Leave the World Behind


Netflix Notes


Leave the World Behind 

Netflix’s new thriller takes a kitchen-sink approach to the apocalypse: Something is knocking out power and threatening everyday life for two families on Long Island, but what is it? Could the culprit be solar flares? Could it be the North Koreans, or the Chinese, or the Iranians? Our own government?

Leave the World Behind explores existential dread in 2023. If there is a fear it can tap into, it does. (It’s also just political enough to aggravate the left and the right, with a few pointed jabs at both sides.)

Mostly, it’s very good at tension building. I recommend it.



May December (pictured above)

This is a (mostly) well-acted, well-produced drama with one glaring flaw: The actor who plays “Joe Yoo,” Charles Melton, cannot act his way out of a paper bag. When the poor guy is called upon to display heavy emotion, well … he tries.








I’ve been watching Elon Musk interviews on the Lex Fridman podcast. The more I listen to Musk, the more I like him.

I like his acquisition of Twitter, but I suspect he has the same problem that Trump had as president: He has too many snakes working for him, all of them secretly trying to undermine him.







Gotta love the early stages of artificial intelligence on the Internet. I wanted to know who was going to star in Big Brother Reindeer Games:



I am guessing that Paul Giamatti was quite surprised to see that his agent got him cast on this CBS reality show.








One reason I stopped watching Fox News was the reaction by on-air talent to the firing of Tucker Carlson — there wasn’t any.

So, kudos to Greg Gutfeld for having the balls to take a none-too-subtle jab at his employer for firing its most popular host, allegedly because advertisers wanted it to happen.




There seems to be a bit of love for Japan’s new Godzilla movie. See critic blurbs above and below.



I’ll admit I am intrigued. Then again, should we really get excited about “the best Godzilla movie ever!” when the bar for Godzilla movies is, face it, so low?


© 2010-2023 grouchyeditor.com (text only)




TV Updates


Squid Game: The Challenge (reality version)

So many things are wrong with this show, which is an offshoot of Netflix’s monster-hit fictional series:


  • The reality version panders to all of our baser instincts. It dangles a multi-million-dollar prize in front of contestants, then asks them to indulge their selfish sides to win the money.
  • The challenges and tests are random and frequently unfair.
  • The game design is often mean-spirited.


But oh, yes, the damn thing is also gripping and addictive.





Lady Ballers

From watching the trailer (not the film itself), this Daily Wire production looks like it might be quite the lame, stupid movie.

But I’m happy it exists.

Anything that triggers “snowflakes” on the left has to be a good thing.


© 2010-2023 grouchyeditor.com (text only)





I am reading On the Clock, a 2019 expose by journalist Emily Guendelsberger about blue-collar employment at companies like Amazon and McDonald’s.

I feel qualified to toss in a few opinions about this book. After working more than 30 years in the white-collar publishing world, I’ve spent the past five years doing low-wage warehouse work. (Don’t ask why; that’s another story, although it does not involve prison). You can safely say that I’ve experienced two vastly different American work settings.

Guendelsberger’s book is illuminating. It should be required reading for anyone who has only experienced the realm of the college-educated worker bees. Here are a few of my early impressions (through 80 pages) of On the Clock:

It’s a lot like Barbara Ehrenreich’s 2001 book, Nickel and Dimed. In both cases, reporters go undercover as low-skilled employees at corporate behemoths like Amazon (and at smaller venues, such as restaurants).

I do have one big issue with both books: Ehrenreich and Guendelsberger had an enormous advantage over most of their blue-collar coworkers. This advantage was psychological. Both writers knew that eventually they would escape the mind-and-body-numbing routines of unskilled labor.

Toiling at McDonald’s for a month or two is nothing compared to knowing that you could well spend most of your adult life in such an environment. In Nickel and Dimed, Ehrenreich acknowledges this fact, but she downplays it. You should not do that.

I’m not far along enough into Clock to know if Guendelsberger will make the same mistake.

Aside from this shortcoming, Dimed and Clock are invaluable resources. I am convinced that college-bred, often pampered, white-collar America will learn something important. If they can be bothered to read the books.





The Grouch is happy to see TV journalist Liz Collin making news with her new documentary, The Fall of Minneapolis.

Rip van Dinkle is also tickled at Liz’s success. The two of them met back in 2015, when the topic of their conversation was … well, never mind.





Using the logic of this Media Matters headline, Donald Trump should never have done all those New York Times interviews, given how often the newspaper burned him.

Trump’s repeated acquiescence to Times requests for interviews was a classic example of the idiom, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”

Shame on Trump.


