Thursday, February 27, 2014

Star Trek

When I was a kid, I thought I liked science fiction. Then I tried reading it. I realized that I just liked movies where people wore strange clothes and killed each other with futuristic weapons. I began to lose interest in movies like that when I realize that, in any armed conflict, I would almost certainly be killed immediately.

I only watched one episode of Star Trek the Next Generation. The plot involved a teenager in a weird, tight-fitting uniform who had a new girlfriend. He got dating advice from Whoopie Goldberg.

"This is terrible. Why are they friends with the Klingons? Where are the Ju-Jitsu fights? Where are their phasers? Why are there children there?"

I can't believe how popular that crap was.

The old Star Trek was all Oedipal. People were always challenging Captain Kirk for control. I liked the episode where he changed bodies with a woman.

The Emmy Award winning episode, "City on the Edge of Forever"-----Dr McCoy goes back in time and screws up history. Captain Kirk and Mr Spock have to go back in time after him. It seems Dr McCoy saved Joan Collins from getting run over by a car in the 1930s. She's a pacifist. She runs for office and somehow keeps the U.S. out of World War Two.

"Millions will die who did not die before," Mr Spock says.

Although, how did he know? Would an entirely non-violent response have been any worse? Tens of millions of people died in World War Two as it was. Maybe millions of different people would die but the overall death toll would be about the same.

I don't know how a pacifist could have kept the US out of the war anyway. Japan and Germany each declared war on the United States, not the other way around. There were people calling for the US to enter the war and people who opposed it before then, but ultimately, it was Pearl Harbor and the German's inexplicably declaring war that did it.

Germany lost the war at Stalingrad. Their fate was sealed when the Soviets packed their factories onto railroad cars and moved them east, out of their reach. The US and Britain spent most of the war trying to re-establish Britain's control over their empire rather than defeat the Nazis.

The U.S. role in the Pacific was another matter.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Amityville Horror, alien abductions, Menachem Schneerson, Woody Allen, etc

One time, I was sitting in a Pizza Hut having lunch. There was a large extended family sitting at a row of tables pushed together. The grandmother spoke in an eastern European accent. She said that all the places they lived had ghosts. Her mother would get up and yell at the ghosts to be quiet, they're trying to sleep. One night, she heard someone get up and go to the bathroom. They waited to hear whoever it was come out and go back to bed, but they never came out. So she yelled, "Get out of the bathroom already!" but no one was in the bathroom-----it was a ghost.

Here I am watching a documentary about The Amityville Horror. I think the best explanation is that the adults got the creeps living in a house where a mass murder had taken place. They started listening too carefully to the normal sounds you hear at night in an old house. Children are afraid of ghosts and monsters anyway. Normally the grown-ups comfort them but in this case the adults had the heebie jeebies and just made it worse. They fled the house the way I used to hurry to get out of the basement when I was a kid. The basement always creeped me out.

The next family moved into the house and had no such problems. I remember seeing them on TV showing the house, the room in the basement. There was no gateway to hell. The front door was fine, no signs of it ever having exploded off its hinges like in the movie.

I thought the 1979 movie based on the book was dull. I tried to read the book but found it boring. It also had a tendency to end chapters with something shocking, like the woman seeing glowing eyes outside the window. So----what happened? What did she do? Did they go away? It's okay to cut away from a scene like that in a movie, but in a book that's supposed to be a true story giving you a factual account of what happened, it seems like they should have told us.

But here, it's almost like the Woody Allen-Mia Farrow case. When someone claims to be a victim of a sex crime, you don't want to say it's not true even if you don't believe it, because what if it is true? You don't want to call this poor family a bunch of frauds when they fled their house in terror because what if they really were scared for whatever reason? It's not uncommon for perfectly rational people to live in places they believe to be haunted. The British journalist Claud Cockburn, a former Communist at the time he wrote his memoirs, wrote of an apartment he lived in as a young man. He was anxious to move out because it was cold and drafty and also because, although he never saw it himself, his friends claimed to see the previous tenant who had committed suicide there sitting in the corner.

So you don't want to call these poor people frauds, but, come on. You're really going to profess a belief in demonic possession just to spare their feelings?

I was watching a daytime talk show once. They were talking about alien abductions. Phillip Klass, a UFO skeptic, was there. He had written books debunking and explaining UFO sightings and had written a book on alleged alien abductions.

A pair of angry young feminists in the audience were outraged by Klass. He was an old guy and he politely addressed one of them as "ma'am" which enraged her even more. They seemed to think that believing in alien abductions was a political issue, that he was oppressing people by not believing the space aliens had kidnapped them for breeding experiments.

Being open-minded is fine to a point. But only to a point.

There was a time when Menachem Schneerson died. He had been brain dead for some time and they finally pulled the plug. He was a Hassidic rabbi whose fanatical followers believed he was the Messiah. They believed he would rise from the dead.

Ted Koppel reported on this on Nightline. He interviewed several people who were experts on cults, religion and the psychology involved in situations like this.

The experts kept talking about how Schneerson's followers would react WHEN he didn't rise from the dead. But Ted Koppel, out of some confused idea of journalistic objectivity, kept saying IF he didn't come back to life. Like there was actually a possibility.

