Re-fighting the Battle of the Sexes

DATELINE: Gay Lib, Not Gay Lob

Bobby & Billie Truly a Doubles Match!

Many viewers may not know the story of Bille Jean King and Bobby Riggs and their ridiculously hyped tennis match of the early 1970s.

The earlier TV movie was called When Billie Beat Bobby. This new version is the Battle of the Sexes, but it’s more of a coming-out story.

Many may not know that an earlier cable movie effectively told the story with all the limitations of small screen propriety. If you wonder about the differences, there was no hint of gayness in Billie or her marriage. She had no bedroom scenes with a female hairdresser.

She did not have a gay best friend (marvelous Alan Cumming as Ted). She did not have a cantankerous relationship with Margaret Court in the first movie who is always holding a baby in the remake.

You did not see Bobby Riggs’ nude layout. You did not see his marital problems, or his hilarious attendance at a Gamblers Anonymous meeting.

You had a greater sense that Bobby and Billie were, above all else, “good sports” and actually remained lifelong friends.

The big screen smash has magnificent performances from Emma Stone and Steve Carell, looking more like their real counterparts. Carell is making an industry out of playing peripheral sports characters (Dupont in Foxcatcher). There are some marvelous effects too, bringing Howard Cosell back to life to play himself.

This is a big budget film with a great music score, pictures of celebs of the times, and the Houston Astrodome itself.

We recall the match was a grand joke, only taken seriously by those who’d be willing to buy the Brooklyn Bridge from Bobby Riggs. How could anyone think that old man could beat a young athletic woman?

Well, as we recall, yes, there were men crushed by the defeat. This movie brings it all back to us.

Kinky Puss’n Boots

DATELINE:  A Really Big Shoe

 kinky boots Kinky-Dinky!

Kinky Boots may kindly be called an old-fashioned character drama. The difference is that it’s about drama queens in men’s shoes. It was later turned into a smash stage show, but the 2006 version is one of those working class British angry young man movies (except the young man dresses like a woman).

The two characters in juxtaposition are, first, the son of a shoe factory heir facing bankruptcy for making traditional footwear for men when disposable sneakers are the rage.

The second young man likes to wear high-heels and becomes a cabaret star in drag shows.

Under normal circumstance, you almost would expect the two men to slip into each other’s loafers at some point. Thank heavens, Kinky Boots keeps us in our own lanes and avoids any moments with glass slippers.

Joel Edgerton is the scion of shoemakers who learns that market niche for men’s boots with stilettos is high end. He meets Chiwetel Ejiofor in a career-busting role as Lola, the giant man in glitter. They kick up the story. Chiwetel also sings us a torrid version of “Whatever Lola Wants.”

Unfortunately, to walk a mile in one man’s shoes, or high-heels, may be a stretch too far. The movie makes its points early and often but keeps on giving us more. The climax on the runways of Milan for shoe biz is too much glitz for our own good. Hero and audience fall flat.

Lessons in what defines masculinity and manhood are made a few times too many. It’s always hard to figure out British men anyhow since, to American eyes, they all look ready to put on a feathery boa and dancing shoes.

Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool

DATELINE: Movies Imitate Life

Film Stars Film Stars!

The tragic and sensitive final days of Oscar-winning actress Gloria Grahame make for an ironic version of Sunset Boulevard, without the cynicism and cruel take on Hollywood.

Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool is the antidote to all those anti-Hollywood movies. Yet, its story is the pathetic truth about an aging film star who spent her last days with a younger man. Gloria is no deluded Norma Desmond, and Jamie Bell’s Peter is no reluctant William Holden.

With Anette Bening in form as the pouty Grahame in her failing days, the film has at its core a rather pathetic love story.  Peter Turner was a young British actor who was Gloria’s last companion. Bening certainly eschews vanity playing a woman with cancer and fighting the clock.

