Thursday, June 30, 2011

After Hours (1985)****
A combination New York office drone nightmare about the bad things that can happen "downtown" and an adult riff on The Wizard of Oz and Alice In Wonderland. Any way you look at it, it is entertaining, interesting and filmed with the standard Scorsese visual flair.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The real causes of the economic crisis? They’re history. - The Washington Post:
"The report of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission detailed the recklessness of the financial industry and the abject failures of policymakers and regulators that brought our economy to its knees in late 2008. The accuracy and facts of the commission’s investigative report have gone unchallenged since its release in January.

So, how do you revise the historical narrative when the evidence of what led to economic catastrophe is so overwhelming and the events at issue so recent? You and your political allies just do it. And you bet on the old axiom that a lie is halfway around the world before the truth can tie its shoes."

See the previous post about Clarence Thomas. NOTHING will happen. So read the article, remember it, try to tell the kids how it all happened, but don't expect any justice. Don't expect any accountability. Don't expect any change. You and your families' lives were just fucked over and there is nothing you can do about it.
John Dean: John Dean Knows How to Get Rid of Clarence Thomas:
"There is also the reality that as long as Republicans control the House of Representatives there will never be an impeachment of Thomas. Should Democrats regain control of the House, well, Democrats don’t play hardball. In short, nothing is going to happen to Clarence Thomas. No one is going to truly challenge his conduct, and he will sit on the Supreme Court until he feels like leaving."

Monday, June 27, 2011

Dead Man (1995)**
Director Jim Jarmusch commits the ultimate movie sin: boredom! Leisurely paced to say the least, but the scenes are just not interesting enough to hold your attention. Maybe it all makes sense but if it does it is SO subtle that you have to do the director's work for him.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Red Rock West (1993)**
So-so noir, a little too similar to Blood Simple.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Ana Mandara Restaurant ***
This is NOT a "Vietnamese" restaurant in the normal sense. It is a "fine dining" establishment in a touristy part of San Francisco. Despite that, the food I had (fried lobster ravioli appetizer, tournedos of filet mignon and scallops with black rice) was superb. It is priced well beyond my normal range so I doubt I will ever return, but if you have the cash, and the inclination for well prepared, surprising dishes in a grandiose environment, without having to get reservations, Ana Mandera is top notch.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Biology of Ethics - The Chronicle Review - The Chronicle of Higher Education:
"While Churchland's intellectual opponents over the years have suggested that you can understand the 'software' of thinking, independently of the 'hardware'—the brain structure and neuronal firings—that produced it, she has responded that this metaphor doesn't work with the brain: Hardware and software are intertwined to such an extent that all philosophy must be 'neurophilosophy.' There's no other way."

Every thought you have is a physical process.

via Arts & Letters Daily
Blood and Wine (1996)***
Good neo-noir with a picture stealing supporting job by Michael Caine as a tubercular Brit safe cracker with a temper. Dorff is weak in a pivotal role, and the score seems at odds with the images at times, but a surprising script and Jennifer Lopez keep things interesting.

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Swimming Pool (1969)**
A good character study becomes a so-so thriller. Even a lovely Romy Schneider can't save it.
Jon Stewart's Rare, Unexpectedly Serious Interview with Fox News - Entertainment - The Atlantic Wire:>
"Continuing in his serious vein, Stewart admitting that he voted for George H.W. Bush because 'there was an integrity about him that I respected greatly,...'"

Stewart just lost any "integrity" he may have had.
The Stunt Man (1980)***
Good movie-within-a-movie about a manipulative director whose focus is "the shot" and not much else. Or is he the devil in disguise? Peter O'Toole is perfectly cast and gives a great performance, but Railsback is a big problem as the other lead. According to the IMDB trivia, Martin Sheen and Jeff Bridges were highly considered for the role. Either would have been a tremendous improvement. Still, worth watching for O'Toole and the smart script.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Midnight in Paris (2011)***
Nicely done riff on nostalgia in a city dripping with history. Owen Wilson does a good job in the Allen role.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Bishops to learn best practices to fight sex abuse:
"The Vatican said Saturday it is working to give bishops information on the best ways to combat clergy sex abuse, teaming up with the Jesuit university in Rome to host a major symposium on abuse and launch an Internet learning center for follow-up guidance."

