Madman & Rebel: Dennis Hopper

DATELINE: Don’t Forget Drunkard!

 He’s Not in this Doc!

Dennis, Our Favorite Menace!

A semi-interesting documentary on James Dean contemporary, Dennis Hopper, whose career went through many incarnations, is allegedly told by his “co-conspirators”! The film on his life is called Along for the Ride. With friends like the intense Hopper selected, he was in for a long run toward Doom.

Hopper underwent many transformations in his life—and it mirrored his career, or vice versa. He started out as an All-American wholesome-looking boy, became a slimy and bushy-bearded druggie and drunkard, and ultimately became a haggard and highly respected character actor. He survived, which is the truly amazing fact.

Like most under-educated people in Hollywood, Hopper was sensitive to his intelligence and self-education. The film ignores his youth and early years—and picks up with his personal assistant in 1970 who owns most of his correspondence and memorabilia. He is the power behind this portrait, which really puts emphasis on his directorial ability in The Last Movie, a big flop. Having made a fortune with Easy Rider,his counter-culture friends and attitudes were given free-reign in the 1970s Hollywood-in-transition.

Hopper was never helped when friends like Satya keep telling him he’s a genius. Inevitably, his Last Moviebecame Waterloo in Peru. Hopper was a colorful show-biz personality, but he was notOrson Welles. The low-lifes and sycophants around him convinced him otherwise.

You won’t have to see The Last Movie to know from this picture that it is an unmitigated disaster. When working on Apocalypse Now, Marlon Brando refused to do any scenes with him. He had told the most powerful Hollywood moguls to go “f” themselves. He was on Ruination Row in a self-constructed prison.

There is a passing nod to his mentor and progenitor, James Dean, but really he was on his own trip far from his rebel youth movies.

Blue Velvet resurrected him. He always felt he was personally difficult, but not professionally so. In the end he made so many movies that any idea that he was blackballed cannot be believed.

Hopper’s right-hand man and behind-the-scenes acolyte does his job to the bitter end.

 

New England Legacy: Video Cheating?

DATELINE:  The All-Seeing Video Eyeball

Spygate crashers?

What’s with video cheating and Boston’s managerial brain-trusts? Their genius may be all in the eye of the camera.

We have somehow come to accept every sordid charge that Bill Belichick somehow in some way has cheated his way to win six Super Bowls. From Deflategate to Spygates 1 and 2, he seems to appear in sequels more than Rocky.

This is now the New England championship ring of truth around the world. World champs here come from the bottom of the barrel. The ring is worn on the wrong finger.

And if you had any doubt, you had only to note that now Alex Cora, winner of the 2018 World Series for the Boston Red Sox is up to his video eyeballs in cheating for both the Houston Astros and the Red Sox.

He was awarded the Sox job, it now appears, on the false pretense that he was a mastermind of winning. Well, it now appears he was indeed the mastermind—of a video spy scandal in Houston as their coach. The manager and his general manager have now been fired as a result.

Cora is hiding in plain sight. MLB states he is being investigated for making a video conference room in the Red Sox clubhouse for cheaters to view signs and other insider activities of the opposing dugout.

How long Cora stands up to this withering accusation is anyone’s guess! Chances are, like Belichick, he will hunker down and figure winners never face punishment. Don’t look for Cora to resign in disgrace any more than Trump will for his impeachy behaviors.

Those old interviews in which Alex Cora waxed eloquent on his admiration for Bill Belichick now take on sinister tones.

No, it will be for the true-blue Red Stockings front office to fire him. Will they? It now seems like he may fall under the New England umbrella of winners never quit and winning is the only deodorant. Managers like Casey Stengel belonged to a different century and a different club.

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?

Patriots Receive Their Come-Uppance!

DATELINE: The Empire Collapses 

 

Many Patriot haters have waited 20 years for the moment. The parallel in history may be the Fall of the Roman Empire: the barbarians are at the gate, and Belichick and Brady are fleeing the chaos.

The Mighty Patriots have struck out.
There is no joy in Mudville or Foxboro. The Pats have lost their bye week—and probably their souls.
If anyone is stunned by the Dolphins beating the Pats, you have not been paying attention. For weeks now Tom Brady has been playing like a man who will be at quarterback until he is 50—in the sandlot league.
Bill Belichick is like one of the Magnificent Ambersons: he is receiving his come-uppance.His vaunted defense looked like Swiss cheese and most of his players will leave in free agency. Even Brady is expected to go out with a bang elsewhere.
History runs in cycles, and the Patriots have been top dog for a couple of decades, but now they are heading back to the rubbish pile years of the 1970s. They may spend the next two decades as outliers in the AFC.
We expect that Josh McDaniels and Julian Edelman will jump ship. Already the Florida authorities are emboldened to file new felony charges against owner Robert Kraft for human trafficking, however preposterous that seems.
Now they will feel Miami is on a roll.
On the eve of an ice storm in New England, the New England Pats may be entering a new Ice Age. The berg has hit their flank—and the unsinkable franchise has sprung a leak.
About 20 members of the team are ready for free agency—and don’t let the door hit your rear on the way out.
Don’t cry for the Patriots, Argentina. Tom will be playing there next season.

