Wednesday, December 27, 2017


This movie has gotten rave reviews. Even Oscar buzz. I suspect my review will be quite different from the others out there. I say that as a disclaimer. You may well feel differently.

First of all, I was really looking forward to this movie. I’m a huge fan of Martin McDonagh. He’s kind of the thinking man’s Quentin Tarantino.  He's assembled  a great cast headed by Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson, and Sam Rockwell. The premise seemed intriguing and the trailer looked really cool.

The story (don’t worry, no SPOILER ALERT necessary) is about a mother (McDormand) in a small Missouri town putting up three billboards to get the local police department to solve the case of her murdered and raped daughter.

The performances are great – especially McDormand and Harrelson’s. And the dialogue is chock-full of McDonagh’s dark twisted humor and surprises. The supporting cast is terrific as well. It was a little weird to hear Abbie Cornish’s Australian accent in Missouri but okay.

All good except for one thing – and again I state that this is a personal bias based on the times we live in – I am not in the mood to watch ignorant redneck knuckleheads. Not in the current state of this country. I listen to these people and idiotic things they say and do and partly blame them for the mess we’re now in. So other than Frances McDormand’s character and Woody’s – I didn’t give a shit about any of them. Some were worse than others. Some were victims of senseless violence. But for the most part they were backward yahoos who weren’t sure of the difference between polo and polio (that’s in the film). And all I could think was they voted for Trump. So what do I care if they beat the shit out of each other?

That said, I’m so glad JUSTIFIED came and went when it did. I absolutely adored that show at the time. If it were on now I’d probably have the same reaction I had to THREE BILLBOARDS. Boyd & Dewey aren’t so hilarious when they vote Republican.

You may not have that reaction. And if so, you’ll probably enjoy THREE BILLBOARDS. I would have – two years ago.


Yes, I'm angry.  It breaks my heart that I'm angry at certain fellow citizens.  By wanting to provide them health care, and fair taxes, and a government that looks out for them instead of the rich I feel I care more about their well-being than they do.  I look forward to the day when we can all be united again, and my taxes go towards giving these people a better life and not padding the bank accounts of the 1%.  And if you believe that we are currently going in the right direction, then respectfully, this is not the blog for you.  So save your angry comments (that will be deleted) and just somewhere where you feel more comfortable.   No SPOILER ALERT necessary.  I'm furious that there are those who don't see through this con man.  


I have no problem with opposing political views.  Having a genuine belief on how better to run the country that is different from mine is not the issue.  Politicians who hide behind party lines to line the pockets of billionaires and disregard the wishes of the people are the ones I detest.   When 80% of the country says they want net neutrality and it's repealed anyway, when the president of the United States tells his billionaire friends they just got a lot richer after the tax bill passed, that's what royally pisses me off.   But that's different from being a conservative or even a Republican.  

I rarely dabble in politics in this blog because I do like to keep it light and keep readers of all parties.  I would hope people who have opposing views will stick around and find other posts of value here.  But I always try to be honest with you on this site.  And sometimes that means expressing my anger.  Nothing's going to change if we don't speak up.  So for one day in twelve-plus years I'm speaking up.  

Final thought:  If you thought today's post was controversial, just WAIT until you see what I write tomorrow.


Peter said...

And the tidal wave of angry political comments will be arriving in 3, 2, 1....

Anthony said...

If it helps your enjoyment of the movie (I haven't seen it) only 27% of the people in Missouri voted for Trump. The rest voted for Clinton or didn't vote. That's a worthless statistic for political purposes, since only votes count, but for figuring out what fictional characters may have done, it could be.

Peter said...

Trump did something amazing on Friday. He told the truth. At a dinner in Mar-a-Lago after the tax reform bill was passed, he told his friends "You all just got a lot richer".

slgc said...

Three Billboards is definitely worth watching for the acting performances, as you said.

For my husband and myself, our chief problem with the film is that it set up a great premise but didn't know how to resolve it. It even rejected some options that would have at least given the story a sense of closure. And some of the characters' actions are unforgivable, no matter how much suffering they've endured.

So we put it into the Bad Script Spoiling What Should Have Been A Much Better Movie category.

Chuck said...

Doesn't look like a review at all. Just venom spewing.

Stephen Robinson said...

Thanks, Ken. I share your sentiments and I'm not an "out of touch" coastal elite -- I grew up in Greenville, SC, though my family is black, which is VERY different (no Trump supporters there).

I feel like this particular political moment -- the Trump Age, as it were -- hangs like a cloud. It feels different from any other time and is, for me, a moral issue and not just political. For instance, Cliff Clavin was obviously a Reagan man, but it doesn't make me think less of him -- in fact, I could easily see Frasier and even Norm as Reagan/Bush folks, and they would still be the same characters. By the time he'd moved to Seattle, maybe Frasier was a Clinton supporter and Martin a Dole/Bush guy but again, that feels within character.

But Trump is so odious, so racist,misogynistic, so petty, so willfully ignorant. Supporting him simply isn't the same as supporting Romney or McCain or Bush, et al. Or Obama or Kerry or Clinton...

And my own political beliefs aside, the writer in me feels like we are ignoring a big elephant in the room. THE MIDDLE is a show I've enjoyed throughout its run. It's set in Indiana and the main characters, based on all demographic and exit poll data, likely voted for Trump. It's possible that the white-college-educated Heck daughter didn't, but I've seen that a source of great tension for the family ("You're supporting the 'Grab Em By the Pussy" guy?) but the show ignores it and the many scary reasons people voted for Trump.

Yes, I know that sitcoms aren't the ideal place for political debate. But I didn't need to see Niles and Martin debating politics during the '90s (especially in a slightly less partisan time). But now I feel like we're almost ignoring reality, pretending that something fundamental hasn't changed and I dare say it weakens storytelling.

blinky said...

As they may say on The Good Place; Fork those dumb rednecks and the steaming pile of Trump they left on the doorstep.

Pizzagod said...

Wow! I loved your review, and you really summed up a lot of feelings I have right now and couldn't articulate. Thank you!