Ronan Farrow's show stinks

Apparently, MSNBC hired Ronan Farrow to appeal to the youth audience. He's only done a couple of shows, but he's not getting too many young viewers, only 21,000 in the 18 to 49 group. 195,000 viewers were 50 and over.

I don't know why Ronan Farrow would appeal to the young. In my day, I knew teenagers who would listen religiously to Larry King's radio show.

Years ago, there was a teenager, an African-American girl, at a conference on how to get young people interested in the news. "We can understand Dan Rather," she said. "We don't need an eight-year-old to read us the news."

The only way anyone knows who Farrow is is because of his parents, and I don't know how many young people know who Mia Farrow and Woody Allen are.

I said before that Ronan should be going to his father, talking to him about his days on The Dick Cavett Show, guest hosting The Tonight Show and interviewing Billy Graham on TV.

Now, if he would just set his Oedipal conflict aside, his father could tell him how he learned to ignore the critics and the pointlessness of reading reviews.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Ronan Farrow on cable TV

I was right. I haven't heard Ronan Farrow speak before. I said before somewhere that I've never even heard the guy and I'm already tired of him.

I watched a clip of his TV show on MSNBC, and I would have remembered his tinny voice. He's in over his head.

Show doesn't seem very interesting. Farrow is an imperialist like the rest of the warmongering stooges on MSNBC, railing against democratic governments Obama wants to overthrow and defending or ignoring the crimes of dictators he likes.

This is Ronan's first paying job. His official biography states that Woody Allen is his father. No mention of Frank Sinatra.

He's supposed to be so smart, but I see no hint of genius.

Woody Allen was guest host on The Tonight Show, he was a frequent guest on the Dick Cavett Show, you can see him on YouTube interviewing Billy Graham. If Ronan was half as smart as he thinks he is, he'd be over there hanging out with Woody, Soon-Yi, Moses and the girls. Mia can't help him now. 

Monday, February 24, 2014

Joann Wypijewski on Woody Allen in The Nation

Joann Wypijewski has written the strongest attack yet against the smear campaign against Woody Allen. Printed in The Nation magazine----you should just read the whole thing on their website here.

It begins:

In November 1992, Vanity Fair published an article about the bitter breakup of Mia Farrow and Woody Allen that concluded: “A gripping courtroom drama may be in the making, one that would undoubtedly give tabloid TV its highest ratings ever. Or things could be settled overnight. Left unresolved, however, is the healing process.” The timbre of that conclusion, a combination of hoped-for salaciousness and therapeutic cliché, is typical of its author, Maureen Orth, a journalist breathless for the lurid detail, who years later would relay as fact any story of priestly perversion an accuser or his personal injury lawyer fed her.

...Ordinarily, an overgrown gossip column with pretensions wouldn’t matter either, except that this one, “Mia’s Story,” was angled to popularize a claim of child sexual abuse against Allen; and now, twenty-two years later, its gossip, innuendo and selective quotations have been presented as the evidence-never-entered in the criminal-trial-that-never-was by writers, bloggers and Twitterers hungry to play the role of stand-in for the prosecution.

The truth is, we don’t know the truth. And there is nothing high-minded or radical or feminist in pretending that we do...  
It goes on to discuss the climate at the time---the wave of false accusations of child abuse at the time---false memories, Woody's relationship with Soon-Yi and Soon-Yi's with him.

People who agree with Wypijewski have little to add, so the comments on the article are almost all from people attacking her and Allen.

It is having some effect, though. Maybe it's just the nature of The Nation magazine, but comments on this article seem a bit less likely to claim that Soon-Yi was Woody's daughter, adopted daughter, or step-daughter. They aren't stating that Woody and Mia were married, although I think one said that they had what some people might refer to as a "common-law relationship". (I've heard of a "common-law marriage", but never a "common-law relationship".) No one's claiming they lived together, or that Woody helped raise Soon-Yi or was a father figure to her.

Maybe this has been going on long enough that people are becoming better informed, or maybe the people writing this stuff have known all along that they're full of crap but were consciously lying to make their case sound stronger.

I've stated my opinion, or repeated John Baxter's, that Eric Lax was a good part of the problem. Lax wrote a fawning biography of Allen. He idolized him all out of proportion. Relatively few people read the book, of course----I didn't----but I heard Lax on the Larry King radio show and heard him interviewed on other radio shows. He claimed that Woody and Mia's relationship wasn't just like a marriage----he claimed it was BETTER than a marriage. They were closer and their relationship was far stronger than any ordinary married couple.

Later, after the break-up, when Lax was interviewed on NPR, he was at a loss to explain it.

But this probably is why people have the idea that Woody and Mia were married or living together and why they thought he was Soon-Yi's father, adopted father, step-father or step-father-equivalent or at least a father figure.

By all accounts, Woody ignored Mia's children. It wasn't very nice of him. But this was according to Maureen Orth's articles, to Mia Farrow's memoir, to what we know of the testimony in the custody hearing, to Woody Allen himself, and to the anguished letter Moses Farrow wrote to Woody when he was fourteen. The way Moses put it was that Woody spoiled the little ones and ignored the older kids. It came out in the trial that Woody knew little about even his own children----what school they went to, who their teachers were, what their interests were. He knew nothing about their pets, didn't know who their pediatricians were. Moses had cerebral palsy, which Woody knew but that was all he knew.