Orson Welles Undone

DATELINE:Roots of Career Destruction

  Distraught Orson!

If you want to trace the root of all the problems of the great director Orson Welles, you can go straight to Rio. After the fame and accolades of Citizen Kane, Welles took on two simultaneous projects –Magnificent Ambersons and Journey into Fear. 

They filmed at adjoining sound stages at RKO, and he ran from one to the other in costume, trying to act and/or direct. Both are stunning films, but flawed. If only he had put full attention to each.

That’s when Nelson Rockefeller called and told him he had a duty to build bridges with South America to stop any Nazi foothold from developing. He went there on a good will trip to make a documentary—and the rest is catastrophe.

It’s All True is the name of this doc, and it was to be the name of three films made in Brazil. Alas, he went down there with no specific plan—but to research and film. He decided to make a film about the political and social conditions by showing the history of samba. Welles is quite a sympathetic figure here.

In the middle of trying to put together rushes and a plot, RKO underwent change of ownership—and shelved his project, leaving Welles in the lurch.

As he was about to film a voodoo ceremony, he could not pay the participants. One ringleader visited, quite upset, and put a spike with red ribbon through the script It was a curse of the moviedom and doom.

Welles knew it, and he spent the rest of his career trying to finish films when money ran out. He knew he should have simply moved on, but could not.

This film would have been fascinating if it had focused on the problems of making his movies—but most of the footage he made was found in 1985. It actually comprises (without soundtrack) more than half of this film.

Beautiful footage may well tell us masterpieces were lost. However, we don’t need more than one bite to prove the point. Overlong and overkill marks this 1993 attempt to show the master’s work, rather than the master at work.

 

 

 

 

Darwin, Living in Death Valley!

Darwin: Evolution of Death Valley

 No Services Ahead.

Death Valley is the end of the line. How fitting that Darwinis the end of the road. The subtitle here is “No Services Ahead.” It is meant to discourage people from visiting. You cannot go to a place that is the polar opposite of Downton Abbey—unless it is Darwin.

This film is not a documentary about the collapse of the New England Patriot dynasty and the end of Tom Brady.

The film is nearly ten years old, and we figure half of those in the movie are now buried in the town cemetery. Who could be left?

If your idea of stark beauty with the sty of trashed junk cars and beat-up trailers is a town, you have found your niche.

About 35 souls live there, mostly old and waiting for nothing in particular. It looks like a spot the Grim Reaper might visit when he is not busy. Two residents, the youngest, prepare to leave: they are a transgender couple. One is undergoing testosterone therapy.

The town folk are quite tolerant, despite the history of violence and death for over 100 years. Nowadays, even the graveyard is fading away. Locals bury their own, and many cannot recall who is buried where.

On a short trip outside of town, a couple takes you to the place where Charles Manson lived in the desert with his motley crew of despicable types. One resident described Manson as a piece of human refuse.

The place has been vandalized.

We kept wondering about electricity (there are poles and wires) but no wi-fi reception. There is a post office run by a woman with an attitude, though she hasn’t killed anyone, she boasts.

You may not want to visit, and you may not want to watch this show of reclusiveness. We puzzled over how they were all overweight when there seems only to be a few small vegetable gardens around.

Darwinmay be home to these lost souls, aging hippies, and mentally challenged motley crew. You won’t want to spend the full 90 minutes on this film. It’s more depressing than watching Tom Brady’s deterioration.

 

 

 

Micro-Budget Thriller: Ascent, Going Up!

DATELINE: High Quality Thriller 

 Stephen Buchanan as suspect!

 

It was shot in two weeks with a miniscule budget, but without expensive special effects, you can have a shocking and well-produced supernatural horror. The Ascent will surprise, delight, and amaze.

With intense closeups and perhaps one of the cleverest screenplays this side of Sherlock Holmes, you have a Latino LA detective (Miguel Perez) playing Henry Cardenas whose brilliant psychological insights solve cases and bring criminal confessions.