Rich said...

Ken -- Thanks for this. I'm with you 100%. I know you've been reticent about sharing your political views because of the tsunami of mean-spirited, vitriolic hate that ensues, but now we're in a fight for the country. Democracy itself is at stake. For the first time in history, we've got a president who isn't even aware of how our government works -- that Jeff Sessions (supposedly) works for the American people, and not for Donald Trump, and that the FBI (rightly) has members of both political parties, and can't be "purged" so it becomes Trump's private goon squad.

This is a time for choosing and fighting. The left has been intimidated for too long. The only good thing about Trump is the way that good people are being energized (Women's March, Northam, Jones in Alabama). You've got a lot of readers who don't comment very often (like me) who support you. Tell the truth, my friend.

stephen catron said...

I, too, am a huge McDonagh fan, but really did not care for this film at all. Yes, the acting was fine, a bit too 'one note' if you ask me. But there was no one to root for. No one to care about. In the past McDonagh has somehow been able to make me care for the 'bad guys', but not this time. Nor really in his play A Behanding in Spokane. I think he does better with UK personalities than American.
I also found the script boorish. That trademark McDonagh 'what insanity lies around the corner' wasn't there to keep my interest up.
And, wouldn't have some towns person just taken a chainsaw to the billboards from the get go?

Jeff said...

Whoaaaa!!! I have a sick feeling that you will praise that POS Spielberg's movie.

Bob Watson said...

Bill Jones-

Agreed the tone of Ken's remarks is inflammatory. But why the double standard?? The left (or what used to be centrist) is not allowed to express anger? Please, spare me.

The huge irony of the Trump Era (and the past 60 years, in truth) is the most significant "existential threats" to the great unwashed of America are the failures of public education, public infrastructure, and public health. All due to lack of public investment. And all related to the distribution of wealth and the ongoing rape of the great unwashed by the Rich. In the Trump Era, add to that gratuitous attacks and the Environment and Science, which will be the demise of both Rich and poor. Yes Ken is angry, but if this is not the time for anger, when will it ever be?

So my first reaction to you Bill Jones is you can shut the F up yourself. And that is where our Country is right now. Anything you would like to add?

Jeff said...

Follow Up explanation for my hatred for Spielberg,

I hate Spielberg because, he never wrote a script for any of his hit movies. Its all the effort of other writers and technicians. He did nothing...... Just some crappy thing called "vision". Well if everyone of us had those scripts and opportunities and technicians, we would be successful too.

And look at how the media and critics worship him. Brown Nosing bastards.

Thank God, many viewers see right thru his mediocre talent.

And that Williams - like you say - scoring the same track for the past 40 years.

Peter said...

I've said it before, I'll say it again. Judge Judy would make an awesome president! Sheindlin 2020!

blinky said...

False equivalency is a real problem with political discussions in our upside down world.
Have you ever used that concept in one of your comedy scripts?

Mike Doran said...

Once again, I make an attempt to approach this whole thing rationally.

- The Presidential election in the USA is fifty-one (51) separate elections.

- Each of these elections produces a separate result, in favor of one candidate or the other.

- All but two (2) of these elections are decided by winner-take-all - whoever gets the most votes in a state gets all of that state's Electoral votes, regardless of how wide the victory margin is.
Whoever gets the correct combination of states wins the whole contest.
(Putting it another way (hi there, Bill Jones), this game is decided by the yardage rather than the points.)

- In 2016, Mr. Trump piled up the yardage in swing states, by the narrowest margins imaginable; this did not "restore balance" in any way - it simply created a different imbalance.

- The actual vote totals (the points, if you will) still show that Secretary Clinton got nearly three million (3,000,000) more of those than did Mr. Trump.
This is what we call a technicality.

- By any rational reckoning, this was a close election, made all the closer by the fact that nearly half of the eligible electorate didn't vote at all.

- The vote of the people went to Hilary Clinton, however narrowly; in a rationally governed system, she would now be President - and Mr. McConnell and Mr. Ryan would be devoting all their efforts to nickel-and-diming her to death, as they did with Mr. Obama during the latter part of his Presidency.

- The above-mentioned Senator and Speaker, thanks to the Electoral College, are stuck with Mr. Trump, who, to paraphrase Meredith Willson, is " ... a fake, and he doesn't know the territory!"
And those two gentlemen have been backing and filling ever since the vote, and will continue to do so until ...
... whatever ...

Here endeth the Lesson.

Kim T. Bené said...

I find your review most realistic and your comments most relevant. I get the same feeling every time I see coal miners in West Virginia and Kentucky smiling and assuring reporters Trump is going to "bring coal back" and they can return to their dangerous life shortening jobs. I used to feel sorry for them. Now I just see ignorant poorly educated short sighted greed folks.

Paul G said...

Thank you Ken. I and many others agree and appreciate what you wrote

tavm said...

I'm just glad Trump no longer has to claim he brought back "Merry Christmas" since the holiday's over...until next year!

Peter said...


Hitchcock never wrote any of his films. Does that mean he was a hack?

Plus, Spielberg wrote Close Encounters.

Not every director is an auteur but the idea that anyone could have made a great film with the scripts Spielberg has had is absurd. I wager you couldn't have made a better film than Jaws.

Ridley Scott, David Fincher and Tim Burton are also great directors who don't write their films.

Karan G. said...

I haven’t seen the movie, but will not see it. I too enjoyed Justified, but agree that it is likely not so charming anymore. It is frustrating that so many people can’t see clearly what is happening to our democracy. The EPA is a goner; the State Department is pretty much there. Those who wanted to get rid of the ACA may have insurance now, but what if their circumstances change- if there was no ACA safety net? They don’t seem to think beyond the present, or care about what their children will have. They buy into the hyperbole and emotionally charged narrative of their news sources without any basis of fact, just tapping into their grievance oriented way of thinking. As the story goes, when Hitler took power, a third of the people wanted him there; a third of the people resisted and a third just went along. A lot of the so called flyover states would be blue states if the districts hadn’t been redrawn. Just as Madison Ave and their commercials have been telling people what to think and buy for decades, whether it is good for them or not, so too is the political agenda of the far right and they convince many to vote against their own interests. Voting against ones own interests is pretty bizarre. People need to start thinking for themselves and questioning the logic of the information or disinformation they are receiving.

