Sunday, December 27, 2015

I never liked Star Wars

I was in junior high when the first Star Wars movie came out. I mean the first one ever made. I was in the target audience. I thought I liked science fiction, but then I tried reading science fiction and I realized I just liked guys in costumes murdering each other with futuristic weapons. The movie should have been perfect for me, but I never liked it.

At school, we all loved it. We drew space ships in art class. I was in a class that painted a mural in the cafeteria, and they had to tell us it couldn't have space ships shooting at each other----it had to be a nature scene. So we painted a nature scene but, at the very top, the blue sky fades to black and there were a couple of satellites up there.

But even then, we'd be standing around gushing over Star Wars and once in a while some kid would comment that the thing really didn't have much of a plot, and the acting was really bad. Junior high kids aren't the most discriminating movie goers, but, yeah, we all agreed.

Then there was a teacher who told us how clever Star Wars was, because all the gun fights in it took place with the guys standing out in the open, shooting and shooting and shooting without ever hitting anything. This was a reference, the teacher thought, to the old 1930's B westerns where they kept shooting and never ran out of bullets.

None of us at the time had ever seen a 1930's B western. No one under 50 had ever seen one. What's the point of doing a parody of something nobody had ever seen? I have seen a few of them since then, and the cowboys would at least duck for cover.

I don't think it was intended as a reference to anything.

It had the least energetic sword fight I think I've ever seen in a movie, and that includes the "realistic" ones where the guys are really tired and are mostly leaning on things, flailing ineffectually with their swords.

Was this Alec Guinness's first movie sword fight?


Here's my theory: George Lucas was fairly open about the fact that he didn't write very well. Francis Ford Coppola tried to help him. I think Lucas made the first movie as a chapter in a serial to explain any shortcomings in his script. If there's anything you didn't understand, it's because you didn't see the other chapters.

He did something similar in THX 1138. He explained that it wasn't a movie ABOUT the future---it was a movie FROM the future. Anything that didn't make sense to you would make sense to the hypothetical audience of the future.

I have no curiosity at all about the new movie.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Something that bothers me about The Sound of Music


You know what bothered me?

The scene where Christopher Plummer stares Rolf down and takes away his Luger. "You'll never be one of them!"

Only reason Rolf didn't shoot him was that he was his girlfriend's father. But Captain Von Trapp seemed to think he overpowered Rolf through sheer force of personality. A triumph of his will, so to speak.

Just made Rolf feel bad so now he had something to prove. I'll bet it made him an even bigger Nazi than before.

It's on TV in the next room. That's why I bring it up.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

After Six Days, (La Sacra Bibbia) 1920



I'm a non-believer and Thanksgiving isn't exactly a religious holiday, but I watched a 1920 Italian silent Bible epic. It was re-released in the US with music and narration added, probably aimed at a Jewish audience judging from the Star of David in the opening credits and the fact that they stopped before they got to the New Testament. It had a surprising amount of nudity, all of it male as far as I could tell. We see Adam in long shot walking away from the camera and several extras about to be drowned in the Noah's ark scene were naked.

I stopped paying attention. Then I looked up to see some guys throwing a child down a well.

That was in the Bible? I thought.

It was Joseph. He was rescued and taken to Egypt as a slave.

I think they screwed up the dream analysis part. The Pharaoh dreamed of seven fat cows eaten, ironically, by seven skinny cows. Joseph interprets this to mean that there will seven good years followed by seven years of famine, but the narrator tells us that the Pharaoh dreamed of seven good years followed by seven lean years to begin with. So what did he need the dream interpreted for?

I hoped they would show grain being stored in the pyramids like Republican candidate Ben Carson said, but no such luck.

Would have been okay without the lousy narration.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Rogue Trader


I have an in-law, a young woman who had been dating a guy who went to college to prepare for a job in the financial industry. He was on the top of the world. He may have been a Harvard boy---I don't remember. But he headed for New York to go to work just as the financial system collapsed. I wasn't the least bit sympathetic. I only met the guy once. But I was rather baffled when my in-laws felt sorry for him. The guy's goal in life was to get rich while being completely unproductive. 

Watched the movie Rogue Trader. I kind of liked it. It was all one-note. Based on the autobiography of the rogue trader himself, Nick Leeson, sent to run the Singapore office of Barings, the world's second oldest merchant bank. Leeson managed to put it out of business. The Leeson character throws up a lot to show he's under stress.

Available for instant viewing on Netflix.

In real life, Leeson fared pretty well. Spent a few years in prison in Singapore. Was released after being diagnosed with cancer, but he pulled through and now works as a guest speaker and lecturer. He's written a couple of books and was CEO of an Irish football club.

For a second feature, watch Quicksand, a film noir of sorts starring Mickey Rooney. Mickey borrows twenty dollars from the cash register at work knowing he has a few days to pay it back, but is forced to commit more and more serious crimes to cover it up. With Jimmie Dodd, the grown-up on the old Mickey Mouse Club, Peter Lorre, James Cagney's sister, Jeanne, and a young Jack Elam.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Love Story


I watched this movie one New Years Eve about thirty years ago. We watched Easy Rider and Love Story, the surprise hits of 1969 and 1970.

Perhaps we would have been deeply moved by the ending, but one of my friends started repeating all the shock lines from the movie.

"Dammit! Dammit, Preppie! Dammit, Cavaleri! Dammit, you Radcliffe bitch! Dammit! Dammit! Dammit!"

Another time, it came on TV. Ryan O'Neal said the opening bit of voice over. And everyone started laughing. And these were middle aged people, people who had once been the target audience.

They never did say what she died of.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Cate Blanchett, Woody Allen

From an article in The Guardian:
Her role as Jasmine Francis, the brittle Park Avenue princess fallen on hard times, would go on to win Blanchett a second Oscar. But the experience of shooting it was no bed of roses. She describes Woody Allen’s directing style as one of “benign neglect”, although it doesn’t sound altogether benign to me. “The first day was brutal,” she recalls. “He came up to me and said, ‘This is awful and you’re awful.’ As if he were talking about someone else, some other actress, and that maybe I could go and have a word with her. And then three weeks later it turned out that he didn’t like the costumes, he didn’t like the locations, he didn’t like the scene. He said, ‘You’ve got to help me rescue this movie.’”
The trick, she decided, was to take charge of the situation; to bombard the director with questions. “I realised I had to demand things from him. And sometimes he would look at me just bewildered. But I’m not particularly needy. A lot of times, actors ask questions and what they’re really asking is, ‘Was I good? Did you like me?’ But my questions were all technical. ‘Should I stand here? Should I say it that way?’ And he would answer my questions maybe half of the time.”
What about the other half? “The other half he didn’t hear me.” She laughs. “Or he was pretending not to hear me.”
Maybe Allen was always like this. I've heard that he never really directed actors. He would just tell them they were no good and keep shooting retakes. But when you describe a guy who's pushing 80 as looking "bewildered", you're creating a certain impression.

Allen turns 80 on December 1st. (One of his adopted daughters turns 17 the same month.)

There are a few directors who made movies into extreme old age. Manoel de Oliveira directed his last movie at 106. And Allen's father was over 100 when he died and had a job when he was in his 90's; His mother was in her 90's when she died. I figured Allen would keep going into his 90s. 

Friday, November 6, 2015

Norman Mailer, Maidstone


Thirty years ago, I stumbled upon a book about the movie Maidstone at the university library. The movie was made by Norman Mailer and it sounded incredibly stupid.

I finally saw the movie on Fandor. Made in 1970. Filmed with multiple cameras. They shot 45 hours of footage cut down to 110 minutes, and it still stunk.

Mailer plays a brilliant movie director named Norman Kingsley. (Kingsley was Mailer's middle name.) Kingsley's father was a Russian immigrant named Raymond Kingsley. Yeah, that sounds Russian. They didn't say what his patronymic was.

Kingsley is planning to run for president. He's also filming a sex movie set in a unisex brothel and it doesn't occur to anyone that this might hurt his chances in the election.

