Play the Devil, Billy Budd in Trinidad

DATELINE: Another Budd Movie

tormented petrice Petrice Jones, a Face to Watch!

Director Maria Govan’s intriguing character study will not be acceptable to those viewers who want someone else (director, actor) to telegraph who’s the bad guy. The film is Play the Devil. Govan is playing Devil’s Advocate.

You have to think when you watch this movie, and you may not be happy with your decisions. What seems on the surface to be one of those May-December gay romance stories, set in the poverty-stricken island of Trinidad, turns into Billy Budd.

Beautiful and naïve, young Gregory (Petrice Jones) is the promise of his family. Approached by an older (but not old) businessman (Gareth Jenkins) with plenty of money, he finds himself flattered by the attention—at first.

Here is a chance to escape poverty, receive an education, and live in indolent luxury. It is tempting, but the young man has second thoughts—and needs space. Perhaps he is not gay after all. However, his obsessed older fan won’t take no for an answer and begins insinuating himself into all aspects of Greg’s life.

Feeling more and more trapped and cornered, Greg sees how such a relationship will ease the burdens of his family and open up a new world for him. Yet, his stalker knows better—and insists that the young man is merely fighting his nature when he should give in to it. It’s enhanced by two remarkable performances by the leads.

You know this is heading in a negative direction, but perhaps you will not see how it must conclude.

Set against the Carnival of Trinidad where young men paint themselves in blue and act the role of devils, chaotically racing through the streets, you have a clear case of possession. You may not have just another gay movie here.

Director Govan is not making this easier with her parallels to Billy Budd, and her film becomes an un-gay parable.

Tesla Files: 1.2 in Colorado Springs

DATELINE: Tireless Wireless

 camera shy Eby    Camera Shy Drew Eby

The Tesla Files continue with a second episode trying to locate dozens of lost trunks of experiments and notes. One expert has already questioned the show’s veracity, as the stuff was supposedly taken from Nikola Tesla’s storage facility upon his death in 1943 by agents unknown.

Dr. Travis Taylor, beau hunk of academia, and star of other cable adventure shows, including Ancient Aliens, exerts his formidable ginger presence and scholarly credentials to dominate this series.

Few of us with doctorates have a website with adoring fans, effusing over a ten-year old photo. Indeed, we are noted for posting a picture with our head in a bag with an eye hole. We won’t be hosting any History Channel documentaries. Our former students are loath to watch or to listen to our pontifications.

Taylor surrounds his investigation with fellow boyish assistants who look like former students. At least one, Drew Eby, will likely give Alex Lagina a run for hot supporting character in a limited series. As the show’s Vanna White, he pushes electrical buttons and lets the charge rip.

A secondary journalist/investigator goes to a local museum to learn that Tesla’s possessions went up for auction in 1906 for failure to pay his electric bill. Talk about poetic justice.

Upon locating a copper ball that allegedly sent out vibrations to ancient aliens, he discovers it likely is not genuine. It’s the stock-in-trade of shows like this: whet your appetite and feed you to the critics.

Meanwhile, we are intrigued with leaked material from unnamed sources, and name-dropping of Trump connections.

There are many colorized pictures of young Tesla, which may be worth the price of historical History Channel viewing.

We will continue to watch the series and wireless experiments on our wireless smartphone, to keep in the spirit of Tesla.

Trump Phones Belichick This Week!

DATELINE: Inquiries about Tom Brady

 candidates2

President Trump is a busy man, according to his newest lawyer and occasional dragster, Rudi Guiliani.

Trump does not have time to consider Stormy Daniels and how his lawyer paid $130,000 for a non-disclosure agreement (NDA). However, Trump made a long duration phone call to Bill Belichick of the Patriots this week on matters of national security.

There is no evidence that Belichick asked Mr. Trump to work as a scout for possible hotel sites for road trips. The Patriots are not scheduled to play in Moscow during the upcoming season, but a trip to North Korea has not been ruled out.

