Monthly Archives: January 2014

by Colin Dexter

Cain

 

Yes, there are murders and villains and red herrings in Daughters, but plot is never the main attraction in a Colin Dexter mystery.  The real appeal is twofold:  1) Dexter’s tetchy protagonist, Chief Inspector Morse, who relishes classical music, drinking, smoking, and women – not necessarily in that order; and 2) Dexter’s contagious love of the English language. If you dig masterful prose with your homicide investigations, Dexter is your man.  Hes certainly mine.

 

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NFL: Kansas City Chiefs at Oakland Raiders

 

                         Lacy1    Lacy2

 

Cheerleader “Lacy T” (above) is suing the Oakland Raiders for … geez, I dunno.  Not for money, apparently.

 

Lacy T:  It’s not even about money.

CNN’s Brooke Baldwin:  It’s not?

Lacy T:  It’s about them paying everyone on the team for the hours that we worked and to change the contract to where next year’s Raiderettes get paid every two weeks.

Baldwin:  So it is about making more money?

Lacy T:  I’m sorry, what was that?

Baldwin:  So it is, though, a little bit about making more money?

Lacy T:  Obviously, we are working.  We are working really hard and we are extremely talented ….  Any hour that you work in a week, you expect to be paid under the law.

 

But it’s not about money.  Apparently.

 
 
                                                 *****
 
 
                             Here it …  Clinton2   comes!

 

 
 
                                                 *****
 
 
                        Fatty
 
 
I was watching Saturday Night Live last week when a commercial came on for DirecTV.  Kind of sad because the ad, featuring “big fatty face” (above), was much funnier than anything on the show.

 

                                                 *****

 

From “The Grouchy Weekly Review,” April 4, 2010:

 

About a month ago, I was watching [Jimmy Kimmel’s] show when he had a segment about a little girl who was infatuated with some teen pop star, and Kimmel arranged to have the pop star surprise the precocious tot with a visit on the show.  It was cute.  End of story.  I thought.

Some time later, I noticed the pop star’s name, Justin Bieber, in the newspaper. Then he showed up in Newsweek.  And in Time.  And in Entertainment Weekly.  And on Chelsea Handler’s TV show.  Now I see the kid is slated to appear on Saturday Night Live.  Who the hell IS this kid?

 

 

                                          Bieber

 

*****

 

                                      Still …  Clinton1  coming!

 

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Hunt1

 

I wouldn’t want to be a Little League coach, or a Big Brother, or a grade-school teacher.  The consequences for an adult male in those occupations who falls under suspicion of improper behavior,  or, as Mads Mikkelsen discovers in The Hunt, sexual misconduct with a child, are simply too harrowing.

Director-writer Thomas Vinterberg makes clear from the outset that Mikkelson, as Danish kindergarten teacher Lucas, is innocent of all wrongdoing when a 5-year-old girl innocently leads another teacher to believe otherwise.  Once the gossip mill begins to churn in the village where Lucas lives and works, his situation goes from unsettling to life-threatening.

Watching The Hunt, I was reminded of the American film Prisoners, in which another adult male is suspected of kidnapping children.  The Hollywood approach to a film like this includes violence, gore, and narrative “twists.”  The goal, apparently, is to shock and awe the audience, because the story itself is not enough.  The European approach – at least in this film – is to eschew twists and gore (there is some limited violence) and instead focus on characters.  The result is a gripping, realistic drama.  There are no great surprises in this movie, but there are no head-scratching, “yeah, right” moments, either.

The only negative for me about The Hunt is its ending, which seems too pat and reassuring – at least, that is, until the final shot.         Grade:  A-

 

Hunt2 Hunt3

 

Director:  Thomas Vinterberg  Cast:  Mads Mikkelsen, Thomas Bo Larsen, Annika Wedderkopp, Lasse Fogelstrom, Susse Wold, Anne Louise Hassing, Lars Ranthe, Alexandra Rapaport  Release:  2012

 

Hunt4

                                         

Watch the Trailer  (click here)

 

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True2

 

 

                                           TV Update

 

It’s the dog days of (new) TV, but there are a few bright spots.

True Detective
I’ve only seen the first episode, but there is good news:  Woody Harrelson, who is equally adept at playing good guys and bad guys, is a folksy good guy in this … or is he?  Matthew McConaughey, an actor who strikes me as insufferably arrogant in many of his films, is low-key and intriguing here as an eccentric cop … or is he?  (HBO)  Grade:  Too early to say.

 

 

Lily

 

Lilyhammer:   From a review in the New York Times:  “So how is Lilyhammer?  Odd mostly.”  It is odd, a peculiar mix of slapstick, culture-clash humor and, occasionally, graphic violence.  But Steven van Zandt is endlessly watchable as the Mafia’s answer to Archie Bunker, and the supporting cast of Norwegian bumblers is priceless.   Another plus:  The scenery is spectacular.  (Netflix)  Grade:  B+

 

 

Myrtle

 


Welcome to Myrtle Manor:   I quit watching Honey Boo Boo last year when the hillbilly novelty wore off.  I have no idea why the same thing hasn’t happened to me (yet) with the cast of trailer trash on Myrtle Manor.  (TLC)  Grade:  No grade everyone dropped out of school.

 

 

AbAnna


Downton Abbey:  Fans are complaining (“outraged,” according to The Huffington Post) about the rape of their beloved “Anna.”  Fans are ridiculous.  This is a melodrama; thus, melodramatic things happen.  Would those “outraged” fans prefer that the major conflict on DA revolve around the mystery of who spilled tea on the library carpet?  (PBS)  Grade:  B+

 

                                           *****

 

PartridgeGilligan


I’m old enough to remember both Gilligan’s Island and The Partridge Family when they originally aired.  They were considered junk TV when they aired, mostly because they were – and are – junk TV.  But thanks to nostalgia, it’s now big news when Reuben and the Professor die.