The dialog is improvised. The actors take way too long to say very little. Norman Mailer is obnoxious and sometimes speaks in an English accent.

And there's a government organization called PAX which stands for "Prevention of Assasination eXperiments". (Experiments?) PAX is deciding whether to murder Kingsley themselves.

I don't think I've ever read anything by Norman Mailer. I have seen film of him humiliating himself on the Dick Cavett show. Judging by the movie, if he ever wrote anything good, it was a complete fluke.


I'll mention one other thing. Charles Bukowski's novel, Hollywood, tells about an encounter with Norman Mailer. The movie Barfly, written by Bukowski, and Mailer's Tough Guys Don't Dance were produced by Golan-Globus at about the same time. The two went to a birthday party for Menachem Golan and almost got into a fight. Bukowski had embarrassed himself by mistaking another guy for Golan. Mailer sat there smirking at him until Bukowski asked if he wanted to make World War Three out of it.

According to a biography of Bukowski, this really happened. They were both pretty old. Mailer said that Bukowski's health was declining and Mailer was ready to fight him.

Elsewhere, the book told about another incident. Bukowski went to a reading by William Burroughs. He got mad because he thought Burroughs snubbed him. He was fuming to Harold Norse. He said, Look at him---I could knock him down with one punch. 

Norse said, Yeah, but you'd be dead because he'd shoot you.

Burroughs was known for carrying guns.

The point being that Mailer and Bukowski, tough as they acted, were physically no match for frail William S. Burroughs. I would have admired Burroughs for that if he hadn't shot and killed his wife.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Should zero budget movies be shorter?

I'm thinking zero budget independent movies should top out at 55 minutes. An hour and a half is just too long. If you look at old Hollywood B movies, they run from 45 to 65 minutes. They knew what they were doing. Make your movie just long enough that people don't feel ripped off when they buy a DVD.

Look at books. They talk about how much people used to read. But books in the 1950s, when people read so much, were very thin. A 150-page novel was very common in those days. Novels now are four or five hundred pages. It's fine to give people their money's worth, but they have lives, too.

When my brother was in the band in high school, they would have these concerts that would drag on and on. Like the band director thought he was giving the parents a real treat when all he was doing was murdering their evening.

I've been watching some of the extreme low budget movies on Fandor. I like the idea of no budget movies, but I'm finding the actual movies a little hard to watch. Making them shorter would be a good start.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Kung Fu Master! aka Le Petit Amour

Mathieu Demy and Jane Birkin.

You know what would make a good double feature with this movie? Max, Mon Amour. In Max, Mon Amour, Charlotte Rampling plays the wife of a British diplomat in France. He suspects her of infidelity. She finally admits it's true. She gives a very sensitive portrayal of a woman in love with a chimpanzee at the zoo, and the husband looks like a jerk for not immediately accepting it.

For some reason, movies in the '80s presented adultery as a sign of emotional depth. It was a Reagan-era self-centered yuppie thing. I didn't know this during the '80s because I didn't watch that kind of crap back then, but I've since learned that this was the case.  Robert De Niro was in one called Falling in Love and there was Peter Bogdanovich's They All Laughed.

I heard that one poor wretch took too long to get funding for his pro-adultery '80s movie. It didn't get made until the '90s and, by then, people were appalled by it.

I would put this movie, Kung-fu Master!, aka Le Petit Amour, (1988) in the same broad category. The French movie stars Jane Birkin as a middle aged divorcee who falls in love with her daughter's 14-year-old (male) classmate (Mathieu Demy).

If it had been about a perverse middle aged woman going after a bewildered tweenager, or about a delusional 14-year-old hitting on a grown woman, it would have been more plausible. But the two seemed to be on the same wavelength. The attraction was mutual.

I really don't know what they saw in each other. The kid, Julien, is less obnoxious than the other boys in the movie, but his defining features were that he was short for his age and that he liked an '80s video game called Kung Fu Master. Jane Birkin was 42. She first sees the kid when he's sitting on the floor in the bathroom. Her daughter (Charlotte Gainsbourg) has thrown a party. The older boys had fun getting the little fellow drunk and now he doesn't feel so good.

"Just throw up," she said.

"I can't."

"Open your mouth."

She sticks her fingers down his throat. While he's puking into the toilet, she tells him it's revolting, drinking at his age. She tosses him a clean tee shirt to put on. Later, she takes a cigarette out of his mouth, tells him he's too young to smoke and smacks him when he talks back.

Jane Birkin's two real-life daughters play her daughters in the movie. Her elderly parents play her parents. Director Agnes Varda's teenage son plays Julien.

Imagine having your mom direct you in your make-out scenes.

Charlotte Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Paper Tiger, 1975


I haven't seen it since it was on HBO in 1975.

David Niven plays a teacher who travels to an unnamed country in southeast Asia (filmed in Malaysia) to serve as tutor to the adorable son (Ando) of the Japanese ambassador (Toshiro Mifune).

It came across as a family film. It had a cute little kid in it. But it's rather violent. There are two or three terrorist attacks in the course of the movie, and the government is far worse than the revolutionaries. The child witnesses several people being shot in an assassination attempt at a banquet at the Japanese embassy, including the summary murder of a captured assassin, but the kid still cheerfully fantasizes about his teacher's war stories. Teacher and pupil are kidnapped by revolutionaries.

Hardy Kruger as a reporter who sees through the teacher's claims about his heroism in World War Two. 

Home Box Office had a promo talking about the making of it, how they had to teach the child actor Ando to speak English. They made the movie sound big. It was well made but I never heard of it again until it appeared on Fandor.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Search for Tomorrow, Love of Life, The Guiding Light

There's a Roku channel that shows only public domain movies and TV shows. This week, they've added a few random episodes of soap operas from the 1950s. They looked a lot cheaper than soap operas now, some were only fifteen minutes, and they seem to consist almost entirely of scenes of two people carrying on long conversation about their problems.

I assume they did this because they had to write and film thirty pages a day, and dialog between two people is easy to write and to direct, and they only needed two actors.

In this new age of digital video, match the content to the form. You can make movies basically for free. Technically, there's nothing to it. Should you take the pressure off completely and put it in a form that's easy to write, produce and direct?


Saturday, October 17, 2015

Bad Seed, Richard III

The Bad Seed was pretty good. It was based on a play and was a bit stagy. The dialog wasn't entirely naturalistic. But the situation was stronger than the weaknesses. A mother comes to realize that her seemingly perfect daughter might be terribly bad. With Patty McCormack in the title role. She got an Oscar nomination for it. Also got spanked in the end even though this was after the curtain call---she was in costume but not in character. They were spanking the actress for playing a psychopath.

The movie had a couple of scenes of Leroy the handyman talking loudly to himself and to the audience. I'm sure this was fine in the play, but it didn't quite work in the movie.

Somewhat like this other movie, Richard III, starring Lawrence Olivier. The movie was in technicolor, brightly lit. A bit cartoonish, not like Polanski's Macbeth or Welles' Othello. So the scenes of Olivier walking around reciting soliloquies weren't terribly realistic but there was no illusion of reality to begin with. If the guy was just walking around muttering to himself, they might have pulled it off.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Sean Penn sues Lee Daniels for defamation

There was a cruel rumor I read on Cracked.com. It claimed that Sean Penn tied up and tortured Madonna for nine hours until she managed to escape and call police, but she didn't press charges because of the publicity. This supposedly happened when they were married in the '80s.

I don't know anything about Sean Penn. It's not impossible that this could have happened, but that last part, not pressing charges after being bound and beaten for nine hours, seemed very strange, and I thought rather implausible. It would be wildly irresponsible of her.

Now Sean Penn has filed a ten million dollar defamation suit against Lee Daniels for statements he made in an interview defending Terrence Howard.

