Monthly Archives: December 2018

TV Update

 

 

Newfangled balderdash

 

Someday, cultural historians will possibly look back at the premiere of Black Mirror: Bandersnatch (above) and recognize a groundbreaking moment in home entertainment, when Hollywood product became much more immersive and interactive.

That day isn’t today. Right now, Netflix’s experiment feels like a crashing bore, a frustrating waste of time.

OK, OK, it was mildly entertaining to use my remote to have the hero either spill tea on his computer or to smash the monitor to bits. Or to choose between two brands of cereal. But after watching the same scenes play out ad nauseam, completely demolishing the flow of the story, I was desperate to click the “end credits” button.

 

Old-fashioned fun

 

 

Unforgotten —  The good news: I hadn’t even heard of this show, which is already in its third season, but it’s yet another high-class British drama with great acting.

The (sort of) bad news: It’s been hyped as a mystery or whodunit, and it is that, but it’s actually more social drama than anything else. If you have doubts that the past can come back to haunt you, you won’t after watching this series.

 

 

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel —  The good news: The production design really brings the late 1950s to life. Star Rachel Brosnahan is a cutie, and it was thoughtful of the showrunners to give us a look at her tits and ass:

 

 

The bad news: I couldn’t watch more than the first episode. Apparently lots of people find Mrs. Maisel charming. I found her obnoxious and grating.

 

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We’re told it’s been a big week in Washington. I’m not sure why.

 

The Government Shutdown:

Yawn. For the federal employees who won’t go to work for awhile, doesn’t it amount to a paid vacation? Sure, they might have to wait a bit for their paychecks, but still. As for the rest of us, does anyone even notice a government shutdown?

 

Troop Withdrawals in the Middle East:

Sigh. If I were a hawk, I wouldn’t worry. Trump can remove all troops from Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, or wherever, but it’s just a matter of time before we get drawn into another Middle East quagmire. Because that’s what we do.

 

Trump’s Green Acres Tweet:

On the one hand, it is pretty funny that a sitting American president would post such a thing. On the other hand, it did remind me of the ending of Dr. Strangelove, in which Slim Pickens rides a falling nuclear bomb like it’s a bucking bronco.

 

 

It’s funny, but also disturbing. Nero fiddling while Rome burns and that sort of thing.

 

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I saw these legs on HLN the other day and wondered who the sexpot is. (Not the bonehead on the right, Sanjay Gupta, who looks like he’s about to jump the blonde.)

Turns out it’s Elizabeth Prann, who used to be on Fox.

Isn’t Fox supposed to be the legs network?

 

 

 

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Quote of the Week

 

“Maybe it takes an impulsive, dangerous nutjob like Trump to finally do it, to end the wars the American people want to end.” – Andrew Sullivan in New York magazine

 

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Translation: The new one is more politically correct.

 

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How is this not the same person?

 

Then again, maybe he’s a Munchkin:

 

 

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If ever there was a political figure ripe for satire, it has to be James Comey. I suggest a character called “Mr. Perfect.” Come on, Saturday Night Live, Alec Baldwin’s Trump is tired and stale. Time to unveil Mr. Perfect:

 

 

 

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De Palma

 

It’s probably not cool to praise director Brian De Palma in the “Me Too” era. De Palma took shots for alleged misogyny and violence against women (in his films, mind you) long before anyone had heard of Harvey Weinstein. To hell with that criticism. If I want vanilla at the movies, I’ll go see a boring superhero flick.

De Palma, like the man he’s often compared to, Alfred Hitchcock, was above all a master craftsman. His obsessive attention to detail, along with a firm grasp of what looks great on film (yes, including the naked ladies), allowed him to shine in the 1980s. My only complaint about this documentary, in which De Palma discusses each of his films chronologically, is that it’s much too short. Release: 2016 Grade: A-

 

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All I want for Christmas is …

 

… to stop turning on the news and hearing about the border wall or about the Mueller investigation.

Just build the damn wall or don’t build the damn wall. Just impeach Trump or don’t impeach him. But good lord, don’t drag this crap on and on for another year.

 

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… to get to the bottom of all of the congressional sex scandals, or to get to the bottom of none of them.

If you’re going to hammer Trump for his transgressions with Stormy and Karen and whoever, then we also need to find out which congressmen couldn’t keep their pants zipped and then used taxpayer dollars from a slush fund to pay out hush money.

 

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I’m not going to get any of that for Christmas.

It’s going to be a crappy Christmas.

If you don’t believe that already, there is this heartwarming tidbit:

 

 

Ho, ho, ho.

