Murder Mystery

[3.0 stars] [IMDb Link] [Murder Mystery]

I may have noir-overdosed, because this trifling Adam Sandler/Jennifer Aniston comedy from last year started to look real good to me. Let's see a flick where a lot of folks (mostly deserving) get bumped off and everyone avoids treating it as if it were a big deal, and maybe get a few chuckles along the way.

Reader, I admit I laughed a lot more than I probably should have.

Mr. Sandler and Ms. Aniston play Nick and Audrey Spitz, a couple married for 15 years. Once you get over the credibility hurdle (she couldn't do better?), the plot develops: he's a cop stuck in the lower ranks, she's a hairdresser, and she desperately wants him to take her on a long-promised European trip. He gives in, although they can't really afford it.

But on the flight over, she "accidentally" wanders into the first-class section of the plane and meets its only inhabitant, Charles Cavendish. Who's charming, filthy rich, and intrigued enough with Audrey to invite them onto his (even richer) uncle's yacht for some Mediterranean cruising. The rich uncle has invited his relations and hangers-on for an announcement involving their inheritance.

Terence Stamp plays the uncle. Great to see him again.

But you know how these things go. He soon winds up dead, in one of those Agatha Christie-style scenarios. Lots of suspects, most of them with shady pasts or possible motives. Nick and Audrey find themselves playing detective. Which annoys the actual detective on the case no end; he'd rather view them as prime suspects.

Last Modified 2022-10-16 9:42 AM EDT

URLs du Jour


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  • Could it be possible to include a "Biden Sucks" item in every daily post? Maybe. In today's entry, Kevin D. Williamson looks at the New Normal: Joe Biden cabinet setting presidency up to be 'Swamp Things 2'.

    After a summer of discontent driven in part by protests against racial injustice and in part by the not-altogether-unrelated desire of a great many Americans to be rid of Donald Trump, Joe Biden has responded to his party’s call for sweeping social change by taking a deep dive into the Ivy League trash heap and coming up with the pale desiccated carcass of John Kerry, the man whose chiseled face appears next to the entry for “mediocrity” in the American political dictionary.

    Kerry is leading a parade of familiar faces, a hack pack if ever there were one.

    Mssr. Kerry of Switzerland’s Institut Montana Zugerberg and Yale will be joined in the administration by Anthony Blinken of the Dalton School and Harvard. Kerry will be a special envoy for climate issues, which will ensure that there is no bipartisan progress on climate issues, while Blinken, a sturdy Democratic time-server, will take over Kerry’s old job at State. Mike Donilon (prep school in Providence, then Georgetown), a ghastly political consultant, will serve Biden as a political consultant, though they’ll call him a “senior adviser.” Jen O’Malley Dillon, who has done almost nothing in her life except staff campaigns — a parade of losers and misfits including Al Gore, John Edwards, and Tom Daschle, before striking gold with Obama I and Obama II — will be deputy chief of staff. Janet Yellen, a Federal Reserve lifer who has served that institution in a number of capacities since the 1970s, will head up Treasury.

    We chuckle at a 78-year-old president, but John Kerry will be turning a sprightly 77 in a few weeks. And he wasn't that smart to begin with.

  • Speaking of overestimated intelligence, getting the Nobel in Economics doesn't mean you're going to be automatically good at Constitutional analysis. At Reason, Jacob Sullum notes that Paul Krugman Thinks Holding Religious Services During the COVID-19 Pandemic Is Like ‘Dumping Neurotoxins Into Public Reservoirs’.

    When the Supreme Court blocked New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's restrictions on religious services this week, it was the first time the justices had enforced constitutional limits on government responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. The decision predictably provoked hyperbolic reactions from critics who seem to think politicians should be free to do whatever they consider appropriate during a public health crisis.

    Describing the Court's emergency injunction in Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn v. Cuomo as "the first major decision from the Trump-packed court," New York Times columnist Paul Krugman warned that "it will kill people." He added: "The bad logic is obvious. Suppose I adhere to a religion whose rituals include dumping neurotoxins into public reservoirs. Does the principle of religious freedom give me the right to do that?" Krugman averred that "freedom of belief" does not include "the right to hurt other people in tangible ways—which large gatherings in a pandemic definitely do."

