Hunting for Zodiac Killer: History (s1) for Openers

DATELINE: Armchair Detectives

 zodiac killer Purported Zodiac Killer

Whether you’re hunting for Hitler or cursing Oak Island, you know you must have clicked onto the streaming History channel.

Their first season of Hunt for the Zodiac Killer delivers exactly what you come to expect from the cable TV’s pop history purveyors. That’s not necessarily a bad thing if you like your reality stars always self-congratulating each other for their brilliant detective skills.

If The Hunt for the Zodiac Killer sounds like one of those fake news documentaries, you probably would be right. Yet, it is a cold case and being insoluable should not mean it is not ripe for re-examination.

Fifty years after the legendary1960s serial murderer unofficially killed 37 innocent people and left a calling card of cryptological taunts with a unbreakable code, the network has assembled a reality show with a formula that can’t miss entertaining fans of psycho monsters running amok.

These researchers give Zodiac his due—and find even more victims to offer History Channel and history buffs.

When you put two retired homicide detectives in the field doing legwork like Sam spade and Philip Marlowe, then match them with a couple of cryptographical scientists and nerds with computers, you stir deliberately.

You have suddenly a fascinating show.

The gum shoes and the nerds play ping-pong with the clues. We keep telling ourselves that a supercomputer that has been programmed to think and act like a serial killer is not a good idea.

We keep wondering when the computer will turn into the Forbin Project supercomputer  or HAL from 2001. Then again, the Zodiac maniac seems even brighter than Carmel, the computerized serial killer finder.

Before you know it, you may be hooked on the revelations. Several police departments refused to cooperate, at their own peril. They look like impediments to the crime solving.

By turning the zodiac killer into a mad genius, the show has a winning formula – and a frightening one.

 

Advertisements

Dangerous & Repressive Pakistan

DATELINE:  Gay as a Misnomer

Mawaan

Charming, affable, and entertaining Mawaan is a British citizen of Pakistani descent who decides to go back to his native land to see what it would be like to live there as a gay man. The documentary is chilling.

Twenty years ago, a Pakistani student told us that there was no gay life in Pakistan. If the religious fanatics learned of your sexuality, they would come in the night to murder you. End of story. No one would care.

Now years later, Mawaan’s visit basically discovers not much has changed. The British performer bravely takes in two of the biggest cities on his research: Lahore and Karachi where gay people live in abject terror that they could be discovered and stoned to death, blown up, or simply brutalized.

Mawaan spent two weeks there—and probably learned more than he cared to know. In the rural areas where he did not go, the worst extremists may reside and terrorize anyone with sexual behavior that diverts from traditional culture.

When Mawaan visits an imam, who is learned and civilized, he visibly flinches at the revelation that the young visitor is gay. His best advice is to leave the country, not an option for most gay Pakistanis.

Indeed, gay life exists, as it has for centuries, in secret. The designation MSM (Men Sleeping with Men) actually accounts for many because poor men cannot afford prostitutes and Muslim women are above sexuality. They end up sleeping with each other.

It is not a pretty picture with secret chambers in the darkest ghettos where such life takes place.

Gay parties are held in secret—and HIV health centers exist in fear that someone could throw a bomb at them at any time. We remained in awe at the courage of Mawaan to visit places in the most dangerous cities in the world.

This little documentary provides  extraordinary insight into repression and cruelty that still spawns hope in so many desperate people. Mawan is to be commended for uncovering the truth and showing the world the harsh life of gay people in Pakistan.

 

Time for Kelley Control in America?

DATELINE:  Call to Arms?

 Man with No Name or TB12?   Guns Don’t Kill People

After the latest mass murder by maniac Devin Patrick Kelley, it’s time to institute Kelly Control in America.

There are too many Kellys on the streets of the United States.

We need bump control on Kellys.  We don’t know how many Kellys there really are in Congress, but we know there are a few loose cannons.

Trump should insist that both his White House Kellys be registered. Trump states that there is a mental health problem in the United States–and Kelley represents a lone nutcase. At least one Kelly was known in Homeland Security for a time. Trump should file legislation or an executive order to keep unwanted Kellys from coming into this country from dangerous terrorist nations, like Ireland.

Having a Kelly in your White House is a constitutional right. However, a Kelly in the hands of children or a childish mind could be dangerous. Lock up your Kellys when not in use for hunting.

The White House has several Kellys on the grounds. The danger in America is the Kellys are now in the hands of unstable people, like Mr. Trump. In the hands of the president perhaps two Kellys can be monitored by other morons on the staff, or perhaps two Kellys should be part of the Secret Service detail.

We want to be the first to institute Kelly control in America. We feel the NRA will not oppose it.

