Saturday, February 25, 2017

The Fifth Annual SKELLY Awards!

By Bill S.

The Academy awards are airing this Sunday night, but before we see who'll take home a golden statuette, it's time for one more pre-Oscar award: The SKELLY.  Each year, I look through the year's nominees in the four acting categories (excluding any past SKELLY winners/contenders), and determine who among them has the most embarrassing prior role, for which they win the not-so-coveted "Skeleton In the Closet". This requires a certain amount of research, including actually watching bad movies, which sometimes leads to a dead end--in Michael Shannon's case, literally. When I learned he appeared in Batman Vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice, I assumed he'd be a shoe-in, until I sat through the damn thing, all the way to the end, and found out he only appears in it for a few seconds, as a corpse, which means he fared better than literally everyone else in it. And there are some stars whose acting resumes just don't contain any true embarrassments. I'm afraid Ryan Gosling will never qualify for a SKELLY, which puts him in the same company as Dame Judy Dench...

"...albeit for slightly different reasons"


But before we get to this year's winners, let's look at the runners-up.

7th place: EMMA STONE. Ryan Gosling's frequent co-star -- the ginger Ginger to his Fred, the Hepburn to his Tracy, the Chong to his Cheech -- is one of the hottest young actresses around. Like Ryan, she got her start as a teen, but unlike Ryan, whose teen years were spent on the star-making '90's incarnation of The Mickey Mouse Club, Emma (then billed as Emily) did time on a reality show called In Search of The Partridge Family. As the title suggests, it was a competition series focused on finding cast members for a proposed reboot of The Partridge Family. Emma was one of the young hopefuls vying for the part of Laurie, and actually won it.  She and the other winners filmed a pilot, The New Partridge Family and...absolutely nothing happened. The pilot didn't get sold. I can't find any footage of it, and the only surviving footage from the competition series that I could find was this 30-second clip of Emma auditioning with a wobbly rendition of Meredith Brooks' "Bitch" (a song no 15 year old girl should be singing)

Emma probably does feel a little ashamed.

6th place: NICOLE KIDMAN . Like Emma, Nicole began acting as a teenager, beginning in the 1983 TV movie Skin Game. Most of her work in the '80's was on Australian TV, and when I was perusing those early ones I ran across a 1987 TV movie about teens involved in martial arts games called Nightmaster, which sounded ludicrous. But it turned out to be enjoyable; entertaining trash as opposed to dismal trash. And Ms. Kidman is quite good -- tough, sexy, confident, good humored -- in fact, if you're a fan you'll get a kick out this on-her-way-to being-a-star-role. (Here's the link to the whole movie)

With that flick out of the running, her most embarrassing role is actually the first of her three films with future ex-husband Tom Cruise: Days of Thunder. I have to confess something: I haven't seen this movie since it came out in 1990, and I don't really remember a whole lot of it. I did buy the soundtrack because I liked the songs by Elton John and Maria McKee, but it wouldn't be the first, or last time I bought a soundtrack to movie I found otherwise negligible.

However, Scott and Sheri covered this exhaust-belch of a film rather exhaustively in Better Living Through Bad Movies, in the chapter entitled Live Fast, Die Young, And Leave a Bad-Looking Movie, highlighting certain flaws it had, including the one that stuck out most for me back then: the casting of then 23-year old Nicole as a neurosurgeon.  She was hand-picked by star Tom Cruise himself, after the part had been turned down by more than a dozen other actresses, most of whom were also far too young -- only Kim Basinger, then 36, was remotely age-appropriate. There was really no way to sell an audience on this ridiculous role. Ever the artist, Ms. Kidman actually planned to read up on the topic of neurosurgery, but was told by the director she'd be wasting her time. The movie wasn't all that interested in realism anyway. It was allegedly inspired by real-life race car driver Tim Richmond, but any connection to any real person was tenuous at best -- this story was sanitized for your rejection.

