Noël Coward No Surprise in Surprise Package

DATELINE: Art Buchwald Satire

 Mitzi & Noel Mitzi & Noël sing and dance!

Sir Noël, showman and epitome of the English gentleman, made a plethora of movies from the late 1950s to the late 1960s. He only turned down playing Dr. No in the James Bond spy movie.

From Our Man in Havana to the Italian Job, he lent his delectable presence in costarring roles. In 1960 he went opposite Yul Brynner in the Stanley Donen comedy called Surprise Package.

The big surprise is that it was written by satirist Art Buchwald, though you would never know it. Our favorite humorist seems lost in this adapted script.

Apart from the delicious scenes between mobster Nico March (Yul) and the deposed and exiled King Pavel the Patient (Noël), the movie is not really funny or smart. However, every time you find Brynner and Coward in matchup mode, there is something extraordinary going on.

You almost have the sense that the film was meant for someone else: perhaps James Cagney, to shoot dialogue like a machine gun. Mitzi Gaynor seems to be playing Judy Holiday. Brynner is on top of it, impressive as always.

No one else in movies could have played the deadpan, throwaway lines like Noël Coward. He’s in his own movie world, like Mae West. The rest of the cast is along for the ride.

Coward steals every moment on camera, like the master showman he always was. He could depose Burton and Taylor in Boom, and so going up against Yul Brynner shortly before the Magnificent Seven might have amused Noël.

It’s a soufflé, for sure, and perhaps the success of Donen brought Coward in for the Greek isle locations shooting.

Yul had just finished another comedy with Donen, and likely enjoyed the change of pace from epical heroes and villains.

Surprise Package would be a bad TV movie nowadays with execrable actors. However, when the legends at the top of their game deign to appear in silly roles, you must pay attention.

 

 

 

 

Tom Brady’s End Game

DATELINE:  End of the Time Bomb

smashing mirror

A month later, Tom Brady scraps his final TV episode to surge into a new phase of life: he makes a blitzkrieg of appearances on New York live TV interviews.

After discarding the previously filmed episode of Tom Versus Time which had Tom winning the Super Bowl, the Chopra re-telling has been re-mixed for a re-do.

It seems everyone was a tad overly optimistic, like treasure hunters on Oak Island.

Episode 6 in the saga of the oldest MVP quarterback in NFL history is more than the remains of the day. However, Tom is playing it like the last scene of Sunset Boulevard, ready for his closeup.

Everything is fine, if you don’t confuse Tom with Tom of Finland. They have the same interest in big men, but from different perspectives.

Let the parsing begin.

The bittersweet final episode of the sixpart series called modestly Tom Versus Time was short and bitter. You can slice it up any way you want, but it looks like Tom is considering whether he still has convictions to prove in football.

One of the first calls he receives is not from his wife that from Gronk. Perhaps they are both contemplating retirement to the WWE. Perhaps, too, we might see them his buddies in an action adventure movie. Tom is ready made for the movies and has already appeared in one of those Ted puppet movies with Gronk.

As for the finished series, Tom has suddenly taken to making appearances to plug the video audition tape. He chugged a beer with Stephen Colbert on late night. And he appeared on the Good Morning America show with show biz producer-partner Michael Strahan.

He and Gronk shared a laugh about Danny Amendola, which shows how close Tom and his tight end are. Within 24 hours Amendola was gone in free agency to the Dolphins, where Wes Welker began.

Gronk and Tom may want to go out in retirement, hand-in-hand, on to the Hall of Fame together. Or, maybe they will play one more season together.

Brady admits he’s closer to the end than to the beginning. This episode was a re-do because he really thought he would win another Super Bowl, which would’ve greased the skids into retirement.

 

Tom asks in the show: why are we doing this? He has no answer. All through the series, he has been sophomorically philosophical. He also admits that losing one’s conviction means you should look for another job.

 

Is Tom looking for another job? His wife, Gisele Bündchen, clearly admits the past two years have been difficult. She wants him to spend more time with the family. And, she holds all the cards—and all the money too.

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.