The Bumble Bee Pendant said...

Ken and anyone else.
Whenever you watch Hollywood or NY Entertainment, you ought to try to leave your personal politics aside. Especially if it is not the main focus of the entertainment.

Those on the Conservative side do that all the time. Whether it's watching a Speilberg movie or a show with Meryl Streep, or Woody Harrelson etc, or even the Avengers, political bias has to be put aside as best as possible.

And for those conservatives or republicans that feel they can't read Ken's posts because he disagrees with your point of view (vehemently), don't attack him. It's his Blog! Respect his opinion (or not), but enjoy it anyway. Because it's not the main focus.

If Ken decides this is to be a politics only blog, and disagreeing political positions are no longer allowed, that's his right.

It's sad to me that it becomes this divisive. That people think they have to be 100% this or that side. Or name-calling.

So enjoy Ken's blogs. Everyone. Including Mr Levine.

If you can't get along...then 1 of you stay where you are. The other 1 go live with Gwendolyn and Cecily.

Goodnight Blanche.

Lord Lillis said...

I've enjoyed reading your blog posts since your one on Steve Gordon (my God, was that really 10 years ago)? Our politics are very different but that didn't bother me. After all, it's your blog and I enjoy getting views from the "other side". If nothing else it helps sharpen (or review) my own arguments.

But today you've straight out told me "this is not the blog for you" - fair enough, it's your blog. So as I click the "unsubscribe" button on my RSS feed reader my last thought is: "I wonder how he thinks this will help?"

Anonymous said...

Great column Ken.

Just one point. It's Dewey Crowe, not just Dewey. I loved that bit. They always called him Dewey Crowe.

suek2001 said...

Ken, I am someone who is conservative...and there are ideas of how government that is supposed to work that is different than yours. I know people hate Trump and where this country is headed. I saw the same thing from my conservative friends for eight years under Obama. I hated the ongoing hate and this weird thing that we see politicians as saviors..the Left did it with Obama..the Right is doing it with Trump. I voted for the guy but not really FOR the guy...just not her...If that makes me unwelcome on this site, then so be it. I hope not. I enjoy your blog(and will still read it nonetheless)..consider myself relatively smart and more cynical of all sides then I used to be.

My main comment is not out of hate..not out of screaming my point of view..but of this one fact....we are MORE than who we support...and the problem I've had with Hollywood is the stereotype of most flyover states is that of "Dumb hicks" that won't think exactly like that seems to be a theme out of Hollywood...Both Left AND Right, help out in times of natural disaster and some have even helped California out with the wildfires too.

Humans are more nuanced than we get credit for at times...those same people watch Frasier(believe me some Righties do watch shows that make them laugh)...and they watch Cheers....we already have niche audiences, do we really only want to create and write shows for ONE political side?

I have heard of this movie..and my liberal friends are praising it. I may wait and see it on here in NE Minnesota, it sucks to leave the house right now.

So, Mr Levine..go ahead and delete this is not really an angry rant but a plea for seeing ALL people as worthy...not just those who check off (D)...on voting day...
(For the record, in my case, if Sanders would have been the nominee, he would have HAD my vote)

The Bumble Bee Pendant said...

IF you are going into a piece of entertainment already peeved about something not related to that piece of entertainment (You and your girlfriend/boyfriend/partner/spouse just had a really big fight and you don't want to see any Rom-Com or anything to do with relationships OR someone you know just died and anything with death will make you very sad) the best thing you can do is not see it.

If you are triggered about things not having to do with the show, then you need to find another outlet.
IF you hate New York City (for whatever reason), do NOT see certain movies/shows that take place there.
Except Independence Day. Or the Day After Tomorrow. Or I Am Legend. Or Deep Impact.
Or The Real Housewives of NY.

Merry Holidays!
Please feel free to reply.

Tammy said...

Duuuude. Boyd Crowder was *not* an "ignorant, redneck knucklehead". Remember, "[he's] been accused of a lot of things, but being inarticulate ain't one of them..." And speaking of Aussies playing Southerners, the guy who plays Dewey is actually Australian - I would never have guessed.

As for Trump, I share your sentiments, especially as he's now started making a mess here in Israel too, like with that irresponsible (and pointless) declaration on Jerusalem. Sadly a lot of Israelis support Trump, because we also have our share of idiots - the same ones who have put *our* knucklehead in office for the last 8 years. Isn't democracy fun?

Tim W. said...

I totally understand, and I’m not even Canadian. While I shake my head that so many people voted for Trump in the first place (Clinton wasn’t an ideal candidate to say the least, but there was no reality that Trump was a better candidate), it truly boggles my mind that ANYONE is still defending this man. He has done more to harm his own country than any foreign power has since its inception. And that’s not hyperbole. The amount of distrust he’s stiriring up for the press and government institutions will take decades to repair, and that’s nothing to what he’s done to race relations in a country where they weren’t great to begin with. And it’s so stunningly obvious the guy is out solely for himself and doesn’t care in the least about the people that support him, I find it very difficult to care about the fact that they’re being screwed.

Oh, and Peter, hating on Spielberg because he doesn’t write his own movies makes zero sense. Most directors don’t write their own movies, including Ridley Scott, David Fincher, Clint Eastwood, Alfred Hitchcock, Martin Scorcses, didn’t write most of his movies, Howard Hawkes, Robert Redford, John Ford, among others.

To suggest he’s a hack because he only directs his films is a little bizarre.

The Bumble Bee Pendant said...

Dear Lord Lillis,

Don't leave in anger. Just as there are episodes of your favorite TV shows that you just don't like, there will be posts that you don't like. Watch/Read them once but not the repeats/archives.