 

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God help me but … were you to ask me to name my favorite Christmas song, I might have to say … (gaaarrrggghhh!) … “My Only Wish (This Year)” by Britney Spears.

It’s catchy. It doesn’t get played to death. I like it. So shoot me.

 

 

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by Charles Krauthammer

 

I used to watch Charles Krauthammer spar with Bill O’Reilly on Fox News and be reminded of Dr. Strangelove, the wheelchair-bound, hawkish lunatic from Stanley Kubrick’s movie. I thought of Krauthammer as a conservative villain. Problem is, that’s about as much as I thought of the psychiatrist turned political pundit; I certainly didn’t listen to what he had to say. That was my mistake.

I still don’t agree with everything he has to say in Things That Matter, a collection of his essays from the 1980s until 2014. But I respect his opinions, whether about domestic policy, international issues or, well, his love of chess. Krauthammer’s essays are sprinkled with wit and, yes, wisdom. The man did his homework.

As might be expected from a conservative columnist, there is much criticism of Obama in the book. My guess is that, were this book more current (Krauthammer died in June), he would also deploy his rapier wit against our current president.

I wish he was still around to appear on cable news. If nothing else, his calm demeanor would be a welcome respite from all of the shrieking hysterics.

 

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Twitter Twaddle

 

 

Third Grade Revisited, Part 1:

 

 

Third Grade Revisited, Part 2:

 

 

Van Dinkle admits he has no idea who Poliquin is, but no matter. Trolling Stephen King is too much fun.

 

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Heather Nauert Storms the UN

 

 

The Bad News:

Looks like the mean girls from high school are taking over the world.

 

The Good News:

They do look good in a miniskirt.

 

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This is not from the National Enquirer main page. This is from the Fox News main page:

 

 

 

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I guess we shouldn’t be surprised by this. When everything else in the world has gone bonkers, why not war between Canada and China?

 

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I’ve always felt that the most underutilized weapon in the horror-filmmaker’s arsenal is the soundtrack. By that I do not mean the startling din that accompanies “jump scares” in too many fright flicks. In the typical horror movie, ample care is devoted to atmospheric visuals and special effects. But the soundtrack is usually relegated to secondary status.

When filmmakers do give sound its due, the results can be chilling: the ticking clock and howling wind in Black Christmas, the pitter-patter of alien footsteps on a ceiling in Signs.

So kudos to director John Krasinski and company for understanding the value of sound – or in this movie, the lack of it – to building suspense.

Krasinski co-stars with real-life wife Emily Blunt as the parents in a family of five struggling to survive an alien invasion. The aliens are blind, but they have super-sensitive hearing. The scattered humans who still exist do so only because they’ve mastered the art of absolute silence. This is no easy feat when there are young kids in the family, and when every snapped twig can mean instant annihilation.

 

 

Early on we learn that mom is pregnant. This instills a sense of foreboding because at some point there will be a baby. When every stifled sneeze is a potential death sentence, what will happen when the infant begins to cry?

A Quiet Place gets a high grade because it has several prolonged, agonizingly tense scenes, and that’s a special thing. My grade would be higher but the script is marred by inconsistencies. Sometimes the monsters come at the drop of a pin. Other times a loud bang doesn’t seem to interest them.  Also, once a family member discovers an effective alien repellent, why not use it more often?     Grade: B+

 

 

Director:  John Krasinski  Cast:  Emily Blunt, John Krasinski, Millicent Simmonds, Noah Jupe, Cade Woodward, Leon Russom  Release:  2018

 

 

Watch the Trailer:

 

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by Jefferson Farjeon

 

A gathering of upper-crust Brits and their servants fall under suspicion when foul play interrupts a weekend retreat. This 1936 whodunit is pretty much what you’d expect, if what you expect is an English country-house murder mystery with Agatha Christie DNA in its bones. Farjeon is no Dame Agatha, but a few of his characters – in particular an acerbic journalist named Bultin – are amusing.

 

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Dirty Old Men!

 

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If I was the parent of a six-year-old boy, no way I’d let him anywhere near a Catholic priest.

 

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There is one segment of the population that is no doubt relieved at the passing of George Bush: the derrieres of every comely young female in his orbit, which will now go unmolested.

 

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It must be hard on liberal swamp networks like CNN and MSNBC whenever a conservative swamp politician dies and the networks are then forced, for 24 hours or so, to say nice things about the guy.

 

Of course, Fox News will have the same problem when Jimmy Carter finally kicks the bucket.

 

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It would be easier to take Sean Hannity seriously if he would stop, literally, butchering the English language.

 

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