 

Tom Brady Vs Time & Other Outer Limits

DATELINE: Twilight Zone Time

Tom vs Time

If you ever wanted a reality series/science fiction /sports movie with Siddhartha overtones, you are about to get your wish.

Tom Brady has filmed a six-part documentary about his life.

Deepak Chopra’s son (Gotham???) is a long-time fan and directs the episodes that apparently trace Tom’s life along the lines of growing spirituality—and love for the esoterica of life.

Tom battles the clock and time in general like some character out of a Dorian Gray novel. You may see Tom in the Time Machine, or just in the astral plane. It’s definitely a competition between Tom and the clock. Since Tom wins every game he plays, we think he will beat the clock too.

Not since Ponce de Leon have we had a character so determined to make Father Time crawl to the finish line.

The operative terms for this series are “digital only” and “rare glimpse.”

This means Tom will control the vertical. Tom will control the horizontal. He can make the picture a soft blur, or turn it into crystal clarity. Sit back because you will lose control of your device and maybe your mind.

There is nothing wrong with your device. Do not attempt to adjust the picture. Tom Brady is controlling transmission.

You are about to participate in a great adventure. For the next six hours, sit quietly. You are about experience the awe and mystery that reaches from the inner mind of Tom Brady to its outer limits, which may mean we will end up in a Julian Edelman video.

You are about to learn that football comes before family for Patriots GOAT, Brady.

Tom believes it is cool to show his fans another side of midnight. He trusts he director Gotham Chopak more than Alex Guerrero, which is a mountain of trust indeed. Tom says, “Gotham is a great story-teller,” which makes us wonder where the truth will lie.

The show will not air until the Patriots’ season is done, which looks like mid-February after they have another duck boat parade down the streets of Boston.

Fill in the Blanks for “P***y”

 DATELINE:  Vocabulary Lesson for Jerry Jones & Media

3some

This week Jerry Jones has tested our ability to play both Scrabble and do crossword puzzles. The owner of the Dallas Cowboys, mired deeply in a feud with Roger Goodell, reportedly called fellow owner Robert Kraft a mysterious name in regard to the Patriots owner’s inability to stand up to Goodell on Deflategate.

The media has given us a maddening clue by leaving out key letters of the word.

The media has also plastered the word over the airwaves, cable wires, and water-cooler discussions for men who live dangerously around women nowadays.  For those who are fans of President Trump, the word may ring familiar, as he used the epithet (if that’s what it is) during his campaign against women.

In case you are wondering what the cryptic word is, we have gone to our cryptologist’s handbook to discern “P—y.”

In some more colorful stories the spelling is “p***y.”  We always opt for the asterisk over the hyphen as part of our training as a literary critic.

We didn’t have to run to our crossword puzzle dictionary for the Sunday New York Times to be able to figure out what Jerry Jones and President Trump have said.  The options are clear.

It is likely that Mr. Jones called Kraft “pasty.” This is ironical, if only because Jones is even more sun-deprived than Kraft, playing as it were mostly indoors at his stadium. We think Kraft is fairly pasty on his own too.

Another option is “puffy.”  We have heard Sean Combs has discarded this sobriquet lately—and it is available to be put on Kraft who takes a paternal interest in his players, hence “Puffy Daddy.”

However, we realize soon enough that the best likelihood is another word: “Putty.”  Yes, Kraft was putty in the hands of Goodell, and is pliable to the whims of the fans.

You say tomato, and we say “tomahto.” You say “P***y” and we say, “Putty.”  Let’s call the whole thing off before our vocabulary descends into the tone-deaf style of NFL fans in general.

Down with Men

 DATELINE:  All Men are Dogs

ALF

Just today we heard that Senator Al Franken and Sylvester Stallone have joined the sexual assault parade. There isn’t a man to be trusted.

In regard to Man, that generic sexist pig, for years we used to say, “Don’t shoot all the dogs just because one has fleas.”

We now admit that we were wrong. It’s time to shoot all the dogs. They cannot be trusted around women. They cannot be trusted in any kind of polite society. Straight men are Deplorables. Even Trump is one of them.

They should be isolated like some virulent pestilence. Clearly it is time for Amazon society. We don’t mean the buying Internet giant. We mean a society of women without men.

