Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Media: It was a dark, rainy night . . .

Horror stories can stigmatize the other.  They can also offer redemption, rebirth.


We were reminded of the latter watching FOX's new Friday drama THE EXORCIST starring Geena Davis.  Like Bette Davis much earlier, Geena's found a form and format that's freed her up.

Gone is the constrictive performance -- and all the false notes that came with it -- of COMMANDER IN CHIEF and she's offering a performance as rich as she provided, for example, in LONG KISS GOODNIGHT.

Here, she's playing the mother of a child who's been possessed by the devil.

Fighting the devil are two Catholic priests: Father Tomas (Aflonso Herrera) and Father Marcus (Ben Daniels).  Daniels is giving a first rate performance.  Herrera?

He's a break out star in a season that doesn't appear to be offering many joys (even QUANTICO's become routine and paint by number).

Already a star in Mexico (TV and recording star), Herrera's one of the rare things worth singing about on US TV this fall. Sexy, charismatic, one wonders why FOX didn't ditch the boy playing Riggs on their LETHAL WEAPON reboot and cast Herrera instead?

As wonderful as Herrera is, you can't talk about this series without hailing Alex Disenhof for the cinematography -- this is not run of the mill TV -- or without praising the look -- the color palette -- of the show.  Along with netting Emmy acting nominations for Davis, Herrera and Daniels, this show should clean up on the technical side as well.

In fact, this is the sort of show that were it on HBO, it would be taking up all the oxygen in the room.  Because it's on FOX, people appear to be taking a wait-and-see attitude.

Before Geena Davis got the chance to explore and shine in a horror role, fellow Academy Award winner Jessica Lange had already knocked the country out with her roles on AMERICAN HORROR STORY.

And we bring that up for two reasons.

The first is, some reviewers have dismissed the show saying that, after the first movie, there's no story so the producers will have to stretch the film -- starring Academy Award winner Ellen Burstyn -- out for several seasons.

Geena Davis is not playing Ellen's role.

The story is similar but it's not the same -- different names, different locals, different marital situations, different . . .

Equally true, nothing has to be 'stretched out' because, like FX's AMERICAN HORROR STORY, this  is an anthology.  If Davis' storyline is up in one season, it can return next season with a different set of characters.

The other reason we bring it up is the nature of horror queens.

Bette Davis and Joan Crawford's careers weren't doing well when they decided to star together in WHATEVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE?  The film turned out to be a huge hit and Bette Davis' performance was honored with an Academy Award nomination.

The film remains popular as well as its two stars and talk of what happened on the set also has kept the film alive -- so much so that FX will be offering FEUD with Jessica Lange playing Joan Crawford and Academy Award winner Susan Sarandon playing Bette Davis.

The film was so popular it spawned a genre -- one most stars did not survive.

For example, Academy Award winner Olivia de Havilland made LADY IN A CAGE and so hated it she had to be persuaded repeatedly to make HUSH . . . HUSH, SWEET CHARLOTTE with Bette Davis after Joan Crawford dropped out of the film.  (Note: Jessica Lange has won two Academy Awards, as did Bette Davis, as has Olivia de Havilland.  Joan Crawford won an Academy Award as well.)  Tallulah Bankhead also took a spin in what was dubbed TRASH YOURSELF CINEMA.  (Myrna Loy openly wondered about her peers who were making these films and whether it was worth it to do so just so you could say you were still "starring" in films?).   Tallulah's was the ridiculous DIE! DIE! MY DARLING which many modern audiences have unknowingly come across and found it to be a hilarious comedy only to later discover that it was never intended to be comedic.

Debbie Reynolds and two-time Academy Award winner Shelley Winters teamed up for WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH HELEN?  while Bette Davis and Joan Crawford made many more in this mold throughout the sixties (and early seventies).

Crawford would finish out her feature film career with TROG which is considered one of the worst films of all time (and a movie so bad many people love it).

Trog's the phase another scream queen has now entered: Yes, we're referring to the ultimate drama queen Paul Krugman.

The media has not played fair during this election cycle and frightmare Paul has been among the worst.

His cry that reporters should take sides and bury Donald Trump should be enough to end his career as a columnist for THE NEW YORK TIMES.

Should be.

But his fellow pscyho-biddy Gail Collins wrote how many 2011 and 2012 columns referencing Mitt Romney's dog?

The reality isn't just that she should be fired as well but that they all should be.

The only exception is Maureen Dowd.

Why keep Dowd?

Not because she's won the Pulitzer (though she has) but because she's a wild card.

You don't know what she's going to write.  She's not doctrinaire.

Paul Krugman, Gail Collins, Thomas Friedman, et al have written the same column over and over.

They are read only by the people who already agree with their opinions.

They have nothing new to offer.

They've also, reality, aged out.


She's 70-years-old.

The anti-woman and racist Gail is 70.

When she was editor of the opinion pages, Maureen Dowd was on vacation and in a widely since circulated e-mail, Gail attacked a reader who complained that the only female columnist was on vacation and Gail was filling Maureen's spot with guest columns by men.

Gail, in the e-mail, explained that she didn't judge writing based on gender and there was no reason that Maureen's absence meant another woman had to be brought in.

No reason?



Other outlooks?

Gail's infamous e-mail created such a backlash that the following year when Maureen took a vacation, Barbara Ehrenreich would be invited to guest.

(Those of us who circulated that e-mail say, "You're welcome.")

That's the anti-woman Gail.

The racist and anti-woman aspect?

Coretta Scott King died when Gail was over the opinion pages.

She wrote a lengthy piece on her friend who died at the same time.  She just didn't write about Coretta.

Nor did she offer the open space to anyone who did.

It got so embarrassing for the columnists that finally, well over a week after the fact, Bob Herbert stuck a paragraph into one of his columns -- that was the only place the opinion pages noted the passing of Coretta Scott King.

Contrast that with what they did for Jackie O when she died.

The hacks offering opinions on the pages of today's NYT need to be let go.

You know what Krugman's going to say before you read the column.

He's predictable and, yes, boring.

Yes, boring, even in all his high drama, the queen is boring.

He deserves his own special Razzie.

Grasp that he is supposed to be about thought -- that's what opinions are.

And yet he insisted that the press take down Donald Trump because he didn't trust the thinking or the opinion of voters.

That's a drama queen that needs to see a permanent fade out real damn quick.

Paul is Joan Crawford in TROG.

Unlike Paul Krugman, Crawford had other moments, finer moments in her career.

And, yes, that includes some of her horror films -- WHATEVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE? and BESERK! to offer only two examples.

Jessica Lange first got a toe into the genre with HUSH and went on to excel with her many portrayals on AMERICAN HORROR STORY.  Janet Leigh, a big film star in her day, is chiefly remembered now for her role in PSYCHO, her daughter Jamie Lee Curtis became a star in the genre and parlayed that into roles in other types of films (and now rejoins the genre with FOX's comedy-horror series SCREAM QUEENS).

There's a lot to praise in the genre.

It can illuminate, like in WHATEVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE?, at the end, when Bette Davis learns some truth and says to the dying Joan Crawford, "You mean all this time we could have been friends?"

It can also  inflame.

Think of any film where the villagers are chasing down some monster or 'monster' with torches.

Think of that moment and grasp that Paul Krugman and others have become that mob with torches and invite others to join them.

No, thanks, Paul, we'll stick with rebirth and redemption.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
Poll1 { display:none; }