Are You a Boy or Are You a Girl: The Assignment

 DATELINE:  Singular Revenge Tale

michelle rodriguez  Ultimate Tomboy?

You won’t find many gender-bending mob hitman movies out there, but Walter Hill has directed and written the best one: The Assignment.

Literate, clever, and intelligent, as well as violent, this film manages to answer the question raised by the old Barbarians song.

This is a revenge tale with a twist of lemon. Frank Kitchen is one of those androgynous, bearded killers who looks like Ralph Macchio in most scenes and a bit like Marlon Brando in On the Waterfront in a few others. Even as an attractive woman, Rodriguez still looks like Ralph Macchio.

The actor playing Frank is Michelle Rodriguez who in a clever bit of computer effects has a full-frontal nudity scene as a young man. She has the posturing and macho attitude to play the killer who meets the wrong doctor.

Also gender-bending is Sigourney Weaver, as a tough masculine female plastic surgeon who decides, beyond experimentation, to have revenge on the mob killer who murdered her brother. She drugs him and turns him into a woman. Yes, castration and breast implants do not make the girl quite.

Since Weaver’s doctor loves Edgar Allan Poe, she leaves the calling card “Nevermore” next to the gender-bent Frank, left with nasty instructions in a cheap hotel room.

Tony Shaloub is around as a psychiatrist investigator who has to hear the story from Weaver in a strait-jacket while in a mental hospital. She cannot convince anyone that she did the sex operation on Frank and he really exists now as a woman.

Weaver and Rodriguez have a few good scenes together, especially when she admires her plastic surgery by commenting that Rodriguez is attractive in a “shop girl/waitress” way. Tony Shaloub compliments Weaver for her “cheap theatrics” in her confession.

Good performances and a good script make this action revenge flick way above the pack of gender-bending tomboy movies.

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Secret Ceremony of Patriot Ring Bearers

Giselle & Bunch Lords of the Rings & Giselle

DATELINE:  Brady as Lord of the Rings

The New England Patriots Super Bowl party in which they were given their gaudy rings was an affair more secretive than a Masonic 33rd Degree installation.

If Aaron Hernandez were still alive, he’s accused all of  his former teammates of belonging to the Illuminati, or at least the billionaires among them.

Gronk let it be known that they were sworn not to talk about the details of the binge party. However, he did admit that Mr. Kraft knows how to throw a shebang. It isn’t difficult when you have $4 billion in your bank account.

Many of the former Patriots who have jumped ship for the upcoming season (including Martellus Bennett and LeGarrett Blount) were there. They certainly know they may never get to see another Super Bowl party with ring bearers.

Fake media was kept at a distance.

Tom Brady did come with his lovely wife Gisele who belongs to the almost-billionaire club, but you’d have to look hard for any other girlfriends or wives. We do know that Julian Edelman was right there, elbowing Giselle out of the picture.

Just to show he was the Eastern Star at this 33rd degree celebration, Tom wore all five of his Super Bowl rings. He even allowed Bill Belichick to put on those five so every finger on the Coach’s hands was covered in silver, gold, and diamonds of differing weights.

The event occurred in Bob Kraft’s mansion in Brookline, just a stone’s throw from Tom’s mansion in Brookline. Sometime in a future episode of Ancient Aliens, archaeologists will visit Brookline and say this was the City of the Gods.

We can’t tell you if the flying saucers landed, like Marshall Applewhite’s crew at Heaven’s Gate,  and which ones they took away.  We do know security took away many fake media members. ring bearers

Becket’s Unspeakable Love Story

Becket Cavorting Adults

DATELINE: Burton & O’Toole in Epical Struggle

In 1964 came the extraordinary event of a literate play turned into an epic movie. This was the Hollywood version of Murder in the Cathedral.  The more mundane play version by Jean Anhouilh was called simply Becket.  Its Broadway incarnation was a legend with Laurence Olivier and Anthony Quinn playing the leads, and exchanging roles every other night.

So, the movie version had big shoes to fill. Director Peter Glenville went out and arranged for the two biggest stars of the decade to go head-to-head:  Welsh Richard Burton, fresh off Cleopatra’s couch, and Irish Peter O’Toole, fresh off an Arabian oasis.

Everyone expected fireworks, but the two stars actually liked each other.

The movie shows it. O’Toole’s Henry II is utterly hysterical, and funny too. Burton’s Thomas Beckett is somber and sly. You will first be shocked at how young they are: the dissipation would set in, like dry rot, over the next decade.

