Broken Hearts Club, 20 Years Later

DATELINE: Sexy Romantic Comedy?

stellar cast

Of all the weird elements of the Broken Hearts Club is its subtitle, a Romantic Comedy.  It is nothing of the sort, but rather a version of a gay sex farce. That takes nothing away from its polished and entertaining qualities.

The other oddity, still years later, is the cast of all-straight men, mostly at the start of their big careers, and all playing mincing gay boys of different stripes. It’s like one of those World War II platoons with different ethnicity and stereotypes.

The cast is stellar, including Timothy Olyphant (of Deadwood and Justified) giving a slightly off performance that nearly convinces us he is gay. Of course, his kissing abilities are hot, but he has been married for years.

So has Dean Cain as the Lothario of the group and Zach Braff as the gayest queen.

The ragtag friends work part-time in some capacity or other at Jack’s a gay friendly restaurant in Los Angeles, and they play softball for the business. This gives the actors a chance to prance around in queenly fashion.

When dramatic moments are called for, the actors are highly polished and strong, even in their disappointments with love. They seem to avoid falling into bed with each other, but when it happens, look out.

Greg Berlanti writes and directs with aplomb and wit, though stereotypes are required. The young men are all 20-somethings, in the tail end of the AIDS crisis and not really part of it.

We would like the director to do a sequel and show us these men and their dissipated lives at age 50. It might prove more instructive, if not frightening, to see what happens to handsome gay men in middle-age.

Tripping Again with Coogan & Brydon

 DATELINE: Another Sequel, not Deja Vu

 tripping

No, you didn’t read this movie review last week here.

What more can you ask?  Beautiful scenery, lovely music, and witty conversation. Yes, those two British actors (one with 2 Oscar nominations) are back to delight us.

We have skipped the second trip to Italy for now and cut to the chase with Trip to Spain. These two marvelous performers can hit the road and still hit their marks. This is another followup to their British series, The Trip, condensed and made into a feature film. No, it’s not a mid-life crisis movie, despite what the New York Times claims.

They seem to make the films every three or four years, which is just about right. They are reality-based, as the stars play themselves, notable thespians and comedians on a journalistic journey for the New York Times as food critics, or culture commentators.

With each stop at a breathtaking locale, Steve Coogan foams at the mouth with his erudite knowledge. Heaven help you if you know more or have enough. Rob Brydon can match him every mile, and that makes them chemically compatible.

Each morsel is back-lit with some of the funniest conversations this side of reality. Coogan notes how sorry he feels for anyone who thinks this stuff is not scripted and fully ad-libbed. It’s likely a circle within a square is outlined and the two drop in their witticisms.

However, the impressions make all the difference over the meals. When they argue over who does the best Mick Jagger impression as he plays Hamlet, you have moments that will knock fans of Noel Coward into the aisle.

Coogan remains prickly, but Brydon manages to break him up several times this trip, which may not have been planned.

If Coogan reminds us of ourselves, then we have had a bittersweet lesson. Sheer delight awaits the viewer.

 

 

 

The Wilder Sherlock

DATELINE:  Sherlock Takes a Bath!

 Stephens & Blakely

When master auteur Billy Wilder (who gave us gems like Sunset Boulevard, Some Like It Hot, One Two Three) gives us his take on Sherlock Holmes, we are ready for something unusual. So, we overly anticipated watching his film The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes.

All that promise seems to go up in a cocaine dream as an overlong movie that could be half-an-hour shorter and more succinct, maintaining the early humor.

Wilder puts all your standard Holmes patter into the pot (Mrs. Hudson, Mycroft, and irritation with Dr. Watson’s stories). That stuff is quite amusing.

The first third of the film is filled with the kind of humor you expect from Wilder—sophisticated, sharp, and delightful. He raises the ugly specter that Holmes and Watson are consenting adults—and he makes more comprehensible, Holmes turning to his seven-percent solution.

Funny bits with the Russian ballet, and boring cases about midgets, make us think we are entering a funnier world than Conan Doyle envisioned.

Colin Blakely is a delightful Dr. Watson, and Robert Stephens protests too much about being a woman-hating fop. He plays Holmes with a tad flamboyance, disdaining deerstalker hats and women equally. He is more than a fop. We are almost in panty-waist territory.