I think it was in Mia's memoir that she said that she broke up with Woody a few times over the years, cutting off contact. But he would keep calling and they would start seeing each other again. She suspected that Woody slept with other women and now Mia Farrow has announced that she was sleeping with her elderly ex-husband the whole time. Mia and Woody didn't get married simply because they weren't that committed to each other.

Hell, they could have gotten married and continued to live apart.

The story Eric Lax told was that they both had failed marriages and Woody was either too neurotic or too much of a genius to live a normal married life. This turned out not to be true since he's been married to Soon-Yi for twenty years. They have two children.

Woody and Mia adopted children together not because they were just like a married couple---they adopted them together because they didn't think their relationship would change. It would just go along like that forever.

There was a news report a while back about a psychological study. People recognize how much their lives have changed in the past, but they don't think their lives will change in the future. It's why people get tattoos without considering the possibility that they'll some day regret it.

Woody and Mia realized that their lives were far different from what they had been when Mia was married to Andre Previn, or Woody was married to Louise Lasser. But they figured this was it. This was how they'd spend the rest of their lives. So, even if Woody wasn't anything like a husband, he may as well adopt the kids if relationship was permanent.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

All the Boys Love Mandy Lane

I'm sitting here now watching All The Boys Love Mandy Lane, a high school slasher film. Doesn't really have slashing. Most of the murders are shootings. Much more humane than killing people with power tools or all the other horrible things they used to do in these movies.

I've seen movies where you can see child actors trying not to smile as their characters are horribly mistreated. It makes it easier to take. In this movie, you see hairy-chested high school boys with heavy sideburns being killed, and perhaps it's less offensive knowing that the teenage victims are actually around thirty.

With the magic of digital video and computer editing, the movie looks strangely artistic, at least compared to the slasher films they used to make. 

What Goes Up, Steve Coogan, 2009

When I imagine myself among teenagers, I see myself being older and wiser, ready to offer sage advice, but not really understanding their problems or being the least bit helpful.

What Goes Up is a comedy-drama set in 1986. Steve Coogan plays a New York reporter sent to Concord, New Hampshire, to cover the story of Christa McAuliffe, the teacher about to be launched on the ill-fated space shuttle Challenger.

Instead he finds himself with a group of students, outcasts placed in a special class in a separate building, whose beloved teacher has just committed suicide. The teacher was an old college classmate of Coogan's. They haven't communicated in years. But the kids think they were "best friends" and Coogan, seeing a story, doesn't correct them.

A little hard to watch, Coogan not being honest with the kids who are upset and a bit screwed up to begin with, some with more serious problems than others. There's the mystery of what impropriety led the teacher to take his own life. Molly Shannon plays the choir teacher putting together a performance to celebrate the space shuttle launch, the students--the normal kids--cheerfully rehearsing, not knowing what's to come.

And there's Coogan's character, up for a Pulitzer Prize for a series of articles he had written, hoping he doesn't win so he won't have to admit that the stories weren't completely true.

I liked it. But I see that a lot of critics attacked it. A quote from Variety:

"...a pointless and pretentious drama that -- given its title and direct linkage to the 1986 Challenger shuttle disaster -- nearly adds tasteless to its unflattering hat trick."

Nearly adds tasteless? Doesn't that just mean that it wasn't tasteless?

Available on DVD from Netflix

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Kim Kardashian becoming a freak?

I was standing in line at the grocery store. There was a magazine. On the cover were pictures of Kim Kardashian. It said that she was spending a fortune on more and more plastic surgery which was destroying her looks. Among other things, the fat injected into her buttocks was putting her into the freak range.

Was I wrong to hope this was true?

Well, yes, of course I was wrong. That poor girl! Just because she's rich and doesn't deserve to be rich...

I don't know what her step-father is doing. Rumor has it that he's going for a sex change. He had his adam's apple trimmed down which is seems odd if you're not getting gender reassignment surgery. He doesn't seem to have facial hair. In any case, good for him! I wish him well.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Lego, Barbie, GI Joe

In 2007, Eva Liddell wrote about Paris Hilton and went into a discussion of Barbie and an incident involving Allen Ginsberg:
The wonderful thing about Barbie was that she didn’t have to do anything. She was free. Sure, she had an outfit for her job as an airline stewardess and she took lots of time getting dressed to look professional and more importantly very beautiful. But I don’t remember that she actually worked. Mostly she went to the beach, or wherever she roamed, with the wind in her hair which would have to be re-combed and put back up into that famous long blond pony tail. She drove around in her convertible, she had lots of friends and she had a pink Princess telephone.

One early evening as Lynn and I were deep into Barbie-Land, Mrs. Schuler called to Lynn from downstairs. "Lynn Marie," she hollered up, "come clean the dinner dishes." Lynn groaned. I picked up Barbie and pointed her to the door where Mrs. Schuler’s voice had emanated. "I don’t do no stinkin’ dishes," I, or rather Barbie said. "What did you say Eva?" Mrs. Schuler said. "Oh, I said, chirpily, "I said I’d help Lynn with the dishes." I pulled a fast Eddie Haskell on that one.


