The Shape of Water-Logged

DATELINE:  Oscar Goes Glug Glug!

glug glug  Missing the Black Lagoon

Who would have envisioned Creature from the Black Lagoon winning Best Picture of 1954 for director Jack Arnold?  Yet, the wet creature won for its director in the Shape of Water in 2018. How the world has changed into a monster mash.

Guillermo del Toro may be too full of bull with his latest movie. His Gill Man takes place on the heels of the original Creature tale, circa 1960, and likely is meant to be a homage sequel. A real sequel followed in 1955.

This amphibian man is called a ‘god’ more than once, in case you don’t understand the ending.

The film is subtly anti-American, with its sympathetic Soviet spy as one of the few likeable characters.

Of course, you have Octavia Spencer in a key role, which always elevates a movie to a higher standing. Michael Shannon has apparently cornered the market on despicable villains who are sexist, racist, and anti-disabilities. And, we always perk up when Nick Searcy (from Justified) makes an appearance.

As for the Creature, swimmingly played in a wet suit by Doug Jones, we are treated to a Fred and Ginger dance number in one dream sequence. Indeed, the film is rife with clips of old movies—from Betty Grable to the Story of Ruth.

Yes, you will find Bob Denver as Maynard and Mr. Ed as the Talking Horse in a couple of clips. No wonder this struck a nerve with aging Boomers.

Alas, the overdrawn sex scenes seemed superfluous and almost tacky to the point of meanly excluding a younger audience.

The film wants to play off the King Kong-style romance between monster and damsel, but the paws of Del Toro are around the heroine’s throat all too often.

Meant to move us with its horror fantasy, we were simply antsy.


Call It a Name Oscar Wilde Dares Not Speak

DATELINE:  Calling Your Name

Chalamet Timothee Chalamet, aka Lolita!

If you’re wondering about the title of the movie Call Me by Your Name, it is a sign of gay regression.  In an age when women keep their own name upon marriage, gay men are prepared to give up theirs.


This is the movie that its young teenage star (Timothee Chalamet) earned an Oscar nomination. It’s not so much for performance, but for the fact that he plays the most intelligent teenager on film in almost a decade or perhaps longer.


Like Sue Lyon 50 years ago, Chalamet epitomizes a male Lolita, also earning an Oscar nomination as a supporting actor and symbol of loincake. The only things missing from his acting are heart-shaped sunglasses and a lollipop.


Elio is a bilingual, bisexual child prodigy at the piano. His father is an important professor who spends the summer in Italy and needs a long-in-the-tooth graduate student assistant to do nothing in particular. The characters seem to be on an endless vacation. Elio mostly cavorts around in his bathing suit.


The story is adapted from a novella by James Ivory which caught our eye. He wrote all those great Ivory-Merchant movie screenplays 30 years ago. As he approaches 90-years of age, he has come up with another one: stunning ennui on display.


Armie Hammer played Leonardo’s boyfriend in Hoover, and was Depp’s boyfriend in the Lone Ranger, and now has his sights on a teenager who is more winsome and more often unclothed than Frankie Avalon in his prime Beach Party get-up.


Pardon us, but teenagers are lacking experience and maturity—and Humbert Humberts of the world never seem to learn this.


Chalamet and Hammer insist they are not gay, but only play gay (for pay) on screen.

High Cost of Men Accosting Women

DATELINE:  Naked Oscar in Gilt


In Hollywood, it is growing abundantly obvious that the only men who haven’t groped women are gay. That lets out repulsive men like Harvey Weinstein. What women would have gone with him willingly? He’s a toad—and clearly heterosexual.

We hesitate to ask if gay Hollywood icons have groped other men. We’ll have to ask Tab next time we see him. So far, we haven’t heard any charges—but since Hollywood is a place where copycats rule, you can expect the gay rapists to be fingered before Xmas.

You may expect a new sense of revisionist history: condemnation of formerly critically successful movies will be on the agenda because the participants and producers were sexist swine. Cue the recall of Oscar—a naked man in gold gilt.

In the meantime, we are hearing that Oliver Stone, Ben Affleck (but not Matt Damon), and sundry other men have proven their heterosexuality by accosting actresses. It must be a rite of spring.

Men, not accused of molesting women, will now be outed as disinterested parties (clubs where men dance only with other men).

Of course, at the time, usually in the distant 1990s, actresses expected to remain silent in the face of these kind of onslaughts. So, it is only 20 years later that a spate of rape charges is coming forth. We aren’t sure whether the statute of limitations has passed on some of these cold cases. We also wonder if an accusation is deadlier than actually finding someone is guilty.

Women are now boycotting Twitter because it is part of the male-dominated system. Apparently, these same women have missed the boat that Twitter also has favored the Russians over Hilary Clinton.

Since women are nowadays the primary readers in our society, writers like Hemingway are likely to be dunned more than ever. Expect a cadre of writers to come charging out of the closet soon.

