Tuesday, December 31, 2019
Thursday, December 26, 2019
I won't properly review The Rise of Skywalker here, nor will I spoil anything for you. I will say this--American cinema is in bad, bad shape.
My overall, general reaction to this film is that it typifies the need to please everyone, especially foreign film markets, without having any core beliefs present in the actual film or story. This is a summer movie, released at Christmas, that should be taken as a fun ride through a world that is already familiar. If you take a step back and look at the Lucas films (the original three), the prequels, and the JJ Abrams series (Rian Johnson's lone contribution is meaningless here) as something to watch when nothing is on, they're fine.
Really, you could turn Brendan Fraser's Mummy movies into the "new" Star Wars and not miss a beat as long as you don't bring JJ Abrams in to ruin everything. Neither are cinema. They're intended to be entertainment, and there's nothing wrong with that and there's no need to be snobbish about it. The fact is, they work on many levels. But they are not "elite" storytelling, nor are they as important as they are made out to be. In fact, they're just simple, enjoyable films that provide a lot of visual excitement. They are not films where adults speak to one another. They are films where adults escape from reality and shoot things that you don't mind seeing killed.
Here's my overall problem with that. Every attempt to make that excitement happen comes with a suspension of disbelief that gets old after a while. There's only so much you can take. And these films overload you with things that seem to be about marketing toys than they are about story telling.
Overhyped kiddie movies that are designed to appeal to teenagers in China? Yeah, I would agree with that. We make far too much of that crap right now. It's choking out actual creativity, little by little. Star Wars was supposed to revolutionize things. It did so visually, but did not improve story telling at all.
There's a really good story embedded here, and some day, someone will reboot that story and focus on it in a way that will really enhance it for an audience that, I hope, will be ready to experience it. There are hours and hours of performances from great actors that stumbles on dialogue that was added as an afterthought. Is there a single Star Wars screenplay that doesn't read like absolute shit? Honestly, with all of the writers in the world, you couldn't find someone to make the script work? Ever? And, yes, I remember the work Lawrence Kasdan did on the original films. Even he couldn't fully shine the turd.
You have talented actors in every scene, and some of the moments really shine. As a whole, there's not much for them to do except adapt to things that bounce around on a sound stage. There's very little acting between people, but, when there are real conversations, they are brief and forgotten on the next amusement ride through the green screen world that appears, as if by magic, and right on cue.
Star Wars was always more enjoyable as a book, for me, than it was as a film. I can remember reading the original movie tie-in books, as well as Splinter of the Mind's Eye and the series of canonical books that were released in the 1990s. This was always escapism for me, and I like that sort of thing. In the hands of skilled writers, the story is far more enjoyable than in the hands of film makers who are pressured on all sides to make something everyone will like that is full of things everyone will buy that won't offend everyone who lives in a part of the world that hates originality and rebellion.
Having said all of this, Rogue One is still the only decent Star Wars movie. I will welcome your agreement.
Thursday, December 5, 2019
Why do reporters seem to think that Trump's affair with Karen McDougal should still be treated as something that "allegedly" happened?
Karen McDougal, the woman who claims that she had an affair with Donald Trump after they met in 2006, filed a defamation lawsuit against Fox News on Thursday over a Tucker Carlson Tonight segment in which he inferred that she engaged in extortion.
It was McDougal, a former Playboy model, who sold her story to the National Enquirer just before the 2016 election, but did not publish it, in a practice known as “catch and kill.” Federal prosecutors later said that American Media CEO David Pecker coordinated with Trump’s then-attorney, Michael Cohen, to pay McDougal and later be reimbursed.
In December of last year, Carlson said that the “facts are undisputed” that McDougal and another woman who claimed to have had an affair with Trump, Stormy Daniels, “approached Donald Trump and threatened to ruin his career and humiliate his family if he doesn’t give them money.”
The White House is denying a new report that President Trump had an extramarital affair before he launched his political career. A story in the New Yorker says former Playboy model Karen McDougal had the affair with Donald Trump for about nine months.
McDougal says it started when she met Mr. Trump in 2006 at the Playboy mansion following a taping of his reality show "The Apprentice," putting the alleged affair less than two years into Mr. Trump's marriage to wife Melania. The article is also raising questions about whether another publication tried to bury McDougal's story, reports CBS News' Jacqueline Alemany.
