What the Hell is Going On?

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SPOILERS AHEAD (OBVIOUSLY...)


 

The culture has passed me by:

Avengers: Infinity War” can check off yet another record: The second-highest second weekend of all time.

Disney and Marvel’s latest collaboration earned $112.5 million from 4,474 locations in its second frame. The 56% decline was just enough to top the record previously held by fellow Marvel title “Black Panther,” which made $111.6 million in its second weekend. “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” holds the prize for biggest second weekend, with a mighty $149 million in 2015. Only five films have ever hit the $100 million-mark in their second weekends.

In just North America, the superhero mashup has made $450.8 million. Among “Infinity War’s” numerous accomplishments is being the fastest film to gross $1 billion, in just 11 days. And the film has yet to open in China.

I enjoy living in the future. I don't advocate a return to the bad old days. I have a smart phone and I love it when people put out new music. But I couldn't be further out of the cultural zeitgeist if I was walking around dressed like it was the 1890s and talking through the severed end of a flugelhorn. 

What do I have here at the end of watching all 18 of these terrible, terrible Marvel movies? Nothing. I have no idea what has happened. I mean, I don't want to pull the sleeve right off your best jacket, but what the hell was all that about? Some people and some magic stones have fought each other and now the universe is in balance? There is no balance in nature. It's just wild and free and shit goes one way, then another. Is Jesus supposed to show up now? I think that was a joke in Infinity War, which I saw a day ago and can't remember anything about.

Why aren't the Jesus freaks angrier about this movie? It's supposed to be the end-all, be-all of everything and all it needed was for Southpark's version of Jesus to show up, put his hand on the shoulder of Thanos, and say, "who hurt you, my son?" That would have ended the whole movie. No need for any more Avengers because Jesus can shoot a lightning bolt through your eyes if you try to make special weapons or steal magic stones.

I'll tell you how the movie will end next year. Something, joke, something, everybody's trapped in the soul stone! fight, joke, joke, fight, and then another fight and then the little girl makes the bad guy put everything back the way it was and someone hides those magic stones and we get to do it all over again in the reboot.

The whole movie runs through the relationship between the young version of Gamora and the big bad evil daddy figure. Conquering figure adopts helpless child, wah wah, okay, what did we learn? Did we learn more about emotional manipulation and allow a figure who has killed untold trillions of children in the universe to have a soft spot for a little kiddy? Genocide never had a better premise in a film. Let's just breeze past the horror--he's got a heart of gold hidden in there, but he's been hurt and Jesus never came around to save him.

Culturally, this is all just junk. It's light, it's fluffy, people eat it up, and then it dissipates. It amuses and distracts, but it doesn't really do anything beyond that. The only thing it really accomplishes is that, for far too many underpaid Americans, a massive amount of discretionary spending has been ripped out of the middle of the economy, causing people to put off buying tangible things while edging out all of the other crap they don't need. Video game makers have tried to cash in by making Avengers games, but it's just not the same. They need a new franchise, obviously, and it's something about killing. 

Is there any point to any of the Marvel crap? It's just another version of Star Wars for people who still spend a lot of money on other stuff. Someone somewhere is busy thinking up another version of all of this, but edgier, man. Everything has to be the same but just a little darker and meaner and cooler. Dude.

Think of the art that didn't get made because all of this talent, money and energy was tied up making 18 Marvel films. There are actors and actresses here who have real talents. I'm not out of line for suggesting that there are far too few female characters and way too many men who are playing characters that are younger than they are in real life. Mark Ruffalo can actually make real movies for adults. Is this a wise use of his time? And do we need slightly less stupid Andy Dwyer from Parks and Recreation to be the guy who screws up everything? Talk about playing to a cliche. I'll bet when Paul Bettany was doing Richard III, all he could think about was putting a jewel on his forehead and floating about in a robot body while living in Scotland with his girlfriend. Really? You don't think they would have preferred Brighton? Come on. No one lives in Scotland on purpose.

You could have told it all in 3 films that cost a lot less, but no one thinks small like that anymore. It has to be massive! On a scale never before seen! Why sell them three pictures when we can pad this out and make billions off of six different trilogies! Cram it into every nook and cranny! Put it on every product known to man. Well, that's what they did, and that's what they've plopped down in front of everyone. But there are more movies on the way! Here they come! 

