Sunday, September 25, 2011

Breaking Bad: Does this thing go on one more season?

Oh, well, hell. Did I misunderstand? I thought this was the final season of Breaking Bad. Is it going on for one more season?

Well. The episode tonight had its good points and bad points.

The good points----we see Walter doing that thing. It's his most endearing quality. In situations where most people would be begging for their lives or would be grateful to still be alive, he becomes aggressive and defiant.

This is a spoiler if you haven't seen it.

Mike's stooge, whose been following Walt around and watching him at the lab, uses a stun gun on him. Walt falls to the ground. They use it on him a few more times. Then we see Walter in the desert. There are a couple of cars parked there. There are men standing around him. Walt is on the ground on his knees, tied up, with a black bag over his head.

A car drives up. Gus climbs out. He pulls the bag off Walter's head.

"You are finished! Fired!" He warns him to stay away from Jesse. Never go near him again.

"Or you'll do what?" Walter says. He tells Gus that if he could kill him (Walter), he would have already. He can't because, if he does, Jesse will quit.

The bad points:

Walter intentionally wrecks his car when his brother-in-law has him drive him to the meth lab concealed in a commercial laundry. He wrecks the car so he won't have to take him there, which I didn't like.

Some other bad points---they keep going to the lawyer, Saul, for things.

First, Skyler goes to Saul to sent a couple of goons for force her ex-boyfriend/employer to write his check to the IRS. He needs to pay them so they don't prosecute him because, if they prosecute him, they'll investigate her and find out about her current money laundering.

Then, at the end, Walter runs to Saul. He needs to flee the country and go into hiding because, after he pointed out to Gus that he couldn't kill him, Gus said he was going to kill Hank and if Walter tried to stop him he'd kill Walter's wife, his son and his baby daughter. Saul "knows a guy" who can hide them.

They live in Albuquerque. How many people like this are in Albuquerque? Apparently the place is teeming with hitmen, with hired goons, people who can whisk you out of the country, people willing to go to prison in your place. And this one lawyer knows them all.

Am I lost here?

There are things I don't understand.

Why does Gus want to kill Walter but not Jesse? Walter killed two of Gus's men, but only because Jesse was about to get into a gun fight with them. Then, when Mike came to murder Walter, Walter called Jesse on the cell phone and sent him to murder that other chemist who would have taken over his role in the meth lab.

If Gus doesn't want to kill Jesse for these things, why does he want to kill Walter?

And now that I think back to it----

Okay. Walter had killed those two guys before Jesse could shoot it out with them. Jesse was in hiding. Walter talks to Gus. Gus decides to be reasonable. There's money to be made so Walter should keep working for Gus.

Walter knows that they are gunning for Jesse. He also knows that they're going to kill him as soon as there's another chemist to replace him.

When Mike and the other guy come to murder Walter, Walter pleads for his life. If they let him live, he'll give them Jesse! He's in town! He doesn't know where, but he'll call him on his cell phone!

He calls Jesse and blurts out that they're going to kill him and to get the other chemist's house and kill him NOW! Quick!

Jesse was closer to the other chemist's house. He could get there and kill him before they could get there to stop him.

So why didn't they just call the other chemist and tell him to clear out?

Maybe they didn't have his number. They'd have to call Gus. Maybe Gus was unavailable.

But now Gus is getting along fine with Jesse but wants to kill Walter. What did Walter do that Jesse didn't?

Is it because Walter got mad about the camera they installed in the lab and made obscene gestures at it?

Is it because Walter's DEA agent brother-in-law is being driven around by Walter and that Walter put a tracking device on Gus's car? Walter told him about it. Walter couldn't refuse without perhaps raising Hank's suspicions.

Okay, now that I think about it, Walter did go to Mike and ask him to get him close enough to Gus that he could shoot him. That probably got Gus's goat.

It is pretty cool though

They keep going. Walter, as I said above, is angry and defiant. Gus tells him he's going to kill Hank and if Walt tries to stop him he'll kill Walters wife, son and baby.

Walter runs to the lawyer. He needs to "disappear"! Gus is going to kill his family! They need to flee!

Saul gets him the phone number. Tells him what to say and what it will cost.

Walter tells the lawyer to call the DEA and warn them that they're going to try to kill Hank. He does. Walter gets down into the crawl space. He digs into his money. There's not enough there! Skyler has given it to her ex-employer to pay his back taxes!

Walter become hysterical.

They can't just hop in Walt, Jr's, car and head for Canada?

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Breaking Bad

What happens tomorrow night? Who will live? Who, if anybody, will die?

Will Gus die leaving Walt as the new drug lord? What about Mike? Where does Jesse take them when he speeds off with them in the Cadillac? Does he even know his way around wherever it is they are? Are routes to hospitals clearly marked in Mexico? And Mike has a gunshot wound. Wouldn't emergency room personnel report this?

