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Found 11 results

  1. I just watched SE2 EP2 of "Black Mirror," entitled "White Bear." It was the single-most intense thing I've ever seen, TV or movie. If you don't mind not sleeping, and feeling sick all the way down to your soul, then watch it on Netflix, and don't read ANYTHING about either the series, or the episode, before you do. White Bear on Netflix --- SE4 EP1 is the greatest tribute to Star Trek: The Original Series I've yet seen - this, while maintaining its own identity and sense of purpose: It is magnificent. --- So far, I've watched six episodes of this, and it's the best TV show I've ever seen - better than Breaking Bad, better than anything.
  2. I don't often go back to watch old favorites, because usually they flop. Films I remember fondly for any reason leave me cold and a little sad a decade or two or three later. There are a few exceptions, of course, and after the recent discussion on this site of Blazing Saddles, I feel compelled to mention The Producers. The film has its flaws, but nothing has ever tickled my (often broken) funny bone as much as the epic production number "Springtime for Hitler", a brilliant send-up of Busby Berkeley choreography and probably a bunch of other old Hollywood film tropes and traditions.
  3. Having recently re-watched "The Candidate," Robert Redford's 1972 political satire about California politics, I decided to watch its "companion piece from the next generation," Warren Beatty's "Bulworth" from 1998. Thirty minutes into the film, it seems like a strange, love-child of "The Candidate" and "Network" (remember Howard Beale (Peter Finch) losing it, and screaming, "I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!"). That said,"Bulworth" is going to have to get better for me to like it as much as either of those two films. I'm not going to write up a long review of this, but it really grew on me over time. I started out not liking it *at all*, but then I saw that Beatty was taking some serious risk, and not going for a wide audience - who, exactly, *was* his target audience? There's doubt in my mind as to what this movie was even about, other than a politician growing stones large enough to speak the truth - this one goes straight to my heart because I *don't* think it's parody that partisan politics is corrupt in *both parties*. The day everyone is required to be an independent, and the two-party system is done away with is 1) the day a snowball freezes in Hell, and 2) the day I begin caring about politics and politicians again. As for the ending(s), I had a troubled feeling, but I honestly don't think it changes anything, because the gist of the parody was in the middle of the film. My respect for Warren Beatty went way up for having the courage to make this movie - perhaps the best political parody I've ever seen because it went, in its own *very* quirky way, directly to what desperately needs addressing.
  4. The always delightful John Oliver on Johnny's Half Shell at 4:14 - .. Further proof that Washington occasionally gives DC's dining scene a bad name.
  5. Alan Rickman's death had me reminiscing about Galaxy Quest, a silly movie but still a favorite. For one thing, although there are plenty of one-liners, much of the humor is visual, or in the editing. It's a movie that needs to be watched. As in, when you're watching it, really pay attention to the visuals, like the way scenes are cut, or the expressions on peoples' faces, or their gestures. Especially Alan Rickman's face. And, although it satirizes Star Trek and those shows' die-hard fans, it does so in a gentle, good natured way. There's nothing crass or ugly about it. The plot, briefly: many years after the TV Show Galaxy Quest is off the air, the washed-up actors are making a living by appearing at conventions and public openings. Until some aliens show up. These aliens have seen the TV broadcasts but mistook them for "historical documents". They get the actors on board a real-live working replica of the show's spaceship and... wackiness ensues. The cast: Tim Allen as Jason Nesmith/Commander Peter Quincy Taggart [Kirk/Picard/Janeway/Sisko] Alan Rickman as Alexander Dane/Dr. Lazarus [Mr. Spock/Jadzia Dax/Tuvok/T'Pol] Sigourney Weaver as Gwen DeMarco/Lt. Tawny Madison [Uhura] Tony Shalhoub as Fred Kwan/Tech Sargent Chen [Scotty/LaForge/O'Brien] Sam Rockwell as Guy Fleegman/un-named [a redshirt] Daryl Mitchell as Tommy Webber/Lt. Laredo [Wesley Crusher] and many more. If you're a SF fan and haven't seen Galaxy Quest, you need to. And if you're an Alan Rickman fan, be sure to watch his face and gestures. Dane is a great character, a classically-trained actor who can't get over being typecast as an alien, and Rickman does exceptional work portraying him.
