Monday, June 28, 2010

The Hunger (1983)***
Interesting and novel twist on the vampire myth with nice performances from the principals. Too often though it feels like a parody of a 1980's movie. Poorly directed by Tony Scott.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

The Desert Fox: The Story of Rommel (1951) **
Strange, disjointed biopic of the famous German general with James Mason excellent as always. Hopefully I can find a non Henry Hathaway directed picture for my next viewing.

Friday, June 25, 2010

The Sons of Katie Elder (1965)**
Cartoon-ish Western with some awful acting, clichéd script, ham-fisted direction yet some beautiful cinematography by Lucien Ballard.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Sic Semper Tyrannis:
"McChrystal must be fired. Then he should be put on the retired list in his permanent grade with no end of career award. Then some thought should be given to the clear violation here of Article 88 of UCMJ. Active duty military people are free to express their opinions to their superiors. They are not and should not be free to use the press against the civilian government."

Agreed. But I do not expect it to happen. Obama doesn't seem to have the guts.

UPDATE: I was wrong.

UPDATE: Maybe not so wrong.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Lilies of the Field (1963)***
Character study with Poitier filling in the blanks in the spare script. A bit heavy with the score at times, but Poitier gives a well-deserved award winning performance.
Toy Story 3 (2010)****
Another success for Pixar and another sequel that is every bit as good as if not better than the original. Goes to some darker places than the previous films, but the kids won't mind.
Down to the Bone (2004)***
Tough, truthful, uncompromising, though not especially entertaining slice of working class American existence. Vera Farmiga is compelling and interesting.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The New Age (1994)**
It's not essential to care about the protagonist in a story or a film, but it is almost essential to care about something in the story/film. I had a hard time caring about anything in this movie and maybe that is Michael Tolkin's point. Either way you're left with some good ideas but not a good film. Apparently Isabelle Adjani was originally cast in the Judy Davis role and could possibly have been a better fit. Nowhere near as great as Tolkin's previous film.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

He Was Tortured, But He Can’t Sue | The New York Review of Books:
"Canada, in other words, played a relatively small part in Arar’s injuries, as compared to the United States. Yet Canada’s Parliament issued a unanimous apology, and the government paid Arar $10 million (Canadian) for its role in the wrong done to him. Here in the United States, the response could not have been more different. US officials have never apologized to Arar. They persist in leaving him on a “no-fly” list, despite the fact that Canada has cleared him of any suspicion, much less wrongdoing. And when we filed suit in 2004 to seek damages from the US officials directly responsible for the decision to send Arar to his torturers, lawyers for the Bush administration argued that even assuming that federal officials had intentionally delivered Arar to Syria to be tortured, and blocked him from seeking court protection while he was in their custody, they could not be held liable for his injuries on the grounds that the case implicated secret communications and national security concerns not appropriate for court resolution. Regrettably, the courts agreed with the Bush administration position—and so has Obama’s Department of Justice."

I had hopes that I would be able to be proud of my government again. "Had" is the key word there.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Ne le dis à personne (2006)***1/2
Excellent French thriller with Dustin Hoffman look/act-a-like Francois Cluzet in the lead. A sort of "toutes les étoiles" cast, all excellent, but Kristin Scott Thomas steals yet another picture with a terrific performance. A straight-up thriller with no subtext to speak of, yet told with lots of style and inventiveness. Bogs down in the final act amid beaucoup exposition.
Sands of Iwo Jima (1949)**
Two stars for the 2, count 'em, TWO excellent battle scenes that incorporate actual footage. Otherwise a maudlin, melodramatic male weepie.
U.S. Identifies Vast Riches of Minerals in Afghanistan -
"An internal Pentagon memo, for example, states that Afghanistan could become the “Saudi Arabia of lithium,” a key raw material in the manufacture of batteries for laptops and Blackberries. The vast scale of Afghanistan’s mineral wealth was discovered by a small team of Pentagon officials and American geologists. The Afghan government and President Hamid Karzai were recently briefed, American officials said. While it could take many years to develop a mining industry, the potential is so great that officials and executives in the industry believe it could attract heavy investment even before mines are profitable, providing the possibility of jobs that could distract from generations of war."

Oh shit. Now we will NEVER leave Afghanistan!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Helen Thomas' Sisters: Media Got It Wrong | The Maynard Institute:
"In a telephone interview initiated by Journal-isms, three of them said Thomas was not calling for the destruction of Israel or the return of all Israelis to Europe or the United States, as has been the running narrative, but was expressing her opposition to the disputed Israeli settlements on Palestinian land.

'They should stop confiscating the land that belonged to the Palestinians. We feel that there should be a two-state solution in Palestine,' said one sister, who did not want to be identified. The sisters, who spoke from the home of one of them in the Detroit area, which houses the nation's largest concentration of Arab Americans, range in age from 87 to 95. Thomas is 89. A brother is 100. The family is Lebanese-American."