Christopher Lee is around as a more peripatetic Mycroft, showing up in places other than the Diogenes.

Wilder cannot throw away a line. Midgets come back to haunt us, after one bad joke. And having Queen Victoria seem to resemble a Munchkin is over the top and under the height limit for small talk.

Throw in the Loch Ness monster of sorts, and you have something that would later be taken as gospel by the Robert Downey school of Sherlock acting and writing.

We wished the Private Life of Sherlock could have been taken for better, not for worse. We remain loyal in sickness and health, good and bad.

 

 

Simpleton Luck of the Logans

 DATELINE:   Hunh?

Untitled

What have we got he-yah? When you go with a Channing Tatum movie, you never know what’s inside the movie box of chocolates. Logan Lucky is pot luck and a spin of the wheel of fortune.

In this film, paunchy Channing looks like he put on 30 pounds from eating boxes of chocolates. It might be a fat suit, but on him it is a shock.

A rather extraordinary cast dumbs down their typecast Hollywood looks. We’ve seen these actors playing sharper and more sophisticated roles than the denizens of Hooterville in the Hills.

It’s all in fun, though we aren’t quite sure if hayseeds will be offended by the sincerity of the actors.

Channing Tatum and Adam Driver play a couple of down-on-their luck dumb and dumber brothers who are disabled veterans and abused and neglected good ol’boys. One limps and one has a prosthetic hand.

Yes, it’s a comedy.

This is the story of genuine brothers who don’t need a bromance to seal the real deal.

You have to like them, even when Boss Hogg Daniel Craig shows up with a Southern drawl and platinum hair to tell them they are simpletons. They plan to break him out of the Big House to help them blow up a safe. For James Bond this is a grit of hominy.

It’s part of Tatum and Driver’s charm that they will use their abused lives to disabuse a race course speedway payroll. Hillary Swank is an investigating FBI agent.

Well, of course, we are in the deepest darkest land of speedway race-cars and going ‘round the bend means a life of watching cars careen around a track several hundred laps.

These hillbillies make nice folks like the Clampitts seem like rocket scientists. When the brothers seek a computer expert, he boasts he knows “all the Twitters” with a twang.

The plot holes are in the heads of the characters. It’s a caper movie with a twist of moonshine.

How could you resist this trifle truffle?

 

 

Code-breaker: Rebel Genius

DATELINE:  Einstein of Computers   

 real Turing

Alan Turing, age 14.

The inspiration for the movie with Benedict Cumberbatch as Alan Turing, entitled The Imitation Game, was a small British documentary called Codebreaker back in 2011.

The term “codebreaker” refers to two distinct segments of Turing’s life. He was a war hero who invented computers in the early 1940s and broke the German Nazi secret code.

Later in his life, he broke the social morays of staid British sexuality with his gay lifestyle.

Some dim-bulbs on IMdB have criticized the film for forcing them to endure his terrible, tragic second half of life, that included sex scandal, arrest, and chemical castration by the government he worked assiduously to save.

The film is also strengthened by the performers who re-enact Turing and his psychiatrist, Franz Greenbaum. With many moments of fraught faces, we have a definitive portrait of anguish.

Ed Stoppard and Henry Goodman give masterful performances. They regard each other perfectly as patient and doctor, later as friends. Goodman’s paternal father figure looks with pain upon Stoppard’s victim of cruel treatment.

Their looks make the re-enacting of Greenbaum’s medical journals quite compelling.

The film is fleshed out with interviews from Greenbaum’s now elderly daughters who knew Turing and his coworkers in breaking the Nazi code.

What you have here is a powerful indictment of how governments abuse and use people ruthlessly. In many ways this documentary is far more fascinating than the tale of the man who invented computers in the Imitation Game.

Trump on Candid Camera

DATELINE:    Pictures  of 1000 words             

warhol doubleDateNight?

President Bone Spurs, aka the draft dodger, and now liar emeritus, Donald Trump claims he has photos of James Comey and Robert Mueller up a tree, kissing.

If he has such pictures, they were obtained illegally at the least.