Many years later during the summer of 1967 ... I was hanging out in Thompson Square Park in the East Village sitting on a bench. Some guy sat down next to me and we got to talking. I remember him telling me that he appreciated that I applied my eye makeup expertly and asked me if I wanted to go over to Allen Ginsberg’s pad on Seventh. We got there and Ginsberg’s little living room was filled with hippies and some old Beats and one dissolute poet who kept bragging he was second best to Ginsberg. The guy who brought me over started playing the violin. Someone else tapped on a congo drum or something. Ginsberg wasn’t there yet. Then he came in. Everyone looked up. He wasn’t in a great mood.

"Hey," he growled. "Why don’t one of you chicks get in the kitchen and start doing some of these dishes?"

That was my cue to leave. Only I had to walk through the kitchen to exit through the door. He thought I was one of the "chicks" volunteering to wash the mountain of dirty plates and motioned to me where to begin. "I don’t do no stinkin’ dishes," I said and walked out.
I saw Ginsberg in a documentary argue that he couldn't possibly be sexist since he was a homosexual.

But here we see Barbie speaking through a young woman, telling smelly beatnik Allen Ginsberg to go to the devil.

Could this have happened if Barbie had been made into a Hollywood movie character, like G.I. Joe and now Legos?

I never understood this thing where they make movies about toys. How do they know what an action figure's personality is like? The few times I played with a G.I. Joe, he was pretty much a mindless killer. And since there were no enemy action figures for him to kill, I had to have him shoot people from a distance. It was horrible, really.

G.I. Joe as a movie character would never seem right to me unless he were walking around alone, never speaking and always acting without apparent motive.

So I don't know how kids who play with Legos will feel about this Lego movie.


So who elected these "protesters" trying to overthrow the democratically elected government of the Ukraine? The U.S. is there directing it, picking who run country after the overthrow. And we have idiot "progressives" like Rachel Maddow who love it. Do "progressives" have anything to say about this that you couldn't hear from the lapdog press? Even The Nation magazine is supporting the fascist scum trying to stage a putsch in Kiev.

Ten Ukrainian police have been killed and hundreds have been wounded, some have been taken captive including one who clearly needed an ambulance but was denied medical treatment.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Already tired of Ronan Farrow

I don't think I've ever heard Ronan Farrow speak on TV, but I'm already tired of him.

That may just be because of all the crap I've written on this blog about him and his estranged parents. But it could be that, if Michael Wolff is right and this whole thing was engineered as a publicity rollout for Ronan and an attempt to turn Mia into a celebrity activist, it may have backfired. They may have just turned Ronan into another Rob Kardashian.

Now that Woody Allen has suggested that there's a possibility that Ronan's father was indeed Frank Sinatra, Ronan needs to shut up. You kind of expect a young person to feel he can make rude comments about his own parents, but rude comments about the nice, unrelated old man who paid your way through college is just obnoxious.

He Was a Quiet Man

Watched He Was a Quiet Man. I don't know what the budget was---they said they had no budget. But it starred Christian Slater and William Macy. Filmed on digital video.

Written and directed by Frank A. Cappello who wrote the script for a Hulk Hogan movie, Suburban Commando---and some other, apparently better movies.

Christian Slater plays a pitiful office work. He brings a gun to work trying to work up his courage to commit mass murder. But another guy beats him to it, starts shooting, and Slater becomes a hero by shooting him.

It was pretty good. Filmed in 21 days. It looks like it cost a lot more than it did, made without money but with actual stars and an experienced writer-director.

Graham Greene's review of a Shirley Temple movie

We had a murder in this state several years ago. Two young men murdered a couple walking on the beach one night and then fled to Mexico. The murders were completely senseless. It turned out that they were trying to model themselves after Dick Hickock and Perry Smith, the two murderers in In Cold Blood.

I thought maybe the killers wanted to set off into the world, but couldn't make themselves leave home without being wanted for murder. If they wanted to set off into the world and burn their bridges behind them, they should have run up some massive credit card debts. At least then they'd have something to show for it.

And then there was Graham Greene, the British author who took refuge in Mexico after writing a bizarre and libelous review of a Shirley Temple movie in the 1930s. Shirley and the studio successfully sued him and the magazine that published it. The magazine folded and Greene took off to avoid paying the judgement against him.

Here's what he wrote:
The owners of a child star are like leaseholders — their property diminishes in value every year. Time’s chariot is at their backs: before them acres of anonymity. What is Jackie Coogan now but a matrimonial squabble? Miss Shirley Temple’s case, though, has peculiar interest: infancy with her is a disguise, her appeal is more secret and more adult. Already two years ago she was a fancy little piece — real childhood, I think, went out after The Littlest Rebel). In Captain January she wore trousers with the mature suggestiveness of a Dietrich: her neat and well-developed rump twisted in the tap-dance: her eyes had a sidelong searching coquetry. Now in Wee Willie Winkie, wearing short kilts, she is a complete totsy. Watch her swaggering stride across the Indian barrack-square: hear the gasp of excited expectation from her antique audience when the sergeant’s palm is raised: watch the way she measures a man with agile studio eyes, with dimpled depravity. Adult emotions of love and grief glissade across the mask of childhood, a childhood skin-deep.

