Spielberg

 

This retrospective about the famed filmmaker often resembles DVD commentary tracks in which everyone involved with a movie kisses the director’s ass. Of course, in this case the director is worthy of much praise, but still … it gets old.

Speaking of old, maybe it’s my age and nostalgia for my misspent youth, but I’ve always preferred early, “immature” Spielberg to later, “mature” Spielberg. Yes, his more-adult dramas are well done, but other directors can do that. Conversely, no one’s been able to match the excitement of Spielberg’s early roller-coaster rides. Release: 2017  Grade: B

 

© 2010-2017 grouchyeditor.com (text only)

Share

 

Tucker’s Face

 

They say that women who use Botox tend to have frozen, perpetual smiles. The weird thing about Tucker Carlson is his frozen, perpetual scowl.

Tucker’s guest could be discussing nuclear warfare, or his guest could be describing how to tie a shoelace – Tucker has this expression:

 

.                                             

 

Why am I reminded of prehistoric man?

 

.                                             

 

 

**

 

Here is a little quiz:

 

Scenario 1:  Donald Trump plays golf with a bunch of fellow millionaires and billionaires, his buddies and peers. They tease him about whether, now that he’s supposedly the most powerful man on the planet, he can do anything for them.

Scenario 2:  Donald Trump, after downing a plate of Kentucky Fried Chicken, meets a group of unemployed coal miners. They ask him about whether, now that he’s supposedly the most powerful man on the planet, he can do anything for them.

Question:  When Donald lies in bed at night and contemplates his vast power, which of the two groups do you think he would more like to please?

 

**

 

Dumb Quote of the Week

 

“Our stomachs are empty … Survivor is no joke. I mean, we’re not joking when we say if we don’t get food today we might die.”Survivor contestant Ashley

 

Sure, because the CBS camera crew and the medical team stationed just a few feet away from you – not to mention the network’s legal department — would like nothing more than to watch you starve to death.

 

**

 

Apparently U.S. and Japanese leaders are engaged in some kind of competition to see who can look more foolish in public.

As you might recall, in 1992, George Bush puked on the lap of his host, the prime minister of Japan.

 

 

 

Not to be outdone by Bush, last week, Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe slipped on a political banana peel, doing this comical back flip while golfing with Trump.

 

**

 

I was hoping to find a little escape from all the bad news in America, and so I surfed to The Hollywood Reporter to find a review of Murder on the Orient Express.

This is what greeted me on the main page:

 

 

© 2010-2017 grouchyeditor.com (text only)

Share

Rob Lowe’s cockiness wouldn’t last long.

 

Poor Hollywood. As if new sex scandals every day weren’t enough, its favorite sports team went and lost the World Series. Poor Hollywood. (Tee hee hee!)

 

Mila Kunis got knocked off her perch.

 

**

 

 

I was a bit harsh last week when I called Stranger Things overhyped and mediocre. I stand by the overhyped part, but after watching the final two episodes of the second season, I think “mediocre” is a tad cruel.

I can see why kids would love this show. I probably would have loved it when I was a kid. It has a lot of fun characters and some memorable scenes.

From a jaded-adult standpoint, it’s a story that’s littered with ridiculous episodes. But it’s mostly entertaining.

So I’m revising my opinion, just a bit:

 

Kid Grade:  A

Jaded-Adult Grade:  B-

 

**

 

This photo of a previously unknown woman named Anok Yai went viral last week:

 

 

Geez … how could it not?

 

© 2010-2017 grouchyeditor.com (text only)

Share

 

Harvey Weinstein gets in trouble with the starlets. George Bush gets in trouble with his “David Cop-a-Feel” routine. But Howard Stern, the King of All Sexual Harassment, never seems to get in trouble.

Stern has been copping feels and scandalizing women for as long as I can remember. The difference between Howard and Harvey and George? Somehow, the “shock jock” persuades his female guests that a little bare-bottomed humiliation is their idea.

And their husbands and boyfriends are just as game and/or gullible, offering up their ladies to Howard’s altar of ass.

Stern’s 1992 video Butt Bongo Fiesta is a monument to bad taste, with cringe-worthy racism, misogyny, and homophobia all competing for attention. Not to mention scatological humor. Much of the video is, well, unwatchable. But I do like the parts presented below.

(The quality isn’t great on these clips, but hey, they are lifted from an ancient, hard-to-find VHS tape, and so ….)

 

Marie

 

 

Marie told Howard that she is a housewife and a real estate developer. She and her spouse “represent your more middle-of-the-road American couple,” she claimed, but Howard was skeptical. “I bet you do,” he said.

The kinky housewife revealed that she and hubby sometimes enjoy spanking sessions. For this video, Howard got to join the fun.

 

.                     

 

In these screen captures, Howard nearly tongues a piece of ass. Hubby doesn’t mind. Wifey seems not to notice.

 

.                     

.                     

 

The cameraman zooms in so that viewers can enjoy a close-up of Marie’s bare — and quite red — cheeks:

 

 

We’re not sure if Marie had an orgasm during her spanking session. It seems like a possibility. Here is the video:

 

Stacy

 

 

Stacy was a 21-year-old blonde whose long-haired boyfriend wanted to bongo her butt for Howard.

