Bend Unbroken, Stir Unshaken

DATELINE:  James Bond Satire

Chris Lew Kum Hoi Dr. Tu Yung

How amusing is a gay parody of James Bond? Well, if you tune into Matt Carter’s one-hour spoof, you may be more than pleasantly surprised. It is not too violent, nor too sexual.

It’s Jayson Bend: Queen & Country.

So, it falls into a Goldlocks world of gay cinema. And, thank heavens, it is not about teenagers with a coming out angst and done on videotape.

Some of it is heavy-handed, as it is always difficult to satirize a satire—and people often forget that James Bond was Ian Fleming’s satiric secret agent. He is taken too seriously.

Matt Carter seems to have his name and paws all over this little film. It stars Davis Brooks as Jayson Bend (not Bent), but it’s Jayson with a “Y”—and don’t ask.

We find the cute girls are replaced by cute boys—and Dr. Tu Yung is an adorable villain (played by Chris Lew Kum Hoi).

What may be a great surprise is that this film has a big budget look about it. The color is bright and bold, and the fast cars and special effects are just right. The only violence is at the start, and the sex is chaste: hints by kiss.

It’s safe for straight guys.

Two Mrs. Carrolls Lacks Noir

 DATELINE: Oldie May Not Be Goodie

  Stanwyk & Bogart Great Stars! Abysmal Script!

Back in the late 1940s, it was tough to find leading ladies who were strong enough to stand up to Humphrey Bogart. Usually producers fell back on his wife, Lauren Bacall, for a counterpoint.

In a rare miss, Bogart was teamed with one of the big misses of the era.

Big women movie stars on the screen—like Joan Crawford and Bette Davis—did not measure up to the scripts that suited Bogart.

On the other hand, Barbara Stanwyk was also a tough cookie to play against. She was so tough that her leading men came off as Neanderthal, if not pussycats. Gary Cooper was a regular costar, and after that, you were facing weaker characters (played by Fred MacMurray or Ronald Reagan, or the nice guys like Bill Holden).

After Sorry, Wrong Number, she took on more nasty victims, and so we come to teaming Bogart and Stanwyk, almost deserving of each other in the dull-witted murder-thriller The Two Mrs. Carrolls. Stanwyk is hysterical on the telephone once again, and rest assured, the rainy Scottish weather means that Bogart will don his obligatory trench-coat and fedora for at least one scene. It isn’t enough.

It was post-World War II and tough-guy actors were stretching into demi-villains. Thus odd-ball film is set in Scotland with an American cast of apparent expatriates. Nigel Bruce (Dr. Watson) is on hand as a dotty doctor for Stanwyk as she is poisoned, and Alexis Smith is the new muse for the diabolical painter.

You keep wondering when Sydney Greenstreet will show up to trap Bogart’s bad guy.

As Geoffrey Carroll, Humphrey Bogart loses interest in his latest wife as muse, murders her, and finds another. It is kind of Andrea del Sarto as Bluebeard.

He plays an unconvincing American artist in this one, not a detective, and he seems to have headaches when the word “death” echoes behind him. He exhibits a bunch of the Deadly Sins—including rage, pride, jealousy, among others.

His alleged successful paintings are deplorable.

These are not good signs for Bogie in the last days of noir. They may be worse news for Stanwyk as victim. She is made so demure that the point of putting a strong woman opposite Bogart was lost. Bogart feeds poisoned milk to his wives, like Cary Grant in Suspicion by Hitchcock. It’s that kind of copycat movie.

This British play is devoid of wit, suspense, plot, action, or anything that could be saved by the high-powered actors at the top of their careers. This was not a Warner Brothers film, or it would never have been made like this.

The final few seconds are the high-point when Bogie offers warm milk to the policemen about to take him away. (Oh, it’s laced with that poison).

What a disappointment for the most part.

 

 

 

Three. Two, One, Blasted Off Your Screen

DATELINE: Billy Wilder Classic

Cagney & grapefruit

Cagney reprises grapefruit scene.