Dear suek2001,

Not counting the extremes on either side...
Conservatives didn't hate Obama personally per se. They hated his policies.
Liberals loved Obama personally and yes, did see him as a savior of sorts.
Conservatives, for the most part, don't see Trump as a savior (except from politics and politicians "as usual"). In fact, most of us, can't STAND the man personally. Several Conservatives are "Never Trumpers". But most Conservatives see Trump's policies as mostly good or very good.
Especially his foreign policies, so far. (some domestic policies are very liberal).

Personally, I hope he doesn't run again in 2020. He is obviously a very divisive person to pretty much everyone on a personal level. I've never been a fan of him as a person, although I enjoyed The Apprentice. He's a jerk, a pig-headed bully, and often insane.

It'll be on the strength of the economy that will make the decision if he's reelected. If it's great than he'll win. If it's good/fair/bad, he won't.

VP81955 said...

So much of this would have been moot had Democrats nodded a "happy warrior" type -- Sanders, even Biden -- than Clinton, who didn't lose because she was a woman, but instead lost because she was a scolding schoolmarm type (e.g., her "deplorables" quote) and a large swath of people had tired of her act after a quarter-century. I'm certain the next group of women who seek national office will display a more positive tone. (I only hope Oprah Winfrey, yet another celeb candidate, isn't one of them.)

ADmin said...

I, too, feel your pain, Ken. I've always thought the dumb redneck was a "give-up" creatively. (I also thought the archetype was a bit exaggerated and unrealistic... but then I moved to Texas and met some.)

ScarletNumber said...


Sportswriter Norman Chad wrote for Coach. He still receives residuals and he posted one on Twitter today.

The Bumble Bee Pendant said...

Dear Lord Lillis,

Don't leave in anger. Just as there are episodes of your favorite TV shows that you just don't like, there will be posts that you don't like. Watch/Read them once but not the repeats/archives.

Dear suek2001,

Not counting the extremes on either side...
Conservatives didn't hate Obama personally per se. They hated his policies.
Liberals loved Obama personally and yes, did see him as a savior of sorts.
Conservatives, for the most part, don't see Trump as a savior (except from politics and politicians "as usual"). In fact, most of us, can't STAND the man personally. Several Conservatives are "Never Trumpers". But most Conservatives see Trump's policies as mostly good or very good.
Especially his foreign policies, so far. (some domestic policies are very liberal).

Personally, I hope he doesn't run again in 2020. He is obviously a very divisive person to pretty much everyone on a personal level. I've never been a fan of him as a person, although I enjoyed The Apprentice. He's a jerk, a pig-headed bully, and often insane.

It'll be on the strength of the economy that will make the decision if he's reelected. If it's great then he'll win. If it's good/fair/bad, he won't.

For those that think I'm nuts about Trump possibly being reelected...that's fine.

Edward said...

I shrug when political posts appear here. I spew my thoughts (many unprintable) directly to politicians and media of both parties on my twitter account and I feel better, it does not change anything, but I feel better!

For those that are unhappy, the mid-term elections are only 10 months away. At the end of the day, if America tilts too far in one direction, it corrects itself soon enough. "Chuck and Nancy" will be fickle DJT's besties overnight and "Mitch & Paul" will be the equivalent of Studio/Network execs that lose their powerful positions and are irrelevant and forgotten (including lunch/dinner reservations at certain restaurants) as soon as they clean out their offices.

Fred Vogel said...

Ken, while I share your disgust toward the orange clown, preaching only to the choir would serve no purpose. It's important that your views reach a wider audience and that everyone is comfortable reading your blog, no matter their political beliefs. I have to believe that your readers are well-educated,intelligent human beings, not merely characters from (one of my all-time favorite shows) Justified.

Peter said...

Tim, I agree with you. It's Jeff who slammed Spielberg for not writing scripts.

Charles H. Bryan said...

I don't think Boyd Crowder or Dewey Crowe were likely voters, so JUSTIFIED might still be safe. Now, the actor who played the head Marshal is quite the dick on twitter, so maybe not.

Anyway, it's good that you wrote this today. A couple of times recently, you expressed hesitation to go down certain roads and you shouldn't have to feel that way. It's your blog, and it's free for us to read or not. If someone doesn't like it, it's not like there aren't other things to read.

Jason Roberts said...


I won't repeat what other people have already commented on regarding your post. You obviously have no idea what a Director does, nor do you know what a "vision" is. To break it down to you in the simplest terms; a Director decides on every aspect of the movie from prep thru post. That vision includes decisions on how to change a script. Sometimes they re-write them too without getting a credit as Ken has expounded on in the past. These director notes and changes can sometimes last years in development. Like all other departments on a film they work with writers too. Film is a Directors medium. You should read up on the art of filmmaking in general. I am humbly saying this having worked on over 100 movies and tv shows.



Rob said...

Sorry, Ken, despite your warning that this blog is not for people who don't see the world exactly as you do, I will continue to read your blog everyday--until you figure out someway to block me (I don't think you can, but I may be wrong). I enjoy your writing, your wit and your blog too much to deprive myself.

But I guess now you maybe know how we feel watching movies and TV shows starring or written or directed by people like Jane Fonda, George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Ben Afleck, Alec Baldwin, Rob Reiner and Steven Spielberg (my all time favorite director, despite the fact that I doubt we've EVER voted for the same person, not even once)....etc, etc, etc.

EXCEPT, most of us watch and even enjoy their work anyway, and are able to put our feelings aside for the 2 hours or so required.

And when were we EVER united? The right always was anti-Obama and anti-Clinton (Bill)...and the left always hated both Bushes and especially Reagan and Nixon. Have you forgotten?

I totally respect your right to hold very different political views from my own, but I really wonder if you can extend the same courtesy to me? Is it really that hard to accept that people feel differently about certain issues than you do?

Honestly, Ken, you're in West L.A. Surely there must be tons of support groups for treatment of Trump Derangement Syndrome you can join.

Looking forwarding to your next post.

Aaron Sheckley said...