Below, Howard takes a peek at Stacy’s blonde bush and persuades her to remove her g-string:

 

.                     

 

Howard examined Stacy’s bare backside and quipped, “My goodness — anybody want a roast-beef sandwich?”

 

 

Stacy’s video:

 

 

Jessica

 

 

Jessica Hahn achieved infamy when her sex scandal with televangelist Jim Bakker made headlines in 1987. The former church secretary then prolonged her 15 minutes of fame by debasing herself for Howard and by posing, naturally, for Playboy magazine (below).

 

 

 

In the video below, Ms. Hahn spreads her limbs for a sketch in Butt Bongo Fiesta:

 

 

And here she is in a segment about the vagina. Notice how the cameraman cannot resist zooming in on hers.

 

 

If you’d like to watch the entire video – not exactly recommended – it can be found here or here on YouTube.

 

 

© 2010-2017 grouchyeditor.com (text only)

Share

(Scroll down for an explanation of these breasts)

 

**

 

 

The hell with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. Take a look at what these gals were up to in 1944:

 

 

 

**

 

Here’s the thing about an awful lot of modern TV shows and movies: They are often intelligent, socially relevant, well-acted, well-shot, hip, snarky, suspenseful, gory, sarcastic, or shocking.

But there’s one adjective I rarely use for the new stuff, and that’s “enjoyable.”

I can admire a show like Mindhunter, and I can learn things from a series like The Deuce. But I’m not sure I can say I “enjoy” either of them.

That’s why I like Rosehaven, Detectorists, and Doc Martin – they are enjoyable.

You might have noticed that those three shows have something else in common: None of them are American.

 

**

 

The cameramen at CBS seem to have settled on their favorite Survivor contestant. This year, it’s Alexandrea “Ali” Elliott, pictured below and at the top of this post.

 

 

 

 

 

**

 

 

 

I think I speak for all Americans when I say we are grateful that there is yet another country – or region, or whatever the hell it is – in the world of which we had previously given absolutely no thought, but of which we are now expected to become well-versed.

 

**

 

Coming Soon to a Headline Near You:

 

Media Investigates Senate Committee Tasked with Investigating Investigator Robert Mueller

 

**

 

Looking for something scary to watch on Halloween? Something that isn’t overhyped and mediocre, like Netflix’s Stranger Things?

 

 

© 2010-2017 grouchyeditor.com (text only)

Share

by Vicki Baum

grouchyeditor.com Grand Hotel

 

Grand Hotel is of most interest as a cultural time capsule from the 1920s. Ninety years ago, what sort of novel captured the public’s imagination?

First published in 1929 and later an Oscar-winning film with Greta Garbo, Joan Crawford, and the Barrymore brothers, Grand is about guests at a ritzy Berlin hotel whose lives intertwine briefly, with both romantic and tragic results. It’s the same kind of overwrought soap opera that grips many readers today, with illicit affairs, lust-filled men, fading celebrity, and the vain struggle to stave off aging and death. Baum’s writing is often sentimental and melodramatic, but her characters are timeless.

 

© 2010-2017 grouchyeditor.com (text only)

Share

 

Why Women Scare Me

 

The Brides of Dracula was on TCM this week. I first saw this 1960 Hammer Films classic when I was a kid, and it made a lasting impression. Obviously. I wouldn’t be writing about it today if it hadn’t.

If there is a better opening 30 minutes featuring frightening women on film, I’m not sure what it might be. When I saw this thing as a kid, I was mesmerized by the unholy duo of Martita Hunt and Freda Jackson as the Baroness Meinster and her longtime servant Greta, respectively. I remain mesmerized.

 

Jackson, center, and Hunt, right, minding their manners

 

Hunt, still minding her manners

 

Hunt, forgetting herself

 

Jackson helping a friend make her societal debut

 

**

 

Speaking of women in vampire movies … Alyssa Milano is in the news again. Did you know that Alyssa once starred in a vampire movie? I didn’t either.

Normally, the vampire sinks his teeth into his victims. In this movie, the vampire sinks something else into Alyssa:

 

 

**

 

I am digging the latest Hot New Thing in Hollywood: the drone shot. Just about all recent TV shows and movies make use of it, and for good reason: soaring, breathtaking views of forests, mountains, skyscrapers.

 

**

 

“Dilly dilly” — Bud Light

 “Badda book badda boom” — Choice Hotels

 

I used to think that jingles were the most annoying thing about television commercials. But that was before someone decided that Americans find baby-talk highly amusing.

 

**

 

 

It’s a tad tiresome listening to talking heads like Fox’s Neil Cavuto defend tax cuts for the rich by claiming that the “well to do” (Cavuto’s preferred term, along with “successful”) pay a disproportionate share of taxes.

OK, Neil, but you always leave out the part about the rich having a disproportionate share of the world’s wealth.

 

© 2010-2017 grouchyeditor.com (text only)

Share

 

On the surface, there are few good reasons to recommend Mindhunter, the new ten-part series on Netflix. In this golden age of television, with its hundreds of channels and scores of new series, it often feels like half of these shows are serial-killer cop procedurals. Alas, Mindhunter is yet one more.

