You Can't Make Fun of Reagan Anymore?




Sounds like bullshit to me, man:

Actor Will Ferrell has backed out of a movie that would have made light of President Ronald Reagan‘s battle with Alzheimer’s after the premise received condemnation.

“The REAGAN script is one of a number of scripts that had been submitted to Will Ferrell which he had considered,” Ferrell’s agenttold The New York Post. “While it is by no means a ‘Alzheimer’s comedy’ as has been suggested, Mr. Ferrell is not pursuing this project.”

According to a report from Variety, Ferrell would have played Reaganat the beginning of his second term, when the fictional version of Reagan would develop dementia. A White House intern would then be charged with convincing the former actor that he was playing the role of the president for a film.

 If Hillary had Alzheimer's, all we'd see on Fox are Family Guy jokes where she sets the house on fire and tries to gay marry herself to the piano. The new rule is that you can't make fun of Reagan anymore? That's just bullshit.

I realize people want to be sensitive to the terrible disease of Alzheimer's, but that should not begin to dictate what you can and can't satirize for a larger purpose. If there's one discussion this country should have had in the 1980s, it should have centered around whether or not Reagan was too old and whether or not his public displays of confusion should have led someone to make the difficult choice of having him resign from office.

There are far too many people who are still walking around today who should have had the moral courage to do what was best for the country and have Reagan resign or not run for re-election in 1984. Those would have been the same people who had a helluva time laughing about people who were dying of AIDS. They had no moral compass. They advanced their own agendas because they were able to take advantage of a man suffering from dementia. Any piece of art that highlights this complete and utter failure of decency and compassion should wake people up to the fact that we should never, ever go back down that road again.

Go watch Robin Williams make fun of him and then tell me he's off limits.

Yeah, by all means. Let's not revisit a scenario where a president's enablers allowed him to hold onto the nuclear codes when they knew damned full and well he was suffering from dementia. That would cut a little too close to the bone for the people responsible for failing to do their duty to their country, wouldn't it?

Satire should never apologize for being right.








J.J. Abrams Ruins Everything




One of the unintended consequences of rebooting Star Trek is the fact that it is basically Star Wars at a time when there are new Star Wars movies being released:

 

[...] there's also the issue of Star Trek's position inside the genre since its 2009 reboot in J.J. Abrams' first entry in the series.

In his attempts to bring more personal stakes and character-based stories to the franchise, he arguably moved it closer to Star Wars and diluted the more nuanced, difficult to describe appeal of the series as a whole. In other words, recent Star Trek has seemed more like Star Wars, and who needs that when the real thing is back and already on everyone's minds?

The obvious solution — and one which may already be chosen by Beyond, judging by recent comments by co-writer Simon Pegg and director Justin Lin — is to return the franchise to its roots as a vehicle for stories that are as intellectual as they are visceral, and embrace everything that makes Star Trek different from Star Wars. To go not towards the final frontier, but back to the series' roots, so to speak.

At its core, Star Trek is a procedural, not a character piece (despite having such great characters as Kirk, Spock, McCoy — and, in later incarnations, Picard, Data, Worf et al; the one exception to that rule is spinoff series Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, which broke many of the rules of the franchise). It's a series of stories intended to make commentary and ask questions about the world around us today through metaphor and allegory, and the majority of the most fondly remembered episodes of the various TV series do exactly that.

Despite the Abrams movies pivoting away from that core appeal — arguably building on something that has been part of the Trek movies since 1982's Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan — it's the ability of Star Trek to look outwards that won the hearts of fans originally, and remains the franchise's unique selling point.

At its best, Star Trek does what literary sci-fi does so easily, but so much of TV and movie sci-fi stumbles with: It changes the way that its audience interacts with the world.

Whereas Star Wars is a series that speaks to the heart — it is, after all, inherently a story about relationships and families, both inherited and constructed — Star Trek is arguably at its best when it speaks to the brain, asking questions and introducing ideas that challenge the status quo. Viewed in that light, not only can the two co-exist, alternating between the two seems like a well-balanced diet of sorts.

The short answer is, J.J. Abrams ruined Star Wars after he ruined Star Trek. Everything he gets his hands on becomes a fan's nightmare and a studio executive's wet dream.

Other filmmakers are now going to have undo the damage done by retelling old story lines and abandoning the heart of each franchise. Star Trek is a cerebral examination of the archetypes in human nature; Star Wars is an adventure saga designed to make everyone forget they live in a world where there is no magic. Abrams turned them into large Hollywood movies that make kids go whee! and not much else.

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Abstract painting. Tempera paints on canvas board, 2016.

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Vincent Van Googh: Landschaft mit Bäumen und Figuren




I had a chance to see this painting at the Baltimore Museum of Art. This one was acquired in 1934 and was part of the Cone Collection, formed by Dr. Claribel and Miss Etta Cone of Baltimore, Maryland. It's remarkable when you see it up close and I don't think I have ever seen a Van Gogh before. Not one of his major works, but impressive, I must say.

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I used an infrared effect here, and then I just rendered the whole thing black and white because I liked the texture.

