Chelsea: Immigration Day, Craig Ferguson, Mike Colter and Diane Guerrero

Chelsea Handler Netflix

Today’s episode of Chelsea was all about immigration, except for the segment about Luke Cage and its star Mike Coulter, and Charlize Theron gave the show’s staff and Ms. Handler a test.  We learned that the Statue of Liberty and Justin Bieber are both immigrants and smelly b*tches.

Other lessons included not saying two thousand and eight, and learning just how difficult the test for American citizenship is. Chelsea started with an ode to immigrants and her first guest was Scottish performer Craig Ferguson.

The Celebrity Name Game host talked with Chelsea about being an American citizen and Scotland. Donald Trump was mentioned and essentially the two got on really well.

After a lesson on whether a gentleman looks at a lady’s vagina, they talked about Craig’s kids. They also talked about Tinky Winky and Po from the the Teletubbies.

Throughout the episode a grim Charlize Theron questioned the staff and Chelsea about the constitution. It was shown in parts and it was not pretty. Suffice to say the average citizen would not be able to answer those questions. Theron was suitably intimidating.

Mike Coulter was up next and he plugged his new Netflix series about Marvel superhero Luke Cage.  (Reveal of the evening was Coulter admitting that his wife works for Netflix. She also came with the actor to his interview on the show.)

The actor talked about how fun it is to be a superhero. He and Chelsea also talked about Cage wearing a hoodie. Coulter admitted that after the Trayvon Martin shooting it was a conscious decision to have Cage adopt this look.

Coulter also talked about growing up in South Carolina. Chelsea asked about Colin Kaepernick and the furor over his sitting down for the National Anthem.

Lastly, they talked about using the ‘N’ word in the new Netflix series and how Mike himself feels about using it.  Coulter gave good interview and was entertaining. He also revealed that he is a Chris Rock fan. He also told Chelsea he would love to do another season of Jessica Jones.

The last guest up was Diane Guerrero from Orange Is the New Black. She was there to plug her new book; In the Country We Love: My Family Divided. The book tells of her family being deported to Columbia; she was the only American Citizen in the family, so she remained on her own.

The actress talked of coming home to find her family gone and staying here and going to school without her parents.  She revealed that her story is an American one. The point being that, as Ferguson pointed out earlier, except for Native American’s everyone in this country came from immigrants.

Guerrero supports her family back in Columbia and sketched her plans for the future.

Chelsea finished with Craig joining her for a “What Have We Learned Tonight” segment. The two talkshow hosts engaged in banter and talked looking at boobs and vagina’s.  Craig explained that Chelsea smells good and she replied that it was money.

Great segment with a splendid turn by Theron in the citizenship question segment.

Chelsea airs Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays on Netflix.

Chelsea: Charlize Theron, Eva Longoria & Competency Tests (Review)

Chelsea Handler on Netflix

Chelsea this week had two beautiful and talented performers on. Eva Longoria, who was on for “Mexico” night and Charlize Theron to promote her latest film effort and to talk about HIV and Aids.  Topics included Donald Trump, on both episodes, Mexico, Puerto Rico and Sumner Redstone.

The upcoming Republican and Democratic National Conventions were touched on briefly by Jacob Soboroff  from MSNBC and her third  guest was Egyptian comedian Bassem Youssef .  Two assistants came on at the beginning to talk Sumner Redstone, part two.

Both shows were informative and interesting but episode 26 was, perhaps, the  most amusing.  The Sumner Redstone “Part 2” analysis was a rehash of the billionaire’s increasingly bizarre behavior.

Politics slowed things down but at least there was talk of dumping Donald Trump as the Republican candidate for the presidency.   Interestingly enough, Bassem Youssef showed how to lose a western audience with his “killing Christians” quip before talking about red Christmas cups.

Right up until the quip, Youssef had the audience in the palm of his hand. He made some great humorous points about the US  political system and made fun of Trump’s campaign rhetoric “I’m going to bring back Christmas.”  (As Bassem pointed out, “Where did it go?”)

