Monday, December 25, 2017

Merry Christmas. Happy Holidays

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays everyone!   Here's James Taylor with trumpet player Chris Botti doing a jazz version of "Winter Wonderland."  Enjoy.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

The Disaster Artist review

In cinema there are movies that are so bad that they're good. If you have enjoyed any episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000, you know what I mean. Of course, that means the movie is so bad that it's funny. In 2003, director, writer and "actor" Tommy Wiseau released his cinematic Frankenstein "The Room" on the American public. Good thing he rented a theater in Los Angeles. Because it got seen and enjoyed as bad cinema by critics and celebrities. The Disaster Artist is the story of Wiseau and the making of The Room.

The movie starts out in a San Francisco acting class where Greg Sestero (Dave Franco) is attending. Student Tommy Wiseau (James Franco) butchers a scene from Tennessee Williams' A Streetcare Named Desire. It's so bizarre and over the top that it's funny. Wiseau doesn't realize this but it moves Greg to meet him after the class. They become friends and roommates. Eventually, they decide to move to Wiseau's apartment in Los Angeles to pursue their acting dreams. While Greg has good looks and some talent starts to get him work, Wiseau's lack of talent, Eastern European accent causes his career to grind to a halt. Frustrated with his progress, Wiseau writes a screenplay, and uses his money to make a movie called "The Room." He also will play the lead Johnny, an All-American type. He gets Greg to play Johnny's best friend, Mark.

Director James Franco's portrayal of Wiseau is brilliant. He get's Wiseau's Easter European speech rhythms just right. But we're not just talking about imitation here. His Wiseau is a misunderstood man-child with a big heart and big dreams. There's jealousy and affection that can be seen under a Spock like facade. Franco's comic timing makes the mundane and bizarre hilarious.

Based on the real life Greg Sestero's book "The Disaster Artist" with a screenplay by Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber, The Disaster Artist finds all the places where to depict comedy of the real life of Tommy Wiseau and the making of The Room. Director Franco knows how to stage the ridiculous and unafraid of  embarrassing himself. There's a scene where Franco lets us see him wearing a modesty pouch which looks ridiculous when you're naked and even more so when you are standing around and arguing about a scene.

The Disaster Artist is like another movie about the making of bad cinema, Ed Wood. (1994) That film explored the making of Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959) by a another disaster artist of cinema, Ed Wood. They both have similar themes. Guys with big dreams and no talent.   The difference between them is that Wiseau knows he's the butt of the joke where Wood passed away before his cinematic lunacy became "popular."  Wiseau makes a cameo in an end credit scene to The Disaster Artist thus acknowledging that The Room was a terrible movie that made people laugh.  I say to him he should feel good about making people happy.

The Disaster Artist
is a funny, heartfelt and yes, optimistic film.  It's also one of the best movies of the year.  The grade is A.

Merry Crappy Christmas, Treasury Secretary Mnuchin.

Conservative Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin received an appropriate Christmas present. It was a box wrapped in holiday papers. And what was the gift? A box of horse poop. New York Daily News. I'm guessing the message was for Mnuchin and conservative President Trump's economic plans which are to um... poop on the working man and support the big rich. I don't think it was for his production of Suicide Squad. (2016)

Vote liberal Democrat if you want to live.

Mnuchin and wife, Marie Antoinette, I mean Louise Linton looking like Bond villains as they pose with money that will have his name.

Politically correct radical liberals lose their minds over white actresses on a magazine

The Huffington Post, overly sensitive politically correct liberals, and radical feminists have freaked out over the cover of the Los Angeles Times section The Envelope which featured white actresses. (Tweet and comment below.) Kate Harding tweeted,

Really? A couple of things, Ms. Harding and radicals. The article for the magazine is the view of top actresses in recent movies about the treatment of women in cinema. They just happen to be white. Yes, the Huffington Post points out that there are women of color that could have been added. So what? It's the opinion of the editor that these women have excellent chances at Oscar nominations. Do we need a quota for an opinion of talent? Second, being in a picture with only white women does not mean that any of these actresses are against diversity. Don't blame them.