Topical political humor has a short shelf life, and you have only to see a few clips from Saturday Night Live to understand how quickly controversial becomes outdated.

When a major film tries it, as did Billy Wilder in 1962, only a few morsels remain fresh.

Yet, to take in One, Two, Three, the Cold War comedy, is less satisfying than say, Dr. Strangelove, which maintains its relevance.

When Wilder’s outlandish satire was released, East Berlin put up a horrifying wall that changed history—and it was virtually ignored in the movie, except by a voice=over addition shortly before the film was released.

What survives in a favorite comedy is the manic performances.

James Cagney plays the head of Berlin’s Coca-Cola division, unhealthy capitalism at its best, and he is marvelous to behold. He grows more intense with each passing scene, stealing anything he make merry.

Others in the cast are less successful—but seem now perfectly placed in their roles:  game show actress Arlene Francis didn’t forget her line was snide off-put wife. She is surprising effective, though the German jokes are thick.

Pamela Tiffin as the sex kitten from Atlanta is decorative, but she faded fast, unlike Ann-Margaret who might have run with the role. And, as her East German Commie boyfriend, Horst Buchholz sends out a post-James Dean vibe that shows how misused he was.

Leon Askin as the Russian commissar is delightful, and Lilo Pulver dances on tabletops in the Grand Hotel with lesbian couples while a hapless band plays and sings,  “Yes We Have No Bananas,” in German.

The music of the intense and insane “Sabre Dance” is stirring to the break-neck pace of screwball comedy, already a dinosaur in Hollywood.

Cagney’s version of My Fair Laddie turns a Commie lout into Austo-Hungarian royalty during the hilarious second-half of the film.  Cagney hated working with Horst and quit movies for years after. His best line to Buchholz who wants to lead a revolt of workers is: “Put your pants on, Spartacus.”

You shouldn’t miss it but brush up on your Cold War etiquette before tuning on the stream.

Dead Again, Hysterical Satire

DATELINE: Reincarnation Mystery

kookoo mystery Kookoo Noir Takeoff

There was a time nearly 30 years ago when Kenneth Branagh was considered the reincarnation of Orson Welles, with a dollop of Laurence Olivier thrown into the mix.

So, the time has arrived to re-assess one of his early efforts called Dead Again from 1991.

He was a promising and brilliant director of unusual fare and acted well too. This looney mystery deviated from his usual Shakespearean play adaptations by entering the film noir, detective story, broadly copying Warner and Parmount features of the late 1940s.

What most missed back then was the fact that this overwrought tale of reincarnation and murder was overdone deliberately. We cannot believe Branagh was dumb enough to think this was not a comedy.

The film does double duty: telling a modern case of a detective Mike Church in LA today, and the strange killer, Roman Strauss, a composer and conductor of 1948, who was executed for murdering his wife. The black and white noir flashbacks are spot on for 1940s imitation. Dick Powell and Lizabeth Scott are suitably channeled.

Branagh is a little weird as a detective (his reincarnated self) who is an LA sleuth with a Brooklyn accent. That might be the first mistake, or first clue.

The cast is equally impressive, with Emma Thompson as Strauss’s wife, the concert pianist victim, and the modern woman with amnesia that Church must help.

Call in Derek Jacobi as some kind of psychic hypnotist to regress the woman to 1948, and you have another brilliant performer slightly out of place in an American movie.

Also hanging around in cameos are Robin Williams, Scott Campbell, and Andy Garcia. This film is no slouch when it comes to top-level talent. Yes, Wayne Knight is here too.

We are a sucker when it comes to transgender resurrection and timeless love stories.

Everyone immediately notices that Emma Thompson resembles a woman dead in 1948, but no one seems to notice that Kenneth Branagh resembles her convicted murderer, executed in 1949.

Oh, well, that’s Life Magazine for you. In the meantime, the movie moves more and more toward utter lunacy, skipping over plot holes like hopscotch gone to bad karma.

We like our twist of reincarnation with a bitter of gender bending. Add some lemons and you have Branagh imitating Paramount and Warner Brothers murder mystery thrillers of the 1940s with panache. We are Between Two Worlds and the Two Mrs. Carrolls.

