Call It a Name Oscar Wilde Dares Not Speak

DATELINE:  Calling Your Name

Chalamet Timothee Chalamet, aka Lolita!

If you’re wondering about the title of the movie Call Me by Your Name, it is a sign of gay regression.  In an age when women keep their own name upon marriage, gay men are prepared to give up theirs.


This is the movie that its young teenage star (Timothee Chalamet) earned an Oscar nomination. It’s not so much for performance, but for the fact that he plays the most intelligent teenager on film in almost a decade or perhaps longer.


Like Sue Lyon 50 years ago, Chalamet epitomizes a male Lolita, also earning an Oscar nomination as a supporting actor and symbol of loincake. The only things missing from his acting are heart-shaped sunglasses and a lollipop.


Elio is a bilingual, bisexual child prodigy at the piano. His father is an important professor who spends the summer in Italy and needs a long-in-the-tooth graduate student assistant to do nothing in particular. The characters seem to be on an endless vacation. Elio mostly cavorts around in his bathing suit.


The story is adapted from a novella by James Ivory which caught our eye. He wrote all those great Ivory-Merchant movie screenplays 30 years ago. As he approaches 90-years of age, he has come up with another one: stunning ennui on display.


Armie Hammer played Leonardo’s boyfriend in Hoover, and was Depp’s boyfriend in the Lone Ranger, and now has his sights on a teenager who is more winsome and more often unclothed than Frankie Avalon in his prime Beach Party get-up.


Pardon us, but teenagers are lacking experience and maturity—and Humbert Humberts of the world never seem to learn this.


Chalamet and Hammer insist they are not gay, but only play gay (for pay) on screen.


Red Sox Owner Tom Werner & Bill Cosby



Once again, the Boston sports media has fallen down on the job.

Over the past year or so, there have been ample opportunities to ask owner Tom Werner, the media expert of the Red Sox and co-owner of the largest share with John Henry, about his dubious association with Bill Cosby.

You might better remember Werner as the man who decided to fire Voice of the Red Sox for years, Don Orsillo, for no reason except trust in his own good judgment and disregard of fans.

Now it’s come back to us in the age of #MeTooism, that Tom Werner was one of the first great enablers of actor and sexual predator Bill Cosby as a Hollywood TV producer.

Werner was the producer of the Cosby series from 1984 to 1992, making both men rich and giving Werner the opportunity to buy the Red Sox in subsequent years.

Tom Werner is not to become confused with Werner von Braun, the space scientist. They are heavens apart.

No member the media has asked Tom about how he enabled Cosby. No member of the media has asked him for his opinion on all of the charges against his former star and pal of the series.

Unlike the previous owner named Tom (that’s Tom Yawkey, folks), Tom Werner had no problems with hiring black people and using them to profit. Tom Werner has been instrumental behind the name change of Yawkey Way in Boston near Fenway Park, with its racist connotations, to turn back the clock to the original name, Jersey Street.

But, we digress.

What did Tom Werner know and when did he know it about Bill Cosby? No one seems to have asked him the question. So, we will.

Tom, did you have any idea about all the women that Bill Cosby was accosting?

Cosby was the Harvey Weinstein of the Dark Ages in Hollywood. Werner was apparently the man behind the curtain in those dark ages. For years he helped Cosby become a success.

If there are any Red Sox fans who belong to #MeToo’s movement, they should be asking about Werner too.



Life in 2049 Once Again Falls Short

 DATELINE: Disappointing

 sean Young 2049

Sean Young with Body Double and Advanced CGI

If Blade Runner 2049 is any indication, Los Angeles is not going to improve any from the first Blade Runner. We believe it seems to snow much of the time.

If we are going back to the future, give us Looper. It looked like a place we’d like to visit, not this horror.

Last time we caught Ryan Gosling, he was singing and dancing in Los Angeles. This time around, he appears to be a replicant, or some derivative thereof. It’s hard to tell a Tyrell replicant robot from the latest bioengineered creatures.

Gosling is an unhappy, soulless creature. No time to sing and dance here.

There are still ‘blade runners’ hired to exterminate these illegal older versions by newer versions. What we have here is the revolutionary notion that these machines can procreate semi-humans. That inspires the new Tyrell model mogul, in Jared Leto’s odd performance.

