Surprise!!! (Some movie likes and dislikes)


I hate it when reviewers mention that a movie has a “surprise twist.” Well, it doesn’t have one anymore, buddy! Because now, thanks to you, (spoiler alert) it’s NOT a surprise!

Ditto for mentioning in reviews that a movie has cameo appearances. Especially when the reviewer mentions the names of those who are making the cameos.

Even worse, when studios release trailers that pretty much tell you the entire plot of the film. Or even worse than that, a trailer that reveals a comedy film’s three or four funniest lines.

In old movies (and lots of old TV shows), I hate scenes set outdoors that are shot on a sound stage, often with fake trees and painted backdrops. I understand that it’s easier to control lighting and audio in an indoor environment, but it looks chintzy.

Also in old movies, I hate RP. Rear projection. A projected background image to indicate that a car or other vehicle is moving while the actors are in a stationary vehicle on a sound stage. I understand that cameras were bigger and bulkier in the old days but directors with decent budgets should’ve gone to the trouble of making their travel shots look real.

I hate that writers don’t get enough credit for the stories they create. Take North By Northwest. One of Hitchcock’s best known films, with a plot and iconic shots that are still appreciated 61 years later. But do you know the name of the person who came up with the original story and wrote the script? I bet you don’t.

I hate it when TV channels or streaming services shortchange the credit crawl at the end of a movie by shrinking it or just going on to the next element. Mainly because it disrespects all the crew members who are due a bit of recognition. And sometimes there are reasons to stick with the credits—take, for instance, Monty Python movies. And Marvel films. I may not care who the gaffer was but I might like to know who did that song I liked. My old radio friend Robert Murphy told me he stays for the credits because he likes to look for good on-air deejay names.

Speaking of crew members… Even when a movie is not as good as might’ve been hoped for, we should recognize and appreciate that many people worked hard to make the film. Yes, it’s a glamorous biz, but it’s still work. Although everybody involved in the making of the film Downhill owes us all an apology. (Just kidding!)

Regarding documentaries… The best documentaries are the ones that have a definite point of view. An agenda. When Michael Moore makes films, he is not looking to present the unvarnished, organic truth, he is looking to present his angle on the information at hand. You may not agree with what his films say, but at least you know where he stands. People may think that just because a film is labeled “documentary,” it presents the real story. No, it presents a version of the truth.

I hate it when we are told that a certain actor or actress was offered an iconic role that they turned down. Because we are usually not told if the actor was had a firm legitimate offer, if the actor (or his/her agent) was contacted to see if she/he had any interest in the role or if someone casually mentioned at a party that “you’d be perfect in this new film I’m making.” My guess is lots of these stories we hear are the result of simple feelers. Or, though the actor would sound like a dick if he/she said so, the amount of money offered was less than he/she wanted. I’ve had many conversations and meetings with prospective employers in my career—some were legit offers, some were feelers, some were worthless.

I am happy that Parasite got the Oscar for best picture back in February. It is an excellent film: great story, great cast. And it has… subtitles! Let’s hope the success of Parasite in the U.S. leads to more foreign films WITH SUBTITLES being accepted and viewed by American audiences.

Subtitles are good. A highlight of watching movies on my TV during the pandemic has been the availability of subtitles on most movies. I am not deaf. I can hear. But I cannot always hear things clearly. Sometimes actors’ lines are spoken softly or mumbled (hello, Casey Affleck!) and are hard to discern. Subtitles help. If studios would distribute NEW MOVIES WITH SUBTITLES for theatrical release, that would be awesome! (Maybe theaters could run the subtitled versions as an occasional alternate to the regular versions?)

I hate it when moviegoers complain about small inaccuracies in films that are based on or “inspired by” actual events. To tell a story in roughly two hours, filmmakers may have to combine events and even characters. These composites exist to move the story along and to simplify the details for a movie audience. If this “license” significantly changes the movie, then there may be cause for concern. (A print version—book, magazine/newspaper article—of those events will likely deliver those missing details, should you want them.)

I try not to get upset anymore about who wins awards. They do not always go to the best performances or scripts or costumers, etc. The voting is often political and winners may be the individuals with the most friends or the most influence in the biz. The awards shows can be amusing to watch, despite the moments of extended tedium. I’ve attended a few country music industry award shows in Nashville and Los Angeles and, while the shows themselves are entertaining, the real fun is at the after parties.

Having said that, I still think Michael Keaton (for Birdman) should’ve won the Oscar over Eddie Redmayne (for The Theory Of Everything). Redmayne, of course, followed the advice of Kirk Lazarus (Robert Downey Junior) in Tropic Thunder and did not, in his portrayal of Stephen Hawking, go “full retard.”

You probably heard that it sucks. And you may be too cool to be seen watching it. But… the Cats movie was not THAT bad. It had its moments. And some big stars. And fresh face (and voice) Francesca Hayward. Check it out, if only to “hate watch” it and see what people are seriously disliking. I mean, if a film is this polarizing (2.7 rating on—ouch!), there must be a reason, right?

Sorry for more dislikes and likes in this post. I’ll try to reverse the ratio next time. Be safe.


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Jon Stewart spent sixteen years poking fun at politics and politicians on The Daily Show. In the his new movie comedy Irresistible, Stewart, who wrote and directed, is back ridiculing the American political process and the media world it inhabits.

The film’s protagonist is Gary Zimmer (Steve Carell), a Democratic political consultant who is smarting from his party’s defeat in the 2016 presidential election. In his D.C. office, one of his staffers shows him a video of ex-Marine farmer Jack Hastings (Chris Cooper) speaking up for the little guy at a town council meeting in flyover country.

Zimmer is charmed and heads out to the fictional town of Deerlaken, Wisconsin to find Hastings and convince him to run for mayor as a Democrat against the incumbent Republican. Hastings agrees to run if Zimmer will guide the campaign.

When word gets out that this big-time politico has swooped in from Washington with his support team, the Republicans respond by sending in one of their heavy hitter consultants, Faith Brewster (Rose Byrne), who has the look and demeanor of Kellyanne Conway.

Zimmer and Brewster are longtime rivals whose contentious relationship is charged with an underlying sexual tension. (Not unlike the 2015 movie Our Brand Is Crisis in which Sandra Bullock and Billy Bob Thornton played rival political consultants working on a campaign in Bolivia. They, too, had strong sexual energy bubbling under their rivalry.)

Zimmer also has his eye on Diana Hastings (Mackenzie Davis), Jack’s daughter, who is first seen with her hand inside a cow’s, um, nether regions.

Stewart’s targets in the movie include political fundraising, political TV ads—there’s one in the film that’s similar to a memorable Eric Greitens ad from his 2016 Missouri gubernatorial campaign—and cable TV news.

The political consultant overkill depicted in Irresistible has happened frequently around the U.S. in recent years, mainly in congressional races ripe for flipping from one party to the other. The money spent on these campaigns often reaches into the tens of millions.

Is the film funny? Yes. There are solid laughs throughout but the story is grounded enough that it is not a “laugh riot.” (If you want a political laugh riot, I recommend the 2012 film The Campaign with Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis.)

Stewart shows proper respect for citizens of the heartland in this film. The small town folks in Deerlaken are not portrayed as absolute yokels and that’s refreshing. (The movie was actually shot in Rockmart, Georgia, northwest of Atlanta.) And, despite Stewart’s liberal leanings, the film does not preach political doctrine. You don’t have to be a Democrat to enjoy it.

Irresistible is rated R for language and sexual references. No nudity or violence.

Irresistible will be available via Premium Video On Demand on Friday, June 26.