Monthly Archives: August 2020

 

The problem with these “protests” (translation: riots) is that they too often target easy prey: small businesses and innocent passersby.

This happens because it is much simpler to torch Sam’s Barber Shop than to loot Bill Gates’s mansion.

We get it: You’re angry and you want to vent. But putting the Vangs out of their shoe-store business isn’t going to accomplish anything. Oh, I take that back – it will likely succeed in re-electing Donald Trump.

If you must vandalize property and terrorize people, I would humbly suggest that you go after more appropriate, albeit well-protected, citizens. Like, for instance, the people and homes showcased on this tone-deaf series, which airs on Fox Nation:

 

 

Talk about terrible timing. Is this really a good year to resurrect Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous?

 

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I’m beginning to think that the mainstream media uses this “mostly peaceful” term on purpose, just to trigger its critics.

 

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1BR, now playing on Netflix, is a pleasant surprise. It’s a horror movie that’s somewhat original.

Like so much horror these days, 1BR takes itself very seriously, and the tone is a bit soul-sucking. But it’s also clever and I dug the ending.

 

 

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TV and film critics want you to think that they’re smarter than you. For instance, they can spot the hidden messages and metaphors in a show that sail right past you. Critics recognize allusions to other series or movies that you do not.

They call obscure directors by their surnames only — because they know who Fellini is; don’t you? — or by their first names only, because they want us to think that they are pals with Quentin. Or Steven.

The worst thing you can say to a critic is, “You dummy!”

 

I certainly felt like a dummy while watching the Polish crime drama The Mire on Netflix.

I really liked the characters, the look of the show, the dreary atmosphere and the acting. The story was gripping, too. I highly recommend it.

Problem is, I was confused much of the time and completely baffled by the final episode. I felt like a dummy. It’s tough enough to watch a subtitled series with Polish names and Polish politics and Polish history without feeling as though giant chunks of the story are hidden behind some screenwriter’s Iron Curtain.

And so I was relieved when I discovered that my ignorance or stupidity wasn’t (entirely) my fault. Netflix had screwed up.

On most shows, Netflix gives you the option to “skip intro” at the start of each new episode so that you don’t have to rewatch the opening credits. But for some infernal reason, “skip intro” on The Mire means you are actually skipping a minute or two of the beginning of the newest episode.

 

And then I learned on IMDB that a 10-minute prologue to the entire series is inexplicably gone from the Netflix version. They got to see this intro in Poland, apparently.

You can find the prologue on YouTube, but it is in Polish without subtitles. Of course.

It features many people speaking Polish, and also a stripper. The stripper, thank goodness, does not require subtitles:

 

 

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TV Tidbits

 

 

Despite its positive reviews, I resisted Netflix’s trendy comedy-drama, Dead to Me. As our economy tanks and the pandemic rages, I couldn’t bring myself to much care about a series depicting the tribulations of two rich bitches in Southern California.

But I eventually caved and am now watching season two of creator Liz Feldman’s dark comedy. Christina Applegate and Linda Cardellini play a pair of middle-aged Laguna Beach gals whose lives begin to unravel and unravel some more and ….

I admit it, my preconceived notions about Dead to Me were (mostly) wrong.

Applegate, now 48, has come a long way from her bimbo days in Married … with Children (see below). In Dead, widow Jen’s (Applegate) Y-chromosomes overwhelm her better instincts as traits more often associated with “toxic masculinity” – red-hot temper, judgmentalism, even physical violence – regularly undermine her. And Cardellini, as Applegate’s mousy friend Judy who harbors one helluva big secret, is a perfect comic foil.

 

 

At times I feel I’ve had enough of these two knuckleheads, who get embroiled in murder coverups. Jen can be too bitchy for my taste. But then she’ll say something funny and all is forgiven. Judy makes too many airheaded decisions and is awfully clingy. But then she’ll do something endearing and all is forgiven.

Feldman and her stars have created characters who have me doing something I didn’t expect: cheering for rich bitches. Grade: A-

 

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Unlike Dead to Me, Netflix’s High Seas isn’t particularly clever, nor is it on anyone’s Emmy list. But it is a welcome respite from the ocean of jaded 2020 fare. Were it not for its spectacular, high-definition scenery, this comic mystery could be straight out of a 1940s Hollywood studio.

In other words, it’s mindless comfort food. So sue me. Grade: B

 

If you tire of the plot – something awful is always threatening the passengers of a luxury cruise ship – you’re not likely to tire of the show’s cast of fetching Spanish actresses. Although High Seas is strictly G-rated, this is, after all, 2020, and the stars have all appeared in racier movies or series. Here are the girls in their 1940s garb and in more recent roles:

(Click on pictures for a larger view)

 

Ivana Baquero

 

Ivana stars as Eva, one of two gorgeous snoop sisters aboard the ship. Eva is adorable and innocent.

Ivana the not-so-innocent in a scene from 2017’s Demonios tus ojos (Sister of Mine):

 

         

 

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Alejandra Onieva

 

Alejandra plays Eva’s sister Carolina. She bared her boobs onstage in a 2015 play called El Burlador de Sevilla. Pictures below.

