DATELINE: Elder Stars Shine
Maverick and Rowdy Yates with Tommy Lee!
How did we miss this action comedy directed by Clint Eastwood with an assemblage of geriatric stars?
Space Cowboysfrom 2000 unites a few genuine TV and movie cowboys (Eastwood and James Garner), but there are ringers in the bunch: Tommy Lee Jones and Donald Sutherland. It does not matter: it is pure golden agers.
They were old then, but it was almost twenty years ago. Yet, only one has passed away since–James Garner.
Starting with a black and white prologue, you have the distinctive voices of the stars superimposed on younger, lookalike actors, which is effective. In the pre-NASA days, they are washed out of the space program and replaced by a monkey (not a first for Clint).
Even a dated late-night show host (Jay Leno) makes an appearance.
What is ineffective is the screenplay, all rather formulaic. Clint also does the story by the numbers: there are some old feuds and fights. He must reunite the old team.
And then in a plot twist that is cruel and nasty, the NASA honchos try to wash out the oldsters by killing them with physical training. Meant to be funny, it is simply unpleasant to watch. The charm of the actors is sorely challenged by the script. But, Clint as director is, as always, pure no-nonsense.
The enemies include William Devane and James Cromwell, which is not exactly chopped liver. This is an actors’ delight. Yet, the actual space trip in the shuttle is almost anti-climactic, and also rekindles the old Cold War.
Old, broken down space shuttles never die.
DATELINE: California Nightmare
All $ Burned UP!
Not another documentary on the San Fran earthquake that features “never before seen” footage? The San Francisco Earthquake and Firestays clear of re-enactors, and for that we are grateful in an age of stand-ins who are emoting history with guesses of human reaction.
If Trump had been president back then, he would have refused to send military assistance and accused the state of mismanagement. Actually, the worst mistakes were made by the US Army.
We suspect ancient footage you have never seen is never before seen by a few. Perhaps you are one of them. The still -pictures are spectacular and assembled with effectiveness.
As for this little documentary, it is distinctive and rather clever in its use of old photos. It seems to us that we have seen better, longer, film footage, but the still pictures here are stunningly collected.
We have a gripe, as usual, because many early film clips could easily be from 1920 or 1925, not 1906. There is no identification placed on where and when the pictures show old trains, old buildings, streets, etc. It could be the city on the bay, but it could be somewhere else.
The timeframe of four days is played out, starting first with marvelous pictures of the night before the quake, featuring Enrico Caruso and the opera company that was a social and artistic event of note. Caruso survived the quake, but the company’s set and costumes were totally destroyed.
Caruso vowed never to return to the stronghold of faults. He never did.
Since everything burned in a misguided and incompetent attempt to handle fire without water, the biggest info loss occurred with money, insurance papers, stocks, and other tangible assets lost in flames. You not only lost an identity of birth certificates, but your financial evidence of wealth.
Much time is spent on the horrible conditions for Chinatown and the Chinese who were victims of Nativists with their Exclusion Acts.
The quake montage of one full minute, with an overlay from a seismograph is nicely done, original, and gives a real-time experience as the pictures shake more and fly by at breakneck pace.
It is a director’s tour de force, but the rest of the documentary does not hold up to the bravura moments of the actual quake depiction.
Narration is almost purple in its prose and prosaic in its tenor, not exactly Hearst journalism. Yet, for novices to the historical tragedy, this film is a worthy entry in the pantheon.
DATELINE: Blood to Let?
Whether you consider the menu of godly appetizers to be forbidden fruit, Ancient Aliens offered us a repast of great delectable items.
Yes, our favorite show about those ancient space creatures who fiddled with our DNA has turned our stomachs upside down with the apple of knowledge.
Forget Jennie Craig, dieters. “The Food of the Gods” is what you need on your shopping list.
Forget salt. Aliens apparently have an aversion to salt, and when one contactee provided the CIA and Project Blue Book with a cracker a generous alien provided, it was salt-free.
Can you make manna on your Cuisinart? Or do the crackers of aliens fall from heaven? When the episode begins to suggest that blood-drained animal mutilation is tied into immortality, you begin to see ET as a new variation on Dracula. Swallow hard, Adam’s apple.