5th place: CASEY AFFLECK.  He made his acting debut at age 12 in the TV adaptation of Lanford Wilson's Lemon Sky, and frequently works with older brother Ben Affleck, brother-in-law Joaquin Phoenix, and brother-from-another-mother Matt Damon, who produced Manchester By the Sea, his best film role to date. But sandwiched in between such prestige roles was a 1999 movie that trapped him, Ben, and a number of other young-up-and-comers in the worst New Year's Eve ever: 200 Cigarettes. Set in 1981 (and boasting some great oldies of the day by the likes of Elvis Costello, Blondie, the Go-Go's and others), the story jumps from one set of characters to another, all on their way to a New Year's Eve party, desperately hoping for some excitement and romance. Casey and Guillermo Diaz (sporting a giant mop of orange hair) play a pair of roadies who meet up with a pair of Lawn Guyland teenagers (Christina Ricci and Gaby Hoffman seem to be competing for best impression of Marisa Tomei in My Cousin Vinny) and like the rest of the characters, very little happens between them. How best to describe this movie? Well, have you ever looked forward to a holiday hoping something cool and fun would happen, only to have the night feel like a total bust? This movie captures the full blown sense of "that's it?" from the opening frame and sustains that level of dejection for 101 minutes.

 "13 characters in search of a decent subplot."

 4th Place: VIOLA DAVIS. Considered this year's sure bet to win Best Supporting Actress (although Donald Trump is rooting for Hattie McDaniel). Viola seems like one of the most gifted actresses around; she managed, after all, with just a couple of scenes, to steal the entire movie Doubt -- a picture that contained Meryl Streep, Amy Adams and Philip Seymour Hoffman. I wouldn't have imagined she'd be in the running for a Skelly, But then I  ran across an obscure 2001 flick titled The Shrink Is In.

Okay, I'm going to do my best to describe the plot of this thing in a way that makes sense: Star Courtney Cox plays a travel journalist named Samantha who suffers a mental breakdown after her boyfriend dumps her. She's sent to a therapist (Carol Kane) who suffers a breakdown herself during a session with Samantha. After the doctor is carted away, Samantha, through a Wacky  Misunderstanding, is mistaken for the psychiatrist by a patient (David James Elliott) who turns out to be a neighbor Samantha is crushing on. Samantha decides to pose as a shrink to get closer to him, and to keep the ruse up, also councils other patients, including a flaky delivery man (David Arquette) who develops a crush on her. Since Cox and Arquette were married at the time and David James Elliott is the Brand X version of a real sex symbol, you know exactly how the whole mess will turn out. How does Viola Davis fit into all of this, you may ask? She plays Samantha's best friend and the movie's voice of reason (because what else would she be?) which means her sole function in the movie is to get trotted out  every so often to remind the heroine that her deception is incredibly stupid and will inevitable backfire. I'd call it a thankless role, but there's no other kind in this thing.

 "--sipid"

Incidentally you can find this movie in its entirety on YouTube. Here's the link, if you're feeling brave/masochistic/eager to see David James Elliott with his shirt off. (If it's the third thing, your estimation of his star wattage is such that you probably already saw it when it first came out in whatever theater it played the week or so it may have played)

3rd Place: VIGGO MORTENSEN. He made his movie debut in Witness, probably sparking the only erotic fantasies women ever had about Amish farm boys. The Lord of the Rings trilogy made him a star. But in the '90's, he was still mostly getting secondary roles. One of the few leads he snagged was in a 1997 remake of the 1971 flick Vanishing Point. The original was a pretentious mess about an asshole who drives like a maniac from Denver to San Francisco to deliver a car, destroys a ton of property, endangers peoples' lives and becomes a folk hero. The remake centers around an idiot who drives like a maniac to reach his dying wife, destroys a ton of property, endangers peoples' lives, and becomes a folk hero. I will admit I enjoyed Jason Priestly's over-the-top performance as a radio DJ who's following the hero's exploits, but this movie's a mess.