From Variety:
Daniels said that Howard “ain’t done nothing different than Marlon Brando or Sean Penn, and all of the sudden he’s some f—in’ demon. That’s a sign of the time, of race, of where we are right now in America.”
The lawsuit states that “in purporting to ‘defend’ the ongoing legal and related troubles of actor Terrence Howard … who has reportedly, and publicly, admitted to physically abusing at least one woman and reportedly been arrested approximately five times for violent acts against women — Daniels has falsely asserted and/or implied that Penn is guilty of ongoing, continuous violence against women. Nor has Penn admitted to ‘slap[ping]’ a woman or abusing others (as Howard has also reportedly admitted, reportedly asserting that he was acting in self-defense).”
...
Penn’s lawsuit says that Daniels’ statements were “egregious” on several levels, including that “in his purported ‘defense’ of Howard, Daniels not only appears to acknowledge Howard’s guilt, he also seems to condone Howard’s reported misconduct.”
...
It notes that even though Penn has had brushes with the law, “Penn (unlike Howard) has never been arrested, much less convicted, for domestic violence, as his ex-wives (including Madonna) would confirm and attest.”
Penn's lawyer told reporters, “Sean is dismayed at the gratuitous attacks and statements that have been made over the years at his expense, and he wants to take a stand and correct the record."

If that rumor is false, I'm glad to hear it. Poor Madonna.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Family Feud goes blue

I can't watch live TV. There are things I've seen that have haunted me for years. I don't like talking about it.

There was one case--and this wasn't live TV, but it was live on tape. It was an episode of Family Feud. The question was, what's the first things husband asks the doctor after his wife has given birth. There were two possible answers. The first one was "How is the baby?"

The grandfather had to give the second answer. It was pretty obvious what it was. But he said, "How soon can I have sex?"

There was an awkward silence. Then, well, of course the answer was wrong. The other family won, and the family with the idiot grandfather left in disgrace. There was money involved, and you know that everyone those people knew were watching the show.

I thought maybe the guy was making a joke figuring he could change his answer. Like people who stage UFO hoaxes thinking they can pull it off then reveal that it was all a joke---they quickly realize that they're in too deep and there's no way out.

Now I read that this has become the norm on Family Feud.

The question: "Name the first part of a woman you touch to get her in the mood."

"That would be the lower front or the vagina," the contestant said.

Viewers are increasingly annoyed as well they should be.


I'll tell you one other thing that bothered me for years. I saw it as a child. The Muscular Dystrophy Labor Day Telethon---Jerry Lewis would periodically wade into the studio audience with a bucket to collect money. Once, a woman tried to embrace him and he said in a funny voice, "Get your hands off me, you oversexed broad," which I thought was funny when I was ten.

But then Jerry had just done this, just waded into the crowd collecting money. Then he was speaking to the camera, making some heartfelt statement, when a young man with a beard standing near him said, "Excuse me." He said that he just gave him some money, and it was money his father had given him, so could he have it back?

Jerry was aghast. I'm trying to entertain all these people, he said. No, you can't have your money back!

At the time, I imagined that this idiot really needed that money, that he was caught up in the moment and gave it away, but, realizing what he had done, he acted out of sheer desperation, feeling he had no choice but to humiliate himself in front of millions of viewers.Like I said, I must have been about 10. I thought Jerry should have given him his money back, although how would anyone know how much the guy stuck in a bucket?

Now, of course, I think he was just stupid, that he mentioned that his father gave him the money to make it sound like it had sentimental value.

It's also possible that the guy just saw his chance to make his time in a studio audience even more memorable. He'd be in his 60s now. He may be bragging about it to his grandchildren.


And there was this other time. A local TV station would show movies and they had an old guy I never heard of hosting it. A local business sponsored it one time and the old guy interviewed the employees on live TV. One guy, the son of the owner, was extremely nervous. He could barely speak, but the old guy kept talking to him anyway. He finally moved on to the other employees. Then he turned back to the nervous guy and asked him how many Valium he took a day.

"Uhhh---uhhhh," the poor guy said.

He was young and I realize he would live with that memory for the rest of his life.

Why is anything on live TV? Videotape is cheap and plentiful. The potential for disaster is so great. What's the point?

By the way---I always give people this advice. If you're being interviewed either live or on tape for TV or radio and it's going badly, just start swearing so they can't use it.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Devil Girl From Mars


A British science fiction movie. A Martian woman in black leather, invulnerable to weapons, terrorizes people at a rural inn when she comes to Earth looking for men she wants for breeding stock. She has a big robot with her. A little like The Day the Earth Stood Still. The robot was impressive but a little cartoonish.

According to the opening credits, it was based on a play. British theater isn't quite what I imagined.

When I was a kid, I did see a production somewhere of Help, Help, the Globolinks, which, it turns out, was a German opera. I can't even remember what state I was in when I saw it. Texas? Oregon? I don't remember it being a musical much less an opera.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Matt Damon, apples

You remember that stupid movie, Good Will Hunting? When Matt Damon shouts through a window to the wealthy college student, "DO YOU LIKE APPLES? DO YOU LIKE APPLES? WELL, HOW DO YOU LIKE THEM APPLES!"

What if he didn't like apples? I've never liked apples. What made Matt Damon think he liked apples?

If they guy had yelled back through the window, "I CAN'T EAT THEM. THEY HURT MY GUMS," what would Matt Damon have said then?

And I see that Matt Damon is a racist now.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

The Sailor Who Fell From Grace With the Sea, 1976


I saw this on Home Box Office (now HBO) when I was 14. An arthouse movie set in England based on a novel by Yukio Mishima.

With Sara Miles, Kris Kristofferson and Jonathan Kahn.

Jonathan Kahn as Sara Miles son. He runs around with a gang of tweens led by a sadistic tweenage Nietzschean (Earl Rhodes). Jonathan discovers a knothole in the wall between his room and his mother's and starts spying on her which is every bit as perverse as it sounds. She starts sleeping with Kris Kristofferson who plays the first officer on an ocean freighter.

The kids drug and dissect a live cat. A disclaimer at the end assures us that "no living animal" was harmed in the making of the movie, and watching the scene again, I'm sure that was true.

Sara Miles and Jonathan Kahn won Golden Globes for their performances.

Critics at the time complained that the thing with the kids was implausible. I don't know. Weren't there a couple of episodes of Dragnet where teens are led astray by a charismatic classmate?

It might make a double feature with Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore, another movie about a boy with mixed feelings about his widowed mother dating a guy played by Kris Kristofferson.

Available on Fandor.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

George Clooney, Up In The Air


I don't think I've seen George Clooney in anything before.

Watched Up In The Air on Netflix only 6 years after its release. Pretty good for me.

I once heard the director, Jason Reitman, interviewed on NPR. He said that his father, director Ivan Reitman, advised him not to try to make a scene funnier or more dramatic. He said it was almost impossible to do. Just stick to the script. You picked it for a reason.

I like advice that tells you to do nothing.

This movie wasn't very funny or very dramatic which is probably fine, but I didn't especially like it. George Clooney flies around the country firing people for companies that don't want to perform this unpleasant task themselves. He brags about his lack of commitment. He has no family and few possessions. All he wants is frequent flier miles. But, as you might imagine, he grows and changes as a character.

$50 thousand-a-year film schools

I was looking at a list of the top 25 film schools. Not sure what their basis was, but okay. Most charged around $50,000 a year tuition. A few state schools were much cheaper, around $17,000.

You could make a pretty good movie for $50,000. Some people in the comments section made that point. In fact, they said that successful film school alumni who returned to speak at their old school told students to drop out and "go make a movie!"

I don't know if that's good advice. It sounds good, but student films are notoriously bad, and I don't know that a film made by a film school drop-out would be much better. You should be able to make a pretty good movie for $50 thousand, but the fifty grand you pay in tuition is going to be in financial aid and massive student loans. If you quit, you won't be fifty thousand dollars richer, you'll just have that much less debt.

It's unlikely you'll make your money back or that anything will come of a movie that cost that little. If you go to film school for a year, at least you'd get something out of it. On the other hand, few people who graduate from film school will end up doing anything. If they dropped out and made a low budget movie, at least they would have something to show the grandkids some day.

