The USA may be leading the world in COVID-19 infections, but that's not the worst news you'll hear today... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Psych... Again! NBC's new streaming network, Peacock, launched this week. To entice people to subscribe to yet another service, they are making some content free for a while. Including Psych 2: Lassie Come Home...
I had forgotten how much I love this show. The one-liners are as fast and funny as ever and the story is actually pretty darn good! It features the return of Timothy Omundson (Carlton Lassiter) after his stroke, and he is wonderful. Everybody is. I tell you, bringing back Psych would be a sure-fire way to get me to subscribe to the network, that's for sure.
• Coming 2! Heaven help me, it might actually be worth getting infected just to go see this...
With the exception of all the Marvel Studios movies waiting to be released, this is what I most want to see.
• Leibovitz? In my work I've seen this many, many times. Photographers shooting Persons of Color the way they shoot white people because they cannot be bothered to learn how to create a shoot for darker skin. And apparently it can be a challenge for even the best photographers. Annie Leibovitz is a true artist, but she completely and totally failed in her shoot of Simone Biles. The Vogue shots are dim, murky, and poorly adjusted...
My guess is that Leibovitz is of a caliber that she can dictate nobody modify her photos, which is a shame because Simone Biles is a beautiful young woman who deserves far better (as does her family). Any pro photographer worth their salt will be able to get stunning shots regardless of skin tone because that's their job. Or, you know, Vogue could hire Black photographers who have a lifetime of experience shooting Persons of Color... just sayin'.
• Viola! Case in point? Meanwhile over at Vanity Fair where they hired the first Black photographer in the history of the magazine to shoot a cover story of Viola Davis...
Viola Davis would probably look amazing even if she was murky and tinted green... but, boy, this is phenomenal work by Dario Calmese.
• STOP! I've seen demos of SawStop technology before. It still takes my breath away to see it in action, and here it is in slow motion...
I use a table saw as an absolute last resort because I am well aware of how dangerous they are. No matter how careful you may be, accidents do happen. SawStop is a pretty brilliant way of keeping the damage to a minimum.
• Hobbes and Me! As a massively huge Calvin and Hobbes fan, I can't believe that I missed these shorts when they were released back in 2014...
As a movie-lover, it's tough to put my finger on my favorite films. Such a list would change from day to day depending on my mood or what I find entertaining at the moment. Sure, some movies will always be near the top (there's no way that Field of Dreams is ever going to drop off my favorites) but I don't think I would even attempt a definitive list for the ages.
That being said, there are many films that I love watching over and over that would not rank highly on such a list if I were to make one.
Like Eddie Murphy movies.
I simply cannot pass them up when I see them pop up on my television. And when I'm looking for a movie to run while I work, Eddie's films comes up far more often than others...
Despite being enormously talented and having this uncanny ability to make mediocre movies into something fantastic, it's not like Eddie is perfect, however. I mean, films like Meet Dave, Pluto Nash, and Holy Man seem to suggest he's not exactly worried about missteps.
Last night Eddie Murphy movies came up in conversation and we were all trying to decide on our favorites. This is pretty much what I came up with...
Beverly Hills Cop If there's one movie that defines the absolute core of what Eddie Murphy can accomplish on-screen, it's this. From a really good script to some hilarious improvisation, all that I love about Eddie Murphy is right here.
Coming to America This movie so deftly drifted between hilarious moments and genuinely touching romance that I think it gave Hollywood pause as to what Eddie Murphy was capable of. I've seen this movie so many times that I can practically recite it from memory.
Trading Places I debated putting this film in the top spot, because it was the first time I truly "got" how huge a movie star Eddie was going to be. All the performances were spot-on here (the casting was flawless), but this was Eddie's film from start to finish.
Harlem Nights I don't understand the critical disdain for this film. I absolutely loved it. Some of the best funny moments in Eddie's career. And not only did it drop in some amazing A-list talent (Redd Foxx? Richard Pryor? Della Reese?), but it was absolutely beautiful to look at. The sets... the wardrobe... the styling... all so beautifully done. And Murphy directed it as well? Too much greatness for people to handle, I guess.
Beverly Hills Cop II Did it match the first one? No. Did it completely live up to my expectations? Absolutely. The whole "Alphabet Killer" thing was a weak plot element (how could you be labeled the Alphabet Killer after one crime?), but it was otherwise a good story with some genuinely funny moments.
The Distinguished Gentleman This movie is so overlooked and I don't understand why. In many ways I think it's a smarter film than others ranking higher on this list, and have always felt that the story was perfect for the day (and painfully relevant even now). The thing that keeps me watching it over and over is how beautifully all the pieces fit together. Everything is scripted to keep moving the story along as bit after bit clicks perfectly into place. No, the characters aren't fleshed out to any depth, but they don't have to be. Everybody is designed to contribute to making things funny and keep Eddie at the top of his game. And with this movie he definitely is.