Poor Walter. He's so smart. But he seems to pitiful next to Gus. Walter wanted Jesse to poison Gus but they never pull it off while Gus poisons a large gathering of this Mexican drug cartel and kills them all. Walter's back to where he was at the beginning, a slightly pitiful fellow working regular hours, being mistreated by his employers. Before he was being humiliated by his brother-in-law and ordered around by the guy who ran the car wash where he was moonlighting. Now he's being menace by Mike, a criminal version of his brother-in-law, and being ordered around by the guy who Gus has sent to keep an eye on him.

Will Mike die, perhaps allowing Walt to kill Gus like he wants? Will Jesse have to kill Walt? And what about Walt's brother-in-law?

Will the IRS investigate Skyler and discover her money laundering?

Oh, yeah, and they're going to have to kill Skyler's former employer, I'm pretty sure. And good riddance to him.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Two and a Half Men season premiere

Yes, I did watch Three and a Half Men.

Isn't Angus T. Jones too old for flatulence-oriented "humor"? That was his entire role on the season premiere. Plus he's lost weight, but they're still talking about him eating all the time.

The episode begins at Charlie's funeral. They make it clear that he was murdered by Rose who shoved him in front of a train. She says a few words at the funeral and assures everyone that Charlie didn't suffer----his body exploded, she said, like a balloon full of meat. This makes Jake hungry.

They're going to give Angus a complex, maybe turn him into an anorexic, like they did that girl on Growing Pains. Perfectly lovely girl, but after being hit year after year with a barrage of fat jokes, mostly from Kirk Cameron, she turned anorexic.

I don't know. It doesn't look too promising with that new guy. Ashton what's his name. They shouldn't have made him a billionaire. And they shouldn't have had him on the show.

But, what do I know.

I was getting tired of it anyway. Every episode was the same. It was getting old.

It is a little odd, the callous indifference of the other characters to Charlie's death. No one seems troubled that he was obviously murdered. His mother was only concerned with listing the house (she's a realtor). Even Jake, who idolized his uncle Charlie, doesn't care.

That Lorre guy who created the show must have really been mad at Sheen even though Sheen made him a fortune. Could anyone else have played that role?

Lorre started it----he publicly referred to Charlie by his real name, Carlos Estevez, then he cried anti-Semitism when Charlie called him by his real name, Charles Levine.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Breaking Bad: We're starting to get down to the end.

What are we up to? Episode ten? And this is the last season! Six more episodes to go. Or is it five? I don't know.

I thought there was some question about Walt, Jr's, paternity. Are we going to find out why Walter left that company he had formed with his friend who got rich off it while he went to work as a chemistry teacher?

Will Walt's brother-in-law catch Gus? Will Gus kill him?

Will it turn out that my Shane analogy was right, that the show is about sweet, innocent Brandon de Wilde-like Jesse learning to be more careful about what father figure he latches onto?

Skyler told her former employer that she gave him the money. In next week's episode, the promo already showed that the guy tells her he can't take money. If he doesn't take the money, he goes to prison. Is he going to stay out prison by squealing on Skyler which would expose Walt's whole operation?

Will the series end with everyone being killed, everyone being arrested, some people being killed and some people being arrested, with Walt being killed, with Walt killing everyone, with Walt and Walt, Jr., fleeing the country, with everyone being arrested or killed but Walt being left alive and unsuspected of wrong-doing, like the end of The Talented Mr Ripley? Will Walt be arrested or killed for some crime he committed in an early episode that we had almost forgotten about?

Maybe it will be like the end of Giant. We see Jesse as an old man, running his massive drug empire, thinking back to his days with Mr White, although Giant was set in the distant past so they just showed James Dean in what was then the present day. If they did that with this show, we'd have to see Jesse in the future.

Maybe Jesse will kill Walter in a sort of Oedipal conflict, like when he finds out Mr White let his girlfriend die.

Maybe Jesse's Oedipal conflict will be with Mike. Maybe Jesse is Brandon de Wilde, Mike is Alan Ladd and Walter is Van Heflin.

"Mike! You hit him with your gun! I hate you!"

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Breaking Bad, latest episode

Okay, so this week on Breaking Bad, Jesse went to Mexico to teach the drug cartel there how to make their special formula, Skyler arranges to hand a large sum of money to her former employer so he can pay the IRS what he owes them so he won't be arrested---because if he doesn't pay the money, the IRS will investigate Skyler, too, and discover Walt's criminal enterprise. Oh, what a tangled web we weave!

Walt's son, after the Dodge his father bought him, is disappointed with the PT Cruiser he got for his birthday.

Walt is very sad about his fight with Jesse.

Jesse finds out that the Mexican cartel expects to KEEP him there to work in their lab permanently.

Walt fought with Jesse because he wanted Jesse to murder Gus because he thinks Gus will kill him at the first opportunity. Jesse is becoming the mature, responsible one and Walt is going downhill. He's really not doing much. Going to work, coming home, wondering if he's going to be killed, screwing things up for himself and his employer.

Why would anyone want to be involved in that sort of thing?

You know what it's like? It's like Planet of the Apes.