They enjoyed their roles because, as O’Toole said at the time, in two blockbuster movies he was allowed a love interest of camels (Lawrence of Arabia) and Burton (Becket). And Burton was allowed only Elizabeth Taylor as his love interest. So, it was a natural affair between the actors.

Love interest indeed!

The docudrama goes grandiose in damp castles and Sherwood Forest, as Henry and Becket are like smitten boyfriends. That was the historical take—as no one could really figure how the Norman king and the Saxon aide-de-camp could be so entwined.

In a series of long capes, O’Toole is flashy and a hoot—and Burton’s character becomes more ethical and somber. Henry made Becket the recipient of many gifts: deaconship, chancellor, and Archbishop of Canterbury, to win his affection. Alas, it never worked the way Henry wanted, as Becket began to oppose his schemes.

Henry threw a fit in which he basically said he was surrounded by idiots, and the smartest man in the kingdom was opposed to him.

Well, the Knights took that to mean they had to relieve their king of a strange affection. As normal heterosexuals, they figured, you kill the one he loves. It’s a British tradition.

Of course, it all backfires. Henry II did penance with flagellation—and made Becket a saint, literally, by church canon. It makes for a rousing adventure and fascinating intellectual thriller.

 

 

Kroc Pot Founder

Kroc

DATELINE:  Your Inner Trump

Giving a tour de force performance, Michael Keaton almost wills the movie to be successful. Yet, there is the sound of Beetlejuice coming through when Ray Kroc makes his rapid-fire sales pitch. It is, at first, amusing—and then rather diabolical. It’s like watching Donald Trump’s “how to” video.

It was not the year for a movie about a Trump-style businessman in Hollywood. Just ask Meryl Streep. The Founder tells how McDonalds food chain grew to a billion-burgers-sold by hook and crook.

Other than that, the story reveals how Ray Kroc took the McDonald Brothers idea for fast food and ran with it.

Ray Kroc was not beyond taking credit for the ideas of the original McDonalds creators, but he also had to fight their small-minded integrity to quality. Kroc had traveled around the country selling milk shake mixers and recognized whatever quality McDonalds had was already ten times better than the competition in 1954.

He skimmed a little to expand the business. Shake well and stir.

When you hear Kroc’s explanation of how the Golden Arches fit in with the American flag and church crosses, you almost feel his fervor to eat a hamburger as an act of America becoming great.

What starts out as a visionary film depicting the wonderful ingenuity of the original McDonald brothers deteriorates rapidly into a tale of corporate greed, the side-effect of Ray Kroc’s vision. Beetlejuice in your head can do that.

The film has been ignored for probably glorifying crass commercialism in a Hollywood that thinks it is better than thou. This movie celebrates the Middle America out of fashion among those who hate fast food, environmental carelessness, and persistent ambition.

Dare we call them blue-nose Democrats?

You may not have to be a rugged individualist Republican to become a fan of this movie, but chances are you will be more inclined to see the virtues here among the dubious and ruthless business practices and Seven Deadly Sins.

As a movie depiction of an era and how to rake in a billion per year, this one will fascinate you– if you are willing to drive-thru.

Chess Match Unmatched

DATELINE: Games People Play

Mind games are not the easiest topic for a film in today’s violent action dominated movies.

Yet, Pawn Sacrifice turns out to be a thriller of genuine caliber. Its game is deadly serious, like a virus that infects the minds of its players.

Tobey Maguire plays Bobby Fischer with confusion and mental deterioration as the centerpiece of his performance. The chess celebrity and grand-master for Americans was a Greta Garbo of his generation and profession: he seemed to hate the publicity and fame, but played it when necessary.

Interspersed with clever historical footage of newscasters and Dick Cavett interviews, the film captures the 1960s and 1970s when the United States went kookoo for chess. It happened only once in American history—and deserved all the attention it received.

As an emblem of the Cold War, the world leaders took an interest in winning the game as a chess move between the Soviet empire and the American one. Boris Spassky and Bobby Fischer were pawns indeed, like Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs of the same decade.

Liev Schreiber gives a masterful performance (all in Russian) as Spassky who seems to catch Fischer’s madness during the match. The other main performance belongs to Peter Saarsgaard as Fischer’s nemesis (Bobby does not have friends).

Edward Zwick directs this instant classic of cerebral cortex mind bending. In the grand tradition of true stories about legends in conflict, this film transcends the silent and methodical game of chess to become a flashy commentary on obsessions, popularity, and pawns in the grand scheme of life.