© 2010-2023 grouchyeditor.com (text only)



The Killer


I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: David Fincher is possibly our finest working movie director. Any filmmaker whose resume includes Se7en, Zodiac, and The Game — yes, The Game; you can have Fight Club, I’ll take The Game — is top-tier to me.

But Fincher’s latest, The Killer, is an underwhelming disappointment. We learn about the life of a perfectionist assassin-for-hire played by Michael Fassbender and … well, that’s about it. A hit goes awry for our protagonist, and he spends the rest of the movie tracking down the bad guys who retaliated for his screwup by assaulting his girlfriend.

The movie is what we expect from Fincher in that it looks great, and sounds great, and it is absorbing. But the most important element, the story, is no great shakes. Release: 2023  Grade: C+


Would I watch it again?  Possibly, but only to see if there is some hidden genius at work that I might have overlooked. (I doubt it.)




No Hard Feelings


In my misspent youth, I used to devour movies like this one as a matter of course — especially the good ones, like Risky Business starring a fresh-faced Tom Cruise.

But that was back in the sinful ‘80s and ‘90s.

I had a bad feeling about a 2023 sex comedy starring Jennifer Lawrence. I suspected it would be one of two things: watered down thanks to “MeToo,” and/or saturated with political correctness.

OK, so I was wrong. No Hard Feelings is actually a sweet, sometimes raunchy, occasionally laugh-out-loud good time. Lawrence plays a cash-strapped woman who is hired by a wealthy couple to “date” (whatever that means) their virginal son, who is seriously lacking in social skills.

Despite its 1980s-style, ballyhooed skinny-dip scene featuring a fully nude Lawrence, No Hard Feelings is less Porky’s, more John Hughes. Release: 2023  Grade: B+


Would I watch it again?  Maybe. Or possibly just the skinny-dip scene. 


© 2010-2023 grouchyeditor.com (text only)


by Agatha Christie


A 1931 “standalone” Christie novel (no Hercule Poirot or Miss Marple) in which a séance at a mansion in Dartmoor reveals to the participants the murder of a prominent villager.

The story is notable not just for the missing Poirot and Marple, but also because it is a bit of an homage to Sherlock Holmes, in particular The Hound of the Baskervilles. The setting, plot elements, and at least two characters are clear references to Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous novel.

Did I figure out whodunit? No, Agatha fooled me again. And yet the resolution of the mystery, although surprising, was not as ingenious nor as satisfying as in Christie’s best novels.


© 2010-2023 grouchyeditor.com (text only)




Give us a break


Last weekend, which was a long one thanks to the holiday, I avoided the news. Instead, I binge-watched three seasons of The Traitors, read a book, and took in a bit of football.

I felt much better.

On the one hand, we all need to keep an eye on the news — especially these turbulent days. But good grief, we also need to take a break from all the bleakness. For our mental health.

That’s my excuse for having very little commentary on the news this week.




Non-politics stuff:



A)  Much excitement in these parts over the Vikings’ new “passtronaut,” quarterback Josh Dobbs (above, in orbit). But excitement never lasts long, in these parts.

Expect Dobbs to fall flat Sunday night against Denver.


B)  Two things everyone does, that I do not: Own a cell phone. Watch superhero movies.

I confess, I am occasionally tempted by both. I got hopelessly lost yesterday while driving to a doctor’s appointment in an unfamiliar neighborhood. It would have been nice to have GPS or a phone to call for directions.

As for superhero movies … hundreds of millions of moviegoers can’t all be wrong. Or can they? I suppose I could start by checking out one of Christopher Nolan’s Batman movies. Or not.


C)  Dear Netflix:

Now that you’re streaming the final season of The Crown, and with past greats like Peaky Blinders and Ozark in the TV-show graveyard, I am seriously considering dropping you.

You keep raising subscription prices without adding anything new worth watching.


D)  I wonder if Elon Musk has any idea that “shadow banning” is still rampant on X. 

Asking for a friend.



© 2010-2023 grouchyeditor.com (text only)



I can smell the beginning of the end for artists who create covers for books, records, movies, etc. Why pay anyone hundreds or thousands of dollars for a design you must then wait for, when within seconds artificial intelligence can do the job for free?

I typed in “Three Stooges as vampires” and got the pictures above and below in less than 30 seconds.



I typed in “grouchy editor” and got this:


Nice, but I am not bald, dammit


I typed in “Elizabeth Montgomery in a bikini” and got threatened with a suspension. This angered me, so I searched other A.I. sites until I found one that produced the pictures below. Eh — not bad, but not great.



Clearly, A.I. is a genuine threat to many creative types.




It’s hard to write hundreds (or thousands) of movie, TV, and book reviews without resorting to cliches. I am certainly guilty.

I thought of this recently while reading about a television show that the reviewer called “highly addictive.” I’m sure that I’ve used that phrase.

