Monthly Archives: March 2015












aFallon - Copy


I don’t understand what it is about late-night comics that compels them, once they get a new show or time slot, to celebrate by baring their butts.  Jimmy Fallon gets The Tonight Show and treats the world to a picture of his ass.  Jimmy Kimmel gets an earlier time slot and accompanies the big news with a peek at his plumber’s butt.   And now this from James Corden:




As for Corden’s debut on CBS, critics are describing the British host as “adorable,” “cute,” and “pleasant.”  Teddy bears are adorable, cute, and pleasant.  They are also what you give to children to put them to sleep at night – not sure that’s the effect CBS is going for.






I keep watching great short series that become mediocre long series.  Showrunners take a tight, compelling drama and water it down, pad it out, and reduce A-quality shows to B-quality shows.  Latest examples: The Fall and Bloodline (above), both on Netflix.  If you’ve told the tale in five or six or eight episodes, just end it, please.


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 by Caroline Graham



An elderly schoolteacher is found dead, her best friend thinks it’s a case of foul play, and Chief Inspector Barnaby is dispatched to Badger’s Drift to investigate.  Graham sprinkles her prose with words and expressions that are oh-so-British, her characters are colorful, and her plot is clever – albeit at times far-fetched.  My complaint:  I find Graham’s hero, DCI Barnaby, a bit smug and a bit dull.  I have the same problem with the actor (John Nettles) who portrays Barnaby in the popular TV series based on Graham’s novels, Midsomer Murders.


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“Did you know Richard Gere’s middle name is Tiffany?” – a character on the sitcom Schitt’s Creek


I didn’t know that, but apparently it’s true.  Poor Richard Gere.   As if that whole hamster … er, gerbil thing wasn’t enough.






By the way, Schitt’s Creek is actually a pretty good show — if you can find it.








I understand why Brooke was excited and took to Twitter.  It must be an exhilarating feeling for a CNN anchor to actually have an audience.





In light of Benjamin Netanyahu’s big win in Israel, we wanted to reserve some space in “The Weekly Review,” just in case we thought of something nice to say about him:







In light of Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz’s courageous stand against racism by forcing his company’s low-wage employees to dig out their sociology degrees and engage grumpy customers in race-related conversations, we also wanted to reserve some space, just in case we thought of something nice to say about him:





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The plot is both clever and ridiculous, but Housebound is one entertaining comic thriller from New Zealand.  Morgana O’Reilly plays a young woman who is not – I repeat, not – the clueless ingénue we’ve come to expect in movies like this one – you know, the pretty-but-dim heroine you can’t wait to see with an axe planted in her skull.  No, O’Reilly’s character is a street tough sentenced to house arrest at the creepy old home where she was raised, sharing close quarters with her scatterbrained mother and mealy-mouthed stepfather.  But there are strange doings in the house, and they don’t seem to be caused by the oddball family.  Housebound is great fun, with colorful actors and oh, yeah, a superb musical score.  Release:  2014  Grade:  B+




Force Majeure



What does it mean to be a man?  In particular, what defines a “family man” in 2015?  Like any good Swedish drama, Force Majeure raises lots of provocative questions … and then fails to answer any of them.  But that’s OK because we know that it’s the journey – in this case, a ski vacation in the French Alps – that matters, and it’s a bumpy trip indeed for a family of four when the husband’s reaction to a sudden avalanche ruins everyone’s good time.  Release:  2014      Grade:  B+




King of Devil’s Island



Well-done Norwegian drama about the grueling conditions on an island prison for boys, circa 1915.  Too bad so much of the story is familiar; if you’ve seen Cool Hand Luke, The Shawshank Redemption, etc., you can likely predict much of the plot in King.  Still, the acting is superb, and the Nordic scenery is suitably chilling.  Release:  2010  Grade:  B


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TV Update




Shows I like  …  kind of,  sort of,  just a little bit: 


Bates Motel, The Last Man on Earth



My interest is waning:


House of Cards.   It’s still a good show, but the Evil Underwoods factor is beginning to wear a bit thin.




Good show, but I am not in the target audience:


Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.  Star Ellie Kemper is amusing, but I don’t find jokes about expensive shoes particularly funny – yet I realize that a lot of people do.  Kimmy seems aimed at the folks who keep up with Kardashians, consume whatever’s on E!, and subscribe to Star magazine.


I’m hooked: 


Better Call Saul.  It might not be Breaking Bad, but then again, what is?






“And did you know she was my former babysitter?” – Gretchen Carlson, referring to Michele Bachmann.  That might explain a thing or two.  The Grouch, who is from Minnesota, wonders why all of these right-wing crazy women seem to come from Minnesota.




“These are sick, sick people, indeed, destroying these historic artifacts in these ancient cities some 3,000 years old.” – Wolf Blitzer, referring to ISIS trashing museums and precious art.  Silly me.  At first,  I thought Wolf was referring to the American idiots who carved their initials into the Roman Coliseum.




“Bacon and guns – like a dream come true for me.” – Kimberly Guilfoyle on The Five.  That’s pretty much all you need to know about Kimberly Guilfoyle.




From The Huffington Post:




From The Huffington Post, one hour later:




I prefer the first headline, don’t you?


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Saturday Night Live - Season 40



What We’re Hating This Week:





William Shatner hate:  Shatner drew the ire of Star Trek fans for failing to attend Leonard Nimoy’s funeral.  Screw the trekkies; I’m on Bill’s side.  Isn’t it possible that, like Klingons and tribbles, their ballyhooed “friendship” was a fiction?