There is also a glut of serial-killer feature films, but a handful of them stand out. I am thinking of The Silence of the Lambs. I am also thinking Mindhunter stands apart. Here are a few reasons why:

 

1)  It’s a David Fincher project. Fincher, the director responsible for Zodiac and Se7en, executive produces and directs four of Mindhunter’s episodes (the first two and the last two). The man knows how to inject flair and originality into a tired genre.

 

Left to right: Groff, Torv, and McCallany 

 

2)  The show is exceptionally well cast. Jonathan Groff, Holt McCallany, and Anna Torv play FBI agents who comprise the vanguard of serial-killer profiling in the late 1970s. I wasn’t familiar with any of these actors, but I am now.

Groff in particular is a pleasant surprise. Early on, I was afraid his bland agent Ford was as colorless as his omnipresent business suits, but I quickly got over that. Groff and sharp writers add unexpected dimensions to this deceptively boyish-looking profiler.

3) Ford’s jail-room encounters with various serial killers – all of them based on real-life murderers – are riveting. It’s like Clarice Starling having weekly shrink sessions with variations of Hannibal Lecter. You are not likely to soon forget hulking actor Cameron Britton (pictured at top) as the notorious “coed killer” Ed Kemper.

If there is a downside to Mindhunter, it would be its drawn-out expository scenes, in which everyone seems quite impressed by the FBI team’s “revelations” about the criminal mindset. The show’s writers hope to convince us that serial-killer profiling was more revolutionary than it actually was, and that 1970s law enforcement and the general public were, apparently, quite the credulous bunch. 

But I was around in the 1970s and I remember the era well. Criminal psychology had been an object of fascination for a long time by then. If you don’t believe that, check out the final scene of Psycho.   Grade: A-

 

 

Creator: Joe Penhall  Cast: Jonathan Groff, Holt McCallany, Hannah Gross, Anna Torv, Cotter Smith, Sonny Valicenti, Stacey Roca, Cameron Britton, Joe Tuttle, Happy Anderson  Premiere: 2017

 

 

 

© 2010-2017 grouchyeditor.com (text only)

Share

 

Curb Your Enthusiasm – The good news is that it’s great to see the old gang again. The bad news is that, at least through the first two episodes, it appears that the writers have lost their edge.

Then again, I thought the same thing a few years ago after I binge-watched the entire series; it went downhill after the first few seasons.

 

**

 

Apparently, there was some fuss about film producer Harvey Weinstein this week. I turned to Google to learn more, and this popped up:

 

 

Doesn’t seem so bad. When times are tough, don’t we all just fly to Europe for sex?

OK, so that’s a lame attempt at humor. But since Kimmel and Fallon and Saturday Night Live are all afraid to do Weinstein jokes, somebody has to pick up the slack.

 

**

 

You turn on a football game to enjoy a few concussions and … aarrgghh, politics.

You turn to a Matt Damon movie to enjoy some mindless violence and … aarrgghh, politics.

Ditto for sitcoms, talk shows, and the Internet.

It’s to the point that if you want to absorb some good fiction, you have to turn to cable news.

 

© 2010-2017 grouchyeditor.com (text only)

Share

The Survivalist

 

Like the similar-themed apocalyptic thriller The Road, The Survivalist is relentlessly grim. A bearded hermit lives in the woods, planting seeds and arranging tin cans as a primitive alarm system to warn him of potential marauders. Nothing much happens in his Robinson Crusoe existence until one fateful day when two women appear at his cabin. This is a well-made film, well-directed and well-acted, and despite an unhurried pace it’s generally absorbing. But that sluggish pace and the pervasive gloom of the story, while realistic, also produce a movie that at times feels like an endurance test. Release: 2016 Grade: B

 

**

 

El Bar

 

Unlike The Survivalist, The Bar is fast-paced, infused with humor, and over the top. After two men are inexplicably mowed down outside the door of a humble Madrid café, a small group of customers find themselves trapped inside. Is there a sniper in a nearby building? Are there more targets in their midst? And why have the two corpses been dragged away? It’s a fun premise, and Alex de la Iglesia directs the action with gusto. But by the time star Blanca Suarez gets stuck in a drainage hole because her boobs are too big to slide through the opening (below), The Bar becomes downright silly. Release: 2017 Grade: B-

 

.                                                   

                                                          How not to slip through a drainage hole

 

**

 

Life

grouchyeditor.com Life

 

Life won’t win any awards for originality, but hey, if you’re going to copy, at least this movie copies from the best. We get bits of Gravity, bits of Predator, and a whole lot of Alien. If you like those science-fiction/horror classics, you will likely enjoy Life, which borrows and expands on several of its predecessors’ best ideas. The plot: Jake Gyllenhaal and a small group of fellow astronauts must destroy a hostile alien organism before it makes its way to Earth – with or without the astronauts. Sound familiar? I will say this: For a movie that steals so blatantly from the classics, Life’s twist ending is both original and clever. Release: 2017 Grade: B

 

© 2010-2017 grouchyeditor.com (text only)

Share