He is on the verge of setting a new police department record of 75 confessed homicides: when he comes face-to-face with a daunting murder, allegedly committed by a koo-koo bird who insists he is Lucifer’s Kid Brother, making Charles Manson look like a fallen angel.

The performances are to die for:  especially Miguel Perez as the cardiac detective of heavy-set middle-age, not your usual Holmesian type. His banter and back-and forth with the suspect (Stephen Buchanan) as the egomaniacal suspect covered in blood is utterly fascinating.

You don’t need a big budget with sharp delineations and even crisper dialogue—as suspect and interrogator match wits and switch positions. You know something is amiss when the suspect knows the detective’s name is Henry without being told.

The Ascent  features a descent into hell by elevator that requires only improv acting style to achieve its horror.

Director and writer Tom Murtaugh will require monitoring in the future. We don’t know whether it will be possible to match this kind of style if he’s given a big budget to handle.

If you are in the mood for a smart movie that will test you, this is the gem of the year.

Big Dig and Little Dig on Oak Island

DATELINE: Waiting for Results Again

  Teammates!

Shaft #9 was originally dug in 1865 as a means to divert flood tunnel booby traps. It is a big job requiring the big man Billy. This lost shaft was given up when the group only decades after finding the Money Pit ran out of money. So, we have additional and new background on Curse of Oak Island.

It’s hard to believe they only now mention “The Highlands,” after five years of episodes.

This episode provides contrasts with the smaller discoveries of Gary Drayton, teamed with Peter Fornetti and Alex Lagina.  Fornetti is no longer the callow teenager of five years ago and now provides muscle for Gary Drayton’s searches. He is working on piles of dirt that render iron work from Spanish galleons that may have been laden with the treasure of the Aztecs.

Though Marty Lagina once disparaged the notion of Montezuma’s gold bags, he is enthralled when journalist D’Arcy O’Connor tells him the same thing. He adds that the Spanish lost about 200 ships going back and forth with gold spoils. Some may have gone sideways to Oak Island to hide their stolen loot.

Gary Drayton, meanwhile, has found a cribbing spike, greatly corroded. He and Alex take it to Carmen Legge, the latest expert to become a big man on the side of the search. He dates the find as 1600s.

The other big project is setting off 18,000 dynamite charges to map the underground, down to levels of 300 feet. The tease is that results won’t show for several weeks.

Interestingly, Marty Lagina was mostly absent from this episode, showing up on Skype mostly, which hints that he is busy working on the sister series of Civil War Gold.The team of Gary and Alex likely will show up on that one too.

Aunt Diane’s Mystery

DATELINE: 8 Highway Deaths

Moments before accident, looking for painkillers?

 

If there is anything shocking in the documentary called There’s Something Wrong with Aunt Diane,it’s the idea that an ordinary life of a 36-year old Long Island suburban mother can be so documented. Her life is more under surveillance than under the influence.

There are photos and videos of her at McDonalds and at a service station in the time before the car crash that killed 8 people, including three innocent men in another car—and four children. Her young son, only five, said his mother wasn’t feeling well and could not see.

Yet, she continued to drive on: driven on by personal forces or demons that led her to be a mother-of-the-year type.

Within a week the state toxicology reports stated she was highly intoxicated and used marijuana. No one who saw her during the four hours of her mad-house driving thought she was drunk.

What happened indeed. A forensic psychiatrist notes that when people are demonized as Diane Schuler was after the tragedy, friends and family move toward sainthood in defense.

Did she have a nervous breakdown? Did she mistake vodka for water? Did she think alcohol would dull the pain of her aching abscessed tooth? Did she have a stroke? Any or all may have contributed to her final condition without alcoholic tendencies.

We cannot imagine how a woman who had a highly important director’s job with a major cable company could function while having such addictions as alcohol or drugs.

Her sister-in-law thinks an abscessed tooth was causing her pain, and might have poisoned her ultimately with pain, blindness, and bad judgment. It is possible. It seems more likely than a sudden mental crackup or a drunken binge with a car full of kids.

If she overachieved in life, with people putting more and more expectations on her, she could have a mental crash—at the point where it was least possible to help her.

When the foundation and pillar of our society, the suburban mom, becomes unhinged, we are looking at mysteries that defy explanation. When privacy marks her personality, we are left without answers.

We feel great sympathy for Diane’s plight and her hard work during life that ended up a mess on a highway and in a coroner report. We are reduced to such simplicity in this society when you merely do your job and try your best. This is the ultimate tragedy.

 

 

 

 

Kick to the Groin by Patriots

DATELINE: Brady Boys Up a Tree

New England’s Patriots have done the near impossible: they have kicked themselves in the keester after a cramp nearly decapitated them of a head below the belt.