It’s complicated.

It’s also a mess of a movie, running nearly three hours of unremitting Dickensian darkly future predictions.

You have a remarkable cast, including Robin Wright as the head cop—and appearance by Edward James Olmos in the retirement home, and Sean Young appears as her ever-young self in a cameo that must take CGI to the limits. She doesn’t look a day older than the 1982 movie. She’s now 58. Pee Wee Herman should be jealous.

Harrison Ford is around mostly for decoration because you don’t have a movie without him as Deckard, older than dirt.

If the movie doesn’t leave you comatose, you may be a replicant. If someone believed that this film would stand up to the frequent re-views like the original film did, you’d be deluded. This is not the classic, brilliant first movie. It’s a shake-your-money-maker mind-numbing sequel.

Fans of the first film paid homage by giving this one an Oscar for special effects.






Oscar Night Under Review

 DATELINE: Awards We Consider

 Itt    Uncle Oscar Unshaven!

Gone are the days when we would blindly follow Oscar to the bank. Oh, we think Oscar still points to True North, but usually its global directions system is busted.

We don’t go out to movies anymore. We watch on the smaller, but big screen in our home theatre. It’s comfy and cozy. Worse yet, we dismiss Golden Globes, Emmy, and only give Screen Actors Guild a cursory nod because our favorite uncle still belongs from his days as a movie star.

Nor do we review every film we see. Take this past season: we saw Get Out and chose not to review it, feeling it was not our cup of tea. It was nominated for Best Picture and the director won an Oscar for writing. Then again, so did Kobe Bryant for writing the animated short. So much for the Hollywood/Los Angeles voters.

Back in the day, we actually knew voters at the Academy. Most have gone on to a better world, or retirement.

Many of the films are ones we have not seen, nor had any plans to see. Oscar pushes us in a direction, but a blink or nod nod is the same to a blind horse. We use Oscars to decide if a movie not on our list should be included in one of our nasty reviews. We only review films we think you should see. We will not publish anything if the movie is unworthy, even under threat of having our remote taken away.

When The Darkest Hour won an Oscar for costume and makeup, we felt our favorite Gary Oldman was about to be snubbed and insulted: in a fat suit with shaved head, he plays Churchill. Yet, he actually won Best Actor. We want to see it more than ever.

We noted that James Ivory’s screenplay called Call Me By My Name won as homage to all his great movies a generation ago: thoughtful and intelligent.

On the other hand, we thought Dunkirk would fall into a long line of epic movies that win Best Picture. Instead, the award went to the remake of Creature from the Black Lagoon—or The Shape of Water as it is now called. We will review it.

When two actors win performing Oscars for the same picture, we know that it is well-written, a character drama, and well-acted. So, Frances Normand and Sam Rockwell have made the cut this year in a movie with an awful title: Three Billboards Some Place or something like it.

On the whole, we prefer movies that are off the radar screen. We prefer movies that do not have astronomical publicity budgets.

So, these are our thoughts after this latest Oscar night. We will take it to the bank and put it in a review. All on the small screen for our viewing.


**We hate it when the automatic spell checker changes our correct grammar and spelling to something incorrect, and it goes out to the world wrong.

Super Dooper Looper Scooper

DATELINE:  Old Meets New!

like son, like son

Well, if you asked us to watch a futuristic sci-fi adventure about time traveling assassins in the 2040s with an old star teamed up with or against a new star, you might think we would tune in to see the sequel to Blade Runner. Nope, instead we found ourselves in an endless loopy movie.

From the past of 2012, Looper has all the elements you’d expect: the old star is Bruce Willis who has a fairly good track record of finding unusual, if not intriguing science fiction films. The young star is Joseph Gordon-Levitt, whose allure remains hypnotic but incomprehensible.

In this particular pastiche of all your favorite movies, Gordon-Levitt underwent hours of makeup each day in order to look like a young version of Bruce Willis, down to the mannerisms.

The result is that Gordon-Levitt looks like something quite odd, but not at all like himself, our favorite young actor. Instead, he turns into Keanu Reeves!

If the director wanted to make an early version of the John Wick saga, he cast the actor to rival Reeves.