Jamie Bell returns to his roots as a British working-class boy with a show biz heart as Peter. He dances too like Billy Elliott, and Bell’s charm remains in full blossom. Their love story may strain credulity among many but has the world of actors all over it.

As an aging ingenue with a scandalous past, Gloria still wants to play Juliet for the Royal Shakespeare Company, however improbable. Bell and Bening have definite chemistry, even as they attend the movies on a date to see Alien.

Your Hollywood gossip reference level will be satisfied with enough detail to titillate.

Supporting Bening and Bell, you cannot do better than Julie Walters as the Liverpool mother and Vanessa Redgrave as Gloria’s mother.

With clips of the young luminous Gloria in her heyday, the film plays on echoes on the past.  Gloria won her Oscar as support to Kirk Douglas and Lana Turner in The Bad and the Beautiful, another classic Hollywood tale.

Elegiac movies often sink into sentiment and nostalgia, but this film keeps its head up throughout. Forget about happy endings. They only happened in the old movies.

Tom, Giselle, Boris & Natasha!

DATELINE: Met Gala Stun Guns Again

Tom, Giselle, Boris, Natasha

Yes, right after the Kentucky Derby “and they’re off—” comes the notorious Met Gala in New York where the show horses and would-be celebrities fall all over themselves on the red carpet.

Yes, on the heels of the bizarre nature of Westworld’s second season comes Evan Rachel Wood, Kim Karadasian, and Elon Musk, on the red carpet.

Our favorite had to be Tom Brady, erstwhile ageless quarterback and his wife (the billionaire), looking like refugees from 1960s Gilligan’s Island. Indeed, you had to wonder if Jonathan Nolan had produced the glitzy extravaganza as a means to publicize his TV HBO weirdo series.

You can’t tell the androids from the guests.

What Tom Brady has had to do to cause his wife to agree to let him play for two more seasons? You have only to look at his outfit as the twosome cavorted with other Barbie and Ken dolls.

Yes, Tom is wearing nail polish. You can’t see the multi-colored nail polish on his feet. And he looks like he is storing botox in his cheeks. Yet, the rash comments that he and wife look like James Bond villains is a tad off-the-mark.

Tom is not auditioning to play Dr. No, nor Goldfinger. He is acting like a friendly Russian that would charm President Donald Trump, whose hair would have fit right in on the red carpet.

Tom and Giselle came across as Boris and Natasha, those 1960s spies who gave Bullwinkle Gronk and Julian the Flying Squirrel fits.

Halloween comes early. However, we did see Patriots owner Robert Kraft and his young Baby Mama. To our shock, Kraft was NOT wearing his blue collar/white shirt. He did have de rigueur tennis shoes with his tux.

You have to love insanity with money.

 

 

After the Prejudice and Before the Pride?

DATELINE: Jane Austen Goes Gay!

  chase conner    Chase Conner as Mr. Darcy.

To take the chaste Jane Austen’s comedy of manners, Pride and Prejudice, and turn it into a gay story is an interesting twist. Director and writer Byrum Geisler has entered the brave, new world fearlessly. After gay pride comes the fall?

Before the Fall is tame gay entertainment for an audience with emotional reservations. It will offend gay activists and homophobes alike for being low-key and matter-of-fact.

Ben Bennett is so straight-laced that the only clue we have that he is gay are his professed feelings. He is attracted to a straight alcoholic man Mr. Lee Darcy (Chase Conner). Without overt sex acts and nudity, so often at the heart of gay movie drama, this film’s only sin is to have a couple of queeny friends of Mr. Bennett.

It’s like having Steppin Fetchit and Butterfly McQueen in a civil rights tale. It’s the only false step. Those characters are utterly offensive.

As for the rest of the cast and actors, they are buttoned up and long-suffering.

Indeed, you might think the central casting office found the usual good looking gay actors, but there is here something far more serious and sensitive. We have to laud any so-called gay film that flies in the face of the usual shenanigans.