I imagine that some of these women on the cover are liberal. At least I can say that for Jessica Chastain. (Wikipedia) Radical feminists and liberals should not eat their own. I'm a liberal and the cover didn't bother me. If you want more diversity in cinema then cast more people of color in parts. But no quota on judging what is top talent.

Conservative Trump to rich people, "You all just got a lot richer" ; Princess Ivanka shows she's an idiot

Republican President Trump told his rich friends at Mar-a-Lago, "You all just got a lot richer." That's an admission that his Republican tax law would benefit the rich. (Huffington Post) And yes, while the poor and middle class will see tax cuts, it won't kick them up out of their economic class.

So who does the conservative Republican tax law benefit the most? The rich. (Politifact) Corporations will see rates go down from 35 percent to 21 percent. IF you're poor or on lower end of the middle class, you may see a reduction of .7 to 1.1 percent. If you are in the top bracket that is making over one million you'll get a whopping 14 percent reduction in your taxes. And good luck to the poor in eight years because that's when your tax cut evaporates while the corporate rate will stay.

And a couple of days ago, Trump's daughter who I'll call "Princess" Ivanka showed the world she is an idiot. She told Trump State TV... er, Fox News that in April you'll be able to do the tax return on a postcard and see the cuts. Wrong. (Politifact) You won't see the cuts for the year 2017 but 2018. And you will not be filing your return on a postcard. Maybe I shouldn't call Princess Ivanka an idiot. She could be just like her old man. A liar. We need a laugh here. Actress and singer, Maya Rudolph does a pretty funny Ivanka. Check it out when she was on Late Night with Seth Myers.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Star Wars: The Last Jedi review

After seeing a character survive being in space without a spacesuit in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, we can say the Star Wars franchise is not science fiction. You can call it science fantasy. Keep that in mind, fans of hard science fiction when you watch this film.

The movie picks up where Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015) left off. General Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher) is leading the Resistance in an escape from their base. However, they can't escape the Empire... I mean the First Order who have a way to track the rebel fleet even if they make the jump to hyperspace. Meanwhile, Rey (Daisy Ridley) has made contact with Luke Skywalker. (Mark Hamill) Pilot Poe Dameron (Oscar Issac), Finn (John Boyega) and new character Rose (Kelly Marie Tran) come up with an unauthorized plan to free the fleet from the First Order's tracking device. Rose and Finn would go to a space casino and enlist an expert to sabotage said tracking device. Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), a master of the dark side of the force and hence evil is running around trying to please Emperor er... Superme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis). He detects a disturbance in the force that's either Rey or Skywalker or both.

It's good to hear Mark Hamill finally speak! It was a rip-off in The Force Awakens when Hamill merely shows himself. Anyway, Hamill as Skywalker is excellent as the weary and depressed Luke Skywalker. He's worn down by big failure which I won't spoil. The other performances also shine. Oscar Iassac as Poe, John Boyega as Finn and Carrie Fisher in her last film know their characters well and you readily believe them and their actions. Snoke is your generic power hungry dictator but Andy Serkis makes him bleed evil.

Writer and director Rian Johnson does a fine job staging large action set pieces. The editing and lighting are some of the weaknesses in this movie. Again, as in most modern cinema there's an over reliance on fast cutting to convey excitement. This leads to confusion and motion sickness. Then Johnson's lighting at times is too dark. I really wanted a clearer view of the actors faces even in caves. But the biggest strength and problem with The Last Jedi is the screenplay. First, here's he good part of the story. It's original. There's a nice touch of humor and I liked how Johnson depicts the Force as a metaphysical power.

The big problem in Johnson's screenplay nearly throttles the movie. It is that his story has too many plot threads. The Force Awakens introduced new... ahem, younger characters and there is the fact that Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford and Mark Hamill's days of "galloping around the cosmos" are nearing their end. (That quote comes from Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan) These final three films after the original trilogy should be mostly about them. Yes, I know Star Wars creator George Lucas thought about doing movies about the old Luke, Leia and Han. (Wikipedia) But while the three actors are  still alive, everybody is going to wonder what happened to them in the future.  Fisher has since passed away.   While introducing a couple of new characters is a great idea, introducing six (Rey, Finn, Poe, BB-8, Ren, Rose) is too much. You could see Johnson looking for scenes  to feature all of them. To be frank, giving Poe and Finn separate plot threads took away from the Rey-Luke relationship. And it got worse. At the casino, Johnson introduces DJ played by Benicio Del Toro. He's a great actor but his hamming for the the camera ate up even more time that could have been used for the Rey-Luke plot thread.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi is an original,  entertaining but flawed movie.   It's worth seeing if you are a Star Wars fan.  Though hard science fiction fans won't enjoy it as much since they're probably going to wonder with all those hull breaches in space how any person can not be immediately killed.  The grade is B.  