    It was a 5-4 decision, but Jacob notes that a couple of dissenters (Breyer and Roberts) also granted the possibility that Cuomo's decree might have violated the free exercise clause.

    Krugman is a clown.

  • The WSJ editorialists look at The Social Media Fact-Check Farce. Probably paywalled, but…

    In recent years liberals have successfully lobbied social-media companies to police conservative content more and more aggressively. But there’s little evidence that this political interference has reduced the prevalence of misinformation online—and a new study shows how it could make the problem worse.

    In the study—by Dino Christenson of Boston University and Sarah Kreps and Douglas Kriner of Cornell—volunteers were shown a May 26 tweet by President Trump attacking mail-in voting and claiming that “Mail boxes will be robbed, ballots will be forged & even illegally printed out & fraudulently signed.”

    Groups of participants were also shown “corrections” to Mr. Trump’s tweet, including Twitter’s “explanatory text labeling the claims ‘unsubstantiated’ according to major media outlets, including CNN and the Washington Post.”

    Conservatives did not find mainstream-media assurances convincing. For Republicans who were shown Twitter’s effort to debunk the President, “belief that mail voter fraud occurs was more than 13% higher than in the control.” Or as the authors put it, “corrections increased misperceptions among those predisposed to believe President Trump.”

    Great job, Twitter: In your Resistance zeal, you may have increased the salience of the mail-fraud idea among Mr. Trump’s core supporters. The overall effect was a wash, the authors find, because Democrats were more likely to believe the corrections. But when it comes to Republicans, the site may have played into Mr. Trump’s hands.

    I'm no Trump fan by any stretch, but I'm likely to view a Twitter "fact check" as synonymous with "Leftists are afraid of this idea."

  • Ilya Shapiro writes at Cato over a fantasy-football exercise in governmental design: The Libertarian, Progressive, and Conservative Constitutions. Ilya was on "Team Freedom", and here's a sample of their approach:

    We also circumscribed executive power (as did the other groups in certain ways), including by allowing for impeachment of federal officials for "behavior that renders them unfit for office." We made sure that Congress couldn't coerce the states -- the states are allowed to choose block grants instead of federal funding with regulatory strings -- while a supermajority of the states can reverse a federal law or regulation. And we strengthened or made more explicit what we now consider to be protections under the First, Second, Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Amendments, as well as -- my favorite -- protecting the right to the “fruits of one’s labors” and adding a catch-all “right to live a peaceful life of one’s choosing.” You can read our constitution here.

    It's a good primer on what good thinkers from different ideological camps share, and where they differ.

Last Modified 2022-10-20 9:34 AM EDT

Kiss of Death

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

For some reason, this movie went unseen by me until our current NoirFest. It's mainly famous for Richard Widmark's character pushing an old lady in a wheelchair down a long flight of stairs to her demise, then giggling like a maniac. Which he is, of course.

Reader, that was a relatively underplayed scene from Widmark. He's even more unhinged elsewhere in the movie. I see he got an Oscar nomination, so…

But the "hero" is Victor Mature, playing Nick. Who gets caught after a jewel heist, but refuses to squeal on his partners in crime, so is sent up for hard time. But he gets disillusioned by the whole no-honor-among-thieves thing: his pals promised they would take care of his wife and kids. Instead, she's destitute, commits suicide, and the kids go to an orphanage.

So Nick contacts prosecutor Brian Donlevy, says OK, I'll squeal. And gets out. And takes up with Nettie, a previous babysitter for his kids. Can they start a new life together after Nick rats out his pals? No spoilers here, but I note that the movie's ending was originally different. (Don't look at that unless you've already seen the movie… oops, too late.)

If they gave out a Biggest Lips Oscar, Mature would win every year.

Last Modified 2022-10-16 9:42 AM EDT