More evidence of the decline of Western civilization:

 

 

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The media were aghast that an American president might utter the word “shithole” in a public forum. Classy Politico, for example, wouldn’t dream of exploiting such a vulgar term. From Politico’s Web site:

 

 

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TV Updates

 

 

Sometimes I get hooked on a show simply because I am entranced by the main characters. It doesn’t matter if they’re robbing a bank, or reading quietly in the library; I just want to see what they’re up to.

Fortunately for viewers of The End of the F***ing World, a delightfully eccentric Netflix import from Britain, the show’s writers are more than capable of finding interesting things for teenage runaways James and Alyssa (pictured above) to do — things like shoplifting, car theft, and offing serial killers.

 

 

Sure, it’s contrived. But God help me, I am once again watching (and enjoying) the crazy geezers on Better Late than Never.

 

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We’re thinking that the presdent of Fox Business Network should consider repatrating some funds to hire a proofreader. It’s something dimmocratic the could do.

 

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Good commercial:

 

 

I loathe that GEICO green lizard, but I’ll have to admit that a lot of the company’s other spots, like the sloth bit pictured above, make me chuckle.

 

Bad commercial:

 

 

Good lord, could Xfinity have found an athlete with less personal charisma than shuffling, mumble-mouthed bobsledder Elana Meyers Taylor, pictured above? Not “lookin’ good,” Elana.

 

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What the hell is it with all of these weird-ass, sex-related confessions and rumors featuring Michael Douglas?

Is the dude trying to tell us something?

 

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OK, sure. We could do that.

 

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Aval

 

It’s tempting to write off Aval (English title: The House Next Door), India’s homage to Hollywood horror classics like The Exorcist. Much of the dialogue (a peculiar mix of Indian languages and English) and relationships evoke corny melodramas from the 1950s. At some point the story, in which a doctor and his wife learn that someone in their Himalayan neighborhood is possessed, stops making a lot of sense, and a few scenes are unintentionally funny.

However … there’s no question that several of director Milind Rau’s set pieces are chilling, with clever camerawork and stunning visuals. Also in its favor: the movie is consistently entertaining. Release: 2017  Grade: B+

 

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Bad Headlines

 

 

Yes, and yes again. Trump and his Republican pals need to stop citing the fucking stock market when crowing about “the economy.”

 

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Trump might be nuts, but CNN seems to be right there with him. Brooke Baldwin freaked out when a guy said “boobs” on her show, but on New Year’s Eve she boasted to a drunk Don Lemon that “my balls are bigger than your balls.”

Lemon, viewers might recall, once complimented Kathy Griffin on her “nice rack.” And then last week, we got CNN’s Randi Kaye laughing and fondling a pot-filled bong on live TV.

Brian Williams, when informed about Baldwin’s “big balls” declaration, assured anyone within earshot that his enormous testicles are listed in the Guinness World Records.

 

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Let me see if I have this straight: Tobacco taxes go up every 15 minutes, but liquor taxes, which haven’t gone up in decades, are going down?

 

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Mark Steyn and Sebastian Gorka: How are these not the same guy?

 

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Formerly great show that is now merely a good show:

Curb Your Enthusiasm

 

Formerly great show that is still a great show:

Black Mirror

 

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Veteran character actor Paul Sorvino wants to pummel Harvey Weinstein for blacklisting Sorvino’s daughter, Mira.

The blacklisting makes no sense to us, either, because we took a look at Mira’s audition tape, presented below:

 

 

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That’s Elizabeth Montgomery, circa 1963. You can’t tell me that Hollywood babes of that generation weren’t the bomb.

 

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by Anthony Horowitz

 

Horowitz’s double mystery is a lot of fun for fans of old-fashioned whodunits. It’s a clever book-within-a-book in which a literary editor investigates the suspicious death of her company’s most successful writer: an irascible cuss who wrote the wildly popular “Atticus Pund” mysteries.

For the most part, Horowitz (the original scriptwriter for TV’s Midsomer Murders) avoids common whodunit pitfalls like implausibility and cheating. The ease with which he links two seemingly unrelated crimes — one in “real” life and the other in the pages of a thriller — is also impressive.

I was able to predict the murderer of the cantankerous author. But I won’t boast because I was gobsmacked by the identity of the killer in the Pund portion of the book.