If we start making judgments based on the thrilling days of yesteryear, no one will be safe. Twenty or thirty years ago was a different world, even if it pretended to be the Golden Age of Enlightenment.

If women are prepared to press the issue of male malfeasance, you can bet your bottom dollar and top drawer that these guys will go into rehab, aka “therapy,” which is certainly a way out of the dark and deep woods of the groped past.

As for us, we have always viewed light in the loafers as a standard defense.


Dramatic Musical: The Bolero

DATELINE:  Best Short Film 1974 Oscar


Winning the Best Short Subject Oscar for 1974, The Bolero may be one of the most breathtaking documentaries about music put on film.

From its opening scenes, setting up chairs for musicians of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, to its climax, you will have a deep appreciation for the challenge and creativity of symphony orchestras.

Most people know Ravel’s “Bolero” from the Walt Disney animated classic, as the music that portends the end of the dinosaurs. Or, worse, you may recall Bo Derek.

At first you have violinists, bassoonists, and flutists, all making mention of the difficulty of small solos in the overall performance. Behind them you hear the occasional melody from the piece.

Zubin Mehta was young and dynamic as the conductor, expressive and humorous. He notes after this performance of the Los Angeles Philharmonic he never wants to do The Bolero ever again. His tongue is firmly in cheek.

Drama always builds slowly, and if Mehta has any real challenge here, it is in keeping the pace of the music in check.

When the orchestra begins to play the entire score, you see them lit against a satin black background—and you are faced with fierce concentration from individual players as they read their music, look up to the conductor, and listen to their colleagues in the symphony. It mirrors any struggle Jack London ever described in Nature.

Mehta plays a conductor as you always expected one to be. When he is in full charge, his face shows how much he loves music, art, and helps director Alan Miller create something so special that 45 years later, you will be thrilled and delighted by the 25-minute experience.



Oscar Goes To Twilight Zone


doomsday twilight zone

It was an Oscar fiasco waiting for Trump jokes. But it was sidetracked by a trip to the Twilight Zone.

We correctly predicted the Oscars.

The movie we have not yet seen is Best Picture. Actually, both films announced as Best Picture are movies we have on our bucket list.

And the real winner is Moonlighting. We thought that was the TV show with Bruce Willis, but how wrong we were. This is a film about growing up in the ghetto (you were expecting Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?), and it is on our Netflix list for this week with a bunch of other nominees.

Rest assured, we have not yet seen Lala Land either. It was almost the Best Picture of The year. However, it had a couple of disadvantages going for it. First and foremost, it was about white people who sang and danced. We never heard of anything more racist. It was also about heterosexual love. Something we thought was totally out of fashion.

In case you didn’t hear, a geriatric tipsy actress announced the wrong picture as the best film. If you’re reading off a cue card, we can understand a mistake. However, when you open an envelope and misread, you have given functional illiteracy a boost.

Yes, the Oscars called on the geriatric versions of Bonnie and Clyde to steal the Oscar for Best Picture. And, they did a bang-up job of presenting the award to the wrong picture. This certainly gives Mr. Trump cause to ridicule the proceedings.

Apparently the notion of “re-take” in Hollywood is alive and clapping the clap-board.

As someone who used to live in Marblehead, Massachusetts, we were surprised to hear that Manchester-by-the-Sea is a downtrodden fishing community. It was always considered upscale out there. It was kind of a rich man’s Gloucester.

If you remember ancient movie history, Gloucester was where Spencer Tracy lived in Captains Courageous. Now Manchester by the Sea is where fellow Cantabrigian Casey Affleck lives in the new movies.

We now must return to our smartphone and Roku stick to watch the winner and almost winner of 2017 (and we are not referring to Trump and Clinton). Movie reviews will eventually follow.




And the Winner Is….not Oscar!

DATELINE: No Republicans Wanted


Dem Oscar funnies;  It’s not going to be a Grand Old Party!

Was there ever a time when Oscar was not political?

In the first Trump year, it may be more off-kilter than usual. What’s more, the movies don’t seem especially better in style, art, or matter. Politics tends to ground art into a mundane statement that may not survive once the age’s politics pass into oblivion.

If you thought that Blue Ribbon everyone was wearing was to honor Pabst Beer, you’d be out of touch.

Overrated actors and unseen motion pictures were praised. We usually use Oscar night to discover what films we should see before our neighbors.

Self-congratulations seem to be epitomized by a statuette shaped like Mr. Clean if he met Goldfinger.

If you were from a banned travel country, you were a shoo-in for this year’s short, international, best sounding movie featurette.

You could be right if you thought the best movies were made for television viewing—by download or streaming. We might even watch a good film on our smartphone. That way, the popcorn is much cheaper and we can go to the bathroom whenever we want by shutting off the movie.

If you have nothing good to say about President Trump, chances are you are sitting in the front row at the Oscar presentation, or have an aisle seat.

We always know ahead of time which movie will be best picture of the year: it’s the one we have not yet seen.

We thought the commercial for Feud: the story of Bette Davis and Joan Crawford looked like the best picture of the year.