No Surprises   (2017Jan09)


Monday, January 09, 2017                                                9:49 AM

Donald Trump says he’s ‘not surprised’ the Golden Globes trashed him. Well Donny, neither are any of us—you are trash. And if public-minded performers want to use their spotlight to criticize your lack of character, who can blame them?

But what does he mean he’s ‘not surprised’? Does he mean he saw it coming? Is he saying that it’s no surprise whole industries are against him, that large groups of intellectual and creative people will be trashing him for the next four years? That would make sense—he’s set himself up as the Anti-Intelligence, as his only route to a position where intellectual rigor has often been regarded as a plus. And by trashing thoughtfulness and education, he’s ‘taken sides’ against basically anyone in this country who’s ever read a book.

So no surprise—Trump knows his enemies—anyone creative, anyone educated, anyone with an ounce of decency or character—and it would only be surprising if such people failed to trash him for the next four years. He’s created a nation as ‘high-school hallway’, where the bullies rule and the teachers are nowhere to be seen. And like said bullies, he’s apt to make pompous pronouncements, like “I’m not surprised.” As if his lack of amazement takes anything away from the pounding Streep laid on his ass.


For many people, high school was the last time they got away with neglecting to read or study or be polite—perhaps that is what the Trump-voters were seeking—a return to the irresponsibility of youth. And like children, they look at our modern issues and decide whether to blame the ‘grown-ups’ or simply ignore what they say (the ‘grown-ups’ in this metaphor being engaged citizens who actually read newspapers). Trump makes the perfect head-bully in this ‘hallway’—because he encourages all the other kids to laugh at the teachers—that is to say, the journalists, the scientists, women, non-whites, non-Christians—and honest people.

Trump has no use for honesty—he proved to himself, with his campaign, that being honest is for losers. So I wouldn’t expect a single true word out of that sphincter in his face, even though lying-while-president is much more dangerous than lying to become president.

And when I say ‘dangerous’, I’m not talking about any risk for Trump—that’s the beauty of it, as far as he’s concerned. All the horrors he will bring to pass will stalk the majority of Americans—but none of it will ever touch him. It’s like with health care—the members of Congress get their premium health care for free—so they don’t care how god-awful (or simply non-existent) the healthcare for everyone else is.

Trump will cause loss and suffering for all Americans, ironically more for those who supported him than for anyone else, but he will skate off—still a dick, still rich, still an egomaniac. Even the next president will suffer (just as Obama did when Bush shit all over the carpet, on his way out the door) but Trump will just go on enjoying making his shit sandwiches, without ever having to eat one. I’m not surprised.


Two Movie Reviews   (2016Dec13)

Tuesday, December 13, 2016                                           11:30 PM

“Suicide Squad” & “Florence Foster Jenkins”


“Suicide Squad”:

There was a burst of potentially-watchable movies in my video menu this morning—all kinds of movies—must be the run-off from the summer-movie influx in theaters. It’s strange for those of us who wait for the movie to leave the theater and get onto cable—we see the summer movies in winter, and the holiday movies in summer.

I started with “Suicide Squad”. I’ve pretty much had it with comic book retro-fits—and Suicide Squad is a poor excuse for even a comic book. But I like Will Smith—and I always enjoy it when some hot young actress does a star turn as a psycho-killer, as Margo Robbie does in this. But sometimes the over-arching concept of one team of good guys against a team of bad guys can strain the bounds of credulity—even within the ‘willing suspension’ paradigm.

In this movie, a ‘transdimensional’ witch with seemingly unlimited power, both natural and supernatural, stands against a group of admittedly tough customers—but none of them equipped to face down something from beyond the limits of time and space. Well, there’s one—a reluctant pyrokinetic with supernatural powers of his own.

But the rest of them have to be kept busy fighting minions of the witch, to distract from the fact they can’t possibly fight her. It’s just senseless—and believe me, I’ve swallowed a lot of sci-fi and comic book foolishness in service of maintaining my willing suspension of disbelief—and enjoying the story—but there has to be a minimal coherence to the thing. I need to be accorded that much respect.

Anyway, for a two-hour movie full of nonsense, it went by fairly quickly and painlessly. I gave it a few hours, then I went back.


“Florence Foster Jenkins”:

I went back earlier this evening for another film, “Florence Foster Jenkins”, starring Meryl Streep, Hugh Grant, and Simon Helberg.

There was a French film on Netflix recently, “Marguerite” (2015), with a similar story—a moneyed matron of the arts is surrounded by sycophants who never tell her that she has a terrible singing voice—a secret carefully kept by a mad-cap retinue, using carefully-curated venues and selectively-bribed music critics to maintain the illusion until the catastrophe of a large, uncontrolled, public performance threatens to expose the entire charade.

Both films claim some basis in historical fact—but the French film is set at the turn of the century and the American film is set in 1940s New York. This leads me to wonder if rich woman are historically misled about their true abilities—and, if so, why? But beyond that question, there’s the tone of such a movie. In the case of “Florence Foster Jenkins”, much like “Marguerite”, there’s a contradiction between the hilarity of bad singing and the tragedy of a person being lied to by everyone around that person—supposed friends and lovers who, whether through kindness or avarice are, nonetheless, doing the poor woman no favors.

Even the surprising tenderness that Hugh Grant brings to his role as FFJ’s husband cannot render this story a happy one—or a particularly funny one, since the impending slip-on-a-banana-peel is always the looming exposure and destruction of the woman’s sense-of-self. Meryl Streep brings humor to the character, but for me, the set-up is more suitable for a psychological horror-thriller, such as ‘Gaslight’, than for any light-hearted costume-comedy.

No one could fault the technical efforts, or the performances of the cast, in this film—but I guess I’m just too squeamish to enjoy laughing at someone who insists on making music badly—perhaps it cuts a little too close to home for me. Yes, that’s probably it—I see a little too much of my own musical strivings in the story of “Florence Foster Jenkins”.