Since the NFL draft is done, Belichick has time on his hands. So, the two high-powered patriots could ruminate about the situation of Tom Brady, according to reports of those in the room as Belichick’s smartphone proved especially stupid.

It is not known whether Trump’s phone was secure. Belichick’s private lines are under tight security.

Trump asked the Patriots coach about the status of Tom Brady, and likely the seventh-round draft pick who is deemed talented enough to replace Brady. Pundits deduce that Mr. Brady has not taken any calls from Mr. Trump lately, but was in Qatar on business last week.

We suspect that Trump is also incensed that Patriot owner Robert Kraft, a frequent flyer on Air Force One, as guest to the President, has reported criticized Trump about his stance on kneeling players. Kraft believes the three-point stance does not qualify as taking a knee.

At the least, Trump was not satisfied with the answers from the Patriots—and reportedly held Belichick on the phone for close to an hour. Belichick admitted next to nothing in regard to this phone call, but we are assured that there is no collusion between Belichick and Trump.

Belichick has signed an NDA and may not reveal his intimate chitchat with President Trump. Belichick will likely tell news media that he is “on to 2018” and not dwelling on players who are meeting with Russians unless it has a bearing on why Malcolm Butler was benched during the Super Bowl.

 

 

 

 

Post Toastie, Post Haste, Post Dated

 DATELINE: Movie Review

 post toastie  The Post

Back in the days of the Nixon Administration, journalism became elevated to the career and mission of national guardian, and you had movies like All the President’s Men about Woodward and Bernstein, starring Hoffman and Redford.

Today, with fake news all the buzz, you have an attempt to recreate the nostalgia of journalism in The Post-Watergate movie in the era of Stormy Daniels and James Comey.

Hence, you have The Post with two actors of note, exceptions as targets in the crosshairs of President Trump: Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep.

The Post is the name of the newspaper that is most maligned nowadays by Sarah Huckaboo Slanders in her daily briefings at the White House. It is also the name of a movie that tries to redeem journalism.

You’d have better luck collecting a nickel for your empty beer bottle.

This is a movie preaching to the people not sitting in the church pew. You will need to chain someone to a pillar to watch The Post.

Muckrakers no longer read newspapers or books and prefer ten seconds to hook their media audience with an image. By the same token, movies are not watched for messages nowadays, and not watched without a good car chase and explosion. You might as well hook your worm and go fishing.

But, we do have a movie here, not a video game. And we have to say something to that cult of movie watchers and the cult of message movie fans.

When documentaries are accused of being faked news, a docudrama is the ultimate fiction to the new breed of Trumpist news monks.

Oh, by the way, The Post is a prestige movie. That means no one is watching, which is a shame.

Trump as Captain Queeg?

 DATELINE:  25th Amendment Mutiny?

 

Queeg Trump Bogart as Trump

If you caught Fox & Friends on this Thursday morning, April 26, you heard the President of the United States call in for a light-hearted conversation.

For over 30 minutes, the hosts humored him until someone told them in their earpieces that he was out of his mind—and shut him down immediately.

Unfortunately for his supportive trio of hosts, the POTUS went slightly off-script. Banter turned into darkly moody ranting.

We haven’t seen such a prolonged, agonizing performance of descent into madness since Humphrey Bogart played Captain Queeg in the notorious scene from Herman Wouk’s The Caine Mutiny, not to be confused with Herman Caine’s run for president.

A paranoid officer, Captain Queeg went on the witness stand to testify against the mutineer officers of his ship. And, he proved their point.

We could not see Trump rolling little steel balls between his fingers, but we certainly heard the deranged rant about the missing strawberries.

Someone stole his favorite dessert from the galley kitchen.

No, wait, that was Queeg.

Trump went on and on about Stormy Daniels, Michael Cohen, and admitted to prosecutors listening what they exactly needed to hear. He gave them a full lunatic confession.

It may not be admissible in court of law because the poor, besotted soul in love with himself was clearly an animal in distress. Impeachment may be another kettle of strawberries.

We wonder how many members of Congress heard this and wondered how soon the Cabinet will mutiny against the mad Queeg in the White House.