Vanishing Pointless remake

This movie is also available on YouTube in its entirety. Here's the link if you're feeling brave/masochistic/eager to see Viggo Mortensen semi-naked. (If it's the third thing, you're better off renting Captain Fantastic. MUCH better off)

2nd Place: JEFF BRIDGES. Jeff is one of my favorite actors. I'm not alone in that assessment -- his performance in Hell Or High Water brought him his 7th Oscar nomination. Maybe it's because at 67 he still has the same boyish charm that made him a star back in the 70's. He's always had a knack for playing nice guys. That was one of the things that made him so effective as the villain in Jagged Edge -- we, like the heroine, couldn't believe he was capable of rape and murder.

One role he wouldn't be cut out to play is an obvious psycho. Which is why he was so miscast in the 1993 thriller The Vanishing. It's a remake of a 1988 Dutch film, and though the same director worked on both, the differences are huge. In the original, the hero becomes obsessed with finding out what happened to his girlfriend, but we never know for certain if she was kidnapped or simply took off and didn't want to be found. We also don't know for certain if the villain has anything to do with her disappearance, which makes the ending especially chilling. The American remake offers no such ambiguities. Jeff's character is obviously guilty and obviously nuts, and the happy ending is so ridiculous I was actually laughing. This remake didn't just dumb things down -- it scooped out the brains of the original with a melon baller and flung the chunks around like a monkey in a cage hurling poo.

The Vanishing even more pointless remake.

And that brings us to this year's winner of the Fifth Annual SKELLY AWARD:
ISABELLE HUPPERT

The French actress made her acting debut in the 1971 French TV film Le Prussien. For the next decade she appeared mostly in films and television in her native France. Then she was hand-picked to star in an American film helmed by an Academy Award winning director, a lavish western featuring some high-powered American and British stars. This would seem to be a prestigious vehicle...except that it was...well, HEAVEN'S GATE.
A Fiasco For Mr. Cimono

What could be said about this that hasn't been said before -- it's one of the most notorious box-office bombs of all time. It cost $44 million dollars, and broke a movie studio. The original print when premiered in New York ran nearly four hours. It was recut by the studio down to 149 minutes for its wide release. I didn't see either of those versions (like most of America I avoided it) and only finally watched it for the purpose of this column. The version I saw was the Criterion Video release that clocks in at about three and a half hours, and is said to be director Michael Cimono's favored version. It might be the best version--but it seems no matter what version you're watching, it still sucks.

From what I understand, the other prints of the film used subtitles during the scenes involving the European immigrants. This version eliminates them -- if you switch on the closed caption feature, it simply reads "speaking Slavic language", which leads me to believe nothing they say is important, which tells you how much the director cared about developing them as people. Not that there was much interest in developing the leads either. Huppert plays a madam involved in a love triangle with Marshall Kris Kristofferson and hitman Christopher Walken. Their characters are much different from their real-life counterparts. (The real Ella Watson was never a madam, and she and Jim Avrell probably never met Nate Champion) But historical accuracy is the least of this movie's flaws. It's a lumbering incoherent mess, stuffed with pretentious and ridiculous scenes. The cast also includes the late John Hurt, Terry O'Quinn, Sam Waterston, Joseph Cotton and Jeff Bridges. (Jeff has far less screen time than Isabelle Huppert -- and the less screen time in it the better -- so he still comes in second place. ) Thankfully most of the people involved recovered from this mess (save for Cimino, whose career was destroyed. He passed away in July of 2016. I hope the In Memoriam segment is kind enough to remind the audience he also directed The Deer Hunter).

One of them could take home this year's Oscar for Best Actress.
 Isabelle Huppert has made 100 films. 99 of them were better than Heaven's Gate

-Bill S

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Happy Valentine's Day! I Got You Some Lesbians!

As made-up holidays designed to keep candy manufacturers in business until October go, this has never been a particularly big one for me, unless you count the size of the fights that occasionally ensued when I ignored it. Now don't get me wrong, it's not that I'm unromantic, it's just that I loathe sappy greeting cards, I think flowers are a silly gift unless you're dating a horse that just won the Preakness, and I lack the energy and organizational skills necessary to stage a massacre. But this year, when silver linings are at a premium and it seems like we can all use a morale boost,  I finally decided to break with tradition and get you a little something.