Do you know what still has more relevance in the culture? The Beatles, high as kites and out of it, singing Love is All You Need to a world that didn't believe it for a minute. Oh well, this is what you get when you grow old.

Michelle McNamara

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Patton Oswalt, Michelle McNamara

The late Michelle McNamara was a true crime writer who died in 2016 before solving one of the subjects that obsessed her. McNamara was the sort of person who threw herself into a subject and didn't let up. She was also the wife of comedian Patton Oswalt, and today she would have loved to have been a fly on the wall when they caught "The Golden State Killer" decades after eluding the police:

A suspect has been arrested in connection to a decades-old cold case involving more than 10 people who were murdered, known as the Golden State Killer case.

Joseph James DeAngelo, 72, was arrested early Wednesday morning on two counts of murder, according to the Sacramento Bee and Fox40 Sacramento. A spokesperson for the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department has not yet responded to TheWrap’s request for comment.

The Golden State Killer was linked by DNA and method to 12 murders, 45 sexual assaults and more than 120 burglaries from Sacramento to Orange County between 1976 and 1986.

This was one of the last things McNamara worked on before her passing:

The Golden State Killer case was also the subject of a true-crime book titled “I’ll Be Gone in the Dark,” by Michelle McNamara, Patton Oswalt’s late wife. McNamara worked with investigators on the case but died before the book was published. It was finished by co-writer Billy Jensen, researcher Paul Haynes and Oswalt.

In regards to news that an arrest had been made, Oswalt tweeted, “If they’ve really caught the #GoldenStateKiller I hope I get to visit him. Not to gloat or gawk — to ask him the questions that @TrueCrimeDiarywanted answered in her ‘Letter To An Old Man’ at the end of #IllBeGoneInTheDark.”

We can only hope that they got the right man, due in no small part to McNamara's work.

Frank Underwood

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Whatever happened to this?

Jonathan Yeo has painted the "fictional" portrait of Kevin Spacey's Frank Underwood character for the Smithsonian, and this was in 2016. It hung in the National Portrait Gallery, and, for all intents and purposes, it's probably not even worth $50 in terms of real value. For people who love macabre, scandalous items, it's literally priceless.

 

Pay the Lady What She is Worth

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If AMC doesn't pay Lauren Cohan what she is worth, then to hell with that network:

Lauren Cohan is mulling walking away from The Walking Dead.

The actress, who has starred as Maggie since season two of the AMC zombie drama, has booked a lead role in ABC drama pilot Whiskey Cavalier.

Cohan has emerged as one of the most in-demand actresses this pilot season. Sources tell THR that she has been actively looking for her next role as she battles AMC over her season nine salary. With Walking Dead already renewed for a ninth season, Cohan does not have a deal in place to return to the show. Sources say the actress and her agents are not happy with the offers that have been on the table from AMC. Although Cohan is not seeking salary parity with male leads Andrew Lincoln and Norman Reedus, her camp and AMC have been engaged in a months-long negotiation that remains far apart. Insiders suggest that she is actively looking for her next job and not trying to use the pilot casting process to force AMC's hand as the actress's camp remains frustrated by AMC's lowball offers. Other sources note AMC has made "aggressive offers" to re-sign Cohan for season nine.

AMC seems like the chintziest of networks. They are incapable of taking care of talent. I can't believe they are not paying female leads on the show the same as what they are paying males because it is, for all intents and purposes, one of the best ensemble dramas around. And I say this even after the audience collapsed two years ago.

Why are we even having this discussion? Of course you should pay women the same as men, especially when they demonstrate that they are more than equal to the task of storytelling. In the case of the Walking Dead, which is more of an ensemble show, I think that is definitely the case. 

I understand that there can be exceptions, but there can also be times when women should be paid more. It's hard to argue that Anna Gunn should have been paid the same as Bryan Cranston for Breaking Bad, but it's not outside the realm of possibility that she should have been brought to a level very close to him in terms of compensation. He was the overall lead of the show and she had less screen time. I always thought Stana Katic should have been paid more than Nathan Fillion and given top billing for Castle. She was clearly the better of the two characters and had more depth.