I don't know why I'm discussing it. If you have that much money, do what you want. It doesn't matter.

Filmmaking is an old person's art anyway. 80-year-olds make better movies than 20-year-olds. That may only be because the 80-year-old has been working at it longer. I don't know if a FIRST-TIME 80-year-old director with no experience at all in film would make a better movie than a first-time 20-year-old director.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Breaker Morant

I saw the movie Breaker Morant only 35 years after its initial release. Starred Edward Woodward just a five years before The Equalizer.

The movie was set during the Boer War in South Africa. Some Australian soldiers are court martialed for murdering prisoners and a German missionary. And, of course, they were guilty. Their defense was that they were only following orders. They were being prosecuted because the German government objected to the missionary being murdered and there was a danger that they would join the war against the murderous Brits.

It might make a double feature with Judgement at Nuremberg or The Winston Affair.

The Winston Affair starred Keenan Wynn as an Army lieutenant charged with murdering a British officer during World War Two. The Army wants to convict him quick to smooth things over between the British and American troops so they can get on with the war. But defense attorney Robert Mitchum has different ideas.

But movies like The Winston Affair and Judgement at Nuremberg were less ambiguous than Breaker Morant. In one, the defendant was insane, in the other, the defendants were Nazis.

We sympathize with the defense in Breaker Morant, but the defendants were horrible people. The Boers were no picnic either and their being murdered by the Brits shouldn't have bothered me. They were all colonialists, all racist scum.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Just a Kirk Cameron thing

I was slightly acquainted with a guy long ago. He had become a Christian which is fine. But he was thirty and all the Christian literature he had was written for teenagers. He had a stack of tracts on the importance of obeying his parents and teachers and rules for dating. He used this stuff to proselytize his thirty-year-old friends. He was probably older than the youth ministers he was hanging around. I wondered how they reacted to him.

I get that impression with Kirk Cameron. He doesn't seem very bright and he doesn't seem to have advanced beyond the material used to convert him when he was a teenager. He "disproved" evolution on Fox News by holding up a picture of a "crocoduck"--half-crocodile, half duck:
"Nothing becoming something, blowing up in becoming an organized everything, just doesn't fit logic to me. Plus, Darwin said, in order to prove evolution, which is the number one alternative to God, you've got to be able to prove transitional forms—one animal transitioning into another—and all through the fossil record, we don't find one of these [holds up photoshopped photo], a crocoduck."
I can't imagine an adult being amused or impressed by this.

Richard Dawkins responded:
'Why doesn't the fossil record contain a fronkey?' Well, of course, monkeys are not descended from frogs. No sane evolutionist ever said they were, or that ducks are descended from crocodiles or vice versa. Monkeys and frogs share an ancestor, which certainly looked nothing like a frog and nothing like a monkey. Maybe it looked a bit like a salamander, and we do indeed have salamander-like fossils dating from the right time. But that is not the point. Every one of the millions of species of animals shares an ancestor with every other one. If your understanding of evolution is so warped that you think we should expect to see a fronkey and a crocoduck, you should also wax sarcastic about the absence of a doggypotamus and an elephanzee. Indeed, why limit yourself to mammals? Why not a kangaroach (intermediate between kangaroo and cockroach), or an octopard (intermediate between octopus and leopard)? There's an infinite number of animal names you can string together in that way.
What is Cameron? About fifty?


A Simple Game of Catch


There's a scene in A Simple Game of Catch where we hear Chazz's voice on the phone with her mother telling her that she can't see people's faces---they're just silhouettes. I took this to be a reference to the theme song in Midnight Cowboy. Nilsson can't see their faces, only the shadows of their eyes.

The movie was reportedly shot in four days with no budget and a one man crew. It's just under an hour long, mostly in one apartment. A young woman, a recent college graduate, has moved to New York from Pittsburgh. She's unemployed, lonely, and keeps embarrassing herself in conversations with strangers. She responds to an ad on Craigslist and annoys a man trying to sell a couch. She phones a bewildered classmate from the 4th grade she locates online. But she won't return her mother's calls.

It was pretty good, really. Having music on the soundtrack helped a lot. A lot of zero-budget movies don't.

Available on Fandor.

I've never understood people going to New York. If you can make it there, you'll make it anywhere, so why not make it somewhere you would actually want to live? Pittsburgh wasn't big enough for her?

I saw a story on a TV news magazine---a family moved to Los Angeles so their teenage daughter could pursue a singing career. They were from New England. They were a short distance from several huge cities. Those weren't good enough for them? And anyway, Justin Bieber was from a little town in Canada, Hanson was from Oklahoma City. I knew an aspiring writer who thought he had to move to New York so he would be close to the publishers. I pointed out that it was small, economically depressed towns with low costs of living that artists and writers flocked to.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

I ate at Subway

I went to Subway. There's one a block and a half away. I couldn't think of what else to eat. So I go in there and there's the same guy working who was there last time I went in. He has short black hair and is unshaven. He looks like a university student, and he's strangely fat. I imagine he was athletic until recently, but now he's put on a lot of weight, but it hasn't affected his appearance from the neck up. He has an overweight body but a normal neck and head. It looks weird.

He asks a lot of questions in a loud voice but he's not being friendly or trying to make conversation. 

"I'LL BE WITH YOU IN A MINUTE, MAN." After a minute. "WHAT CAN I GET FOR YOU, MAN."

I ordered.

"WHAT KIND OF CHEESE, MAN?"

I told him.

"YOU WANT IT TOASTED, MAN?"

Yes.

"WHAT ARE YOU UP TO, MAN?"

Nothing.

"YOU SEE ANY GOOD MOVIES LATELY, MAN?"

No.

"WHAT VEGGIES YOU WANT, MAN?"

I told him.

"FOR HERE OR TO GO, MAN?"

To go. I paid him.

"YOU'RE SET TO GO, MAN."

I'm not going back there again.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Jared Fogle

He wasn't much of a celebrity. He lost a lot of weight but was still in lousy shape. He was no Jack LaLanne. His only talent was looking bland and not being dangerously obese and he managed to turn that into a career.

When he was fat, he would eat alone because he didn't want people to know how much he ate. Yet he talked freely about preying on children. He talked for years to a journalist about the sex crimes he committed and the sex crimes he wanted to commit. She secretly recorded their conversations for the FBI and is now talking about some of the details. At least two Subway employees reportedly alerted the company about what he was up to, but they ignored them.

Now he's under house arrest until sentencing in November. The minimum sentence is five years. Prosecutors have agreed not to ask for more than 12 years, but the judge could ignore that and sentence him to up to 50 years.

I just hope he won't still be rich when he gets out of prison.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Russian cops raid "Church" of Scientology

Police in Russia have done what cops here should have done a long time ago.

They got reports that the the "Church" of Scientology had hidden video cameras and microphones in the rooms where people were "audited". They were using them to record blackmail material on their members.

Police raided the "church" in January and now reports are coming out about what they found.
Initial reports about a search being made in the Church of Scientology headquarters in the center of the Russian capital emerged in late January.
LifeNews media outlet reports that a search warrant was issued after police received a tip that a variety of recording devices, including microphones and cameras, had been secretly installed in the Church of Scientology and routinely used by its member.
Technical devices have been allegedly detected in rooms where confidential conversations with people – so-called 'auditing' – took place, LifeNews reported. Aсcording to its police sources, Moscow's Church of Scientology recorded interviews between visitors and auditors allegedly to later blackmail the former.
A police source told RIA Novosti that “most probably, the recordings were later analyzed to reveal a ‘touchy subject’ of wealthy visitors and to hold it against them. Possibly also to blackmail, which now is the subject of an investigation.”
 ...
“Signs of a destructive, totalitarian sect have been found in their activities,” a former employee of the department for combating organized crime in Moscow, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told LifeNews.
“This sect does not give one any freedom of choice. People are given no chance to leave. They are being kept on a short leash instead, constantly put under pressure. A person becomes dependent on the sect members by virtue of the information that he had given them,” the source added.
http://www.rt.com/news/312721-scientology-church-moscow-spying/

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Bruce Jenner, Can't Stop the Music, Sandy Vietze


Now that Bruce Jenner has become a woman, I decided to watch Can't Stop the Music starring Bruce Jenner and the Village People. Available for instant viewing on Netflix.