Yes, ambrosia is some kind of fluid or food that helps you travel for centuries on space craft. Eating it on earth helped Adam, Moses, and Noah, live to be about 1000 years old. So, Ancient Aliens is hot on the trail of the magic elixir.
Yes, aliens farm blood out of Homo sapiens. Yes, we have no bananas.
It isn’t long to jump to trans-substantiation or making the blood of Jesus out of wine. It would appear that ancient aliens need this stuff—and it is what will sustain humankind when they venture out into space
The problem with the series is that it often forgets its previous findings. Yes, there is a supply of blood to be let by abducted people, but the aliens originally came to Earth for its gold deposits.
There is your ambrosia, manna, wine of gods, soma, and all the rest on Gilligan’s Planet.
Quinto Searching for the Ark of the Covenant
DATELINE: In Search of Bible Treasure!
Sheba wows Solomon with Gold!
Zachary Quinto stays back in a safe studio while the treasure hunters seek out the real Bible treasures that are all part and parcel of a connect-the-dots secret plan.
Yes, Solomon was wise—and rich. In Israel he found the most valuable early metal: copper. It’s still increasing in value, and Solomon had enough smelted copper to plate his new temple. And, he was involved with a Queen from Sheba who brought him his weight in gold. He ended up with more tons than the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
It seems it was Sheba who was the true gold digger, having a mine in Ethiopia, her home. The Ark of the Convenant was, however, the real treasure, which required a great deal of gold plating.
It was sent in hiding, according to Ethiopian scholars, to a vault guarded by a sacred monk 100 feet underground, but there are replica Arks in every church of Ethiopian churches. And, only true believers are satisfied with this theory.
Instead, the show follows a copper scroll at Qumran that is a treasure map: they think the scroll describes a golden loot of tons of gold. An American researcher has used these maps to target both the Ark and the cache of gold.
He feels that his map tells where the hills near Qumran are where these bible treasures are buried in location that the copper map notes.
Solomon and Sheba might have been a hot couple, but their son buried the valuables were in a deep cave where metal detectors indicate that the prize of tons of gold are hidden where Israel’s greatest treasures are protected by the country’s government. If it’s there, it may remain hidden and unexcavated.
Solomon was wise enough to become the first billionaire but money and power, even owning the Ark of the Covenant, did not bring him ultimate happiness. Only historical immortality, which is seldom satisfying when you’re dead.
DATELINE: Them’s the Breaks, Pardner
Mother Hubbard aside? Smile when you say that!
Return with us to the thrilling days of yesteryear when Marlon Brando teamed up with and up against Jack Nicholson to make a Western. It’s called deceptively The Missouri Breaks.
It was 1976, and both Godfather and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest were history.
What’s left is the new frontier of two highly-charged actors going head-to-head. However, like most of these superstar confrontations, the actual meetings are limited to some off-beat actors’ studio hambone. Brando actually has a small role and does not appear during the first half-hour.
Nicholson plays a horse thief whose gang falls under the observation of a “regulator.” It’s Brando in a dress and looking less zaftig than usual.
We may see parallels to The Left-Handed Gun in that adolescent world of cowboys because Arthur Penn is on board to direct the strange antics.
If there is a surprise, it is that Brando looks much younger than you’d expect, and Nicholson looks somewhat older.
You should expect the usual Brando laundry list: he has an inexplicable Irish brogue and other quirks that characters disdain (lilac cologne? walking under ladders?). It is doubtful they could have switched roles like Burton and O’Toole in Becket. When Brando inexplicably wears a Mother Hubbard dress, you figure Nicholson surrendered the prize.
There is some wry humor interspersed and some outlandish details to take the Western into the Far Country. In case you are wondering, the Breaks in the river Missouri can be found in Montana.
We cannot imagine that Brando and Nicholson rehearsed any of this stuff, probably trying to shock the other’s performance. Already Brando is self-limiting, but there is no later laziness in his performance. He is up against the high-stakes gunslinging Jack Nicholson. And, perhaps, he saw this as High Noonfor the age.
Since this movie cannot be enjoyed on any conventional Western level, you take it as a psychedelic trip down memory lane. Don’t even think about the symbolism of Jack pulling a gun on Brando as he sits in his bubble bath.
