DATELINE: Double or Nothing?
Gere & Topher!
It only took us a decade to come around to The Double, a Russian spy infiltrates the CIA and/or FBI thriller. This one slipped through the cracks ten years ago, and we wondered why.
Perhaps the stars were box-office poison back then. Today, they look like classic performers, doing Hamlet.
You might be held back because of the smarmy leads: there is Richard Gere, in varying shades of white and gray as he plays himself in 25-year flashbacks as the ubiquitous CIA wrecking crew.
Then, there is the ever-irksome millennial Topher Grace as the research librarian turned field agent for the FBI.
They are forced to team up to find the former Soviet agent called Cassius who led one of the most dangerous murder groups out of Russia back in the 1980s.
You need only watch the trailer for this film, and you have a pretty good idea who the double is and how dangerous he may be. You will be on the road of the Red Herring.
Topher Grace’s analytical agent claims Cassius is not dead, not executed by Gere in his last act before retiring. They disagree, and then we begin to suspect that the double is the agent leading the hunt.
All of this is droll and clever until improbable meets impossible in the grand finale. We still aren’t sure who was supposed to kill whom for what government. Oh, Martin Sheen is along as head of the CIA. So, you can trust him.
As for the rest of these double agents, you sympathize at your own risk. Well, it was diverting.
DATELINE: Dumb Media
Heroic Richard Jewell
As we await the viewing of Clint Eastwood’s new movie, Richard Jewell,we took in a short documentary from ESPN that was produced in 2014 for their award-winning series30 for 30. It had the ancillary attraction of being a story about the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.
Richard Jewell was a heavy-set Southern man in his 30s who wanted to be a police officer, posed with weapons, lived alone in a rustic cabin when not living with his mother. He was one-step away from being a mall cop: he hired on as part-time security at the Olympics. He spotted a suspicious backpack, cleared the area before it went off, saving hundreds of lives.
Then, one suspicious former employer called the FBI and said he was an egotistical nobody with hero wishes. Suddenly a modest, unattractive man became the epitome of a lone Bubba Bomber. The media hounded him, made him run gauntlets, peppered him with questions about his fake heroism.
Jay Leno and Tom Brokaw joined the chorus of FBI and Atlanta Journal Constitution media hacks. They never apologized when 88 days later the FBI cleared him. Several years after that another man, the notorious Eric Rudolph, pled guilty to the bombing and went to prison for life.
Jewell was there to see justice done, though it was elusive for him. The media sneered at him. And they still do.
Few apologies and retractions followed Richard. Centennial Park in Atlanta never acknowledged his heroic action. The slime-ball newspaper ACJ still attacks Jewell through the new Eastwood movie.
Jewell enjoyed Clint’s movies—and his mother is grateful for the new film. Alas, Jewell himself died in 2007, likely driven to death by stress and pain—despite being cleared.
The ESPN documentary at 22 minutes is a succinct overview of justice denied, justice perverted, and justice delayed.
DATELINE: Pre-9-11 Terror in the Skies!
After twenty years of endless scandals, plane crashes, government coverups, terrorist attacks, and boundless conspiracies, it may be hard to recall the events of the summer of 1996. A documentary directed by Kristina Borjesson for Epix may infuriate you.
Like a hideous and fantastic episode of Twilight Zone or X-Files, the truth is out there—but the US government won’t tell you.
Off Long Island, a plane crashed, killing many people on their way to Europe. It was long before real security at airports, but this weird event contended that a missile shot down the airliner.
A few aging NTSB investigators have not forgotten how they were shunted aside and dismissed from finding out the truth—or speaking in public about this. The FBI even threatened witnesses about their applications for citizenship! Shades of Homeland Security!
Back then the notion was simply preposterous, or in the realm of UFO coincidences. Witnesses were treated like alien abductees.
When your FBI and CIA conspired to undercut over 200 credible witnesses who saw some kind of streaking flare hit the airplane, you know you are no longer in Kansas, Dorothy.