Filmed in beautiful Virginia, a so-called place for lovers, Ben Bennett hardly puts an overt pick-up on Mr. Lee Darcy. They go hiking, and after some guilty gossip, Bennett works to remove a legal cloud over the other man, perhaps to help him with his alcoholism.

Billed as a comedy drama, which is Austen’s stock-in-trade, the label will confound modern audiences for whom social humor is tied into text messages and Facebook friendships.

If you stick around to the final romanticized happy ending, you may conclude that gay movies are growing up.

 

 

 

From Tea Pot Dome Scandal to Pee Pot Bed

DATELINE:  Pot to Plant Flowers In

glow in dark pee potGlow in Dark Pee Pot

President Warren Harding gave us Teapot Dome Scandal, and President Softing Trump has given us Pee Pot Bed Scandal.

From Teapot Dome to Pee Pot Bed, you cannot embarrass Trump supporters. They’re deplorables all right.

The people who support President Trump are the kind of people who leave the bathroom door open when they go. That’s if they don’t wet the bed. It never Depends on them.

The Russians call it “Kompromat.”

In case you’re wondering, that’s when they compromise an American president with blackmail. No wonder Pee Pot Trump had to send his crooked attorney Lyin’Michael Cohen to Prague to try to get those tapes right before the election.

The Russians could publish them in a book called The Yellow Stream Down Trump’s Backside by I.P. Daily.

Gilbert Gottfried notes that Trump should have kept the tapes on Betamax, not his IPO.

I.P. Daily is a fake journalist who works for UP According to Strumpet Depress Secretary Sarah Suckapee Launders.

Now the crooked FBI must go over the tapes to find whether those damp spots are damp spots. Out, out, redacted, unmade bed.

And this weekend former FBI director James Comey will let us know whether Trump came up to see the Russians and actually has a little rocket after all.

60 Minutes wouldn’t allow Stormy Daniels to present her weather forecast on Trump’s hail and thunderous tiny pocket rocketman. The tape measure has more impact on your bedspread and spreadsheet.

Perhaps James Comey will offer us more insight into the Pee Pot. Stir, don’t shake.

 

 

The Shape of Water-Logged

DATELINE:  Oscar Goes Glug Glug!

glug glug  Missing the Black Lagoon

Who would have envisioned Creature from the Black Lagoon winning Best Picture of 1954 for director Jack Arnold?  Yet, the wet creature won for its director in the Shape of Water in 2018. How the world has changed into a monster mash.

Guillermo del Toro may be too full of bull with his latest movie. His Gill Man takes place on the heels of the original Creature tale, circa 1960, and likely is meant to be a homage sequel. A real sequel followed in 1955.

This amphibian man is called a ‘god’ more than once, in case you don’t understand the ending.

The film is subtly anti-American, with its sympathetic Soviet spy as one of the few likeable characters.

Of course, you have Octavia Spencer in a key role, which always elevates a movie to a higher standing. Michael Shannon has apparently cornered the market on despicable villains who are sexist, racist, and anti-disabilities. And, we always perk up when Nick Searcy (from Justified) makes an appearance.

As for the Creature, swimmingly played in a wet suit by Doug Jones, we are treated to a Fred and Ginger dance number in one dream sequence. Indeed, the film is rife with clips of old movies—from Betty Grable to the Story of Ruth.

Yes, you will find Bob Denver as Maynard and Mr. Ed as the Talking Horse in a couple of clips. No wonder this struck a nerve with aging Boomers.

Alas, the overdrawn sex scenes seemed superfluous and almost tacky to the point of meanly excluding a younger audience.

The film wants to play off the King Kong-style romance between monster and damsel, but the paws of Del Toro are around the heroine’s throat all too often.

Meant to move us with its horror fantasy, we were simply antsy.

 

Trump: Not a Pretty Picture

DATELINE:  Overexposure of the President

AvenattiMickey Spillane Avenatti

We have not seen any hush money, and Trump’s lawyer has not threatened us with castration, so here goes:

Those who remember history know that the sex scandal element that brought down Michael Jackson and caused him to pay millions in punitive damage was a picture worth a few more dollars than words.

