photos, as the originals are gone, they decorated the room to a minute detail: it was a stark, non-glamorous location filled with clutter. It had no decorations or artwork to express personality. It was the ultimate banal chamber of a drug addict without concern for the world.

Marilyn eschewed her usual sleeping pills and took just about all of Nembutal that she had purchased the day before.

Her body could have been re-arranged, or moved, but the series proved she locked the door—and went about her grim task.

One researcher insists that she was given drugs through an enema to kill her—but the show proved that the drugs would dissolve in her system within 20 minutes, time enough to put her out before death descended within an hour or so.

Occasionally one must view one of these historically and scientifically accurate episodes to sweep away the hysteria and legend.

In under one hour, History Unsolved resolves plenty.

Long Live King Kong

 DATELINE:  Still Kicking 85 Years Later

kong

 

If you want to be enchanted and taken back to childhood, the little documentary on the history of King Kong is pure escape and delight.

Kong! What an actor. They literally don’t make them like him anymore.

A bunch of Hollywood’s behind-the-scenes creative people were most influenced to go into the artistic end of movies because of their experience with the 1933 stop-action classic that still amazes and thrills nearly 85 years later.

Oh, yes, they have clips from all the major rip-offs and poor productions, which are somewhat enjoyable, but all the subsequent Kongs were dwarfed by the original.

There are anecdotes about people knowing Fay Wray over the years—and what a devotee she was to Kong, ever faithful to the ape who loved her.

Peter Jackson’s 2005 remake follows most closely as an act of love, updated, to pay homage to the Merriam C. Cooper version. The film omits the latest Kong movie called Skull Island, which features some interesting actors, all willing to play co-star to the big monkey.

Brady in Manhattan

There is no real answer as to why Kong remains beloved, despite the carnage he creates in New York for Carl Denham, the hilarious Robert Armstrong’s legendary performance as a rapacious movie producer.

Kong holds up as the eighth wonder of the world because the filmmakers managed to give a puppet all the range of emotions and powerful communication skills that are often missing in most action stars.

Long Live King Kong is certainly not the best documentary of the year, but it is one to most likely give you a smile of long-ago fun when monster movies defied your kid’s understanding of special effects and gave you mesmerizing appreciation for film.

 

Rebel in the Rye Catches Nicholas Hoult

DATELINE:  See You in September, Release Date

REAL SALINGER   hoult

Real J.D. Salinger and the Real Nick Hoult

If we were to pick our favorite recluses, J.D. Salinger is up there with B. Traven and Greta Garbo.

Now comes forth an intriguing film about the years before Jerome David Salinger went private-mad.

Nicholas Hoult has sent out a Facebook message about his new movie, Rebel in the Rye.

The handsome young British actor has perfected his American accent enough to go for playing a New York writer in the 1940s.

J.D. Salinger famously published but one novel and preferred the genre of short story and novella. Who can blame him? His greatest hit is titled Catcher in the Rye, which a few people have read over the past 60 years.

Salinger would never let Hollywood ever come near his cherished novel. And, they threw oodles of money at his feet, but he was adamant.

So, how would J.D. feel about a movie depicting his post-traumatic experiences in World War II as the backdrop for writing his “grand” novel. Heavens, Holden Caulfield would have a fit over calling his story grand.

And, boy, would he throw a fit over this movie! Privacy is certainly dead nowadays.

Nicholas Hoult is always fascinating to watch, but he may seem a touch different here. It’s the brown contact lenses to cover up those startling blue eyes that vaulted him to fame among devoted distaff viewers.

With Kevin Spacey as his demanding editor, Hoult’s Salinger comes across as chummy, not reclusive. Ah, youth.

The best we can give you at this point is a trailer. So here goes.

So here goes.

30 Days of Night: North to Vampires

DATELINE: Beautiful Josh Hartnett Alert!