With so many desperadoes (Harry Dean Stanton, Randy Quaid), you can count the deserving bad ends for western villains. It’s a romp.
DATELINE: What You Missed Over Six Seasons
Old Friends Meet at Nursing Home!
The final “special” Oak Island pre-season show may be the most intriguing and interesting of all. This one billed itself as 25 moments you have not seen because they are the clips that never made it into the series.
That makes it fresh and revealing. We suspect that it may be the Gary Drayton show, as he was the one who found so much and knew instantly what it meant. His vast knowledge of archeology transcends scholars easily. So, we were prepared to find 25 moments of Drayton.
Alas, the episode quickly devolves into the antics of the Lagina Brothers, to remind us that the second bananas are not your stars.
Some of the incidents relate to tragedy, such as interviews with the son of a rescue worker who witnessed the deaths of the Restall father and son. There is also a visit with one of Dan Blankenship’s coworkers, and all of these were deemed not worthy of viewership during the series. So, we are happy that they are now included in the official record.
You may well wonder who decided not to show the moment they learned one of the bits of human bone 160 feet below ground belonged to a woman. You may also find exasperating when they find evidence that someone was chained to a post in one of the tunnels.
Bad news and unpleasant truths are avoided by series, and not to show the two black descendants of Samuel Ball’s visit to the island is puzzling.
In a lighter vein, there is the omission of Dan Blankenship’s 95thbirthday party! It was something that should be assembled in a biographical tribute to the man they praise not enough.
It certainly ended these pre-season specials on the highest note.
DATELINE: Manning the Moon?
Tripping to the Moon!
Mooning the Man?
If you can forgive some of the silly statements, like “fictional hypothesis,” you may find the documentary Alien Moon intriguing enough to entertain, or to surprise with a bare elemental study. Consider yourself mooned.
The film repeats endlessly its main theory: the Moon is a hollow and unnatural object.
Going from there is an easy step for man, and a giant leap for skeptics. It seems that a hollow Moon may be an artificial satellite that traversed the universe looking for a planet suitable for terraforming for a humanoid race.
Guess who and where?
If there are surprises that are indisputable science, it is that information that moon dust is highly corrosive and likely would present major hurdles for colonists there. In fact, the allergenic problem could cause moon hay fever if it enters the human lungs.
If we have a big problem, we need a bigger dust mop.
Another curio of the film is the strange detail that there is a glassy surface on the Moon, likely caused by high heat not caused by meteors. And, the Moon seems to have strong radiation fields.
Of course, such films start off with acceptable points—and once you have accepted those, the leap is six times what a human on Earth might make.
There are structures, either there from ancient civilizations from another place, or are real estate still active by about 250 aliens who arrived from some place 40 light years away.
We again have governments censoring astronauts and scientists to protect us from the demonic elements that could undermine our fundamentalist religions. Until people go back there and enter the deep tunnels of the Moon, we may only experience more documentaries like this one.
DATELINE: Madison, Olyphant, and Bridges
Somewhere between the TV series Deadwood version of Wild Bill Hickok (limned by Keith Carradine) and the TV series Wild Bill(limned by Guy Madison), you have the version from Walter Hill and played by Jeff Bridges as the wildest Hickok of all.
As a Western on the tale end of movie westerns, this one is a classic mostly undiscovered. Wild Bill has a wonderful cameo cast and is filled with comedic violence.
In this version, Keith Carradine is Buffalo Bill. Ten years later he would join Timothy Olyphant in the HBO series for a few episodes as Wild Bill.
Here, the rootin’ tootin’ Calamity Jane is Ellen Barkin, and one of Bill’s Brit friends is a biographer played by John Hurt.
The bad guys lining up to be dispatched in colorful fashion include such as Bruce Dern and David Arquette.
Wild Bill traipsed through the litany of Western venues from Abilene to Deadwood, making appearances as a ruthlessly violent marshal who’d shoot you in an instant if the matter called for breaking lawbreakers.
James Butler Hickok found himself trapped in celebrity and became Wild Bill as a profession, requiring certain behaviors and attitudes.