The notion of the plot has something to do with a younger hired gun (a looper) in the 2040s who must assassinate his old self from the future. Alas, the old fox (Willis) is smarter than the young idiot (Gordon-Levitt), and a merry chase is on.

If anyone thinks a pack of bad guys can stop Bruce Willis, they haven’t seen any Die Hard movies.

Along the way the movie turns into a semi-mixed up film called The Terminator with Willis out to kill the future leader of a crime syndicate who happens to be 10-years old. Of course, said future villain also happens to be an expert in telekinesis, which turns the film into an over-baked film called The Omen.

You can take parts of all kinds of movies and toss them into a Hollywood crock pot, and out comes a crock of a movie.

Yes, to our endless shame, we enjoyed it.

Branagh’s Murderous Result: Disoriented Express

DATELINE: Strike Three!

Branagh Hit & Run?

Pit-stop for Orient Express!

When dainty detective Poirot is transformed into a Belgian Sam Spade, we know the troubles are just beginning. Director and star Kenneth Branagh has tackled Agatha Christie with hairy results on his upper lip and elsewhere in this latest version of Murder on the Orient Express.

Bombast and exaggeration are the hallmarks of every performance, as if the actors had to make a cartoon version of Christie’s classic. Oh, yes, the sets are gorgeous and breath-taking, but filled with dead red herrings.

Alas, Branagh has miscast himself in the lead role.

We found Branagh’s bold mustache leaving the detective ripe for plucking. When your first visual image of Poirot does not work, you leave little wiggle room for the rest of the clever story. Throwing in a few fights and action scenes for Poirot is too much like James Bond than Hercule. The film even gives Poirot a girlfriend!

Agatha’s Christie’s perps in this edition match the number who likely deserve to be killed on the Calais sleeper car. Once again, famous faces take on minor roles in an ensemble cast meant to delight us. There is a tad much emphasis on political correctness as the cast is far more diverse than Dame Agatha ever envisioned, which is not a criticism.

Like Hamlet, the story can be done with an all-black cast, or an all-nude cast, though we are not convinced it adds anything to the tale.

Everyone is working extremely hard to pull this off, and the pretend fun from the cast is exhausting.

Inevitably, it is Branagh who botches the climax revelations and the explanation of the murder on the Orient Express, wasting stars like Judi Dench, Willem Dafoe, Michelle Pfeiffer, Penelope Cruz, Derek Jacobi, and even Johnny Depp, in underwritten roles for the attention deficit audience.

Try one of the other two, preferably Suchet’s version.



Gronk in Wolf’s Clothing

DATELINE: Movie Star in Making

 while tom sleeps

We feel like the boy who cried “Wolf” about Rob Gronkowski.

For months, since long into last season, we have said he is a prime candidate to turn to a movie star career and leave the dangers and concussions and broken bones of the NFL.

Sports media types who know nothing about movies dismissed the idea, or leaned toward the acting of professional wrestling as more to Gronk’s low-level talents.

Suddenly this week however, it’s becoming apparent how likely it is that Gronk is the next big movie star of action movies and cartoon superheroes. As far as acting goes, he has a face that shows emotion—and with a careful director and judicious cutting room talent, a director can make an Oscar winner.

The worst luck of Tom Brady’s smashed mirror is to lose Gronk to movie stardom.

Gronk may not be Larry Olivier, but he is more than Larry Csonka. He can hit his marks with the best of them, and is a quick study: you learn that from the Belichick system.

So, now, horrors upon horrors, the notion that Gronk had considered retirement even before the past season started proves that he is likely to quit.

As for the Patriot fan in us, we will miss him in a local football uniform, we think his good health and mental stability far outweigh catching a few footballs thrown by Tom Brady next season.

He can always play a football star on screen. There are too few young action heroes (most are 40 or more in age), and Gronk is a spry 27. He may seem older because he has been a fixture for a decade.

Gronk is movie star material, not for Broadway drama, but for glamorous red carpets.

Last Great Elizabeth Taylor Movie?

DATELINE:  Grand Taylor Horror!

 night watch Liz @ Her Best

By the time Elizabeth Taylor reached the end of her prime, she ditched Richard Burton. Her first theatrical movie without him, after 11 extraordinary teammate movies, including the notorious TV film Divorce His, Hers, was something called Night Watch from 1973.