"Karen McDougal, in this written document, stresses that her relationship with Donald Trump was entirely consensual, but her story reveals commonalities with story after story that has now emerged about Donald Trump's either consensual relationships with women or alleged non-consensual advances," said Ronan Farrow, the reporter who broke the story for the New Yorker.
McDougal sold the rights to her story to the publisher of the National Enquirer, barring her from discussing the details of her alleged relationship with Mr. Trump. The story never ran.
McDougal refused to take money for sex with Trump:
Donald Trump once tried to offer Karen McDougal money after they had been intimate, the former Playboy model told Anderson Cooper Thursday in an exclusive interview on CNN.
"After we had been intimate, he tried to pay me, and I actually didn't know how to take that," she said of their first alleged sexual encounter.
When Cooper asked if Trump tried to hand her money, McDougal said, "He did."
"I don't even know how to describe the look on my face," she said. "It must have been so sad."
McDougal appeared on CNN to tell her story of an alleged affair she had with now-President Donald Trump over a decade ago and its emotional fallout, as well as to air her grievances with the company she's suing over the story.
McDougal said their relationship was consensual and loving, and that they saw each other regularly through the duration of the alleged affair.
"I can tell you we saw each other a minimum five times a month, up to bigger numbers per month," she said.
McDougal said they were together "many dozens of times," and responded in the affirmative when asked if they were intimate -- saying later that Trump had not used protection.
She added that she did not know Trump might have been with other women at the time besides his wife.
"I didn't know he was intimate with other ladies," she said. "I thought I was the only one."
Monday, November 4, 2019
Tuesday, October 15, 2019
I don’t buy furniture from thrift stores, but I recognized an IKEA bedroom piece that I thought might be worth picking up. The piece had hung together, and it was at least ten years old (I doubt you can still get one today because it was constructed of actual boards as opposed to particle board material).
But the Invisalign insert that was stuck to the inside of the top drawer was a deal breaker for me.
I can put up with a lot, but this is a bridge too far (is there a pun here?).
While I am pleased someone made a donation, and that they parted with an otherwise serviceable piece of IKEA furniture, it should come down to a matter of human decency to properly dispose of something like this. A responsible person does not leave their disposable dental inserts all over the goddamned place.
Sunday, August 4, 2019
In the days after she became the most-Googled candidate at the first of two Democratic primary debates this week, Marianne Williamson faced sharp scrutiny on her past statements about vaccines and mental health during combative interviews with MSNBC’s Ari Melber and CNN’s Anderson Cooper.
On Friday night, she found herself in the warm embrace of HBO’s Bill Maher.
Williamson didn’t seem to know quite what to expect when she sat down with the Real Time host midway through his first show back on the air in several weeks. He called her “too interesting to run for president” before suggesting that her spiritual philosophy “sounds like Scientology.” Taken aback, she asked, “How can you even say that?”
“It just sounds like it, I’m not saying it is,” Maher responded quickly, walking back the perceived criticism. Despite his nearly militant anti-religious stance, he seemed oddly taken with her message about a “higher power.”
Anyone who kisses his ass from now on deserves to be mocked.
Friday, July 5, 2019
Sebastian Stan is one of those actors who should be very well known to other actors, but Gwyneth Paltrow keeps forgetting who he is for some odd reason:
It could very well be that Paltrow has no idea what she’s working on at any given time, being either confused or disorganized. In the last century, we would surmise that she was on drugs or that she was just flaky and ridiculous (kinda the same thing).
No one assumes someone is on drugs anymore, so that’s the point of all of this. We have gotten to a point when a reasonably intelligent person who can’t remember working with Sebastian Stan is not automatically accused of being heavily into drugs or completely wasted all of the time. I call that progress.
Wednesday, June 26, 2019
This is a very specific blog post, and it’s not directed at you.
It’s directed at the person who wrote this article and the editor, or editors, who allowed it to be published.
Who in the holy hell cares what Anthony Scaramucci has to say about anything? Who cares what he thinks about politics? About American foreign policy? About any goddamned thing imaginable?
What in the hell is wrong with you people? Scaramucci is not a credible source of information, opinion or expertise. He is a rolling sack of meat jammed into a suit. He’s less than informed about actual things happening in this world—he’s a discredited, unemployable jackass with no redeemable qualities.