And in honor of the occasion, I prevailed upon voice artists John Szura and Blanche Ramirez (who performed the audiobook version of Better Living Through Bad Movies) to narrate ancient history's most clueless courtship. It's the story of one pantless man's love for Sappho, Venus of Lesbos.

Monday, February 13, 2017

S.Z.'s Guide to Valentine's Day

[Cross-posted from Sheri's Facebook]

Here's a thought: Valentine's Day isn't the boss of you. You don't have to celebrate it if you don't want to - but if you want to have a fun holiday tomorrow, you can celebrate it however you want to.
You can:

1. Have Valentine's Day for your pet. Do something fun and/or nice. Share your string cheese with the dog. Put construction paper hearts on the cat while she is asleep and take her picture. Make them both watch crappy movies about people who turn into cats or dogs, so they will know how good they have it, and will be nicer to you.

2. Send anonymous Valentines to your friends, neighbors, or coworkers. See if you can make somebody's day, or break up somebody's marriage.

3. Be your own Valentine. Treat yourself to a steak dinner, or some chocolate mousse, or one of those TacoBell things where the taco shell is fried chicken. Binge watch "Simpson's" Halloween episodes. Re-read a favorite book from childhood. Whatever makes you feel special and appreciated.

4. Have that expensive, super-romantic dinner with your spouse or boyfriend girlfriend if you want. But only if you want to, not because it's expected. If you don't want to, you can help me make cat cookies.

(Disclaimer: there is very little chance I will do this, because real cats would try eating the batter and stepping on the frosting, but they are sure cute. The cookies, I mean - the cats are jerks. But cute.)

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Great Moments in Mad Menning

When Marlboro was introduced in 1924, it was marketed as a woman's cigarette, an impression that was reinforced in 1950s when the brand added filter tips. (You can't see it in the photo, but I presume there's a lipstick-stained Marlboro dangling from a corner of the model's mouth as she fusses with her hair ribbon) Everything changed in 1954, when Chicago advertising genius Leo Burnett persuaded insecure male smokers to try filtered cigarettes by way of the Marlboro Man, the World's Fourth Most Famous Cowboy, after Tom Mix, Roy Rogers, and that guy from the Village People. And within months, Marlboro went from a marginal brand to a carcinogenic juggernaut, although I think they could have moved even more coffin nails if they'd split the difference, and run ads featuring their rugged cowpoke posing topless in a ruffled tap pant.

Or am I the only one who wants to see that?

"Come on -- let's have a 'COKE'!"

"Okay, Bob."

"Come on...!"

I said okay."

"Let's have a 'COKE!'"

"Why are you making air quotes when you say 'Coke'?"

"No reason."

"And why are you rubbing your gums like that--?"

"They're itchy!"

"And why--"

"'COKE'! NOW!"

It's a cuck's worst nightmare.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Friday Beast Blogging: The Michael Crawford Edition


MOONDOGGIE: ♫♫ Softly, deftly, music shall caress you
                                    Hear it, feel it secretly posses you
                                    Open up your mind, let your fantasies unwind

SCOTT: Moondoggie!

MOONDOGGIE: What?

SCOTT: What are you doing?

MOONDOGGIE: (PAUSE) Nothing...

SCOTT: Well, just...cut it out. Don't be a weirdo.

MOONDOGGIE: I'm not.

(SCOTT WALKS AWAY. PAUSE)

MOONDOGGIE: (QUIETLY) ♫♫In this darkness that you know you cannot find
                                                      The darkness of the music of the night!♫♫

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

To Trouble the Living Fakestream

 You may remember James Lewis, and if so that's probably my fault, as he's been an occasional subject of mockery here on Wo'C (and thus a source of arched brows, puzzled squints, and eyes rolling like slot machines fed constantly by a wizened lady from Barstow with a Kool Super Long dangling from her lip and a coffee can full of embezzled laundry change). He contributes to American Thinker (or as the late Doghouse Riley used to call it, "Uncle Sam Takes a Dump on a Stump"), but merely as a lark, since James is, in his own words, "a scientist by trade, and carps as a hobby about the passing parade of human fraud and folly."  (We've had some fun in the past wondering just what discipline would have James as a scientist, with guesses ranging from "alchemical-etymology, or the transmuting of irony into actual iron," to "humble Torsion Field hand," but personally, I think he's an astrosolipsist).