Now streaming for the first time ever.

This is vintage Taylor:  extraordinary wardrobe, great hair, jewels to die for, and a svelte damsel Liz in distress.

Night Watch is a paranoid’s nightmare.

As the rich and disdainful Ellen with a swish of silver in her hair, she does jigsaw puzzles and entertains her girlhood friend (Billie Whitelaw) in indolent luxury. Her palacial home, unfortunately, is next to some abandoned, ramshackle mansion that seems haunted.

As she does a jigsaw of Bosch’s painting of Hell, she thinks she has seen a murder in a thunderstorm across the garden. Alas, police think she is bonkers, and her husband (Laurence Harvey) isn’t more helpful, trying to find an old psychiatrist to commit her.

Before you can say Gaslight, the old classic about a mad wife, you may have Hitchcock’s Suspicion on your hands. Perhaps too the director and writer saw Barbara Stanwyk’s chestnut called Night Walker.

It’s all in the horror/mystery family, though this one is definitely high-end in its hoots & laughs quotient.

All while she suffers, Taylor’s insanity is a joy to behold. The suspects line up from every direction: former dead husband, his lover, a smarmy neighbor, a hostile housekeeper, and even cavalier police.

Who wants to drive her crazy? Or is she actually seeing dead people?

As the drama grows more overwrought, the pay-off is way beyond anything Taylor fans could ever desire. We loved every cliché moment. The ending was considered a surprise shock by most fans. Marvelous.



#TylerPerry @TylerPerry & Whatever Else like @TylerPerryNews

Attention: All dedicated Tyler Perry fans!

madea sings like ma

Once in a blue moon, a great story comes out just made for the right star. We have found it: a science fiction murder mystery with just the right dose of laughs.

An exciting and new science-fiction murder-mystery has a great role for everybody’s favorite Madea, impresario and master of movies, Tyler Perry.

Featuring some interesting comic situations, the character of Ma Hattie, rhythm and blues singer, takes on time-traveling space aliens and assassination conspiracy buffs as she helps her niece, an FBI agent, crack the case.

Second Shadow War is a story made for Tyler Perry’s unique talents.

Long-time fan and author Ralph T. O’Neal III, co-founder of the Black Union Conservative Caucus and Booksnbars an educational program for federal inmates, has created a role made in heaven for Tyler Perry’s unique style as director and actor.

Now if only someone can get the idea to Tyler, we’d be cooking.

You can find a website on Facebook, and Instagram for the story @shadowwarseries.

Truman’s Coldest Blood: Infamous & Capote

DATELINE:  Capote’s Clutter Story

Oscar Capote (Hoffman)

With a dozen years passing since Bennett Miller’s brilliant movie called Capote, we chose to look at it again. There were two Truman movies that year: competing for attention.

We felt at the time that Infamous with Toby Jones as Capote writing his non-fictive novel was the better. Phillip Seymour Hoffman won the Oscar.

We wished that the two films had mixed casts. It seems each had good points. We remain impressed with Hoffman’s work as Capote. A big man, he managed to convey a sense of the elfin Truman.  Jones was already the right size, being tiny.

Clifton Collins, Jr., remains so impressive in his work as Perry Smith, the sensitive killer with whom Capote seems to have fallen in love. Casting Daniel Craig in the other movie seems an odd choice. He was all wrong.

As in each movie, there is nothing more cold-blooded than a writer and his greatest work of literature. Don’t ever get between them.

Hoffman’s fey Capote has a ruthless, cold, hypocritical soul. He lies repeatedly to the killers of the Clutter family to gain their trust. Perhaps the two brutal murderers did not deserve much more than a lying hypocrite to befriend them.

Capote and his friend Harper Lee (also so well done by Catherine Keener) spend hours in Kansas doing research. Without her, Capote might not have a book—and he was less than supportive of her work, To Kill a Mockingbird, that she wrote even as she gave Truman her assistance.

We preferred Jeff Daniels as the detective on the case, though Chris Cooper is soberly affecting.

In the end, Capote did not want to discuss much with the killers until they gave him his ending and confessed how they did their murders. He also could not publish his book until they were executed. So, he simply stopped helping them find lawyers—and truly wanted them dead.