Michael Jackson, under court order and police escort, had to allow photos of his privates, which could be clearly identified by his accusers. Yes, the photos were spot on.

Now we hear from Stormy Daniels’ lawyer, the Mickey Spillane of crime, Mickey Avenatti, that his accuser can prove l’affair d’amour fou by describing the pigmentation of the pig.

If the thought of an obese president “perched” on the edge of his bed is not enough to make you think of snuff movies, the idea that we may hear that Trump’s best defense is to allow photos ‘where the sun don’t shine.’

Mr. Trump can take some consolation that the pictures of Michael Jackson have never been leaked, not even by Wikileaks, one of Trump’s favorites leaks. No, we don’t want to see Trump taking a leak in hand.

You may need more than Depends to hide the image from your mind’s eye.

If there never was a scene in which Mr. Trump was given thirty lashes with a wet newsmagazine on his Trump rump, we may need to have the pictures to disprove it.

At least now we know where the media can hurt Trump on his red rump, according to his Snapchat.

The question is not to be or not, but whether Stormy weather may sink the Trump brand.

A photo of Trump’s genitalia may not be a pretty picture, but Mickey Avenatti seems willing to pose the question for animal crackers. Infra-red pix may finally send the only woman who matters in Trump’s life, Melania, to give him a swift kick to his exposed  scrotum.

 

 

 

How Many Oscars to Put Up a Billboard?

DATELINE:  Ebbing Tide!

McDormand

Two major Oscars went to the star actors of Three Billboards Near Hibbing, Minnesota, or was it Ebbing, Missouri?

We think the ridiculous title seemed laughable at first, but becomes seriously apt by the end.

Frances McDormand and Sam Rockwell play borderline sociopathic and violent characters who are held in check by the small-town sheriff played by Woody Harrelson.

Audiences have been deeply bothered by a racist cop (who may be latently gay) and vindictive mother of a murdered girl who become, weirdly, sympathetic, owing to the brilliant performances of Oscar winners Rockwell and McDormand.

The audience faces a story wherein characters repent and try to mend their nasty ways. It’s not looked upon with much favor. It becomes far worse if they turn into outright vigilantes, leaving us with complete moral and ethical ambiguity. We seem to forget Bruce Willis has just released his remake of Death Wish, the ultimate film about taking the law into one’s hands, just to entertain us.

The Oscar winners are surrounded by other tour de force actors, playing small-town Missourians to the hilt. And, there were likely no other stars who could have played the leads: we doubt that Meryl Streep or Tom Cruise could have pulled it off with such aplomb or lack of glamour.

The story has absurdist elements that make for that most deplorable of all genres: dramedy or black comedy, with fewer and fewer laughs along the way.

Perhaps life is not so black and white as good guys and bad after all, but our movies usually refuse to reflect this. This film challenges its audience to live with moral ambiguity in their art, as well as in life.

This is the first movie in quite some time in which characters mention Shakespeare and Oscar Wilde in the same scene, among other quirks, making this the most intriguing film of the year.

 

 

 

God’s Own Country: Forsaken and for Rent

DATELINE: Intelligent Human Drama

 god's grubby country

If you want a movie that combines Brokeback Mountain with Far from the Madding Crowd, you have fallen into the sheep dip of God’s Own Country.

In case you’re wondering, God’s country is in the Northumberland section of Scotland where sheep are sheep, and men are men.

Johnny (Josh O’Connor) is an uptight, hard-drinking, unhappy young man living with his handicapped father and aging mother on a remote sheep farm in cold, desolate, and in a kind of run-down in the dumps setting.  He spends time at the local pub and local urban area and meets a fair share of attractive men, but he is miserable.

He falls down on his homestead duties—and his father brings in a Romanian gypsy-type (but don’t call him that). It’s hate at first sight, until one of those cold, desolate outings to the outback where outing becomes all the rage.