Anyway, you know how the election of Trump was seen as a signal to far right nationalists, white supremacists, and neo-nazis to emerge from their burrows, glimpse their shadows, and predict six more weeks of kristallnacht? Turns out you're wrong about that, as James proves through the science of Contradiction.
European Conservative Parties Are Not 'Far Right'
I keep reading in the European fakestream media that the new upsurge in conservative democratic parties in Europe all comes down to fascists and paleo-Nazis. They are not – any more than Republicans are fascists and Nazis.
I believe this is known in Rhetoric as an "own goal".
Euro-conservatives sound just like you, me, and Donald Trump. 
 You know -- morons.
 They talk about freedom and democracy.
And getting watchband-deep in a stranger's pussy.
They talk about tolerance for democratic parties but not for totalitarian killers. They talk about taking control of their borders again. Their college campuses have been subverted and turned upside-down
They're now the realm of the Demigorgon, and only those adorable kids from Stranger Things can save us!
Their police forces often turn against normal people on behalf of murderous barbarians, just as ours are being pushed to do.
Hm, let me see if I'm following your logic, James... So police are shooting "normal people" (i.e., black people) at the behest of "murderous barbarians" (presumably white people)? Well, I'm surprised to see you of all people making this argument, but you do have pretty much the entire history of Western Civilization backing you up.
But normal people in Europe have finally gathered the courage to call the enemy by name.
And that name is...Bruce! (The enemy is Australian, judging by Trump's phone etiquette.)
Europe's media constantly smear democratic conservatives as "extreme right" or "fascist." That is a vicious lie, as you can hear for yourself by listening to video speeches on the web by European conservatives.
This one's a classic.
If you don't happen to understand their languages, you can listen to Nigel Farage, who sounds just like Trump.
You know -- a poncy moron.
But notice that the Fakestream in Europe can never allow conservatives to speak, not without smearing them in the same sentence. Trump is a madman according to the media elites in Europe. But then their own democratic populists are also ready to go for a new Hitler, if you listen to the establishment media.
Wait -- is the "establishment media" the same as the "fakestream media"? Or is "establishment" the same as the "mainstream media"? But if that's true, then who's the "lamestream" media? You know what? I don't care. Just please stop repeating the word "stream," because it's making me think of Trump paying prostitutes to piddle.

I've just listened to one of the heroic figures of the resistance, Geert Wilders, who has twice been arrested and convicted of "hate speech" by the neo-fascist establishment in the Netherlands.
Okay, not to go off on a tangent, but did you ever have a little brother or sister or cousin who suddenly decided to repeat everything you said until you wanted to just punch them in the arm or give 'em swirly or a Dutch rub or a Double Jock-Lock? Everything is projection and repetition with these guys. People are calling for resistance to Trump? Well they can't, because Trump supporters are the resistance. Trump and Bannon are fascists? Can't be, because liberals are neo-fascists!  Trump rictus-piece Kellyanne Conway makes up fake massacres and Sean Spicer makes up fake inaugural viewers, but if you report it, that's fake news.

It's argument by copyright infringement.
Over there, the "mainstream media" have lost all credibility, just like the Washington Post and the New York Times. Over there, normal people are sick and tired – and scared – of the pile of lies they have to listen to every day.
It's been awhile since I've seen Yankee Doodle Dandy, but I remember the lyrics to "Over There" being a bit peppier.
Before Trump was elected, European conservatives were forbidden to speak out, accused of Nazism or racism. Today, they are finding their true voices.
Must be a proud moment for European conservatives. Let's take a glance at the non-Nazi-ish, totally unracist things Geert had to say:

(Note: the transcript is courtesy Gates of Vienna, which isn't quite as famous as Geert is for nonracism, so no link)
Geert Wilders in Koblenz: “This is the Year of a Patriotic Spring”

That's a song cue if I've ever heard one.