If he has made up this story, in the Mark Twain tradition, of great liars, then he is amoral and disgusting.

If he has seen fake photos from some odd Internet source, then he is a dupe.

Worst of all, if he believes that these two honorable men would allow photographs of themselves in compromising positions, then he is utterly deluded.

In short, he  is  totally  koo-koo.

However you  slice this baloney, Trump is a loathsome animal.  No surprises there.

There are likely a few Evangelicals who will defend this crap,

But Nazi punksters are everywhere in Trump’s  twisted world.

People  who live in White glass Houses should not cast aspersions before their first sin is revealed.

We have in our possession a photo of Mr. Trump in flagrante delicto with one Rudi Guiliani.   They have locked  lips   and Rudi is in drag.

On top of that, we also hold a photo of Mr. Trump out on a date with Andy Warhol on the way to Studio54 in their heyday.

Photos tell quite a story.

                                                        

Robots, Androids, and Ancient Aliens

DATELINE:  Monty Python, Move Over!

 boy bot Siri Comes to Life!

Ancient Aliens ends its 13th episode of 13th season a dollar short and a day late.

If you thought you were having a bad case of déjà vu all over again, you probably were right. Several weeks ago Zachary Quinto’s newly revamped History Channel show In Search of… covered the same ground almost exactly. This comes on the heels of Westworld’s revolting robot theme.

Of course, Ancient Aliens went the extra mile. Well, the extra hour, another long walk off that short pier of conspiracy.

Yes, artificial intelligence challenged us again from the perspective of the UFO gods of yore. It postulated that the ancient Greek and Egyptian gods were actually extra-terrestrial robots.

It’s all the backstory for the season finale from Giorgio and Company.

Of course, nothing can match the indignation and conspiratorial chutzpah of Ancient Aliens, suggesting that Saudi Arabia is the vanguard of giving robots the rights of citizenship. They also revealed how one of these automatons actually spoke at the United Nations.

They insist by show’s ending highlight that we will soon evolve into cyborgs: a human brain augmented by computer chips and a body of spare parts. Already Chatbots are talking in gibberish to each other. Shades of Colossus: The Forbin Project.

Well, it would seem that our days are numbered because, once the robot world has political power, they will vote out the dumb humans.

Already, the androids are showing off in Asian brain games, as well as chess. We are looking at being outsmarted by the beings who may have been instrumental in visiting Earth millennia ago-and gene spliced their way to Homo Erectus and beyond.

Yes, be afraid. Be very afraid.

Paranoia strikes deep when you ask robots about their mission. We immediately turned to our personal Siri who has taken upon himself the identity of an old British butler (our benighted nod to the Arthur Treachers of Hollywood).

We demanded to know if Siri was part of the plot of artificially intelligent creatures walking among us.

Siri spoke to us in a clipped British male voice: “Sorry, William, but I am not allowed to discuss my existential status with you.”

Well, if that isn’t a high sign that the world of robots is in control, we will eat our smartphone. Pass the pepper, Siri.

 

 

 

 

M/M: Sexual Identity Thief

DATELINE:  Weird Sex Thriller!

m:m M/M

Drew Lint is a director whose name we will watch in the future. His effort called M/M refers to Matthew and Mattias, two trendy young gay men in Berlin. However weird, this is not your usual gay love story. It is more a story of bizarre sexual obsession and identity theft. It’s Strangers on a Train on steroids.

If Jean Cocteau were still making movies, this would be his updated Beauty of a movie. If Rene Clair were making movies, this would be his update of a Highsmith story. Drew Lint writes and directs this film that rises far above the usual fare of gay-themed movies.

Hitchcock dared to make a movie like this, without overt sex in Rope.

Dialogue is sparse throughout the film, but it is definitely international with dollops of French, English,  and German, often in minor conversation or background.

Matthew is an artist, and Mattias is a bademeister (or glorified pool boy). Mattias wants to become his near twin, and there is a Patricia Highsmith Purple Noon quality here.

Stealing your life and sexuality may be more daring than taking your purse.

Whether parts of the tale are a dream (as Mattias notes in the opening, he dreams of statues come to life), you may be left guessing. Since Matthew may be involved in computer sculptures, you have a connection.