Like a warm British beer, this movie is all frothy, and the suds will make you queasy. It’s eye-rolling fun.

 

 

Shakespeare Undone: Cymbeline

 DATELINE: Clashing Cymbeline

cymbeline

King Cymbeline and Step-son!

Michael Almereyda is known for putting the modern spin on the old stuff. To call Shakespeare’s secondary play, Cymbeline, a lost masterpiece in the trailer is a tad misleading.

We must ask, ‘what have we got here?’

Updates of Shakespeare are always a fad, and Michael Amereyda provides us with a Sons of Anarchy version of Shakespeare’s lesser Brits versus Romans story.

Alas, Shakespeare was already making a parody of his earlier work, Romeo and Juliet, in this late career tale of young love.

Putting a secondary Shakespeare play into an American biker setting is guaranteed to drive biker fans crazy in five minutes, and Shakespearean purists to the remote control in 10 minutes. No one will stick around for the standard blood bath we know is at the end of Shakespeare’s dramas and histories.

Watching this one is like viewing those delinquents in West Side Story as they do ballet down the mean streets of East Harlem in a different Shakespeare update. It is slightly ridiculous.

We are always sympathetic to American actors who try Shakespeare. This film avoids showing you the actual Shakespearean dialogue in the trailer. It may be a rude shock to the unwary fans who tune in.

We commend every American actor in the movie for managing to use their skateboards and smart phones and still spit out the Shakespearean language. The cast is marvelous: Ed Harris plays King Cymbeline, John Leguizamo as an unfortunate aide, Ethan Hawke as a notable enemy, the lead Anton Yelchin is Harris’s step-son.

We suspect there are English majors who have read a dozen Shakespearean plays but never this one. So, we are pleased that Almereyda has made it available and semi-watchable. The plot is incomprehensible, because we can hardly root for drug abusing violent Hell’s Angel bikers versus corrupt and ruthless police.

If done with British actors, the whole thing would look like something out of a gay leather movie, which American boys Anton Yelchin and Penn Badgley have their parts.

We might never see another version of Cymbeline other than this movie. For that we are grateful, even as many other fans head for the exits. We stayed till the end.

 

Sketchy Brady & Stormy Weather

DATELINE: Say It Ain’t So, Tom!

While Tom Brady is away in Arabia, playing at Lawrence of Best Buddies, on a charity junket to Qatar, riding camels, the home-front is afire.

It’s not bad enough that Bill Belichick is playing the Gunfighter from Westworld, trying to do a robot kill on Brady, but now Mickey Spillane Avenatti, the nightmare attorney who is giving Trump a nervous breakdown, has set his sights on Tom Brady lookalikes.

It appears that a criminal sketch artist has come up with a picture of the man who threatened Miss Stormy Daniels about revealing too much detail about Mr. Trump’s strumpets.

The last time a sketch artist did in Tom, he started to look like Quasimodo in a bad bell-ringer mode during the Deflategate trials.

Today, of course, he looks like a man whose TB12 method means he never had or needed Botox. The latest picture is supposed to be a young thug from 2011, back when Tom wore his hair askance and before the hair-plugs for men settled in.

It would seem that Tom’s one-time support for President Trump will go a long way to ruining his life now and forever. He is paying a dear price for having a MAGA hat in his locker for one enchanted evening.

Tom is so hated in some circles that concussed football fans think he is capable of approaching a porn star with a threatening glare.

We feel being out of the country at present may be the best strategy for Mr. Brady. He also ought to consider hiring a better public relations agency to handle his press junkets.

The Haunting of Patriot Place

DATELINE: Your Worst Nightmare

haunted

The ghost of Malcolm Butler now walks the halls of Patriot Place. Forget the Overlook Hotel and its shining denizens. Foxboro will be a worthy subject for Stephen King.

Like unfriendly spirits, this Patriot specter may hang around for decades, frightening children and bringing back the horrors of Super Bowl LII.