In one scene, Jenner storms out of a disco party. Valerie Perrine doesn't understand.
"This is the best party we've had in weeks. Why are you leaving so early?"

"Let's put it this way. Your friends are a little far out for me."

"What do you mean?"

"I don't understand why a good-looking girl like you is down here in the Village with a bunch of---I don't know what!"

"You know something. I don't judge people. I accept them. There's no person who breathes who doesn't have certain peculiarities and as long as it doesn't hurt anybody, it's all right with me."

"Yeah, but where do you draw the line?"

"With uptight squares like you!"
Steve Guttenberg smiles way too much. With Paul Sand, Marilyn Sokol. Directed by Nancy Walker.

It might make an interesting double feature with Party Monster starring Macaulay Culkin.


Seeing Jenner in his first movie made me think of poor Sandy Vietze, the teen skier whose Olympic dreams were shattered when he got drunk and went to the bathroom on an 11-year-old girl on a Jet Blue flight. He stood in the aisle, thought he was in the bathroom and proceeded to urinate on the girl's leg. That was in August 2011, so we're at the four year anniversary.

Sandy is now 22 and on the University of Vermont ski team. I don't know how the poor girl and her family fared. Her father was a stage 4 cancer patient at the time.

If you do an image search for Vietze, you'll also get a lot of pictures of Gerard Depardeieu who had a similar mishap a short time after Vietze did that terrible thing. Poor Gerard had prostate trouble and was left with little choice but to relieve himself in the aisle of an airliner awaiting take-off.

Even now, if you do a news search on Google, you find stories from 2011 about Vietze's Jet Blue incident.

I don't know what Vietze's hopes and dreams were. His parents paid over $40 thousand a year for him to attend the Green Mountain Valley School Ski Academy. He wanted to be in the Olympics. I don't know if he hoped to parlay that into something more profitable. There's not much money in just being in the Olympics. His parents threw away a fortune if all he's going to do is ski.


Saturday, August 15, 2015

What kind of an idiot actor would get a tattoo?

Tattoos are idiotic. They all look like crap. Some people get what they imagine are tasteful little classy tattoos. They still look like crap.

If your tattoo is going to appear in a movie, you'll need a release signed by the tattoo "artist". In fact, you have to have a release signed every time you get a role---production companies each want their own. Make-up won't completely cover them and it takes hours and costs a lot for them to try covering them.

Justin Bieber is a lovely boy who appeared in a couple of episodes of a TV cop show and is actually a pretty good actor. But now he's plastered with tattoos and that career's been closed off to him. Of course, not many young men want to be "lovely boys" and that might explain why Bieber decided to horribly disfigured himself.

And being tattoo-free would be a boon to a career in pornography.

Obnoxious Hollywood moron Shia LaBeouf is now walking about with some crude-looking tattoos on his thighs. Marlon Brando would show up on movie sets without pants---he was terribly overweight and only wanted to be filmed from the waist up. Maybe LaBeouf doesn't want his thighs being shown on screen.
My God, that guy's an idiot.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

A Simple Plan, Blue Ruin, Blue is the Warmest Color

Watched a few movies. The reader probably knows more about them than I do. I quit trying to keep up with current or recent movies a long time ago.

A Simple Plan. A rural thriller. Housing is cheaper in small towns but I think the director, California millionaire Sam Rami, overestimated what impoverished country folk could afford. But the movie was pretty good. Three guys decide to keep a large sum of money they discover in the wreckage of a small airplane they find in the snow. What could go wrong. It was pretty good. Available for instant viewing on Netflix.

Blue Ruin. Another rural thriller. Reportedly funded by Kickstarter. Starts out simple enough---a homeless guy sets out to murder the man who's just getting out of prison for murdering his (the homeless guy's) father. Things become more complicated. With Eve Plumb, TV's Jan Brady. It was pretty good. Very violent. Available for instant viewing on Netflix

Blue is the Warmest Color. Man, that movie had a lot of sex. About lesbians. A teenage girl (played by a grown woman) hooks up with an older artist. In one scene, the teenage girl is attacked by classmates who accuse her of being a homosexual. As often happens in French movies, the French don't seem nearly as sophisticated as you'd expect. There were big anti-same-sex marriage protests in France not long ago, but I still would have expected French high school girls to be more open-minded about it. For one thing, the French make movies like this. Don't know what I think about the film, really. Stars the girl from the Swiss movie Sister. Available for instant viewing on Netflix.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

A Shock to the System, Michael Caine, 1990

 
It made me think of 30 Rock. How did they make Jack Donaghy sympathetic?

A Shock to the System stars Michael Caine as a successful New York ad executive who starts killing people when he's passed over for promotion. I can't say I approve, especially him murdering his wife simply because she pressured him to make more money. But it's hard to get upset about callous executives being murdered by a slightly more sympathetic executive who didn't get the promotion he was expecting. I'm sure I'm judging these people too harshly.
 
Had a Columbo-like but unamusing detective who's onto him. And I guess I can tell you that the murders are Columbo-like, too. He doesn't just gun people down like a normal person.

imdb.com quotes Caine from an interview in Venice magazine: "That was a lovely little film, but it was too small for its own good, really. It got lost. It was the sort of film, were it made today, that would be great as a film for HBO, or something. But at the time, it just got lost in the system". It was made for theatrical release but went straight to video in some markets.

Available on Fandor.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The two missing kids from Florida

I keep looking at the news hoping to see that they found the two boys in Florida lost at sea. I hope to heck they find them alive. It's not clear to me what the story is. Were they going to the Bahamas? Did their parents allow them to take the 19 foot boat out on the ocean or not? They were last seen buying $110 worth of fuel. Would they need that much if they weren't going to the Bahamas? For a while, I had the impression that they told their parents they were going fishing and told their friends they were going to the Bahamas but I don't know if this is true. The family had vacationed there and the kid knew he'd need a passport if he was going there.

I know there are worse things happening in the world. The kids were relatively rich, apparently. One attended the weirdly named Jupiter Christian School. It's not every day you see a Christian school named after a Roman god. It sounds like their mothers are continuing to insist that they had plenty of experience boating and knew what they were doing.

They were in a 19 foot boat. It was hard for me to picture, but I had a couple of full-size American cars that were about 18 feet long. Their boat was a bit longer than a 1970 Buick, and that's not big enough. 

I had a great uncle who was half-Indian. He was born in the 1880s. He died before I was born. But he grew up among the Indians and had an uncanny ability to find his way through the woods even at night in total darkness. He amazed people by walking a dangerous trail along the side of a cliff at night in almost total darkness. And HE was afraid to go into the woods by himself. It's dangerous. You can get killed out there.

That's what I think about when I see people who think they're attuned to nature walking off into the wilderness. And now we have people in Florida claiming that sending children out on the ocean in a small boat is part of their "culture". No, it's not. They haven't been there long enough to develop a genuine culture. If they had, they wouldn't do things like this.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Donald Trump and a pitiful girl on TV

Long ago, there was some TV news magazine that was doing an episode on pornography. One segment was a heavy set girl, a porn actress, very cheerful and enthusiastic, who thought she was going to parlay her porn work into a legitimate movie career and that she would some day win an Oscar for best director! Her parents shook their heads sadly.

She didn't seem to have any thought about the movies she wanted to direct, or anything about directing as a job. But she knew she wanted to win an Oscar for it. The Oscar was the goal. Being a director wasn't. Just the Oscar. And it had to be for best director.

That being the case, taking the porn route may well have been her best bet. Her chances of success were practically nil, but that's better than absolute zero. Who knows---maybe we WILL see her walk up there to accept her Oscar.

