Monthly Archives: November 2012

Versailles1

 

In these contentious times, during which the “99 percent” seem to have no use for the “1 percent” — and vice versa — it’s tempting to prepare for The Queen of Versailles by polishing a bayonet and rehearsing the line, “Off with their heads!”  The stars of this documentary are, after all, a filthy-rich husband and wife in the process of building the world’s largest vanity project, a 90,000-square-foot private home in Orlando, Florida.  This monument to excess is rising up within shouting distance of that mecca of the common people, Disney World.  Billionaire businessman David Siegel and his trophy wife, Jaqueline, liked what they saw in France and decided to recreate the famed French palace as their very own American dream home.

During the course of the film, we learn how David got rich in the timeshare business, which often involves selling pricey apartments to regular folks who don’t have much cash.  We also listen to David boast that it was his influence that got George Bush elected in 2000.  So the irony was heavy when Bush policies later contributed to the financial crisis that now threatens Siegel’s two Xanadus — his unfinished mansion in Florida, and Westgate Resorts, a timeshare high-rise in Las Vegas — because Siegel cannot raise enough cash.

 

Jackie and her children, Orlando, Florida©Lauren Greenfield 2011/INSTITUTE

 

So yes, it’s tempting to snicker when things go sour for the Siegels.  Except … it’s not that simple.  Director Lauren Greenfield dampens our glee by demonstrating that the Siegels, tacky as they might be, are not all that different from the rest of us.  They both come from modest backgrounds, and David is nothing if not hard-working.  When his (admittedly grandiose) dreams begin to fade, he is philosophical and maintains a sense of humor.  He wants his kids, all eight of them, to turn off the damned lights when they leave a room.

Meanwhile, wife Jackie is a compulsive shopper who, according to her husband, is in reality the ninth child in his household.  Former model Jackie means well, but seems clueless about her effect on others.

Watching this film, I was reminded of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s line in The Great Gatsby, in which he describes Tom and Daisy, a privileged pair who are not intentionally destructive:

“They were careless people, Tom and Daisy — they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made.”        Grade:  B+

 

Queen of Versailles, Jackie Siegel

 

Director:  Lauren Greenfield  Featuring:  David Siegel, Jackie Siegel, Virginia Nebab  Release:  2012

 

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                                                Watch the Trailer (click here)

 

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Chicago

 

When Chicago was awarded a Best Picture Oscar ten years ago, a certain segment of the population was thrilled.  Could this mean that the musical was back?  Well … not so much, and not for long.  Check out Richard Gere and Catherine Zeta-Jones in this Jazz Age musical by clicking here.

 

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 Poopyheads

 

“The president was … elected on the basis that he was not Romney and Romney was a poopyhead and you should vote against Romney.”

I tried to find a picture of a real poopyhead to go along with this Grover Norquist quote, but I am not sure what a genuine poopyhead looks like.  I suspect it looks a lot like Grover Norquist, so here is a picture of him.

 

Norquist

 

“Tractor Supply [Company], that’s not a real thing, right?” — precious poopyhead Toure (below) on The Cycle last week, proving that privileged, clueless liberals are alive and well in TV punditry-land.

 

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Jonathan Alter — dude, you’re not fooling anyone with that pathetic comb-over.  We can tell that you are a bald poopyhead.

 

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The Grouch finally caved and bought his first flat-screen, high-definition TV, along with a Blu-ray player.  His first impression?  The clearest, most striking images are all in the commercials.

 

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Shows that the media love but hardly any real people watch:  The Colbert Report and Girls.  Below, Gawker’s comparison of Girls and Veep, which is another new series on HBO.

 

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Janet

 

During Obama’s visit to Staten Island last week, I noticed Chris Christie standing in the president’s entourage.  Turns out it wasn’t Chris Christie.  It was Janet Napolitano, above left with her back to the camera.  My apologies to … somebody.

 

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 by Joe Queenan

Queenan

 

Humorist Queenan, now in his 60s, says he occasionally visits the suburban Philadelphia library that he patronized in his youth, and where a librarian from that era, one Edith Prout, still toils among the shelves.  One of Queenan’s books is stocked on those shelves.  “Edith herself isn’t all that taken with my work,” Queenan tells us.  “Too cynical, she says.  Too snarky.”

I think Edith might have a point.  Although Queenan’s homage to the book, in which he writes lovingly not just of his collection’s content but also of each title’s importance as a symbol of treasured moments in his life, is often funny, sometimes poignant, and frequently biting,  I think One for the Books is probably best read in bits and pieces, rather than all at once – too much snarkiness can be hazardous to your health.

 

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ChloeFF

 

I don’t understand how Amanda Seyfried keeps landing big parts in major motion pictures.  OK, let me rephrase that:  I don’t understand how Amanda Seyfried keeps landing speaking parts in major motion pictures – she certainly has the requisite looks.  Luckily, this 2010 thriller also stars acting pros Liam Neeson and Julianne Moore.  Read my review here, or watch it for free by clicking here.