Theron, was on at the start of the episode (after the Sumner infographic) and she talked a little about her latest film, Kubo and the Two Strings.  The oscar winner voices the monkey who “adopts” a boy and looks after him.

She then moved on to speak about her own adopted son and how her body generated pregnancy symptoms while she waited for the process to finish. She and Chelsea talked about  more Charlize’s son Jackson and then the subject moved to HIV and AIDs charity work.  Theron passed on some disturbing facts about the disease and ended by saying that “We could be the generation  that ends HIV.”

The previous night featured Eva Longoria who revealed that she is Mexican. That episode was about “all things Mexico.”  Chelsea went to a bullfight, which was rather revolting – the bullfight, not Chelsea being there – and visited with the former presidente  and Diego Lun.

Longoria came on to talk about moving to Mexico and being a “Texican.”  She also talked about her new clothing line opening.  Eva explained a good bit about Texas history, which used to be a country.She also reveled that she only recently learned Spanish.

This week on Chelsea things were not quite as bubbly as the prior week.  The guests were interesting but not quirky and the humor was fairly  low key.  There was an educational slant to these episodes. Longoria with her history lesson on Texas, the bullfighting lesson and the political information about the Republican Convention.

It is to Chelsea’s credit that all her shows are entertaining, even the esoteric and eclectic ones.  The actual sight of matadors stabbing the bull and eventually killing it was disturbing  and those who are easily upset should not watch this segment.

There was a plus side however. Only Chelsea Handler could  turn the whole bullfighting segment into a joke about anal sex and prison.

Chelsea airs on Netflix.   Tune in if you are fan of Ms.Handler.

Mad Max: Fury Road Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron Perfectly Matched

Max and Imperator Furiosa

Mad Max: Fury Road is the 2015 offering from George Miller; the creator of the original Mad Max film trilogy with Mel Gibson, starring Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron as the perfectly matched double act who prove that cinema as spectacle is addictive. The film also shows that Miller has lost none of the abilities to produce  post apocalyptic nuances, over the top scenario buildup and grandiose settings  that are guaranteed to make  viewers gasp. He also shows that epic films belong in the Australian desert where miles of road provide the best long-running “car” chases in cinematic history.

This latest Mad Max, which could be called a “re-boot,” has a  protagonist who is that bit more tortured and haunted than Gibson’s ex-cop turned vagabond traveler with an edge. Hardy’s Max is followed by visions of  what appear to be his version of the killed child from the first Mad Max film. Calling his name, asking why he did not save them, the girl is joined by several specters who challenge him and fill his head.

Certainly, this iteration of the tough survivor has much in common with the female protagonist in the film, Imperator Furiosa, played by Charlize Theron. Both characters are fighters, warriors of great capability and resourcefulness.  Each have their own set of talents and skill sets and the two have one more thing that they share; they seek redemption.

There are some things that have carried over from the original  verse that Miller brought to low budget life back in 1979. Max still has that car, although not for long, he has the long mane of hair, but also not for long, and he has the leg brace. Later he will pick up the double barreled shotgun and the mis-matched right boot.

Something else has popped up from that first film, that crazy motorbike gang leader, Toecutter, aka Hugh Keays-Byrne. The actor appears in “Fury Road” as Immortan Joe, the larger than life dictator who rules his people with an iron fist as he controls all the drinkable water. 

Another familiar element has been kept from the original Mad Max films. The action sequences are filmed in the same manner as those in the  1979 film. The stunt fights and the chase sequences are not “slowed down.” When filming fast and frantic action, director’s opt, as a rule, to slow down the crank rate of the camera, i.e. keeping the frames slowed down a fraction. This enables the sequences to look “natural” whereas all of the fight scenes and chase scenes look sped up in the Mad Max verse. (Resembling old black and white silent westerns, or later cheap westerns with sound.)

