Mandela & De Klerk Teaches US Hard Lesson

DATELINE:  A Timely Movie from 20 Years Ago

mandela

With racial tension once again dominating the United States and with a president defending white supremacists as “many fine people,” we felt it was time to take a look at a 20-year old movie called Mandela & De Klerk.

Somehow, in our blithe ignorance, we missed this small film in 1997 when Sidney Poitier and Michael Caine took on the roles of the title. We doubt today’s self-righteous and self-leftists are even able to sit down and watch a thoughtful movie.

After 27 years in jail in a society based on racial divisions, Nelson Mandela’s movement to end apartheid flourished with millions of African people pitted against a minority of white people.

With the emergence of a reasonable and man of moral scruples in F.W. De Klerk came the détente and building of a relationship built on racial equality, if not a stronger tolerance.

To have two superstars come to play the roles gives the newsreel based footage something more intimate and human. The film was made on location in South Africa, and the actors are clearly well-chosen for their parts in delineating how race riots can be quelled by good men in temperate mode.

We usually eschew preachy movies, or overtly political allegories—but this film now seems more apt than ever for another country that has too long taken on a holier-than-thou attitude in the world.

Neo-Nazis, crypto-Nazis, and their ilk, have come to hate the loss of “white” culture in a world where inevitably the American nation will be dominated by minorities when people of color become the American majority within 50 years, or less.

It may be time to wake up and smell the coffee, whether you are alt-right, or alt-left, or just alt-of-this-world.

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Twin Peaks 3: Episode 14 Update

DATELINE:  We See Dead People

bowie

Late David Bowie With Early MacLachlan

If we have learned any lesson this season, it is there is no such thing as a spoiler in Twin Peaks 3.  David Lynch’s surreal series is moving toward its conclusion, and the old characters, however dead they may be, are still viable plot movers.

Old time fans will be glad they have hung on to the lunacy by this time. Lynch now has begun to weave clips of the original show, 25 years ago, into the new plot.

This episode featured old Lynch as FBI Director Cole recounting a dream to Miguel Ferrer as his assistant Albert. In it, we see dark-haired young Lynch in conversation with young, still-dark haired Kyle MacLachlan as Agent Cooper. Director Cole’s old partner and friend shows up from 25 years ago, and it is none other than the late David Bowie.

He is in a scene with the late Miguel Ferrer.

Dana Ashbrook is now on the Twin Peaks Police Force, and James Marshall is now a night watchman in the infamous Twin Peaks Hotel. There, he works with a British boy who looks like his son—and has been directed to Twin Peaks by cosmic forces to find his “destiny.”

Lynch continues to be a grand proponent of directing actors to stare blankly at each other. It is both insightful and hilarious. He does it best with Ferrer who notes the absurdity of the universe.

We now learn too the connection between missing agent Dale Cooper, his assistant Diane, and the weird counter-point of Naomi Watts as Mrs. Dougie Jones.

The episode is dedicated to the memory of David Bowie who probably wished he could return to reprise his role in this grandiose season.

The Stunt Man: Rush Job

DATELINE:  Mad Director Meets Madder Stunt Man

otoole

If you ever wondered what it might’ve been like to walk onto the set of legendary superstar Peter O’Toole during filming, your chance came in 1980 with the movie The Stunt Man, directed by Richard Rush.

The title is two words because Burt Reynolds sued director Rush over the title, wanting it for his movie tribute to stuntmen. They split the difference.

It’s a comedy action thriller drama Hollywood insider movie about the making of an out-of-control World War I epic anti-war movie with more explosions and killings than supports its so-called plot of the movie-within-a-movie.

It also costars Steve Railsback, in a rare heroic role as a Vietnam vet with post-traumatic stress syndrome. Fleeing from police, he wanders onto the set of O’Toole’s Eli Cross production and is immediately sucked into the ruse of taking up the role of a stunt man who was killed accidentally that day.

O’Toole knows he has a fugitive on his hands, but needs to prevent an investigation into his botched movie stunt.

Railsback was fresh off playing Charles Manson in Helter-Skelter for a movie mini-series. Peter O’Toole based his wacky director on his work with David Lean during the making of Lawrence of Arabia.