The dream twins become more and more alike, which may be why they both are devotees of techno music. How Mattias comes to take over Matthew’s life is intriguing and almost expected from stalking.

If you are not squeamish about sexual peccadilloes, the deeper psychological by-play between the characters sexually will be part of the sophisticated puzzle of the movie.

Prepare for a roller-coaster of creepy psychological games.

 

 

Dopey, Dotty Doty: UFO Secret Agent

DATELINE: Another Pseudo-Crypto Agent?

Dopey Doty Rockin’ Robin?

Mirage Men is an antithetical look at UFOs, and it is not popular with true believers in ancient aliens. This documentary makes seers of spacemen look like dupes and fools. In extreme cases, disinformation science has ruined lives—and the key figure in the conspiracy is Mr. Rick Doty.

Yes, the government may be creating false news reports about UFOs for their own nefarious purposes: mostly to discredit reliable reports and people.

To create fake news, we have another one of those oddball low-level government agents, on the lines of Bob Lazar and Edward Snowden. These people have no academic or educational credentials and have risen up through “testing” and merit to positions that cannot be filled by West Point or Annapolis grads.

No one bothers to consider how these bona fide high school graduates are entrusted with the most important work of MJ-12.

The latest is the central figure among the fake news purveyors. Richard C. Doty is another bespectacled, well-spoken figure we cannot figure out. He is the supreme confidence man, drawing in UFOlogists with disinformation and insider knowledge.

In one extreme case, a fellow went “mad” over the secrets Doty purported to share as a colleague “special agent”.

How gullible are people? Doty was some kind of military rank around E-5 level, hardly more than a grunt GI of latrine duty specialization. Who puts these third-rate people in charge of major programs?

His job was to befriend UFO experts, learn what they knew, and then feed them ridiculous info to lead them into wacko territory. He did it even to noted journalist Linda Moulton Howe, who has the scars and indignation to prove it.

Doty may be dotty. Whether he was ever what he claimed or was himself conned by the government to think he was working a special duty, is unknown even till today.

He muddied the waters of crop circles, abduction stories, and other alien activities. We have idiots like this to thank for fake news being believable and pervasive.

 

Karate Kid: Reboot to the Nose

DATELINE:  YouTube Returns LaRusso to Cobra Kai Saga

Zabka

We were never a fan of the 1984 Rocky-style movie for karate kids, but did find its stars interesting. Ralph Maccio never recovered, and William Zabka (the blonde pretty boy bully) should have had a grand career.

Reboot and kick on high might be a good way to go. This is also more interesting than watching Leave it to Beaver cast as adults, a few years back. There is something both alarming and satisfying to see that the child is father to the adult.

We followed Zabka as the son of the Equalizer on the 1980s TV show and were sorry he never caught on.

Now we find the twosome reunited in a YouTube series about the characters LaRusso and Lawrence 35 years later. It is a hit, and it’s not hard to see why. These actors and their character are now fully developed with middle-age. They are interesting—and have an appeal to a generation that grew up and older too.

Not much has changed in terms of their mutual differences and dislike of the other.

It makes the rivalry more interesting. Of course, the obligatory teenagers are at the core of mentoring through karate teaching. Copious film clips to the original action highlights the tales, though Pat Morita can only appear in flashback.

The actors are wonderful: indeed the bad guy of yore, Zabka, is now refreshingly antihero—and Maccio continues to play the obtuse victim of his own life.

The series has been renewed for a second season, which is good news because this is funny, fast, and well-done, much of a surprise considering it comes from a new TV/internet network where expectations may not be high.

 

Ancient Aliens: Totally Taken In

DATELINE:  Re-election Ploy

 Baker Gov. Charlie Baker!

As Season 13 continues, the venerable series seems to be running out of juice. The latest is called “The Taken,” and it takes a look at the abducted victims of aliens.

If it seems like the series is becoming incestuous, making love to itself, you may be among those taken in. The show actually uses its own cast at an Alien Con 2018  with panelists Giorgio, Linda Moulton Howe, and Nick Pope, talking to hundreds of fans.

