Tuesday, November 30, 2010

US cuts access to files as Interpol seeks Assange - Yahoo! News:
"The government scrambled Tuesday to prevent future spills of U.S. secrets like the embarrassing WikiLeaks' disclosures, while officials pondered possible criminal prosecutions and Interpol in Europe sent out a 'red notice' for nations to be on the lookout for the website's founder.
Interpol placed Julian Assange on its most-wanted list after Sweden issued an arrest warrant against him as part of a drawn-out rape probe — involving allegations Assange has denied. The Interpol alert is likely to make international travel more difficult for Assange, whose whereabouts are publicly unknown."

Glad to see we have our priorities in order. International manhunt for Assange. US "ponders" criminal prosecutions for Assange. Yet confessed torturer and serial murderer George W. Bush and his pals are having the times of their lives. Look forward! Look forward!
Scrooge (1970)***
Enjoyable retelling of the venerable Dickens classic in late 60's musical form. Albert Finney is very good but the tone strays into cartoon land and loses a bit of the humanity. Still some nice musical numbers tastefully directed by Ronald Neame.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (2010)***
The action moves away from Hogwart's and the film brightens up (literally) significantly which is a plus. A lot of time spent with Harry, Hermione and Ron on an extended camp-out which sets up an emotional climax in the next film. A long film but it didn't feel so which is a credit to director Peter Yates.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Man in the White Suit (1951)**
Well made, Guinness is again marvelous, but when it's over it seems such a trifle.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Clinton gives thumbs-up to new Bush memoir:
"'George W. Bush also gives readers a good sense of what it's like to be president, to take the responsibilities of the office seriously, do what you think is right, and let history be the judge.'"

No. Wrong. We don't need history to be a judge. We HAVE judges. And just because you are president, that doesn't mean you just "do what you think is right". We have laws. Presidents ARE bound by those laws. George W. Bush has admitted to major crimes. He needs to be tried and JUDGED and sentenced. History has NOTHING to do with it.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The City of Your Final Destination (2009)****
Yeah the story doesn't amount to much (sort of a Uruguayan "Howard's End"), and the lead actor is miscast and ineffectual, but the cinematography, production design, direction and acting by the supporting cast is so strong and compelling it more than compensates. Lovely picture.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Alan Greenspan: The Banks Robbed You in [Market-Ticker]
"There are two fundamental reforms we need - to get adequate capital and, two, to get far higher levels of enforcements of statutes of fraud statutes, existing ones. I'm not even talking about new ones. Things were being done which were certainly illegal and fairly criminal in certain cases. Fraud, fraud is a fact. Fraud creates very considerable instability in competitive markets. If you cannot trust your counterparties, it won't work. And indeed, we saw that it didn't."

Finally, Mr. Greenspan, now that he is out of power and a borderline laughing stock, admits that he CAN recognize reality once in a while. Fraud is no longer a prosecutable offense in this country apparently so I don't hold out any hope. But wait a minute. Wasn't he IN CHARGE of the banks as Fed Chairman???

via The Agonist.
Last Holiday (1950)**
Another droll British comedy-drama with Alec Guinness fine as usual. The story just doesn't amount to much. A bunch of snobs learn that we're all just folks.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Elvis Costello - National Ransom (2010)****
It's like Blood & Chocolate but performed by a 5 star bluegrass band. 20 songs (including a bonus EP) as topical as ever, as timeless as ever, as angry as ever, as hook-laden as ever. I felt his last album was a mis-step but since it led directly to this triumph it was worth it.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Bush's Opposition To Abortion Grew After Mother Showed Him Dead Fetus In A Jar
"According to Bush, he didn't recount the story primarily to explain the genesis of his anti-abortion views, but rather 'to show how my mom and I developed a relationship.'"

Oh, in that case, ok...I mean...what? WHAT? Jeez there are SO MANY LEVELS of weird here it is unbelievable. The Onion really has its work cut out with these people don't they?
Brooke the Immortal: An American Child May Hold Secrets to Aging - SPIEGEL ONLINE:
"'Different parts of her body are developing at different rates, as if they were not a unit but parts of separate organisms,' Walker explains. He believes that there is only one explanation -- a failure of central control genes.
Normally, a carefully orchestrated genetic program allows a tiny egg cell to grow into an adult body. But if this master plan is impaired, the marvel of growth goes awry. Walker believes that this is precisely what has happened with Brooke. Genes that play an important role in physical development are either inactive or defective. 'If we identify those genes, we might be able to understand the development and subsequently the aging of the body,' says the scientist.
'Aging happens when developmental genes merely run out of meaningful information and subsequently cause chaos,' Walker says. His idea is to simply shut off the master genes of development. This, he hopes, will put a stop to the aging process. If Walker is right, the consequences will be dramatic. A body manipulated in this fashion would no longer change, but would only perform repair work. Eternal life would be within reach."
Self Comes To Mind | Wired Science:
"It turns out that the “higher” parts of the cortex are inseparable from the “lower” parts, and that “you” – the “you” reading these words – emerge in large part from the brain stem, the nub of tissue just above the spinal cord. We arise, in other words, from the place were brain and body meet, where flesh and feeling are emulsified together."

Brain and body are inseparable. No body, no "self".

Friday, November 05, 2010

Union Station (1950)***
Tight little noir about a kidnapping plot gone awry with some inventive scenes in the municipal tunnel underneath L.A.'s Union Station. Lyle Bettger is a scary psychotic villain.
It Was the Banks | CommonDreams.org:
"This is why, in a crisis, you need new people. You must be able to attack past administrations, and override old decisions, without directly crossing those who made them.

President Obama didn't see this. Or perhaps, he didn't want to see it. His presidential campaign was, after all, from the beginning financed from Wall Street. He chose his team, knowing exactly who they were. And this tells us what we need to know about who he really is."

Unfortunately, Obama still does not see this. He thinks he has actually done something praiseworthy and we just don't get it.
Mighty Aphrodite (1995)***
Funnier than most later-day Allen films with Mira Sorvino walking away with the picture in her Academy Award winning performance.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

The Last Man on Earth (1964)**
Marred by an apparently extremely low budget and some technical lapses, this film nonetheless has some redeeming features, namely a fine performance by Vincent Price, and some interesting and novel ideas. Probably the first vampire-zombie picture, it's a rare post-apocalyptic story that doesn't lay the blame at man's feet. Still, a quite bleak and harsh look at humanity.