Flying around the set on a crane, O’Toole’s ego-maniacal director will risk anything to get his movie on film, including the accidental death of crew-members. Yes, this is a comedy, but not quite like you expect.

This movie probably would never be made today, even with rogue directors and winking cable studios financing the project.  Then, again, we admit that Twin Peaks was given a green-light.

When Railsback asks O’Toole why he is protecting the fugitive, O’Toole answers: “Because I’m in love with your dark side.” It makes perfect sense.

Railsback was never so handsome, and O’Toole was never quite so cuckoo.  It makes for a delicious movie, though it is about a half-hour too long.

In its earlier incarnation, it was given little publicity in its release. O’Toole commented the film was not released, “It escaped.”

 

Dreams of Younger Days Won’t Cut It

DATELINE:  Aged in Wood

 sam & blythe

I’ll See You in My Dreams is an old song, but is not the one you expect to hear in the story.

Director Brett Haley presents us with a picture of growing old in Los Angeles, if you are rich and healthy. But, don’t be fooled. It’s no bed of roses for those with privilege and pleasant lives in the waiting room for the Grim Reaper. It’s still a dead end.

Blythe Danner plays an old lady named Carol, but she is way too beautiful, even in her 70s. She also seems to be playing Diane Keaton in terms of wardrobe. After the death of her husband, she took to a retirement community, high-end living to say the least, and for twenty years filled her life with bridge club, a dog, her daughter, and a pool boy, not necessarily in that order.

Still, much is missing in life. There is a motif of a rat running around her beautiful home that drives her outside periodically.

The 35-year-old pool boy may be half her age and in one of those millennial crisis, but he sees her powerful, past talent as a chanteuse. Indeed, Danner gives a wonderful rendition of “Cry Me a River” to prove the point.

Dropping by the film are old faces, once familiar TV staples, like Max Gail, Mary Kay Place, and Rhea Pearlman, which seems to increase audience depression.

The low-budget film will not win over the young set, but who needs to? This is a bittersweet story of whether geriatric romance is worth the tumble. It is done all too tastefully, as these are not desperate, grubby people

When distinguished and wry Sam Elliott shows up with plenty of money, we realize that old age is meant to be lived with wealth and health. Heaven forefend you lose those.

There is something of resignation in the message that Haley seems to present in this highly polished movie that was filmed in three weeks. When you have old professionals, you can fly through a script.

Well-done on all levels and sobering tale of love and loss.

 

 

Why Him? Why This Movie?

DATELINE: More Francophobia

why him?

James Franco stars here. As we know, Franco alternates between serious, literary movies, and mindless, nuthouse comedies. This falls into the latter.

Here he plays an exasperating, offensive, foul-mouthed extreme version of his most irritating persona. Opposite him is Bryan Cranston playing a curdmudgeon father of a beautiful Stanford co-ed who is cohabitating with this lout.

He wants to marry her, though she is so conservative we can never figure out why they are together to begin with. Franco is so appalling that we wonder why anyone wants to be in the same movie.

Of course, the fly in the ointment is that Franco’s Laird Mayhew is a video-games entrepreneur billionaire who cavorts with the likes of Elon Musk. Yes, he appears.

In a twisted way, Cranston’s befuddled father is perfect and the air-headed script flies by with tasteless scene following even more tasteless scene. We have been watching too many high quality, artistic movies, and have been brought down to earth in a crash with this picture.

Franco must win over Cranston to win over Zoey Deutch. Megan Mullaly, Cedric the Entertainer, and Griffin Gluck are around for the ride. Keegan-Michael Key steals the picture largely as the overgrown “houseboy” (via the Inspector Clouseau movies, proudly plagiarizing Pink Panther).

In its own way, this is a perverse Xmas movie, complete with references to Macauley Culkin being home alone to make the entire concept completely incongruous.

You may laugh as the Millennials truly make the Baby Boomers take one on the chin.

In case you wonder, the hideous art hanging in Laird’s house all were done by James Franco, who else?

Stuffed shirts always loosen up in face of a James Franco onslaught. The film defies you not to laugh.

 

 

 

 

WordPress, Wherefore Art Thou?

DATELINE:  Biting the Hand That Feeds Us Tofu Turkey

Tofu   tofu turkey

Almost as juicy as our Tofu Turkey Award, we were just notified by WordPress that this is our seventh anniversary.