[Translated from the original German]
Yesterday — a new America. Today — Koblenz, and tomorrow, a new Europe!
Okay, it may not sound better in the original German, just...eerily familiar.
Europe needs a strong Germany, a self-confident Germany, a proud Germany. A Germany that stands for its culture, its identity, and its civilization...We are at the beginning of a patriotic spring in all of Europe
Geert Wilders is Dutch, not German, but he seems like the kind of guy who, had he been around during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands, would have found a constructive way to work with the Germans. Maybe by finally getting off his butt and cleaning out that Secret Annex (he's been promising his wife for months), or perhaps by fingering Audrey Hepburn (I mean that in the stool pigeon, not the Trump, sense of the term).

Marxo-jihadist globalism is always the same, here and there. And just like here, ordinary people are outraged and ready to take to the streets. They are not fascists, and they are certainly not Nazis. They are not totalitarians of any kind at all. They are true democrats with a small d.
A very small d. Just ask their wives.

The treacherous establishments in Europe are closely allied to the corrupting forces of jihad and the Soros left. Young, empty-headed kids are being indoctrinated there, just as they are here. Trained ruckus-makers in black masks are taking the side of jihad over there, just as here.
I wonder which vocational school has the best ruckus-making program. University of Phoenix? Control Data Institute? Truckmaster School of Trucking?
Everyday Europeans are very scared, because their governments no longer protect them from thugs and rapists. Women are afraid to show their blond hair (or any other color hair, for that matter).
Well, Miss Clairol must be taking a blow to the bottom line, but at least now I know why Mattel discontinued Aryan Barbie (Boyfriend Klaus Barbie and Berchtesgaden Dream Bunker™ sold separately).

The same fascist smear tactics we see in Berkeley today are being used in Europe. And no wonder: The sources of political poison are the same left-jihadist Axis of Evil we see in this country. These are people who have been told by Alinsky types like Obama and Hillary that the American middle class is "the enemy." And today, when they run the Organs of Propaganda, they are persuading airheads on colleges around the country that their parents and grandparents, normal Americans, are indeed their enemy.
I just can't figure out how they run the Organs of Propaganda with such small d's.

Obama is an expert Alinsky ruckus-maker. 
 He trained at DeVry. (The former president is also certified in Arc, Mig, Tig, and Oxy Acetylene Welding, because ruckus-making is seasonal work.)
The term "community organizer" used to be called "Communist agitator," when Communists were not afraid to be labeled accurately, and agitation-propaganda is exactly what they do. 
See? You learn something new every day. Here's another interesting piece of trivia: "desk organizers" used to be called "escritoire provocateurs".
The anti-Trump riots are organized by neo-Stalinists, who have never given up their quest for total power. They are not subtle about it.
That's why there was so much bloodshed, property damage, and so many arrests at the Women's March on Washington. Granted, it all happened in an alternate universe, but apparently that counts now, and in all fairness it was a really nearby dimension, practically adjacent. Earth 2, Earth 3 at most.

The U.S. media are now completely corrupt, united in their goal of destroying Donald Trump. 
Or at least having the best camera angle when Trump destroys himself.
The Euro-media are exactly the same. But normal people don't speak in a single voice. They speak in many voices. 
Especially when they get on the phone with reporters and pretend to be their own publicists.

Wikileaks All Over the Rug

[Note: We just received this leak from Sheri, who is taking shelter in the Ecuadorian Embassy, or maybe buying rawhide chews at Petco. Anyway, somewhere very mysterious!]

More Unreported Terrorist Attacks
167. March 16, 2015. Location undetermined.

An innocent civilian was ambushed by a member of Tabbies United, who smacked this man's hat, laughed about it, then ran away. This story got virtually no coverage by the press.

168. June 3, 2016 Baltimore, MD

Bob Jones was licked almost to death by a radical Dachshund, who was possibly in the pay of George Soros. Jones survived, but has never been the same. This is the story that the NY Times refused to print!!!