The film, utterly timeless depiction of a Western legend, provides us with a conspiracy theory behind the tale. It would seem that the sniveling coward Jack McCall was, perhaps, hinted at an illegitimate son of Hickok.
You may find that the Olyphant-McShane profanity laced TV series owes much to this film—and it’s done with a modicum of the bad language of bad guys.
DATELINE: Pond Scum Unites!
Who are these people?
Only 7 black students were allowed to attend a speech given by President T.rump at their college. Only the most out-of-touch semi-Republicans were allowed to attend. The rest were told to stay in their dorms, like good nephews of Uncle Tom.
You see, according to President Trump, those Republicans who support impeachment are “human scum.” Well, we have now learned where our place is in the food chain. We aren’t sure if we are at the top of the pond scum or at the bottom.
In any respect, two-hundred hand-picked toadies greeted the presidential nitwit’s big speech to the black community by the biggest fraud since Rudi Giuliani decided to steal assets out of the Ukraine.
You may find it ironic, or perhaps merely poetical justice, that Rep. Elijah Cummings was laid to rest at the Capitol, in repose in state under the rotunda, while several former presidents paid respect.
From the White House where the biggest idiot in history now resides, there came only deafening silence. He hated Cummings and likely celebrated his passing. You may well wonder what kind of human scum now floats on the puddles of the White House.
As the crown prince of emoluments now sees it, the Constitution he swore to uphold is “phony.” He arranges his storm trooping congressional toadies to raid hearings he does not like, violating protocol and good manners.
When baseball umpires plan to buy automatic weapons to shoot Americans who support impeachment, you know that Trump will resort to civil war to keep his job. It was once known as sedition, and Aaron Burr was the chief proponent.
History has dubbed a new Burr under our American saddle: his name is T.rump.
DATELINE: APB FOR A&B (NOT ANTONIO)
Brady mask, life-size!
Tom Brady just lambasted the media for making up stories about his desire to leave New England. It’s just “hype,” according to TB12. It’s a bunch of horse pucky from people trying to make money off the Brady name and legacy.
You mean people like Robert Kraft? The NFL? ESPN? CBS? MNF? TNF? SNF? You mean corporate types like Under Armor?
Yes, we would concur that all of the above named are trying to make money off the TB12 brand—not to mention his trainer, his real estate agent, and sundry souvenir marketing gnomes.
It was the second assault and battery on the media by TB12 in a weak moment. Maybe his patience is wearing thin, but we aren’t sure why.
Deflategate never bugged him like rumors of leaving Bean-town half-baked if you want a dozen Super Bowl parades.
As for making money off Tom, we wish we could hook up to that choo-choo train, but the milk train doesn’t stop here anymore. Flora Tom Goforth is about to go forth. Just call us the Witch of Capri. Our name has once again been crossed off the guest list.
Of course, Tom—the man who hides the truth under a thickening layer of Botox—never directly responded to the notions counter item that he is selling his home and his contract is up after the season.
He did not give an answer that re-assured, like he wants to play in New England until the end of the line, or that he even hopesto be back in the area next year.
That hope was hung out to dry with his TV appearance that mocked his owner, beloved Kraft of massage fame. As Tom complained testily, you dastardly media are reading metaphors into fiction where similes will do.
Oh, Tom, you coy boy.
DATELINE: But Never Really Lost!
Titanic Survivor Millvina in 1998.
A little, literally only 30 minutes, film from 1998, we found it interesting and intriguing on several levels that might pique your attention.
It is really about a little old lady of 90 years living in England whose husband was a silent film projectionist in 1913. One of his favorite Pathe news reels was the limited footage of Titanic and the rescue of passengers. He kept a copy in a rusty old canister.
After his passing, his wife sent her son out to the garden shed to retrieve it, but he told her it was not there—and the old man likely tossed it away years ago. His wife simply disbelieved that.
Early in the morning on a Sunday, she was awakened by his deceased husband telling her that the film was in their shed under a bench behind some junk. First thing she did was go out there on Sunday at 6am on her hands and knees to find it.
The footage itself is not new: yet this copy was pristine. Most of the copies available were old and grainy. It featured a stand-in that the media often employed: film of Olympic was usually substituted for Titanic in news photos and reels.
