Monday, July 21, 2014

Five Easy Pieces (1970) ***

Offbeat and quirky character study of an extremely self-centered and misanthropic individual. Ok, he's an asshole basically. Very well shot and written with several iconic scenes. Always interesting, sometimes cringe inducing, sometimes silly. The kind of American film that doesn't get made much any more.

Perfect Sense (2011) **

It appears to be a failed attempt at a rom-com/dystopia hybrid. Not sure what it's supposed to mean but the two leads are appealing and it moves well.

The Lego Movie (2014) **

Could have been a very good movie but the creators just couldn't resist shoving every last shred of magic and wonder down our throats in a ruinous denouement that makes Spielberg look like Alain Resnais. Some nice voice work, clever animation.

Ethan Hawke's Heartwarming Tribute To A "Boyhood" With Music

"There’s this thing that happens when you listen to too much of the solo stuff separately — too much Lennon: suddenly there’s a little too much self-involvement in the room; too much Paul and it can become sentimental — let’s face it, borderline goofy; too much George: I mean, we all have our spiritual side but it’s only interesting for about six minutes, ya know? Ringo: He’s funny, irreverent, and cool, but he can’t sing — he had a bunch of hits in the ’70s (even more than Lennon) but you aren’t gonna go home and crank up a Ringo Starr album start to finish, you’re just not gonna do that."

Yet another reason to dislike Ethan Hawke. I can't imagine having such an insufferably pretentious father. Now excuse me while I go and "crank up" Time Takes Time.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Blue Is the Warmest Color (2013) ***

This chronicle of a young woman's first coup de foudre experience from start to finish is one of the few 3 hour movies to not feel overlong, thanks to good editing and a sensational performance by Adèle Exarchopoulos.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Months before their first words, babies’ brains rehearse speech mechanics | UW Today

“'Most babies babble by 7 months, but don’t utter their first words until after their first birthdays,' said lead author Patricia Kuhl, who is the co-director of the UW’s Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences. 'Finding activation in motor areas of the brain when infants are simply listening is significant, because it means the baby brain is engaged in trying to talk back right from the start and suggests that 7-month-olds’ brains are already trying to figure out how to make the right movements that will produce words.'”

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Life Itself (2014) **

Fairly straightforward documentary about the life of Roger Ebert but mainly about the final days and as such it is tough to take at times. Not exactly entertaining but informative and at times poignant.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Harper (1966) **

Paul Newman and a star supporting cast can't save this overlong, shoddily produced attempt at a hard-boiled detective noir. Some interesting glimpses of mid-60's Los Angeles and an unusual ending.

Almonds Are Sucking the Life Out of California - The Wire

"But even as the almond business booms, California ecology is heading toward a bust. In San Joaquin Valley, the ground has been sinking by an average of 11 inches per year, thanks to over-pumping of aquifers."

Friday, July 11, 2014

The Case for the End of The Modern Zoo -- NYMag

"It is hard to avoid the conclusion that in some way the animals understand that the world around them is an artificial one, that these phobias and psychotic episodes represent reactions to that artifice, or subversions of it. Which means that the central illusion of the zoo is no longer holding. The animals know."

The Pope and the Pederasts by Garry Wills | NYRblog | The New York Review of Books

"3. Patriarchy. The Vatican is not only the West’s oldest monarchy, but its most entrenched patriarchy. For long its official teaching was Thomas Aquinas’s assertion (taken from Aristotle) that “the female is a defective male.” Though the Vatican has tried in recent years to back off from that position, as late as 1976 Paul VI’s Curia said that there can be no women priests because women do not look like Jesus: they lack “this ‘natural resemblance’ which must exist between Christ and his minister.” Pope John Paul II said in 1994 that if Jesus had wanted to ordain women, he would have begun with the best of them, his mother. He ignores the fact that Jesus in the Gospels ordained no priests, male or female. The investigation of American nuns for daring to have opinions of their own shows how far Vatican officials are from understanding women. (How could they understand them?)"

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Bud Cort: 'Harold and Maude was a blessing and a curse' | Film | The Guardian

"Bud Cort has just come back from Ringo Starr's birthday breakfast. He has known Ringo for a while he says. 'He's a dear friend and he's my dog's godfather.'"