Humphrey Bogart won accolades for his searing portrait of a man in the throes of madness. Trump lost more credibility, though his supporters may be as mad as he.

We are slip-sliding on steel ball bearings—and Great America is about to have a greater fall.

Indeed, Trump proved that the strawberries were stolen, and it was not fake news after all.

It was a career-ending performance.

Ridley Scott & Earthly Alien Monsters

DATELINE:  Horror:  Cash & Carry

 2 Gettys Spacey v. Plummer?

All the Money in the World will be remembered for several reasons:  first, it is the story of the kidnapping of J. Paul Getty’s grandson in 1973. Second, it is the film that Kevin Spacey’s performance was erased and replaced. Third, it is a Ridley Scott movie about an out-of-control, voracious monster—a billionaire.

As J. Paul Getty, Christopher Plummer, at 88 years, came in for nine days and re-did all Spacey’s scenes. It was more amazing for being notable for having some CGI elements. One scene had to be faked—and Plummer’s head is on Spacey’s body in one scene filmed in Jordan.

Most of the hard work was done at break-neck speed for an elderly actor who rose to the occasion. His key scenes with cast members were re-shot. Scott re-edited the pastiche and eliminated the detrimental performance of Spacey. As box office poison, Spacey would have sunk the movie. Plummer astounds.

As for Plummer, he is brilliant. If you see Spacey’s bad makeup, you realize that Scott made a correct decision by letting Plummer act twenty-five years younger, rather than have Spacey act older.

The story about super-rich people is a form of Aliens. Indeed, the narrator grandson (marvelous young star Charlie Plummer, no relation to Christopher) notes that the rich are from another planet.

Ridley Scott’s provenance as an alien creator stands him in good metaphoric movie history here. Plummer’s Getty is a creature from another world.

Michelle Williams as Getty’s daughter-in-law is a powerhouse surprise in this film, and Mark Wahlberg may seem miscast as a fixer lawyer, but acquits himself quickly and in the climax. Another twist of delight comes from Timothy Hutton’s work.

This year’s bad guys are all billionaires – arrogant, privileged, controlling, megalomaniacs. We even have one as President, and this movie tells us why that’s not good.

 

 

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.

 

 

 

Sketchy Brady & Stormy Weather

DATELINE: Say It Ain’t So, Tom!

While Tom Brady is away in Arabia, playing at Lawrence of Best Buddies, on a charity junket to Qatar, riding camels, the home-front is afire.

It’s not bad enough that Bill Belichick is playing the Gunfighter from Westworld, trying to do a robot kill on Brady, but now Mickey Spillane Avenatti, the nightmare attorney who is giving Trump a nervous breakdown, has set his sights on Tom Brady lookalikes.

It appears that a criminal sketch artist has come up with a picture of the man who threatened Miss Stormy Daniels about revealing too much detail about Mr. Trump’s strumpets.

The last time a sketch artist did in Tom, he started to look like Quasimodo in a bad bell-ringer mode during the Deflategate trials.

Today, of course, he looks like a man whose TB12 method means he never had or needed Botox. The latest picture is supposed to be a young thug from 2011, back when Tom wore his hair askance and before the hair-plugs for men settled in.

It would seem that Tom’s one-time support for President Trump will go a long way to ruining his life now and forever. He is paying a dear price for having a MAGA hat in his locker for one enchanted evening.

Tom is so hated in some circles that concussed football fans think he is capable of approaching a porn star with a threatening glare.

We feel being out of the country at present may be the best strategy for Mr. Brady. He also ought to consider hiring a better public relations agency to handle his press junkets.

From Tea Pot Dome Scandal to Pee Pot Bed

DATELINE:  Pot to Plant Flowers In

glow in dark pee potGlow in Dark Pee Pot

President Warren Harding gave us Teapot Dome Scandal, and President Softing Trump has given us Pee Pot Bed Scandal.

From Teapot Dome to Pee Pot Bed, you cannot embarrass Trump supporters. They’re deplorables all right.