Bill Belichick has reached a stage of joking.

This week he thought about recalling Wes Welker out of retirement to be his emergency kicker. You know this idea did not emanate from Tom Brady—or it would have been seriously dead on arrival.

Welker is now coaching Jimmy G in San Fran where the Pats’ true heart is in little cable cars, halfway to the stars.

Brady himself pulled his foot out of the kicker sweepstakes by claiming his boot is in Denver. It may be where he ends up playing for the next five years.

With appendectomy, halitosis, and assorted ills, every kicker in the Patriot backfield has found himself unable to lift his leg to do more than pretend to be a Rockette at Radio City Music Hall for the holiday show.

Can a team go to the Super Bowl without a man with the kick-ass power to kick ass?

Julian Edelman may want to consider his role as slot receiver unfulfilled when word filters out that slot receiver and former Brady favorite Welker holds a record of sorts for kicking while catching.

So Julie may need to catch Welker while he can.

Practice makes perfect, but a full-blown rehearsal may be needed.

Can it be the Patriots are ready to lose every game for the remainder of the season? Can it be they will be out of the playoffs sooner than later?

Kick the Patriots in the scorecard and maybe they will wake up with their boots on.

 

Miguel Dieppo: Memoirs of a Penitent Heart

DATELINE: A Lost Generation  

You may never find a more flattering sense of duty and obligation than to have a niece who barely remembered you as a child make a documentary of your life 30 years later. The little documentary is called Memoirs of a Penitent Heart.

Cecilia Aldarnondo was on a mission. Only after making her film did she seem to have second thoughts about letting the dead stay dead. She uncovered more than the tragic death of an uncle who passed away from AIDS during the height of the epidemic.

She tracked down his lover, a former priest who spent twelve years with the young Puerto Rican transplant to New York. They might have been an odd couple, but the family of Michael had no use for him, never followed up on his whereabouts, or even his name. It was for a niece to dredge it all up: to discover an old man who still carried the flame for his lost lover.

Father Bob had saved everything; the love of one’s life is like that.

 

What Cecilia discovers is the fanaticism of religion and how it set up terrible and irreconcilable conflicts between mother and son’s lover. She even tells him on his death bed to remove the friendship ring or he will be denied entrance to heaven.

The director sticks it to her own mother for abandoning her brother Miguel. No one is spared from the hook.

This is a personal film, showing conflicts between gay and straight, between living la vida locain Puerto Rican and immigrating to New York. It shows the genetic horror of learning about a parent’s own sexual secrets.

The film may seem irrelevant if you are not a Catholic, a Puerto Rican, gay, or even promiscuous. Yet, it is relevant and it is moving. The past is always with us, ever changing—and the future is immutable. It’s called irony.

 

Fox Investigates Hen House: Nunes Corruption !

DATELINE: Human Scum Devin Nunes!

With news that Republican House investigator Devin Nunes met with an indicted Ukrainian front man for Trump may not be all that shocking. This is the man who keeps complaining Democrats have been caught trying to locate nude photos of Trump in Moscow with prostitutes. Now, he has been caught with his fingers on the cookies in the jar.

This is the man who showed his true colors when he declined to give a war hero his due by using his title of Lt. Colonel during impeachment hearings last week.

Nunes apparently traveled to Vienna after Democrats won the elections last year for the House of Representatives. He was working on behest of Trump to call on Ukrainians to investigate Mr. Biden.

Now one of the indicted Ukrainians wants to testify that the fox is leading the investigation into the hen house.

You could say Fox News is leading the investigation into the House of Representatives. There may not be much difference.

To call indicted foreign nationals working for Trump and donating to his campaign—could cause Nunes a bit of discomfort. This alleged representative of the people also has hired a Trump aide to be his aide after they went on this fact-finding trip together.

Nunes refuses to discuss, admit, or confirm, any of this, though travel records show that he went to Europe on a secret mission. This man one led the Intelligence Committee which could be the greatest oxymoron of the Trump impeachment.

Trump’s lapdog has growled at every witness during the hearings—making outrageous statements in defense of Trump’s bribery phone call to the President of the Ukraine.

There is no recusal from snakes in the grass. There is no excuse to protect Devin Nunes from himself.

 

Captain Kidding a Kidder

DATELINE: William Kidd

Laughton the Kidd!

 

When Charles Laughton, once Captain Bligh on the Bounty, was given the lead role as the despicable Captain William Kidd, he was both at once perfect for the role and utterly out of his element as a real figure from history.

