Monthly Archives: January 2017

 

Note:  The Grouch recently caught an airing of the hospital thriller Coma on TCM, and he was overcome with nostalgia. This was the film that led to Grouch’s first-ever movie review, which was published in the April 14, 1978 edition of the St. Cloud State University Chronicle.  We thought it would be fun to reprint that old review, verbatim, so here you go:

 

Typical thriller ‘Coma’ comes to life in second half

 

 

Somewhere around the middle of this picture, Coma snaps out of it and really begins to move.

Up until that point, the only things saving the film from a slow death are the dynamite musical score by Jerry Goldsmith (remember The Omen), and an equally impressive performance by Genevieve Bujold as the heroine. Bujold is given a role that we’ve all seen before in countless thrillers: a woman discovers an evil secret, yet no one, not even her boyfriend, believes her when she tries to tell them about it. They even send her to a psychiatrist.

Bujold manages to make her character unique and she succeeds in gaining audience acceptance.

Susan Wheeler (Bujold) is a surgical resident who shares living quarters with her boyfriend, also a doctor, played by Michael Douglas. They both practice medicine at Boston Memorial Hospital, one of the best in the country.

Things are pretty much business as usual in the hospital until Susan’s best friend lapses into a coma during what should have been a minor operation. Suspicious, Susan begins to investigate and discovers records of 12 supposedly routine operations that resulted in comas. But why? Telling would ruin the suspense of Coma, even though it doesn’t get all that suspenseful until the last half of the film.

Meanwhile, director-writer Michael Crichton tries to hold his audience’s attention by various other methods. He tries to revolt the audience with several “hamburger” shots of brain slices, slabs of liver, etc. He tries to titillate them with shots of Bujold scrubbing herself behind a translucent shower door. The picture becomes fun in its second half.

 

 

Someone thinks that Susan has learned a little bit too much. Her investigation has led her to the Jefferson Institute, where nurse Elizabeth Ashley says “we merely provide care as inexpensively as possible” for thousands of coma patients. Government subsidized, the institute is a chilling edifice that, strangely enough, is staffed by no more than five persons, including nurse Ashley. It is here that Susan finally solves her mystery.

Aside from Bujold’s excellent performance, the rest of the cast seems less than inspired. Douglas does all right as the boyfriend – we’re never quite sure if we can trust him or not – but Richard Widmark as the chief of surgery is a little too obvious right from the start. Elizabeth Ashley comes off like she is doing an impression of Gale Sondergaard in an old Sherlock Holmes movie.

One word of caution: if you already have a fear of hospitals and/or doctors, you probably don’t want to catch this flick.

 

 

Director: Michael Crichton Cast: Genevieve Bujold, Michael Douglas, Elizabeth Ashley, Rip Torn, Richard Widmark, Lois Chiles, Hari Rhodes, Gary Barton, Frank Downing, Richard Doyle  Release: 1978   Grade: B+

 

 

Watch the Trailer  (click here)

 

 

Oddly, this screen capture of Bujold showering did not appear with the original review.

 

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Hollywood types embarrassed themselves all week, but my vote for most ridiculous, “we are clueless” moment came when Saturday Night Live’s Sasheer Zamata and Cecily Strong, above, performed a saccharine tribute to Barack Obama by warbling “To Sir With Love.”

They both needed a cold shower, and I needed a brown paper bag.

 

*****

 

 

Conservatives missed a golden opportunity in the culture wars when Mary Tyler Moore died. Liberals hailed Moore as a “feminist icon,” but according to that bastion of infallible information, Wikipedia, in reality she was a fan of Bill O’Reilly, Charles Krauthammer, John McCain and Fox News. Oh, and she was not a big fan of real feminist icon Gloria Steinem.

 

 

Speaking of Moore … Oprah toady Gayle King hosted a special about Moore and expressed horror when Her Oprahness revealed that she had once considered taking a newsroom job in my city, Minneapolis, the setting for The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Gasped King, “I’m sorry!

Hey, at least we aren’t a cesspool of gang warfare and murder like, say … Chicago?

 

*****

 

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Tucker Carlson and Chris Hayes remind me of each other. They’re both easily excitable and when they get agitated their voices go all high-pitched and squeaky.

 

*****

 

 

I checked out Riverdale, The CW’s new spin on the gang from Archie comic books.

I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that this show will not become Donald Trump’s latest TV obsession – at least not in a positive way.

Let’s see: Archie Andrews, a good-natured klutz in the comics, in the TV series is an angst-ridden, oh-so-sensitive bore. Moose is gay. Miss Grundy is a pedophile. Jughead, such a delightful oddball in the comics, is a humorless scold.

OK, I realize I’m not in the target demographic for this teen-oriented stuff, but gee willikers ….

 

Veronica shows her good side

 

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by Kurt Vonnegut

grouchyeditor.com Monkey

 

I like short stories just fine, thank you. I like to read them and (gasp!) I like to write them. My favorite Stephen King story, for example, isn’t one of his famed novels; it’s a haunting little gem called “The Last Rung on the Ladder,” which can be found in the King collection Night Shift. But short stories have an obvious downside: They are often too short. Too … slight. It’s like having one bite of juicy shrimp and then being told you can’t have any more.