You dutifully wrote down what he had to say, and you came up with this?
Former White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci believes it would be "very smart" for Iran to de-escalate tensions with the United States, amid fears of another military confrontation in the Middle East.
President Donald Trump announced fresh sanctions on the Islamic Republic on Monday, following the downing of an unmanned American drone last week.
The U.S. president also warned an Iranian attack on Americans would be met with "great and overwhelming force" and "obliteration."
Oh, man. If the Mooch says it would be “very smart” for the Republic of Iran to do something, well, we’d all better get in line behind his wise and learned advice and follow it, huh? This is million dollar stuff here.
Jesus fucking Christ, you people. You’ve elevated a barely sentient pissant to the level of what, exactly? Why don’t you get Omarosa’s opinion on textile trade with South Asia? Why don’t you get Corey Lewandowski’s opinion on relations with the opposition running against the government of Malaysia? How about asking Tom Price what we should do about our treaty rights in relation to all things concerning the Laplanders?
These are the stupidest times of our lives, bar none.
Friday, June 21, 2019
Anyone who argues that Batman (1989) was anything other than a steaming turd is trying to rewrite history. It was actually a pretty shitty movie, and it was largely acknowledged to be trashy and campy on purpose:
Hollywood's obsession with Batman began thirty years ago on June 23, 1989 when Tim Burton, Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson showed doubters that The Dark Knight was worthy of the big screen. Batmanearned a massive $411.5 million globally, but faced a tough battle to the big screen that involved rejection from nearly every studio in Hollywood and its leading lady being re-cast at the last minute.
Batman has an origin story that begins in the most unassuming of places — with a twenty-something comic book geek attending college at Indiana University in Bloomington. In 1972, Michael Uslan landed on the radar of Sol Harrison, the vice president of DC Comics in New York, because the junior in college was teaching the world’s first-ever college accredited course on comic books.
“Sol said that what I was doing at Indiana was very innovative and good for the whole comic book industry," Uslan tells The Hollywood Reporter. “Sol and DC’s then President Carmine Infantino, flew me to New York and they offered me a job.” Uslan worked in New York in summers, and he was put on retainer while he was at Indiana.
At the time, DC Comics had been acquired by Warners Communications, a division of Warner Publishing. “The Warner Publishing brass, generally speaking, were not a bunch of happy campers that they owned a comic book company,” Uslan says. “They only saw value in Superman.”
In the following years, Uslan graduated from law school and cut his teeth in the film industry at United Artists. His time there prepared Uslan to make his dream of producing a dark and serious Batman movie a reality. His first stop: getting the film rights.
“The day came when I went back to Sol Harrison and said, 'Sol, I want to buy the rights to Batman,’” Uslan recalls. “Sol was genuinely apoplectic. He was very fond of me, which I greatly appreciated. He said 'Michael, Michael for God’s sake don't do this. I don't want to see you lose all your money. Don’t you understand that after Batman went off the air on TV the brand became as dead as a dodo? Nobody’s interested in Batman anymore’ I countered with, ‘But Sol, nobody’s ever done a dark, serious Batman feature film. This is almost going to be like almost a new form of entertainment!’”
There was nothing dark or serious about Batman because, for all intents and purposes, Tim Burton was and still is a terrible filmmaker. I mean, go back and watch this, and then watch the one with poor Danny DeVito as a human penguin, and then get back to me about how these films should have been taken seriously. You could have put Adam West in these films and no one would have said a word.
Michael Keaton is a great actor, but he was largely wasted in these films. They were not “serious” in any sense of the word. They were expensive, exploitative, and copied elements from other films, such as Die Hard. If anything, send Bruce Willis fifty bucks. And, come on. If Jack Nicholson’s obituary mentions his role as the Joker, then you know something’s wrong.
Tuesday, May 14, 2019
I don’t know if there is anyone who was more omnipresent than Tim Conway when I was growing up. He was always on television, always funny, always working. His ability to do live improvisational comedy (well, live to tape, anyway) was greatly underappreciated when he was on television.
Thursday, May 9, 2019
Actress Lori Loughlin has lost acting gigs and been the subject of public wrath after being charged in the college admissions scandal.