The flamboyant joke that Truman ultimately became likely came from his work on that book and his self-disgust. He never finished another book during the 20 years he lived after the execution of Perry Smith.

We still prefer the other Capote movie, Infamous, as a total movie experience, we must again give kudos to Capote as a film with impact and lasting emotional pain.

DeHavilland Renews Legal Fight

DATELINE:  ‘Feud’ Subject & Creator Continues in Court

Real Feud Feud

Just when producer/director/writer Ryan Murphy thought he had beaten the clock on the lawsuit filed by Olivia DeHavilland, the 101 year-old movie star legend, she has risen up again.

It’s back on, set for a March trial.

She, as you may recall, took umbrage with her portrayal and use of name in the infamously entertaining series Feud, about the relationship of Bette Davis and Joan Crawford.

Miss DeHavilland insists that no one asked her permission to use her image and give words to her actress voice.

That’s probably because Ryan Murphy figured she was already deader than a doornail, like the rest of the characters in his hilarious series about Hollywood’s most rotten segment of the Golden Age.

Instead, Olivia rose up like Marley’s Ghost, warning Ryan Murphy. Now she is demanding the trial be held at a university where students may attend to see the shenanigans play out. Talk about a sense of drama.

Whether Miss DeHavilland will make the flight from her home in Paris is unknown, as she is elderly and frail. However, her spirit is not about to be buried by the likes of Hollywood upstarts like Ryan Murphy.

Murphy’s lawyers insist that if DeHavilland has her way, it will have a chilling effect on making docudramas where old historical figures come in and out of scenes uttering misquotes.

His money is on Miss Olivia DeHavilland croaking before the case, and his inevitable loss to a living legend, occurs. Our money is on Gone with the Wind‘s Melanie Wilkes, the survivor of The Snake Pit, the vindictive Heiress, and the Lady in a Cage.

Hollywood Beckons Gronk

 DATELINE: Retirement Among the Movie Legends

say it ain't so

Those who have read our Gronk commentaries over the past few years know that we have advocated a Hollywood trade for the big lug. He has a face and a personality and a body that won’t quit, which is enough to become a film star.

Now we hear that Rock Dwayne Johnson and Rocky Sylvester Stallone have told Gronk to go west to the land of swimming pools and movie stars. You can die hard on the screen. Gronk hits his marks and learned a complex playbook from Belichick. He can certainly memorize a few monosyllabic lines and hit the bad guy in the nose.

He can make $10m in one movie and a few commercials without breaking a sweat.

On the other hand, though we love watching him as a Patriots star, know that CTE and a concussion are the end of the line sooner than later. We want the best for Gronk, and we cringe every time we see him hit on the field.

We want to tell him that John Wayne played football too, but he made his mark in adventure movies. Gronk has a flexible face, and he could be in comedy, adventure, westerns, or sci-fi as the good guy, the comic relief, or the imposingly big villain.

We know that Foxboro is not exactly Beverly Hills where movie stars, swimming pools, and big bucks in the sunshine can be had, but we’d urge him to consider how well he’d do in movieland.

We’ve seen Gronk interact with Bieber, Kyrie Irving, David Ortiz, and myriad others on the screen. We’ve heard him read Chinese war lord Sun Tzu’s philosophy, and we know that James Bond could use him as the next opponent.

We love Gronk. Movies are his calling card—and small-screen series too. Maybe Westworld needs a new automaton.

Go west, young Gronk. Go west.


Will the Real Bill Belichick Please Stand UP?

DATELINE:  It’s Badenov, Oddjob!

 Boris Badenov Belichick Oddjob

First, it was Boris Badenov. Then, it was Oddjob. Now it’s even worse: Bill Belichick has gone blackhat.

Rats are now departing the sinking ship of S.S. Philly Eagles.

Not one mouse could deal with the image of the man who made fame in cut-off sweat shirts appearing like the pall-bearer for the underdogs of football.

The Eagle has not landed. It’s been grounded.

When Bill Belichick, of hoodie fame, donned a Fedora and black suit when he deplaned the Kraft One Jet, augurs went bonkers.

Magnetic north has shifted. Oddsmakers are scurrying for cover.

Not since the Corleone family flew into Vegas has there been such a fashion statement.

