Wednesday, July 26, 2017

LIZ SMITH: On bended knees

Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen.
by Liz Smith & Denis Ferrara

Will Jon Snow “Bend the Knee” to Dany? Also — Charlize Theron ... Ben Affleck ... and Justin Bieber, “burnt out” at 23.

“VERY WELL. Send a raven to Jon Snow and tell him his queen invites him to Dragonstone.  And bend the knee.”

So demanded Daenerys Targaryen, the girl who doesn’t need a dragon tattoo. She has her very own live and lethal dragons on call.
Last week, we found the seventh season premiere of “Game of Thrones” to be on the “meh” side, that clever opening slaughter notwithstanding. (Don’t scream about spoilers. It’s been two weeks — if you haven’t seen the first episode yet, you’re no true “GOT” fan.) Episode two, however — out of a mere seven this season — was a blockbuster from beginning to end.

Emilia Clarke
plays Miss Targaryen. Or Dany, as she is referred to by the fans.   She spent several seasons wandering around deserts, raising her dragons and remaining mysteriously pale despite no apparent use of sunscreen.  The actress must have screamed or wept with joy when she read her part in last Sunday’s episode. 
She opened the show, and not only indicated she wanted Jon Snow to bend the knee but threatened to burn alive Lord Varys the clever eunuch who somehow survives every loony leader in the mythical land of Westeros. (Varys is all sorts of silky evasiveness courtesy of Conleth Hill.) Dany has issues. And a kind of fire fetish.
Conleth Hill as Lord Varys (Credit: Helen Sloan/HBO)
But she is level-headed enough, for the moment, to seek advice from Olenna Tyrell played to a fare-thee-well by the great Diana Rigg. The one-time leather-clad Emma Peel, doesn’t beat around the bush, “Be a dragon,” she counseled.
“You're a dragon. Be a dragon.”
There’s a terrific new villain for us to love to hate, and the episode featured a fiery, bloody sea battle. (The bad guy — if one can really make that distinction here — is Euron Greyjoy, acted with mad-eyed, sadistic swash and buckle by Pilou Asbaek.)
And there was some nudity, for those who like that sort of thing.  It’s not that we’re prudes.  But with only five more episodes to go, every bared breast and buttock could be a few more significant lines of dialogue.

If “GOT” keeps up at this pace, oft-disgruntled fans might feel they are getting their premiere cable package worth.

... “ATOMIC Blonde” with Charlize Theron, doesn’t open in the U.S. until Friday, but I’ve been struck by one of the reviews used in TV spots for the film, declaring Theron, “the female James Bond.”  I assume it’s just a fantasy that there will ever be a female James Bond. But now comes the news that the next 007 film won’t arrive until 2019, that Daniel Craig is not on board yet — despite reports in the English press that he was — and that Idris Elba, Tom Hiddleston and others are still in the running. So — why not indulge in some fantasy?
Theron won herself a lot of action movie fans with “Mad Max: Fury Road” and reports from those who have already seen the movie declare her a full-fledged goddess of the genre.  Bond producers wouldn’t even have to change the name.  We’re all fluid here, right?  She has a man’s first name. Big deal.  After all, in England one still comes across men named Evelyn.  
... BEN Affleck’s “The Batman” movie seems to be falling apart, bit-by-bit.  First he stepped away from directing the movie.  Then producers stepped away from his script.  Now, “they” are saying Affleck has gotten too big for his Batsuit britches, literally.  The actor/producer/director has been looking alarmingly swollen lately, but filming is nowhere near beginning. Ben has plenty of time to get back in shape.  If he wants to, which most people in Hollywood think he really doesn’t.  At least not for a Batman movie.
... IN checking off the Top 50 top-earning live acts listed in Billboard magazine, we were not surprised to see Beyonce as the big winner, with a $62 million total revenue. (We don’t quite “get” Beyonce, but that’s our problem.)  Veteran icon Bruce Springsteen took in a vibrantly autumnal $42 million. (Bruce we “get.”)  And third in line was — yes — Justin Bieber, who raked in $30 million. 
Bieber sometimes seems like a nice kid, overwhelmed by fame.  Sometimes he seems like an idiot who can’t keep his clothes on. But he’s got the power — he’s moved far beyond what was expected to be a very brief teen-pop career.  Now he has canceled the last 15 dates of his world tour.  He said he feels “burnt out.”  Wow.  Bieber is 23.  Bruce Springsteen is three years shy of 70 and still does those epic three and a half-hour shows.  I suppose the definition of “burnt out” has morphed.  Still, in a release to fans, explaining his exhaustion, Justin wished them a “blessed day.”  All better now.
ENDTHOUGHT:  So much has been disturbing and shocking over the past two years — and specifically the past 100-plus days — that one feels depressingly immune to what would, in more or less normal times make the hair stand on end. 

But watching and listening to the president of the United States address the Boy Scouts the other day, pricked the self-protective bubble of immunity.  Demanding loyalty, exhorting the scouts to boo President Obama and Hillary Clinton; what does this remind us of?
No, we won’t go there with the analogy, because mentioning certain names and themes are

A. bound to get one in trouble.

B. Still considered an insult to the millions who died and suffered during the worst times of the 20th century.  Times we have not endured in the 21st century. Yet. 

We say, however — forget Russia, forget the tweeting, forget the “feud” with those two moronic egomaniacs Joe and Mika.  Look at the world’s most powerful man and his interaction at a rally with the youth of America. 

Karl Marx said, “History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce.”  Is it possible to repeat as both, simultaneously?
Contact Liz here.