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.

Advertisements

Logo Wars: Michael Jordan v. Gronk

DATELINE:  Sports Deadlock

 logo warsIt takes balls.

 

Michael Jordan’s silhouette image on all the junk he markets, around since the 1980s, is called Jumpman. We never knew his dunkman had a nickname.

Now, because Gronk has filed an image for his brand of products that resembles a silhouette of an athlete in action, we have a conflict that will be settled in the biggest court/gridiron, that of the boardroom of highly paid corporate lawyers.

Jordan and Gronk are prepared to go head to head, or shadow to shadow for the title King of Greed.

The problem for the two athletes and their endless money making operations is that some dumb kid will confuse Jordan with Gronk. Yes, you may buy a basketball sneaker and think it’s for playing football.

We know our educational systems are dumbed down more than ever—but we thought the emergence of emoji and sign language has sent kids back to the level of cave dwellers with an eye for cave art.

So, you mean they cannot tell the difference between a football shape and a basketball shape?

We are talking apples and oranges here, or at least spheres of another world.

Two tall athletes, arms raised, legs akimbo, holding some totem object is sending legal minds into overdrive. You can never tell when someone may spike a basketball, or dunk a football.

We have seen idiot players score a touchdown and then dunk the football over the goal bar. You can easily forget what sport you are watching.

It’s all the same when it comes to millions of dollars and corporate greed. It’s all part of the modern gladiator combat of American sports. We think Gronk and Jordan ought be holding tridents and nets, versus short swords and shields.

Oh, wait, they already did that sports combat scene in Spartacus. It was Woody Strode versus Kirk Douglas, all for the edification of decadent Laurence Olivier.

We are always happy to assume the role of Olivier in a combat between Gronk and MJ.

Sizzle Fizzle Melt Down for Holden & Hepburn

 DATELINE: Paris When It Sizzles

melt down Holden & Hepburn

With the godawful title of 1964’s Paris When It Sizzles, you have two glorious stars of the 1950s on the cusp of making lesser films.

William Holden plays his patented, jaded screenwriter (shades of Sunset Boulevard) with a drinking problem made light (though Holden went into detox during filming).

Hepburn hardly fits the role of a typist secretary in a Givenchy wardrobe, but the film is spritely written in Noel Coward witty style and gives us a bad movie within the less bad movie, using the play-within-a-play device.

Genres of grade-B films are broadly satirized, including Holden in the Dracula role for a few laughs. It’s an insider laugh, but we thought he should have costarred with his pal Lucille Ball as the secretary, but Hepburn is lover-ly.

Noel Coward actually is in the film as a movie producer, and he does have a marvelous scene with Holden. The cast is populated with unbilled names like Marlene Dietrich, Mel Ferrer, with Sinatra singing the fake movie title song, and Fred Astaire singing for a Hepburn scene.

Why did Audrey Hepburn hate it so? It probably was fun to make, and it is fun to watch when she calls Holden a well-preserved middle-aged man, or when he compares the movies Frankenstein to My Fair Lady.

Another notable star of the ‘50s plays “the second policeman,” in the fake movie and is reminded he is not an important character. He too is delightful, though we won’t spoil it by naming him.

George Axelrod’s script is flippant, and Paris is definitely there in the background. We enjoyed it, but it falls into the category of a most guilty pleasure.

 

 

Twin Peaks (s3 Half-Way Point)

 DATELINE:  NO Spoilers Possibletwin peaks

There is no such thing as a spoiler in Twin Peaks. We are not even sure we are still in Twin Peaks after the face of Laura Palmer emerges from the mist in the opening credits.

We have now come to the half-way point of no-return for Season 3 on the bizarre David Lynch TV series, and we can explain everything that happened and you will have no idea what we are talking about.

The episode started with Kyle McLachlan’s Doppleganger Agent D.B. Cooper in a jail break with an accomplice who promptly shoots and kills him. Then, he is beset upon by demonic spirits that apparently bring him back to life.