I was willing to accept a conservative's viewpoint of "anyone but HER" during the time prior to the elections. Trump was a buffoon, but no one as yet had a yardstick to measure what his performance as a President would be like. You could certainly infer what it would be like, but it was still an unknown.

We're now a year into this shitshow, where conservatives have had a year to evaluate his performance....and a very scary number of them STILL support him, and constantly make excuses for him. And come on, screaming "fake news" and "his statement was taken out of context" has got to start embarrassing you a little by now. How can someone who embraces actual conservative values want to be anywhere within a hundred miles of this pussy-grabbing trainwreck of a President and administration?

I'll accept that a Trump voter from a year ago was frustrated and angry...but a Trump supporter right now is simply delusional. And dangerous. And we can only hope that the constantly rising tide of resentment against Trump continues at the current level.
The one thing we can count on is that Trump isn't going to become smarter or more likeable in the foreseeable future.

And for the sake of whatever gods you believe in, don't fucking sit out the next election; apathy has a pretty damn high price, as the last 12 months demonstrate.

Professor R said...

To go back to the review, with which I mostly agree, a movie review that isn't about the movie, not really. It's about people who talk a certain way that are deep in Trump country, like Alabama, where I've lived for a few decades, two thirds of my professional life. And a reference to the movie forces me to think of billboards, real ones, like the one that in 2014 went up in a busy shopping area of Auburn, Alabama, that was promoting a religious youth ministry, with the value of the ministry stated by a quote that on the billboard is attributed to Adolph Hitler. And when some people (e.g. me) tried to lay blame on the billboard company that produced and erected the sign, their "excuse" was, "that wasn't us. That was done by the Montgomery office."
But to be fair, while Ken is in a very blue state, I have a couple of cousins that like me were raised in Chicago area, and graduated from respected universities, and now live in the same city as Ken. But unlike me, and unlike Ken, they agree with the people now running the country.
Merry yontiff, y'all.

thirteen said...

I keep telling myself that things had to get this bad before they could begin to get better. I hope I'm right. Stay strong, Ken.

Jeff said...

I loved Joe Eszterhas' book. He points out correctly, that it is the writer who has the vision in the first place to come up with a story.

These script changes by Directors, are all just cooked-up non-sense that directors say to show-off their imagined creativity.

Yes, Director contributes in getting everyone's work together. But does he deserve to be deified?

Isn't the writer the biggest contributor (in most of the movies)?

With a good script and a talented team, Directors can make a good movie or a great movie and sometimes botch up the good script.

Once you have a hit (like Jaws), good scripts fall at your feet. You get to choose the best. So its the first hit that matters, then your life is settled. Unless one is extremely incompetent and makes a mess of the good scripts.

So Spielberg has had it easy, never really stretching himself to come up with a story. Not that he has the talent.

Close Encounters, then those crap series of Poltergeist movies (even his de facto directing the first one, couldn't save the stinker). All his writing have been pedestrian.

And all the names mentioned by others, yes they too are over-hyped. Its Tarantino who really comes through as the genius who can write his own stuff.

Writers have been shafted from being credited for their imagination by the media. Too much hype, adulation, deification of no talented group called directors.

HJR said...

The best part of the review is the update.
Actually, that is the most important part of the review.
A better political statement that most progressive are able or willing to make these days.
Ken's problem isn't with people that have a certain accent, at least I hope it isn't. But the people too thick to realize what's in their own best interests. A lot of them are in places that talk like the people in the movie. But there are many in other places, too, and might even be among faculty of top universities. And some talk like Ken. I'm sure he knows that

Max said...


Saw your favorite Zach Braff's movie "Going in Style". Horrible movie. But sadly made profit.

Did you review it? Will you?

ChipO said...

Totally unrelated Friday Question re DJ:
Reading Springsteen's memoir/autobiography. He talks about the mid '70's and the need to have DJs who will play his songs, as well as Columbia records people who encouraged DJs NOT to play his songs (even though he was signed with Columbia).
Hoping for some of your brilliant thoughts and comments.
Happy Holidays (and, please, don't let the tiny minority of trolls get your goat).

Jon B. said...


Kirk said...

Great post, Ken. I got nothing more inflammatory to say than that.

Peter said...

On a different topic, I'm very disappointed to read that Lorde has cancelled a scheduled concert in Israel next year after pressure from the Boycott Israel movement. It's sad that she's given in to their irrational demands.

Whatever one thinks of the policies of the Israeli government, boycotting its people is vile. It's the only country on the planet that the BDS bunch target. There are many countries with horrific human rights records, but they have absolutely nothing to say about them. If anyone was to suggest banning Chinese artists from performing in Europe or America because of how China treats dissidents or the people of Tibet, there would quite justifiably be outrage. But it's become routine here in Britain, for example, for activists to demand that Israeli athletes, artists and musicians be banned from performing here, or to say that British bands shouldn't do gigs in Israel.

Let's call this what it is. Blatant, old fashioned anti-Semitism disguised as political activism. It's a pity Lorde has allowed herself to be manipulated by these idiots.

VP81955 said...


There are many fine directors who write or co-write their own material, not just Tarentino (whose "grindhouse" attitude obviously appeal to you, but turns me off). What about Alexander Payne, who's written and co-directed the likes of "Citizen Ruth," "Election" and "Sideways"? (His latest, "Downsizing," is doing poorly at the box office, perhaps because audiences expected a big-budget, low-brow comedy about a man who is shrunk; instead, it's a quirky, semi-comic movie about environmental issues and overpopulation.)

Not all directors write, just as many singers are better interpreters than songwriters. My favorite classic-era director, Ernst Lubitsch, rarely wrote, but hired some of the smartest, most talented writers to compose his clever, sophisticated comedies.

flurb said...

Ken, I agree fervently with you about all you said politically, and I like you all the more for saying it. But I think you give Martin McDonough too much credit. I liked his early play "The Beauty Queen of Leenane" enough to read the rest of his work, and it was all the same cruel-jokey sort of misanthropic noir. He sets up all the characters (except the evil ones) in the plays for failure, and then, after some gratuitous violence standing in for genuine drama ... they fail. Any redeeming qualities are insufficient. The end.