It is clever but it cannot last — middle aged men and clergymen — respond to her dubious coquetry, to the sight of her well-shaped and desirable little body, packed with enormous vitality, only because the safety curtain of story and dialogue drops between their intelligence and their desire. “Why are you making my Mummy cry?” - what could be purer than that? And the scene when dressed in a white nightdress she begs grandpa to take Mummy to a dance - what could be more virginal? On those lines in her new picture, made by John Ford, who directed The Informer, is horrifyingly competent. It isn’t hard to stay to the last prattle and the last sob. The story — about an Afghan robber converted by Wee Willie Winkie to the British Raj — is a long way after Kipling. But we needn’t be sour about that. Both stories are awful, but on the whole Hollywood’s is the better.

My God. What was Greene thinking? Dimpled depravity?

He went on to write The Third Man and The Quiet American.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Sid Caesar RIP

Sid Caesar has died at 91.

The scene in Blazing Saddles where Mongo punches the horse was inspired by an incident where Caesar punched a horse in Central Park. He lifted weights, was very healthy. That may have been something like his real personality in It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World.

Mel Brooks, Carl Reiner and Neil Simon among others worked on his show, Your Show of Shows. Woody Allen was a writer on The Sid Caesar Show a few years later.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Shirley Temple Black, RIP

Shirley Temple Black has passed away at age 85. She was a huge star in her day. Worked in Hollywood for nineteen years, worked in government much longer. She suffered from breast cancer in the early 'seventies and became one of the first prominent women to discuss it publicly.

She ran for Congress as a "conservative Republican"----I'm not sure what that meant. A conservative Republican back then was probably a liberal-left Democrat today. It was during the Vietnam War and she lost the primary to an anti-war Republican.

She was later Ambassador to Ghana, Ambassador to Czechoslovakia, Chief of Protocol of the United States. She was in charge of Jimmy Carter's inauguration and inaugural ball.

I saw a story on her on 60 Minutes in the early '70s. She said that Ghana was like the pages of National Geographic come to life.
She would have been far less successful as an adult if she hadn't been so successful as a child, although it obviously could have gone the other way----look at how many child stars' lives went horribly wrong. 

No matter what her achievements were later in life, she couldn't get away from it. On Saturday Night Live, Loraine Newman did an impression of her as a child solving a diplomatic crisis in Africa. And I heard somewhere---I don't know if this is true---that when she ran for Congress, there were posters with pictures of her as a child with a caption---something like, If you don't vote for me, I'll cry.

But don't the rest of us who never got to be child stars have a right to be bitter? Isn't it enough that they were better than us as children? Do they have to be better than us as adults?

Monday, February 10, 2014

Something I saw on Family Feud

I'll tell you something else that has haunted me for years.

It was an episode of Family Feud. I hated that show. Why was I watching it? Maybe we didn't have cable.

There was a simple question. What's the first thing a husband asks the doctor upon the birth of his child. There were two answers.

The first person said, "How is the baby?" Yes, that one was up there.

Next, it was Grandpa's turn. What is the first thing a husband asks the doctor upon the birth of his child?

"How soon can I have sex?" Grandpa said.

There was an awkward silence. Then...well, no, obviously that wasn't up there.

The family lost the game and left the stage in shame, humiliated, all because of Grandpa. I don't know if he was trying to be funny.

Shia LaBeouf, The Bling Ring, Spring Breakers

Shia LaBeouf, performance art
Well, Shia LaBeouf, it turns out, has set out to do some sort of performance art thing where all he does is plagiarize other people. This is supposed to set off a "conversation" about plagiarism in this era of internet stuff. Or something. I don't know.

I was reminded of the words of Orson Welles on Jean-Luc Godard:
“...I just can’t take him very seriously as a thinker — and that’s where we seem to differ, because he does. His message is what he cares about these days, and, like most movie messages, it could be written on the head of a pin.”
The point is that cinema is an art form. And just as there's no such thing as an intellectual sculpture or an intellectual painting, there may be no such thing as an intellectual film.

And I would say the same for "performance art". It may be an art form, but it has no more intellectual depth than sculpture. You're not going to express any deep thoughts that way.

The Bling Ring
That might explain the movie The Bling Ring. The true story of some teenagers in LA who start burglarizing the homes of wealthy celebrities. I'm sorry Jack Webb isn't around to make it an episode in some new incarnation of Dragnet.

As it was, the movie was sort of blank and shallow, which may be fine since it's about rather shallow people. I didn't sympathize with the kids or with the celebrities they stole from. Although the kids were treated like criminals when their real crime was loving their victims too much. And robbing them.

It may just be that you're not going to get much depth from a movie. But I think it was about what I expected.

Spring Breakers
I had low expectations and was pleasantly surprised. Spring Breakers exemplified the theories of Sergei Eisentein---the montage, the use of sound. It was the kind of movie Eisenstein would have made if Eisenstein had been an idiot.

But, like Orson Welles said in the quote above, even if Harmony Korine had wanted to make something intellectually deep, could it be done?

The movie was about college girls who want to go on spring break but are short of funds. They rob a restaurant. They go to Florida. They end up with James Franco playing, something. A drug dealer? A gun dealer? They wear daring two piece swimsuits throughout the movie.

I never liked James Franco. Now I hate him.

