News of the Week: Fall Movies, P.J. O’Rourke, and a Big Birthday for the Microwave Oven

In the news for the week ending September 1, 2017, Bob Sassone explores the newest movies, the funniest movies, and Jerry Lewis movies; P.J. O’Rourke’s new online magazine; the golden anniversary of the microwave oven; and more.

Microwave oven with a chicken sandwich inside

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The Venice Film Festival

I’m never going to visit the Venice Film Festival. At my age, it’s just one of those things I’m going to have to come to terms with. I’m never going to fly to Italy and watch movies in a tuxedo, just like I’m never going to climb Mount Everest, run with the bulls at Pamplona, or date Scarlett Johansson. All three of those activities are equally exotic and probably equally dangerous.

But I can still eventually enjoy the movies that premiere at the festival, which started Wednesday and runs until September 9. There are some rather interesting films making their debut, including George Clooney’s new directorial effort starring Matt Damon, Suburbicon, about how a home invasion affects a town in 1950s America; Mother!, the creepy new film directed by Darren Aronofsky that is so shrouded in mystery that not even the trailer will help you understand what it’s about; and Our Souls At Night, a Netflix original drama that brings Robert Redford and Jane Fonda together again.

There’s also a movie titled The Shape of Water, written and directed by Guillermo Del Toro. Judging from the trailer below, it looks like a cross between a small, quirky romantic drama and … The Creature from the Black Lagoon.

American Consequences

That could be the title of a political documentary or possibly a really dark new game show, but it’s actually the name of a new, free, online magazine edited by writer P.J. O’Rourke.

American Consequences will focus on the financial world and how it affects “your retirement, your money, and your financial safety in the coming years,” as the site says. It will try to cover the stuff that the media and Wall Street don’t talk about much. And if you think that means the magazine is going to be boring, check it out. It’s not all dry numbers and stock reports and business-speak. There’s some fun stuff here, including this essay from O’Rourke, in which he tries to figure out this new mutant capitalism where the top companies are Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Apple. He’s baffled by them. He knows what the former top companies do, places like General Motors and Exxon and AT&T. He’s not sure what Facebook does. He just knows he doesn’t want it.

The 100 Greatest Comedy Films of All-Time

Were there lists before the web existed? There were, but you didn’t see them as much as you do now. It seems like every day there’s a new “Best Movies” or “Worst Sitcoms” or similar list on a website, which pretty much takes away any gravitas that these types of lists used to have. If there are so many of them, then they don’t really mean anything. But they’re fun to read and always good for an argument. Everybody loves lists!

Like this list of the greatest comedy films of all-time. The BBC polled various critics and came up with the 100 top films. While there are many films on the list you’d expect to see — Some Like It HotAirplaneThis Is Spinal TapHis Girl Friday — there are some movies on the list that I think will surprise you. The Philadelphia Story and Pulp Fiction are on there, and I don’t know if I’d even consider them comedies in the strictest sense, but they’re good movies, and there you go. Three Jerry Lewis movies made the list, two that he directed (The Ladies Man and The Nutty Professor) and one he starred in (The King of Comedy).

Some Like It Hot at number one? It’s an overrated movie. Sorry, I had to say it. Let the arguments begin! What comedy movie is your favorite?

Jerry on TCM

It’s appropriate that Turner Classic Movies is going to run a marathon of Jerry Lewis movies this Monday. Lewis, who died last week at the age of 91, hosted the Jerry LewisMuscular Dystrophy Association Labor Day Telethon from 1966 to 2010 (and his work with the organization actually goes back to the ’50s). Here’s a list of the movies that will be shown starting at 8 p.m. ET.

Too bad The Delicate Delinquent isn’t on the list. That was his first movie after breaking up with Dean Martin, and it’s one of his best.

50 Years of the Microwave Oven

I still remember when my family got our first microwave oven. It must have been the late ’70s or early ’80s. For the first several months, I remember we had this general fear that the thing was either going to explode if we put anything metal in it, and even if that didn’t happen, at the very least we’d get cancer if we even looked at it while it was cooking.

But those fears are over, and now I use it mostly to cook frozen dinners, warm up leftover pizza, and pop popcorn (though lately I’ve been thinking about buying Jiffy-Pop again). Sure, we could get by without microwave ovens, but it’s nice that they’re around.

This month marks the 50th anniversary of the home version of the microwave oven, first introduced by Amana in 1967. There were other versions before that, but they were way too large to fit in the home.

RIP Tobe Hooper, Richard Anderson, Larry Sherman, Bernard Pomerance, and Jeannie Rousseau de Clarens

Tobe Hooper directed many classic horror films, including The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Poltergeist, and the original TV movie version of Salem’s Lot. He also directed several TV shows, including The Equalizer, Nowhere Man, and Amazing StoriesHe died Sunday at the age of 74.

