Back in Time

[2.5 stars] [IMDb Link] [Amazon Link]

I loved the Back to the Future movies, so I was kind of eager to watch this documentary about it. I was disappointed, as it turns out.

It is about 90 minutes, but seems longer. There are many talking-head segments with both filmmakers and fans.

Michael J. Fox is, of course, interviewed; he does an impressively brave job telling some stories about the film, negotiating with his own body, which is in the cruel grip of Parkinson's Disease. Other actors interviewed include Lea Thompson, Christopher Lloyd, Claudia Wells (Jennifer in the first movie), James Tolkan (Principal Strickland), and Donald Fullilove (Goldie Wilson). (No Crispin Glover or Thomas F. Wilson, unfortunately.) Also showing up: producer Steven Spielberg, writer Bob Gale, and director/co-writer Robert Zemeckis. And good old Huey Lewis, who has wrinkled impressively.

Only about 30% of what these people have to say isn't that insightful or interesting, sorry. There's a lot of inside-baseball studio-politics talk about how the movie got made. Maybe fascinating for denizens of Hollywood, but for those of us in the sticks… eh.

But the documentary also covers the devoted fans. And… wow. Just wow. These folks are devoted.

There are, first and foremost, the DeLorean restorers, spending piles of money to bring back the look and feel of the fabled time machine. One guy owned two. But also: the bitchin' Toyota truck Marty winds up with at the end of the first movie. (Sorry, spoiler alert.) And—this was amazing too—also had a VW bus that was a dead ringer for the vehicle driven by the homicidal Libyan terrorists, for maybe two or three minutes of screen time in the first movie.

As I said: devotion.

Particularly inspiring: these guys, who have driven their restored DeLorean to all fifty states "to raise awareness and funding for Parkinson's Research." Good for them.

Grand Piano

[2.0 stars] [IMDb Link] [Amazon Link]

A Mrs. Salad pick. She need not reveal her reasons.

Frodo himself, Elijah Wood, plays famed concert pianist Tom Selznick, returning to the stage after a long hiatus; he went into seclusion after an embarrassing freeze-up while attempting to perform a piece widely considered impossible to play. His beautiful, dutiful wife, who is a famous actress, supports and encourages his return.

Unfortunately, he is menaced during his performance by a sniper. Who is in touch with him via earpiece, demanding that he attempt to play the impossible piece once more, perfectly this time, or he will be shot dead. And his pretty wife too!

Also in the audience are Tom's good buddies, Wayne and Ashley. When I saw Wayne, I was sure the actor playing him was Sean Astin. Giving us the long-awaited Frodo/Samwise reunion! But no, it was that guy who plays the nice guy from Downton Abbey. Boy, he and Sean Astin look alike.

John Cusack and Alex Winter play the bad guys. Disappointingly, Mr. Winter neither exclaims "Excellent!" nor "Bogus!".

The motivation behind the whole thing turns out to be ludicrous. We are left wondering: how was that supposed to work exactly?

The Phony Campaign

2016-01-31 Update

According to PredictWise, the President Bloomberg boomlet is over. At least for this week. So it's a good thing we bashed him last week when we had the chance.

And, for what seems like the 47th week in a row: the first four places are unchanged, while Bush/Rubio swap fifth/sixth place:

Query String Hit Count Change Since
2016-01-24
"Donald Trump" phony 360,000 +163,000
"Hillary Clinton" phony 202,000 +105,500
"Ted Cruz" phony 158,000 +80,900
"Bernie Sanders" phony 97,900 +31,100
"Jeb Bush" phony 67,700 +36,200
"Marco Rubio" phony 59,100 +23,000

Note the increase in phoniness across the board. Should have expected that.

  • Intrepid pundits are in Iowa, of course. Roger L. Simon reports from a Des Moines hotel room, apparently unwilling to spring for pay-per-view:

    I was anxious to get back to my hotel because I had an eight a.m. interview with Carly Fiorina, a woman who is alway good for a soundbite. But being on L.A. time, I was unable to sleep and watched television for a couple of hours -- which means I viewed a non-stop orgy of political ads, some 96% of which were of the attack variety with some 96% of those completely phony nonsense. There wasn't even time for one measly Cialis ad. The amount of money spent on this swill -- $30 million against Marco Rubio alone, according to a press release from his campaign (and I tend to believe it) -- is mind-boggling and tests the limits of your belief in free speech. Mine survived, but barely.

    Roger, Roger. I can report that things are about the same here in New Hampshire. I think I would vote for any candidate whose commercials showed the slightest bit of humor, but that hasn't happened yet. TiVo and Netflix are saving my sanity.

  • My close personal friend Dave Barry is also in Iowa, and providing fresh content for the Miami Herald. You should check out his observations on Iowa restaurant cuisine, the curse of low-flow toilets, fringe candidate Roque "Rocky" De La Fuente, and the "Manure Applicator Training Session" at the annual Iowa Pork Congress. (And, yes, Dave does make the obvious "manure" connection to presidential politics.)

    Sample Iowa mythbusting from Dave:

    MYTH: Iowa lacks diversity.

    FACT: According to the 2010 Census, only 143 percent of Iowa’s nearly 8,000 residents are white, down from 156 percent in 2000.

    Dave's not running for President this year, which is a damn shame, because I would totally vote for him before voting for Trump. I may write him in.

  • You probably heard that Trump skipped a recent GOP debate due to his feud with Megyn Kelly. Instead, he held a "veterans event" at the same time. (Dave Barry: "a tribute to veterans, in the same sense that an Elvis concert was a tribute to Elvis’ backup band.")

    Trump also set up a website to solicit donations to help veterans! Yay! But as the Federalist reports: donations made at that site go "directly to Donald Trump’s personal non-profit foundation".

    And Trump's concern with vets seems, at best, newly-minted:

    Between 2009 and 2013, Trump’s non-profit donated between $100,001 and $250,000 to the Clinton Foundation. Over the same period of time, Trump’s group gave only $57,000 to veterans groups. A 2015 analysis by Forbes noted that barely 1 percent of the Donald J. Trump Foundation’s $5.5 million worth of donations betwen 2009 and 2013 went to organizations that support military veterans[.]

    If voters can't see through this guy, we're in trouble.

  • Did Hillary Clinton send top secret emails on her homebrew server? Find out the shocking answer from Peter Suderman's article, headlined "Despite What Her Campaign Wants You to Believe, Hillary Clinton Did Send Top Secret Emails on Her Homebrew Server". Suderman's well-documented conclusion:

    At virtually every turn, she and her campaign staffers have misled and dissembled, repeatedly making statements that later turn out to be false. In general, her attitude is one of disdain and dismissiveness, as if transparency and truthfulness about her unorthodox decision to conduct her State Department email business exclusively on a homebrew email server was unnecessary, or beneath her. She has displayed both a willful disregard for the truth and as a generalized resistance to public scrutiny and oversight. And that may tell us more about her, and what kind of president she might be, than any email she’s sent.

  • Back to the Republican side: you can't beat those Huckabee fans for phony-spotting:

    Supporters of Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee put out a new television ad attacking fellow candidate Ted Cruz's Christian faith, accusing him of being a "phony" Christian for giving far less than 10 percent of his income to his church.

    This is the sort of thing that happens when you try to out-God your opponents.

  • I usually <abbr type="stupid">LOL</abbr> at the prank-signage worked up by Obvious Plant. He ventured into politics recently, with a comparison of Hillary vs. Bernie on the issues. Sample:

    [Obvious Plant]