This is actually a fascinating little film, way beyond the ground-breaking of Brokeback and unlikely to be made in America where sheepskin is only for college diplomas.

Actor Josh O’Connor has a rough-hewn attractiveness, and Alec Secareanu is smoldering. They really carry the movie, as the cast is tiny and the lack of population doesn’t make for much company.

When the affair consummates, it enflames, but the drama is far more subdued and intelligent. At least we don’t have to listen to disco dolly music and fashionistas with witty repartee.

This movie is by director and writer Francis Lee and comes from a world of whence he knows. Though the characters seem to think they are in God’s beautiful country, they clearly need to take a trip to the tropics.

In terms of gay films for a gay audience, this slice of life with calves being yanked out of a mother cow, and lambs being yanked out of ewes may be too much for city slickers. It’s nature’s way, apparently, when out in the country.  It will be too much muck for some viewers.

Nutcase Shooter in Trump’s Camp

DATELINE: Trump Rallies the Troops

Cruz Trump Supporter

President Trump promised more federal aid for mentally ill people after the Florida shooter was revealed to be a troubled youth named Nikolas Cruz.

In his inimitable half-baked style, President Trump failed to mention the word ‘gun’ in his speech to the nation, but he did mention crazy people. He must have crazy on the mind.

This apparently was before he had learned that the shooter posted a picture on Instagram wearing one of Trump’s campaign hats, the notorious ‘Make America Great Again’ chapeaux.

Yes, you guessed it, Nikolas Cruz tried to make America great again by killing 17 people. Trump would not want you to know that he was a member of a white supremacist group,as well as a Trump supporter. That makes both Trump and Cruz two-time losers. Too bad we can’t deport those people.

Alas, Trump supporters are the salt of the earth and are genuine American citizens. Because the 19-year-old couldn’t buy a gun in Florida he went for an assault rifle. It’s much easier to shoot, buy, and use. He was partial to merchandise with American logos. Hence, he posted a photo wearing a bandana over his face with stripes on it.

As for more money for mentally ill Americans, already cut out of the health plan proposed by Trump, we think it is a good idea to have more money for the crazy people who voted for Mr. Trump. We can’t think of a group that needs more mental health than Trump supporters.

We can hardly wait for Sarah Shuckabee Slanders to rationalize this one.

 

RECOMMENDED! ALLEGED BOOK!

DATELINE: Penknife Mightier than the Sword

Patskindle

Now read all your favorite blogs for the year in one handy location: your tablet, your smartphone, or your computer.

PATRIOTS PLAY POLITICAL FOOTBALL 2017

Now available, The Loser’s Edition.

Normally we compile a book of annual snide comments about the winner of the Super Bowl, but this year we change horses in the fourth quarter.

Now you can trace the sour grapes of Malcolm Butler up to the sacking by Coach Belichick in the final hours!

Now you can see the complete reviews and reactions to Tom Brady’s reality TV series and all its deadly fallout!

Now you can learn how Trump has poisoned the Patriot well of victory!

Now you can find the fake news about Gronk’s Hollywood career!

Now you cannot find much about Julian Edelman, but he still shows up on the pages now and then!

Now you can see how the Yalta Peace Talks between Kraft, Belichick, and Brady really came about and really went nowhere!

Now available on Amazon, cheap price, cheap words, cheap ideas!

Recommended for smart readers always!

 

 

Parcells & Belichick: Odd Couple

DATELINE: Two Bills & Lots of Sense

two bills

ESPN’s latest documentary is a look at the remarkable relationship of two NFL coaches who figure prominently in the conversation of greats.

Bill Parcells and Bill Belichick cannot merely be compared as winning NFL coaches. They actually have linked together and bonded in a variety of ways over 40 years.

To put them together at a table in the football Giants locker room and let them watch and listen to clips may actually be a device to give viewers fireworks, contradictions, and hostility. Nothing could be further from the actual event.