But beyond the court of public opinion, how strong is the legal case against Loughlin and her fashion designer husband?
That is the question her legal team is now trying to answer.
Loughlin and her husband have refused to plead out to federal charges, and it appears they aren’t in any hurry to do so as their legal team hunts for errors in the prosecution’s case.
“Her attorneys have made it clear that they are not going to be rushing into any deal with the prosecution,” said Louis Shapiro, an experienced federal litigator. “They want to perform a thorough analysis of the evidence and then help their client make an informed decision about what is in her best interest to do.”
The couple feel they were genuinely duped by William “Rick” Singer, the admitted mastermind of the scheme, into paying $500,000 to help get their daughters into the University of Southern California, according to a source familiar with the negotiations.
Loughlin and her husband, Mossimo Giannulli, had no sense they were engaging in any kind of crime, hence their not guilty pleas and continued reluctance to plead out, said the source, who spoke to the Los Angeles Times on the condition of anonymity.
The real threat here is not to Loughlin’s acting career but the future of her daughters on social media. All of that has collapsed. What looked to be an extremely lucrative future as an influencer has ended up being a nightmare run through the back alleys of fraud and money laundering. The actions of the parents have tainted the future of their children. Instead of owning up to a mistake, they’re going to weasel their way out of this by exploiting technicalities.
I can guarantee you—the case against Loughlin probably has some holes in it. But what’s missing here is at least a tacit admission that rich kids get into colleges and college admissions officials don’t seem to dig very hard when it comes to figuring out who should or shouldn’t get it.
America is not a meritocracy. America is rapidly becoming a kleptocracy separated by the same kinds of class barriers found in old European nations. We have always known that there were universities like Yale and Harvard that would crank out mediocre human beings that would be gifted with outlandish expectations and achievement goals upon graduation. This has given us our current political situation—a stumbling, incompetent trio of generations that failed to stop Trumpism, fascism, and nationalism.
You can hardly fault a TV actress for trying to set her indifferent kids up for a lifetime of skating by on their rather thin accomplishments. Perhaps Americans would have seen some benefit from experiencing the leveling grace of the guillotine. Who knows?
Wednesday, May 8, 2019
I get what Seth Meyers is trying to do here, but Meghan McCain is a howling mess:
Meghan McCain, the daughter of the late Senator John McCain, struggled through an awkward interview with NBC host Seth Meyers on Tuesday, with much of the conversation focused on McCain’s past comments about Democratic Congresswoman Ilhan Omar.
McCain drew criticism after appearing on the This Week program with George Stephanopoulos just one day after the April 27 Chabad of Poway synagogue shooting in San Diego. She brought up Omar’s criticism of the pro-Israel lobby in the U.S. when discussing the synagogue attack.
"When we’re having conversations about anti-Semitism, we should be looking at the most extreme on both sides," McCain said on This Week. "I would bring up Congresswoman Ilhan Omar and some of her comments that got so much attention, and in my opinion Nancy Pelosi wasn't harsh enough on her for trafficking in anti-Semitic language, talking about ‘All about the Benjamins’ and how Jewish people had ‘hypnotized’ the world.”
On Tuesday, Meyers put it to McCain that linking criticism of the pro-Israel lobby in America to anti-Semitic violence was irresponsible, Mediaite reported. “I do think it’s fairly dangerous, and you brought it up after Congresswoman Omar had also had some death threats against her,” he said.
McCain’s public persona really does suggest that she could be the Princess of Arizona, and nothing has been more apt as far as describing why she needs to join her husband at The Federalist and write unhinged rants all day long about Democrats who live their lives like everyone else.
The Senator’s daughter illustrates perfectly why there are laws against nepotism and why using a dead man’s reputation to stake out the high ground when it comes to moral superiority is a bad business strategy. I don’t see where she has any experience, ability, or talent, but she does explode right on cue while on television.
It was a fantastic trick that John McCain pulled on the American media complex. Universally dismissed as a Senator, he ingratiated himself with media personalities who were gullible and could be manipulated and they, in turn, created a nonsensical place for him as America’s Maverick Truth Teller. Nothing could be further from the truth. McCain whored himself out to every conservative special interest that would pay him. He was a reliable cog in the GOP’s Senate machine, casting one admirable vote out of thousands.