Guns don’t kill people. Kellys kill people.

It’s time to ban Kelleys from the media. Any John or Conway can be a Kelly in the hands of the wrong people like Russian colluders.

Jimmy G By-Gone with the Wind

DATELINE:  Cable Cars Come and Go

As coach Swami Bill Belichick said to Scarlett O’Hara, “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.”  With those words, the quarterback of the Patriots future went West, Young Man.

With NFL QBs at a premium, and with their quarterback of the future under contract for two more years, the Patriots felt strongly they could send Jimmy G packing before the Curse of the Broken Brady Mirror caused untolled grief in New England.

Though thought to be set as the next Franchise Player, arrested and held in house for next season, it appears that another Tom Brady acolyte will be running his own team sooner than later.

The San Francisco 49ers will not re-sign Colin Kaepernick now that Jimmy will be high-stepping and standing up for Country.

As for the Patriots, the Patriots are left with only one young, handsome immortal:  the ever-perennial blooming Jack Benny of the Gridiron. Tom plans to stick around.

Who then shall take a seat behind Brady for the rest of the season? Surely, Trump-loving Belichick will not stand for Colin Kaepernick. No, he won’t have to. It appears the 49ers will release Brian Hoyer, Tom’s past backup QB. Tom’s other backups are all hard at work with other teams:  Jacoby, Matts 1 & 2,  and now again Brian–but hold on to your past backup.

Everything comes full circle. The one-time Brady backup Hoyer who flopped in San Francisco and left his heart on the field will return to New England where the splinters in his pants are awaiting a reunion with his former championship team.

Well, now, you don’t need a rear-view mirror after all, Tom.  Take Maxwell’s Silver Hammer to another one.

Movies Never Hid Ugly Face of Child Predators

DATELINE:  Feldman Whistleblower

two coreys  Feldman & late Haim

Corey Feldman, one-time child movie star and actor, has put out the idea that he will produce a documentary on pedophile rings in Hollywood.

Together with his friend, Cory Haim, now deceased, he was a tandem victim of six top executives who abused him and Haim as kids. Now Feldman is collecting funds to make a film about this—and to pay for his bodyguards. He believes there will be powerful people making attempts on his life.

In the recent spate of revelations of sexual abuse and harassment, Feldman is raising the child predators in Hollywood.

He is not alone: recently authorities of the FBI hinted that Adam Lanza, the deranged shooter of first-grade children in Connecticut, was obsessed with child pornography—and now we hear that the Las Vegas shooter’s brother has been arrested for having images of children in sex acts.

This wave is not new by any means. Movies have always been in the vanguard of the topic. You have only to go back to the 1930s in German film to find M, the quintessential horror about a child abuser and killer, played by Peter Lorre. A creepy American version came in 1950 with David Wayne.

In the 1920s, Leopold and Loeb were guilty of child murder and abuse, filmed many times in various levels of euphemism, including Hitchcock’s Rope in 1949. Orson Welles played the killers’ lawyer in Compulsion in the late 1950s. TV versions abound.

We have tales going back to Ancient Roman emperors, like Tiberius and Caligula, sexually abusing small children, not pubescent teens.

Adding the crime of pedophilia to the horrors of Nazi Dr. Josef Mengele hardly increases his rotten evil. Public discussion of the once-unspoken subject has lost its taboo and become fodder for new interests.

We aren’t sure how graphic details, revelations and confessions, serve victims, yet we are braced for the latest in tabloid headlines, whether we are ready or not for salacious detail.

Making of a Shower Scene: 78/52

DATELINE:  Psycho Freshly Showered

78:52

A documentary about one of the most influential films of the 20th century may be simple and surprising. After all, how much can you say about about 2 minutes of a shower scene in Psycho? There were 78 set ups and 52 cuts, making for the title.

The title numbers refer to the numbers Alfred Hitchcock needed to create the horror of a notorious film murder.

You will be definitely surprised at what you learn here. Out of the entire movie, the impact can be boiled down to Hitchcock’s brilliant construction of this scene that brought a culture to a turning point, created a slasher genre, and has become endemic to horror and fate.

The film gathers together a group of interested parties who seem to be at some seedy hotel, their comments filmed in black and white, appropriately enough.

Oh, there are enough clips of Hitchcock speaking for himself: but the film also finds the body double of Janet Leigh, now an old lady, who for seven days, endured the shower scene’s filming. Marli Renfro also was a Playboy bunny cover girl.

Also gathered are various film editors, sound editors, and directors to comment on the script, storyboard, and constraints offered by Hitch.