You may be surprised what a loud extrovert and a introspective quiet man have in common. They were never friends, but were always respectful colleagues—even at times when tense competition separated them.

What they do have in common is an irascible controlling attitude. It may boil down to the kind of relationship you’d expect between an elder brother and his over-achieving younger sibling. They were rivals, but under the skin shared too much to be anything but blood kin.

Parcells always regretted not being more diplomatic and less inclined to fly off the handle. On the other hand, Belichick admired the way his mentor could deal with the media and see the big picture.

It winds up being a mutual admiration society now that the days of fiery fights across the field have come to an end. They have played golf together and enjoyed dinner to reconcile their former differences after the Jets flare-up when Belichick declined to be drafted into a bad coaching situation, as the heir apparent to Parcells. A Greek chorus of football greats and witnesses to their flare-ups and cool-downs adds to the history lesson.

Owner Robert Kraft slips between them, owing to fancy editing by the director, and notes the complex troubles of managing difficult coaches. It’s business, not friendship. It’s living with a colleague for years and never socially.

The Two Bills is a fascinating portrait of hard-driven men doing what they love with people they grow to love.

 

 

 

 

 

Visitor from a Strange Planet? Or Time Traveler?

DATELINE:  Weird Photo 

 interesting

We have begun to think that Trump’s Chief of Staff, John Kelly, is not who he says he is.

Kelly purports to be a local Boston person who attended UMass Boston before climbing the ranks to the level of General. Since the Trump election, he has risen to Director of Homeland Security—and thence moved to the White House as Trump’s mad dog, er, we mean guard dog.

Yet, during recent research, we have discovered a photograph that may belie the truth.

It seems John Kelly has a double who served on the Warren Commission—and helped fired CIA director Allen Dulles in that benighted investigation.

Warren conspirators

John McCloy died, allegedly, in 1989, but during his illustrious career as a Know-Nothing politician, he masterminded the idea of interring Japanese during World War II and restoring properties and money to the supporters of Hitler, despite the Nuremberg decision not to reward these people.

It seems that McCloy and Kelly may be cut from the same cloth, as Kelly wants to toss hundreds of thousands of legal and illegal immigrants from the United States. He may also be a witness to Trump’s recent racist rant, saying all Haitians have AIDS and all Nigerians lived in African huts before coming to America.

Can it be that Kelly is actually a time traveler who shows up at the White House periodically to weave his peculiar brand of politics?

What’s next? Will we learn that Kelly is also on the board of directors for MJ-12, the shadow government of the United States, that conspires to keep the truth about space aliens from the general public?

Photographic evidence is chilling.

Trump, Moore Chased by Frankenstein Monster

DATELINE:  Trump Rally at Castle Frankenstein

 trump rally

Called Frankenstein by Trump, Al Franken is now going to run amok in the world of sexual harassment. The monster will turn on the Republicans.

A confused mob once gathered outside the Castle Frankenstein. They look suspiciously like Trump rally supporters who are confused by sexual harassment charges.

Franken‘s resignation is the worst possible news for Trump and his senatorial selection, Roy Moore.

By resigning, Al Franken has the sweet revenge of saying he is leaving the Senate to make America great again.

In the moment Trump or any Republican criticizes or celebrates Franken‘s resignation, he is dead in the water. After the sexual harassment charges against Trump and Moore, those two political hacks come across as lesser men for not having the integrity to resign, let alone offer a mea culpa.

As a result, you may have noticed that President Trump has stopped tweeting about Frankenstein. The monster has him by the throat. The first thing Trump says about it may be the last.

The worm has not yet turned on Trump. It will. He, McConnell, Hatch, and other senators who allow child molesters into the Senate for political purposes and expediency are hypocrites of the first-order without any redeeming morality as a shield.

Women who continue to support these men are either mentally ill or so cowed by their low self-esteem that they have no respect for honesty.

Trump created a Frankenstein Monster and now it is about to throttle him.