Why, heavens to Betsy, gay men cannot even be trusted around other men. The last month or two has proven the point. Men are dogs. They should be kept in kennels, if not euthanized.

It’s the only way to keep women safe. Even if we put them in prisons, we know they’ll go to their own kind. They are like cannibals. They have voracious sexual appetites.

So sorry to say, women will be better off with women in all leadership positions. Women should have all control over everything related to men. Then, only women will assault other women.

The grand experiment of male domination has now proven to be a complete and utter failure.

Why hang on to the old way? Out with the ganders and in with the geese. Out with the buck and in with the doe.

Castrate the dogs and let the mangy Curs keep to themselves in dog pounds.

Return of Martellus?

 DATELINE:  Patriot Resurrection Possible

memories

Martellus Bennett, the tight end who danced with the cheerleaders at the Super Bowl last season, and bailed out of the Patriots for Green Bay, is now available.

Is Bill Belichick interested?  It may well be, based on Bill’s past history; he loves to resurrect the dead.

Martellus (Don’t Call Me Marty) Bennett has been a flop out there in Frost Bite Falls, and with no great QB (Aaron Rodgers broke his collarbone) to sustain his antics, he may be ready for Tommy Time.

Poor Martellus has been bereft and without any TDs—or friends.  He played seven lackluster games with the Cheese Packers. With some disagreement about his medical condition, and with a threat he will retire after eight more games, Bennett made himself available to other teams when Green Bay sent him packing.

He needs to reconnect with the Brady bunch to regain his equilibrium.

The sudden move reminds us of the strange situation with the Pittsburgh Steelers a few years back who released a certain player for the Patriots to pick up just in time for a playoff run.

Now, the dire need of another tight end could mean that Belichick is considering more reunions.

He just brought back Lazarus Brian Hoyer from the dead San Fran 49ers.

So, returning a Gronk complement from the Cheesey Green Bay team seems rather likely.

Can Danny Woodhead be far behind? Might Rob Ninkovitch come out of retirement?

Bennett, fan of sci-fi, author of a kid’s book before Julian Edelman, savant of nothing in particular, was a delight in the locker room for his teammates and a media darling.

Will Belichick take another oddball tight end to go with the masterpiece of TEs, Gronk? We hope so.

35% of Americans: What a Fox News Poll Never Told Us!

 DATELINE:  When 35% is a Majority 

According to Foxy News, 35% of viewers know their bastion of fair and balanced news is fake most of the time.

“Oh, let’s call a spade a spade,” is the motto of 35% of Foxy Americans when it comes down to racial epithets.

35% of Americans seem to think nuclear obliteration is a viable option.

35% of Americans agree that they learned nothing in school and don’t believe their teachers knew much anyhow.

35% of Americans think experts are overrated.

35% of Americans believe anything they read on the Internet.

35% of Americans think hurricanes are God’s punishment for opposing Donald Trump.

35% of Americans want to have another Civil War with East and West Coast against the Middle to have better balance.

35% of Americans think the US Constitution sank during the War of 1812—and it just doesn’t hold up in the 21st century court system.

35% of Americans think satire is evil.

35% of Americans believe Donald Trump is as sane as they are.

35% of Americans, more or less, believe rational behavior is not normal.

Around 35% of Americans believe “white supremacist” is a kind of Cool Whip topping.

35% of Americans think the word “immigration” means birds fly south for the winter because of global warming.

35% of Americans believe “lethal injection” is covered under pre-existing conditions in Obamacare.

35% of Americans think black flies matter during the summer when you go camping.

35% of Americans believe sexual harassment is as American as apple pie and baseball.

35% of Americans firmly believe “morons” should have unlimited access to the Oval Office.

35% of Americans believe the President has the right to shoot people in the street, regardless of national origin or race, but mostly because of national origin and race.

35% of Americans believe you can kneel during the National Anthem while in church.

35% of your fellow citizens believe shutting off TV news is the only way to deal with fake news.

35% of Americans think missppelling and ‘grammer misstakes are covered, under freedom of speech:

35% of Americans think polls are polarizing and should be banned from media reports.

The preceding blog is often called satire, but is usually misunderstood by readers who believe 35% of smartphones know too much.

