Toni Erdmann

grouchyeditor.com Erdmann

 

A bohemian music teacher attempts to reconnect with his uptight, unhappy, businesswoman daughter in Bucharest, and havoc ensues. The two leads (Sandra Huller and Peter Simonischek) have great chemistry, and there are some truly memorable scenes — including a (nude) birthday party to end all birthday parties. But writer-director Maren Ade’s otherwise impressive film has a near-fatal flaw: At 162 minutes, it’s much, much too long. Release: 2016 Grade: B

 

**

 

Hell or High Water

grouchyeditor.com Hell High Water

 

Part Bonnie and Clyde, part old-time Western, Hell or High Water aims for realism, but in its quest to be taken seriously and hammer home some social commentary, it’s not as much fun as it could have been. That is, with the notable exception of crusty (of course) Jeff Bridges, who as a retiring lawman on the hunt for two bank robbers provides the movie’s only source of levity and wit. Release: 2016 Grade: B

 

**

 

Get Out

grouchyeditor.com Get Out

 

A black photographer (Daniel Kaluuya) goes home with his white girlfriend (Allison Williams) to meet her parents, and he’s in for quite a weekend. For an hour or so, Get Out cleverly skewers upper-class white folk who feign empathy and understanding of race relations, but then writer-director Jordan Peele’s story sinks into horror-movie clichés. It’s a sharp and suspenseful ride – until that last act. Release: 2017 Grade: B

 

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*****

 

 

*****

 

CNN was unhappy when this meme of Trump pummeling “CNN Logo Head” went viral:

 

 

In the interest of fairness, during his West Virginia speech Trump pummeled “Fox News Logo Head”:

 

 

*****

 

 

Sure, because Clapper is intimately acquainted with “untruthful statements.”

 

*****

 

Fox is apparently hiring Viagra spokeswomen for its panel shows:

 

 

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by Madeleine L’Engle

grouchyeditor.com Wrinkle in Time

 

Observations about a Children’s Classic

 

A Wrinkle in Time is a beloved children’s book about a little girl who goes on a dangerous quest to find her missing scientist-father. It was published in 1963, but I’m a little behind in my reading, so I just now got around to it. Random thoughts:

 

  • There are heavy doses of both religion and science in the plot, yet author Madeleine L’Engle manages to make them peaceably co-exist.

 

  • I kept thinking of the book’s likely literary influences, pre- and post-publication. Before: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Invasion of the Body Snatchers. After: the Harry Potter books.  J.K. Rowling is the more entertaining, skilled writer, with stronger characters; L’Engle deals more overtly with adult themes.

 

  • I’m guessing that Wrinkle was (is?) more popular with girls than with boys. I mean, any story that ends with the heroine conquering evil by (spoiler alert!) declaring “I love you!” to her baby brother is going to be a tough sell to the mud-and-trucks crowd.

 

  • I believe I’ll pass on the upcoming Hollywood adaptation, mostly because it reportedly features the Queen of Smarm, Oprah Winfrey. (I might change my mind if Winfrey is cast as the dreadful blob of brain, but I’m guessing that’s not the case.)

 

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New White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci has been busy rewriting the lyrics to Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody”:

 

Is this the real life?

Is this just fantasy?

Caught in a landslide

They will all be fired by me.

 

Open your eyes

Look up to the skies and see

I’m just a poor boy, I need no sympathy

I’m not trying to suck my own cock

They’ll all be fired by me.

 

 

grouchyeditor.com Anthony

 

 

I see a little silhouetto of a man

Scaramucci, Scaramucci, will you do the fucking tango?

 

Nothing really matters

Anyone can see

Nothing really matters

They’ll all be fired by me.

 

 

*****

 

TV Update

 

Netflix subscribers might want to check out either of the following shows:

 

Detectorists

 

Toby Jones and Mackenzie Crook play small-town Brits who take up metal detecting as a hobby. The comedy is a bit Laurel and Hardy, a bit Doc Martin, and a bit The Andy Griffith Show. The tone is slow-burn charming, but several episodes from the first season had me laughing out loud. Normally, sitcoms do not inspire me to laugh out loud.

 

Ozark

 

Jason Bateman and Laura Linney play parents forced to relocate their family to the Missouri boonies when they fall into disfavor, to put it mildly, with a Mexican drug cartel. It’s not Breaking Bad, but it’s entertaining and a refreshing change of locale from the usual haunts of dramas like this, i.e., New York or L.A.

 

*****

 

I’m trying to picture what a new American civil war might look like. Should the red states and blue states declare open hostilities, I’m thinking it will bear little resemblance to our conflict in the 1860s.

We are much too fat and lazy to do battle in the fields of Virginia. No, I’m thinking this war will have to be fought from the comfort of easy chairs in our living rooms. It will likely be some sort of video-game war.

 

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**

 

 

People look back at the hair and fashion of the 1970s and they can’t stop laughing.

But you can’t tell me that in 40 years, maybe less, they’ll be able to stop laughing at hair like this:

 

 

 

**

 

Bad news, worse news for Saturday Night Live fans.

The bad news is that we won’t get any more Melissa McCarthy spoofs of dearly departed Sean Spicer.

The worse news is that we’ll still get Alec Baldwin’s tired Trump impersonation.

 

**

 

Critics love the term “peak TV.” I think they might be misspelling it.

 

“Peek TV” means you spend four or five minutes taking a peek at the latest piece of crap, then change the channel.