Sounds LIke They're Scared




There's a market out there for people who hate the movie-going experience. The movie industry just doesn't want to accept it:

"If you've got it, flaunt it," said a confident Sony Motion Pictures Group chairman Tom Rothman when taking the stage at the annual gathering of cinema operators in Las Vegas, where the major Hollywood studios go to promote their upcoming slates.

What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas — except when it comes to CinemaCon, which is always certain to generate headlines and controversy as Hollywood promises theater owners that it's got the goods.

This year's convention, which ran from April 11-14, was no exception, offering up new trailers and footage for a wide array of films, a parade of top stars (including Jennifer Lawrence, Chris Pratt and Will Smith), James Cameron's announcement on stage that he's making four Avatarsequels instead of three and much talk about Sean Parker's divisive proposal to make new movies in the home for $50.

They can fight it all they want, but television is producing better fare than most movies. And if television is working that well for people, the movie industry is going to be left behind and they'll be scrambling to release films to play at home before you know it. The only thing missing here is a quote from someone who thinks they know what's happening:

“We are not going to let a third party of middlemen come between us,” Warner Bros.chief Kevin Tsujihara said to strong applause from the audience of theater owners. 

Unless, of course, the consumers abandon your product and this ends up being the only way you can make money.

This Poor Kid




Isn't it time to ban the Disney Channel?

Debby Ryan, the 22-year-old star of Disney Channel show Jessie, was arrested for drunk driving in Los Angeles last week, TMZ revealed Wednesday. She reportedly hit another car, causing the other driver an injury. Authorities only charged her with a misdemeanor because the injury of the other driver was minor and Ryan only blew a .11 on a breathalyzer test.

The only reason why I even know who Debby Ryan is stems from the fact that I have children. And if you're like me, you watch what they watch so you can have an understanding of what it is they like. I did that then and I do that now--how did you think I ended up being an expert on Pokemon?

Plus, I was a stay-at-home dad when the kids were watching shows where Ryan appeared and I've always been uncomfortable watching what the Disney channel did with her as a performer.  Suffice it to say, they used to dress her to hide her figure. This was another example of cashing in on how a young girl looked without noticing that this is a really creepy thing to do because it tends to screw people up and make their lives unbearable.

The Disney Channel was happy to put her on television but refused to let her look like an actual person--kinda like what happened when Ariel Winter would show up in public to promote Modern Famly. They were happy with the fact that these actresses looked sexy but they were unwilling to be honest about it, and they weren't ready to deal with body shaming issues and things of that nature. In effect, they went with what they knew and they left these young women to deal with the consequences.

Does that mean Debby Ryan is screwed up? No, and this could be a one-off sort of thing. But, if you look back at all of the actors and actresses that have been eaten up by the tween show phenomenon, it's not hard to guess how this plays out. Yeah, I would regulate tween shows (they make 40 of these in a year? Really?) and I would make it so that there was a support mechanism in place to help young performers. And no kid of mine would ever be allowed within a thousand yards of whoever runs this industry.

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All I can see when I look at this one is a geopolitical map of the Former Soviet Union. Or whatever it might look like to you, of course.

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Purely by accident, this ended up looking like a fish. Or whatever you see.

Louis CK Loses Millions




Someday, we'll all brag about how we paid for Horace and Pete, even though nobody's been buying the show:

As often happens with the web, there’s good news and bad news as television shifts online. The spirit of the age tells us that everyone should go it alone, that entrepreneurial individualism is more important than being part of a larger team, that we all need to unbundle.

But Louis C.K. has learned the hard way that it doesn’t always work. Even with a series that’s smart, well-acted, topical, and ambitious.

C.K.’s show “Horace and Pete” is about as close to the classic American theater of Eugene O’Neill as television offers. Taking place in a century-old, family-run Brooklyn bar, it’s a show in which politics, class, race, gender, gentrification, tradition, family turmoil, and various painful aspects of the generation gap are worked out in natural, unforced ways. The kind of conflicts and honest talk that a lot of shows wait half an hour to build to come every few minutes on “Horace and Pete.” It features actors as good as Steve Buscemi, Alan Alda, Edie Falco, and Jessica Lange. And while it’s certainly not a comedy, it’s often funny in a kind of uncomfortable and revealing way. (The bar’s policy of charging hipsters more for their drinks is one of several brilliant bits.) It makes a barroom-set show as good as “Cheers” look shallow.

It even has an intermission.

But C.K. has apparently lost millions on the show, which costs about $500,000 per episode to make. He sells his standup performances as audio files online – you can buy his Madison Square Garden show, for instance, from his website for anything from $1 to $85. Episodes of “Horace and Pete” costs between $2 and $5 apiece. And not enough people bought them.

Vulture doesn’t sound terribly sympathetic:

Not one to suffer silently, Louis C.K. went ahead and spread his financial burdens around on The Howard Stern Show today, revealing that making Horace and Pete left him several million dollars in debt. Basically, his debt is our bad, C.K. explained, because fewer people bought the show than C.K. was (literally) banking on.