What an interesting life Larry Sherman led. Not only did he appear in such movies as North by NorthwestMidnight Cowboy, Manhattan, and When Harry Met Sally, and on TV shows like Law & OrderThe Late Show with David LettermanThe Sopranos, and Royal Pains, but he was also Donald Trump’s publicist in the 1980s. He was also a sports reporter for several newspapers, a writer on the original ’50s quiz show The Joker’s Wild, and even appeared on Broadway.

Sherman died Saturday at the age of 94.

Richard Anderson is probably best known for his role as Oscar Goldman on The Six Million Dollar Man and The Bionic Woman, but he also had regular roles on The LieutenantPerry MasonDynastyZorroDan AugustThe FBI, and Cover Up and made appearances in movies like Forbidden PlanetPaths of Glory, and Seven Days in MayHe died yesterday at the age of 91.

Bernard Pomerance was a playwright who wrote The Elephant Man, which won the Tony Award for best play in 1979. He also wrote several other plays and poetry. He died Saturday at the age of 76.

Jeannie Rousseau de Clarens was a French interpreter who became a spy and collected secret information about German rocket plans and passed the information on to the British. She spent time in three different concentration camps. She almost died in one in 1945 but was rescued by the Swedish Red Cross. She died August 23 at the age of 98.

This Week in History

Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” Speech (August 28, 1963)

The speech was given during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, in front of a crowd of 250,000 that had gathered at the Lincoln Memorial. Post Archive Director Jeff Nilsson has a look at the man some called “the dangerous Doctor King.”

World War II Starts in Europe (September 1, 1939)

The war started when German troops invaded Poland. Britain and France officially declared war on September 3.

This Week in SEP History

“Four-H Fair”
Stevan Dohanos
August 28, 1948

This Stevan Dohanos cover depicts the Skowhegan State Fair in Maine. Do you know what 4-H stands for? It comes from the 4-H pledge: “I pledge my head to clear thinking, my heart to greater loyalty, my hands to larger service, and my health to better living, for my club, my community, my country, and my world.”

If 4-H were created now, they’d have to add a fifth, for “hashtag.”

September Is National Chicken Month

There are approximately 90,224,359 chicken recipes online. How can I possibly pick a few to give you for National Chicken Month? Well, by throwing a virtual dart and seeing what comes up, like these Individual Chicken Pot Pies, these Cornflake Chicken Tenders, and this Skillet Rosemary Chicken.

But don’t cook chicken in the microwave, even if it is the 50th anniversary. That hardly ever works out well.

Next Week’s Holidays and Events

Newspaper Carrier Day (September 4)

This is the day you support your local newspapers and the people who deliver the paper to you. The day was picked in honor of Barney Flaherty, the first paperboy hired on this day in 1833.

This would also be a good day to explain to younger people what newspapers are.

Labor Day (September 4)

You know what you’re doing Labor Day night — watching the Jerry Lewis marathon! — but during the day, maybe you can spend time at the grill in a “Kiss the Cook” apron, making some Grilled Shrimp and Asparagus from Curtis Stone, some Grilled Corn with Sweet Pepper Butter, and maybe that Grilled Pizza you’ve heard about and have been wanting to try.

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  1. Thanks for the feature on the Venice Film Festival, and including the film preview links. I can watch a preview without the traumatizing decibel levels in the theater. Many (if not most) films today are just another source of stress as an audio-visual assault.

    ‘Suburbicon’ looks interesting, and didn’t turn me off immediately. I may actually wind up seeing it at some point. From the beginning of watching the preview I was waiting for the obligatory explosions, and there they were of course…

    I don’t know about ‘Mother!’ It has one thing going for it–Michelle Pfieffer, but her films aren’t always that good otherwise. (Is it just my imagination, or is the color in films getting worse and worse as time goes on?!) I’ll pass on ‘The Shape of Water’.

    As far as the greatest comedy list goes, I was pleasantly surprised to see as many comedies as I did from the 1930’s and ’40s on the list. I agree ‘Philadelphia Story’ and ‘Pulp Fiction’ shouldn’t even be on the list. I went to see the latter because of all the “buzz” at the time. 30 minutes into it, I walked out and got my money back.

    There should have been a few to several of Jerry Lewis’s films on the list as well as the 1983 original ‘Vacation’, a personal favorite. I’m glad the list was as good as it was. Usually when a ‘Best’ or ‘Greatest’ list is done, most of the stuff is ’90s-present; not good.

    Thanks for running the 1948 ‘Fair’ cover. It’s great to see it lit up online!


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