It was all right. A little annoying at times.

It cost a modest $5 million, grossed a bit under $15 million in the U.S., over $30 million worldwide.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Shia LaBeouf in Berlin

I can't remember what I didn't like about Shia LaBeouf. Was it the bar fights? The plagiarism? Publishing private emails from Alec Baldwin? The time he threatened his neighbor with a knife?

Now he claims that all the plagiarized apologies he has reportedly been tweeting were "performance art". My God. Is he trying to be the poor man's James Franco? Is that why he appeared at the International Film Festival Berlinale with a paper bag on his head that said "I am not famous anymore"?
Yeah, that was clever.

By the way, if you're ever physically attacked by Shia LaBeouf or any other actor, always aim for the face. Try to disfigure them--it'll send them packing. Nothing scares a movie star more.

LaBeouf walked out of a press conference in Berlin after making a statement he plagiarized from a documentary about Eric Cantona.

He seems to be trying to pass himself off as---something. An eccentric genius? A performance artist? An intellectual? He hasn't said or done one interesting thing.

Now, Lars Von Trier---HE knows how to be a colorful eccentric.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Woody, Mia, Soon-Yi

I can see how Woody and Soon-Yi getting together in the first place may have seemed like a bad idea, but this isn't a hypothetical situation where we can argue about what the outcome would be. They've been apparently happily married for the last twenty years, far longer than Mia and Woody were together and about twice as long as both of Mia Farrow's marriages combined. I'd say it was a good move on both their parts.

The fact that Soon-Yi and Woody have been married so long raises further doubts about Mia and Woody's relationship. The reason Eric Lax gave for them never marrying and never living together was that both had had failed marriages and Woody felt he was too neurotic or eccentric to live with anyone else. This obviously wasn't the case. He just didn't want to live with Mia. And if Mia was sleeping with Frank Sinatra the whole time, as she now claims, she wasn't terribly committed, either.

Back when this happened twenty-one years ago, Mia Farrow didn't attack Woody. She physically attacked Soon-Yi. Mia never acted like Soon-Yi was a victim---she acted like Soon-Yi had stolen her boyfriend.
When Mia adopted Tam a short time later, she cut out a picture of Tam and pasted it over Soon-Yi's face in a family photo (this was before Photoshop). Mia thought better of it and removed it before anyone said anything. It's now been reported that Fletcher has Photoshopped Woody Allen out of all the family photos----I wonder if he removed Soon-Yi as well. 

Opening of the Sochi Olympics

They were incredible. Impressive. And if you watched it on American TV, you had to listen to a running commentary by sportscasters about how terrible Russia is. They talked as if Vladimir Putin personally designed everything. When they played music that was originally composed for a movie and later used for the evening news, they had to claim that the new in Russia was all propaganda, as if this commentary of theirs wasn't.

The morons hate Russia because they gave refuge to Edward Snowden and wouldn't allow Obama to launch a war against Syria. The American public was overwhelmingly against an attack on Syria as well and have Putin to thank for keeping them out of yet another war. So they pull gay rights out of a bag, wave them around like a Gorgon's head and turn the rubes into stone.

China, by the way, made a number of pro-gay pronouncements before their Olympics, and it had no effect. The US is as hostile toward them as ever.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Michael Wolff discusses Mia, Ronan Farrow

Do they really look alike?

Michael Wolff already discussed this in an earlier column. He goes into more detail here.

He argues that the latest crap about Mia Farrow and Woody Allen is largely an effort to advance Ronan Farrow as a celebrity.
We now have an ultimate aspirational resume, truly surpassing all before it, well beyond mere yuppie ambition and into an undreamed of sort of pre-career virtuosity: that of 25-year-old Ronan Farrow, who, without ever hardly having had a paying job, has gone from faceless celebrity-family member to historical entity in the period of a few weeks.
He mentions Ronan's educational achievements and notes that none of Frank Sinatra's offspring have "ever demonstrated, to say the least, an academic predisposition (nor are the Farrows well-known in this regard)..."

He adds later that
Ronan Farrow, with his degrees, could yet be as dumb as a post (outside of the media itself, there are no institutions more craven when it comes to celebrities and their children than academic ones).  [James Franco is living proof of that--w.s.] His visits to Darfur with his mother and general PR-type comings-and-goings among the world's trouble spots might mean he is less a humanitarian than a narcissist. (Indeed, the word "humanitarian" often means attention-seeker and egomaniac.)
He writes:
The media surely knows where its bread is buttered. It has been served up an incredibly rich piece of gossip: a paternity conundrum, no matter how impossible to prove or disprove, involving two of show business history's greatest and most charismatic stars.

What's more, the paternity wrinkle is joined to an evergreen scandal. One might think that Allen's 22-year-old affair with his girlfriend's adopted daughter, given their many years of marriage, apparent domestic tranquility, and two teenage daughters, might seem hard to squeeze for more drama.

What's more, now it turns out that his inopportune relationship was, at least in Farrow's present telling, matched by her continuing involvement with Sinatra. But pay no attention.

Fame High

I'm reminded of what Charles Grodin wrote. He went to acting school. His teachers told him that no one would ever hire him talking the way he does. This is because he didn't speak in an English accent. Their idea of good acting was to speak in a British accent.