Planet of the Apes was about a planet where apes act like people and people act like apes. When it became a TV series in the '70s, and when Tim Burton did his remake, they removed that element. The people could talk, too. They became peasants being oppressed by their simian overlords. By making the people talk, they scrapped the whole premise.

The premise of Breaking Bad was that you had a mild mannered high school chemistry teacher who becomes a bigshot drug producer. He's out of his element, but he's far more intelligent than the people he's dealing with.


Now it's more like the John Frankenheimer movie, Seconds.

Seconds was about a shadowy organization that gives a middle aged businessman a chance to start over. They fake his death, give him extensive plastic surgery to make him look like a young Rock Hudson, and they send him out to start an exciting new life. But...the guy quickly slips back into the same rut he was in to begin with.

Maybe that's what's happened here.

Walter is pretty much back where he started, going to work every day, getting no respect from the people around him. His exciting new life as a criminal has led to this. He's making a fortune that he can't spend anyway, he gets beaten up a couple of times, but he's back working nine to five.

Skyler has arranged to give her previous employer the money to pay off the IRS, but the idiot buys a new Mercedes, plans to restart his business and imagines he can hire a lawyer and renegotiate the deal with the IRS. Skyler is frightened. If he doesn't pay what he owes, he'll get her sent away to prison. So she goes. She tries to explain to him that he has to pay the money. He dismisses her. And she tells him where the money came from.

And in the promo for next weeks episode, the guy tells Skyler he doesn't want the money. And, now that he's facing prosecution for tax evasion, he can tell the IRS what he knows about Skyler to stay out of prison!

So what will happen? Will Walt have to kill him? He might want to kill the guy since he had been sleeping with his wife.

They're making the guy into a complete idiot. He won't listen. He doesn't comprehend the gravity of the situation no matter how plainly and directly Skyler explains it. It's like they're setting it up the audience will want him die.

Here's who Al Pacino and Helen Mirren are playing

In case you're wondering, here, pictured with Phil Spector, is the woman who elderly British millionaire Helen Mirren will be playing in a made-for-HBO movie about convicted murderer Phil Spector.

The movie was written and is being directed by neo-con David Mamet. Mamet claims to believe that Spector is innocent. He won't say why.

Spector was the gun-toting troll who murdered Lana Clarkson. In was proven in court that Spector had a long history of threatening women with guns. He shot Lana Clarkson then ran out of the house with the gun in his hand yelling that he "just killed somebody".

But at his trial Spector's defense was that Clarkson killed herself because she was depressed about her acting career. Do Al Pacino and Helen Mirren believe this? Alleged feminist Mirren is playing Linda Kenney Baden, Spector's attorney.

Playing Spector's attorney in a movie isn't an anti-Feminist act. But appearing at all in a movie, the whole purpose of which is to defend and support a man with a proven history of threatening women with guns until he finally murdered one of them, is.

I wrote about this earlier. A group called Friends of Lana Clarkson was formed. They already got Bette Midler to drop out of this movie. She was set to play Mirren's role. They're not trying to stop the production of this thing, but they are demanding that it not misrepresent what happened, that it not portray Spector as a victim and that it not smear Lana Clarkson.

Spector's defense was that Lana Clarkson killed herself because her acting career wasn't going well. He was rich and successful and Lana Clarkson wasn't.

Pacino stupidly told reporters that Spector "just wanted to be left alone". And this was why he put a gun to his girlfriend's head and said he'd kill her if she tried to leave? He did this to more than one woman. We know that he pulled a gun on The Ramones and threatened them when they tried to leave his mansion.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Three Scientologists, one stupid acting style

Compare the original and the remake of Taking of Pelham One Two Three. In the first, Robert Shaw plays a deranged killer who hijacks a subway train in New York. It was the sort of role he was good at. He was quiet and tight-lipped and kept threatening to kill people. And he was far more frightening and convincing that John Travolta in the remake who decided that the character should talk constantly and say "funny" things like an idiot. Who likes this? Hasn't that sort of crap been done to death?

Then there was quasi-Scientologist Will Smith in Independence Day. He's supposed to be playing an Air Force pilot. He fighting alien invaders. He goes into a crashed flying saucer and confronts the alien pilot, and he jabbers like an idiot the entire time, saying "funny" lines even though no one is there. Then he has to drag the alien through the desert and he is talking loudly the entire time. They apparently thought this was funny, too.

There's Tom Cruise----I can't stand watching him. I don't want to see him in interviews, promos---I don't want to see him anywhere on any show ever. So it's harder for me to find an example. But here:

Why do they act this way? Do they think it's funny? Do they think this is fine acting? Do they think that real people in these situations would actually behave like this? What audience are these movies aimed at?

You know what would be refreshing? A new generation of stars. A new generation that adopts the grim deadpan style of Alan Ladd, or Robert Mitchum, or Leslie Nielsen in his pre-Airplane! days.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Breaking Bad. Cliff Robertson. David Begelman

I'd hate being a criminal.

I'm sitting here watching Breaking Bad.