The people who support President Trump are the kind of people who leave the bathroom door open when they go. That’s if they don’t wet the bed. It never Depends on them.

The Russians call it “Kompromat.”

In case you’re wondering, that’s when they compromise an American president with blackmail. No wonder Pee Pot Trump had to send his crooked attorney Lyin’Michael Cohen to Prague to try to get those tapes right before the election.

The Russians could publish them in a book called The Yellow Stream Down Trump’s Backside by I.P. Daily.

Gilbert Gottfried notes that Trump should have kept the tapes on Betamax, not his IPO.

I.P. Daily is a fake journalist who works for UP According to Strumpet Depress Secretary Sarah Suckapee Launders.

Now the crooked FBI must go over the tapes to find whether those damp spots are damp spots. Out, out, redacted, unmade bed.

And this weekend former FBI director James Comey will let us know whether Trump came up to see the Russians and actually has a little rocket after all.

60 Minutes wouldn’t allow Stormy Daniels to present her weather forecast on Trump’s hail and thunderous tiny pocket rocketman. The tape measure has more impact on your bedspread and spreadsheet.

Perhaps James Comey will offer us more insight into the Pee Pot. Stir, don’t shake.

 

 

Tom Brady Shall Return

DATELINE:  Like Douglas MacArthur

Belichick

Dare we return to bad habits, like mentioning the off-season New England Patriots? If eating a cream puff smashes our diet efforts, let football fans eat cake.

In the past few weeks, rumors have gone bananas that Tom  versus Father Time Brady is about to retire after all, and Gronk is going into the movies. Indeed, Gronk just signed to play a role in a movie with Mel Gibson and Naomi Watts. It’s a typical action/adventure romp, not exactly Kenneth Branagh’s attempt to do Shakespeare’s Timon of Athens in black and white contemporary dress.

Late reports tell fans that Brady is now practicing privately with Julian Edelman for a return to the the swamp at Patriot Place, not Washington, D.C.

Of course, the nutcase Boston sports media put out an April Fool’s rumor that Gronk was about to be traded, and that Coach Bill Belichick had planned to send every close friend of Tom Brady on the team into exile like Elba was a Eastern Division team in the NFL AFC. Former Patriot coordinator Matt Patricia is picking up discarded pieces for the Detroit Lions faster than anyone else.

It was a diabolical way to force Brady to quit while he was still ahead. So, Tom forced wife Giselle Bundchen to announce she no longer was pressing for retirement.

Then, of course, the Patriots interviewed nutcase Johnny Manziel for a role as Brady’s backup that would eliminate the need to keep Brady hanger-on Brian Hoyer as backup. Brady supports QB Colin What’shisname, but no one in the NFL remembers his name.

Nobody ever said Bill Belichick was a nice guy, or even liked the quarterback who has made him one of the winningest coaches in NFL history.

Of course, there is the sidebar that the NFL is soon to be history, owing to falling ratings, kneeling players, and concussed fans who froth at the mouth over Colin’s knees.

There are those who think the billionaire playboys who own these baubles of sports entertainment are part of the juggernaut bringing on the Fall of the American Empire, precipitated by a politically idiotic president in the mold of Bill Belichick.

If you think Belichick can make the Patriots great again after discarding the heart and soul of his players, then we have an immigration program that takes down the Statue of Liberty as a monument and leaves it strictly as an NFL wildcard playbook notion.

Two Godfathers in Righteous Kill

DATELINE:  Pacino & De Niro as Cop Team

two godfathers

Al Pacino and Robert De Niro have made several movies together. We were surprised by the 2008 entry called Righteous Kill from 2008. When this is all we will ever receive from the two legends in tandem, we take it gladly ten years later.

You have a special treat with this movie. The two legendary actors play New York detective partners. They must’ve flipped a coin to see who got which role. We suspect they have equal numbers of scenes, but play off each other quite well. Nothing less could be expected.