Bad karma often is behind the haunting appearances of ghosts.  We recall in Boston that the ghost of Babe Ruth put a curse on the Red Sox for 80 years. We now wonder if the ghost of Malcolm Butler might do the same for the Patriots.

If you wonder why the Patriots never win another Super Bowl in the 21st century, you will be wise to remember that the Butler did it.

Like some benighted head of the Inquisition, Bill Belichick made his decisions to burn the defense at the stake during the Super Bowl. Heretics be damned, and leading the charge was the ingrate (in Swami Belichick’s eyes), the man who tried to jump ship before the season began: Malcolm Butler.

It was an unforgivable sin—and now Malcolm Butler has paid for it with his reputation. Oh, someone will give him a big payday—and perhaps he will fade into oblivion in some other football venue.

However, in Foxboro, his curse will be laid upon Tom Brady worse than broken mirrors and contempt for sports superstition.

The howls in the night and the bumps and bangs you hear are the restless spirits of players done dirt by Bill Belichick.

Though he may go into retirement, he will leave a haunted Patriot Place for Josh McDaniels, forcing him to call in ghostbusters and hold séances for the betterment of the Kraft legacy.

Move over, Shirley Jackson, Gillette Stadium is the new house on Haunted Hill.

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!

 

 

Safe & Secure NFL Players

 DATELINE: Crime Watch, NFL-Style

Zo mark

Community policing is alive and well in Frostbite Falls, at the Super Bowl.

Rest easy, you Patriots and Eagles, in the sanctity of your locker rooms.

Your NFL security is at work—unlike last year when someone in the fake media had the temerity to take Tom Brady’s blouse when he stripped down.

This year no player will lose his shirt—or pants—before he is ready to surrender them to the Hall of Fame.

The media isn’t the only one with a chip on its shoulder. Now, the NFL is making sure that fake media have been given the chip that is usually associated with your pet. Not under the skin yet.

If a member of the press does not press in or out, the computer will mark them out permanently. Heaven forbid that some careless sports reporter mislays his innocence.

If you lose your chip, you won’t be able to cash in.

Players no longer need fear losing their pants, but their heads and hearts still belong to the media member with the biggest calling card.

It’s a short jump betwixt the shower and the stall and your memorabilia will no longer be available for grabs like some wedding dress at the discount bridal store. The worst that can happen is that someone may sniff your jockstrap, but they will leave it on you (for those who wear undergarments—not many based on our unofficial count).

When you go to the shower, or to visit the winner’s circle, you may rest easy that upon returning, your uniform will be pressed into some branded designer bag, ready to go home, as you are either nursing your wounds, or stuffing your pants with confetti from the winner’s circle.

 

Asteroid Threatens Super Bowl LII

DATELINE: Brady Rejects Distraction

brady mirror

According to USA Today, “An asteroid spanning one-third of a mile will hurtle past earth at some 76,000 mph on Super Bowl Sunday.”

This may not be the half-time show that Justin Timberlake envisioned.

If NFL owners want bigger ratings, we suspect that bringing all the fans to their knees during the National Anthem is hardly the way to do it. Pray that the asteroid lands in Canada, preferably on Oak Island, in order to open up the Money Pit.

We cannot imagine which team will benefit from an asteroid strike on Frostbite Falls, Minnesota. One likely ramification of an asteroid hitting will be that the concussion protocol will be needed for everyone.

Tom Brady will likely assure us that his TB12 Method will transcend even asteroids about the plummet to Earth and kill all of us.

Boston pundits are now claiming that this is all part of Bill Belichick’s plan of disinformation to upset the Philadelphia Eagles. The only action that might be more disruptive and disturbing will be to have President Trump show up for the coin-toss.

According to Sarah Suckerbee Hitchens, White House press and pull bully, the asteroid has been banned from entering the United States by Executive Order.

Chief-of-Staff John Kelly, another Patriot fan, has hinted that the powers over at Area 51 will deflect the asteroid to Philadelphia where the damage will be considered less than a disaster zone.