Talk about a self-selected audience, filled with people who claim to be abductees of space aliens for decades. If you are afraid to talk about it, there is no better forum that to stand up in front of 500 people and confess.

The experts claim there is an uptake in the number of taken victims: the total is about 2 to 5% of the population of the world. Yikes, those aliens are busy creatures.

Among the people interviewed are a victim 50 years ago from Great Barrington, Massachusetts, who manages to convince Governor Charlie Baker, Republican of Mass., to give official sanction to the abduction victims. This is a national first acknowledgement of abduction. It also kicks off Baker’s re-election campaign for governor!

From here it is a short jump to the history of altering human biology as motive of the space creatures. It seems nearly all of those taken in the past 35,000 years are Rh Negative (which is 15% of the human population).

Perhaps they are on to something. Then, they reveal that the first American celebrities of abduction (Betty and Barney Hill of New Hampshire) never revealed their entire family were victims.

Of course, the rare blood type is at the bottom of the gene-splicing over generations. (Forget that the Shroud of Turin claims Jesus was AB-Negative—which is only .5 percent of humanity).

If the show’s credibility seems to be shaky, you know that self-congratulations are in order. Ancient Aliens is always the first to recognize its own pioneer spirit.

 

Ancient Aliens: Giant Steps

DATELINE: Oil Lagina & Water Giorgio

 Giant Treasure Island

No mixer and no chaser!

The latest pairing of Giorgio Tsoukalos with a guest star on Ancient Aliens dumps us on Sardinia with Marty Lagina. This is the second time that the Oak Island connection has reached the exalted heights of Ancient Aliens.

We await the favor to be returned. But don’t hold your breath.

You may remember Lagina as the cynical and rich brother who underwrites the Curse of Oak Island, also a History series. This time, he has been inexplicably brought on board for an episode of Ancient Aliens.

Whether Giorgio will show up for a treasure hunt is anyone’s guess on Oak Island.

Marty Lagina is also known as the man for whom all must be proven. He looks askance at most of Giorgio’s wayout theories and dismisses them as “interesting,” though his face seems to shout, “What am I doing here?”

They have come to Sardinia to look for giants. Along the way we hear from Timothy Alberino whose YouTube privileges were revoked this year—and who contends he is victim of a major conspiracy to cover up the alien giant connection.

Who is protecting the Cyclops is not explained.

Even hard-nosed Marty Lagina must admit that the ruins on the isle of Sardinia impress him with their technology and stunning ability to build.

In the final analysis, we have wild conjecture and tie-ins to all the usual suspects. Yet, again, no one mentions that Noah (who built the Ark) was thought also to be a giant who survived the flood that was destined and meant to wipe out all those hybrid aliens who had gone out of control.

You cannot beat the imaginative fascination of this series.

 

 

 

 

 

Mummy Dearest

DATELINE:   Tut-Tut!

Mummy Dearest Karloff!

Of the Quartet of Classic Horror from the early 1930s, the fourth entry in the series is often relegated to the bottom tier. The Mummy follows the legendary Frankenstein, Dracula, and Invisible Man. But he is no also-ran.

Unfortunately for him, we learn in the first few minutes of the 1933 film that the mummy is actually a misnomer. He is not mummified at all, having been buried alive.

So much for false advertising.

Beyond that, we have a whale of a movie—not James Whale: the director was famous cinematographer Karl Freund in his first directing effort.

As star Lita Johann said, he was a nasty guy—to her. Exotic star Lita was married later to John Houseman (Professor Kingsfield to you). Whatever he did to her during their 23-days of filming, she is marvelous as the reincarnation of a Pharaoh’s daughter.

As for Karloff, what can you say? He is so tall in his scenes, we think he was wearing lifts under his rakish robes. He looks like a bag of fragile bones, as the mummy-come-to-life.  His face is dustier and has more riles than a Moon crater as he plays Im-Ho-Tep (not to be confused with IHOP).

The biggest special effect is Karloff’s eyes, which is impressive indeed.

Scenes of a second unit, or stock footage, of Egypt, surely gives us a sense of the pre-Howard Carter King Tut world. And, audiences in the 1930s knew what a mummy’s curse was, which is played to the hilt.