Vampires Cast No Shadow

DATELINE: Nosferatu Legend

shadow

Back in 2000 John Malkovitch and Willem Dafoe decided to make a comedy biography about the making of F.W. Murnau’s classic silent film, Nosferatu.

The movie is called Shadow of the Vampire, but it’s really about the world of shadowy silent movies, right up there with behind-the-scenes movie magic like in Singing in the Rain.

The main theory behind this wacky movie is that legendary director Murnau found a real vampire to pretend to be Max Schrenck and play the hideous creature of supernatural lore. He wanted to document the life of a real vampire.

Malkovitch played Murnau as one of those Prussian nightmares of autocratic ego. Dafoe took on the role as Schrenck, or Nosferatu who allegedly wiped out the crew one by one as Murnau tried to film his Translyvania polka.

The conflict between temperamental director and lunatic actor is certainly inspired: Murnau tries to punish Schrenck for his lack of cooperation by refusing to give him “closeups” or denying him “makeup.”

Along for the parody are Cary Elwes in his best blond-haired Aryan cinematographer and Udo Keir as the flighty producer.

However, the best moments are when two lead actors go over-the-top and head-to-head in a Method-acting free-for-all. Try crossing Sunset Boulevard with The Bad and The Beautiful and you have some idea of what you will be in for. Just roll your eyes and roll with the punches.

Murnau was, in Hollywood Kenneth Anger vision, a prissy aesthete whose dalliance with his chauffeur ultimately drove their car off the road in a fatal accident a few years later, but that’s another movie yet to be made.

Director E. Elias Merlinge went beyond the call of talent on this one, but it did give Dafoe an Oscar nomination for munching on bats and clicking his long fingernails.

Well, it’s a hoot and satire of Hollywood biopics.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Penultimate Twin Peaks

DATELINE: Down to the Finish Line

peaked

We’re going round the bend, literally, and figuratively, on the new David Lynch marathon in surreality, Twin Peaks.

For sixteen hours we have seen Dead People, People from Another Dimension, Weirdos, and maddening loose ends as well as standard plot holes. That’s the bargain with Lynch.

The recent show has started to blow up loose ends and loose characters, thankfully not waiting until ten minutes before denouement to drive the entire cast off one of the twin peaks of the title. So, Kyle MacLachlan has snapped out of his doldrum-idiot Doppleganger Dougie, and evil D.B. Cooper has dispatched his illegitimate son with electrifying alacrity.

In the meantime, Lynch has discovered a new star, Eamon Farren. Let’s hope he fares better than Dana Ashbrook or James Marshall in the next 25 years.

What more can be expected? Oh, Cooper’s assistant, long lost Diane turns out to be some kind of spirit from beyond, her connection to Dougie’s wife, Naomi Watts, now ignored in a puff of smoke and gunfire.

We saw Don Murray, formerly the leading man for Marilyn Monroe in Bus Stop, looking spry as he pushes 90 and thanked by Cooper for lending his old Hollywood fame to the tale.

There was a shoot-out in one of those foreclosed Las Vegas communities that didn’t make much sense. But, we never expect much sense.

When Cooper regains his wits, he is able to say, “I am the FBI,” with all the swagger fans of the show wanted to hear. Perhaps Sheriff Michael Ontkean will make an appearance in the final show.

Whatever will the final two-hour monstrosity of this TV Guernica give us? We know that Sherilyn Fenn has a revelation while looking in the mirror.

Twenty-five years passing will do that.

 

 

 

Trump & Roach Motels

 DATELINE:  Hurricane Harvey Solutions

Astro

Hurricane Harvey may cause millions to flee areas about to be devastated by a Category 4 storm with winds over 140 mph.

Fear not, citizens. The Trump Homeland Security promises that checkpoints along the route will operate as usual, even if you are delayed from escaping the fury of Nature.

You must bear with the Homeland Security folks who put your life in danger because they have a job to do:  find those pesky illegals who are trying to save their lives from natural disaster.

Of course, this means you are damned if you do, and deported if you do. The upshot is that an unknown quantity of people will stay in harm’s way.