I think it’s safe to say that we ignore Meghan.
Saturday, April 20, 2019
If you were hoping for a pause of the insanity of having a sitting president who is compromised by the Russians and can’t stop obstructing justice, then this is not your weekend.
Who in their right mind would be seen in public with Trump after the release of the Mueller Report? Well, now you have your answer—Rush Limbaugh, of course, and I suppose Sean Hannity and Lou Dobbs are wondering what they did wrong.
To mount a full-throated defense of the indefensible is to divorce yourself from facts and reality with regards to Trump. Your garden variety publicist would be of two minds here—one, you could avoid the most toxic figure in America and maintain a low profile. Two, you could be seen as supportive and friendly, but risk being tarnished by association.
Whoever advised golfer Lexi Thompson to appear in a photograph with this president and one of the most venal conservatives in American history should be fired:
It’s a fact that Trump and Limbaugh have larger breasts than this young, athletic woman. I’m not sure what kind of a hot take that is, but it is factually correct.
The cult of Trump is all in, baby, all in. They don’t care what “voters” think because they know their Russian friends can bail them out of tight races. They don’t care what the serfs have to say about a damned thing. They have one constituency, and it’s a pitifully small group of oligarchs in Russia and the United States who are going to spend the next twenty-one months on this Earth stealing everything that they can get their hands on.
I had a bunch of tubby jokes, but fat shaming these men is impossible.
They don’t know what shame is anymore. They blunder through life, fucking everything up, and they can’t be bothered with how it looks. Someone else will repair the ruins. They know a Democrat will be elected in 2020, and that president will spend 8 years fixing everything they’ve broken. And then we’ll do it all over again because Americans never seem to learn the truth about Republicans, do they?
Saturday, March 2, 2019
I will never figure out how Prince William ended up with absolutely the most interesting woman in all of Great Britain. Think of who he might have ended up with. When the old royals are finally gone, and we’re left with these two, they’ll be hilarious and drunk all the time, but in a good way.
Saturday, February 16, 2019
The New York Times magazine has an incredible and detailed piece about Meg Ryan, and where she is at today.
Friday, January 25, 2019
I get that if you are a fan of the comic book series Morbius you are going to explode with rage at the banality of my lame take on this, but how is this even remotely a good idea?
“Safe House” director Daniel Espinosa will helm the movie. Exact details of who Smith would play are unknown at this time, other than it being a major role in the film.
Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless, who co-created the Netflix series “Lost in Space,” penned the script. Avi Arad and Matt Tolmach are producing “Morbius” with Lucas Foster. Palak Patel will oversee the pic for Sony.
Writer Roy Thomas and artist Gil Kane created Morbius in 1971 for “The Amazing Spider-Man #101.” The character was a scientist who tried to cure himself of a blood disease, with tragic results. He became afflicted with vampiric traits such as fangs and a thirst for blood — and wound up battling Spider-Man.
So, it’s like the movie Venom, which didn’t do that well, and it has Jared Leto, who tried to be the Joker and feel sort of flat with that, and we’re making another superhero film starring men again? A film about an obscure villain character that looks weird?
This is after determining that when women get better roles in these films they tend to be more successful? Like what just happened in Aquaman? And, in the case of Wonder Woman, when the lead of the story is a female, the movie tends to have artistic merit as well?
The female characters were central to the success of Black Panther as well. And I think the chief criticism of Ant Man and The Wasp was that there wasn’t enough Evangeline Lilly, correct?
Wednesday, January 9, 2019
Soon after the Times report about C.K. was published in 2017, Adlon released a statement in support of the accusers, saying she felt “deep sorrow” for them and calling C.K.’s behavior “abhorrent.” Just a few days later it was reported that Adlon had dropped her manager Dave Becky — who also served as an executive producer on Better Things — due to the Times report’s revelation that Becky had played a part in keeping the accusations against C.K. under wraps for years. Becky represents a long list of comedy clients, including Amy Poehler, Aziz Ansari, and Kevin Hart, but none of his other clients have publicly supported Adlon in her decision to drop him.
Aside from Amy Poehler, Ansari and Hart have had their troubles in recent years, but certainly not to the extent of Louis CK. If Pamela Adlon wants nothing to do with him, or his manager, then what does that tell you about the whole rotten affair?