Monday, December 18, 2017

Department of Defense: UFOs exist!

Okay, can somebody explain why the Air Force terminated Project Blue Book in 1970 which investigated UFOs when we have just found out that the Department of Defense has spent 22 million dollars investigating them. (Politico. New York Times ) The program was called The Advanced Aviation Threat Identification Program. (AATIP) What we know is that the UFOs studied had far "greater capabilities far beyond what is currently considered aerodynamically possible." Some sightings were compiled by military pilots. Check out the ABC video below where two Navy fighter pilots photograph a UFO and listen to their stunned responses. (At the forty second mark.)

I'm not a crazy conspiracy guy. But let's face it. We need consider that the United States government knows much more about this than they release to the public. The Truth is Out There.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Omarosa to leave the White House

Former Apprentice star and President Trump employee is resigning. (Deadline report.) And I say employee because nobody knows what she does in the White House. (Daily Beast.) What I do know is that she once said, "Every critic, every detractor, will have to bow down to President Trump." (The Hill.) I say to her. We in the resistance, refuse to bow to tyrants.

Anyway, James Corden of The Late Late Show also wondered what Omarosa was doing in the White House. Here's his funny piece.

Hope comes from Alabama

I don't know how long the victorious Democrat Doug Jones will be able to hold onto the Alabama Senate seat past 2020. But what I do know is that the people of Alabama rejected conservative Roy Moore who is pro-slavery. Check out his support about getting rid of the Civil War Amendments, the Thirteenth which abolishes slavery. CNN Kfile Yesterday, the voters told conservative Republican Donald Trump and GOP that they don't support their pedophile candidate. (Washington Post) Score one for justice.

And let me say this to the rural poor people of Alabama. The conservative Republicans hate Medicaid. They are not on your side whether it's healthcare or taxes or climate change. Your existence is at stake if you continue to vote for conservative Republicans. Vote liberal Democrat if you want to live.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Conservative President Trump implies female Senator might resort to sex to get contributions

Republican President Trump tweeted that New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand would beg for campaign contributions and "would do anything" for them. (Huffington Post; Trump's tweet below.) Trump is implying that a female senator might resort to sex to get money. And before you say I'm reading too much into this, just read the plain language and decipher the dog whistle here. The phrase "do anything" means well, do anything which could include sex. Put that phrase in with the term "beg" for contributions and you have a sick Trump fantasy.

And one more thing. The women on today's Morning Joe (MSNBC) believe the same thing. That's Elise Jordan who worked for Republican Sen. Rand Paul. (R-KY) and Katty Kay. Mika Brzezinski tears into Trump and states exactly what he implied. (At the 5:00 mark, video embedded with Mediaite report.)

“Let’s just say it. He’s suggesting that Kirsten Gillibrand would have sex with him in order to get campaign contributions, the president actually tweeted that this morning.” Mika Brzezinski.

Conservative Republicans want to divert public from Special Counsel Mueller's search for the truth

There's a new strategy from conservative Republicans to defeat Special Counsel's investigation into the Trump-Russia conspiracy. Accuse Mueller's team of being politically tainted. It should be noted that the FBI agent who came under fire for texting anti-Trump rhetoric was sacked last summer. (Huffington Post) Oh, by the way conservatives be careful for what you wish for. Accusing a prosecutor of not being in your political party is not a defense. If Trump makes it one, this defense could be used nationwide.

Folks, let's go over the score. Shall we? The Hillary Clinton Email "scandal." Zero charges. (L.A. Times) Trump-Russia Conspiracy. Two indictments and two guilty pleas.