And that's how it is with Donald Trump. There's no way he's going to become president. But if he acted like a normal, respectable person, his chances would be even worse. If he wants to be president, this is his only hope slim as it is.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Jean-Pierre Leaud

Jean-Pierre Leaud at 14 at the Cannes Film Festival, a glass of wine in front of him as Francois Truffaut chatters away with Jean Cocteau.


And Jean-Pierre today. Or at least more recently. He's 71 now. Seems to have lost the cufflinks and tie.


My God. Donald Trump has a point. Almost.

Donald Trump attacked John McCain, calling him a dummy, ridiculing his "war record" which consisted if his bombing civilians, being shot down and being a prisoner of war.

Trump only attacked him for being captured. If he were a little more on the ball, he would point out that McCain was a traitor. His nickname among the Vietnamese was "Songbird" because he went in singing. Chattered away, telling everything he knew.

Other prisoners, by the way, have said that McCain was not tortured, at least not when he claimed he was.

The Vietnamese have said that he wasn't tortured and told how they got him to talk. They knew who McCain was when they captured him. They knew that his father was an admiral and that his grandfather had a ship named after him. They knew he was used to getting special treatment, so they moved him into another hospital, had him treated by Soviet doctors. They had officers come in to meet him, acting excited to get to meet such an important man. Imagine a Vietnamese officer thrilled to meet John McCain!

He told them everything. Vietnamese air defenses became more effective and U.S. bombing less effective, which is fine with me.

A Spanish psychiatrist interviewed American POWs in North Vietnam and diagnosed McCain as a psychopath. He blathered about how he wanted to be an astronaut and he complained that now he wouldn't be able to become an admiral at a younger age than his father. When asked if he felt any sympathy for the civilians he bombed, he said "NO, I DO NOT." (McCain himself told the same story about talking to the psychiatrist.)

When he was running for president, the lapdog press reported on the special treatment McCain got as a POW and how Vietnamese generals came to meet him, but the fools took it at face value. They didn't know (or pretended not to know) that they were manipulating him and reported that the Vietnamese somehow sensed what a great man John McCain was.

McCain's a racist. He freely told reporters that "I hate the gooks. I'll hate them until the day I die."

Hates them because they rescued him and saved his life after he bombed them. A Vietnamese civilian came out of a bomb shelter and swam into a lake to pull McCain to shore. McCain volunteered to bomb Vietnam because he thought it would advance his career, then was infuriated that they shot him down and took him prisoner.

What a dummy.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Another Bill Cosby rape thing?

I didn't know until recently that there was a "scared straight" episode of Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids. I never saw it, but it was reportedly full of rape stuff.

According to Cracked.com:
Fat Albert and the gang unknowingly accept a ride in a stolen car, get arrested, and are sent on a Scared Straight tour of the Philadelphia State Penitentiary, was ostensibly produced with a similar goal in mind of teaching children that prison is fucked-up and they should do everything within their power to avoid going there. As Fat Albert and the gang are shown around the prison, the inmates keep howling and laughing maniacally at them in a way that suggests they are either putting on fantastic performances for the kids' benefit, or are just waiting for one of them to get within raping distance.

One pervy-looking guy says, "Oh, you smell so good ... come closer, let me sniff you ..." ... while another guy says, "I want the big one! Give me the big one!" And, just to make extra sure everyone is clear on what's being discussed, a burly inmate says, "When you're out in the yard, or in the showers, you don't have any rights or any protection." (Emphasis ours.) He further explains to the gang that, in prison, you have to do anything that a tougher inmate tells you. He sternly repeats the phrase "no matter what it is" to make sure his point is getting across.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Bill Cosby

I hate Bill Cosby, but, to be fair, he said that he bought quaaludes to give to girls to have sex with them. If he said he bought sports cars to give to girls to have sex with them, would that mean he used the cars to rape them? I don't know what the guy did. If he gave his prescription drugs to anyone, he was committing a crime in any case.

And while I'm thinking about it, when Theo had marijuana and said he was holding it for someone else, what sense did that make? Why would you go around holding drugs for another person? I can see why someone might want you to hold their marijuana for them, but why would you do it? What's in it for you?

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Riding Speed, B western

Finally! I saw a B western I liked. It's a B western the way I always envisioned B westerns. Very primitive. Produced by the father of Al Adamson. Called Riding Speed, starring Buffalo Bill, Jr, (no relation to Buffalo Bill Cody). Available on Fandor.

I didn't like Buffalo Bill, Jr's, ridiculous cowboy outfit. But the scenes were very short. There was little attempt at acting. The gunshots had an odd sound to them which made them seem more realistic. It had a lurid subplot. One of the smugglers starts making out with the other smuggler's wife. There are a couple of rather cruel murders which come off worse than most B western murders.

The editing is crude at times. The scenes are short, but they still cut to close-ups, as if the actors couldn't pull off a brief exchange of dialog in one shot.

The desert looks pretty good. Oddly, they seem to be smuggling Chinese into the country from Mexico, and they keep referring to the Chinese using the same racial slur.

It was one of those movies apparently set in the present day---there was a single car in it---but in every other way it was like 1870.

Had better theme music than most B westerns. As in most of them, there was no non-diegetic music.

I liked it a little better than Luc Moullet's A Girl is a Gun, starring Jean-Pierre Leaud as Billy the Kid. Moullet filmed in the mountains of France so he had a more interesting or at least unusual landscape. He saved money by hardly having any horses in it, and he avoided risk of injury by having the actors walk their horse---nobody tried to ride one---which is fine with me. I never understood the appeal of riding a horse. The costumes were better. There were no cartoonish cowboy outfits. The actress has a shirtless scene in a bra which I assume didn't exist in the old west.

I read someone say that Jean-Pierre Leaud, a city boy, looked out of place in a western. But this was good. Jean-Pierre was born in Paris---Billy the Kid was born in Manhattan. I also heard that the young fellow was high on drugs during production.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Jim Carrey posts autistic kid's photo like an idiot

The pictures I've posted on here have mainly been of wealthy celebrities. Someone got mad at me for posting a picture they had taken of Jello Biafra so I took it down. Felt bad about that. I did post pictures of bad tattoos which was probably rude of me, and I posted a picture that was in the news of a high school girl who went to the prom with a cardboard cutout of Justin Bieber. I argued that she should have found a boy in her school with low self-esteem whom she could mold into her vision of the teen sensastion. Some Justin Bieber clothes and hair would do most of the work. You'd also want him to get the speaking voice right and maybe lose or gain some weight.

But Jim Carrey, in a possibly scientology-based hissy fit over a California law requiring children attending school to be vaccinated, posted pictures of Autistic kids on Twitter. He didn't understand their conditions and he was accusing their parents of causing their autism by having them vaccinated. And it seems like a rather extreme invasion of the children's privacy to have their pictures posted on Twitter without their knowledge or consent.

I have opinions that I'm sure are correct but which most people don't share, but I wouldn't dream of giving crazy medical advice for children.

Now we'll see how HE likes having HIS picture
posted without permission!

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Bad Blood, New Zealand, 1982

Turns out that gun nuts are everywhere.

Watched a pretty good movie, a UK-New Zealand co-production, made for British TV movie called Bad Blood, the true story of a mass murderer set off in part by the New Zealand government taking all the .303 caliber rifles. This was at the beginning of World War Two. New Zealand was short of weapons and seized all privately owned rifles in that caliber for military use.

Stan Graham owned a dairy farm in New Zealand. He didn't keep the place very clean and his co-op began refusing to buy his contaminated milk. It was also making his cows sick, so he and his nutjob wife accused the the neighbors of poisoning them. He and his wife would go in the back yard in the middle of the night to practice their shooting.

A neighbor called the police when Stan threatened him with a gun. Stan threatened the constable with a gun when he came to his house. The constable fled, came back with some other men and that's when Stan started murdering people.

If you're in the dark waiting for a murderer to return and someone shows up and you can't see him and he refuses to give you the password, it might be a good idea to shoot him, although any normal person would be hesitant.