 

**

 

Awkward Conversations with Mom and Dad:

 

 

“Hi mom and dad. Guess what? I’m starring in a movie!”

(pause)

“No … I play the meat.”

 

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by Agatha Christie

grouchyeditor.com Blue Train

 

The following sentence is from my 2013 review of Agatha Christie’s Death in the Clouds:

 

“My other complaint with Death in the Clouds is that, once again, Christie’s plot hinges on the failure of people to recognize, at close quarters, someone they really ought to recognize.”

 

I have the same fruitless grouse about The Mystery of the Blue Train. I say fruitless because it’s not as if the author, who died in 1976, might mend her ways. We just have to accept that, in many of her stories, witnesses tend to have poor vision and/or recall.

But it’s a Christie whodunit, and it’s got Hercule Poirot, and the ending fooled me. So there you go.

 

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“Out-of-Context” Week

 

The problem with Internet video software is that it encourages one’s inner 12-year-old. It’s much too easy to create short, childish, out-of-context videos that make your TV targets look bad.

We did it anyway.

 

Local news anchors Chris and Liz were sent to the lake, where Liz shared Too Much Information:

 

Far be it from us to imply that Chris and Liz’s bare-bottomed escapades were anything other than, uh, innocent.

 

Meanwhile, conservative firebrand Tomi Lahren revealed on Fox News what her enemies would like to do:

 

 

I suppose you could call the above videos “fake news.”

 

Fortunately, the world is full of real news, such as this gem courtesy of The A.V. Club.

 

**

 

Every day we learn that more and more people attended that controversial meeting between Donald Trump, Jr. and a Russian lawyer.

 

At this rate, in a month we will discover that the meeting was actually a televised congressional hearing open to the public and media.

 

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 The Interview

 

Seems obvious that if we wind up in a nuclear war with North Korea, Hollywood will be to blame. There is precedent for this kind of thing.

 

grouchyeditor.com Chaplin

 The Great Dictator

 

Back in 1940, Charlie Chaplin released a satire about Adolf Hitler called The Great Dictator, and a few years later we were engaged in a world war with the mustachioed madman. In 2014, Seth Rogen and James Franco released a comedy about Kim Jong-un called The Interview, and then …

Nutzoid dictators don’t take kindly to Hollywood spoofs.

 

*****

 

Quote of the Week:

 

There are new hamsters in the Big Brother house, so we should have no shortage of memorable quotes this summer.

 

 Cody and his gal-pal

 

Cody: “I’ve done everything stupid that I possibly can.”

Cody’s Girlfriend: “That’s true.”

 

Also per tradition, the houseguests this year are quite camera-shy:

 

*****

 

grouchyeditor.com models

 

Maybe the new Shakespeare series on TNT will be one of the greatest shows in television history. But when I see ads in which the Bard of Avon is portrayed by yet another male-model type, well ….

 

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Elle

grouchyeditor.com Elle

 

Elle begins with a brutal rape, but in its aftermath the victim does not go to the police, nor does she inform close friends. In fact, middle-aged Michele appears to be borderline blasé about the attack. When her rapist continues to stalk her, she almost seems to welcome it. But why? The answer unfolds gradually, and while it does Elle is a tantalizing mystery with a commanding performance by Isabelle Huppert. But once we learn the reason for her strange behavior – not to mention the identity of the rapist – the suspense of the film begins to lose its power. Release: 2016 Grade: B

 

**

 

Passengers

grouchyeditor.com Passengers

 

Considered a critical and box-office failure, it’s true that Passengers is no science-fiction classic, but if you enjoy big-budget spaceship movies that look cool and keep the plot simple, as I do, you could do a lot worse. Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt play space tourists who get a much longer trip than they bargained for in this essentially simple, old-fashioned romance. Release: 2016 Grade: B

 

**

 

Her

grouchyeditor.com Her

 

At first, I was disinclined to like this drama about technology and our evolving connection to it. Protagonist Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix) and his privileged pals seemed to embody every negative stereotype about West Coast liberals: living lives of economic ease, self-absorbed, and endlessly seeking emotional safe spaces. But Theodore’s growing relationship with his computer operating system, a husky-voiced charmer dubbed “Samantha,” tapped into some disturbing truths about the modern world. The result is a film that achieves something rare. It makes you think and it makes you feel. Release: 2013 Grade: A-

 

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“Talking” Heads Who Just Can’t Seem To

 

On Wednesday, MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell showed why he’s one of America’s preeminent news anchors, giving viewers a master class on how to read a teleprompter:

 

**

 

grouchyeditor.com Harf

 

Someone needs to send talking head Marie Harf to a speech therapist. Either that, or certain words and phrases need to be off-limits to the mush-mouthed miss.

Seems like every time I catch Harf on TV, she is discussing something like the “administration’s structure” or its “strategy,” which comes out of her mouth as the “adminishtration’s shtructure” and “shtrategy.”

Luckily for Harf, the most common word on cable news these days is “Russia.”

 

**

  

Amazon is now censoring something it calls “spite speech.” In other words, if Amazon’s crew of amateur editors doesn’t like something you write in a product review, they spite you by banning it.

 

**

 

grouchyeditor.com Peaks

 

The most recent episode of David Lynch’s Twin Peaks was off the rails. The last time I was this confused/mesmerized by on-screen weirdness I was 10 years old and watching Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey in the Roxy Theater in Bird Island, Minnesota. (That’s not a complaint.)

 

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