We almost expect the locust to descend upon our readers.

Every once in a while we realize that there are awards out there for blogs, but as Ella Fitzgerald used to sing, “But Not for Me….”

Yes, indeed, bloggers are writing songs of love, but not for me.

We heard there are real WordPress awards out there, but they are as mysterious as the Men in Black for us.

Fear not, fearless readers. We will continue for another seven years writing movie reviews on weird movies, pushing our bad books, and berating Tom Brady. If we are not mistaken, seven years is about the same length of time for those with bad luck when you break a mirror.

Thank you, WordPress, for reminding us.

 

 

Paid for Sex: Gay Porn Stars

 DATELINE:  Awful Movie!

 Tommy Lettuce Rhymes with cabbage.

Never having been paid for sex, we may be hard-pressed to evaluate a film called I’m a Porn Star: Gay 4 Pay.

Our sense is that if you’re not committed fully to something, you probably won’t do a good job. The handsome young men in this film seem to be having a lot of fun– but insist they are not gay. It’s done for the money, but no one mentions that pay-rates are not exactly in the high tax-bracket range at Sean Cody studios.

The film gives us interviews of six people on the street, and a dozen studio studs who do gay porn—and you have instant godawful movie. The subject seems more apt for a late-night college-dorm debate than a documentary movie. However, we have never let our natural timidity prevent us from criticizing a movie.

All the young men who star in these gay porn Internet movies look like cookie-cutter gym-rats. They come in all sizes, but we primarily see only the tush, which is now de rigueur even in a Disney production.

This so-called scientific study includes commentary from one, lonely director who must deal with callow young dudes learning what it is to pretend to like something they don’t like. They like to say it’s acting.

The film starts out showing us a bunch of legitimate movie stars—claiming they were straight, but played gay roles in big budget movies. However, about half of the actors cited as straight were actually gay in real life. But, let’s not confuse the issue.

We aren’t sure what you call someone who pretends to enjoy gay sex, but really dislikes it. Some of these actors/models insist they will never do any gay deed again in real life after their porn career is over. Some others wink and nod.

There is an audience for a documentary like this. It’s called the undecided vote.

Becket’s Unspeakable Love Story

Becket Cavorting Adults

DATELINE: Burton & O’Toole in Epical Struggle

In 1964 came the extraordinary event of a literate play turned into an epic movie. This was the Hollywood version of Murder in the Cathedral.  The more mundane play version by Jean Anhouilh was called simply Becket.  Its Broadway incarnation was a legend with Laurence Olivier and Anthony Quinn playing the leads, and exchanging roles every other night.

So, the movie version had big shoes to fill. Director Peter Glenville went out and arranged for the two biggest stars of the decade to go head-to-head:  Welsh Richard Burton, fresh off Cleopatra’s couch, and Irish Peter O’Toole, fresh off an Arabian oasis.

Everyone expected fireworks, but the two stars actually liked each other.

The movie shows it. O’Toole’s Henry II is utterly hysterical, and funny too. Burton’s Thomas Beckett is somber and sly. You will first be shocked at how young they are: the dissipation would set in, like dry rot, over the next decade.

They enjoyed their roles because, as O’Toole said at the time, in two blockbuster movies he was allowed a love interest of camels (Lawrence of Arabia) and Burton (Becket). And Burton was allowed only Elizabeth Taylor as his love interest. So, it was a natural affair between the actors.

Love interest indeed!

The docudrama goes grandiose in damp castles and Sherwood Forest, as Henry and Becket are like smitten boyfriends. That was the historical take—as no one could really figure how the Norman king and the Saxon aide-de-camp could be so entwined.

In a series of long capes, O’Toole is flashy and a hoot—and Burton’s character becomes more ethical and somber. Henry made Becket the recipient of many gifts: deaconship, chancellor, and Archbishop of Canterbury, to win his affection. Alas, it never worked the way Henry wanted, as Becket began to oppose his schemes.

Henry threw a fit in which he basically said he was surrounded by idiots, and the smartest man in the kingdom was opposed to him.

Well, the Knights took that to mean they had to relieve their king of a strange affection. As normal heterosexuals, they figured, you kill the one he loves. It’s a British tradition.

