The Meg

 

Popcorn movies like The Meg, in which a giant shark terrorizes people at an ocean research facility, used to be a lot more fun. Those older movies were also silly, of course, but they had a sort of careless charm. I’m thinking of flicks like Deep Blue Sea. These days, popcorn movies seem weighed down by conscientiousness. Does The Meg have a diverse cast? Check. Does it have Chinese stars to please the all-important Asian market? Check. Are there pricey special effects? You got it.

Sadly, last on the filmmaking checklist is any sense of originality or creativity. Instead, we get borrowed bits and pieces of superior movies, like Jaws and The Abyss and yes, even Deep Blue Sea. The good news? If your brain needs a rest, you needn’t bother following The Meg’s plot, because you’ve seen it all before. Release: 2018 Grade: C-

 

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“The Ted Baxter Award”

 

.

          Williams                              Baxter                                 Scott

 

I used to believe that NBC’s lantern-jawed cockatiel Brian Williams had a lock on “The Ted Baxter Award,” with his tilted-head, squinty-eyed, oh-so-serious delivery. But then I watched last Sunday’s Fox Report Weekend with Jon Scott.

 

 

Here is Jon telling viewers what to expect at the Department of Homeland Security after the ouster of Kirstjen Nielsen:

 

 

Here is Jon thanking reporter John White House for reporting from the Roberts:

 

 

Jon struggles a bit with his timeline:

 

 

And finally, Jon has trouble with correspondent Casey Stegall:

 

 

 

**

 

We recently complained about the scarcity of quality new TV shows. That complaint stands. But a couple of returning shows are just as good as ever: Killing Eve, which is fairly routine as a spy drama but with moments of comic genius, and Unforgotten on PBS, which is always absorbing.

 

 

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We get a lot of review requests along with links to private “screeners.” Mostly, these are low-budget movies so dreadful that they don’t even appear on Netflix or Amazon Prime – yet.  They have titles like Luciferina and The Haunting of Mia Moss and, in this case, Terror 5.

Often the movies are unfinished: The soundtrack might not match the video, the credits have yet to be added, that sort of thing. But occasionally these films have a certain rustic charm; the spirit of Ed Wood living on.

 

Terror 5

 

 

Terror 5, produced in 2016 but just now getting a video release, is an Argentinean horror film that follows several story threads with one key theme: revenge. Revenge on bad teachers, revenge on corrupt politicians, revenge on mean-spirited “friends,” and revenge, apparently, on one very naked couple.

The movie is a bit incoherent – there are apocalyptic zombies on the loose; I’m not at all sure why — but it’s never boring.  This is the IMDB plot description:

 

Storyline

While most of the residents of a small Argentinian town attend a funeral procession following a tragic building collapse, the few who do not will face terrors of their own in this mashup of urban legends from brother- filmmakers Sebastián and Federico Rotstein. Think bondage, torture, zombies…and governmental corruption. Juan goes on a date with Sonia to a school where students get even with teachers. Luco and Paulo create an elaborate plan to swap girlfriends. Two lovers escape into a motel for a night of passion, while a group of friends enjoys a snuff film. As their primal urges distract them all, local officials are judged innocent of the neglect that caused the building collapse-and then the horror really begins.

 

One of the bright spots is actress Cecilia Cartasegna as “Gabriela,” a young woman who, after having sweaty, angry sex with her boyfriend, learns that their motel rendezvous is not as private as she had thought.

We e-mail interviewed Cecilia about her role in the film. (English is not her first language, but we thought her occasional grammatical slips were cute, so we left them in):

 

 

Cecilia Cartasegna

 

Grouch:  I thought you were very good in the film. I’d say that your character, Gabriela, and the man in the Joker makeup were probably the most memorable. Thank you for doing this short interview.

Cecilia:  Thank you! I love this movie.

Grouch:  The main theme of the movie seems to be justice: Revenge on corrupt politicians, revenge on cruel friends, and revenge on bad teachers. [Spoiler Alert!] But why were Gabriela and Hernan killed? What was their sin?