Paddington 2

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Now THIS is a superhero franchise:

An emotional masterpiece that digs deep while keeping you smiling, and a pure example of why sequels can still be a good thing.

In total honesty, no one expected director Paul King's Paddington to make any sort of a splash upon its release in 2015. Adaptations of classic characters, modernized for today's youth, have always been a tricky thing, and for the most part the results had been unremarkable. But King and his team hit a mountain of gold when it came to the legendary bear with a heart of Marmalade, as the film not only tapped into the whimsy of Michael Bond's source material, but it did so with a very appropriate modern flare. It gives me immense pleasure to say that if you were worried Paddington 2 would fail to repeat that feat, you're absolutely wrong.

Three years after he moved to London, Paddington (Ben Whishaw) is looking to get his Aunt Lucy the perfect birthday present -- an antique pop-up book of London. What starts as a bunch of odd jobs in the name of raising funds for an absurdly expensive book turns into a quest to prove his innocence, as the book is stolen and Paddington is the main suspect. With Mr. and Mrs. Brown (Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins) leading the charge, the race is on to clear this bear's good name, before it's too late.

I would much rather see this than any Marvel or DC film. The original, with Nicole Kidman making one of the great villain characters of zoology look sinister and hapless at the same time, was a masterpiece. Do not turn your nose up at this one. Really, this is what films are supposed to be like.

Samantha Fox Remembers David Cassidy

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People hate to be told this, but so-and-so was a huge star at one point.

Well, here's the deal. Samantha Fox was a huge, huge star at one point. Here, she remembers what it was like to deal with perennial loser David Cassidy, who recently died of several different things:

Speaking to the Daily Star, Fox has alleged that Cassidy groped her in a restaurant bathroom in 1985 during a video shoot for his single ‘Romance’.

Fox said that she was washing her hands when Cassidy allegedly “came storming in” and “pushed me up against the wall”.

Former glamour model-turned-pop star Fox added: “His hands were all over me. I shouted: ‘Get off me, David!’ in an attempt to stop him. But instead, he just stuck his tongue into my mouth and shoved a hand under my skirt, while the other kept a firm grip on one of my breasts.”

“I reacted quickly and instinctively by bringing my knee upwards, striking him right in the balls… then I elbowed him in the face.”

Fox also claimed that Cassidy “had an erection” as she posed semi-nude for a photoshoot. “Whenever he pressed himself against me, I could clearly feel his dick,” she said.

In other words, Fox was the Britney Spears of her era, only with talent and the ability to defend herself against horrible, horrible men.

Apropos of nothing, here she is with Freddie Mercury because why not?

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The Secret Life of Pets 2

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Last month, when everything related to Louis CK blew up in a storm of outrage and howling, one of the little-known ripples through the entertainment business was the fact that CK had just come off one of the biggest animation hits in history as the lead voice. The original Secret Life of Pets earned over $875 million dollars worldwide and was a lock to become a new franchise.

It stands to reason that the sequel would have been a pretty big hit as well. It was scheduled for release in 2019, but someone else is going to have to do the voice:

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If you look at the project's IMDB page, Jenny Slate is the only person signed for the sequel. Who are they going to get to replace CK, and should they go back and remove his voice work from the original film?

How horrible is that to contemplate?

This Minnesota Boy Hated Garrison Keillor Forever

Garrison Keillor is the most overrated writer in the history of overrated writers. He was a blight upon literature and a stain upon everything that was good about Minnesota.

Minnesota is the scream of Paul Westerberg, the howl of moral outrage from Sinclair Lewis, the brutal honesty of Tim O'Brien, the cultural criticism of F. Scott Fitzgerald, the soul of Bob Dylan and the journalism of David Carr. Against them, Keillor was a twee, wet-nosed pretender full of sexual repression and Reader's Digest anecdotes.

Fuck Garrison Keillor. Right in the earhole. Fuck him forever.

Salt will cover the ground when he is gone. I have already forgotten him. My victory is complete.

Melania Trump's Personal War on Christmas

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I get the sense that Melania is not happy. Not happy at all.