Their Lieutenant played by Brian Dennehy, notes that they must have about 120 years experience between them. Yes, they seem a little long in the tooth and beyond retirement age. This is especially noticeable in De Niro’s love scenes to a girl more than half his age.

Their foil cop detectives are played by John Leguizamo and Donnie Wahlberg, more age-appropriate detectives. They play mincemeat for laughs to the stars. Pacino calls them gay Starsky and Hutch.

There are many 60s and 70s references in this movie, like it should’ve been made 25 years earlier.

However, the stars will not disappoint their fans. Short of them playing mobsters, these roles are the best they probably could find in a script together.

The mystery about the serial killer may easily be figured out,  But the fun is watching Pacino and De Niro act up a storm.

Righteous kill pushes all the right buttons. It is formulaic, yes, but De Niro and Pacino transcend.

To prove we watched every minute including the credits, we can tell you that Pacino and De Niro each has a hairdresser; each has his own make up artist; each needs a personal Stand-in, and each has a personal driver, But Pacino has two personal assistants to De Niro’s one.

The movie is a game of one upsmanship.

 

 

 

 

Mrs. Brown, You Have a Lovely Horse

DATELINE: Early Dench Victoria

 Dench as Victoria Dench as younger Queen Victoria

Count on us to have it backwards. Judi Dench first played Queen Victoria over twenty years ago in Mrs. Brown. Her recent foray into the royal personage in Victoria and Abdul is a re-boot. We reviewed the later performance before the older.

Mrs. Brown is given a new title on your streaming list: it is inexplicably called Her Majesty, Mrs. Brown. The title of Mrs. Brown is what the detractors called the Queen, owing to her relationship to the horse whisperer from Scotland. No, she never married him, except in spirit.

Like Helen Mirren and her reprisals as Queen Elizabeth I and II, Judi Dench has made Queen Victoria Regina all her own.

The earlier depiction showed Victoria in the years after the death of Prince Albert, her beloved consort and time in which she was in deep mourning and totally inconsolable.

Enter a Scotsman who was Albert’s equestrian expert, a commoner with brutish manners by the common name of John Brown. Gerard Butler is nearly unrecognizable as the younger brother footman, Archie Brown.

Her royal society is scandalized as Brown consolidates power in her friendship. Billy Connolly is suitably kilt-worn and boor before the Boer War. He oversteps his bounds ultimately.

Whether the intimate twosome were romantically involved or whether Victoria was simply a lonely widow who needed companionship, the film coyly dances around.

The other characters clearly think her loose with her trappings.

One of the most amusing, and bemused, of the observers is Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli (Antony Sher) played with a perpetual smug as a canary-eating cat. Sher’s delightful performance gives the film a modern sensibility and balance.

Once again, we have a well-produced movie with Queen Victoria smarter than her subjects, the film’s subject, and even smarter than the script. This movie is Downton Abbey on a regal scale.

You will find another bio-film worth your time. Judi Dench is at the top of her game.

Murphy Trumps Olivia DeHavilland

DATELINE: Lady in a Caged Lawsuit

 Miss De havilland to you

DeHavilland as vindictive Heiress (1949)

Perhaps the 101-year-old legendary star actress has outlived her own values.

According to a California court, Miss Olivia De Havilland has no right to stop an unflattering portrayal of herself in Ryan Murphy’s ripe black comedy called Feud. It’s the nasty tale of how Bette Davis and Joan Crawford spoiling for a fight over their careers and in Whatever Happened to Baby Jane.

Miss DeHavilland’s character called her own sister, actress Joan Fontaine, a “bitch” on screen, to which De Havilland objected. She called her many things, but never bitch.

She would have preferred “dragon lady,” but the producers of Feud and the courts felt that it was too archaic and not colorful enough to suit the story. Olivia De Havilland was kicked harder than Joan Crawford in Baby Jane, all in the name of artistic expression.

If the law is to be understood nowadays, you don’t have a right to stop the First Amendment, however disabused you may suffer at the hands of hack writers.