That indicates to America that's there's quite a bit of trouble with conservative Republican President Trump and his relationship with Russia. Vote liberal Democrat if you want to live.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

How justice will prevail if Trump tries to pardon his way out of trouble

To paraphrase Sun Tzu, "know your enemy" when it comes to conservative President Trump's strategies to combat Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia probe and possible charges. And after hearing about son Donald Jr.'s bizarre assertion of attorney-client privilege in regards to his conversations with his father and refusing to answer some questions , we should examine the president's strongest defenses. Once we see then, we can also see a way to counter them. So, there is hope the blonde hair, orange skin tyrant can be brought to justice. Trump may try two defenses. One, he fires Mueller. Two, he pardons his son-in-law and White House adviser Jared Kushner,  Donald Jr. and maybe himself. There could be others he may try to pardon.

First, Trump may try to fire Mueller. I don't think he would try this. He has already fired FBI James Comey for that "Russia thing." (CNN) It would become crystal clear that he would be doing so to obstruct justice. It's the Saturday Night Massacre all over again. Even with the Republicans in control, there is probably going to be enough of them in the House to join the Democrats to vote for impeachment. And it's quite possible that a new special counsel could be just as dedicated as Mueller is.

The second is for Trump to try to pardon his way out. Looking at his history, this seems most likely. Remember that Trump's businesses filed for bankruptcy four times. For Trump, the power to pardon under the Constitution is like filing for bankruptcy to extinguish his debts. He could save Jared Kushner and Donald Jr. from criminal jeopardy. And if you think Trump won't rescue them then you should learn how to spell nepotism. Heck, he might also try pardoning himself.

Yes, the power to pardon is powerful. But it's not the perfect get out of jail card that Trump might think it is. First, and most important, the power to pardon cannot be used to stop an impeachment. Yes, Congress can still remove Trump. And isn't that what we really want?   Second, even if Trump pardons Kushner and his son then they would be exposed to testifying at any hearing. There is no Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination if they no longer are in danger of being criminally prosecuted.

Trump's power to pardon does not stop state prosecutions.  Remember that Trump Jr.'s meeting to get dirt on Hillary Clinton occurred in New York  at  Trump Tower.   In this excellent    NBC News web article, former White House prosecutor Nick Akerman points out that possession of hacked emails is a crime in New York.    And here's something that's going to cause Trump to puke his Kentucky Fried chicken.  Former National Security Adviser Michael  Flynn not only agreed to help with Mueller but also pursuant to his plea agreement, he's got to help out on the state level.  Lawfare It's a brilliant move by Mueller. He's inoculated the Russia investigation from ending by Trump's pardon power. It should be noted that there is reporting that Mueller is already working with New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. See Politico.

It might be "up to you New York." Frank Sinatra's "New York, New York" below. By the way, Nancy Sinatra says late father, would never support Trump since he's a bigot. (Teen Vogue) Amen.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Stephen Colbert: Melania Trump responds to Ivana Trump

Last week, Stephen Colbert on Late Night ran a funny skit where Melania Trump responds to Ivana Trump's (Donald's first wife)  public disrespect.  Melania is played by the talented and lovely Laura Benanti.  Check out the video below. 

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Lady Bird review

At Rotten Tomatoes film review site, the movie Lady Bird is averaging at 100%. Dictators running for re-election don't get that approval, well except for Kim Jong Un. My favorite film, Casablanca (1942) scores at 97 %. Maybe it's not fair to compare the two. One is a romantic drama during the dark times of World War II and the other is a coming of age, slice of American life film at the dark times of the George W. Bush administration. Sorry, I know that's political but in the background of Lady Bird, somebody is watching news of the Iraq War.

We're introduced to Christine McPherson (Saoirse Ronan) and her mother, Marion (Laurie Metcalf) driving in their car and listening to John Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath. Yeah, that's their shared enjoyment. Christine likes to call herself, "Lady Bird" because that's what artsy high school kids do. Marion is loving but judgmental. She also wants her daughter to go to UC Davis, primarily because it's cheap. Lady Bird wants to go to an East Coast school like Yale or Columbia in New York. Hold on. What's wrong with Sacramento, California? Do you know how big the cockroaches in New York are?