She has gone from jolly decorations and old-timey traditions and familiar themes to something straight out of the world of European cinema. It's a jarring hellscape. It reminds me of an Ingmar Bergman film:

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And, remember--it's not Christmas in Slovenia without Krampus!

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The War on Christmas may have lost General Bill O'Reilly, but Melania Trump is finding a way to horrify everyone with her interior Christmas decor ideas. I can just imagine how she instructed the White House staff to decorate:

"Lots of dead branches, pointing up to heaven, lit with cold, indifferent light, creating a maelstrom of claustrophobia, trapping the soul in every corner of every nook and cranny of this putrid construct of reality."


Armie Hammer Does Not Owe You an Active Twitter Account

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I agree that it is insane, but it is also a symbol of how we expect people to make themselves available and turn themselves inside out for entertainment purposes. Each and every person is entitled to their own version of privacy. You ought to be allowed to choose what you want people to see and to know and to read from you. 

If Armie Hammer doesn't want to be on Twitter, go pound sand.


Justice League is a Huge Disappointment

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Justice League is a film that I actually saw in a theater. My advice is to wait for it on Blu-Ray so that you only end up wasting a little cash. It is not essential, but it is a good way to waste two hours, so there's that.

Without spoiling the movie, I'll tell you what's wrong with it:

  • Too much Affleck.
  • Not enough Godot.
  • All the Cavill you're ever going to need.
  • No where near enough Momoa.

I liked the Cyborg character, but they didn't develop the relationship he had with his father into something that I could recognize as a story. They did a better job with the Flash, but do you know who had a better Flash? The Quicksilver character played by Evan Peters was far more interesting. 

After watching this, I honestly can't tell you what happened. And, before you think I'm some sort of Marvel movie fan, I'm really not. I'm not a fan of this genre at all. I remember that I saw Guardians of the Galaxy Volume Two but I can't remember anything that happened because it was such a blur of things happening. So much has to happen! in these films. Slow it down and tell a story.

No One Cares About Blade Runner 2049

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Someone failed to notice that no one really wanted this sequel and that only a handful of old dudes does not a film audience make:

The hero of Blade Runner, Ridley Scott’s 1982 dystopian masterpiece, isn’t Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford), the cop who finds and kills “replicants” (bioengineered androids) for the LAPD in a grim, rain-drenched futurescape. It’s his primary target, Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer), an escaped combat unit seeking a cure to the four-year lifespan built into his system. Roy is super-strong and terrifying, to be sure, and unafraid to commit murder, but Scott shoots the tow-headed Hauer like an angel, especially in his unforgettable death scene, as he saves Deckard’s life and crouches over him, imparting his strange, alien memories to his would-be assassin before expiring.

In the world of Blade Runner, replicants are an underclass used as slave labor. Deckard’s arc in the film is one of empathy—he’s a bounty hunter who begins to understand the humanity of his quarry, both in his fearsome respect for Roy and his love for Rachael (Sean Young), another replicant who’s unaware of her true nature. The debate about whether Deckard is a replicant himself is the mysterious undercurrent to Scott’s movie, but not its beating heart. Roy’s final monologue is so magical because it’s the moment where Deckard, and viewers, finally realize the enemy is not the unstoppable monster he appeared to be.

All that money, and they made a film no one cares about because the sequel comes well after when there would have been a viable commercials audience for a film that pretty much only some old white guys give a shit about. Can't wait for the sequel to Running Scared to hit theaters.

That Batman Movie Was a Piece of Shit

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I think I remember this film. Man, was it a piece of steaming shit:

Two-Face and Riddler looked like they had a blast together during Batman Forever, but off-camera, Tommy Lee Jones and Jim Carrey's relationship was anything but amiable. Carrey hasn't been shy in the past about talking about how Jones hated working with him, but now the comedy star has gone into more detail on the encounter where Jones' unpleasantness was on full display. One day during Batman Forever's production, Carrey found out that Jones was eating at the same restaurant as him. He went to greet his co-star, which caused the blood in Jones' face to drain. Carrey continued:

And he got up shaking --- he must have been in mid-'kill me' fantasy or something like that. And he went to hug me and he said, 'I hate you. I really don't like you.' And I said, 'What's the problem?' and pulled up a chair, which probably wasn't smart. And he said, 'I cannot sanction your buffoonery.'