In all likelihood, Ryan Murphy, smug as ever, never realized Olivia DeHavilland, a two-time Oscar winner for 1940 and 1949, was still alive. He continued to call her “Olivia” this year, as if they were on a first-name basis, throughout the legal case.

So, Miss De Havilland stayed in seclusion in Paris while Hollywood glamour types and writers now have open season on living beings. A screenwriter can put whatever words he wants into your mouth, all in the name of artistic freedom, and therein rests the script.

Hollywood’s new bread-and-butter is the documentary bio-film with re-enactors and colorful revisions to history. Miss De Havilland did not stand a chance, and we wouldn’t blame her for calling Ryan Murphy “a son of a bitch.”

Trump: Not a Pretty Picture

DATELINE:  Overexposure of the President

AvenattiMickey Spillane Avenatti

We have not seen any hush money, and Trump’s lawyer has not threatened us with castration, so here goes:

Those who remember history know that the sex scandal element that brought down Michael Jackson and caused him to pay millions in punitive damage was a picture worth a few more dollars than words.

Michael Jackson, under court order and police escort, had to allow photos of his privates, which could be clearly identified by his accusers. Yes, the photos were spot on.

Now we hear from Stormy Daniels’ lawyer, the Mickey Spillane of crime, Mickey Avenatti, that his accuser can prove l’affair d’amour fou by describing the pigmentation of the pig.

If the thought of an obese president “perched” on the edge of his bed is not enough to make you think of snuff movies, the idea that we may hear that Trump’s best defense is to allow photos ‘where the sun don’t shine.’

Mr. Trump can take some consolation that the pictures of Michael Jackson have never been leaked, not even by Wikileaks, one of Trump’s favorites leaks. No, we don’t want to see Trump taking a leak in hand.

You may need more than Depends to hide the image from your mind’s eye.

If there never was a scene in which Mr. Trump was given thirty lashes with a wet newsmagazine on his Trump rump, we may need to have the pictures to disprove it.

At least now we know where the media can hurt Trump on his red rump, according to his Snapchat.

The question is not to be or not, but whether Stormy weather may sink the Trump brand.

A photo of Trump’s genitalia may not be a pretty picture, but Mickey Avenatti seems willing to pose the question for animal crackers. Infra-red pix may finally send the only woman who matters in Trump’s life, Melania, to give him a swift kick to his exposed  scrotum.

 

 

 

Hitchcock’s Little Bang!

 DATELINE:  Short Suspense Subject by the Master!

Mumy boy

What a treat to find ourselves looking at the last half-hour episode of his TV series actually directed by Mr. Hitchcock himself.

Sandwiched between Psycho and The Birds, he gave us a gift of a timeless tale about dangerous weapons in the hands of children. “Bang! You’re Dead” is a minor gem.

Once again, he used a child star who would soon climb to more legendary fame. Back in 1954, he came up with Jerry Mathers as the little boy who discovers the dead Harry in Trouble with Harry. Mathers later went on to more trouble with Leave It To Beaver Cleaver.

In 1961, he picked out Billy Mumy, half-a-dozen years before he made a star burst on Lost in Space. Mumy was an extraordinary child actor, and his brilliant performance makes the episode all the more chilling. In one scene, while adults around him talk, he keeps an unblinking eye on his uncle, just returned from Africa and promising a special gift to the boy.

In an age when all the boys were pretending to be cowboys and had hats and guns, Mumy finds a gun and bullets in his uncle’s suitcase and presumes this is his gift. He puts one round in the chamber and switches his toy gun for the real one.

Spinning the chamber as if playing Russian Roulette, he begins a journey around the neighborhood, figuring to plug those people who give him a hard time: and there are plenty of candidates from the mailman to an annoying father and daughter at the supermarket.

Hitch zeroes in on the little fingers stuffing more bullets into the chamber and spinning away, making each shot more likely to hit a mark.

The excruciating suspense is nasty as each incident makes the growing menace more frightening. At the least, the episode ends with seven years of bad luck.

Extraordinary short film is from the seventh season of Alfred Hitchcock Presents.