Of course, it all backfires. Henry II did penance with flagellation—and made Becket a saint, literally, by church canon. It makes for a rousing adventure and fascinating intellectual thriller.

 

 

People’s Princess v. The Queen

 DATELINE: Ten Years Later

Queen & Country

As docudramas go, Helen Mirren’s movie about Queen Elizabeth and Princess Diana is among the best.

Now ten years later, we took another peek at the film called merely The Queen, directed by Stephen Frears and written by Peter Morgan. It has that wry detail of Diana looking back at the Queen with an accusing stare.

We don’t know how the creators know what tears, angst, and emotions, were expressed when the Queen was alone.  Mirren provides all this and more. Yes, it surely makes an exciting and intimate film performance.

This is the best of Mirren’s many queen roles, and this is the best of Michael Sheen’s many Tony Blair roles. Blair has to save the Queen from herself and her noblesse oblige family. Mirren’s Queen is witty and ultimately practical, whether this is true of the real people in the movie or not.

Actors re-enacting surely provides powerful insights into the tragic event of Princess Di’s death and the reaction of Her Royal Pains in the afterlife.

We recognized an impressive Roger Allam this time, from his Endeavour TV series, playing the Queen’s personal assistant. James Cromwell is his usual acerbic character as Prince Philip.

Mirren has many stunning moments, such as her shock when the public applauds Di’s brother after giving her eulogy. The Queen’s speech left more to be desired, even with a great actress delivering the same words.

Sherlock Meets Hornblower

DATELINE: Amazing Grace: The True Story

Sherlock meets Hornblower

Director Michael Apted put together a film called Amazing Grace in 2008 in which Sherlock Holmes would meet Horatio Hornblower. Well, not exactly, but Benedict Cumberbatch costarred with Ioan Gruffudd in the true story of young Wilberforce and young Pitt, British abolitionists.

 

The film was never embraced by the African American audience because it is plainly Masterpiece Theatre level Brit drama. It depicts the 20 year struggle of these English Members of Parliament to ban the slave trade in the British Empire around 1800.

Gloriously cast with actors with great faces, you can add Toby Jones, Ciaran Hinds, Michael Gambon, Albert Finney, and Rufus Sewell, into the mix. You have a masterpiece of English actors.

Though not exactly action packed, it creates moments of powerful emotion as these intellectuals, Wilberforce and Pitt, boyhood chums, take on the powerful economic force that enslaved people.

It is well produced, has the flair of the era and aristocratic settings to tell the tale.

When the story of the timeless spiritual, “Amazing Grace,” is a secondary subplot, you have intriguing history alive. Albert Finney plays Gruffuld’s boyhood pastor, a former slave ship captain who wrote the song. Indeed, in one compelling scene, Cumberbatch presents Gruffud’s impressive rendition of the tune.

The film fell through the cracks initially because it did not go through television as its main channel. If one of the cable stations had picked it up, it would have become a biopic miniseries about ten hours long.

Instead, we have a throwback to the great historical movies that came out of England in the 1960s.

Trump to Nominate Roger Goodell for FBI?

DATELINE:  Whimsy & Humor

illuminati

With the big news out of Washington that President Trump has fired FBI Director James Comey, the speculation has run rampant down to Foxboro about the next man Trump may select for a grueling Senate confirmation hearing.

And, the word around is that President Trump’s good friend, Bill Belichick, might be the grandest choice to head the crime fighting agency.

Trump appears ready to buck the past precedent to hire a man who relaxes in his mother’s old dresses.

Belichick shares a disdain for talking to the media that Trump admires—and no one knows better how to deal with fake news than the head coach of the Patriots.

Of course, first choice Tom Brady wants to keep his job with the Patriots. The FBI director receives a contract to play for ten years—and Tom expects to be around Gillette Stadium for at least a dozen more seasons.

Considering the problems of a Watergate type trouble that Trump may find himself, it would surely be good to find someone familiar with Spygate, Bountygate, and Deflategate, to head the FBI job.

That leads us to the unfortunate conclusion that the best man for the job could be Roger Goodell. We don’t know if he wears dresses in his spare time, but we won’t bet against it.

Trump should nominate Goodell for the post. He can keep Belichick on ice until the head of the CIA job opens up.