 

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“The great thing about Netflix right now is that it’s like a catapult, because they just want content and lots of it. Do they care so much about the quality? Less about it, and they should keep their eye on that.” – director Ridley Scott

 

So, so many of the movies on Netflix suck. Netflix’s acquisitions team doesn’t seem to care if you shot a found-footage thriller in two hours on an iPhone in your back yard, they just want to air it.

The real reason to subscribe to Netflix is to discover gems that would have been unavailable 15 years ago – especially foreign movies and series. Like La Casa de Papel (pictured above and below), an exciting new series from Spain. It’s a bit like Die Hard, but with empathy for the bad guys and the good guys.

It’s a cops-and-robbers show with an implausible plot, but paced and directed with such pizzazz that you don’t really care.

 

 

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It’s December 30, 2017, and I am two-thirds through Magpie Murders, and I hereby make the following prediction: Charles Clover is guilty of one of the murders.

 

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I live in a state (Minnesota) where some people boast that they enjoy the cold weather. These people are either a) bundled under so many layers of clothing that they are “outdoors” in theory only, or b) lying.

I wouldn’t worry about terrorism if I was one of the fools braving cold temperatures to celebrate the New Year in Times Square. Studies have shown that when the weather is cold enough, even criminals tend to stay home. No, I wouldn’t worry about bombs. I’d worry about my mental health.

 

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I don’t know if it’s the insane political atmosphere of 2017, or if I’m just getting old, but lately I’ve been drawn to conspiracy-theory shows. Shows like Wormwood (CIA shenanigans), 911: Truth, Lies and Conspiracies (“truthers”) and Unacknowledged (UFOs and aliens and pretty much everything else you can think of).

Just remember: It’s true that you’re not paranoid if they really are out to get you.

 

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She is a beauty. We’re looking forward to seeing the nude pictures once they hit the Internet.

 

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I watched part of Jupiter’s Darling (1955) on TCM, and now I know why we got the 1960s.

 

Although it must be said, the musical number in which a woman debates whether or not she’d like to be treated like one of a trainer’s elephants has a certain spunky charm.

 

 

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I am wondering which subject our government will keep hidden from us the longest: the Pentagon’s research on UFOs, or the list of congressmen who used taxpayer money to hush up their sex scandals.

 

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This photo of Hillary that was posted on Breitbart … you just know it’s gonna get photoshopped.

 

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Wormwood on Netflix

 

A mesmerizing docudrama about the shady doings of the CIA and its impact on one man’s family.

But it’s also a frustrating miniseries because, you know, CIA.

 

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Stupid Tweets

 

 

Oh, come now. Omaha isn’t the largest city, but it surely has theaters bigger than that.

 

 

Hmmm … must have been a pretty big freezer to make room for her and the dogs.

 

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grouchyeditor.com crooked pol

 

How come we aren’t hearing more about the secret fund that Congress set up to protect its members against sexual harassment claims?

Are the devious creeps in Washington hoping that we’ll eventually forget about it and the issue will just fade away?

 

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Today is December 16, 2017, and I have reached page 170 of the whodunit Magpie Murders. I hereby make this bold prediction:

Dr. Emilia Redwing dunit.

Well, she done at least one of the murders.

I did not cheat by looking ahead to the end of the book to find out whodunit.

 

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Fox’s Steve Hilton was either star-struck by guest Corey Lewandowski, or he’s still learning how to host an American cable-news show.

Either way, this gets our vote for Introduction of the Year:

 

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Do your part to help Tasmania’s economy: Watch Rosehaven (above) on Sundance.

 

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I keep wanting to call Don Lemon “little Donnie Darko” because it sounds insulting and I have no respect for him.

But it also sounds racist.

So I’d best not call him “little Donnie Darko.”

 

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TV Update

 

 

Shows I Hate to Love

 

There are good reasons to shun two of Netflix’s latest offerings, Dark and season two of The Crown. I have issues with both shows. But I watched all ten episodes of the German mystery Dark and am well into the second season of The Crown. They are both very, very well made. If you begin watching either of them, you are likely to get hooked — despite yourself.

 

 

Why I dislike Dark

 

It’s a time-travel fantasy show, and I generally like time-travel shows only when they are light and fun, like Back to the Future or Time After Time. As far as current science knows, time travel is not possible, and therefore the entire premise is silly. Yet Dark takes itself oh-so-seriously.

