Friday, August 22, 2014

Drawing a Gun in Ferguson - The New Yorker

"In the eleven days since Michael Brown was shot and killed, we’ve been reminded of the many things that are not illegal (recording police actions) or, if they are, do not carry a death penalty (stealing cigarillos, jaywalking). Cursing police officers is on both of those lists. In an opinion piece in the Washington Post this week, an officer named Sunil Dutta wrote that the way to prevent police shootings is simply for people to show more respect for police authority. ('Even though it might sound harsh and impolitic, here is the bottom line: if you don’t want to get shot, tased, pepper-sprayed, struck with a baton or thrown to the ground, just do what I tell you. Don’t argue with me, don’t call me names, don’t tell me that I can’t stop you, don’t say I’m a racist pig, don’t threaten that you’ll sue me and take away my badge.') That is not how it’s supposed to work, in this country, anyway. We respect the police as professionals because their job is so hard, and so important; it can involve chaotic nights and yelling crowds, or opening the door to an apartment where anything might be happening. Police officers don’t get to wave a gun whenever they think it might make everything easier—when they think it will just make people behave. That is not the sort of authority, in any sense of that word, that will calm the streets of Ferguson, or any city."

Magic in the Moonlight (2014) **

Sumptuously filmed and art directed, but the leads' chemistry is non-existent and the "magic" is not all it needs to be. Enjoyable but forgettable.

My Fair Lady (1964) ***

It's too long and the second act drags, but terrific leads, Shaw's words and ideas, Cecil Beaton's production design and costumes and some fine B'way tunes ably compensate. I would like to see an edit with Hepburn doing the singing (a major mistake to dub her) and the Alfred Doolittle and Freddy Eynsford-Hill songs cut.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Unknown (2011) **

Liam Neeson action vehicle has a few twists to keep things interesting and the wonderful Bruno Ganz, but things unravel at the end and the thin thread of plausibility is lost.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Takers (2010) **

Heist gone wrong actioner in a bit of a hip-hop style can't avoid the genre cliches despite some appealing players. Some exciting sequences.

The Forger (2012) **

Pleasant divertissement thanks mainly to location filming in Carmel, Ca. It's well filmed with decent production values, but the script could have used some more work and the male lead lacks charisma.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Lauren Bacall, Actress, Dies at Age 89 - WSJ

A magnificent woman on all counts. Worth re-reading a great interview with her from 2011. One of the greats.

Monday, August 11, 2014

WATCH: Cops aim weapon at local official, lock media out as Ferguson protests continue

"Alderman Antonio French posted the footage Monday night, following another protest criticizing police for the fatal shooting of 17-year-old Michael Brown. The video shows French being approached by officers in riot gear inside a parking lot. One officer has his firearm drawn toward French while another says, “Get the f*ck out of here” and motions away from the parking lot. It is not clear whether French identified himself as a city official during the encounter in the St. Louis suburb."

This is what you get when you militarize the police. Look how they are outfitted. More like soldiers than community police officers. They're out of control.

Hillary Clinton: 'Failure' to Help Syrian Rebels Led to the Rise of ISIS - The Atlantic

“'I think Israel did what it had to do to respond to the rockets,' she told me. 'Israel has a right to defend itself. The steps Hamas has taken to embed rockets and command-and-control facilities and tunnel entrances in civilian areas, this makes a response by Israel difficult.'

"I asked her if she believed that Israel had done enough to prevent the deaths of children and other innocent people.

“'Just as we try to do in the United States and be as careful as possible in going after targets to avoid civilians,' mistakes are made, she said. 'We’ve made them. I don’t know a nation, no matter what its values are—and I think that democratic nations have demonstrably better values in a conflict position—that hasn’t made errors, but ultimately the responsibility rests with Hamas.'

"She went on to say that 'it’s impossible to know what happens in the fog of war. Some reports say, maybe it wasn’t the exact UN school that was bombed, but it was the annex to the school next door where they were firing the rockets. And I do think oftentimes that the anguish you are privy to because of the coverage, and the women and the children and all the rest of that, makes it very difficult to sort through to get to the truth.'

"She continued, 'There’s no doubt in my mind that Hamas initiated this conflict. … So the ultimate responsibility has to rest on Hamas and the decisions it made.'”

Wow. Complete arrogance and disregard in the ideas and the language. Such blatant, reflexive imperialism. A truly evil person and a complete disaster if elected.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

The Yakuza (1974) **

Stately paced noir about Japanese gangsters and their bizarre rituals. Disappointing considering the top talent involved. Extremely talky and expository for the subject matter.

Monday, August 04, 2014

Breezy (1973) ***

Highly enjoyable '70's character study thanks to winning lead performances and nice direction by Clint. William Holden looks 10-15 years OLDER than he was at time of filming making the March-December romance even more "icky" and his penchant for wearing awful old dude sweaters doesn't help. Clint allows a major faux pas when he leaves in a sequence where the characters head for an obviously SoCal beach to watch the sun RISE out at sea! Totally dig the Laurel Canyon home though. Lots of wood and stone and yellow decor.

Adam and Evalyn (1949) **

Thanks to a lovely Jean Simmons this is a watchable rom-com hampered by strange directorial decisions such as filming a several minute sightseeing sequence showing nothing but the 2 main characters feet, and a totally unsympathetic male lead character.

The Simpsons Movie (2007) **

I'm not sure if it is the writers' fault or the audience's perceptions, but expanded sitcoms almost never work. There's something about going beyond the 22 minute expected time frame that's problematic. This movie is no exception. It's okay, about on a par with a weaker regular episode.

Terraces (TV Movie 1977) **

Interesting curio from the '70's is one of those so-bad-it's-good flicks. One of the first mainstream "pro-gay" TV movies is blessedly short and contains a scene stealing star turn by Catwoman.