Bristol Palin

There are worse things than hypocrisy, but Bristol Palin really has taken it too far. She was paid more than a quarter million dollars for being some sort of "ambassador" for abstinence. She charged $15,000 for speeches on the subject. And now she's pregnant AGAIN. And she says she doesn't want anyone lecturing her----only she gets to lecture people on that subject.

She's been engaged twice but never married. Her first fiance was the better one, Levi Johnston. The boy was only 19 but he got into a public feud with Sarah Palin, the former governor and vice presidential candidate, and he held his own quite well. How many teenagers can do that? He responded to her attacks by revealing that she would refer to her baby with Down syndrome as "my retarded baby", and he made it clear that he had more dirt he'd reveal if she attacked him again.

There were rumors, by the way, that that baby was actually Bristol's as well, in which case this is baby number three for her.



Tuesday, June 9, 2015

What was wrong with those New Wave guys?

There are several Roku channels that show only public domain movies and TV shows, mostly American B movies from the '30s and '40s, and they were just terrible. Horror movies with no horror, thrillers with no thrills, comedies with no humor. The westerns were the worst, the horror movies the least boring.

These were the movies that turned Ed Wood, Jr, into the director he was. He grew up watching these things and if he had made his movies in the '30s, they may have been barely passable.

What I can't understand is what those French New Wave guys saw in them. I assumed it was because they wanted to make movies and they knew that if they were going to do it, it would have to be with very little money. They were just interested in what could be done on a very small budget. I suspect that the audiences for no-budget movies today is made up mostly of people hoping to make their own movies the same way. Rick Schmidt who wrote Feature Filmmaking at Used Car Prices (which has been revised with a different title now) sells his books, his DVDs, and advertises his workshops from the same website.

I wrote on this blog some time back that you should ignore B movies and watch TV. A lot of the B movie directors went on to work in television, and production techniques were very similar. They were working with little money, filming in about a week. Most B movies seemed to be from 55 to 65 minutes long.

I never watched Charlies Angels when it was on the '70s, but I watched a couple of episodes several years ago and I was shocked at how cheap they were. One of the angels went undercover in a women's prison. The scenes in the prison yard were filmed at a public swimming pool. Pools always have high fences with barbed wire so drunks won't climb over and drown at night. They made no effort to explain why a prison had a swimming pool.

Amother episode had Farrah Fawcett climbing out of the cab of a moving truck. They did this in a "poor man's process shot". They just filmed from a low angle so all we see is the truck and blue sky behind it, so, in theory, we can't tell if the thing is moving or not.

The show was awful. It didn't have to be. Look at Emma Peel on The Avengers. She wore that weird black leather jumpsuit and would get into fake judo fights. She beat up men all the time. Charlies Angels seemed helpless. And they drove terrible cars. One had a Mustang II, another had a Pinto, but mostly they rode around in a huge 1970s Ford Country Squire station wagon with fake wood on the sides. Emma Peel had a Lotus Elan.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Dustin Diamond violent, paranoid and abusive, says ex-girlfriend

One of Dustin Diamond's ex-girlfriends has told reporters from the Daily Mail that when she dated Diamond from 2002 to 2005, he was "abusive", "paranoid" and prone to temper tantrums. He threatened her with a knife because she wasn't cheerful enough when she picked him up at the airport and she once had to flee when he told her he would throw her off a hotel balcony. There were road rage incidents and he would scream obscenities at anyone who recognized him as Screech.

She said that Diamond carried knives and kept guns hidden around his house. She described the incidents when she picked him up at the airport:

'I greeted him when he arrived, but for some reason he perceived that I wasn't welcoming or loving enough when I picked him up.

'He kept repeating this to me, and he became more and more intense. He just nagged at me and become more rude and vicious with verbal bullying.

'No matter how much I tried to assure him I cared for him, it wasn't enough.

'Then he reached for the glove compartment and pulled out a knife.

'I froze, I was in the driver's seat and didn't know what to do.

'Dustin started fiddling with the knife. He didn't say anything, but to me that was a message ... 'don't push me'.

'I immediately backed down defending myself. Now it felt like case of survival. I was saying 'ok you are right' just to keep him doing anything with that knife.

'His head was looking down at his lap, and then occasionally he would look up at me. His face would be as red as a beet root, and his eyes looked like they were bulging out of their sockets.

'I was getting very anxious, wondering what was going to happen next. Dustin was really menacing.
Diamond would carry a cup of pennies in his car which he would throw at other cars as he screamed obscenities at them.

Beth said Diamond loathed being recognized around the world as TV loser Screech, yet hated not being as famous as he was during his teens.

She believes this made him 'emotionally immature' and prone to violent outbursts.

'Dustin is childish, and will throw tantrums all the time,' she said.

...

'He could never come to terms with not being on prime time TV.'

Beth said that growing up as a child in the entertainment industry had made Diamond selfish and self-righteous.

She said she couldn't even reason with the arrogant star when he turned on her.

'He was treated like a God as a child and never listened to people unless they had financial benefits for him,' she said.

'Even though he was an adult he still had the mind of a child.

'He was a little stunted emotionally and in the ways of the world.'

...

'Dustin could never come to terms with his fame. He couldn't bear that he wasn't a huge star anymore.

'Yet everyday he battled his emotions about being recognized as Screech. 'It gave him a huge ego boost, but also left him feeling vulnerable, down and often insulting towards fans. I saw both ends of the spectrum.

'When I asked him to talk about his emotions, he would just spin the conversation around to how he was going to get his career back.

'But I feel he has no idea how other people see him.

'I have seen him scream at fans when they call out Screech. He told them to f*** off and was rude and aggressive; I worried he would square up to some.'

Friday, May 29, 2015

Dennis Hastert: Inappropriate toucher

According to the New York Times:
The former student — who was not identified in court papers — told the F.B.I. that he had been inappropriately touched by Mr. Hastert when the former speaker was a high school teacher and wrestling coach, the two people said Friday. The people briefed on the investigation spoke on the condition of anonymity because they did not want to be identified discussing a federal investigation.
Man, that must have been some "inappropriate touching" to be worth $3.5 million! How would you prove you were inappropriately touched thirty years ago?

Well, good for his former student! It sounds like he or she hasn't gotten the full three and a half million bucks, but I hope the law leaves him or her alone to enjoy what money he or she got.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

I'm afraid I'm with Dennis Hastert on this one

Long ago, the Supreme Court ruled that turning around to avoid a police checkpoint was not probable cause for the police to chase you down and arrest you.

You'd think that the same principle would apply to withdrawing money from the bank. If you withdraw over ten thousand dollars, bank officials will question you about it. So Dennis Hastert quit withdrawing more than ten thousand dollars at a time. So the FBI questioned him for THAT.

I'm not sure why it was their business, but they questioned him and he told them he took it out because he didn't trust banks.

So now they've charged him with lying to the FBI because he was actually paying off a blackmailer. I guess it was blackmail. They agreed to the amount he would pay to compensate the person for something Hastert once did to them and they agreed to keep it all confidential. Is that really blackmail?

I'm a little curious about what Hastert was paying $3.5 million to conceal. It must have been bad, whatever it was. And the so-called blackmailer lived in the town where Hastert had been a teacher and wrestling coach. So what could a coach or a teacher have done that would be so shameful that he'd be willing to pay millions to keep it quiet? What could it possibly be?

And another thing, where would an ex-teacher and ex-wrestling coach get three and a half million dollars?

But I'm afraid I'm with Hastert on this one. Intentionally not violating banking regulations is not a violation of banking regulations and if the FBI says he lied, they better have it on tape. It was recently revealed that FBI "experts" perjured themselves in hundreds of cases:
The Justice Department and FBI have formally acknowledged that nearly every examiner in an elite FBI forensic unit gave flawed testimony in almost all trials in which they offered evidence against criminal defendants over more than a two-decade period before 2000.

Of 28 examiners with the FBI Laboratory’s microscopic hair comparison unit, 26 overstated forensic matches in ways that favored prosecutors in more than 95 percent of the 268 trials reviewed so far, according to the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) and the Innocence Project, which are assisting the government with the country’s largest post-conviction review of questioned forensic evidence.