(It should be noted that either by design or accident, Miller seemingly pays tribute to another film.  In the two scenes where the water is released onto the populace from above; he appears to give a nod and a wink to the animated film Rango A 2011 “cartoon” western with animals as the main characters that “starred” Johnny Depp as a lizard who wrests control of the water away from the evil Ned Beatty.  In that film, Beatty’s villainous mayor controlled the water and, like Immortan Joe, released the stuff sparingly to the town’s denizens while maintaining his own personal supply. Just like the evil leader in Mad Max: Fury RoadRango was actually a western version of Chinatown and Mad Max, the whole franchise and not just Fury Road, is an apocalyptic western with horses being replaced by horsepower.)

Fighting and dying historic on Fury Road

George Millers re-imagining, or a reboot, of the verse has Max being captured early on. The film focusses upon Joe, Imperator Furiosa, the “breeders” and the “war boys.” At least at first. It then moves on to Furiosa, a capable one-armed warrior woman who drives the war rig and she is on route to get “guzzoline” and bullets. She detours from her ordered mission as she has taken Joe’s special breeders. The plan is to escape to her childhood home, the green place and take these beautiful young women with her.

Immortan Joe learns of the escape and rounds up a war party with two other warlords. War boy Slit (Josh Helman), is on his last legs, Max, who is O- universal donor is used as a human blood bag (and is called that by his captors) and he is hooked up to Slit. The “rev-head” driver/warrior decides to go on the quest to get the women back and Max is brought along.

The film has an interesting cast. Out of the  breeders two of the beautiful young ladies are played by performers who have a sterling show business pedigrees.  Zoë Kravitz (daughter of Liza Bonet and Lennie Kravitz) is Toast the Knowing and Riley Keough (daughter of Lisa Marie Presley) is Capable.  The rest of the Australian cast is filled with splendid character actors who are long time performers in Aussie Cinema and television. Actors like Richard Carter and John Howard for example.

Tom Hardy and Chalize Theron have brilliant chemistry together and each carry their own portion of the film well. There were complaints that the movie was really Theron’s and that  Hardy was almost portraying a secondary character.  While the focus is on Furiosa for a portion of the film, the story really is about their brief partnership and proves that not only is George Miller a proactive advocate of strong female character’s so is Hardy’s Mad Max Rockatansky.

It is worth mentioning that all the female characters in this post apocalyptic desert world are strong. The breeders, the all female family that Furiosa is desperate to return to and even the enormous “milk” producing captives seen at the beginning of the film prove to be strong.

Mad Max feels a bit like David Lean on steroids in terms of landscapes and epic scenes of battle. The stark and surreal beauty of the shooting locations is breathtaking, as are the computer effects, for instance the metal arm that Theron’s character sports through the film has been done so realistically that it is easy to forget it is not real.

The stunts are also stunning. The film’s humor is still there, (the drums the guitar/flame thrower) and combined with the over the top “chopped” vehicles, the madness and the white knuckle chases Miller provides entertainment on such a grand scale that even on the small screen Mad Max: Fury Road fulfills the eternal quest for exciting cinema ten-fold.

This is a 5 out of 5 star film for spectacle alone. In terms of home entertainment, this is what Blu-Ray was invented for.

Dark Places: Charlize Theron and Bleak Americana From Gillian Flynn

Charlize Theron as Libby Day

From the pen of Gone Girl author Gillian Flynn; Dark Places, starring Charlie Theron,  gives us a slice of Americana that is indeed dark and very bleak. Where the dream has soured and affected all who dared to believe in it. A brother and sister who lived through a horrendous childhood event meet up years later after each have paid a price for their past lies.

It appears that Flynn’s books are made to be adapted for the cinema. The 2014 adaptation of Gone Girl was an award winning film that impressed all who saw it, it also proved that Rosamund Pike is one hell of an actress and that even Ben Affleck can look like a murderer in the right light.

Directed by Gilles Paquet-Brenner, who also wrote the screenplay, Dark Places tells the story of Libby Day, the only other survivor from the 1985 Kansas City massacre of her family (her brother Ben – in prison for the murders for 28 years being the other).  12 year-old Libby climbed out a window on the fateful night of the slaughter and then follows suggestions from the local police that her brother committed the murders.