 Josh Hartnett

Director David Slade gave us the pretty vampire of Robert Pattinson in that sugar-pop vampire series, but has turned in an uglier version with 30 Days of Night. Here in Barrow, Alaska, when the sun sets, the vampires have a long winter’s feast.

It’s a claustrophobic experience to be cut off from the rest of the world with an army of hungry vampires.

Josh Hartnett has never looked prettier in this 2007 movie, but he seems to fall apart, as the film proceeds, thanks to makeup effects. He’s the sheriff of a cold, little town in the northern most latitudes of the United States. He goes from clean-shaven to scraggy, to—well, we won’t say.

Most of the residents don’t have a clue what the plague is that is attacking them as night must fall.

These are Nosferatu Nasty vampires, led by black-eyed Danny Huston speaking some weird language of vampires, in sub-titles no less. Huston wins the creepy award.

As one of those pick’em off one by one movies, you watch the little town of 150 or so dwindle to a precious few.

Ben Foster starts things off in one of his patented creepy roles, but once those superhuman vamps start flying like flakes in a blizzard, you figure that the movie will be over in thirty minutes.

Humans are resilient—and fight back, rather hopelessly.

The film is a little different than you might come to expect from the genre, and that makes it highly watchable, despite the blood-letting.

This didn’t win any Oscars, but it might have entertained a few people over the years. We have discovered it later than it deserved. But, better late than never. Go north, vampire hunters.

 

 

 

 

 

 

WordPress, Wherefore Art Thou?

DATELINE:  Biting the Hand That Feeds Us Tofu Turkey

Tofu   tofu turkey

Almost as juicy as our Tofu Turkey Award, we were just notified by WordPress that this is our seventh anniversary.

We almost expect the locust to descend upon our readers.

Every once in a while we realize that there are awards out there for blogs, but as Ella Fitzgerald used to sing, “But Not for Me….”

Yes, indeed, bloggers are writing songs of love, but not for me.

We heard there are real WordPress awards out there, but they are as mysterious as the Men in Black for us.

Fear not, fearless readers. We will continue for another seven years writing movie reviews on weird movies, pushing our bad books, and berating Tom Brady. If we are not mistaken, seven years is about the same length of time for those with bad luck when you break a mirror.

Thank you, WordPress, for reminding us.

 

 

Brandon DeWilde: Gone 45 Years Ago

DATELINE: Memories

Audie with Brandon DeWilde

Audie Murphy with Brandon on set of Night Passage

Forty-five years is a long time, no matter how old you are.

It is especially long when you think that young actor Brandon DeWilde died on a road in Denver that many years ago. He’s buried in East Farmingdale, New York.

Brandon is likely remembered as the little boy in the movie Shane who cried, “Come back, Shane, come back!” as the mysterious gunman kept on riding his horse into the clouds.

Our personal favorite movie with Brandon was Hud, though when he stood up to father figure John Wayne, his costar for In Harm’s Way, he gave another interesting performance. Challenging the man playing your father is not an easy trick when it’s the Duke.

Julie Harris starred on Broadway in 1950 and in the movie version of Member of the Wedding, largely forgotten nowadays, with Brandon as her little friend. She once told us in an interview that their bare feet would be so dirty after a stage performance of pretending to be outdoors in the Old South. For years afterward, he would greet her by announcing his feet were clean. She remembered him fondly as her costar on stage and in film.

Who didn’t adore Brandon?

He glowed in every performance, not like so many insipid child actors.

Brandon was such a scene stealer that, when he costarred with dangerous war hero Audie Murphy in Night Passage, he was knocked on his keester by Audie, wearing a black hat and black leather vest for this bad guy role, in one scene. Yes, it was in the script.

You could put Brandon up against Warren Beatty and Paul Newman—and he matched their intensity.

DeWilde is now a trivia piece of history for many movie fans. But his demise so long ago was a shock when it happened. He rode off into the clouds, leaving us to cry out, “Come back, Brandon. Come back.”

Alas, he can only do it in his marvelous movie roles.