And there are a lot of characters. The show takes place in 2019, and in 1986, and in 1953. You must learn the names of characters in 2019, and of the same characters 33 years earlier, and of the same characters 33 years before that. The various characters in 1953, 1986, and 2019 are all played by different actors. And they are German actors, so they are unfamiliar.

The myriad characters all have complex relationships with one another. Once you finally feel comfortable with Ulrich in 2019, for example, you must learn what his father looked like in 1953, or whom Ulrich was dating in 1986, or which children he sired by which woman.

During your struggle to read subtitles and unravel scores of relationships between unfamiliar actors, you must also keep an eye out for clues to the central mystery: Who is kidnapping and killing kids in a small German village? We didn’t have to work this hard during Stranger Things.

 

Why I kept watching Dark

 

If you accept the silly premise, it’s an otherwise intelligent show. The cinematography and art direction are striking. The soundtrack, which alternates between ‘80s retro and some kind of eerie, modern, German contribution, is cool. The gloomy setting and mood are also cool.

 

Why I dislike The Crown

 

Why on Earth should any of us give a rat’s ass about the problems of rich, privileged, self-pitying royals? We shouldn’t. So what if their life isn’t trouble-free? Let them eat cake.

 

Why I keep watching The Crown

 

Living the life of a British royal is a seductive fantasy. If you can divorce your thoughts from the fact that these people actually exist, which isn’t always easy to do, this handsome, well-produced show will suck you in with its world cruises, slaves servants on hand to cater to your every whim, and that torrid sex scene between stars John Lithgow and Claire Foy.

OK, just kidding about that last one. Maybe.

 

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Uhhh … who?

 

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Voyeur

grouchyeditor.com Voyeur

 

This might be one case where the movie is better than the book. Famed journalist Gay Talese’s nonfiction account of a Colorado Peeping Tom was often a repetitious slog through the mind (and journal) of Gerald Foos, a motel owner who for years spied on unsuspecting guests through ceiling vents and then recorded his observations.

This documentary, on the other hand, is less about peeping and more about two old men who are both preoccupied with how they are and will be perceived by the rest of us. The juxtaposition of the proud and meticulous Talese with his partner in crime, the alternately insecure and self-aggrandizing Foos, as they strive to publish Foos’s perverse tale is an often-fascinating look at fame – and infamy – in America. Release: 2017 Grade: B+

 

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Nocturama

grouchyeditor.com Nocturama

 

Nocturama is stylish, beautifully shot, and has several scenes that are truly harrowing. But too bad the editor wasn’t in charge of things, because the movie also has a lot of sequences that drag on needlessly – especially during the first hour. Writer-director Bertrand Bonello’s premise is a good one: A group of disaffected young people are persuaded to plant bombs on the streets of Paris, and then hide out in an upscale department store while all hell breaks loose in the city. But in that first hour, Bonello’s camera dwells on every corner the kids pass, every elevator they use, and every subway change they make on their way to planting the bombs. Yet the rest of the film is a chilling portrait of what could come next in the form of terrorism.  Release: 2016 Grade: B+

 

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This was our prediction from a year ago:

 

 

OK, OK, so our timing was a little bit off. But still ….

 

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These are apples:

 

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As far as I’m concerned, there is only one “celebrity chef” – the man pictured above.

The rest of these guys are just cooks on TV.

 

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I just finished season three of Broadchurch, and I’ve come to the conclusion that Hardy and Miller (above) are the most entertaining crime-fighting duo since Blomkvist and Salander in the original The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

I’ve softened my view of Hardy (David Tennant), of whom I said in my original review: “My problem is with the lead detective.  … this guy is so relentlessly sour and unpleasant that I find myself sympathizing with anyone he encounters — including all of the murder suspects.”

Hey, this is The Grouchy Editor. I can’t hold a grudge against a fellow grouch.

 

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I wonder if Queen Elizabeth caught this episode of Suits, featuring her future granddaughter-in-law.

 

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I have a hard time shedding tears for the Big Shots losing their jobs over sex scandals. When I lose my job, or when you lose your job, that’s a problem. When Matt Lauer and Charlie Rose get axed, they lick their wounds while sitting on piles of cash.

 

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I suspect that the best, smartest people in America are people you never see on television, most likely because they avoid going on television.

 

In other words, turn off the TV because there is hope for all of us.

 

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Yeah. What the lady above said. In this article.

 

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