Cecilia:  I think their death was not about any sin, was a symptom of the horror in society.  No one is safe anywhere! Not even on the most intimate moment. Every character in this movie in deeply human and a sinner though. Every character is either corrupt, or coward or unjust, greedy. This two do not enjoy sex, it is awkward and bumpy.  They are both being used. I don’t think they even like each other. 

 

Above, Cecilia with actor Julian Larquier, who seems to be enjoying his work

 

Grouch:  It was ironic the way the men in masks were watching you have sex from behind the mirror, while at the same time the audience is watching you on a movie screen. How do you feel about an audience seeing you in such intimate scenes?

Cecilia:  This wasn’t my first intimate scene, usually nudity doesn’t ashamed me. But the first time I saw the movie was at a festival in Mar del Plata, on spring, it was chilly but nice weather. When the movie ended and we went up front for the Q&A, I took my friend’s sweater and I put it in on, the biggest sweater ever!  There is a look people have when they just saw you naked and it was a big audience…

Grouch:  The sex between you and your boyfriend seemed very realistic. Was it simulated or real?

Cecilia:  Julian Larquier is an awesome partner and we talked a lot because we were worried about the reality in the scene. It is really disappointing when while seeing a movie you notice the actors uncomfortable, the sheets carefully and strategically covering the bodies. We try to make it seems real. But it wasn’t. There was many days of shooting for that scene, no one last that long and no one should. Sorry to brake the illusion. 

Grouch:  Was it difficult to do so much of your scenes without clothes?

Cecilia:  It was difficult to stay focused, it was a situational scene, so the acting was about the situation. There was not an emotional story to perform. A small part of me was always thinking “you are naked, you are naked, you are naked.” 

Grouch:  What’s next for you? Any more horror movies? Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Cecilia:  I love horror movies! When the story that is told is fantasy, the acting must expand and other tools became necessary because even though it is not real must feel real for the viewers.

Now it is at post production “To Kill the Dragon” directed by Jimena Monteoliva. It is like a faery tale nightmare. It is my second movie with her. The first one was “Clementina” a psychological thriller filled with ghost and blood.

I hope there are many genre films in my future. I would love to shoot all over the world. This is a big moment for genre.

 

**

 

Let’s face it: A good number of you readers have no intention of ever watching Terror 5. It’s a low-budget, subtitled horror movie with a confusing plot and cheesy special effects.

You probably do, however, want to see more of saucy Ms. Cartasegna in her birthday suit. So here are a few more screen captures and, better yet, a seven-minute clip of the actress’s nude scenes in the movie:

 

“There is a look people have when they just saw you naked, and it was a big audience.”

 

Here is the movie clip:

 

 

Finally, we should mention that at the end of our interview, we had a request for Cecilia. We told her that contributor Rip van Dinkle is a fan, and would she leave a comment for him at one of our small-penis-pageant stories? We sent her this link … and never heard back.

 

 

Said a dejected Rip (pictured above): “It’s too bad. I guess she didn’t like what she saw in the story, assuming she read it. It’s a shame because I think we have something in common: She has diminuto tetas, and I have diminuto pene. And we both have spectacular butts.”

 

Well … he’s half right:

 

 

 

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by G.K. Chesterton

 

Chesterton was obviously influenced by Arthur Conan Doyle when he penned these eight short stories, with Horne Fisher a variation on Sherlock Holmes and journalist Harold March in the role of Dr. Watson. In each story, some sort of crime is committed, usually a murder, and everyone is flummoxed save the wise and world-weary Fisher. Alas, unlike the cocaine-ingesting, violin-playing Holmes, Fisher is a bit too enigmatic to make a strong impression. (Chesterton also created priest-detective “Father Brown,” a character who has better stood the test of time.)

Chesterton’s stories are also heavily invested in the politics of the day (the 1920s). But this intermingling of mystery and social issues dilutes the overall effect. The suspense is interrupted by political digressions, and the politics aren’t explored enough to resonate.