What’s crystal clear from this documentary is that some high-level people had a strong interest in making sure this event was dismissed as mechanical failure and relegated to yesterday’s dead news.
Instead, the events of the 21st century are now annotating the 20th.
Our conspiratorial Internet enthusiasts may have found the best example of a real coverup that the United States has orchestrated in history.
Oh, perhaps UFOs and the Kennedy Assassination are also on the short list. The notion that terrorists acted 5 years before 9-11 is mind-boggling. The complicit national media acted in a disgraceful manner.
At the highest level, Bill Clinton declined to be interviewed for this film.
Clearly, what was so horrific or despicable or preventable is the first step by the government to shut down citizens and never to hear or to tolerate an ugly word.
DATELINE: Post-Tesla Scientist
No, it’s not Ancient Aliens—which leads us to wonder how they could have failed to do a feature on George Van Tassel, the 1950s UFO-logist who held fabulous meetings out in the desert near Twenty-Nine Palms and Big Rock with 10,000 UFO followers.
California koo-koo birds have flocked to the deserts of California for decades. As the movie Calling All Earthlings indicates, many are still there.
Foremost was George Van Tassel, a US Defense Department weapons expert from Lockheed who also worked for Howard Hughes. He became disenchanted with nuclear warfare games—and moved his small family to an underground residence at Big Rock.
In the early 1950s, he began receiving messages and instructions on how to build a time machine, which he called the Integratron. It is still there, a marvel of creation that looks like a work from Frank Lloyd Wright. Made from the best lumber supplied by Howard Hughes.
How he built such an expensive, amazing structure can be explained by the folklore: Howard Hughes flew in regularly with satchels of cash.
What Van tassel worked on was not a standard time machine. His was a walk-through that would cut 30% off your age.It was not recommended for those under 18. Even as a shell today, its acoustics are oddly perfect.
After 25 years of work, just as Van Tassel was about to start up, he allegedly suffered a major heart attack and died in a motel near Los Angeles. Some thought he was murdered. All his notes and research went missing—and his Integratron (always under FBI surveillance) was looted and rendered useless. Van Tassel wrote a few books, including I Rode in a Flying Saucer.
Director Jonathan Berman’s idiosyncratic documentary is nearly as weird as the inhabitants of Big Rock, but this makes for a fascinating exploration of a man after Tesla’s heart and Howard Hughes’ wallet.
DATELINE: 1977 A-I Grand Production
Crawford as Hoover
If Director Hoover were still running the FBI, you know the shenanigans at the White House and during the Trump campaign would be dead in their tracks.
The Private Files of J.Edgar Hoover, 1977’s film by Larry Cohen is still surprisingly relevant today: from Hoover’s dealings with immigrants, terrorists, and campaign laundering of money. You might be amused to hear that Hoover was on the side of right, according to this marvelous little film. In many ways it is more amusing than Eastwood’s version.
Young Hoover is played by James Wainwright—and his best friend is his mother, actress June Havoc in a cameo. The best of the stunning cast includes Jose Ferrer as a dubious underling to Hoover. However, the G-Man couple of the century, Hoover and Clyde Tolson, are played by Broderick Crawford and Dan Dailey, no strangers to whispers and innuendos themselves.
Hoover must deal with Franklin Roosevelt (Howard da Silva) and Bobby Kennedy (Michael Parks). AG Kennedy especially tried to drive Hoover to retirement with great disrespect, but Hoover was a wily old fox. He handled Kennedy and seemed ready to blackmail Martin Luther King (Raymond St. Jacques).
If you like hooting through a movie, this old American International flick has gunfights with Dillinger and mobsters, and TWA hijackers.
The rumors that Tolson and Hoover were a romantic couple is among the highlights of the film, hinting they might have been brave pioneers in gay rights, no less. However, there is no scene of Edgar in a dress. Sorry. All this is secondary to a grandiose performance by the never-shy Broderick Crawford as the Top Cop (never saying 10-4) and his aide-de-camp Dan Dailey.