Here’s another cliche that annoys me:



For some reason, this particular cliche is beginning to grate on me. “The movie doesn’t know what it wants to be.” Ugh.

I’ve used that, but I must not do it again.





I like and agree with a lot of what Vivek has to say. He seems to be a truth teller.

If only he didn’t remind me so much of a yipping chihuahua.




I am officially addicted to The Traitors. I finished season 1 of the U.S. version of the reality show, then watched season 1 of the British version, and am now gripped by season 1 of the Australian version. (There are more out there; seems every country in the world is producing this show.)

Which did I think was better, the U.K. or U.S. Traitors? Nobody does a murder mystery better than the Brits.  The U.K. show was less snark, more genuine emotion; less showbiz, more real suspense.

Bottom line: No matter the country of origin, The Traitors is a show that knows what it wants to be. Plus, it’s highly addictive.



© 2010-2023 grouchyeditor.com (text only)



I’ve been watching Big Brother on CBS since it premiered in 2000. Go ahead and judge me.

But in all that time, I have never seen a contestant as entertaining as 63-year-old Felicia Cannon of Atlanta.

Felicia habitually wears her bathrobe around the house. No big deal. But what Felicia carries in the pocket of that robe might be … a chicken leg. Or a baked potato.

Felicia doesn’t mince words when it comes to her fellow houseguests, most of whom are decades younger than she is. Especially “fuckin’ Bowie Jane.” Felicia has little time for these youngsters.

The first video below is Felicia from earlier this week, faceplanting while attempting to make her bed. The second video is a remix of Felicia moments, put together by some Internet wag.


Amazingly, miraculously, Felicia has made it into the final four in the final week of this season. She has a slim, but possible, chance of winning the whole thing.

I am cheering for you, Felicia. And so are millions of other BB fans.




In other news, Joe Biden continues to drive the country over a cliff, and Democrats continue to do everything possible to ensure Donald Trump is unable to run for president. Oh, yes, and World War III continues to loom.

Heavy sigh.


© 2010-2023 grouchyeditor.com (text only)




If you’re a Baby Boomer like me, mass shootings and war in the Middle East are both, depressingly, old news.

If you are a Millennial or Gen Z, you might be hopeful that there are solutions to both problems. That’s a good thing. We need hope and solutions.

Or you might simply be hopelessly naïve.

I hate to say this, but as an old dude who’s been reading about war in the Middle East for my entire life, and about mass shootings for most of it … I give up.

Good luck, younger people.





Good Halloween viewing: The Traitors


Second-rate celebrities mix with regular folks to play a murder game at a cool-as-fuck Scottish mansion. I thought I might hate it. But I am four episodes in and very much hooked.






Bad Halloween viewing: Malignant


James Wan has directed some great horror flicks (the first Saw, Insidious, The Conjuring), and this movie is never boring. It’s just stupid. Very stupid.

Let me count the ways it is bad: continuity errors (daylight in one shot, nighttime a shot later), special effects that look like special effects, hackneyed dialogue, and too damn many jump scares.

If you want to see a better movie with a similar theme, check out Brian De Palma’s Sisters.






Proper way to eat with a fork?


It doesn’t seem possible that I have lived as many years as I have, yet only recently have I noticed so many people eating food with their forks turned the wrong way.

I use my fork the way the lady does in the picture above, not the way it’s used by the dude.

Have I been wrong all these years? Tines up, or tines down? Important question.





I have yet to see Old Dads on Netflix, but I do enjoy Bill Burr’s stand-up routines and his podcasts. The headline above irritates me.

It implies that critics are to be trusted and the viewing public is a collection of dopes. Makes me want to see the movie even more.


© 2010-2023 grouchyeditor.com (text only)


by Leo Tolstoy


Prior to reading this novella, I’d read just two books by the great Russian writer, Leo Tolstoy. Tolstoy’s gargantuan War and Peace was, in my humble opinion, much more entertaining in its “peace” parts than in its “war” parts. I remember thinking Anna Karenina was very, very good … but I recall absolutely nothing about the story. (In my defense, it has been many years since I read these books.)

I suspect that The Death of Ivan Ilyich, weighing in at less than 80 pages, will stick with me much longer than will the two Tolstoy magnum opuses.

The story is simple, yet concentrated and vivid. In it, a Russian judge develops an incurable illness and then slowly and oh-so painfully, expires. That’s it. Yet Tolstoy successfully puts the reader in bed with poor Ivan and forces us to endure all his pains, physical and psychological.

The big question that Tolstoy asks us to ponder is whether there is truth in Socrates’s dictum, “the unexamined life is not worth living.”


© 2010-2023 grouchyeditor.com (text only)