There was Spike Lee who talked about film school, how the student films that the professors praised were just terrible.

There's that screenwriting guru who's never had a single script produced who charges hundreds of dollars for seminars which completely mislead students.

I'm sitting here watching Fame High, about kids in some sort of "arts" high school in Los Angeles. The teachers berate the students, telling them how to be professionals. But----can they be trusted? Are they miseducating these poor students? Every few minutes, we see some teacher telling them what they have to do to succeed and warning them that they'll fail miserably if they don't do exactly what the teacher demands.

I know people who've succeeded in music, art and acting, and they don't say any of this stuff.

I notice what the kids are studying----classical music, ballet and jazz. Is there money in that?

I think they should teach a course in becoming a YouTube celebrity and then parlaying that into some kind of career.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Moses Farrow speaks out


People Magazine talked to Moses Farrow, Dylan Farrow's older brother who was fourteen or fifteen when Mia and Woody split. Moses and Dylan were adopted by Woody.

From the article:
"My mother drummed it into me to hate my father for tearing apart the family and sexually molesting my sister," Moses, 36, tells PEOPLE in the magazine's new issue. "And I hated him for her for years. I see now that this was a vengeful way to pay him back for falling in love with Soon-Yi." 

"Of course Woody did not molest my sister," says Moses, who is estranged from Farrow and many of his siblings and is close to Allen and Soon-Yi. "She loved him and looked forward to seeing him when he would visit. She never hid from him until our mother succeeded in creating the atmosphere of fear and hate towards him. The day in question, there were six or seven of us in the house. We were all in public rooms and no one, not my father or sister, was off in any private spaces. My mother was conveniently out shopping. I don’t know if my sister really believes she was molested or is trying to please her mother. Pleasing my mother was very powerful motivation because to be on her wrong side was horrible." 
Moses accuses Farrow of bullying him as well. "Our mother has misled the public into believing it was a happy household of both biological and adopted children," he says. "From an early age, my mother demanded obedience and I was often hit as a child. She went into unbridled rages if we angered her, which was intimidating at the very least and often horrifying, leaving us not knowing what she would do."  
Moses, a family therapist, says that his own life has been made better by spending time with Allen.

"I think my sister is missing a great deal in life in not reconnecting with her father, who had always adored her," he says. "It’s important that she assert her independence from our mother and not go through life with the false impression that she has been molested by my father. I am very happy I have come into my own power, separating from my mother, which has led to a positive reunion with my father."

People got Dylan's reaction, which I thought was bizarre on a couple of points:
"I will not see my family dragged down like this. I can't stay silent when my family needs me and I will not abandon them like Soon-Yi and Moses. My brother is dead to me. My mother is so brave and so courageous and taught me what it means to be strong and brave and tell the truth even in the face of these monstrous lies."  
Her family needs her? I thought she was supposed to be the victim and they were all doing it for her. Mia and Ronan needed her to repeat the accusations against Allen? Why?

Michael Wolff in The Guardian wrote:
Indeed, the larger context for this rehashed scandal is not a pattern of abuse or the ongoing dysfunctions of a celebrated family but rather the demands of a publicity rollout. Twenty-one years after the event – all parties long quiet – a story is revived. It is an old scandal for a new generation.

The impetus seems to be to establish Mia Farrow as a celebrity activist worthy of the world stage, and, as well, to launch a public career for her son Ronan.

The campaign began in the November issue of Vanity Fair in a profile of Mia Farrow by Maureen Orth, a long-time friend (Orth is the widow of NBC's Tim Russert), in which Farrow offered the headline grabber that Frank Sinatra, rather than Woody Allen, might be Ronan's father. In a demonstration of Farrow's famous media acumen, that's all she said, Sinatra "might" be – worldwide titillation followed.

The terms of the article would have been negotiated beforehand. Mia Farrow is, at this point in her career, not a Vanity Fair worthy subject. Hence, in return for laudatory press coverage of her charitable work, and near sycophantic treatment of her yet-to-be-employed son, she would have had to agree to revisit her legendary scandal. That, and then some. The price of publicity for her and Ronan was, in effect, Allen.
Read Wolff's entire article here.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Mia, Woody, Dylan, Alec Baldwin, et al

Mia Farrow and Nicholas Kristof

Years ago I was working a job in Boston. One of my co-workers got called for jury duty. She said her brother was a cop so she wouldn't get picked anyway, and she said she couldn't serve on a jury in any sort of child sex abuse case because she was so outraged that she would convict anyone accused of it.

"Even if they're innocent?" another woman said.

She didn't see why the defendant being innocent should quell her outrage. She said she would still convict him.

How is convicting an innocent person, or deciding that someone is guilty when you know nothing about it, a sign of how outraged you are by sexual abuse?

There's a woman who claims that Bill Clinton raped her. I don't know anything about her. I know Clinton was never accused, charged or investigated for this. Am I cruelly indifferent to rape victims if I don't blindly believe it's true?

Al Gore was asked somewhere if he thought Clinton was a rapist. He said he didn't know, which was honest but unnecessarily open-minded. He should have said, "I don't know. How do I know if YOU'RE a rapist. Why ask me?"