Like many of his roles of biographical people, he always took on the most notorious. Even in the one movie that was shut down before he finished, he was to play Claudius, the successor to Caligula. He was so associated with Henry VIII that he repeated that role several times.

So, the silly and fictional version of Captain Kiddseemed a bit off, even in 1945. However, by today’s Oak Island buried treasure standards, we have to look at Laughton’s movie villain in a new light.

You must remember this: he was surrounded by great film stars like Gilbert Roland, John Carradine, Reginald Owen, Henry Daniell, and every workable Randolph Scott. He had to be on top of his game to avoid having scenes stolen under his nose.

Scenes are simply juicy confrontations between actors, each more earnest in his biting delivery. Of course, at the eye of this storm of melodrama is Charles Laughton, lending his powerful, clever, sly, obsequious villain. Whether Kidd was ever like this matters not. He should be the way Laughton presents him. Oh, you Kidd.

With a gentleman’s gentleman hired for the task of smoothing out his rough edges, Kidd tries to refine his crudeness with an overlay of charming evil. You might well think that a boy’s adventure movie never had it so good.

Women are not central to this story. You have here a testosterone contest with the mugs mugging.

Laughton’s ship seems only slightly smaller than the Queen Mary—and they spend nearly all their time heading to Madagascar. Kidd’s plan is to take over the estate of a nobleman and show off more than a sow’s ear.

Before you can say double-cross, you may find you have been crossed in quadruple fashion. What an absolutely delightful discovery from the vaults of forgotten black and white movies of 1945.

Dancing on a Shoestring: Gronk Taps Out an SOS

DATELINE:  Dangers of Dance Fallout?

 Gronk Undone!

If you don’t know the fancy moves of Gronk by now, you need a lesson in Dancing with the Stars.

In one of his latest publicity hound antics, Gronk chose to cheer with the Los Angeles Lakers girls. Yes, He prefers gold to Green, you Celtic fans.

You might recall seeing Gronk at games watching the likes of Kevin Garnett and Rondo, but that’s ancient history. He has grown into a first-rate Laker girl.

Those cheers you hear are not from the Bronx, but from the South Boston where True Believers think the Earth is flat and Gronk will return to the Patriots.

If Gronk wants to make a comeback, it will be in movies. He expects his latest film with Mel Gibson will be out before you can say Super Bowl hype.

Though Gronk seems a movie mogul’s dreamboat, he seems more to prefer spending time on Madison Ave. Quicker paychecks, fewer lines to remember, and more fans at the social media.

Like Marlon Brando, Gronk requires one take only and someone to whisper his lines in his ear. That’s why he prefers scenes where guns are blazing.

Every few weeks Gronk tells us that he has a big announcement, but it turns out to be a new product endorsement.

We are on record to wish Gronk stays healthy, avoids concussions, and has fun with fans and media. He remains a loveable lug, and we forgive him for exposing himself needlessly to Los Angeles TV producers who attend Laker games.

If you don’t realize that he admires Jack Nicholson and wants a part in his latest movie, you may not know that Jack—like Gronk—is permanently retired

 

 

Wildest Bill Hickok

DATELINE:  Madison, Olyphant, and Bridges

Somewhere between the TV series Deadwood version of Wild Bill Hickok (limned by Keith Carradine) and the TV series Wild Bill(limned by Guy Madison), you have the version from Walter Hill and played by Jeff Bridges as the wildest Hickok of all.

As a Western on the tale end of movie westerns, this one is a classic mostly undiscovered. Wild Bill has a wonderful cameo cast and is filled with comedic violence.

In this version, Keith Carradine is Buffalo Bill. Ten years later he would join Timothy Olyphant in the HBO series for a few episodes as Wild Bill.

Here, the rootin’ tootin’ Calamity Jane is Ellen Barkin, and one of Bill’s Brit friends is a biographer played by John Hurt.

The bad guys lining up to be dispatched in colorful fashion include such as Bruce Dern and David Arquette.

Wild Bill traipsed through the litany of Western venues from Abilene to Deadwood, making appearances as a ruthlessly violent marshal who’d shoot you in an instant if the matter called for breaking lawbreakers.

James Butler Hickok found himself trapped in celebrity and became Wild Bill as a profession, requiring certain behaviors and attitudes.

The film, utterly timeless depiction of a Western legend, provides us with a conspiracy theory behind the tale. It would seem that the sniveling coward Jack McCall was, perhaps, hinted at an illegitimate son of Hickok.

You may find that the Olyphant-McShane profanity laced TV series owes much to this film—and it’s done with a modicum of the bad language of bad guys.