Walt wants Jesse to kill Gus because he thinks that Gus is going to kill them. Skyler is laundering Walt's money. But now she learns that her previous employer is being audited---she had been their accountant, she cooked their books and she will now be investigated herself and Walt's criminality will be exposed.

Cliff Robertson, blacklisted

Earlier I watched You Tube video of a long interview with Cliff Robertson. He was asked about the Hollywood blacklist.

Robertson was politically middle of the road and was unaffected. He said he went out of his way to hire blacklisted actors. He also mentioned that blacklisted actors he helped didn't always remember that they had been helped. I'm not sure what that meant.

But he went on to talk about his own blacklisting. He was blacklisted, as I posted here earlier, because he exposed studio chief David Begelman's looting of the company.

Begelman was head of Columbia Pictures. He was a crook and had been all his life. He wrote a company check for $10,000 to Robertson then cashed it himself. The IRS contacted Robertson, asked why he didn't declare the $10,000 as income. When Robertson discovered what happened, he reported it to police. As he put it, he refused to be an accessory to Begelman's crimes.

As this started, Robertson began receiving threats. One mogul from the studio called him. He was living in New York.

"You want to play ball. It might be smart of you to play ball," the guy said.

"There are three things you people out there don't understand," Robertson said. "One is the word 'No' because you buy 'yes' 365 days a year. And you buy bodies, you buy souls, you buy integrity. You think anything and everything and anyone can be bought--you're wrong. And the last thing you don't understand is the phrase 'You don't scare me'. Because with your wicked mentality and the strength you have through your power and your money, you think anyone you don't scare must be nuts. Hey, pal. I'm nuts."

He told the FBI he had said this and they were pleased. Smartest thing he could have done. Now the moguls knew they couldn't buy him.

Of course, as I said, nothing much happened to Begelman. He was required to produce a short anti-drug film as his "community service". Columbia Pictures wouldn't even fire him until they were forced to by the Securities and Exchange Commission. Heads of publicly traded corporations aren't allowed to loot the company. So he left Columbia and went to work for MGM.

Cliff Robertson, meanwhile, didn't work again for three and half years.

Rob Schneider's open letter about Mel Gibson

I had mentioned Rob Schneider's open letter, published as a full page ad in Variety, vowing never to work with Mel Gibson. At the time people--some anyway--were taking this seriously. They mentioned it as another example of Hollywood's backlash against Gibson. Maybe they didn't read it, or maybe they thought Rob Schneider was a complete idiot who thought that there might actually be a Passion of the Christ 2.

But here it is:

I, Rob Schneider, a 1/2 Jew, pledge from this day forth to never work with Mel Gibson-actor-director-producer anti-Semite.

Even if Mr. Gibson offered me the lead role in "Passion of the Christ 2'. I, like Bernie Brillstein, would have to say "NO!" Even if Mel had a juicy voice-over role in his new flick "Apocalypto" and I spoke ancient Mayan, I, like Bernie Brillstein would still have to say "NO!"

Even if "Apocalypto" is a gigantic smash and Mr Gibson is quietly forgiven by Hollywood's Power Brokers, and I was offered a lead role opposite Mel Gibson's Father, (the Mad Max of Holocaust deniers) I, like Bernie Brillstein would likely have to say "NO!"

Even though I have just completed principal photography of my directoral debut in my upcoming motion picture "Big Stan" (A Prison Comedy) in which there is a Nazi gang leader, which apparently Mel would be PERRR-FECT for, and I had a Time Machine and could go back in time and RE-CAST the lead Nazi, I, like Bernie Brillstein would Mmm-most likely have to say "NO!"

Of course that would be only after I talked with my financial backers some of whom share Mr Gibson's hankering for a good bottle of Tequila. Because, after all...

I don't get to call the shots.

Sincerely Yours

It was more of an attack on Bernie Brillstein than Mel Gibson. Brillstein was an agent who represented several other Saturday Night Live alums, inclusing John Belushi, Gilda Radner and Martin Short. He died in 2008. I don't know why Schneider was picking on him.

Here's something else from the same period, from Deadline Hollywood, August 1, 2006:

Today’s Los Angeles Times beats The New York Times’ coverage of the Mel Gibson slur scandal fallout by a mile. That’s because of the article by Claudia Eller and Claire Hoffman featuring “several prominent Hollywood figures [who] broke the industry’s silence by publicly condemning the star.”

Quoted first is Sony Pictures movie chairwoman Amy Pascal, who was the only studio chief to speak to the reporting pair on the record. “It’s incredibly disappointing that somebody of his stature would speak out that way, especially at this sensitive time,” she told the paper.

Next was producer Arnon Milchan, an Israeli citizen, who said: “To make all of your money from Jews in Hollywood, and then have a few drinks and say you hate Jews, is shocking. If you are so upset with the Jews, don’t work for them.”

Producer Jerry Weintraub is quoted calling Gibson “an old friend of mine. I am so sad, so hurt and so disappointed. I don’t have words to express it. I really feel bad for him as a human being. I never knew this side of him.”

