If you’re going to borrow from classic high-school comedies, you might as well borrow from the best – movies like Mean Girls, Can’t Buy Me Love, and 16 Candles.

The makers of Netflix’s To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (above) understand this, and that’s why, despite the fact that I hardly fit the film’s target demographic, it never gagged me with a spoon.

 

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When they try to be funny, the Big Brother houseguests usually fall flat. But every so often, CBS cameras capture a gem of an exchange, like this one:

 

 

 

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by Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith

 

Near the end of Final Justice: The True Story of the Richest Man Ever Tried for Murder, Charlie Rose interviews multimillionaire Cullen Davis for Rose’s TV show. A Texas jury had just acquitted Davis of killing his wife’s lover and a 12-year-old girl:

 

“Has your life gotten back to normal,” asked Rose in a husky, intimate whisper. “I mean, can you live a normal life ever again?”

“Normal would be walking down the street without being recognized by anybody,” Cullen replied. “That’ll never happen.”

 

Davis was right about that. One day in the 1990s, some 15 years after the 1976 murders, my wife and I were crossing a skyway in downtown Ft. Worth.  I caught the eye of a man headed in the opposite direction: a slight, dapper-looking fellow with a “cat that ate the canary” glint in his eye. He looked first at my wife and then at me. There was a trace of a smile on his thin lips.

It was, I knew instantly, Cullen Davis.

 

Rose gingerly turned the questioning to the murders. “Are you afraid, living in the mansion?” he asked.

 

At about the same time as our Davis sighting in the skyway, we lived near the infamous “murder mansion” on Mockingbird Lane in Ft. Worth. By then, the Davis trials were fading into history and the mansion itself was a long-abandoned wreck. Ghoulish curiosity seekers (including us and our friends) would spend a Saturday or Sunday squeezing through a vandalized plywood barrier to explore the once-lavish, $35 million palace, now dark, musty, and ravaged by souvenir hunters. (I confess that I took a piece of floor-tile from the kitchen – site of one of the murders.)

I mention all this because it’s not often that I read a true-crime book in which the (alleged) killer is someone I’ve seen up-close-and-personal, and whose former home I’ve helped ransack.

But pilfering floor tiles is nothing compared to the hijacking of the judicial system pulled off by Davis and his colorful, apparently conscienceless lawyer, Richard “Racehorse” Haynes, in three trials conducted in the late 1970s.

You think the O.J. Simpson trial was a miscarriage of justice? Check out the Davis trials, in which multiple witnesses — including victims shot point-blank by “a man in black” — identified Davis as the perpetrator, and yet Texas juries could not bring themselves to convict.

Apparently, jurors were awestruck by the strange little man’s wealth and charisma.

I certainly wasn’t awestruck when I locked eyes with Davis in that skyway, nor when I trespassed in the cavernous halls and living rooms of his haunted house.  I was creeped out.

 

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OK, OK. Congressional candidates don’t have “running mates.” We know that, but that would spoil the joke.

 

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The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences message to Hollywood with its new “best popular film” Oscar category:

 

“Your movie sucks, but it did make a lot of money from the Deplorables, and we like that, so here’s a little naked man for you.”

 

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So let’s see … isn’t that “cultural appropriation” times three?

 

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I don’t care what your politics are, funny is funny, and this “interview” with former sheriff Joe Arpaio is pretty damn funny.

 

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The Mansion

grouchyeditor.com Mansion

 

I have a real weakness for horror movies in which a group of people are trapped at some isolated location and then snuffed out, one by one. This kind of film can have amateurish acting, sloppy cinematography, and a plot as tired as grandma’s bunions, and I’ll likely still watch it. The Mansion, a mix of (mostly) comedy and horror from France, is no And Then There Were None, but if you share my weakness for this genre you’ll enjoy the creepy old house and the systematic offing of numerous knuckleheads — one by one. Release: 2017 Grade: C+

 

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Reporters!

 

 

“What an asshole!”

 

– Fox’s Dana Perino on live TV, decrying some knucklehead who brought an alligator into a convenience store.

 

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“We reached out to [CBS honcho Leslie] Moonves and CBS for comment, but did not hear back.”

 

 – CBS reporter Anna Werner, essentially saying: “I reached out to myself for comment, but did not hear back.”

 

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“They aren’t being nice to me, and I don’t like it!”