I must say when I first read what she was reported to have said, I had assumed she was talking about the illegal settlements in Gaza and the West Bank of which she is absolutely correct. But she caved so quickly and made other comments that seemed to suggest she meant ALL of Palestine.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Receiver Isaac Bruce's No. 80 to be retired by St. Louis Rams - ESPN:
"'To me he was a complete receiver,' said Mike Martz, the offensive coordinator in 1999 and the Rams' head coach in 2000-05. 'The other part of him, the humility that he played his entire career with, spoke so well about who he is as a man.' Bruce recalled another former Rams receiver, Jack Snow, taking him aside not long after Bruce was chosen in the second round out of Memphis in the 1994 draft. The Rams were terrible, but Snow told him he was willing to fight anyone who ran down his organization. 'We came to this organization that was at the bottom of the barrel,' Bruce said. 'At that moment I knew this was where I was supposed to be.'"

Thank you Mr. Bruce. Every time he was on the field he was compelling.
Tablet Magazine: Indispensable - by Lee Smith:
"Oren [Israeli ambassador to the US] disagrees. “'We are aware that this is a certain body of thought in the Washington bureaucracies and the think-tank world, but it is not so with the American people or policymakers,' he said. 'Israel is the only democratic American ally in the Middle East that can field a highly trained combat-proven army in 12 hours.'...'Our critics don’t get it,' Oren said. 'In Jenin, we went house-to-house and sent 23 soldiers to their death. But if we’re going to be called war criminals no matter what we do, then maybe that changes our thinking.'"

I love that: "no matter what we do". Yeah like even when we "defend ourselves" by pirating vessels on the open seas, blockading entire nations for years at a time, carry out assassinations all over the world, etc. How can we win when we're even criticized for that?

This guy Oren is a piece of work though. Now it is understandable why the US continues to stick by this rogue nation. Oren is very very good at his job.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Petulia (1968) ****
The first 20 minutes or so lead you to believe you are watching a goofy, kooky, kitschy 60's movie with all the attendant clichés. But stick with it and it ends up being a film that goes well beyond its time and hits hard at some uncompromising and revealing truths about people.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Despite pressure, Israeli PM firm on Gaza blockade:
"The 1,200-ton Rachel Corrie, which was carrying 11 pro-Palestinian activists, nine crew and hundreds of tons of aid, was intercepted in international waters, about 20 miles (30 kilometers) from Gaza's shore and was being escorted to the nearby Israeli port of Ashdod, the military said.
The military said Saturday's takeover began at 12:15 p.m. Israeli time (0900GMT) and took just minutes.Footage provided by the Israeli military showed three small navy vessels pulling up to the Rachel Corrie. In a second segment, footage from an Israeli aircraft hovering about the cargo ship showed the activists sitting down in the middle of the top deck."

They need to keep sending ships right after each other and force the Israeli navy "commandos" to overextend themselves. Just grind them down. Gandhi is the example to be followed. Just keep coming at them peacefully yet forcefully. This blockade is criminal and is in no way self-defense.

Friday, June 04, 2010

The Frontal Cortex: Memory Is Fiction:
"After all, we like to think of our memories as being immutable impressions, somehow separate from the act of remembering them. But they aren't. A memory is only as real as the last time you remembered it. The more you remember something, the less accurate the memory becomes. The larger moral of the experiment is that memory is a ceaseless process, not a repository of inert information. It shows us that every time we remember anything, the neuronal structure of the memory is delicately transformed, or reconsolidated."

Thursday, June 03, 2010

U.S. Citizen Was Among the Dead on the Gaza Flotilla -
"Reports in the Turkish press identified the American as Furkan Dogan, 19, who was born in the United States before returning to Turkey with his family as a young child...The Cihan news agency reported that Mr. Dogan had one bullet in the chest and four bullets fired into his head from close range. Israel has blamed activists for the confrontation, which occurred as Israeli commandos dropped on ropes from helicopters onto the biggest of the vessels, the Turkish-owned Mavi Marmara."

For over 3 years you illegally occupy another nation, blockade its ports and seal off its borders illegally, severely restrict the flow of ANYTHING into or out of that nation, starve the nation's occupants including the aged, women, children, civilians, then you attack and murder unarmed foreign nationals attempting to confront the blockade and blame THEM for the war crime. Has Dick Cheney somehow become president of Israel? Is he really in control there? Because this looks like his fingerprints all over this one.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Actress Q'orianka Kilcher arrested at White House:
"U.S. Park Police have identified a woman arrested for tying herself to a White House fence as actress Q'orianka (kohr-ee-AHN'-kuh) Kilcher. Authorities say the 20-year-old Kilcher tied herself to the fence Tuesday and her 41-year-old mother, Saskia, poured a black substance over her. They told officials they were protesting a visit by the president of Peru. Q'orianka Kilcher's father is a Peruvian Indian."

Good for her!

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Fort Apache (1948)***
THE source for all those movie clichés about the cavalry. Not as majestic or as visually stunning as The Searchers, probably because of the lack of color, but every bit as complex with the absurdities and cruelties of the military life fully exposed.