Saturday Night Live hate:  Some viewers were offended by an SNL spoof of girls running off to join ISIS.  Screw those viewers; I’m on SNL’s side.  The show finally did a skit that made me laugh out loud, and people are complaining?




Jodi Arias hate:  If we’re going to put black men to death on a regular basis, we ought to be able to put an attractive white woman to death — at least once in awhile.  That is, if we’re going to put anyone to death.  Silver lining:  Nancy Grace is upset with the hung jury, and it’s always fun to see Nancy Grace upset.






Sheryl Sandberg hate:  Facebook’s Sandberg was on Fox advocating for men sharing more household and childrearing chores.

“On the home front, couples that share responsibility 50-50 are happier, lower divorce, more sex,” said Sandberg.  Sounds good.  But then she cited an example of a man on board with her campaign:  “We got LeBron James with a sign [that reads] ‘All-Star Dad.’”

Great example, because we all know that LeBron James does 50 percent of the childrearing and household chores in his home.


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Wild Tales starts out with a bang (literally) and ends with a bang (metaphorically).  What comes in between is kind of hard to describe: a South American take on Alfred Hitchcock Presents, I guess.  The movie is a twisted anthology of six tales about anger, frustration, and revenge.  Hell hath no fury like some of the wronged characters in Tales.

Writer/director Damian Szifron taps into everyday situations where people butt heads – everything from road rage to infidelity – and then says, “What if … ?”  The results range in quality, but each story is imaginative, and a couple of them are flat-out brilliant.

My take on each of the six short films:




“Pasternak” –  Passengers on an airplane learn to their dismay that someone’s been boning up on his Agatha Christie — specifically the plot of And Then There Were None.  This is the funniest segment in the film, inspired lunacy with a great twist at the end and an even better final shot.   A


“The Rats” –  A cook and a waitress at a roadside diner decide to add an extra item to the menu when an obnoxious customer shows up at their restaurant.  The plot isn’t much, but Rita Cortese steals the show as a Julia Child from hell.   B


“The Strongest” – Tales drops the “comedy” from “black comedy” as a simple incident of road rage escalates into a chilling, horrific battle for survival.  It’s what you might have gotten if Spielberg’s Duel had gone on for an extra 15 minutes.   B+




“Little Bomb” –  Argentinean superstar Ricardo Darin plays a demolitions expert who doesn’t take kindly to life’s little slights, in particular the fact that his car keeps getting towed from no-parking zones.  Darin is a great actor, but this is the weakest entry in the movie.   B


“The Proposal” –  Again, there isn’t much to laugh about in this grim entry detailing the consequences when a rich kid’s parents attempt to shift blame for a deadly hit-and-run from their son to a penniless employee.    B


“Until Death Do Us Part” –  All hell breaks loose at a wedding when a pampered Bridezilla discovers that her betrothed isn’t all that she thought he was.  If nuptials were always this absurdly entertaining, I’d become a wedding crasher.   A-


Overall Grade:  B+




Director:  Damian Szifron   Cast:  Ricardo Darin, Oscar Martinez, Leonardo Sbaraglia, Erica Rivas, Rita Cortese, Julieta Zylberberg, Dario Grandinetti, Diego Gentile, Walter Donado   Release:  2014




Watch Trailer and Clips (click here)




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I checked my thesaurus to find antonyms for “subtle,” and here are some of the words that I found:  ignorant, stupid, harsh, noisy, open, and unsubtle.  Those adjectives certainly apply to Hit Team, a low-budget comedy about Ruthie and Max, two none-too-bright assassins on a tight deadline to bump off six unlucky targets in Los Angeles.

Here are a few more words to describe Hit Team:  vulgar, crude, and sophomoric.  But it’s also good-natured, energetic, and boasts winning chemistry among its large cast of goofballs — all of which go a long way to offset the fact that the neurons in your brain responsible for logic and deep thought might well implode as you watch this movie.




Hit Team knows that it’s stupid, even revels in it.  It’s Bugs Bunny with blood. 

Ruthie (Emerald Robinson) and Max (screenwriter Myles McLane) trade barbs while they cruise the streets of L.A., knocking off hapless victims and crossing names off their kill list.  Eventually, they draw the attention of two cops (Roger Payano and Anita Leeman), who are also remarkable dimwits.  There follows much gunplay, slapstick, and gratuitous shots of shapely Robinson and Leeman in their skin-tight black miniskirts.




With its frequent close-ups of the ladies’ derrieres and its fondness for adolescent humor, Hit Team is a throwback to moronic sex comedies of the 1970s and ’80s.  About the only thing missing is nudity – what’s up with that?  As one potential victim cries out as he drives away from Ruthie, who has just attempted to seduce him by stripping to her bra and panties, “Show some more skin next time!”

There’s a fine line between dumb that’s endearing, and dumb that’s annoying.  Hit Team goes back and forth across that line.  But the actors have charm, there are some standout clowns in supporting roles, and those ladies are awfully easy on the eyes.       Grade:  C+






Director:  Mark Newton  Cast:  Myles McLane, Emerald Robinson, Roger Payano, Anita Leeman, Douglas Macpherson, Melanie Camp, Lori Quintanilla, Isaac Cheung   Release:  2014  (available at YouTube)




Watch Trailer and Clips (click here)






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