Kurt Vonnegut is one of my favorite writers. The stories in Monkey are from his early years (1950s-1960s), so some of them feel dated, and others feel like the product of a young, unpolished writer. But none of them are dull and many of them are thought-provoking. They are the literary equivalent of a TV show of that same era, The Twilight Zone – stories with a moral, often humorous, and frequently laced with Vonnegut’s favorite genre, science fiction.

 

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grouchyeditor.com Melania

 

I sort of – not really, but sort of – feel sorry for Melania Trump, who might be the unhappiest woman in America.

 

She comes from the world of fashion and money – and most of those people believe her husband is a vulgar clown.

Her speeches get mocked.

She’s suing a publication because it accused her of being a former prostitute.

She’s expected to downsize from her ritzy Manhattan digs to the lowly White House.

Her husband is rumored to enjoy watching hookers pee on each other.

Her husband is rumored to have the hots for his own daughter.

Yes, I sort of – but not really – feel sorry for Melania Trump.

 

But then I remember her wealth and privilege and I think: Fuck that noise.

 

*****

 

I sort of – not really, but sort of – feel sorry for the talking heads on cable news who are tasked with defending Donald Trump. You simply cannot defend the man. He says and does too many boneheaded or wrongheaded things.

 

*****

 

I sort of feel sorry for the media. … Just kidding!

 

*****

 

A Tweet

 

grouchyeditor.com Tweet

 

This is why some of us love Twitter.

 

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“The city has the panicked air of a B-horror movie where the townsfolk stand stock still, bug-eyed and frozen, too frightened to flee, waiting for the creature.”

— Maureen Dowd describing Washington D.C. before The Coming of Trump.

 

**

 

Wonder if Trump is enjoying the “honeymoon” traditionally granted new presidents by political foes and the media … LOL!

 

**

 

 

I just watched a scary movie called Don’t Breathe, which is set in a rundown section of Detroit. Last year, I watched a horror movie called It Follows, which is set in rundown sections of Detroit.

Poor Detroit. It seems to be the go-to-place if you want to frighten audiences.

 

**

 

I can’t bring myself to say anything more about politics. I think about Trump and I get angry. I think about Democrats and I get angry. I think about the press – right-wing and left-wing – and I get angry. I can’t even think about Meryl Friggin’ Streep without getting angry.

 

I suggest we all just forget about politics, for now, and enjoy these pictures:

 

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                                        (Click on pictures for larger views)

 

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The Best Offer

grouchyeditor.com Hoeks

 

Geoffrey Rush plays an aloof, eccentric art auctioneer who gets more than he bargained for when an agoraphobic young heiress (Sylvia Hoeks) asks him to sell off her rare collection. I wonder how I might have reacted to The Best Offer had I not seen similar plots – in particular a certain Hitchcock film that I shall not name lest I reveal Offer’s twist ending. The movie is handsomely produced, well acted, and lovely to listen to, but it’s also a story that telegraphs its surprises, especially if you’ve seen similar fare.  Release: 2013  Grade: B+

 

*****

 

Don’t Breathe

grouchyeditor.com Breathe

 

Some of the best nail-biters have simple plots. In Burning Bright, a Bengal tiger terrorizes a young woman and her autistic brother in a house. That’s the plot. In Black Water, a hungry crocodile terrorizes three tourists trapped in an Australian swamp. That’s the plot.

For about an hour, Don’t Breathe reminded me of those low-budget, efficient thrillers because it keeps things simple: Three small-time burglars are surprised when their chosen victim, a blind war vet, turns the tables on them after they break into his house. That’s the plot. The movie is taut and genuinely chilling. And then … well, that wasn’t good enough for writer/director Fede Alvarez, who decides to add a little Cujo here, a little Silence of the Lambs there. Should have left well enough alone. Release: 2016  Grade: B

 

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Mariah Carey’s New Year’s Eve performance was unwatchable. Not because of sound problems. No, because her ass is the size of North Korea.

 

*****

 

 

There is a God.

 

*****

 

 

I don’t want to see Ronda Rousey in the ring. I want to see Bill Maher vs. Anthony Bourdain.

 

*****

 

Shepard Smith reported, not once but twice, that “Emilio Esteban” was the suspected perpetrator at Friday’s airport shooting in Florida.

I suspect that Shep had recently re-watched The Breakfast Club and was subconsciously wondering whatever became of Emilio Estevez.

 

 

*****

 

I don’t blame the Republicans for Trump. After all, they didn’t really want him and, after they got stuck with him, they didn’t think he had a chance in hell of winning.

No, I blame the Democrats for Trump. They pissed off so many people that those voters felt they had no choice but to toss a hand grenade named Trump into the Washington swamp – even when they knew he might blow up the whole damn country.

 

*****

 

Random Tweets

 

 

The language is unfortunate, but the point is well taken.

 

**

 

 

Rip can now die a happy man.

 

*****

 

More Fat America News:

 

 

CBS Evening News did a story about a new tax on sugary drinks in Philadelphia, in which city officials hope “to bring down obesity rates.” CBS interviewed Deputy Revenue Commissioner Marisa Waxman, pictured below, who presumably knows something about obesity.

 

 

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