Monthly Archives: October 2015

Grading the Late-night Comics

 

jimmy-fallon

Jimmy Fallon

 

What’s Good:  His monologues are sharp.

 

What’s Bad:  His guests are all fantastic! Their shows and movies and songs and books are the greatest!

 

**

 

<> the Happy Hearts Fund 2008 ball "A Masquerade in Venice" to benefit children in disaster areas at Cipriani Wall Street on November 17, 2008 in New York City

Seth Meyers

 

What’s Good:  He’s still doing Saturday Night Live’s “Weekend Update,” and he’s still doing it well.

 

What’s Bad:  I can tolerate only so much of that girlish giggle.

 

**

 

Conan

Conan O’Brien

 

 What’s Good:  His monologues and ad-libs are clever.

 

What’s Bad:  He’s on TBS, so he gets stuck with C-level guests and I tend to forget that he’s on.

 

**

 

Corden

James Corden 

 

What’s Good:  His musical partner, Reggie Watts, is the best of the bunch.

 

What’s Bad:  He has Jimmy Fallon Disease, in that his head goes so far up his guests’ butts that you’re not sure where he’s gone.

 

**

 

BURBANK, CA - JANUARY 06: Comedian Trevor Noah performs on the Tonight Show With Jay Leno at NBC Studios on January 6, 2012 in Burbank, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/NBCUniversal/Getty Images)

Trevor Noah

 

 What’s Good:  I don’t know because I refuse to watch him.

 

What’s Bad:  He still hasn’t apologized for his Twitter diss of two-thirds of the country (those of us in “Flyover Land”), so I won’t apologize for ignoring his show.

 

**

 

Colbert

Stephen Colbert 

 

What’s Good:  He has interesting guests … even some authors!

 

What’s Bad:  I don’t find him the least bit funny.

 

**

 

Kimmel

Jimmy Kimmel 

 

What’s Good:  He’s middle-of-the-road. Not bad, not great.

 

What’s Bad:  Time to dump that tired Matt Damon bit.

 

*****

 

Ash

 

Here’s an unexpected Halloween treat: Starz is premiering Ash vs. Evil Dead today, and it doesn’t suck. In fact, the opening episode is downright entertaining.

As a bonus, for anyone wondering whatever happened to Dana DeLorenzo, frequent dancing partner for Craig Ferguson on his old late-night show (below, not dancing), she has a starring role.

 

DeLorenzo

 

*****

 

MegynGQ

“Sugar”

 

“Back when I covered that Duke fake rape case, I had to go in a bunch of strip clubs, right? Because I was investigating this stripper. And one of the guys who managed the club told me, ‘I got the name for you, if you ever decide to come into the business.’ So the guy told me that I would be named Sugar.” — Megyn Kelly, explaining what no one asked her to explain.

It might, however, explain a thing or two about Megyn Kelly.

 

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by Robert Galbraith

Cuckoo

 

I thoroughly enjoyed J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books, but when I did have complaints about them, they were usually related to plot – there was often too much of it. Rowling’s characters were delightful, but her convoluted back stories could be challenging.

Ditto for The Cuckoo’s Calling, an old-fashioned detective yarn that Rowling wrote under the pseudonym “Robert Galbraith.” Cuckoo’s protagonist, a war vet turned private investigator named Cormoran Strike, is interesting and likable, and Rowling’s supporting cast is colorful. But when crucial plot points unfold near the end of the story, my eyes would occasionally glaze over; it feels like over-plotting when it takes the hero an entire chapter to explain how he solved the case.

I might be nitpicking because, as with the Potter books, getting to the end of the story is a lot of fun. The slovenly Strike sleeps on a makeshift bed in his tiny office, drinks too much, and bumps heads with the rich and famous in London as he investigates the apparent suicide of a supermodel. He is aided by a temp worker who becomes his girl Friday and, presumably, his potential love interest. Together, this duo makes Cuckoo a pleasure to read complex plot be damned.

 

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Fargo

 

TV Update

 

The so-called Golden Age of Television has spoiled us. Most new and returning series this fall are good, bad, or average – with one great exception.