 

 

           

       

       

 

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Natalia Rodriguez

 

Natalia plays Natalia, the mysterious, scheming sister of Carolina’s husband. Nothing mysterious about these shots from 2013’s Three Many Weddings:

 

                   

 

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Laura Prats

 

Laura played lounge singer Clara in season one. Here she is lounging in a scene from 2016’s Marco Polo:

 

 

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We Summon the Darkness

 

In old-school slasher flicks, the psychos were usually male and their victims were often female. But this is the post “Me Too” era, and so in We Summon the Darkness the roles have reversed. (OK, so that was a twist spoiler; but it’s not much of a twist.) Yet one thing hasn’t changed over the years: Old-school slashers were generally ridiculous, and that certainly holds true with this 2019 offering.  It’s well-produced — but not so well-written.

Alexandra Daddario plays the alpha of three female dimwits who hook up with three equally dimwitted boys for a night of drinking and games at her parents’ isolated house. Bad things happen. You know the drill. Release: 2019 Grade: C-

 

Sidebar:

Alexandra Daddario, who stars and is listed as one of the film’s producers, gets to flex her acting chops in We Summon the Darkness. I hadn’t seen Daddario in anything since 2014’s True Detective, in which she memorably flexed a few other things (see below).

 

 

The video clip:

 

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by Soji Shimada

 

I guess you could call Shimada Japan’s answer to Agatha Christie, but I wouldn’t put him in Dame Agatha’s league. Crooked House is a locked-room murder mystery with all of the usual ingredients: an isolated group of suspects, most of whom have something to hide, but not necessarily murder; an eccentric detective to amaze everyone with his astounding deductions; and a convoluted, somewhat clever plot.

I say “somewhat” clever because I didn’t buy the resolution to the story, which is more “howdunit” than whodunit. I suppose that, theoretically, it’s possible that the crimes could be committed per Shimada’s plot. But man … it takes a great deal of goodwill on the readers’ part to buy into it.

 

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Ruminations

 

We don’t separate cops from their police unions, so why do we separate teachers from theirs?

 

I’ve grown weary of hearing about how wonderful our teachers are (give them a raise!), but how awful their unions are. Teachers compose and support these awful unions. Without teachers, they don’t exist. So if you despise the unions, put the blame where it belongs: with teachers.

 

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All of these recent “assaults” on Americans’ civil liberties (I’m looking at you, California) seem to be a big surprise to a lot of people.

 

But this stuff doesn’t really surprise me. I’m a cigarette smoker. If you smoke, you long ago got used to bans and taxes and stigma and the tyranny of big government and majority rule.

 

Welcome to the club, fellow Americans.

 

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Trump’s biggest threat comes from the TINOs — Trumpers in Name Only. These people pretend to support Trump because they feel they must, but their real goal is to undermine him. The TINOs, like their soulmates who are Democrats, are swamp creatures threatened by change to the status quo.

 

I mean, are Lindsey Graham, Jim Jordan, and Mitch McConnell really MAGA fans?

 

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Take a look at the picture above. The old lady represents everyone who’s had it with the violence and intimidation employed by Antifa, Black Lives Matter, and other leftists referred to by mainstream media as “peaceful protesters.” The guy on the left represents everyone who voted for Portland’s Democrat leadership.

Which side do you support?

 

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Meteorologists now refer to certain phenomena as “rain events.” Apparently, it’s no longer impressive enough to simply say “rain.”

 

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Signs on Netflix

 

The Web site Decider describes this genre – the crime drama set in a small town — as a sort of “comfort food” for a lot of viewers. You have a grizzled, often hard-drinking cop. He is likely divorced or widowed, and frequently has a teenage daughter. The tone is grim. Murder happens.

Signs (Znaki in the original Polish) is a decent series, but nothing special. It does, however, fit the “comfort food” bill. You get what you paid for.

And you’ve got to love actress Helena Englert’s ass (below).

 

 

This pose … I am imagining the director saying, “Raise your leg a bit, Helena, and show us a bit more butt cheek.”

 

 

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Am I the only one who thinks this looks like an ad for Grindr?

 

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Dinkle vs. King

 

 

 

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China apparently believes we are a nation of idiots. Just mail a package of seeds to an American, he will mindlessly plant them in his backyard and – presto! – you’re not growing carrots; you’re growing biological destruction.

That’s much more efficient for China than, say, exporting something like the Wuhan Flu, which tends to infect your own citizens.

 

Speaking of China … I’m sorry, but Mark Cuban and his fellow NBA owners need to make a choice: Either they are patriotic Americans, or they are in bed with China. Can’t be both.

I’d say more on this topic, but it’s Saturday and right now I have to go plant some seeds.

 

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Jim Jordan – where to begin with this guy? At times, he seems quite impressive. Like when he went after Saint Fauci, who seems hellbent on currying favor with Hollywood, sports fans, and liberals in general. I also thought Jordan was spot-on during the Trump impeachment.

But Jordan was exposed as a sputtering hypocrite on Tucker Carlson’s show a few days ago, in which he repeatedly dodged questions about Big Tech’s influence over the upcoming election.

Jordan is big on expressing outrage. Problem is, that’s our job, not his. Jordan wasn’t elected to whine and complain about Big Tech; he was elected to actually do something.

Has he, too, been bought off?

 

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Ben Jealous

 

Favorite Name of the Week: Ben Jealous

 

I wonder how often this guy has pissed people off when, during introductions, he extends his hand and says “Ben Jealous?”

 

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Dinkle vs. King

 

 

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Literally.

 

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