 

 

 

Clinton Supporters Blackball Their Friends Post-Election

DATELINE:  Unpleasant Discovery

batman-versus-superwoman

Thanksgiving is over, but not the political brawls.

Though many wanted to avoid politics during the traditional dinner, it was truly unnecessary. Offended parties likely avoided breaking bread with the newly minted, newly hated enemy: Victors of the Trump campaign.

We found that this number of indignant and raging sore losers were all Clinton supporters. They demonized anyone who voted for Trump as a racist, homophobe, and misogynist. This turn of events only occurred after the votes were counted.

They were prepared to continue to be your hypocritical friend if Clinton had won—and gloat over your support for Trump.

If Hillary had won, they might have been more tolerant.

Friends of long-standing now have unfriended Trump supporters and blocked their calls.  If you had exchanged birthday cards for decades, or helped a friend through a crisis or two, you now learned that your vote for Trump made you anathema. Excommunicated.

It is certainly bracing to learn that people you liked and trusted for years really harbored a contempt for your politics that they could no longer forgive.

Not everyone who voted for Trump is racist, but Clinton supporters have broadened the definition to include anyone who didn’t agree with Hillary.

We find it interesting that the people who decried hate and haters turn out to be the worst offenders.

If you expect to call your former friends and Trump supporters with an apology, it may not work this time. And if you expect your quondam friends to recant their votes, that too is unlikely.

Perhaps it is indeed a time for giving thanks for finding out who your true friends are. Life teaches many unpleasant lessons and is patently unfair often—but finding out those you believed to be your friends are miserable and unfaithful is definitely a shocker.

Gronk’s Party Cruise Ship: Mal de Merry

 DATELINE: Sink or Swim

Gronky

 

No one told us! We have discovered there are few spaces left on the party ship to set sail for the Bahamas in February. Gronk is hosting a party ship. Move over, drydock. Look out, Andrea Doria.

We presume too that this may be a Super Bowl party combination.

All guests with reservations on the ship actually will be able to pose with Gronk for a photo. At least we think it is the real Gronk, not a cardboard cutout. We already have one of those pix from Dunkin’ Donuts.

This continues Gronkonomics, a means for the Gronk to make money hand over fist without cashing a single paycheck from the Kraft family sports team.

Gronk’s parents appear to be on board this party ship as chaperones. His brothers will be there to prevent assaults for deranged women looking to make a husband out of the New England tight end.

The few balcony rooms left for our delectation will cost $1500 per person for the three days. We will need to find someone willing to spend three days and two nights with us in a small room. This is especially important for those with a tendency to be seasick after imbibing many drinks.

Whether this is another overblown publicity stunt by the master of gathering attention is unknown. We are leery of ships going out into the Atlantic in iceberg season.

We have not even considered the likelihood of coming down with a stomach virus, which we always see on the news when cruise ships are stalled out at sea.

If you are pickled with Gronk, we suppose neither iceberg nor viral infection will slow you down.

Trump Wins a Big Endorsement

DATELINE: Birds of a Feather

Featured image

To no one’s surprise, the man with a Trump cap with the logo “Make America Great Again” in his locker has thrown his support behind presidential candidate Donald Trump. “It would be great,” said one icon about another becoming America’s next president.

Tom Brady was directly asked if he supported The Donald—one of his better golf buddies, and Brady’s answer was unequivocal. There was no suspense when it came to Tom’s loyalty.

Brady is of the mind that Trump will put a putting green on the White House lawn if he wins the election as president.

With a major debate of all Republican candidates pending on this evening, Trump will have to throw more touchdowns than Brady managed on Sunday in order to neutralize his opponents.

Brady probably feels some sympathy for the man who gave his total support during the lingering effects of the Deflategate court case this summer. As of now, Trump is about as beleaguered as a man with the media on his back, disrespect emanating from a large segment of the political spectrum, and a self-made man mantra.

Trump and Brady share many characteristics, which is probably why Trump wanted the QB to wine, dine, and marry his daughter a decade ago.

Brady continued his “aw, shucks,” demeanor by simply gushing about the memorabilia that Trump had sent him. It was something of a keepsake no matter how the political winds blow.

Brady may also be keeping an eye on Trump’s gameplan—and it may become the blueprint for Tom’s own run in the political arena sometime down the road.