 

Two-sentence reviews:

 

Manhattan – This drama about WWII scientists building the bomb is like physics: brainy, but lacking in soul. Try as I might, I just don’t care about the characters. Grade: C+

 

Scream Queens – Ryan Murphy sanitizes – barely – Scary Movie for network TV.  I really should like this show about terrorized sorority girls more than I do, because I often feel that as a teenage girl trapped in a middle-aged man’s body, I must be in the target demo. Grade: B-

 

Fargo – So Fargo, so good. It might be the perfect series if they’d just ditch those stereotypical Minnesota accents (you betcha I am biased). Grade: A-

 

The Last Man on Earth – Gilligan’s Island, but with an actual IQ. Normally, I’m not a big fan of sitcoms, but this one wears well. Grade: B+

 

Carbonaro

 

The Carbonaro Effect – It’s a hidden-camera show. I am a sucker for hidden-camera shows. Grade: B+

 

The Last Kingdom – BBC America presents Game of Thrones without the nudity. Who on Earth wants that?

From Britain’s The Independent:

 

Independent

 

Nice to know that the good folks at The Independent share my aversion to fully-clothed dry humps. Grade: B-

 

American Horror Story: Hotel – It looks great, but the plot is aimless, recycled horror from the omnipresent Ryan Murphy. The only real suspense comes from guessing how much gratuitous male-model ass Murphy will display in each episode. Grade: C

p.s. Has anyone else noticed that, despite her Oscar for Misery, Kathy Bates can’t act worth a lick?

 

***** 

 

From The Huffington Post:

 

MeToo

 

I did that, too. And tomorrow, I plan to take my first-ever shower!

 

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Philomena1

 

Ordinarily, if you tell me to check out a movie because it’s “heartwarming,” or “great for the whole family,” I grab my Howard Stern books and run for the hills. I do that because, nine times out of ten (OK, 9.7 times out of 10), that description is code for “sappy and crappy.” But then along comes an exception like Philomena, which is part comedy, part road movie, part tearjerker and yes, “heartwarming and great for the whole family.”

Steve Coogan plays a disgraced BBC journalist who, in an attempt to resuscitate his career, agrees to do a human-interest piece about an elderly woman who, having lost touch with her infant son in the 1950s, hopes to find him again in America.

Martin Sixsmith (Coogan) and Philomena Lee (Judi Dench) travel to Washington, D.C., and their exploits are charming and unpredictable, not cloying or clichéd. If this movie was typical Hollywood fare, we would no doubt get scenes of Philomena learning to twerk, or performing a rap routine. Instead, Philomena gets laughs by defying our expectations with well-timed observations, or with gentle pokes at Sixsmith.

The screenplay, co-written by Coogan and Jeff Pope from a book by the real Sixsmith, time and again takes unexpected turns. When we at last learn what became of Philomena’s beloved son, it caught me off-guard – twice. Without giving away too much of the plot, let’s just say the boy’s adulthood involves Ronald Reagan and personal secrets.

Coogan and Dench are both understated and both very good. If the film has a flaw, it’s that the main villain, once revealed, is perhaps a bit too villainous – or at least this person’s motivations aren’t adequately explained.    Grade:  A-

 

Philomena2

 

Director:  Stephen Frears  Cast:  Judi Dench, Steve Coogan, Sophie Kennedy Clark, Mare Winningham, Barbara Jefford, Ruth McCabe, Peter Hermann, Anna Maxwell Martin, Michelle Fairley  Release:  2013

 

Philomena3

 

Watch Trailers and Clips (click here)

 

Philomena4

 

Philomena5

 

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.                  Gowdy  voldemort

 

I can’t decide if Hillary Clinton tormentor Trey Gowdy, above left, is actually Voldemort with a wig and eyebrows, or Draco Malfoy all grown up.

 

.                  Gowdy  Draco

 

*****

 

In case you missed it, here is a picture of our future First Lady’s rear end, should her husband Donald get elected:

 

Trump

 

*****

 

Should The Donald not get elected, he can always get a job proofreading at The Huffington Post:

 

Donald

 

*****

 

Speaking of perky butts, when did female volleyball players begin playing the sport in their panties? (Click on thumbnails for larger views. Then click on the picture again — trust us, you probably want to do this.)

 

Vol1Vol2Vol3

Vol4Vol5Vol6

Vol7Vol8Vol9

Vol10Vol11Vol12

 

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Snatchers

 

House of Representatives

 

It did seem appropriate that someone named Kevin McCarthy would flee in terror from a bunch of pod people.