I didn't see "In Bruges" because it looked like more of the same, with gunplay. But I like Frances McDormand, even when she drifts to the dark side, because she's usually able to shine a little glimmer of life force. So I went to “3 Billboards.” No light of any kind here, though I have to admit I bailed two-thirds of the way through. Though some stuff happened (including the predictable oh! so! shocking! nonsensical violence), none of it cohered. It seemed that the heavily premeditated premise was all the movie had. McDonough's screenplay does not show a world, but a worldview that is too negative to be political; the events are dealt from a stacked deck of cards marked People Are All Awful And Life Is Not Worth Living.

Me, well, I've only a limited time on this earth, and I'm not going to spend any more of it with nihilists. I walked when the cop started throwing people out of windows and smashing innocents in the face. I don't think I'd have behaved any differently during the Franklin D. Roosevelt administration. Nothing said by people who stuck around to the end of the movie makes me revise my initial opinion even slightly. Some of the reviews applauding the filmmaker's brave darkness don’t surprise me, because a lot of critics don't want to feel empathy, as emotion gets in the way of the deadline. Besides, Horrible Things Happening to Everybody Including Children is really in – look at the shows on Netflix.

Darkness isn’t brave – it’s just lazy writing on one note, or, to be charitable, clinical depression on parade. If human beings have learned anything in last hundred years, it’s that horror is all too easy to achieve. Kindness is brave. Heartlessness is not a virtue. Concern for your fellow humans is not a sucker’s game – it’s all that keeps us going. That’s the moral I’m taking away from this crummy movie, and from the political state of the U. S. of A. too.

Frederick Herman "Freddy" Jones said...


I read your post with great interest!

HA, Ha, ha, ha!

Brilliant satire, Ken! Brilliant!

Now I see where Hawkeye and the gang got the razor-sharp wit from. Those zingers, My, GOSH! Those zingers...

Brilliant! Careful, reasoned arguments, Ken. Skillful.

"I am not in the mood to watch ignorant redneck knuckleheads." A well-formed argument. Insightful.

In all seriousness, as far as the political junk you tend to inject into almost every post, we are seeing the same facts, but there are two, totally different, movies playing out before our eyes. You have your movie, and I have mine. When the last administration was in power, I don't recall becoming unhinged.

Most of me is upset by your post but not because of what you wrote, but because of why. You want to lash out for some reason, and the reason is not ... reasonable. Your movie is having a tragic storyline, and mine is more tempered, and I see a lot of good in what the current administration is doing.

It's a shame that you can not see ANY of the good. Your post reveals more about you than it does about anyone in the Oval Office.

I wish you the best, Ken. It's a shame that you will not extend to me the same courtesy, and it's a shame that you have to inject so much of the political into this blog. I really want to know more about screenwriting. I guess I will have to go somewhere else for that.

I will continue to read your blog and listen to your podcast. I will pick out the bits that fit into my movie and that inspire or bring people together instead of calling them knuckleheads.

Take care, you big knucklehead! (humor!)

spmsmith said...

I thought this was beautiful. Thank you.

Gary Springer said...

Who opened the door and let the miscreants in here ? Jeez, what a bunch of maroons !

Cowboy Surfer said...

Sam - Well for your information, I was elected student body president in high school.

Diane - Sam, that's wonderful!! I had no idea you were so civic minded. Tell us more about your political achievements and working for positive change along with the school administration.

Sam - I'll have you know Diane, I'm very civic minded...I got impeached the first day.

Diane - Impeached!! What happened??

Sam - It was an all girls school and there's some rule that you had to be enrolled. Although, I did have the most student bodies for and up against me...

Diane - You disgust me Malone.

Norm/Cliff - (high fiving) Sammy, Sammy!!

Antonio (from WINGS visiting the bar) This is such a great country!! Where have I been all my life...

normadesmond said...

I have a continual knot in my stomach from all this, especially since I have family that support that moron.

Kevin Johnston said...

I've got to be honest. I've been wondering for some time if you'd post something like this, and now that you have, I'm glad you did. For what it's worth, this is one reader who agrees with you all the way. Looking forward to tomorrow's post.

Ken said...

I agree with this. For years I have had no patience for anything coming out of the traitor states and less respect for anyone who lives in them. Remember all of the traitor states with 2 notable exceptions are free loading off of the Union states. They can't, and won't, assume responsibility for their own welfare or bills.
As for the staes that would have blown away into dust were it not for liberals such as FDR combatting the dust bowl and public works programs the freeloaders like to complain about except when others are paying for improvements for the free loaders infrastructure.
Washington State and Oregon are 2 examples of this. The eastern parts of the states are rural proudly ignorant and arrogently stupid while living on the largesse of the Western Liberal parts of the states who pay all the bills.
This when they would all be bankrupt bums except for the generosity of the Governmnet with irrigation projects, which they never paid for, roads and infrastructure which they won't pay for and an overwhelming sense of entitlement that comes from descendents of theives, crooks, racists and fools.
I understand your perspective on past programs such as the first "true detective" with Harrelson and McConaughey.
I always love how the traitor states try to lecture the cradle of freedom in New England on patriotisn after their fore fathers committed treason.

Side light to touch on one of Ken's favorites that may be calming influence upon him.
with rumors of a resurrection of roseanne wonder if they will do a dream sequence/ crossover program with Big bang theory since they share at least 3 cast members ( Laurie Metcalf, Johnny Galecki, Sara Gilbert)

Jeff Maxwell said...

Try as I might, I cannot find anyone who can substantiate the measurable "good" this administration has done. In my opinion, everything so far has been a sham.

I loved I, TONYA. And there were a lot of "rednecks" in that movie.

PJ said...

I know what you mean. In the middle of the debates an ignorant redneck who works where I work asked me if I saw the debate and wasn't it funny? I didn't want to offend this obviously not-very-bright person but I wasn't going to agree with him either, so I basically ended the conversation and walked away.