Tommy Lee Jones bluntly summarizing his hatred for Jim Carrey in such an archaic fashion is weird enough, but what's even stranger is that Jones expressed disapproval of Carrey's antics before they were going to shoot the biggest scene they had together in Batman Forever. After Carrey recalled this encounter during his recent appearance on Norm MacDonald Live, the show's eponymous host posited that Jones might have jealous that Carrey was the center of attention on set. After all, Batman Forever was in principal photography months after Carrey became a comedy movie star thanks to Ace Ventura: Pet Detective and The Mask.

No idea why anyone cares, but there you go.

Dick Gregory 1932-2017

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Dick Gregory was one of the greatest civil rights advocates in American history, full stop. His legacy is that of activist and entertainer, but his impact was felt everywhere in popular culture. If you are sad about Bill Cosby, then be grateful for Dick Gregory, who did more than virtually every entertainer of his era to advocate for Civil Rights.

Comedian and civil rights activist Dick Gregory, who broke barriers in the 1960s and became one of the first African-Americans to perform at white clubs, died Saturday.

He was 84. 

Gregory recently rescheduled an event in Atlanta because he was hospitalized. He died in Washington, his son posted on social media without giving details. 

    "The family appreciates the outpouring of support and love, and respectfully asks for their privacy as they grieve during this very difficult time," Christian Gregory said. "More details will be released over the next few days."

    Gregory satirized segregation and racial injustice in his acts, and was arrested several times in the 1960s for joining civil rights rallies.

    Gregory died a day before Jerry Lewis, and their coincidental demise is a reminder that most celebrities stay the hell away from controversy and charity.  Gregory didn't shy away from the violence of the 1960s--he was a victim of it, numerous times. Never once did he bow out and take the easy route to fame and fortune. He lived his entire life trying to make this country a better place. Lewis spent many, many years raising money for Muscular Dystrophy victims and trying to make this country better.

    We will not see their like ever again.

    Jerry Lewis 1926-2017

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    Jerry Lewis was one of the most famous men of the 20th Century, and history has never been kind to his legacy as an entertainer or public figure:

    Love or hate Jerry Lewis, you knew he was in the room.

    Lewis, who died Sunday at age of 91, turned himself into an American entertainment institution, first as a maniacal slapstick comedian and then as the 45-year host of tear-jerking annual TV telethons that raised a staggering $2.6 billion for muscular dystrophy research.

    His death was confirmed in a statement tweeted by a reporter for the Las Vegas Review Journal.

    "Legendary entertainer Jerry Lewis passed away peacefully today of natural causes at 91 at his home w/ family by his side,” the statement read.

    Inside the comedy world, Lewis was revered as a genius. The 2011 Lewis documentary "Method to the Madness" featured comedians from Billy Crystal to Eddie Murphy to Chevy Chase praising his singular style of comic lunacy and pathos.

    "I get paid," Lewis once said, "for what most kids get punished for."

    Is there anyone who raised more money for charity? Is there anyone who was up and down so many times? 

    The York Gospels

    This is beyond neat:

    The York Gospels were assembled more than a thousand years ago. Bound in leather, illustrated, and illuminated, the book contains the four gospels of the Bible as well as land records and oaths taken by clergymen who read, rubbed, and kissed its pages over centuries. The Archbishops of York still swear their oaths on this book.

    The York Gospels are also, quite literally, a bunch of old cow and sheep skins. Skin has DNA, and DNA has its own story to tell.

    A group of archaeologists and geneticists in the United Kingdom have now analyzed the remarkably rich DNA reservoir of the York Gospels. They found DNA from humans who swore oaths on its pages and from bacteria likely originating on the hands and mouths of those humans. Best of all though, they found 1,000-year-old DNA from the cows and sheep whose skin became the parchment on which the book is written.

    Remarkably, the authors say they extracted all this DNA without destroying even a tiny piece of parchment. All they needed were the crumbs from rubbing the book with erasers, which conservationists routinely use to clean manuscripts. The authors report their findings in a preprint that has not yet been peer-reviewed, though they plan to submit it to a scientific journal.