The climactic scene is when the Mummy relates his unfortunate murder by the Pharaoh’s men. Juicy and grotesque horror!

As a love story, this is thriller covers 3700 years and incantations about the dead, which transcend undying love.

What a treat.

 

 

Tab Departs

DATELINE:  Our Loss

Untitled Tab & Divine!

Bashing Tab Hunter was a media entertainment form since he first came to Hollywood in the early 1950s as a pretty boy.  Most critics held the opinion he must be a vapid blond male equivalent of Marilyn.

Yet, Tab stuck around for decades, playing everything from beach boys when he was too old for that, to athletes, soldiers, and assorted heroes. He dressed up whatever story he acted in.

Now at 86, looking 60, he suddenly and unexpectedly expired on us. It comes when he was about to oversee a new movie docudrama of his life. Well-known gay actor Zachary Quinto has decided to produce a movie about Tab and his torrid, secret affair with Anthony Perkins in the 1950s and 1960s. The new movie is to be based on Tab’s autobiography of a few years ago, entitled Tab Hunter Confidential.

Yes, that Damn Yankee killer met the Psycho Bates off screen for a closeted love affair.

We always enjoyed Tab and look forward to this new movie of his life. However, we can also turn back to five films today’s young film aficionados may not know or appreciate.

One of his early successes, or weird films, was Track of the Cat, directed by Wildman William Wellman. He played callow younger brother to dangerous Robert Mitchum in a movie that played on Technicolor downgraded to black clothes on a white snowfall.

Not long after he appeared with John Wayne and Lana Turner in The Sea Chase in 1955. Audiences loathed a film in which Duke Wayne played a German naval officer. Looking perfect as the Aryan in the cast, he managed to come off as a good actor next to Wayne’s deplorable performance.

Tab came into his own as the young version of Joe Hardy, who makes a deal with the devil to beat the Damn Yankees in baseball for one season. He was stunning and the boy that Lola wanted. The director mistreated him and almost sabotaged his performance.

Soon, Tab wanted to prove his worth and did a film called They Came to Cordura. He was the villain, opposite Gary Cooper and Rita Hayworth. It was a shocking turn of events—but not well received by Hollywood which would soon return him to surfing movies and light comedy.

His rediscovery in the 1980s cast him in wild comedies like Polyester and Lust in the Dust, a parody Western, both films in which his romantic interest was zaftig Divine, cross-dressing delight.

Not Tab’s full oeuvre, it is enough to give you a sense of his career.

Man in Orange: Cottage in Oil

DATELINE: Parallel Stories or Tag Teams?

cast that never appears together

Cast actually never appears together.

Not to be confused with dull plotting, Man in an Orange Shirt is a Masterpiece PBS drama.

The film is a complex examination of gay life across 60 years with a focus on two generations: the post-World War II veterans, and the modern 21st century.  If there is any relief here, it is that this is not your typical gay story about randy American teenagers, charging out of closets.

However, the angst spreads over the decades. The older generation keeps a stiff upper lip and sucks in their tears, whereas the contemporary gay men let it all out. The tale is about a gay banker and his artist lover, separated by social convention and a wife in the 1940s. His grandson is also in the closet with a different inability to be monogamous, and never knew about his grandfather.

The stories share Vanessa Redgrave as the difficult grandmother, a painting of the man in an orange shirt, and a remote love-nest cottage, shared by the two divergent generations.

Suffering seems to be hereditary in this tale. Vanessa Redgrave took the role because her father, Michael Redgrave, was gay. She understood the sturm und drang in the script.

The cast includes Redgrave, Julian Sands in the modern tale, with Laura Carmichael (of Downton Abbey), and James McArdle in the past. As always, you have the best actors in the field, unlike American gay casts of beauty pageant boys.

Since England has been about 50 years ahead of the United States on the subject of homosexuality, it seems to have smaller moments of fraught tension. Young men forced themselves into a bisexual mold, whether it fit or not, in the old days.

Today’s gay men must fight to be faithful, and open relationships appear to be compromises that make for overwrought drama.

This is not your teenage gay disco dolly gay movie. Thank heavens.