His secret files kept many people in their place. He had dirt on everyone over 50 years and managed to convince Lyndon Johnson (Andrew Duggan) to extend the retirement age to accommodate the FBI oldster.
More salacious info would come out after the making of this film, but this semi-forgotten movie will do as a bang-up tribute to Edgar.
DATELINE: Whimsy & Humor
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.
DATELINE: Shirtless in Houston
|The louse who took time Brady’s blouse has been caught. The Mounties get their man, and so apparently do the FBI. It appears that the thief is from below the border with real journalist credentials.
Hats off to the guys who found the shirts off Tom.
What’s worse, he seems to be a serial jersey swiper. FBI reportedly found the missing game jersey Tom wore in 2015 with its 2017 counterpart.
In an age when the FBI is investigating Russian ties to President Trump and Russian hacking of the recent presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton, Hoover’s minions have found time to solve the biggest sports mystery of the century.
It also and apparently pays to have friends in high places. This could be the biggest triumph of the Trump administration so far. It’s been a month since somebody put their mitts on Tom Brady’s half $1 million blouse—and we have answers before we have evidence that Obama bugged Trump. (Well, he bugs Trump every day.)
Brady’s stolen jersey is a victim of international intrigue. We aren’t sure whether to blame Goldfinger or Jason Bourne. It used to be that you had Interpol going after international jewel thieves, but today the James Bond mentality lives among our local law-enforcement.
The FBI has found Tom’s jersey on “foreign soil. ” No doubt, it was soiled too.
Our first suspicions went to the culprit of Bob Kraft Super Bowl ring, which was taken by Vladimir Putin in Russia several years ago. Now suspicion falls again on the Kremlin, or their minions. Did the Russian mob pull a bag job? Did they farm the crime out to the Mexican drug cartel?
We suspect Trump will say we need a wall more than ever, not to keep aliens out but to keep Tom Brady’s equipment in.
That two Brady blouses were discovered means that we have an organized and serial criminal operation that loots the bounty from the sacred locker rooms of America. This is worse than terror; it is sacrilege.
We expect to see President Trump holding the recovered blouse and handing it to Brady at a press conference soon. Right now Trump needs all the positive publicity he can find.
DATELINE: TV & MOVIE MASHUP
Blacklist presents hints of Whitey Bulger
The Blacklist is another of those intriguing television series that are available on stream, viewed in chunks. It’s a good thing too, as we became hooked at wondering where this James Spader tour de force role would take us.
With echoes of The Equalizer and dollops of a dozen other counterespionage movies, Spader plays a mysterious fellow named Raymond Reddington, sort of a Moriarty of crime who suddenly turns federal informant.
Yes, your bureaucratic government types are suspicious—and so are we. He will work only with one young female agent who is starting her career the same day he turns state’s evidence. The kicker is that he will only talk to her, putting her under suspicion too. We hope the secret is not so mundane as he is her real father.
Reddington seems to have contacts with every element across the globe. Dressed like Whitey Bulger in a black hat and trench coat, Spader scoffs at the button-down types and makes the character delicious in his omniscience. If the show aired on the SyFy network, we’d presume he was an alien from outer space, ready to make the Earth stand still.
In an age when the FBI and CIA have used dubious sources for their information, the show fits into their contemporary legacy.
Quick cuts and interlocking scenes make for amusing sequences of who can you trust. Not since John Houseman played Professor Kingsfield in a few pivotal scenes has there been such a compelling figure to drop in and carry a show.
Spader plays well off guest star villains like Isabella Rossellini and Homeland Security powerhouses like Jane Alexander.
We will continue to watch because entertainment is often a hard nugget to find on weekly series—and so many of our favorites seem to be petering out. This freebie TV show is better than 90% of the big budget movies now out there.