 

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Cheeky1

 

It’s not easy being a “butt man” in a boobies world.  When it comes to flesh and the female form in movies, the breast has always reigned supreme and, as a result, the butt man is often left behind.

So it was with a combination of cautious optimism and scholarly interest that I watched Cheeky!, Italian director Tinto Brass’s homage to the perky posterior.  The movie was okay, but Brass’s comments in a DVD behind-the-scenes interview were heartening to all devotees of the derriere.

“I would like to propose myself to television with a  program,” said the 67-year-old auteur.  “There are some who read your palm.  I’d like to go there [television] and read your ass.  I would like to call it Not Just Vagina.  Can you just imagine the success?”

 

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Like any connoisseur of the caboose, Brass gave a great deal of thought to the subject of his movie before the cameras rolled for Cheeky!  The director cast Ukrainian actress Yuliya Mayarchuk in the pivotal role of Carla, a young Venetian who learns that cheating on her boyfriend adds spice to their previously lackluster love life.  In Mayarchuk, Brass found a willing accomplice toward his goal of shedding light on the psychology of modern women.

“Each woman is the ass that she has,” Brass says.  “Actually, in addition, the ass is the mirror of the soul; in this specific case, it’s the mirror of that gorgeous Slavic soul, Yuliya Mayarchuk, who’s the lead actress of the movie.”

 

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Although Mayarchuk was an acting unknown when the film was released in 2000, Brass had a hunch that her moon was about to rise.  “She’s very good-natured, she has a great temperament, and she has a very cute little ass,” said the aesthetically minded filmmaker.  Brass’s intent with Cheeky! was, first and foremost, to advance the cause of feminism through the character of Carla:  “She’s a modern woman who is fully aware of her sexuality and sensuality, and of her right to enjoy it without subduing herself to a chauvinist mentality,” he said.

Just as that other cinematic giant, Alfred Hitchcock, inserted himself into his own films via cameo appearances, Brass inserted himself, and his finger, into both the movie and his young starlet.  This occurs during a scene crucial to the plot in which … well, all right, perhaps the scene isn’t crucial to the plot.  But Brass was intent on exploring bigger issues:

 

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“It’s an old habit, a fixation of mine, a belief that in order to discover women’s lies, all you just have to do is look at their ass.  Because, as opposed to the face, which is a hypocrite mask capable of faking and lies, the ass doesn’t lie.”

Or, to paraphrase the Eagles, you can’t hide your lying ass.        Grade:  B

 

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Director:  Tinto Brass  Cast:  Yuliya Mayarchuk, Jarno Berardi, Francesca Nunzi, Max Parodi, Mauro Lorenz, Leila Carli, Chiara Gobbato  Release:  2000

 

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Above, director Brass gives star Yuliya Mayarchuk a pointer on method acting.

 

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    Watch Trailer One  (click here)  or Trailer Two  (click here)

 

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                                                          by Cyril Hare                                                                         

English

 

A gathering of hoity-toity Brits is cut off from the outside world by a snowstorm, trapped in a decrepit manor house as a clever killer picks them off, one by one. Thank goodness an eccentric little “foreigner” is on hand to save the day.  If that sounds a lot like Agatha Christie, well, that’s because it is.  But if you find this kind of piffle irresistible – and I confess that I do – you can do much worse than An English Murder.

 

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Richie2

 

Post-election thoughts, because no one else has an opinion about politics, and the world is dying to hear mine:

 

  • I’m not so much thrilled for Democrats — they are full of crap on too many issues — as I am relieved at the prospect of no Mitty Rich.  Republicans now know how I felt in 2004, when it became apparent that there would be four more years of Bush.

 

  • Fox’s Bill O’Reilly and Charles Krauthammer blamed the hurricane for Romney’s “momentum halt.”  Since hurricanes are deemed acts of God, I assume that means God wanted an Obama win.

 

  • O’Reilly, who claims solidarity with “the folks,” can’t understand the little guy’s temerity:  “Obama wins because it’s not a traditional America anymore,” Bill lamented, adding, “People want things.”  Imagine that.  The “folks” apparently harbor a radical belief that Romney and the super-rich shouldn’t own  everything.

 

  • Big business, which for years has been whining that “uncertainty” prevented it from adding jobs, can finally stop fretting.  Now it has certainty:  four more years of Obama.

 

  • It was nice to see Florida still undecided when the election was called.  If ever a state deserved to be irrelevant in an election, it’s Florida.

 

*****

 

HLN’s Clark Howard and Ryan Smith discussed the recent hurricane and the hardship it caused East Coasters who were temporarily forced back to the “Stone Age” of telephone landlines.  “It felt so old school,” New Yorker Christy Claxton told the New York Times, “like we were back in 1998.”

I don’t own a cell phone.  Never even used one.  Just call me Gwump.

 

*****

 

“It’s what Denny would have wanted.”

 

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We here at Grouchyeditor have a soft spot for the female derriere.  Apparently, American Horror Story creator Ryan Murphy, who is gay, has a related weakness.

 

 

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