You know the villain always wears the black hat, but the film noir world just found its new Robert Mitchum—and he is the man holding all the cards and likely carrying a concealed weapon under his coat.

Frostbite Falls just went into heart seizure. The Super Bowl has just become the Super Bowler. Oddjob worked for Goldfinger and wore a Fedora with a steel-lined brim.

People are prepared to duck if Belichick throws his hat into the Super Bowl ring.

Frostbite Falls, Minnesota, has not seen a Fedora like this since Bullwinkle battled Boris Badenuv on the Rocky Show.








1974’s Murder on the Orient Express

 DATELINE:  Another Christie Version

1974 all-star murder

Before we tackle the newest Orient Express by Branagh, let’s look at the oldest version.

The star-studded Sidney Lumet version took Agatha Christie out of the hands of  1960s-style Margaret Rutherford and Miss Marple.  Murder on the Orient Express is bumpy in the night.

Indeed, the cast is spectacular, one of the last gasps of Old Hollywood gone mad. The suspects are so rococo and bizarre that they make Albert Finney’s weird Poirot look positively like Sam Spade crossed with Richard III.

As the names of stars pass in the opening credits, your jaw may drop. Bacall, Bergman (Bogart’s leading ladies), Perkins, Connery, Gielgud, Redgrave (later to play Christie herself), Widmark, and stellar second bananas too, like Balsam, Bisset, and let’s catch our breaths! Wow.

Lumet is not so much interested in atmosphere as glamour.

If Margaret Rutherford had not died the year before the film, she likely would have been cast in it too. Christie never liked the idea of Miss Marple joining forces with Hercule—but in this sort of movie, you almost expect it.

The new auteur Kenneth Branagh version cannot touch the sheer aristocracy of actors in this film. You have to savor each little gem from Lumet’s cast, as these great stars finally can play it to the hilt one last time and first time as an ensemble.

Agatha Christie was the Shakespeare of crime plots—and so we will have more remakes. After all, we have seen about seven great Hamlet movies. Christie cannot be far behind.

We do condemn the music score that lightly sounds over the credits at the end—which is completely wrong for the mood of the film.

Hardy Boys 2: Ghost Farm Mystery, 1957

DATELINE:  Disney Fails Second Time Around

still wonderful

Tim Considine & Tommy Kirk epitomize sibling rivalry.

In 1957 Disney decided to do a second series of Hardy Boys episodes. With two extremely popular young stars lighting up the big screen (Tommy Kirk and Tim Considine would be in the Absent-Minded Professor, The Shaggy Dog, Old Yeller, Swiss Family Robinson, etc.), the two young stars signed on for another mystery.

They were growing more adolescent (and admitted it in a prologue that was a long preview of the upcoming shows), but that only made them more appealing to young fans. The second series would be called The Mystery of Ghost Farm.  Don’t look for it among the 60 or so stories of the canon of Hardy Boys books because it isn’t there.

Disney was growing as much as its stars—and now they found their own formula for stories was better controlled by something original. As a consequence, the second series borders on the overly cute use of standard Disney tricks (like irksome farm animals) and a completely non-scary ghost.

The boys were catnip to young girls—and Considine was allowed to be the Romeo (even accused of being as much by Kirk as his younger, jealous brother). They even wrestle on the ground after Frank calls Joe “stupid,” once too often.

Disney also brought back a couple of actors from the first year. Florenz Ames, aka crazy old Applegate, returned for a small part as an advisor to the young detectives. They also brought in Andy Clyde as another crazy old man. Sarah Shelby as Auntie Gertrude had a larger role this time around, as did Carol Ann Campbell as Iola, Joe Hardy’s female nemesis (never girlfriend), much to Joe Hardy’s dismay. Russ Conway as the boys’ father found his role much diminished.

The second show had to be the last because the stars were moving on to the bigger careers. Tommy Kirk was especially going big, whereas Considine was settling into a steady hit TV show (My Three Sons and later wound up being slapped silly by George C. Scott in Patton).

The series also went short and cheap on episodes, down to 13, as if the boys had only limited time to film the new season with so many projects beckoning them elsewhere. The writing is slipshod and the mystery is moribund, as if this production couldn’t be done fast enough.

Yet, we are lucky to have them again as perfectly matched brothers, no matter that the story and mystery are less compelling the second time around.