The film also interviews Osgood Perkins, son of Anthony Perkins, and Jamie Leigh Curtis, daughter of Janet Leigh. As a bonus, there is a montage of the many satiric and homage film clips to the most infamous shower scene in movie history.

You will be impressed by the details that the Master of Suspense considered while making this sequence, down to the selection of the painting over the Peeping Tom hole made by Norman Bates to watch Marion Crane.

For those interested in history and art, this film is quintessential Hitchcock to be added to your knowledge and collection.

 

Be sure to read ebook Hitchcock Freshly Showered for a study of the complete oeuvre of Hitch. For smart readers on Amazon.

Vampires Cast No Shadow

DATELINE: Nosferatu Legend

shadow

Back in 2000 John Malkovitch and Willem Dafoe decided to make a comedy biography about the making of F.W. Murnau’s classic silent film, Nosferatu.

The movie is called Shadow of the Vampire, but it’s really about the world of shadowy silent movies, right up there with behind-the-scenes movie magic like in Singing in the Rain.

The main theory behind this wacky movie is that legendary director Murnau found a real vampire to pretend to be Max Schrenck and play the hideous creature of supernatural lore. He wanted to document the life of a real vampire.

Malkovitch played Murnau as one of those Prussian nightmares of autocratic ego. Dafoe took on the role as Schrenck, or Nosferatu who allegedly wiped out the crew one by one as Murnau tried to film his Translyvania polka.

The conflict between temperamental director and lunatic actor is certainly inspired: Murnau tries to punish Schrenck for his lack of cooperation by refusing to give him “closeups” or denying him “makeup.”

Along for the parody are Cary Elwes in his best blond-haired Aryan cinematographer and Udo Keir as the flighty producer.

However, the best moments are when two lead actors go over-the-top and head-to-head in a Method-acting free-for-all. Try crossing Sunset Boulevard with The Bad and The Beautiful and you have some idea of what you will be in for. Just roll your eyes and roll with the punches.

Murnau was, in Hollywood Kenneth Anger vision, a prissy aesthete whose dalliance with his chauffeur ultimately drove their car off the road in a fatal accident a few years later, but that’s another movie yet to be made.

Director E. Elias Merlinge went beyond the call of talent on this one, but it did give Dafoe an Oscar nomination for munching on bats and clicking his long fingernails.

Well, it’s a hoot and satire of Hollywood biopics.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nikki Haley: Hatemonger

DATELINE:  Crypto-Nazi Emerges at UN

 NIcki Haley, armed & dangerous

Armed & Dangerous

UN ambassador Nikki Haley has now become Public Enemy #1 in the gay community of the United States. You might as well put her on an FBI wanted poster in every post office around the world.

With her vote in support of executing gay people, she put the United States in a basket of Deplorables with 12 of the most backward Arab states. Now our United States has joined the notorious group of repressive nations that are one step away from Nazi Germany’s execution of Jews.

When you advocate the genocide of a group of people, you are a Nazi, Ambassador Haley. You can’t put a pretty bow on it and claim that’s not what you did. It is exactly what your vote meant.

Not since Anita Bryant took on the Gay Community to her everlasting infamy of self-destruction, by throwing gay people out with the orange juice, has there been a woman who has become the face of gay scorn. Nicki Haley is the obvious Doppleganger of Anita Bryant.

Nikki Haley may be the first real casualty of the Trump political wars. She has effectively ended any future career in politics by joining the Trumpet Administration and becoming its new Crypto-Nazi, white supremacist pretty face.

Though she since insists her vote was not anti-gay, it’s hard to support voting against a resolution to call for NOT executing gay people for their lifestyles. She may think she has been misunderstood and misjudged. This is called self-delusion.

Welcome to the world of the LGBTQ community, where people are misjudged and misunderstood every day. Yes, Nikki Haley, that’s you, the face of the new Nazi-ism in America.

Numbskull Island for King Kong

DATELINE:  Cast Offs

kong cast

We always grow wary when friends warn us off a movie. We were told it was terrible and to avoid it, but we are always ready for an adventure with Kong: Skull Island.

For the first forty minutes or so, we felt our friends betrayed us. The film was witty, funny, and satirized the 1970s with an icy edge, even showing us a Nixon bobblehead (yes, it is historically accurate). There are some delightful actors playing it for fun initially.

Rife with 70s music, scenes of Vietnam soldiers are sent on a special mission to a mysterious location by Pentagon shill John Goodman.

He hires guide Conrad (Tim Hiddleston) to lead them into the Heart of Darkness. Indeed, repartee between characters is outright delicious. You even have one-note Samuel L. Jackson as the vindictive colonel who has nothing much in his wallet or his head.