The cases include those of 32 defendants sentenced to death. Of those, 14 have been executed or died in prison, the groups said under an agreement with the government to release results after the review of the first 200 convictions.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/crime/fbi-overstated-forensic-hair-matches-in-nearly-all-criminal-trials-for-decades/2015/04/18/39c8d8c6-e515-11e4-b510-962fcfabc310_story.html

If they'd lie to get an innocent person executed, you don't think they lie about Dennis Hastert, who apparently did something so monstrous that he agreed to pay his victim millions?

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Why is the US going after FIFA?

The U.S. is claiming the right to prosecute anyone for anything they do anywhere in the world. They fined a French bank for violating U.S. sanctions against Iran that aren't in effect in France. Now they're prosecuting FIFA, The Fédération Internationale de Football Association, and is vowing to "end graft" in an organization that has nothing to do with the United States. If Europeans have any self-respect (they don't) they'll refuse to extradite.

What does the U.S. government care? Why are they vowing to "stamp out" alleged corruption that has nothing to do with us?

It might be because the World Cup tournament will take place in Russia in 2018 and because FIFA may finally take action against Israel for preventing Palestinian players from traveling to events, from getting needed equipment and preventing their full participation. Palestinians have petitioned for Israel to be kicked out of FIFA, so the Zionists are frantically trying to get support from other members.

They should kick the United States out, too.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Dustin Diamond on trial

Dustin Diamond when he was younger and better-looking. 

He's obviously guilty

So, it seems that, sometime before he stabbed a man in a bar, Dustin Diamond threatened to murder another patron because he refused to "chug" a bottle of Smirnoff Ice. This was something calling "Icing"---it had been a fad among frat boys for a short time about five years ago.

"You've been iced. Get on your knees and drink this," Diamond said.

The guy refused. Diamond sent his "fiancee" over to try to persuade him. Then Diamond walked into the middle of the room and said, "Don't make me stab someone on Christmas."

Diamond has made death threats before

Diamond makes threats like this a lot, and on national television. In 2008, he threatened Brian Dunkleman on Celebrity Fit Club: Bootcamp.
Diamond: No, you don't understand. People better watch their ass, because I could show up at your house and fucking knife you in the gut.

Dunkleman: That's a weird thing to say.

Diamond: Hey, you piss me off and I justify it and I have the skill and technique [Diamond made a faux karate chop with his hands] ... You'd better watch your ass. I'll gut you motherfucker. You watch your ass. I'll kill your fucking ass!"
Diamond claimed to be in contact with the terrorist group The Jewish Defense League. This wasn't long after the leader of the JDL, Irv Rubin, committed suicide in jail while awaiting trial for plotting to blow up a mosque and to bomb the office of U.S. Congressman Darrell Issa. Issa was of Lebanese descent. 

http://washedupcelebrities.blogspot.com/2008/04/dustin-diamond-2008-celebrity-fit-club_07.html

They're reporting that Diamond won't take any plea deal that includes jail time.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Mr Holland's Opus again

Mr Holland berates his deaf son for being 
too deaf to appreciate John Lennon.

Mr Holland's Opus is on TV in the next room.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, The key to understanding the movie is the ending, when all his old students come back and play his lousy "opus" that he had been working on for decades. It was just terrible. On top of that, his students all start telling him what they do for a living now and you notice that not one of them has become a musician.

That's the whole point of school music programs---to make sure kids don't throw their lives away trying to be musicians. They play jazz and classical music, the two most difficult and least popular styles.

At one point, Mr Holland throws another tantrum and demands that a student write a paper SINGLE-SPACED. Why? Does he know what single-spaced means? He seems to think he's being extra-demanding as a teacher because he wants a paper written single-spaced. He then demands that the same student attend the funeral of a recent graduate who was killed in Vietnam. This is supposed to inspire him to do better in his "Music Appreciation" class.

Mr Holland seems like a jerk. He's plainly the aggressor in his music-oriented Oedipal conflict with his deaf son.

I never liked music. I forced myself to take music classes because my older brother and sister did, but I was so happy when I quit. I've never understood why people think that sitting in a classroom and playing something note-for-note as written and trying to sound exactly like everyone else in the room is "creative".

At my high school, one of the music teachers divorced his wife and married one of his students as soon as she turned 18. Before that, he and the girl would spend their lunch hours together locked in one of the windowless "practice rooms" in the music department. At a local middle school, they bully children into taking music classes. For their "electives", they can either pay a fee to take a music class or they'll be shunted off into something called "Study Skills" which they would have to take over and over, semester after semester, until they agreed to pay. It was an extortion operation, forcing children to pay so that a few Mr Holland-like municipal employees could pretend to be musicians.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Gregory Walcott on Bonanza



Watched Plan 9 From Outer Space's Gregory Walcott in a 1960 episode of Bonanza. This was the first season of Bonanza. I'm a little surprised they had color TV back then. The episode is public domain and something possessed me to watch it on Roku.

Walcott plays an obnoxious cackling psychopath named Farmer Perkins. I didn't realize "Farmer" was a first name. He murders a bartender, is tried and sentenced to death and they'll execute him right there in town. He's convinced his gang will free him. The criminals kidnap Lorne Greene and, if Gregory Walcott hangs, so will he! After the sheriff is killed, Adam, Hoss and Little Joe are in charge for some reason and are intent on carrying out the execution. Pretty sick really.

They avoided certain controversies over the death penalty by showing Walcott commit the murder and cheerfully confess to it and all the others he committed. He once murdered a preacher for preachin' at him.

It might have been more interesting if Farmer Perkins had been an actual farmer, if he had killed the bartender for political reasons, if Gregory Walcott had been a member of a persecuted religious minority and if his co-religionists had kidnapped Lorne Greene, if Gregory Walcott had been horribly traumatized in the war and had post traumatic stress disorder, if Adam tried to get information on where they might be holding Lorne Greene by questioning the town's sex workers. Also, if they had a novel form of execution. And if the executioner was either a sadistic psychopath or a horribly traumatized emotional wreck, desperately needing the job to care for his invalid wife and children but horrified at what he has to do.

As it was, the episode was pretty dull, with the three of them sitting around the sheriff's office gabbing.

Charlie Hebdo, PEN Freedom of Expression Courage Award

Many years ago, back in the late '70s, I was looking at a book of political cartoons by Tony Auth. The introduction to the book included a letter and a drawing sent to him by a 5-year-old with a suggestion for a cartoon. The child's cartoon showed Richard Nixon riding a bicycle naked with the caption, "Let me make this perfectly clear."

That kindergartener's cartoon was far more intelligent and drawn almost as well as the crap in Charlie Hebdo. 

Now I hear Charlie Hebdo has received some sort of PEN award for free expression. Pro-Israeli feminist Katha Pollitt wrote some nonsense in The Nation claiming that the magazine was somehow actually anti-racist.

It's too bad for them, but if those guys were really France's greatest cartoonists, their deaths might be a boon to cartooning as an artform. It gets them out of the way and hopefully makes room for someone who can actually draw and has something funny or intelligent to say. Just trying to look on the bright side.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Sister (L'Enfant d'en haut)

Watched a movie called Sister, (L'Enfant d'en haut) (Switzerland, 2012). A 12-year-old boy lives in an apartment with his older sister. The boy supports them both by stealing from the wealthy tourists at a luxury ski resort. He refurbishes stolen skis and sells them. 

It was hard for me to watch. Two young people with a vaguely tragic past, a lousy present and no future, cut off from any support from family. It made me think of Midnight Cowboy, except Ratso Rizzo and Joe Buck were on the same page. In this movie, the sister seems ready to abandon the kid. The fact that he's bankrolling them may be the main thing stopping her. 

In one scene, the kid wants to sleep in bed with her. She lets him, but he has to pay her.

Never be mean to a child even if you catch him stealing your skis.

Available for instant viewing on Netflix.