 

*****

 

Old

Jones

 

If ever there was a facial expression that said, “I’m tired of this shit. Bacon doesn’t cut it anymore. Just let me die now,” it’s this one.

 

*****

 

My earliest recollection of Hillary Clinton’s personality is from 1994, when David Letterman’s mother interviewed the First Lady at the Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway. I remember thinking that Hillary seemed like a good sport; charming and nice.

I haven’t felt that way about her since.

 

*****

 

Craig

 

Daniel Craig was asked if he would consider playing James Bond again.

“I’d rather break this glass and slash my wrists,” Craig said.

For such a sweet-natured guy like Craig to complain, there must be something truly grueling about the job.

 

*****

 

Pan

 

I guess critics read the title and took it as a directive.

 

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Top

 

We watched The Loft on Netflix  just a so-so thriller. But it was encouraging to see that gratuitous nudity is still a thing in mainstream movies. Above, Aussie actress Isabel Lucas moons us, for no apparent reason.

 

*****

 

Apparently this happened last week, and somehow, we missed it:

 

Cooper

 

It does raise an interesting question: Will Hillary and Bernie be allowed to spank Anderson if they don’t like his questions when he moderates next week’s debate?

 

*****

 

The Huffington Post is still seeking a good proofreader:

 

HPTypo

 

*****

 

We’re waiting for the National Hurricane Center to announce a “Hurricane Muhammad.” You don’t suppose anyone will object, do you?

 

*****

 

Williams

 

This won’t come as news to actor Ebon Moss-Bachrach, pictured below with Girls star Allison Williams.

 

Williams

 

*****

 

Bottom

 

 

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by Voltaire

Candide

 

Poor Candide. Raised on a wealthy German estate, with his own tutor and the world as his oyster, one fateful day he is rudely expelled from his idyllic home and in short order finds himself abused by a Bulgarian army, beaten, robbed, and tortured by a series of strangers, and nearly devoured by cannibals. Worse, Candide’s beloved cousin, the beautiful Cunegonde, is abducted and becomes the sex slave of one dastardly man after another.

Sound like a satire to you? It is in the hands of Voltaire, whose detached, bemused narrative moves at lightning-pace as he takes aim at the prevailing “wisdom” of 18th-century philosophers, including the folly of thinkers (like the aforementioned tutor) who preached that “all is for the best.” The only problem with this entertaining novella is that, unless you happen to be a European historian, you’re not likely to recognize the contemporary targets of Voltaire’s wit.

 

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Hausu

2

 

Seven schoolgirls visit an old woman’s house in the country and get more than they bargained for in this standard-issue horror film from Japan. Just … kidding. There is nothing “standard issue” or normal about this 1977 mind-fuck from director Nobuhiku Obayashi. I suppose it’s what you might get if you tossed Where the Boys Are, The Haunting, and an Itchy & Scratchy cartoon into a blender – and then dropped acid before watching the result. Release: 1977  Grade: A, B, C, D and F

 

*****

 

 Oslo, August 31st

Oslo

 

Absorbing drama about a day in the life of a drug addict (Anders Danielsen Lie), a young man on leave from rehab for a job interview and who decides to revisit old pals and haunts in Oslo. What keeps this compelling film from cinematic greatness is its tone of clinical detachment, which makes it difficult to care all that much about the young man’s fate. Release: 2011 Grade: B+

 

*****

 

Alone with Her 

.                                 Ana27Ana28Ana29

 

Déjà vu, baby. I’m pretty sure I saw this movie before, way back in 1982. Back then, it featured a film star’s son (Andrew Stevens, Stella’s boy) cast as a perverted loner who is obsessed with a beauty (Morgan Fairchild). He spies on her when she’s naked, attempts to ingratiate himself with her, makes her life a living hell, and is finally unmasked in time for a climactic showdown.

This go-round, in Alone with Her, the film star’s kid is Colin Hanks, son of Tom, and the victimized girl is Ana Claudia Talancon. But as was the case with 1982’s The Seduction, Alone is more unpleasant than suspenseful. Fairchild and Talancon take showers in their respective movies;  after watching this creep-out, you might need one, as well.  Release: 2006 Grade: C

 

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