How much damage could a nearly 2000-foot-wide asteroid damage do when it hits Tom Brady at 76,000 miles per hour? We suspect little– as his new TV series shows that his head may be denser than an asteroid, slower than a speeding bullet, and able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.

Asteroids be damned, the half-time extravaganza must go on.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rocky Time for Super Bowl Losers

DATELINE:  Wagering on Super Bowl LII

Rocky M Rocky

In an unparalleled version of fake news, the real Rocky will be the subject of a wager against the fake Rocky.

You guessed it:  those publicity-seeking mayors are wagering on their respective teams again. Philadelphia versus the City of Champions, Brockton.  It’s the fictional Rocky Balboa of movies versus Rocky Marciano whose original retreat was Brockton. All those Rocky movies with Sylvester Stallone were set in Philly. Since the Patriots and Eagles are fighting it out in the Super Bowl, the mayors saw their chance and pounced.

If the Eagles win, the statue of Rocky Marciano will be decked out in Philly cheese-steak and, if the Patriots win, clam chowdah will be dumped on Rocky Balboa.

It must be an election year. In any respect, Mayors Kenney of Philly and Carpenter of Brockton met recently at a mayors’ conference in Washington, D.C., apparently on vacation from their hometowns. There, they met between conference panels on real issues to settle the score on fake issues.

Brockton bills itself as the City of Champions (a few other boxers you may never have heard of came from there too). Alas, Brockton has been down in the dumps for years economically.

Philadelpha, home of cream-cheese and cheese-steak, bills itself as the City of Brotherly Love. Alas, Philly has its pitfalls too.

So, it’s a match of those who love champs and chumps. The loser of Super Bowl LII will wear the other city’s uniform for a time, and be subject to thrown rotten tomatoes and sundry other items of bad taste.

 

 

 

Tom Brady’s Five Finger Exercise

DATELINE:  New England Patriot Horror Movie

hands

Let the hand-wringing begin.

No one can shake Tom Brady’s hand this week. If it ain’t broke, can he play with all fingers?

When the Patriots called for all hands on deck during practice on Wednesday, the hand of Tom Brady was among the missing. Usually he keeps his pitching mitt in his cozy hand warmer, but this week it has been a specimen under observation by the greatest medical minds the Kraft family can find.

The handicraft of Tom Brady may be in jeopardy.

Like the hands of a stranger, Brady’s hand is like an alien creature being tested for performance enhancing capabilities. We want to hold his hand like a Beatle, but his circulation could be at risk.

Glad-handers among the media have dismissed the notion that the Patriots needed a Handiwipe to keep the Pats from falling into Trump’s s**thole.

Reports circulate that Handsome Tom Brady has been unable to give hand signals when he drives his Astin-Martin, and his hand gestures have been limited to the usual Trump vocabulary.

After a freak accident, the freakish Brady’s hand no longer can grip a football. It may be time for a hand-me-down to the next quarterback on the roster. Yikes.

We can count the chances for Patriot victory on Sunday on one hand if Tom Brady is not handy.

If Tom can’t get a handle on the ball Sunday, TV ratings will be handed off like a fat woman pouring coffee on her  bosom as in the commercial for DirecTV.

The Patriots will lose hands down if Tom Brady must handoff to Brian Hoyer.

Don’t ask the Patriots for a show of hands.

The Jacksonville Jaguars may prove to be more than a handful.

We are unsure of the Patriots will be able to get a hand on another victory this season if the ball slips out of Brady’s hand.

Celtics Usurp Patriots in Season Finale

 DATELINE: Sunny Tzu in Boston

Tatum, Gronk, Kyrie

In one of the great anticlimaxes of Patriot history, the Tom Brady team defeated the New York Jets in less than impressive fashion than your usual worthless score numbers.

The really exciting moment was a TV commercial in the middle of the game.

If anyone enjoyed playing in one of the coldest games in Foxboro in a generation, they did not show it. The game was a job for players, and a task for fans who stayed away because it was New Year’s Eve and about ten degrees on the field.