When Kong shows up to defend his indigenous natives and John C. Reilly, someone hired a second set of writers to send the film into comic book realm with copious plagiarizing.

You might generously call the fight between Kong and other monsters a tribute to the original film, but we call it blatant lack of originality. If you want to give the film the benefit of doubt, you will be sorry.

Someone decided that Vera Lynn’s marvelous song, “We’ll Meet Again,” used in Dr. Strangelove by Kubrick would be a great way to set up a sequel with a return to see Kong again.

No way.

The President Rings Twice, and the Patriots Answer

DATELINE:  Ring-a-Ding Trump

off off-season   Mr. Kraft to you bradys-friend

Having eschewed humorous sports reports on Boston travesties lately, we are forced into a return to the topic one more time.

For this, you can thank Robert Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots and close friend of President Donald Trump.

In April, one of the first big sports events of the Trump era was the visit of the Super Bowl champs of 2017 to the White House. This fiasco was decorated with many missing members of the team who protested the new President. One can only wonder how many of the black players might find their lives hardly mattering after the incidents of KKK and neo-Nazis in Charlottesville or Charlotte’s Web.

They might feel some blame for the violence, making their livings through one of the most concussed and violent games around.

However, we beat a dead horse when today’s news is not fake enough for the alt-right. Yes, Robert Kraft has bestowed one of his $36,000 diamond-studded Super Bowl rings on Mr. Trump.

Usually the President receives a jersey with Tom Brady’s partial number, 1, on it, if it is recovered from international thieves.

However, this year, the man who often breaks bread with Trump and flies on Air Force One often, decided to break precedent and give the President one of those prized rings.

Reportedly, Kraft wanted Trump to have something to put into his presidential library when his term is up, sooner than later, with not much to show for it so far.

Kraft also gave a ring to Tom Brady’s mother for her valiant battle against cancer, which felled Kraft’s wife several years ago. It was Trump’s condolences back then that sealed his friendship with the billionaire NFL owner.

 

 The White House is not talking about when the ring was made or bestowed. And, the Patriots have only made a sly announcement this week in the midst of the pre-season after a tumultuous off off-season.

You can read all about it in Ossurworld’s notorious book, The Patriots Most Off Off-Season Ever, perhaps the last in the Patriots series of hilarious, if not nasty, accounts of their dynastic years.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In a Glass Cage: Re-Viewing Darkly

DATELINE: Reluctant Blog Entry

glass cage

Sometimes we choose NOT to review a movie, and you won’t see it on our blog.

For two days we mulled over whether to write about In a Glass Cage, a Spanish movie from 1986. It is horrific in a true sense, and unpleasant, and brilliantly done cinema.

However, its subject does not strike us as one that entertains anyone, unless you happen to be a quite sick puppy.

The plot centers on an escaped Nazi doctor from a concentration camp hiding out in Spain in the years after the war. This Josef Mengele-based character had a specialty of sexually abusing and viciously murdering pre-teenage boys.

In an iron lung (the glass cage of the title) for reasons not really important, his new nurse is a beautiful young man who has come for revenge. Named Angelo, he is Death personified. David Sust is the actor and gives an extraordinary performance, downright frightening in fact.

Has this young man who survived the death camp been driven into psychosis by his experience? So, he now turns the tables on the incapacitated Nazi by re-enacting child murders before the remorseful doctor. What on earth is this?

We shut this off several times, but streaming video that audiences would never find are now available—and this one compels in its call.

We wondered about the parents of child actors who allowed the child to perform sexual torture scenes in the film. What kind of trauma was placed on their psyche? What kind of trauma is placed on the audience?

Several of the murder scenes are suspenseful, done as well as anything in a more fantastic tale, but why did we watch this train wreck topic of controversy?

It’s out there on Amazon Prime for those who want to see it, but we aren’t sure we’d care to chat about the film with friends or ever want to see it again.

The Internet has given us a window into the world, but so does the evening news where despicable people perform hideous acts every day—in Spain, in Finland, in the United States. And that’s just this week.

Should we expect our movies to reflect this? Should we give publicity to films that are disturbing and disgusting in the basest moral terms?

We will delete this review upon request.

 

Dr. Strangelove and Nuclear Bombs Away

DATELINE:  Kim Versus Trump

riding the a-bomb

Slim Pickens Rides the A-Bomb into Oblivion

With all the hubbub about North Korea turning its nuclear weapons upon US and using several dozen miniature bombs to hit the major cities, we thought it was time to reconsider Stanley Kubrick’s classic 1964 movie, Dr. Strangelove or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.

Mr. Trump is hardly a dead-ringer for Peter Sellers who played the bald Adlai Stevenson-style president of the country, discussing nuclear destruction with his generals in the War Room.

