Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Everyone Is Laughing at Alan Greenspan Today - Business - The Atlantic Wire:
"Last night, the Financial Times ran an op-ed from Alan Greenspan, former Chairman of the Federal Reserve. It starts out pretty dry. Greenspan argues, in effect, that the Dodd-Frank financial regulation act is a bad idea, because 21st-century financial systems are really, really complicated. Greenspan also complains that "regulators are being entrusted with forecasting, and presumably preventing, all undesirable repercussions that might happen to a market when its regulatory conditions are importantly altered." This is an impossible task, says Greenspan. We should just leave it up to the free market, because "with notably rare exceptions (2008, for example), the global 'invisible hand' has created relatively stable exchange rates, interest rates, prices, and wage rates."

OMFG. I think the problem is Greenspan actually believed all that "maestro" bullshit and feels compelled to spew his "wisdom" upon us. Just go away. You've done WAY MORE than enough already. Asshole.

via Robot Wisdom

Monday, March 28, 2011

Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989)*
There is a kernel of a decent film here. And whether it was William Shatner's lack of directorial talent or Paramount's lack of financial support, we may never know for sure. As it stands, this is a pretty awful film. Almost entirely cringe inducing. For Star Trek completists, and other masochists only.
To Have and Have Not (1944)***
Better than Casablanca, the screen debut of Lauren Bacall is an entertaining excursion into the many tropes of Ernest Hemingway upon whose novel the film is based (see Islands in the Stream.) Bogart is solid, Bacall sizzles, and "free French" intrigue abounds in the Caribbean.
Camelot Revisited: The Creators of "The Kennedys" Speak Out -
"Is it fair to say that all biographical films have to rely on a certain amount of reconstruction, and creating scenes where there’s no record of what was said or what occurred?

KRONISH Of course. For example, the scenes between Jack and Jackie in the bedroom, where nobody knows exactly what was said, but we do know what the attitudes were and we do know, for example, that she knew about several of his affairs and was deeply distressed by them, but she stayed with him. Although she would periodically leave, she would always return. We know that. That is historical fact. And so we used those facts to create scenes that had that basis in mind. You’re compressing 50-odd years of a family’s history into eight hours. That compression is going to have to show somewhere. It doesn’t mean that the facts are changed or invented."

I think when you "create scenes" that is kind of equivalent to "invented". I would just like for once to see a bio-pic where not one scene is invented, not one conversation is "imagined". If you cannot or will not do that, then you must not use real names or claim any sort of veracity to your film or book. Because everyone who sees this will believe that ALL the scenes really happened. And that is wrong.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Alice in Wonderland (1933)***
Faithful to the source in spirit and form if not verbatim, this heavily critically disparaged version of Alice defies narrative conventions. There really is no story and no narrative flow which most people demand of their films. Instead we are treated to a literate young girl's fantasy-dream of unusual and surreal encounters with all sorts of creatures, clever word play and strange, unexplained antics. Just like the books.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Chloe (2009)***
Not a bad little exploration of identity inside a trashy thriller. Good actors, crisply directed.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Somewhere (2010)**
I might revise my rating after a second viewing, but at first blush this is a mis-step for Ms. Coppola, one of my favorite directors. Wonderful soundtrack, wonderful images, sparse, minimalist direction, but it does not seem to add up. Admirable effort, but no results.
Winter's Bone (2010)**
You know, it's an intelligent, well made film with great directorial restraint by Debra Granik and a fine, star-making performance by Jennifer Lawrence, but it's just not very entertaining. Critics would complain about Scorsese making pictures about vile people like Travis Bickle and Jake LaMotta but you know what? Those films were great! Highly entertaining, compelling, stunning. This film is not at that level. It's a passable noir.
Don't Look Back (2009)***
Very entertaining French psychological thriller featuring Sophie Marceau and Monica Bellucci. That's more than enough reasons to see the film.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Mailbag: Charlie Sheen, 9/11 Truthers, Oil Prices | Rolling Stone Politics | Taibblog :
"The blame for all of this is going to be laid at disruptions in the Middle East and other factors, but the inescapable fact is that commodity index speculation was up $80 billion last year, meaning that there was $80 billion of new money coming on the market betting on the rise of commodity prices. The total amount of commodity index speculation approached $400 billion last year, meaning the amount of speculative money on the market was roughly twenty times pre-2003 levels – and again, this is all “long-only” speculation, i.e. money betting on prices to go up."
NFL becomes victim of its own success | ProFootballTalk:
"The NFL’s success has suddenly become a weakness. The NFL and its players don’t have the luxury to wait until August before they look like greedy fools that take their success for granted. Fans are understandably outraged that the richest league in the country is in a work stoppage — even though it’s only March."

Another false equivalence. There was a CBA, collective bargaining agreement, in place that the OWNERS decided they wanted to abandon. Why can't sports "journalists" get this right? The players were perfectly happy with the CBA as it stood and apparently everyone was making A LOT of money with it. The true greedy party in this dispute is quite clearly the owners. They are the ones who decided to renegotiate this thing, not the players.
Leaving (2009)***
Trying to beat Isabelle Huppert at her own game, Kristin Scott Thomas is a knockout as a married bourgoisie who falls in love, perhaps for the first time in her life. Trouble is it's not with her husband and he doesn't like that, to say the least. Great performance by Thomas.
Little Caesar (1931)**
Influential gangster picture with a star-making performance by Edward G. Robinson, but it doesn't date well at all. Most of the acting is in that very broad silent film type style. Threadbare script and production.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Megamind (2010)*
Completely forgettable CGI animated riff on superheroes. Superman meets Shrek. Not a good thing.
Watership Down (1978)***
Excellent animated version of Richard Adams's novel about a group of rabbits longing to be free. Quite moving in places.
The Virgin Suicides (1999)****
Magnificent debut film from Sofia Coppola. Perfectly captures mid '70's teenage angst which is astounding since Ms. Coppola was born in 1971. The way the actors look and move and talk is remarkable. Exceptional use of period music. A directing tour de force. Kirsten Dunst and Josh Hartnett are outstanding.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Rango (2011)***
Ups the ante on Pixar for CGI prowess. Incredibly realistic animation for everything except actual human beings although they come pretty close. The story is weird and meandering and not entirely coherent and maybe it is profound but I didn't get it. Funny in parts but doesn't resonate as a complete and satisfying tale. Too long and feels it.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

The Swan (1956)**
Alec Guinness is fine as usual but miscast as a prince hunting for a princess. Grace Kelly is lovely as usual but the picture drags too often and a few lively sequences and a fine ending cannot compensate.