Clea DuVall‘s Happiest Season (Hulu, 11.25) seems cheery and harmless enough, but a gay couple hiding the truth from their parents and in-laws seems kinda Birdcage-y…no? I don’t know why exactly but the trailer also vaguely reminds me of the tone of Frank Oz‘s In & Out.
It’s okay to rework or refresh a certain kind of comic situation (the script was written by DuVall and Mary Holland) that was first explored nearly a quarter-century ago. You can always make a familiar idea feel like something new if you do it well enough, I suppose. It’s just that certain kinds of family comedies work best when they hit at exactly the right cultural moment, which is to say slightly ahead of the curve.
The ever-fickle Tatiana had never seen Roman Polanski‘s Repulsion, so we watched it the night before last. It was like seeing it for the first time in a way as she was hooked from the start, despite the increasingly unsettled jagged-edge quality.
For like all great films, Repulsion isn’t so much about the destination as the ride…about a brilliant, increasingly disturbing blend of sharp observational details of mid ’60s Londön + Catherine Deneuve‘s blond hair and vacant eyes + an acute dread of sexuality + a gathering psychosis leading to a psychological meltdown (ticking clock, rape nightmares, cracks in a wall, a punctured cuticle, a rotting rabbit, arms pushing through walls, two male victims).
Shot in Löndon’s South Kensington district and at Twickenham Studios in the summer or early fall of ’64, Repulsion premiered at Cannes ’65 and opened stateside in late ’65 and early ’66.
Polanski has always been a highly exacting and demanding director, but because of Repulsion‘s extra-scrimpy budget (65,000 British pounds or roughly 1.5 million pounds today) he regards it as his “shoddiest” film, and the special effects as “sloppy.” And yet everyone regards Repulsion as a pantheon effort. It still holds me every time.
For whatever reason I’d never watched the making-of doc, David Gregory‘s A British Horror Film (’03), but I finally did on Saturday. A candid, penetrating, wholly fascinating look at a landmark slasher flick, the doc was featured on the Criterion Bluray, which popped on 7.28.09.
Small quibble: The world has confirmed over and over that Repulsion was projected in 1.66, and yet the Criterion web page says the aspect ratio is 1.85.
Polanski quote at the very beginning: “You can [interpret the film] as you want — it’s a free country. But don’t ask me to explain any of my pictures.”
Mitch McConnell is going along with Trump’s theatrical refusal to accept Biden’s electoral victory, which is basically a show for the cult. McConnell isn’t stupid. He knows there’s nothing of substance to look into, but is saying nonetheless that Trump is entitled to humiliate himself and look like an obstinate fool.
With 97% of the Arizona votes counted, Joe Biden is only 15,000 votes ahead of Donald Trump — 1,645,000 vs. 1,630,339. It’s possible, I suppose, that Trump will very slightly nudge ahead as the last 3% is counted. Georgia is even tighter with Biden ahead of Trump by only 11K votes — 2,467,870 (49.5%) vs. 2,456,275 (49.3%). It won’t actually matter, of course, if Biden loses both states. I doubt that he will. Okay, maybe Arizona but not Georgia.
I was a Cub Scout but never a Boy Scout…no thanks! Even in my tweener years I had vaguely sensed that the BSA was a kind of Hitler Youth for middle-class, white-picket-fence American values and autocratic paternalism. Old-fashioned judgments, tough requirements, strict regimentation.
I didn’t have the sharpness of mind or powers of articulation that I have now, but even when I was ten I’d come to suspect that the BSA didn’t get the American bop-shoo-wop thing — an idea that the viewpoints and lifestyles of kids and parents who weren’t rigid straight-arrow types and who were open to a slightly less conventional or even a more subversive approach to American life could be afforded a certain lattitude and respect.
Things have changed, to put it mildly. The last time I checked the Boy Scouts of America had filed for bankruptcy protection after being hit by a deluge of sexual assault lawsuits. Because, according to evidence, adult Scoutmasters had apparently been fiddling around in the manner of Catholic priests.
And now I’m reading that the BSA’s opposite number, the Girl Scouts of the USA, has gone full woke in terms of gender identity issues.
The institutional instinct is obviously to protect girls or girl-identified youths from any kind of negative social climate, and that’s obviously a good thing. Why, then, am I detecting the same kind of Hitler Youth mindset that I sensed decades ago, only this time by way of a whiff of forced woke regimentation?
I’m guessing or presuming that a significant portion of those who didn’t vote for Biden-Harris on 11.3 feel a bit unsettled about wokester mandates, and that this is the kind of thing they felt (however ignorantly) they were voting against.