So what went wrong? According to Variety, it turns out C.K. turned down a chance to offer the show to FX – where he has a first-look deal — for financing, hoping that his own visibility on television and on his site would drive traffic. He’s one of the biggest stars in comedy, but apparently it’s not enough to make a show with sets, actors – a piece of theater – pay for itself.

Louis isn't a businessman--he's a content creator. He's really good at it! People should give him lots of money to make things! Someone should have given him better business advice. You can't leave yourself exposed like this in a business run by thieves and vicious throat-stabbing ghouls. Television is an industry where decency and ethics are killed simply because they showed up to work one day.

And it really is too bad--when someone takes a big risk, there should be a government program that kicks in and helps them out. PBS should buy Horace and Pete and run it, warts and all, and not send any notes.

I got all of those sad E-mails, asking me to buy Horace and Pete. I'm sorry! I had shit to do. I feel bad now.

How Did That Work Out For You?




If you've just made a widely panned sequel to three of the best adventure films ever made, why would you keep the one thing that people didn't like about it (aside from Shia Labeouf)?

Indiana Jones: Upcoming Film a Continuation of 2008's 'Kingdom of the Crystal Skull,' Producer Says

"This will be an original idea, but we have the character, and it's not prequel but continuing since the last one," Frank Marshall said Monday at CinemaCon in Las Vegas. Harrison Ford is set to star.

I think that the first thing they should have said was, "we're throwing everything out! This is a prequel that has nothing to do with weird magnetic spinning aliens! We're sorry! Please forgive us for the horrible, horrible shit we did."

Or, hey--maybe get new producers and come up with something good? Why wouldn't that be the logical move after a badly-reviewed misstep?

And, Good God--is Shia coming back or not? That's what everyone really wants to know.

The Pleasant Surprise of Zootopia




It may be late, but my review of Zootopia is positive on all fronts because of how much I enjoyed the film. I saw Zootopia over the weekend as an afterthought--we were bored, there wasn't anything else worth seeing, and so we figured, why not?

Spoilers ahead, so pause here and come back after you've seen it. And if you want to wait for the Blu-Ray or the on-demand version, go ahead. You won't be disappointed.

Zootopia is a Disney animated feature that picks up where almost no other Disney films leave off--with a hint of darkness and a tinge of the hopeless. It's not a bouncy, thoughtless romp through nonsensical product placement gags and Baby Boomer satire gags (although putting Tommy Chong in the film is as counter-culture as you can get without completely blowing minds and trampling through the fields of nostalgia). It's not fall down funny but it's amusing enough to see again.

And that's what I really liked about the film--it lived in its own world and didn't try too hard. It didn't go for the fart and gross-out jokes. No one sucked on a urinal cake. No one's ass explodes in a brown cloud of doom. There is a sick burn that weaves through the story line--it's called a hustle--and it works on a number of levels. It may be one of the first animated comedies that truly steps away from Baby Boomer humor and leaves the Simpsons era behind. That may explain why I liked it so much.

Ginnifer Goodwin and Jason Bateman have great chemistry as the leads in this. She plays an idealist and he plays an anti-hero and their collective backstory informs the plot without overwhelming anything. This did not play like an attempt for an actor to play something in a movie that their kids can see--the casting works out in the long run because of the banter they have and the conclusion to the film, which has a moment that is noticeably scarier--and more honest--than the usual Disney fare. 

Where does it fit in? Well, this was a smart film with some hard edges. I would put Zootopia just below The Princess and the Frog and Tangled, but that's very good company. I would say it's as good as Brave without the hard to parse accents. And Brave was a very, very good film that has been overlooked. These four animated films represent the best of the films that are not quite as good as Frozen, and if you haven't seen any of them, they're a pleasant discovery for anyone who enjoys animated films. This film was much, much better than Kung Fu Panda 3 and I preferred it to Inside Out (which I did not care for, but that means I'm merely an idiot, of course).

Really, this wasn't junk. We've seen a slew of junk animated films over the last few years and a handful of really strange and densely plotted things that should never have been made. This was a near murder mystery with more emphasis on the mystery aspect. There's even a twist at the end that works. How often can you say that?

Sean Young Really is Crazy




I love Sean Young, but she's just a little nutty:

You’re also anti-vaccination, huh?

Yeah, I am.

There does seem to be evidence that as a result of that stance, whooping cough and measles are making a comeback.

Well, I wonder who’s spreading it. The thing is, you have a very big pharmacological industry, and they want those bucks to keep flowing. It’s definitely not impossible to imagine that there are agents that spread this kind of thing. Remember when the English came over with blankets that were laced with tuberculosis and they gave all those blankets to the Indians? You think that doesn’t happen today?

Thus your belief in chemtrails.

Yeah! Man, we’re getting it from all kinds of areas. I know people will call me a conspiracy nut or whatever, but the evidence is out there.

I wouldn't put it past her to be trolling the interviewer and to be looking to drum up interest in her latest project by grabbing some viral headlines. I wouldn't blame her, but, ouch. I guess you have to separate the art from the person. Excene Cervenka came out with a lot of nonsense that was similar to this. Love and adoration for both of them, but back away slowly when they start in with the kray-zee.