Producer Laura Ziskin termed it ”appalling. In a world in which there is so much hatred, and there is so much violence, to harbor those kinds of feelings … it is so sad.”

Asked by the paper about ever working with Gibson, Ziskin said: “I don’t see that in my future.”

Veteran talent manager Bernie Brillstein also told the LAT he would not work with Gibson. “If he calls me tomorrow, would I represent him? The answer is no. That doesn’t make me right. I just don’t like bigots.”

Until this story, only Ari Emanuel and Oren Aviv had gone public about the Gibson slur scandal. ICM’s Jeff Berg told the paper, “I hate what he said, and so does he. His remarks have created a first-class mess, and he has owned up to it. You cannot spin this. This is a question not of how low you can sink, but how you can dig yourself out of this hole.”

Berg told the LAT he was communicating the actor’s remorse to his staff and clients. “We’re not going to back away from him in a moment of need,” Berg said. “Our goal is to help him, not judge him.”

Mel Gibson's new movie, anti-Semitism, Passion of the Christ, etc

It's not surprising at all that Mel Gibson wants to make this movie about Judah Maccabee, the ancient Hebrew whose military victory over the Syrians and Greeks is the basis for the Jewish holiday Hanukkah. As I understand it, the victory also stopped the Jews from enjoying the benefits of Hellenism and Judaism remained an isolated, tribalistic religion. Sounds like exactly the sort of thing Gibson would be into.

Gibson dismissed the suggestion that he was trying to heal any rift with the Jews. He doesn't think that there is any rift.

How did this start, anyway?

He made the movie The Passion of the Christ which was seen as a threat to the Jews. Jewish groups had previously claimed that Jesus Christ, Superstar was a threat to the Jews, so that's not surprising. Then they found out that Gibson's father thought that the Nazi genocide never happened. They couldn't blame Gibson for what his father thought, but his failure to publicly denounce his then-86-year-old father was seen as proof that he was an anti-Semite.

Then he was arrested for drunk driving. He asked the Jewish cop arresting him if he was Jewish and said that Jews were "responsible for all the wars in the world", a bit of obvious hyperbole. There had in fact been a recent war that had plainly been started by Israel, and Gibson was drunk after all. He publicly apologized once he sobered up.

If I'm remembering correctly, that was everything. The movie and the drunk driving. Doesn't seem like much basis for a rift.

I haven't seen The Passion of the Christ and I'm not going to see it. As I said above, Jesus Christ Superstar and even The Last Temptation of Christ were condemned as anti-Semitic, so I'm not sure how seriously you should take that. None of those movies triggered a wave of anti-Semitism that I know of.
Rabbi Marvin Hier of the right-wing Simon Wiesenthal Central said that the Passion of the Christ was anti-Semitic because it put the Pharisees in a bad light.

Rob Schneider took out an ad in Variety announcing that he would never work with Gibson. People took that seriously. They couldn't tell it was a joke?

I still don't care for Mel Gibson and I'd rather he didn't make the thing. Palestine is preparing to declare statehood and the Zionists are gearing up to massacre them. The United States is already full of fundamentalist "Christian Zionists" who, along with the Israel Lobby, have horribly twisted U.S. foreign policy.

Palestinians are declaring their independence from Israel and it's time for the United States to do the same thing.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Cliff Robertson, RIP

Cliff Robertson has died, one day after his 88th birthday.

He won an Oscar for his role in Charly, about a mentally retarded man who is rendered temporarily brilliant by an experimental operation. He had Jack Lemmon's role in the original live TV production of Days of Wine and Roses.

Begelman embezzlement case

But Robertson was blacklisted from working in movies for years in the '70s and '80s after he reported a forged check someone wrote and cashed in his name.

It seems that David Begelman, head of Columbia Pictures, wrote a $10,000 check to Robertson then cashed it himself. Robertson got a W-2 for it----they were going to tax him for the money Begelman stole. Robertson reported it to the police who determined that the check was forged by Begelman.

Later, an investigation by the studio found that Begelman had embezzled at least another $65,000. It's assumed that the actual amount was much, much higher.

Nothing happened to Begelman. He was sentenced to community service---he produced a short anti-drug film. They even let him keep his job at Columbia. He was only fired when the Securities and Exchange Commission stepped in. Columbia was a publicly traded corporation and they couldn't have an admitted thief in charge. Begelman was quietly fired from Columbia, but he immediately went to work at MGM. But Cliff Robertson, for the crime of reporting this corruption, was blacklisted by the tightknit gang running Hollywood. He even received death threats and had to have police protection.

A reporter covering the story discovered that Begelman had not, as he had claimed for years, graduated from Yale. He never attended Yale. The reporter who discovered this said that the Hollywood establishment was more upset about this than they were about the massive fraud and embezzlement.

Begelman had a long history of this. He had stolen several hundred thousand dollars from Judy Garland when he worked as her agent. This included checks made out to "cash" that were endorsed by Begelman and large amounts of money paid out for "protection". Garland didn't have guards or private security. A 1963 Cadillac convertible given to Garland as partial payment for her appearance on The Jack Paar Show was registered to Begelman----Garland didn't even know she had been given the car.