Years later an emotionally scarred Libby is out of money in a community out of good will. She gets a letter from a true crime club, called “Kill Club,” who want her to appear as a guest at their next convention. She meets entrepreneur and club owner Lyle Wirth. After she arrives, Libby learns that the club’s “solver” group want to prove her brother’s innocence.

This is an actor’s film. From Dan Hewitt Owens as retired cop Robert reading off the details of the crime at the Kill Club to Chloë Grace Moretz as the pregnant devil worshipping rich girl, this movie’s performers deliver, in spades. Nicolas Hoult (who worked on Mad Max: Fury Road with Theron) is perfect as the entrepreneurial laundromat owner who wants to solve a grave miscarriage of justice.

Charlize Theron is beyond brilliant as the moody, aloof and aggressive grown up Libby. Corey Stoll (who plays the lead in FX networks’s The Strain) plays the grown up Ben, the brother charged with and imprisoned for the murders of his mother (Christina Hendricks) and two of his three sisters. Stoll has very little screen-time but manages to say volumes with the small amount of time he is on screen. 

The child actors, Sterling Jerins as 12 year-old Libby and Tye Sheridan as 16 year-old Ben both deliver, as do the other “child” actors. Perhaps the most disturbing performance, and therefore most impressive, comes from Moretz. After her romantic role in If I Stay and her role as the teen prostitute in The Equalizer in 2014, she channels her darker, more adult, side and is suitably creeper and disturbing as Diondra, the rebellious Daddy’s girl.

Dark Places uses well placed flashbacks to bring the viewer ever closer to the real story behind the murders and this works well as both exposition and backstory reveals. As the film moves to its conclusion,  it is learned that past and present are intertwined and a lot more lies were told than either Libby or Ben realized.

Director Paquet-Brenner does a brilliant job with the film and cinematographer Barry Ackroyd (The Hurt Locker, Captain Phillips) manages the switch between present day and the past brilliantly, the lighting changes between each, and as usual the film looks crisp and clear and spot on for each set piece.

Like Gone Girl, this film is a mystery/thriller.  Both female protagonists, in this film and GG, are flawed, psychologically damaged individuals. Theron’s character provides an intermittent voice over, posed as inner musings, that adds much to the story and, unlike other narrative films, does not intrude but helps to lets the viewer see her thought process.

There should be some serious gongs handed out to the performers come award time. Theron kills it as the flawed and scarred survivor and Moretz plays completely against type as the devil worshipping girlfriend.  This tale of lies, blocked memories and murder shows just how addictive Gillian Flynn’s work is.

Amazingly this feature is rated ‘R,’ apparently for the violence, which is not gory or overplayed at all and the sexual content which is pretty tame. Moretz’ character does have some hurried grapplings with Tye Sheridan’s character but, similar to her love scene in If I Stay , Chloe shows nothing in the way of anatomy. The language is a bit “close to the bone,” at one point Sean Bridgers as Runner Day, Libby’s estranged father calls wife Patty (Hendricks) the “C” word, which may be the main reason for the rating.

Dark Places is a compelling look at family tragedy and how scarred survivors of crime can be.  This is a 5 out of 5 stars film. At 113 minutes, the film moves at a rapid pace. Even with the multiple flashbacks this mystery grabs the viewers attention and holds it in a  vise-like grip right up to the final credits.

Mad Max: Fury Road Second Trailer with Battle Royale Music Equals Awesome

Mad Max: Fury Road Second Trailer with Battle Royale Music Equals Awesome

The 1979 cult classic Mad Max is one of those films, that despite the filmmakers deciding to dub Mel Gibson’s voice in U.S. theatres, falls into that sacred category of “should never be remade,” but the release of the second Fury Road trailer complete with the 2000 Battle Royale film music equals some kind of awesome. It also makes the argument of not remaking the film a moot point. When a trailer looks and sounds this great, it is almost fait accompli that the film is going to rock socks at the cinema.