Now, in the same situation, I'd probably go off, and I don't like that I've become that person. I found myself wanting to flip off an old man who passed me in a car with a Trump sticker. I want to tell off the poster above who says the administration is doing good things, but I'm just going to walk away because he is clearly delusional.

Anonymous said... inconvenient...


Jeff said...


"whose "grindhouse" attitude obviously appeal to you" - pretty condescending.

"What about Alexander Payne" - I just gave a name as an example. There are many.

"His latest, "Downsizing," is doing poorly at the box office, perhaps because audiences expected a big-budget, low-brow comedy about a man who is shrunk" - well I haven't seen the movie yet, but certainly wont judge those who didn't see or call them retarded in as many words.

"Ernst Lubitsch - hired some of the smartest, most talented writers" - exactly my point. Become famous - hire talented people. Talented people are willing to work for you. Good scripts fall at your feet.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your review Ken, please write more.
I felt the same for "house of cards", great actors and story but I stopped watching early in the second season beacuse there were already too many corrupt politicians in the news and I didn't need another one even if fictional.
I'm from Italy and I see many similarities with our recent past (I mean the last 20 years don't worry not 80 years ago), it seems as Trump is the answer to the question "what if Berlusconi had nuclear weapons?".
Andrea Trip

Tammy said...

Peter - thanks for your support re: the BDS. I appreciate it especially since I know how rare it is in Europe these days, particularly in the UK. I actually have a lot to say about the boycott but it's way off topic and I don't think Ken would like us to go there. I will say this though - you put it down to anti Semitism, and that's a factor for sure, but I think a lot of BDS supporters actually have their heart in the right place and are just misinformed, or simply naive, thinking we could just end the occupation and all would be well. I think the occupation is an atrocity and I wish we could end it today, but you know what they say, one fool throws a stone down the well and a hundred wise men can't get it out. We inherited this mess and now nobody knows how to fix it - except Jared Kushner, of course! :D (See, I knew I could make this on-topic).

Barry Traylor said...

I have lost friends because they have told me what a swell guy trumpy is. Life is too short for me to put up with them. Mainly it saddens me that I had no idea how racist they are (or for that matter how stupid).

Joe Blow said...

There are many voters who remember (before Reagan) when the top tax rate was around 90%. The super rich actually PAID far less than they have ever since the top rate was lowered to around 30%. There were so many loop holes and deductions that one year Nelson Rockefeller (a Democrat) paid less than a young couple with a combined income of $23,000. He paid $800. People were seething with resentment about such things. Former President Carter was once asked if he felt guilty for using a loophole (before he was President) that cut his taxes dramatically for several years. He said he didn't because if they checked they would see he had always paid about 22 or23%, (although he was probably in a 70 or 80% bracket). Mortgage interest was 18%, there were long lines to buy gas, no jobs.

Those voters who lived through those times, who remember how cities and roads were crumbling and falling apart, because there was no public or private money for infrastructure; and then watched with their own eyes as the country rose and started rebuilding after Reagan was elected, cannot forget what a tax cut can do. And that demographic put Trump in office. It is so much more complicated than that, but those people knew they didn't want Clinton. Poll after poll showed that in a race between Bernie Sanders and Trump, Sanders would have won. If Clinton had cared about the country, she would have stepped aside and let him have the Democratic nomination.

Education in this country is so poor that until it improves dramatically, people will only have their own experience and the internet to make judgements about how to vote, and what really works to improve things for the middle class, and what is really fair for everyone. So expect more chaos, and more strange and ignorant people in government.

Anonymous said...

Hello Ken,

I knew this was going to be bad that's why I waited a day. I'm on the conservative side of politics but I don't agree with this take.
I understand not wanting to watch Fox News, or Hannity, etc. Just like not wanting to watch MSNBC or Bill Maher, etc. But when it comes to art- music, TV, movies, theatre- NOT wanting to experience it because of one persons' political views is flat wrong IMHO. I love Bruce Springsteen, do I agree with his politics? No, not much. Do I delete all his music from my iPhone? No, never.
I know Tom Cruise is a wacko, I still watch his movies. This list goes on & on. My personal belief: I would never shut off anyone from expressing their voice, opinion, point of view; even if it runs counter to mine. --LL

Wendy M. Grossman said...

I don't think insulting people you need to persuade ever works.


Ken said...

To Joe Blow an appropiate name for a post based on fiction, delusions and rewriting history.
Addled ronnie raygun was an unmitigated disaster for this country on every level.
We were a creditor nation (we were owed more money) before he destroyed a constructive economy before he left he had destroyed so many assets we became a debtor nation ( we are in a fiscal/financial hole).
He sold out media and business's to foriegn investors by lifting ownership rules so murdock and moon could spread their ignorance across the land.
The list is endless. I lived through those times and remember how education, infrastructure and common good was promoted before him. Afterwards all we had was greed is good. Selfish refusal to accept social responsibility to pay for any public goods and services. Culminating in the demented donnies bragging about his freeloading by not paying any taxes.
Freeloaders love the thuglicans because contrary to ll decency, morality or even the actions of their mythical savior attack on money lenders in the temple and his message have elevate greed and vileness to level unseen since the 1850's.

Mike Doran said...

In re the comment of Joe Blow:

I've noted that you rarely identify the locale of your commenters.

I'll make the educated guess that Mr. Blow is from somewhere west of the Mississippi - the plains or mountain states.

Mr. Blow identified Nelson Rockefeller as a Democrat - something no member of his family had ever been, going back many generations.

Of course, Nelson Rockefeller was a Republican - but then again, he was a New York State Republican, which grouping is traditionally somewhere to the Left of the Taft-era GOP of the '50s, and way to the Left of the Goldwater GOP of the '60s, and off-the-chart to the Left of the Alt-Right of today.