Begelman got another $50,000 out of Garland by claiming that someone was blackmailing her. The blackmailer had a photo, Begelman claimed, a semi-nude photo of Garland in the hospital. Garland wrote a check for fifty thousand dollars which, it turned out, went to a holding company that was owned by Begelman.

Begelman finally had the good taste to kill himself in 1995 when he was 73. He was depressed that his embezzlement days were over.

Robertson made a bit of a comeback. He became the spokesman for AT&T and made more movie and TV appearances. But a look at his filmography shows how his career suffered. He was blacklisted by the Hollywood establishment that rallied around Begelman.

You can read all about this case in a book called Indecent Exposure by David McClintick.

You can watch a long interview with Cliff Robertson on You Tube. He discusses his long career:

Breaking Bad: These things actually happen

Breaking Bad is a made-for-cable TV series on AMC. It's about a mild mannered high school chemistry teacher. He is diagnosed with terminal cancer. To provide for his family after he's gone, he begins producing methamphetamine.

Well, these things do happen, as in the case below.

This is a case of them using meth themselves. If they wanted stimulants, they should have done what other teachers do---break into the nurse's office and swipe the kids' Ritalin.

From The Weekly Vice:
Charleston, West Virginia - A West Virginia public school has been shut down and two teachers have been arrested after authorities discovered trace amounts of meth distributed throughout the school building - even in the ducts, principal's office, hallways and bathrooms.

Jack Turley, a teacher, and Keith Phipps, a principal, were charged with contaminating the building with enough meth to shut it down until further notice.

According to West Virginia state police, Turley and Phipps were under investigation this spring when officers found traces of meth in the ducts, the principal's office, the hallways, and the bathrooms at the Boone County Career and Technical Center. The drug traces were discovered through testing by the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources.

Investigators say Turley admitted that he had smoked methamphetamine with Phipps in the principal's office. The school is closed until a decontamination process can be completed. Officers do not believe the drug was manufactured at the school. Both suspects were suspended from their positions pending the final outcome of the investigation.

Turley was booked into jail and charged with manufacturing methamphetamine and procuring Sudafed for producing methamphetamine.

Phipps was booked into charged with purchasing over the legal limit of Sudafed.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Mel Gibson, Judah Maccabee

After all his anti-Semitic stuff, Mel Gibson is reportedly developing some sort of biopic about someone called Judah Maccabee whose ancient victory is celebrated by Hannakah.

Gibson has his problems with accusations of anti-Semitism, but, as Palestinians prepare to declare statehood and as Israelis prepare to massacre them for it, he shouldn't be making crap like that.

I never liked Mel Gibson. I disliked him long before everyone else did.

To be fair to Gibson, all his expressions of racial and anti-gay hatred are little compared to all the anti-gay and racist movies Hollywood made over the decades. John Wayne actually called himself a "white supremacist" in an interview with Playboy. Look at Mickey Rooney playing a "funny" Japanese in Breakfast at Tiffanys. Rooney, Audrey Hepburn and everyone mixed up with that racist production should have be shunned.

Turn on any old movie. You sit there and watch, and it's perfectly nice. Even in the grittiest film noir, there's no obscene language, nudity, sex. Nothing to offend anyone. Then a black character appears, a bellboy or an elevator operator or a maid, and we're subjected to some cruel anti-black stereotype.

Watch Duck Soup. Groucho Marx makes a rude comment about "darkies".

Look at Scarlett O'Hara in Gone With The Wind. Feminists have proclaimed her a "feminist heroine". Look at her slapping Butterfly McQueen. How was that racist bitch a "feminist"?

Gibson is also a sadist. He told Franco Zeffirelli that he liked to relax by slaughtering calves on his ranch. Zeffirelli directed Gibson in Hamlet. He discussed this with reporters during the controversy around Gibson's Jesus-being-tortured movie, The Passion of the Christ.

Well, it'll be interesting. Let Gibson make his hyper-violent crypto-Zionist epic. It'll be interesting to see the response.

Kind of like Tom Cruise

You know what it's like? It's like that idiot Tom Cruise. Germany doesn't like Scientology. They consider it a scam or something. So Cruise made that movie about the Nazi officers who tried to blow up Hitler. He figured the Germans couldn't keep him out if he made a movie about Germans trying to blow up Hitler. And his cynical ploy worked.

We'll see if this works as well for Gibson.

Hannakah has become sort of the Jewish Christmas. Hard to imagine a bloody, violent historical epic as the Jewish answer to A Christmas Story or Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Breaking Bad's a bit better now

Well, okay, I watched a new episode of Breaking Bad last night. It was pretty good. We learn more about Gus's traumatic past and Walt's dual life as mild mannered terminally ill chemistry teacher and evil drug producer gets him into trouble again.