 

– CNN’s Jim Acosta whining about anti-CNN, pro-Trump crowds.

OK, he didn’t really say that — we think.

 

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Seems to Me …

 

 

Seems to me the best part of the Trump-Cohen secret tape recording is the fact that National Enquirer publisher David Pecker is referenced, and so media outlets are once again free to say or write “Pecker.”

If you are not sure who David Pecker is, Google his name. Go ahead, you know you want to.

 

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Lots of happy faces on Fox News about the economic-growth report.

But my wallet hasn’t gotten any bigger.

Seems to me that TV pundits ought to contain their glee until someone other than fat cats gets a fatter wallet.

 

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Russian “collision”? Seems to me if you’re constantly battling “dumb blonde” accusations, you ought to proofread your Tweets.

 

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“She is young.” – Marie Harf excusing media darling Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s (above right) embarrassing stumble over a question about Israel.

 

OK. Well.

 

If you’re going to excuse Ocasio-Cortez for her “youth and inexperience,” I think you’ve got to pardon Trump for his “senior moment” in Helsinki.

 

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Movies these days suck.

We forget that in Hollywood’s golden age, 1971-72, audiences were treated to gems like these:

 

 

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Baby blimps and bald spots: politics!

 

 

 

“Well, we’re a real network, too”

– CNN’s Jim Acosta, above, whining about Donald Trump at a British press conference and proving that Acosta, too, should have a giant baby balloon.

 

 

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Does Peter Strzok’s bald spot have a Twitter page? I think it should.

 

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If I didn’t know better, I’d suspect that the girls on Big Brother actually want us to see their titties.

Below, houseguest Kaitlyn Herman displays her modesty:

 

 

 

Below, houseguest Haleigh Broucher plays peek-a-boob with the CBS camera.

 

 

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I keep seeing commercials for an intriguing new series on FX called Snowfall.

Just one problem: It’s not an intriguing new series on FX. It’s in its second year.

There are just too damn many shows on TV. Who can keep up?

 

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Hmmm … why does that plot sound so familiar?

 

 

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Quote of the Week:

 

“Every single time, he has fought like a rock for conservative legal principles.” — Justin Walker, former Kennedy clerk, commenting on one of Donald Trump’s Supreme Court candidates.

Since when did rocks become known for their fighting prowess?

 

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The hamsters on Big Brother can’t seem to keep their clothes on.

Here is fitness model Angela Rummans demonstrating ladylike poses while sunbathing (top video), and how to full-frontally flash an audience without seeming to do so (bottom video):

 

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And finally, with a nod to the late, great Groucho Marx:

 

 

 

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Calibre

 

Two buddies go on a hunting expedition in the Scottish Highlands and experience the worst nightmare since Ned Beatty was forced to squeal like a pig in Deliverance.

Calibre isn’t in the same league as Deliverance, but it does deliver a palpable sense of pending disaster and, if you’re a city kid, it will lend credibility to your worst (albeit stereotypical) fears about backward country folk. Release: 2018 Grade: B+

 

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It

 

I wanted to like this movie, really I did. I enjoyed Stephen King’s novel years ago, and lord knows It was popular at the box office. But oh, man, where to begin? What we have here is 135 minutes of horror-movie rehash, with every predictable trope and cliché imaginable, about a group of pre-teens battling evil in small-town Derry, Maine. The kids’ parents are themselves either evil or missing in action, and the film’s so-called “horror” is simply a series of jump-scares, loud noises, and shopworn special effects.

You might ask if there was anything I did like about It. Sure: It has a nice look, and Bill Skarsgard’s creepy clown in the opening scene was pretty cool. Release: 2017 Grade: C-

 

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mother!

grouchyeditor.com mother!

 

All poor Jennifer Lawrence wants in this movie is a little peace and quiet for herself and poet-husband Javier Bardem. Good luck with that. I guess you should never invite strangers into your house.

I’m not sure why mother! is so polarizing. I suspect it might be because it’s a bit of a bait-and-switch. What begins as a slow-burn psychological thriller in the vein of Roman Polanski’s Rosemary’s Baby, or perhaps his Repulsion, takes a hard turn at the midpoint to an over-the-top religious allegory, and you know how people feel about religion. And babies. But I liked the film because, a) it’s very well-made, and b) it’s thought-provoking. And in this age of endless superhero and comic-book movies, that’s worth celebrating. Release: 2017 Grade: B+

 

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