 

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FatChris

 

I suppose we could make a Humpty Dump- … er, Chris Christie joke here, but this is a classy Web site, so we won’t.

 

                                                *****

 

Suer

 

 Bullshit Artist of the Week:  Joy Galicki

 

Jake Tapper:  Joy, what exactly are you suing for?  How much money?

Joy Galicki:  This … is not a money thing.  It’s the fact that I physically got sick over this, is what bothers me the most, and I’m very skittish to go over the George Washington Bridge, which I have to do on a daily basis.

Poor Joy, pictured above (left) with her lawyer – who appears to be having trouble keeping a straight face – was traumatized by being stuck in traffic during the New Jersey lanes closing.  Nice to know that, should her class-action lawsuit succeed, the taxpayers will help make Joy feel less “skittish.”


                                                  *****

 

I woke up Monday morning and saw this on my computer:

 

Temperature

 

I went straight back to bed.  Wouldn’t you?

 

                                                  *****

 

Seagal

 

Steven Seagal is contemplating a gubernatorial run in Arizona.  If  I’m his opponent, I’m certain to use this picture of Steven “reaching out” to a young constituent.

 

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by William Shakespeare

Venice

 

All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely … smug, materialistic gentiles or vindictive, malicious Jews?  That’s pretty much the unflattering picture painted by the Bard in this controversial “comedy.”  For the young, heterosexual, and moneyed, the play ends happily.  For others, not so much.

There are Shakespearean revisionists out there who refuse to believe that the beloved playwright was anti-Semitic but, if he wasn’t down on Jews, he was certainly down on Shylock, the notorious Jewish moneylender at the heart of this story about obstacles to young love.

As always with Shakespeare, methinks you must read this play more than once.  You read the first time (something of a chore) constantly referring to annotations for word definitions and cultural references; you read again for the pleasure of the poetry.

 

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Mitt1

 

I’ve studied this controversial Christmas card featuring the Romneys and their grandchildren, but I fail to see what all the fuss is about.

 

                                                 *****

 

Amazon’s new Kindle Fire tablet piqued my interest, so I checked out some customer reviews.

 

TVGo


I’d say that’s a five-star review to end all five-star reviews.

 

    *****

 

     Penguins
Penguins2


I don’t understand what ails CNN.  Cooking shows, travelogues, penguin documentaries … everything but actual news.  And I used to think that MSNBC was bad with its non-stop airing of prison shows.

 

                                               *****

 

Putin2

 

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin announced that he will combat rumors that he has a small penis by competing in 50 events at the upcoming Winter Olympics.  Putin, above left with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, vowed to win gold in all 50 events.

World-renowned for his manliness, Putin last competed in a sporting event in 2006, when he exhibited great skill at the Kiss Small Boy on the Belly Games (below).

 

Putin2006

 

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You’re Next

.      Next1  Next2

 

Anyone who subscribes to a movie-streaming service like Netflix can tell you this:  There is no shortage of low-budget horror flicks .  To stand apart, a good chiller must either offer something new (The Blair Witch Project) or excel at generating suspense (anything from director James Wan).  You’re Next, yet another home-invasion story, does neither.  It has decent production values and competent acting, but like too many films in this genre, it substitutes gore for genuine fear and dishes up characters who do unbelievably stupid things.  Release:  2013  Grade:  C- 

 

*****

 

Prisoners

.      PRISONERS  PRISONERS

 

I am imagining a pre-production meeting for PrisonersSuit A:  “Excellent story.  Two daughters go missing and we then explore the grief of their families.”  Suit B:  “Sure, but that’s not enough.  Audiences expect thrills, so let’s toss in a convoluted serial-kidnapper angle.  And we need some snakes in the movie.”  Suit C:  “Sounds good, but young people want blood and guts, so let’s include some graphic torture scenes.”  And so we got Prisoners, a good-looking, well-acted production that’s too clever by half and too long by about 30 minutes.  Snakes?  My eyes are still rolling.  Release:  2013  Grade:  B

 

*****

 

Insidious:  Chapter 2

.     3S7C3257.CR2  Insidious2b

 

I’ve praised director James Wan (see above), but I’m going to stop doing that because after watching this tepid sequel to Wan’s creepy Insidious, it’s clear that he’s lost his mojo.  Uninspired and clichéd (pianos play themselves; battery-powered toys turn themselves on), Insidious: Chapter 2 finds the Lambert family once again beset by evil spirits — and Wan recycling scare tactics from better chillers, including his own.  Release:  2013  Grade:  C

 

*****

 

North Face

.      North1  North2

 

I have no idea how much of this fact-based German film about an ill-fated mountain-climbing expedition involves stunt work, or how much of it is special effects, but the result is hair-raising — especially if you have a fear of heights.  A subplot about Austrian-German loyalty to Hitler in 1936 is distracting, but once the characters begin climbing the mountain … damnRelease:  2008  Grade:  B+

 

*****

 

The Bling Ring

.      Bling Ring (2013) Katie Chang and Israel Broussard  Bling2

 

“The Bling Ring,” in case you’ve forgotten, was a band of young Californians who gained notoriety for burglarizing the homes of Hollywood’s rich and famous, including Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan.  Sofia Coppola’s film is curiously flat yet watchable.  We observe these vapid young people as they observe (and burgle) their celebrity role models — and none of us learn a thing of value.  Release:  2013  Grade:  B-

 

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