Did I say this before? One fellow on a message board almost predicted the direction the show was going to take. I foolishly scoffed at his prediction, that Walt's now disabled brother-in-law, a DEA agent, would take care of Gus for him. seems things are moving in that direction.

Why would anyone want to be mixed up in that horrible business? And why are drug lords always so rotten? Is it the long prison sentences they're facing? Maybe not----look at bootleggers during prohibition. Back then the penalties for running booze were rather mild and they were monsters.

There were Soviet and now Russian movies about crime in the Soviet era. Soviet criminals back then could be extremely violent. In Moscow in the '60s, there was a petty thief in Moscow who started murdering his victims with an axe. But you look at the crimes they were committing, they generally weren't getting much out of it. The USSR was truly a socialist society. Even highly successful organized crime bosses didn't live much better than ordinary Soviet people. So why were Soviet criminals so violent? There was no logical reason for it.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

The Blue Bird (1976)

I'm sitting here with the old Soviet-American co-production of The Blue Bird on TV. This was sort of a political event when they made this thing in the '70s. They wanted to make something inoffensive, something that neither the Soviets or the Americans would object to, so they made this crap. Based on a play written in 1908. Two children go out searching for the "Blue Bird of Happiness"

I doubt any play for children written in 1908 was any good. No child would choose to watch this thing, and no adult would watch unless they had to take the kids to it.

One of the children is played Todd Lookinland. He bears a striking resemblance to his brother, Mike Lookinland, TV's Bobby Brady. The girl who played his sister went on to appear in Lethal Weapon 2.

The characters have names like Dog, Cat, Night, Sugar, Milk, Water. And on top of that it's a stinking musical. How much disbelief do they expect us to suspend?

The Soviets made great movies. And this thing wasn't that bad. At the time Variety said that it good enough that no one would laugh at it, but it was bad enough that no one would be moved by it.

The Soviets should have done what the Italians did: Lure some American TV actors over, star them in some exploitation films and use them to penetrate the American market. It would have worked. When I was a kid, I watched a number of Soviet, East German and Czech science fiction movies that I assumed were just exceptionally well-made big budget American movies.

George Cukor directed. I'm glad that the Communist movement can't get the blame for it.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

David Mamet: As dumb as Jon Voight, only dumber

What have I seen of David Mamet's work? Glengarry Glen Ross? I hated The Untouchables. I saw the movie Homicide which I thought was essentially racist.

Homicide was what it would be like if Mickey Spillane tried to write a serious work about anti-Semitism.

It was about a Jewish detective who comes back to his Jewish heritage while investigating the murder of a Jewish shop owner. He asserts his Jewish identity by joining a JDL-like terrorist group and blowing up a building, and this all happens in a single evening. In interviews, Mamet made it clear that he intended this to be taken seriously.

Normally, a movie in which elderly Jewish shop owners ran guns to Zionists in Palestine and still kept large caches of weapons and explosives on hand in New York would be considered anti-Semitic. And the way black people are portrayed in it is clearly racist. In the end, two black children are arrested for the murder.

It's amazing the garbage people take seriously.

Now Mamet has become a Tea Bagger. He's written his book promoting his new ultra-conservatism. He included Glen Beck in his acknowledgments.

Christopher Hitchens wrote a pretty good review of it here:

Here are excerpts of Hitchens' review. He begins:
This is an extraordinarily irritating book, written by one of those people who smugly believe that, having lost their faith, they must ipso facto have found their reason. In order to be persuaded by it, you would have to be open to propositions like this:

“Part of the left’s savage animus against Sarah Palin is attributable to her status not as a woman, neither as a Conservative, but as a Worker.”

Or this:

“America is a Christian country. Its Constitution is the distillation of the wisdom and experience of Christian men, in a tradition whose codification is the Bible.”

Some of David Mamet's unqualified declarations are made even more tersely. On one page affirmative action is described as being “as injust as chattel slavery”; on another as being comparable to the Japanese internment and the Dred Scott decision. We learn that 1973 was the year the United States “won” the Vietnam War, and that Karl Marx — who on the evidence was somewhat more industrious than Sarah Palin — “never worked a day in his life.”...

Propagandistic writing of this kind can be even more boring than it is irritating. For example, Mamet writes in The Secret Knowledge that “the Israelis would like to live in peace within their borders; the Arabs would like to kill them all.” Whatever one’s opinion of that conflict may be, this (twice-made) claim of his abolishes any need to analyze or even discuss it. It has a long way to go before it can even be called simplistic. By now, perhaps, you will not be surprised to know that Mamet regards global warming as a false alarm, and demands to be told “by what magical process” bumper stickers can “save whales, and free Tibet.” This again is not uncharacteristic of his pointlessly aggressive style: who on earth maintains that they can? If I were as prone to sloganizing as Mamet, I’d keep clear of bumper-sticker comparisons altogether.