The Golden Child This was not a great film. And it felt as though Eddie was phoning it in the entire time. Some of his delivery was just plain awful, and so much less than he was capable of. It's like he insisted that he only have to perform one take per scene because nothing felt as polished as his other movies. And yet... even when he's phoning it in, Murphy is still funnier than most people on the planet combined, and the film worked on that basis alone. It was non-stop Eddie doing exactly what makes him so hilarious to watch.
48 Hours It's hard to ignore the film that started his big screen career, though I don't think it holds up as well as his other works. Still, this is a great film and a terrific debut.
Boomerang Okay... I'm going to admit that Eartha Kitt, Grace Jones, and Halle Berry went a long, long ways towards me liking this film as much as I did, but they didn't overshadow Murphy's performance. He was just so on-the-money scene after scene as the story kept building to its inevitable conclusion.
Bowfinger I couldn't decide between Bowfinger, Dr. Doolittle, and Life for my last film because I like them equally. But Bowfinger had these genuinely wacky moments that could have only come from Eddie Murphy. And it was great to see him matched with a talent like Steve Martin who could so easily hold his own on screen.
This list doesn't include his standup.
Oh man I hope he does at least one more standup movie before he retires.
I just watched the SNL 40th Anniversary show for a second time and think it holds up. Sure, there was easily an hour that could have been cut for more sketches, but I guess we should feel lucky we got as many as we did.
Eddie Murphy. Nobody makes me laugh like Eddie Murphy. Nobody. His characters from SNL (and beyond) are easily the most memorable of the lot.
Phil Hartman. One of my all-time favorite comedians easily jumps to number two. His versatility on SNL was mind-blowing in a way that few cast members could hope to approach.
Tina Fey. Her Sarah Palin impression is enough to put her in the top three... but she was so much more than that. Hands-down my favorite Weekend Update anchor.
Will Ferrell. Another performer whose near-limitless ability to create new characters makes him among the best cast members of all time.
Bill Murray. One of those rare performers who just gets better and better and better with age. My favorite of the original cast, Bill was amazing on SNL... and even better after.
Dan Aykroyd. Within a whisker of Bill Murray as my favorite original cast members. Few performers can deliver a line as well as Aykroyd for maxium comedic effect.
Amy Poehler. I don't even know where to start. She is beyond fearless.
Chevy Chase. As a physical comedian, few comedians can reach Chevy's level. This made him a total standout from the original pack, and one of my favorite comedians of all time.
Kristen Wiig. She has the uncanny ability to disappear into characters in a way that really impresses me.
Jason Sudeikis. Painfully underrated. Any sketch he appeared in, he dominated.
Dana Carvey. Another comedian who has a limitless capacity for unique characters. He should have never left SNL, because no other venue utilized his huge talent like they did.
Bill Hader. When Hader first showed up, I was not impressed. But he kept plugging away and eventually became a favorite. He has some kind of gravitas that grounds his characters in a very real way... no matter how outlandish.
John Belushi. Don't get me wrong... I loved Belushi... but number one on Rolling Stone's list? Maybe it's because I'm not a huge fan of brute-force comedy that I've dropped him down my list... but his characters lack the subtlety that I need to laud comedic genius.
Jimmy Fallon. Um... yeah... Barry. Gibb. Talk. Show. I know a lot of people don't like Jimmy at all, but I'm not one of them. I always thought he was a solid performer on the show, and the fact that he all-too-often laughed at his own jokes did nothing to diminish this for me.
Will Forte. Coming in at 52 on the Rolling Stone list is about what I expected. Nobody seems tog give Forte the recognition I feel he deserves. The man was MacGruber for crying out loud!
Maya Rudolph. Extremely capable performer that managed to totally nail characters that I put out of reach for her. Always happy to have my expectations exceeded.
Gilda Radner. Gilda was a much-beloved performer whom I adored... but she just didn't have as many memorable characters to me as cast members I ranked higher. Baba Wawa, Rosanne Rosannadanna, and Lisa Loopner are about all I can think of off the top of my head.
Chris Parnell. Another cast member that I feel gets overlooked more often than he should. Parns is hugely talented, and filled bit parts that would have killed sketches in lesser hands.
Rachel Dratch. I love Dratch and have always been impressed at her incredible capacity for filling critical roles in many, many sketches... but as a lead character? We have what... Debbie Downer? I honestly can't think of another memorable character that would push her higher on my list. Perhaps I could give her Zazu from the Boston Teens sketches, but that was as much Fallon as her.
Chris Rock. One of my all-time favorite comedians should be ranking much, much higher on this list... but I never felt the writers gave him enough to work with. His being short-changed week after week was a real disservice to SNL fans, and I was actually relieved when he left SNL because you got to see more of him.
And that's a wrap. Here's hoping Eddie Murphy guest-hosts the show before too long.