At this point there is a flashback to a flashpoint in the plot. We find ourselves in Desert Sands, New Mexico, as the first atomic bomb is detonated. If you think of this as a hole in the plot, you may have fallen into the trap.

We are then thrust into a five-minute Stanley Kubrick-style hallucinogenic trip inside a radioactive cloud. When we emerged, we found ourselves in a 1950s black and white horror movie with zombies murdering people.

Oh, yes, somewhere in there we found ourselves in the waiting room of an imperious theater where Lurch the Butler of the Addams Family sends a golden plasma bubble with the face of Laura Palmer back to Earth.

Back on Earth, an alien lizard with wings hatches from an egg near the site of the nuclear explosion in 1956 and enters the mouth of sleeping adolescent girl. Now we feel the Illuminati are lurking somewhere in the storyline.

Is that clear? Are you spoiled yet? Have you any idea if David Lynch has lost his lunch?

Yes, we will watch again next week, not that it matters.

Everywhere a Movie Set in La-La Land

DATELINE: Movie Myths in Song & Dance

lalla land

 

You may remember La La Land as the film that won the Oscar for five minutes. It was a mistake, for sure. We aren’t sure if the film is supposed to be a take off, or a throwback, or just to feel good old-fashioned musical. It may be much more.

La la Land is some mystic, mythic American place where gridlock results in a mile-long sing-along.  If this is your cup of tea, stay out of Starbucks. If you love movies, this has more movie references than a Mel Brooks comedy. Yet, this one is a romantic gem.

Director Damien Chazelle manages to squeeze everything from Fellini’s 8 & a Half to Rebel without a Cause into his film, while resonating Gene Kelly’s American in Paris.

Ryan Gosling’s character wants to single-handedly save jazz for a new generation—and Chazelle does too. We thought there must be a trick to Gosling’s piano performance, which is bravura at the least. He sings and dances too.

Emma Stone’s eyes may be reminiscent of Bette Davis, but she is show busy to the nth degree. Attention, movie fans, we have a movie here, right down to the fluorescent green drapes out of Vertigo.

Dreams in La-La Land may be achievable—but at great cost, though the journey is richly detailed in this hypnotic movie.

The last musical we enjoyed was A Chorus Line, which we saw a dozen times because our friend Jimmy Kirkwood wrote it. He loved show biz stories too, and this would have grabbed him.

Though this movie missed out on its big Oscar, it’s the sort that will live in legend and re-telling and re-viewing in the generations to come. You cannot miss this film and call yourself a fan of Hollywood, jazz, or creative impulse.

Deflate-gate: the Movie

 DATELINE: Deflategate Movie Trailers

Featured imageDeflategate Features Full Rear End Nudity!

We have struggled to find the right metaphor for Deflate-gate, especially now that the first court appearance of the principals is at hand.

And now, for something completely different….

It is D-Day.

This story started long ago and far away in a strange galaxy—but it was actually January in the NFL.

We seem about ready to inherit the wind.

Danger, danger, danger, Will Robinson—er, Tom Brady!

Whether Tom Brady turns out to be the hero of his own life, only this Deflating experience will tell.

Marley was dead, and so was fair play.

On any given Sunday, the sun also rises.

In a naked city with 9 million stories, this is but one.

The names have not been changed to protect the innocent.

How did I end up in a Sunset Boulevard swimming pool with a couple of bullet holes in my back?

Can the Players Union make them an offer they can’t refuse?

HAL, HAL, open the pod doors! “Sorry, Tom, I can’t.”

“A horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse! Or at least the right psi.”

In the beginning, there was darkness—and now there is still darkness.

“Put me in, Coach. I am only suspended if you let them suspend me.”

“I coulda been a contender if not for the deflated footballs.”

“I’m mad as hell and I am not going to take it anymore.”

And in terms of grand understatement, we feel we must warn you to fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.