 

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I stopped watching baseball years ago because a) it bores me, and b) my hometown team sucks.

But have you seen this dude?

 

The best of Willians Astudillo

 

I might have to start following the Twins again, just because of him.

 

**

 

Two expressions I’ve heard more than enough:

 

On immigration: “Congress needs to act.”

It hasn’t acted on immigration for decades, it doesn’t want to act on immigration, so don’t waste your breath.

 

On the economy: “If there’s one thing that Wall Street hates, it’s uncertainty.”

Yeah, because everyone else is so fond of uncertainty.

 

**

 

 

Apparently we are so on top of 2019 problems that we now feel the need to resurrect 1960s problems. 

 

**

 

I guess Donald Trump and Joe Biden are very much in sync. Trump grabbed pussies because, in his words, women “let you do it.” Biden gropes women and children because, well, they let him do it.

(By the way, that “let you do it” part — isn’t that what we call “consent”?)

More interesting, at least to me, is this business of Biden swimming naked in front of female secret service agents.

 

**

 

Speaking of exposed skin, if you Google-search Emily Compagno, the latest pin-up queen on Fox News, you will see this picture:

 

 

These days, you never know what’s real and what’s been photo shopped. But those are such fine-looking butt cheeks, let’s just assume they belong to the former Raiders cheerleader.

 

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What’s that old adage — “Never meet your heroes,” because you’re bound to be disappointed?

I think I’d update that for 2019:  “Never read your heroes’ Tweets.”

 

It was … interesting … the way certain very vocal celebrities suddenly wanted to change the subject away from politics when the long-awaited Mueller report was turned in:

 

 

 

**

 

Speaking of Twitter, I still don’t completely understand the etiquette, or rules, or whatever the hell it is we’re supposed to do. Take, for example, this Tweet:

 

 

Now, does this mean that 52 people are quite pleased that Larry Cohen is dead? Confusing.

 

**

 

I could be wrong about this. I hope I’m wrong about this. But I suspect that we’ve gone past “peak TV” and are now sliding downhill.

There are more shows than ever, but I can’t find a single new series that really grabs me.

 

**

 

It’s nigh impossible to find a columnist who can write about politics these days and actually be funny. I think this guy pulled it off.

 

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If you’ve seen the Volvo commercial, then you know the voice. Once you’ve heard it, it’s impossible to banish it from your head.

In the ad, an other-worldly, tinny, high-pitched voice implores us to “be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best to make you everybody else.”

It sounds like some fun-house god issuing instructions to mankind over a cheap megaphone. Listen up:

 

 

That voice gave me goose bumps, but I wasn’t quite sure why. Then I remembered. I’d heard that voice before, and so had poor Doris Day in 1960’s Midnight Lace:

 

 

**

 

 

Listen, I’m not into guns. But for some reason, I find this short video of Daily Caller reporter Stephanie Hamill (above) both disturbing and mesmerizing:

 

 

**

 

 

Journalist Allysia Finley, pictured above, has an, ah, interesting way of speaking:

 

 

Makes me wonder if she’s related to, ah, this guy:

 

 

**

 

Now that the Ferris Bueller report has finally been completed, we can all get back to normal.

Ha ha ha.

Sadly, these words of wisdom from Reuters’s Jeff Mason are much more likely:

“The fact that there is a conclusion is a start.”

 

**

 

 

Far be it from us to hold a grudge, but after we were promised an interview with the female star of the new movie Long Lost and were then snubbed by said actress, well, let’s just say it was a very sad day at The Grouchy Editor office.

We can’t imagine why Catherine Corcoran, who is actually quite good in the movie (that’s her pictured above; our review is here), developed cold feet over our interview. Could it be that she feared we might ask about her Carrie-inspired nude scene in Return to Nuke ’em High (below)?

 

 

Or did she suspect that we might compliment her on her Instagram posts, like this one?