Brady was the smartest man on the field, wearing a Navy Seal scuba outfit under his uniform, while some dumb-bells went out shirtless in pre-game to show their manhood is a match for pneumonia.

It didn’t matter, as the Patriots would win the home field advantage, despite Gronk’s notable absence during the game. He never caught a pass and made a few blocks—and seemed gone to the sidelines for nearly all the second half.

If Gronk made any impression during the game, it was his participation in a most intriguing commercial ad for Nike. The highlight of the game was the one-minute spot that brought together three key sports personalities in Boston sports culture:  Jayson Tatum, Kyrie Irving, and Gronk.

It certainly explained Gronk’s presence courtside at a Celtics game this week. The three stars shared the stage for a commercial debut during the Patriots’ game.

Gronk read Sun Tzu, the great philosopher of warfare, and Irving indicated his philosophical bent was more on a cartoon level.

Jayson Tatum was around to look pretty.

Ah, Boston culture.  Irving misidentified some musical group behind him as the “Boston Philharmonic,” meaning the Pops or Boston Symphony wouldn’t participate.

It put a shoddy, last regular season game into perspective: it’s time for a New Year, and a new chapter.

 

 

Open Season on Trump

DATELINE: A Cartoon President

 

bugs & daffy

On those old Warner Bros. cartoons, Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck can hide with alacrity from Elmer Fudd once hunting season was open. They always led the old fool on a merry chase.

Trump is about one cut below Wile E. Coyote.

With the defeat of Roy Moore, Neanderthal candidate for US Senate, we now have a call to hounds.  Hunting season is open now on the biggest game, the most dangerous game–and the fox in question is hiding in the White House.

Sound the trumpets. Mount the steeds. They’re off.

Today Open Season has begun on another cartoon character named Donald Trump. Yes, they are going to start to come after him ruthlessly. The ignominious defeat of Judge Roy Beanbag Moore, notable child molester and poster boy for chasing little girls, is the sign post and clarion call to remove Trump from office.

If Trump has any awareness, he knows that his Exit is up ahead on the Twilight Zone highway.

The cartoon will begin with calls for Trump to resign. It will begin with Republicans challenging him with no fear. It will continue with others in line after the benighted moron of Rex Tillerson. It will continue with women marching to dump Trump.

The clock is tolling—and it is tolling for you, Mr. Trump.

We suspect President Trump is no Bugs Bunny (not quick enough mentally or physically).  He will have a hard time hiding in and the hunters will soon close in by following the trail of fast food cartons for McD Fries.

Trump’s medical examination next month, with its promised release of every detail, will provide a grand opening for the president to resign– owing to health issues.  No one will say openly that it’s mental health at issue, but they don’t call him Daffy Duck & Dodge Trump for nothing.

 

 

 

 

 

Is This the End of Tom Brady?

DATELINE: One Bad Game Spoils the Barrel of Apples

botox forever

 We don’t want to be the last ones on the bandwagon. So, here goes….

On Monday night against in Miami Dolphins, the fans of Tom Brady had their first ugly glimpse into the future. The crystal ball may be more cracked than a mirror in Brady’s den.

The TB12 Method has failed us!

If you wondered what an aging Tom Brady looks like in terms of football success, you saw it first hand in the catastrophic loss to the Dolphins on Monday night. It looked a bit like Death on Miami Beach. He could not convert a third down and his passes never reached their mark.

Back in the day when Brett Favre started to go sour, we believe something similar happened.

Is anyone thinking that Brady can age overnight like a ripe melon? At what point does the milk in your refrigerator actually begin to curdle?

Have we reached the curdling point of Brady?

In case you’re wondering about what happens when the Belichick Empire falls, Jimmy G is on the other side of the country on the West Coast, winning games there for the foreseeable future. The man sitting next to Brady is aging Brian Hoyer who couldn’t cut it as a starter on other teams. And, the future is Tom, whether he has lost the directions to the Fountain of Youth, or not.

If age has suddenly caught up with Brady and his magic elixir has run out, the season will be going downhill rapidly. We should remember that even the unsinkable Titanic went down in two hours.