I remember the '60s all too well - when John Lindsay was the Republican Mayor (originally, anyway) of New York City, while Sam Yorty was the Democratic Mayor (so he said) of Los Angeles.
- ... and here in Chicago, Richard J. Daley was the long-term Boss of the Democratic Party in Cook County, long given the credit for stealing the '60 Presidential race for JFK - and damned by the newly-emergent FarLeft for not kissing their asses just eight years later.

All these sea changes are what helped to put me off partisan politics for all time; I still vote, but I'm looking for who'll do the least damage.

As of now, I'm still looking ...

Joe Blow said...

To Ken (who replied to Joe Blow)
Your reply is a perfect example of why people cannot really communicate anymore. My statement was to point out what demographic put Trump in office and some of the reasons why. I am not an admirer of Reagan and I can't stand Trump, but in your blind hatred of Reagan all you saw was a few words about Reagan that sounded like praise. Some things did improve in the short term, but it wasn't worth the things that were put in place that led eventually to the kind of inequality we have now.

I don't pretend to understand the complicated economic policies of this country and the world, and I doubt very much if you do, but if you doubt the tax rates, crumbling cities, gas lines, and mortgage rates of the 70s, you need to do some research. My first mortgage was at 18%, I sat in long lines to fill my gas tank, I paid more taxes than a multi-millionaire one year, and Kansas City, Mo was crumbling. But I didn't let that experience scar me into voting for Trump. Would that you were as open-minded.

Sarah Czach said...

I have a blog & feel the same way. You speaking out is inspiring & profound beyond naysayers understanding. Backwoods Trump supporters are proud of their ignorance & this is the opinion they've earned (& I thought they loved being hated by liberals, anyway). Stay brave

Ken said...

I remeber the headline during the nixon disaster of WH to NY Drop Dead.
Daley no more stole the 1960 election then the crooks from S. illinois and in Texas tried to steal it for tricky dick.
I deplore the addled fool and his cotorie of conmen and shills for the damage they visited upon the country and the world.
As for those who use any available excuse to justify racist, fools and greed heads for voting for demented donnie are just playing into the both sidism that infects our discourse and blocks any intelligent discussion.
You trying to rationalize voting for an addle fool or a demented liar as being an example of either being sucked in to delusions or trying to slip falsehoods to praise the vile.
No excuses No rationalizations for stupidity of demented donnies voters.

Anonymous said...


Dear Ken,

Said in order to try to help because Ive been in the same place as you seem to be. I was incredibly angry and bitter behaving. It was terrible for me as theres nothing like bitterness to ruin your heart and nothing like anger to drive other people away. Those emotions (regardless of their source or whether you even have a legitimate reason to feel them) wind up becoming unontrollable habits if you continue to indulge them.

I know because this happened to me and I see a lot of anger in your comments and I would like to see others remain free of uncontrollable emotions. Ive found forgiveness, taking opportunities to see humor in things and letting go of some of my issues for the sake of other people to be helpful. But the only thing that really started my recovery is faith in Jesus Christ and I would encourage you to hear the gospel from a compassionate bahaving believer in Jesus Christ IRL.

God Bless You Ken.


Joe Blow said...

Ken (commenter)
Do you realize how much you sound like Trump? That kind of childish name calling and vicious commenting are what "infect our discourse and block intelligent discussion." Those kinds of attacks almost always lead Ken Levine to shut down a thread (so discussion is literally blocked), and I don't blame him.

If you could express yourself differently, I would love to hear what you think of what was happening in the U.K. before Thatcher (the same time period as Reagan) when they had real Socialism, and then what happened after she basically reinstated Capitalism.

Like Mike Doran above, I have for a long time just voted for who I thought would do least damage, and that certainly wasn't Trump.

MikeN said...

Every vote should be about health care and taxes?

What about lower energy bills and lower gas prices? Is it just helping the rich to pay 10 cents a kilowatt hour instead of 18 like in some blue states, meaning a bill of $30 instead of $54?

For that matter, lots of people have seen premiums rise from a hundred dollars a month to over a thousand dollars a month, with higher deductibles.
The tax bill also lowered taxes for all these hicks in the sticks, with a higher standard deduction, to go with the cuts in corporate taxes and the top income tax rate for the rich.

MikeN said...

Is Joe Buck post what you are talking about with 'wait til you see what's coming next.'?

McAlvie said...

Ken, you do not generally indulge in politics, but anyone who reads your blog regularly has some idea of what you think, so anyone blowing up now and pretending to be offended is being disingenuous. They are not offended that you don't agree with them, they are offended that they can't continue pretending otherwise.

It's your living room, and we are guests. Anyone raised to know their manners knows that you don't insult your host or misbehave in someone else's home.

Personally, you write so well regardless of topic, a rarity these days, that I don't much care what you write about. It's refreshing.

I am reminded of some people I knew long ago who completely avoided a certain tv show because of the actor's politics. Not the show's fictional world politics, but the actor who was, after all, entitled to his own beliefs. They never even watched a single episode, but decided that was all they needed to know. (mind you, these same people had no trouble watching Two and a Half Men, so go figure that). And I seem to recall Alan Alda once commenting (although I do not know if this is true) that people were offended that he played a Republican character, and yet nobody cared that he once played a murderer.

To be offended at discovering someone does not share your political belief flies in the face of the most basic tenet of democracy - free speech. Patrick Henry might not have said it first, but that makes it no less important - "I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."

When you try to shut down anyone who disagrees with you, you are behaving in a way that is not just unpatriotic, it is treason against the foundation of our country.

JC said...

Hey Ken,

Obviously, have what ever political view you like.
But I'm sorry to say, the Democrats and Republicans put up horrible candidates for President.
Didn't like Trump, but disliked Clinton more- I do not trust her. In all honesty, I couldn't bring myself to vote for either.

Our country has weathered worst storms than President Trump and hopefully there will be a better candidate next time.
Only 3 years to go.

Roger Owen Green said...

Well, I saw the movie yesterday and liked it a lot. Maybe it's because the characters evolved, especially the Rockwell character.
BTW, I'm probably to the left of you politically.