 

 

Perhaps she didn’t care for this question in our interview: “That hanging upside-down business in Terrifier – were you ever in danger of passing out from all the downward blood flow?”

 

 

But most likely, she felt burned by glowing “tributes” like this one from Mr. Skin:

 

 

Goodness. We would never be that crude and vulgar.

Would we?

 

**

 

Let’s check in one more time with poor Doris Day and the Voice from Hell:

 

 

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Long Lost

 

A young man receives an invitation to visit his long-lost half-brother at his posh country house — but there are nasty surprises in store for the family reunion.

Long Lost is a decent enough erotic thriller marred by an unconvincing twist ending. A movie twist, if it’s to be a good one, has just two requirements: It has to be surprising, and it should be at least somewhat plausible. Long Lost’s big reveal is certainly unexpected. But is it realistic? Not really.

Still, the movie is entertaining thanks to an intense, creepy turn from actor Nicholas Tucci (above), who personifies a cliché that I am loath to use but that fits perfectly here: toxic masculinity. Release: 2019 Grade: C+

 

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This decision to blur a mass killer’s face so that he doesn’t get the attention he seeks might be well-intentioned, but it’s also moronic. It just guarantees that everyone will rush to the Internet to find out what the nutcase looks like.

 

**

 

Broadcast News

 

Cock your head to one side, look sad, and you, too, can be a big-time anchor

 

Many, many moons ago, Yours Truly was a young journalism student. I know, I know; that sucks, but there you have it.

Anyway, we learned in school that there are two kinds of journalists: the print media kind, and the TV kind. The print-media journalists mostly toiled away in low-paid obscurity, spending days or even weeks on important stories that maybe 16 people would read. The TV journalists would read these stories in the newspaper and then use them to craft three-minute segments about whatever issue the story discussed.

That’s how TV journalists got their story ideas: from someone else.

One day in my misbegotten reporter’s youth I found myself seated at a table at some important, government-type meeting, directly across from Dallas’s hot-shot television news anchor, a pompous ass named Chip Moody. While I took copious, laborious notes about the meeting, Moody sat with a smirk on his face, doodling on a scrap of paper. He didn’t take notes; he barely heard what was being discussed.

He knew that all he had to do was show up, and the glamour and money would follow.

 

 

They do make lots of money, so maybe, unlike the buffoon played by William Hurt in Broadcast News, TV anchors aren’t so stupid after all.

Nah, most of them are clowns.

 

**

 

It does seem like nearly all of our institutions – academics, courts, legislatures, media, Hollywood, medicine, big business, and whatever else I’m forgetting – are crumbling. They all seem to be run by corrupt people with too much power.

What’s the other thing they all have in common? The Baby Boomers are in charge.

Pretty sure Chip Moody was a Baby Boomer.

 

**

 

Something a print journalist would notice and a TV journalist would not:

 

 

Not sure why dog owners are so prone to nonstop barking, but jail time seems appropriate.

 

**

 

The fun part about having so many Democrat candidates for president? Watching most of them crash and burn.

Lord knows what kind of scandals and embarrassments we have to look forward to.

 

**

 

Say what you will about Bill Maher – and you will say what you will about Bill Maher – but he’s not boring. One week he’s just another whiny little bitch; the next week he’s one of the few liberal talking heads with a scattering of brain cells.

 

**

 

 

CBS cameramen continue to do an admirable job tracking the progress of their favorite Survivor contestant, young Lauren O’Connell (above right and below).

 

 

**

 

 

 

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John Mulaney hosted Saturday Night Live and made me do something I did not expect to do:  laugh. More than once.

The “Cha Cha Slide” (above) was just brilliant.

 

Alas, now that Mulaney’s gone, I suppose it’s back to this tired, lame routine:

 

 

 

**

 

I guess there are worse things than casting Brie Larson as Captain Marvel.

But come on now. What really makes America great, comic-book heroes or Brie Larson in scenes like these?

 

 

 

**

 

 

Cunning linguist. You have to say it real fast. You see, it … oh screw it.

 

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