The building of Olympic proves historical, but it is merely a stand-in for the more famous ship. Yet, many think it was Olympic that was conspiratorially used to replace the real Titanic for insurance fraud.
There are moving pictures of survivors, crew members, and of rescue people from Carpathia that picked up over 700 shivering survivors. There are also photos, grisly, of newly hewn coffins going out to retrieve bodies on the Mackay-Bennett.
One of the highlights is a chat with Millvina Dean, who in 1998, was the only survivor still living. She died in 2009, and she offers a few poignant memories of the ordeal—as related to her by her mother. She was only 2-months old when rescued from Titanic.
Only available apparently on videotape from Amazon, it is a collector’s treasure—and with only a few minutes of actual Titanic footage, it may be meant only for true devotees of the topic.
DATELINE: Murder in the 21st Century
Andress in Undress?
The expiration date on using The Tenth Victim probably ended in the 20thcentury.
A social satire about murder in the future, this Italian film has all the earmarks of Fellini and Antonioni. It is excessive, flamboyant, and beautifully filmed. Its main conceit was that in the 21stcentury America, violence would be rampant and institutionalized as a game.
You would have hunters and the hunted. Alas, nothing racial or insulting to minorities occurs. In fact, there is not a minority to be seen in a colorful landscape meant to be the United States.
The male victim is a highly successful hunter with a dozen kills to his credit, but now the computer system has turned the tables and sent a stunningly beautiful woman out to get him. He does not know her identity, and that is part of the game. Everyone dresses in eye-popping fashion, and the future is squeaky clean, streets bright and cheery.
The cast is exemplary for the time: Marcello Mastroianni bleaches his hair blond (it was big that year as Terence Stamp did it too), and he is pursued by the American killer Ursula Andress. Hunh? You mean it’s not Anita Ekberg? Or Sophia Loren?
The sets are spectacular, and the music is jazz out of the classic Fifties mode, what you’d expect in a Euro-entertainment of the period.
As for the plot, it is neither violent enough, bloody enough, or shocking enough to make it controversial. It is played for light-hearted satire, and there is not a drop of blood to be seen.
Other touches indicate that comic books are great literature in America in the 21stcentury, collected like first-edition Francis Bacon.
In 1965, this flashy film grabbed them at the art house. Today it is more akin to a flash in the pan, though we are reluctant to pan something that is original, singular, and cute.
DATELINE: Better to Receive than Deceive
If you listen to the experts in Boston sports, apart from us, you have learned this week that Tom Brady is greasing the skids to slide out of town at season’s end.
Tom knows which way the wind blows: and it is blowing westward toward the San Andreas fault, where Tom can shake the earth on his own terms.
We must agree with the details that Tom Brady is done in Boston, though the bigger picture may be smaller.
It seems that Tom has two reasons to leave: and they are Bill Belichick and Robert Kraft, both of whom have left him stranded without a receiving corps in an annual denuding of first-rate players. Whenever Tom finds someone to his liking, that player is sent packing for reasons usually salary-related.
And Tom remains among the lowest paid superstars at QB position. Taking a hit for the team has grown tiresome for Tom.
It may be that Tom wants to prove, finally, in his golden years, that it is he, not Belichick, who won six Super Bowls. If New England wants a seventh, he may provide it on the way out. The door may slam on someone’s ass—but it won’t be Tom. Bill Belichick will stay on. Perhaps Josh McDaniel, beloved Babe, will follow out west.
Tom can win two or three more Super Bowls playing for the Raiders in his hometown. Fifty may be the new retirement goal.
Then again, Tommy—and Belichick too—want to show they never needed the other to win the next SB. Unfortunately, they both do need each other—and only will a final separation prove it to them and to the world. Belichick will hold on until his son can become the new King of the Patriots coaching corps.
For New England fans it will be too late and a bitter pill. Tom doesn’t love you anymore.
In the meantime, Tom snipes at the Boston press—whom he has grown to dislike more than ever—and he and his best friend-trainer, the Svengali of TB12 methodology—have put their Massachusetts homes up for sale in prep for the next season in Oakland.
Yes, you can go home, Tom. And Boston was never home, even after 20 years of suffering through fame and fortune, bad weather and a hundred-fold of receivers.