President Trump sent out one of his patented tweets that essentially said, “Rotsa Ruck,” like he was a Jetson dog.

“Good job, Brownie,” as President Bush once notoriously said as thousands died in Hurricane Katrina, and countless others suffered violence and lawlessness..

To that end, Emergency Shelters will become Roach Motels. Illegal aliens will check in—but won’t be allowed to check out.

roach motelFEMA Emergency Shelter

Yes, the storm will become the Trump Pied Piper, leading the tired and huddled masses to deeper dangers and fears.

What’s a little phobia?  Every day brings a little death in Texas where you cannot trust civil servants to be civil, or provide you with food and water unless you have papers to prove you are an American citizen.

There is no rest for those seeking refuge from poverty—or from impending doom. Your federal government is at work, like the Post Office, neither rain, wind, nor President Trump, will stop them from doing the work of the Grim Reaper.

Good job, Trumpie.

Trump’s Modest Proposal

DATELINE:  Cooking Up a Storm

trump apron strings

For a summer treat hot off the griddle, you may want to partake of a menu that caught the eye of Newt and promises a cheery Sessions of law enforcement.

The repast of yore starts with a DACA salad, with only the most tender of sprouts, with lettuce picked by illegal migrants under the hot sun.

Don’t forget to use the TPS sauce on those Haitian wings for an unforgettable dinner that Friday used to enjoy with his master Crusoe. TPS sauce can be poured onto countries like El Salvador, Honduras, and any African nation of your choice.

Home, sweet Secure Homeland, will be securer once more if you have the bug zappers in place and dis-invite any rebel republican senators who tend to be like ants at a picnic. We think the best BBQs are held behind great border walls to keep out the riff-raff.

German sauerkraut mixed with KKK-kale provides a kick that only a neo-Nazi could endure. You may want to mix that salad up with some tough police elbow grease.

Make sure you have enough alt-right to offset the Antifa pesto.  Red beets should be ready once you light the torches.

Roasted deported citizens who have a litany of civil violations always goes well with a Chianti and fava beans for those who like to watch the lamb go to slaughter. Civil rights and civilian clothes are optional.

Remember that this recipe at Kent State College once made America great. Nowadays you may want to have some congressional bicarb to hold down the dyspepsia and general sense of existential nausea after watching Master Chef Trump dump another hog into the pit.

Bone-head appetit, all you strict constructionists. The cookbook was made to be followed.

With apologies to Jonathan Swift.

Charming Caper: How to Steal a Million

 DATELINE:  Masterpieces on Satire

 

 How to

If you look at this movie’s pedigree, you cannot go wrong. How to Steal a Million was a bit of fluff and a trifle from 1966 when stars were really able to carry a movie.

Audrey Hepburn can be forgiven for some of the ridiculous 1960s Givenchy outfits, but she is perfect in them—and her costar Peter O’Toole matches her every step of the way, even commenting it is time to give Givenchy a day off.

A wealthy socialite, Hepburn must orchestrate a theft from a Paris museum of a fake statue she owns but puts on loan in error! The museum is about to have the priceless fake examined—and she will be found out—and her father sent to prison.

O’Toole was escaping his epic dramas, for some fluff, with this film.

Director William Wyler (Mrs. Miniver, Ben Hur, Roman Holiday, The Heiress, and countless other classics) knows how to deliver high class and high quality. On top of that, it is one of John Williams’s first music scores (Jaws, Star Wars, etc.).

Combine this with top-of-their-career performances by Hepburn and O’Toole and you will forgive some of the anachronisms of the 1960s. O’Toole even gives us a quick impersonation of one of Hepburn’s earlier leading men (Humphrey Bogart, Sabrina).

Hugh Griffith is Hepburn’s reprobate father and Charles Boyer is around for a laugh, but Eli Wallach surprises as the wealthy boorish American billionaire art collector.

Filmed in Paris for atmosphere, the clever caper unfolds under the aegis of O’Toole who is actually a detective who uncovers art forgeries.

 

 

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.

 

 

Sizzle Fizzle Melt Down for Holden & Hepburn

 DATELINE: Paris When It Sizzles

melt down Holden & Hepburn

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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