...Once or twice, as when he attacks feminists for their silence on Bill Clinton’s sleazy sex life, or points out how sinister it is that we use the word “czar” as a positive term for a political problem-solver, he is unquestionably right, or at least making a solid case. But then he writes: “The BP gulf oil leak . . . was bad. The leak of thousands of classified military documents by Julian Assange on WikiLeaks was good. Why?” This is merely lame, fails to compare like with like, appears unintentionally to be unsure why the gulf leak was “bad” and attempts an irony where none exists....

David Mamet defends Phil Spector

"Feminist" Helen Mirren in pro-woman-killing misogynist film

Al Pacino and Helen Mirren are starring in a made-for-HBO movie being directed by David Mamet. The movie is about Phil Spector and the murder of Lana Clarkson, pictured above.

Pacino plays Spector. Mirren plays one of Spector's elderly friends.

It's rather disgusting. Spector was convicted of murdering actress Lana Clarkson. Spector liked carrying a gun. It was proven in court that he had a long history of getting drunk, waving his gun around. He liked threatening women with them. He brought Clarkson to his house. She was shot. The gun was in his hand and he immediately confessed to shooting her.

But David Mamet is convinced that Spector is innocent, or he pretends that he's convinced.

Spector's defense was that Clarkson met Spector for the first time, went with him to his house, and suddenly decided to commit suicide with Spector's gun. This was disproven in court. Other women testified that he had put a guns to their heads and threatened to murder them. That was his thing, apparently.

Spector claimed that he couldn't get a fair trial because he was an "outsider" in the music industry.

There's no credible reason for Mamet to believe in Spector's innocence. If there is, he hasn't said what it is. I can guess the real reason, and I'd probably be right, but it'd still be a guess.

And what is wrong with the "feminist" Helen Mirren? She plays one of Spector's friends. Why is she in a movie with a misogynist director defending a woman's murder? Would Mirren have shot herself if her career hadn't gone as well as it had, as Mamet claims Lana Clarkson did? Does she intend to kill herself when her career goes into decline, as it inevitably will if she lives long enough?

The movie is being protested by a group called Friends of Lana Clarkson which I hope will have some effect. They already got Bette Midler to back out of it. She had been set to play Mirren's role.

There was the case recently of several people, convicted as teenagers of committing a horrible murder, being released from prison because they were falsely convicted. In that case, an HBO documentary exposed the utter lack of evidence and the biases of the prosecutors and the community against the impoverished teenagers whom they imagined were "Satanists".

In Spector's case, he's clearly guilty. He had the best defense money can buy, and Mamet has nothing to offer.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Horrifying romantic comedies

I heard an interview on NPR's Talk of the Nation today with Chloe Angyal who wrote an article in The Atlantic about what we can learn about romantic comedies.
You know, he embarrasses her in front of her peers, and she's mortified and tells him in no uncertain terms, for probably the fourth time, to back off. So one of the things that rom-coms teach us is that this persistence, this grand gesture of fighting for the people that you love - it's OK if you humiliate them. It's OK if you, you know, in the real world we might term stalk them - as long as you love them because then it's romantic. And I think that's a harmful message. And that's something that we need to be a little more - we need to sort of view a little more critically.
I've been saying that for years. Romantic comedies are essentially stalker movies. The plots from any of these movies would work perfectly well as slasher films.

I realized this years ago when I was dragged off to see a horrible romantic comedy called Picture Perfect. It starred some woman who was on that show, Friends, I think. I never watched Friends. Her name's Jennifer Aniston.

Here's the plot:

There's this woman. Jennifer Aniston. She's unmarried. She goes to a wedding. Someone takes a picture of her with a guy (Jay Mohr) who's a firefighter by trade.She has a print of the photo.

Jennifer Aniston's boss won't give her a promotion because she's not married, so she blurts out that she's engaged. She shows her boss the picture of her with the fireman. But now her boss demands to meet her fiance.

Jennifer Aniston finds the firefighter. She offers to pay him to pretend to be her fiance. He says he'll do it for free!

He stays with her in her apartment (he's from out of town.) The plan is that they will have dinner with her boss, there will be an argument and they will announce that the engagement is off. But Jay Mohr instead assures the boss that they're going to be married right away!

So this woman has a guy staying in her apartment who insists that she marry him even though they're strangers. She can't get rid of him without losing her job. Imagine this happening in real life. You'd assume this poor woman was in danger.

It reminded me of a call to Dr Harvey Rubin, the radio psychiatrist.

Some guy called into the show. He sounded like a biker or something, with a gravelly voice. He said that he wanted to get married and have children, but he was 40---he was old and didn't have much time! So he bought an engagement ring. Then he went out looking for someone to marry.

He went into a store in a shopping mall. He walked up to the cashier, offered her the ring, explained he was old and didn't have much time, and asked her to marry him.

The girl's mother owned the store. She tried to get rid of him. He refused to leave. She said she would talk to him outside, so he stepped outside and she locked the door and called security.

The guy was clearly deranged. But Dr Rubin played it cool. He cheerfully suggested that he see a psychiatrist or a counselor. The guy didn't think a counselor would help him get a woman, and Dr Rubin told him that a counselor could help him understand why people react as they do.