Which was essentially Alec Baldwin's response when Dylan Farrow wrote her "open letter" calling on movie stars to attack Woody Allen. He tweeted, "What the f[uck] is wrong w u that u think we all need to b commenting on this family's personal struggle?"

He continued, "So you know who's guilty? Who's lying? You, personally, know that? You are mistaken if you think there is a place for me, or any outsider, in this family's issue."

(He clearly wasn't addressing Dylan directly. If he were, "What the fuck is wrong with you" might be a bit harsh. The tweets have since been deleted.)

The tide may be turning. I'm not seeing any more items about how wonderful Ronan Farrow is and I'm starting to see articles raising doubts about the attacks on Allen.

Reading Dylan's open letter, I have more doubts now than I did before. Is she claiming that Allen sodomized her? A seven year old? And a medical examination found no evidence of this? Allen was at Farrow's house with her huge family and two or three nannies whose job it was to keep track of the kids. He disappears with her, sodomizes her, then they both come back ten minutes later, both acting as if nothing had happened? Maybe I'm naive about these things, but is that possible?

It's been pointed out that the "open letter" was posted on Nicholas Kristof's personal blog which doesn't have to meet any journalistic standards. Kristof has been a close friend of Mia Farrow's for years, traveling with her. There are pictures of them together at awards ceremonies. Since he's Mia's friend, it's clear that she's orchestrating this.

Mia has her Depends in a bunch because Allen's movie Blue Jasmine is getting more Oscar nominations. Her last "big role" was a small part in a trashy 2006 remake of The Omen.

It's been brought up that Mia has never commented on her brother pleading guilty to child molestation. He'll serve at least ten years in prison. He isn't estranged from Mia. He presumably had access to her children. I don't know if it means anything that Mia and Ronan have nothing to say in support of his victims, but there is Mia's total support for Roman Polanski.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Dylan Farrow's open letter

I read Dylan Farrow's "open letter" attacking Woody Allen and there wasn't much there. I assume she believes what she was saying. But she was examined by a doctor at the time. There was no medical evidence and investigators believed that her story was untrue.

Dylan wrote:
What if it had been your child, Cate Blanchett? Louis CK? Alec Baldwin? What if it had been you, Emma Stone? Or you, Scarlett Johansson? You knew me when I was a little girl, Diane Keaton. Have you forgotten me?
But she must be aware of her mother's friendship and total support for Roman Polanski. What does she think about that? She must be aware that her uncle--Mia's brother--is in prison for child molestation. Unless he's been completely estranged from Mia for the last 44 years, he must have had contact with her children. Does Mia Farrow have anything to say about that?

And, again, why did Mia sign a release allowing the Golden Globes to use a clip from Purple Rose of Cairo in their tribute to Woody Allen if she thought the tribute was an insult to all abuse victims? Does Dylan have any thoughts about that?

Philip Seymour Hoffman RIP

Philip Seymour Hoffman died today apparently of a heroin overdose in his New York apartment.

From Twitter:
"RIP Philip Seymour Hoffman. An all-time great. He added at least 20 Tomatometer points to anything he was in."
---J. Elvis Weinstein
I had to break the news of his death to my mother. She was a fan since she first saw him in Scent of a Woman. I looked at his filmography. I see so few new movies I was surprised at how many I had seen.

Well, poor guy. A terrible loss.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Can't watch Breaking Bad again

I loved Breaking Bad. But I'm finding I can't re-watch the series. Some of it's too painful to see again---there are people you don't want to see die. At least two children were killed in the series not counting the airline disaster.

There was an article listing plot ideas they never used on the show. One was this: Walt, Jr, comes home with a black eye. He's being picked on at school! Walter finds out who the other kid is. He plants drugs in his locker and the kid is arrested. Later, it turns out that Walt, Jr, is the bully, the other kid is the victim.

They decided not to use it because the stakes weren't high enough and they wanted to keep Walt, Jr, innocent.

But there---see----high stakes.

You had The Talented Mr Ripley. The stakes started out rather low. Mr Ripley faces social embarrassment and an obnoxious rich guy dumps him for an even more obnoxious rich guy. It's as if George Costanza resorted to murder then spent the rest of the series doing horrible things to avoid being caught.

There's the key. Make the stakes really high. Either have someone face execution, life in prison or acute embarrassment.

Werner Herzog, Juliana Koepcke, Wings of Hope

When I was a fourth grader, our teacher read an article to us about a girl who was the only survivor of a plane crash in a South American jungle. I remember some details. She came across a stream or river and knew to follow it down stream and it eventually brought her to a logging camp several days later.

I didn't know that the girl survived, strapped in her seat, after falling two miles when the plane fell apart in a storm after being struck by lightning.

I remember the part about how she got the maggots out of her wounds by pouring gasoline over them when she found a boat sitting unattended. She stayed there and waited for the loggers who owned it to return.

Turns out that Werner Herzog was supposed to be on that flight. He canceled his reservation when his itinerary changed. He was about to start shooting Aguirre, the Wrath of God filmed not far from where the girl would be fighting for her life.

For years he wanted to make a movie about her but was unable to contact the girl, a German named Juliana Koepcke. He finally contacted her through her priest.

Here is the documentary, Wings of Hope, on YouTube.

In German with voiceover English translation.