  6. Foodies Pwnd: "The Hippest Cafe in Providence was Totally Fake" by Vicky Gan on citylab.com "The satire wasn't exactly subtle. In the days leading up to Lura's grand opening, the restaurant's Facebook page taunted followers with a surreal menu of "home-cut potatoes "¦ wrapped in authentic New York Times newspaper," "cold brew coffee served "¦ over mineralized water rocks," and "10x washed quinoa salad." The quote attributed to Pontus Wikner, "POTS SEIDOOF," is "FOODIES STOP" backwards."
  7. I loved Idiocracy, despite its inconsistent quality. There is some hilarious satire in it and I think it ain't too far from the truth at the rate we're going. Can't you imagine a day where you can get your college degree at Costco? Well, I'm off to get a hand job at Starbucks.
  8. What in the world was the pitch for this TV series? "Hey dude, we have this hilarious script about a loveable ragtag bunch of captured Allied soldiers in a Nazi internment camp. Whadaya think? It'll be a hoot!" Anyway, say what you will about the unfortunate premise and the uh... peculiarities of Bob Crane, but I didn't know the stories behind the cast. Many of them were not only Jewish, but actually spent time in concentration camps. Hogan's Heroes The story behind Robert Clary is especially interesting.
  9. None of Charlie Chaplin's films seem dated. Chaplin's Modern Times was clearly inspired by Metropolis (1927), but took the baton and launched into a full-fledged sprint with it. The opening scene with pigs being herded, followed by people loading onto the subway, is not exactly an exercise in subtlety. The "Billows Feeding Machine" clearly inspired the cruel, sadistic, "Pigs is Pigs" Porky Pig cartoon (1954) where Porky had a nightmare and was force-fed by a mad scientist (any obese child my age was affected by this). This early scene symbolizes the entire assembly-line scenario of "quicker is better, regardless of human cost" and is worth renting the movie just to see (it's in the first ten minutes). It's also not hard to see why Chaplin was banished in 1952 for being a Communist, courtesy of our resident hypocrite, J. Edgar Hoover, whose Brutalist building downtown symbolizes him in many ways. Not only did the Billows Machine inspire the Porky Pig cartoon, but the assembly line inspired the I Love Lucy episode "Job Switching" (1952) where she and Ethel are deluged while working at the chocolate factory. And if that's not enough, the gears and clocks inspired the 2011 film Hugo. Rest assured that during the 60-or-so years in between, many other films were inspired by this as well. The beautiful Paulette Goddard (1910-1990), a former Ziegfield girl, makes her entrance as the orphaned <<gamin>> (incorrect French since she's a female, and hence a <<gamine>>). Chaplin was arrested in the film, and released with a letter of recommendation by the sheriff for foiling a prison break, getting another job in a similarly bleak situation, and martyring himself to Goddard by taking the blame for stealing a baguette (when Goddard actually swiped it). Part of the ambience in this movie is the overall sense of "crowdedness," whether it's people walking into a building, plates on a table, or pretty much anything - it's much more than a leitmotif here. There's a very interesting scene in a paddy wagon with minorities shoving around Chaplin, predating the Rosa Parks bus incident by nearly 20 years. No matter how Chaplin tried, he couldn't get himself thrown back into jail (which was more comfortable for him than his dreary, assembly-line subsistence). Chaplin naturally develops a crush on the beautiful Goddard (an American, incidentally, not French), envisioning them living in a little Mission Revival-styled villa together, picking oranges, tending to a cow walking past the front door, eating grapes dangling from a vine - all in a cute little dream scene. This is a silent film, but there is selective language in it - it was deemed "culturally significant" by the Library of Congress in 1989, and has been lovingly restored. The lighting, the speed (some of it's in fast motion), the selected sound, the ducking of gunfire at near point-blank range - it's all just remarkable. Chaplin's brilliant physical style of comedy is brought to the fore in his fourth-floor roller skating scene with Goddard inside of an empty department store. Then, up on the fifth floor, where the bedding is, it turns less silly and more loving and romantic. As the film moves on, the viewer will find himself (or herself) developing more-and-more of a crush on Goddard, just as Chaplin did. Bullets fired into a wooden cask of rum (27 years old!), leave Chaplin with no choice but to chug it as it spews out, getting "blasted" and blissful, toasting his three newfound friends. The next morning, Goddard wakes up on the fifth floor, alone, at 6:05, and escapes before the store opens at 9:30 AM, with the typical shrews bargain hunting - only to find Chaplin asleep in the Women's Apparel section hidden under a pile of clothing. Music - it's a mix of proud military marches, riffs