But I digress. The movie shows Lady Bird's life at her Catholic high school, and her relationships with her friends and her mother. Then one day a giant mutated spider attacks the school. Lady Bird becomes a superhero because she's actually half-eagle. Um... okay that stuff about giant mutated spider and Lady Bird becoming a superhero is not in the film. It's basically about Lady Bird's life as a high school girl dealing with premarital sex, her friends, mother and her desire to get out of Sacramento to go to an East Coast college.

Saoirse Ronan is excellent as the colorful, teenage dreamer, Lady Bird. Laurie Metcalf turns in an Oscar winning performance as Lady Bird's mother. She's strict, judgmental but is loving in her own way. Life has been tough on Laurie. The McPhersons are financially struggling and literally live on the wrong side of the tracks. Yet, there is enough generosity of spirit for Lady Bird's father Larry (Tracy Letts) and Laurie to adopt two other children.

Director and writer Greta Gerwig has made a warm, and funny movie. It's clear she's writing about what she knows. It's life in Sacramento. Unless Ms. Gerwig had giant mutated spiders attack her Catholic high school. The dialogue in the screenplay sounds like what people would say in real life. The jokes work too. I enjoyed following Lady Bird's journey. The film has small imperfections like the need for better exposition. For example, there was some confusion as to what exactly Lady Bird told her rich friend about living in a dream house, and Sacramento should have been a bigger influence on their lives. The movie played too small. Not all small films play that way. Little Miss Sunshine (2006) was not an epic yet it had big ideas.

Your enjoyment of Lady Bird might depend on your memory of high school. There were things I liked about high school and there were painful memories. This is a cinematic slice of life. The grade is B Plus.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Flynn pleads guilty to only one count of lying to FBI which means bad news to the White House

Former National Security Adviser Gen. Michael Flynn pled guilty to admitting to lying to the FBI. Here's the truth. Flynn did talk to Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak about lifting the Obama sanctions placed on the Russians for interference in our election. Flynn obviously lied about that. This is now about Russia, President Trump. It was never a hoax as you put it. Now we have to find out if this was about paying the Russians back for assistance to the Trump campaign. As we know, Fynn's legal team has stopped working with the Trump legal team. That's a sign that Flynn may have flipped. And that could have happened months ago.

Note that Special Counsel Robert Mueller had Flynn plead to only one count. And before you say, "That's it?" Note that Flynn was an agent for the Turkish government and that he failed to report that. There's more we don't know about. Remember that Trump went to great effort to get fired FBI Director Comey to drop investigating Flynn. Something that I feel proud blogging about as I put the Trump-Comey meetings together. (My post.) Note that Trump has contact with Comey virtually every time that there was a Flynn event. And the point was to pressure Comey to let Flynn go. If Mueller could get Flynn for more, why didn't he? Because folks, he's cooperating. That's why Trump wants Comey to let go of Flynn. He knows too much.

This is all bad news for Trump. There's very few people higher than Flynn if he's cooperating. Hmm. Let's see. Vice President Pence. I haven't heard much about him so not much to say here. Son Donald Jr. Big time contact with Russians in June of 2016. Meeting with Russians to get dirt on Hillary Clinton with the knowledge that Russia was helping the campaign. And yeah, you may say these Russians were not connected with the Russian government. But they still wanted the help. It' s like robbing a bank and finding out that there's no money there. it's still illegal and an attempt. Next big fish. White House adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner. Remember he tried to set up a back channel with the Russians to defeat the FBI and CIA. He was also at the June meeting with the Russians. And of course, the big orange himself, Conservative President Donald Trump.

Remember, folks. Vote liberal Democrat if you want to live.

Stephanie Ruhle's MSNBC report

Friday, December 1, 2017

Conservative Republicans tax plan is literally being hand written and will add 1. trillion to deficit

Conservative Republicans tax plan will add 1 trillion that's trillion not billion to the deficit. That's according to the nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation. (New York Times Report.) What hypocrisy! Conservatives have been such deficit hawks and now they plan to add to our children and grandchildren's debts. Now so they can give the big rich tax breaks, they don't care.

And at this time. Conservative Republicans are literally hand writing changes to the tax bill. I'm guessing it's going to pass. Folks, these conservatives will pass significant legislation with freaking handwritten notes on the side. Huffington Post. Stop this nonsense now. Call your congressman. And vote liberal Democrat if you want to live.