It was reported three and a half years ago that Boy Scouts would allow transgender children into programs — cool. And I’ve just come upon GSA guidelines for respecting and accepting gender non-conforming, gender creative or non-binary norms, and which apparently have been recently announced.
It follows that what’s good for the goose is presumably good for the gander, and so there should be, I gather, a corresponding policy endorsed by the Boy Scouts of America. Meaning that it would read like the GSA statement, but with adjustments:
“Our Boy Scout program is for any boy-identified youth, including cisgender boys and transgender boys. Each child and family is in charge of how they identify and their genders may change over time. For example, if a boy who has previously been a Boy Scout begins to identify as gender non-conforming, gender creative or non-binary, he/she will continue to be welcomed by the Boy Scouts of America.”
It’s not only unfair but vaguely repressive to mention this, I realize, but a certain question is hovering in the back of my mind — what would Fred MacMurray say?
In the wake of Pfizer’s announcement that their experimental COVID-19 vaccine (co-developed with the German drugmaker BioNTech) is 90% effective and will be distributed in early ’21, Donald Trump, Jr. has tweeted a suspicion that Pfizer deliberately withheld the good news so as not to benefit the Trump administration before the 11.3 election.
A consensus among certain reporters and Big Pharma sources is that Don Jr.’s theory is highly questionable if not rooted in out-and-out fantasy. And yet if (and I say “if”) it can be eventually proven or verified that Pfizer did hold back the news in order to benefit Biden-Harris…good! Smart chess move! Hollywood Elsewhere approves! Whoo-hoo!
President-elect Biden pledged last month that the vaccine (which requires a double dose for effectiveness) will be free to everyone. The U.S. has so far paid $1.95 billion for 100 million initial doses of the Pfizer vaccine. Pfizer expects to have up to 50 million doses available by the end of 2020. Hollywood Elsewhere expects to be double-dosed by January or February.
“Wide distribution of Pfizer’s vaccine will be a logistical challenge. Because it is made with mRNA, the doses will need to be kept at ultra cold temperatures. While Pfizer has developed a special cooler to transport the vaccine, equipped with GPS-enabled thermal sensors, it remains unclear where people will receive the shots, and what role the government will play in distribution.
“Adding to the challenge, people will need to return three weeks later for a second dose to complete the immunization.
“Most experts say the world will need many treatments and vaccines to bring an end to the pandemic.”
In other words a double dose of the Pfizer vaccine isn’t expected to last more than a year or two…is that it? That in order to really vanquish Covid everyone will have to keep getting re-vaccinated for years on end?
From Owen Gleiberman‘s “The Melting Down of Donald Trump,” posted this morning: “Trump may still try to stage some sort of legal-electoral ‘coup,’ but to anyone tethered to the real world, his protests will increasingly sound like the face-saving whine of someone who can’t admit, or even compute, the prospect of his own defeat.
“On the deepest level, ‘The mail-in votes in Pennsylvania don’t count!’ is a fascist version of ‘The dog ate my homework!’ It’s Trump clinging to the presidency and trashing the rule of law, but mostly it’s Trump doing all he can to refuse his comeuppance, to deny that he’s now the loser he has spent his whole life running from being.
“[Classic villain comeuppance is] what happens, most spectacularly, in The Wizard of Oz, when the Wicked Witch of the West is destroyed before our eyes in a catharsis of long-finger-nailed rage. ‘Look what you’ve done!’ she screams. ‘I’m melting, melting!’ And then, with a touch of despair that can almost be called tragic, she says, ‘Oh, what a world, what a world’! She’s talking about a world that has taken away her power. She then crumples like a melted crayon, a humiliated mass of thwarted ambition.
“That’s what just happened to Donald Trump. He wasn’t simply defeated, given the boot by the American people. He got melted down. And that’s why he’ll never admit it. He’s holding the entire American democratic process hostage to prop up what’s left of his broken ego.
“There’s a lot of talk about how even though Trump lost, ‘Trumpism’ is here to stay. It will be standing on the sidelines, waiting in the wings, warming up for a comeback. But what does Donald Trump stand for, as a political figure, once you take away his power? He’ll be just another fulminating talk-radio host. And, of course, the cornerstone of his brand will now become the very notion that the presidency was stolen from him. He’ll make that the centerpiece of every rally, every Fox News appearance, every talk-radio hour he presides over.