on Gershwin, romantic, violin-based love themes, and was all written by Chaplin himself. *What* a genius this man was. Goddard and Chaplin end up in a decrepit shack, with her exclaiming "It's paradise!" solely because they're together. "Of course, it's no Buckingham Palace," she adds, shortly before Chaplin falls through a door into a swamp. It's interesting that during this movie, I realized that Chaplin and Goddard were married in real life - from 1936 (when this film was made) until 1942. I was going to comment on how realistic Chaplin and Goddard's affection for one another seemed during this movie, and that's because it was. Newspaper Flash! The Factories have reopened, and must repair their long-idle machinery. Chaplin scampers for a job, and finds one, comically repairing things as needed, all during joyously flamboyant music tinged with little xylophone strikes, and an upbeat, happy tempo. (Of course, in the process, he smashes and ruins a co-workers "family heirloom" - a cheap little clock. With a lesser talent, this would all be meaningless, but with Chaplin, "films about nothing" - refer to Seinfeld here - can be meaningful and significant. This scene with his co-worker, caught in the gearing mechanism, is hilarious in a Marx Brothers kind of way. "I wonder if he started in Vaudeville," my friend Jim said during the film. "Sure he did," I guessed (correctly!) - he then proceeded to feed his co-worker, who was stuck in the gearing mechanism, an entire bunch of celery, and then hand-fed him roast chicken. This, while only the man's head was sticking out. You have to see it - it is a laugh-riot, and slapstick comedic genius of the highest order. The workers are forced to go on strike, and after Chaplin calms down the police, he accidentally hits one in the head with a rock ... back in the paddy wagon. One week later, on a merry-go-round, Goddard is dancing like a gypsy in the street, pulling people into a local cafe. The savvy owner recognizes her charms and hires her. Another week later, she's waiting outside the police station for Chaplin, who has just been released. (By this time, late into the film, you realize this isn't some dystopian tragedy; it's a hilarious parody that uses dystopia as its premise.) He gets a trial job at Goddard's cafe, waiting tables. She is listed as a juvenile delinquent (boy, she is *very* old-looking for a minor), and as Chaplin is trying to bus trays while being assaulted by a nipping canine, he drills a few holes in a giant wedge of Parmigiano-Reggiano as a customer complains that he's waited an hour for his roast duck. More hilarity ensues, food flies everywhere as trays are bumped and spilled, and a straw bottle of Chianti is somehow weaved on a tray through an impossibly crowded dance floor, onward, to the disgruntled customer, still screaming for his duck. You just have to see this to appreciate it - my words certainly do not do it justice of any sort. Several minutes later, Chaplin *still* can't manage to reach the irate customer, who is, at this point, standing on his chair and screaming. After perfectly balancing the tray in Olympic fashion, he finally manages to get the angry man his roast duck (a whole roast duck) and Chianti. Carving it table side, a la Peking Duck, the restaurant somehow turns into a rugby match, and the customer's entire table is turned over. "I hope you can sing," the manager chides in a back room. The singing waiters then come out in a quartet (without Chaplin). Chaplin and Goddard are waiting in the back room, Goddard beautifully dressed - this, as racist, minstrel-type words are coming in from the quartet (despite the uproariously funny humor, things such as this will always trouble me, as well they should). Chaplin dances like Michael Jackson, even doing a primitive version of a moonwalk. "Sing! Never mind the words!" Goddard says, as he can't remember them. He sang in twisted French with an Italian accent. Then, he seems to switch to a more Spanish language - it's all just a melange and a goofy Latinate performance in a completely ridiculous atmosphere. The movie has turned into a complete farce at this point. Then, the Verdi-esque background music accompanies an offer of a full-time job, as the lovely Goddard is apprehended for her delinquency warrant. She gives Chaplin a tearful hug, and the restaurant manager reluctantly parts with her ... but then, she (of course) makes a run for it with Chaplin in a now-emptying restaurant - red-checkered tablecloths on the tables. Dawn arrives. A lonely country road appears with the two of them sitting on the side of it, all alone. They are in love, fully realize it, and end up walking off, together, down the dusty road. The End.
  10. If you didn't see the Super Bowl or Super Bowl ads, one of the most talked about was an ad for Dodge Ram Trucks featuring "the American Farmer" and narrated stoically by Paul Harvey. If you didn't see that, can see it here. This satire, of that same ad, is pretty funny stuff...in a gut-punching way.
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