There we find General George C. Scott fighting with the Russian ambassador, issuing the famous order: “Gentlemen, there will be no fighting in the War Room.”

With nuclear annihilation on the doorstep, back in those days, people knew how to deal with the thought of instant evaporation and annihilation in a mushroom cloud. Today friends from California are saying goodbye to loved ones on the East Coast.

We know that Donald Trump will never tell his generals not to fight in the War Room, and we can hear the placid, slightly sad tones of Vera Lynn as she sang the World War II favorite for fatalists:

We’ll meet again,
Don’t know where, don’t know when,
But I know we’ll meet again
Some sunny day.
Keep smiling through,
Just like you always do,
‘Till the blue skies drive the dark clouds far away.

So will you please say hello
To the folks that I know,
Tell them I won’t be long.
They’ll be happy to know
That as you saw me go,
I was singing this song

We’ll meet again,
Don’t know where,
Don’t know when,
But I know we’ll meet again,
Some sunny day.

Writer(s): Parker Ross, Hughie Charles, Hugh Charles
Lyrics powered by http://www.musixmatch.com

Unwell in a Kafka World: A Cure for Wellness

DATELINE:  Not exactly Obamacare

Dane DeHaan

You have to admit that actor Dane DeHaan usually chooses the most peculiar films and roles available to young stars.

In this movie, A Cure for Wellness, he manages to look rather unwell, doughy, and pooped out. That surely goes against the grain of buff, health-addicted, superheroes among his generation of leading men.

Director Gore Verbinski’s Kafkaesque tale is creepy enough for horror, surreality, and German expressionism, rolled into one hyper-barbaric chamber for eels.

A young executive of a billion-dollar corporation is sent to retrieve its CEO from this strange Swiss clinic where clients go to take “the waters,” a cure for what ails you. It’s either that or go to jail for white-collar crime.

Like clockwork, DeHaan’s Lockhart arrives at a Swiss mountaintop roach motel where people check in, but never apparently check out.  Instead, they are put through a health regimen worthy of Tom Brady’s personal trainer.

Jason Isaacs as Volmer runs the place like the reincarnation of a mad Teutonic baron two centuries ago. He will kill you with kindness.

The cure is worse than the illness—but DeHaan seems more than willing to stick around. We’d be suspicious the moment they kept insisting you drink the water. And, alas, your cell phone won’t work in this altitude.

The hydrotherapy seems a bit on the extreme side, but sado-masochism never had it so healthy.

The atmosphere is suitably Germanic, if not germ-free. We are told that Adolph Hitler was at the spa location, Castle Hohenzollern, for a cure during World War I. How fitting, indeed. It makes Last Year at Marienbad a pleasant stroll.

The film is not for dummies, and one of the attendants is reading a Thomas Mann novel about a health spa where people are convinced they need treatment, whether true or not.

If there is a drawback to this movie, it can be found in the length of the film. We have grown unaccustomed to movies pushing two & a half hours, which is a sure sign they are considered “important” by the makers. There is apparently no cure for this.

Peter O’Toole on TV in 1986

DATELINE:  Rare Appearance

Banshee

In one of his rare acting performances on the small screen, legendary Peter O’Toole took a role on a Ray Bradbury Theatre production of a short story called “Banshee.”

This anthology series ran for several years and featured notable stars in a thirty-minute Twilight Zone-style show.

Most of the summaries of the episode with O’Toole are oddly incorrect on various websites.

The man who was Lord Jim, Lawrence of Arabia, and Henry II (twice), plays an eccentric film director living in Ireland on his remote estate. He plays John Hampton, which clearly is a play on the real eccentric legendary director who lived in Ireland on his estate.

That was, of course, John Huston. The dialogue even has that lilt of Huston’s—and O’Toole wears jodhpurs and boots with swagger, to suggest Huston.

He is visited by a nebbish writer played by Charles Martin Smith who comes for a spooky interview with a script that O’Toole shreds to pieces.

Greeting the writer in the dead of night, the flamboyant director is more than a little unsettled by the cry of a banshee, an Irish female ghost, out in the dark, forboding woods around his estate. While he urges the writer to go out to find this creature who cries for death, Smith locates an ethereal beauty near a graveyard who wants O’Toole to come out.

The story was written by Ray Bradbury and seems a trifle, though highly moody and atmospheric. The show falls short of Twilight Zone quality, but who can complain when Peter O’Toole enlivens every scene.

 

 

 

 

Long Live King Kong

 DATELINE:  Still Kicking 85 Years Later

kong

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Brady in Manhattan

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

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

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