“But it will all be Trump spinning his brokenness, licking his wounds. The Trump faithful, the true believers — the cult — will tune in. But I suspect that for most of America, Trump will simply sound like the sore loser he is. So let him spin away. It’s time to say goodnight to the bad guy.”
Dave Chappelle did a 16-minute standup routine at the start of last night’s SNL. And he smoked cigarettes all through it. For my money it was deep-down substantive on a Lenny Bruce level. Way more thoughtful and nutritious than the usual usual.
“Some people [in Ohio] make more money from stimulus checks than they do if they work, so a lot of people don’t wanna work. You know what that reminded me of? Ronald Reagan. What did Ronald Reagan say about black people? Welfare people, drug addicts…hoo, does that sound like now. Continue with the checks, the heroin. The rest of the country is tryin’ to move forward and these white bigots keep holdin’ us back.”
Herewith my favorite Russian dishes.
In first place are cheesecakes (syrniki), otherwise known as hot crisp with sour cream. This is one of three dishes that I know how to cook really well. My way of doing it is to roll them in peeled seed kernels and oatmeal before frying.
Cottage cheese in the United States is delicious, but completely unsuitable for cooking cheesecakes. You can buy the right kind of crumbly cottage cheese only in Russian stores. I will tell you about one of them below.
I’ve had a weakness for cottage cheese since childhood. Cottage cheese, sour cream and a little salt with a crust of fresh warm bread. This is what my parents and grandparents did in Moldova. By the way, if you put a warm crispy baguette in front of me, after five minutes only the pulp will remain on the table, and the crust will be gone. I remember as a child how my mother sent me to the grocery store for bread, milk, kefir; on the way back, almost all the crust was eaten. Aahh, my memories of Soviet grocer stores, and especially the bread department!
As I understand it, despite Biden’s electoral victory Donald Trump is doubling down on his Deep State conspiracy claims. Harumphing and blustering his way through the belligerency of denial, he’s insisting all the more that “they” have stolen the election. Will he eventually settle down and go “okay, fine…if they want to play it that way I’ll simply become the president-in-exile while I create Trump TV and monetize my loyalist empire,” etc.? How could 71 million Trump supporters be wrong…right?
Anthony Scaramucci believes that deep down Trump is all bullshit and no real action, but if I were Trump — if I was an arrogant, no-class grifter and denialist and strutting asshole who doesn’t care about anything or anyone other than my own financial fortunes and that of my immediate family — if I were Trump I would go hardcore.
I would not only refuse to acknowledge Biden’s victory from here to eternity, but I wouldn’t greet Biden at the White House on Inauguration Day (1.20.21) or attend the swearing-in ceremony or anything. Because I would vacate the White House on 1.19.21 and fly to Mar a Lago or New York in a show of titanic, hard-headed defiance.
If you’re going to self-humiliate by showing the world what a colossally out-of-touch and obstinate dickhead you are, do it big….do it in a way that history will never forget.
Former President George W. Bush has said that the American people “can have confidence that this election was fundamentally fair, its integrity will be upheld, and its outcome is clear.”
In a prepared statement he said that Trump “has the right to request recounts and pursue legal challenges, with any unresolved issues to be properly adjudicated.” And that “no matter how you voted, your vote counted.” And yet “now is the time when we must come together for the sake of our families and neighbors, and for our nation and its future.”
Bush said that while he and Biden “have political differences”, he knows Biden “to be good man who has won his opportunity to lead and unify our country.”
Due respect and condolences to family, fans and friends of longtime Jeopardy host Alex Trebek, 80, who passed this morning from pancreatic cancer.
The Canadian-born Trebek was a widely admired professional, mentally agile and fast on his feet and always “a true gentleman”, as the saying goes. And he showed real steel and cosmic resolve as he grappled with cancer over the last couple of years.
That said, I never felt a profound kinship with Trebek — no offense. I may have watched two or three episodes of Jeopardy over the last 35 or 36 years, but that’s all.
Should we now condemn Sting‘s harshness and cruelty for having written “you could say I’d lost my belief in our politicians…they all seem like game show hosts to me”?
Or should we ease up and let it go, understanding that Trebek and others in his professional realm have a certain role to play in our culture, and that as shallow and appalling and angled at the mob as many game shows are (Jeopardy was at least amusing and informative) they bring no particular harm?
Trebek’s parents were George Edward Trebek (originally Terebeychuk), a chef who had emigrated from Ukraine as a child, and Lucille Lagacé, a French-speaking Ontario native. I had always presumed that Trebek was a Czech name.