I can tell them the best way to combat sex abuse in 3 words: CALL THE FUCKING POLICE! Ok, that was 4 words but still. This symposium is designed to combat criticism of the Vatican only. The main problem all along has been that ever since Becket the priests consider themselves above civil law and beholden to no one but the Vatican. That must be changed.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

GM regulators chose ignorance over science |
"In May, the journal Reproductive Toxicology published a paper that showed Canadian women now routinely have GM pesticides – called Bt toxins – present in their blood streams. So, too, do 80% of their unborn babies. Presumably, they acquired the toxins by eating GM corn or from livestock fed on it. By itself, this result does not prove that any harm has occurred – though it is hardly reassuring. And, as the first experiment of its kind, it needs repeating. What it does definitively prove, however, is equally important: the remarkable complacency of the global safety regulators of GM crops who have argued that this was impossible."

via @NekoCase
High Season (1987)**
The picture has everything going for it: gorgeous Greek isle location, luminous Jacqueline Bisset in the lead, top-notch supporting cast, but it ultimately goes nowhere.
Roman de gare (2007)***
Intricate thriller with some intriguing twists featuring the ravishing Fanny Ardant and a nice performance from Audrey Dana.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Paul McCartney Talks Beatles Breakup:
"At the time of 'McCartney,' the author considered it an experimental work. 'It's easier in retrospect to look back and say I was doing something that laid the ground rules for people to follow,' he said. 'When you think about it, that's how an awful lot of records get made now – people are in their bedrooms or their garages – because the equipment's better. So I was actually starting a bit of a trend, without knowing it or really intending to.'"

Yeah we know, Paul, YOU were the trend-setter, the experimentalist, the true avant-garde artiste of The Beatles. OKAY. WE GET IT. We love your music, but geez you are a truly annoying person.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Pastor's Laptop: Dressing modestly for the Holy Mass despite the summer heat - St. Joseph's Catholic Church:
"The biggest problem I see (and I have a particularly elevated point of view from the sanctuary steps) is cleavage."

If that's the biggest problem he sees, he's never seen a mirror. Seriously, the dude has severe female trouble to say the least.
David Mamet Gets Lanced-a-Lot | James Wolcott's Blog | Vanity Fair:
"If David Mamet wants to become Dennis Miller minus the self-conscious, self-applauding laugh, go ahead, be that thing, watch the Tonys from Colonel Kurtz's cave, who cares."

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Blood Simple. (1984)***
Some of the trademark Coen touches are there, but this is unusual for them. More like a slasher film than a true noir. I kept being reminded of Halloween.

Friday, June 10, 2011

The Illusionist (2010)****
Achingly melancholic, richly detailed near silent animated film about the unrelenting mysteries of life. Takes a bit of effort on the part of the viewer, with rich rewards.
The Second Pass: Behind the Scenes at Studio 8H:
"Chevy Chase and Harry Shearer come off as the most universally disliked. (NBC bigwig Dick Ebersol on Shearer: “He’s just a nightmare-to-deal-with person.” And writer James Downey: “[Bill] Murray can be a real asshole, but the thing that keeps bringing me back to defend him is I’ve seen him be an asshole to people who could affect his career way more often than to people who couldn’t. Harry Shearer will shit on you to the precise degree that it’s cost-free; he’s a total ass-kisser with important people.”)"

Hmm. If Shearer is "a total ass-kisser with important people" how come Dick Ebersol, probably THE most important person at the time, thought he was a "nightmare-to-deal-with person"? Maybe his ass-kissing wasn't all that effective? I guess the moral of the story is don't try to get a complete picture of a person from books like these.

via Robot Wisdom
Atlantic City (1980)***
Nice character study of a man and a city whose past was something special, at least in their own minds. Burt Lancaster is very good.
Bank Shot (1974)**
Early 70's entry in the heist-comedy sub-genre about a crew of endearingly goofy would be criminals who attempt to rob a bank with mastermind George C. Scott. Some funny moments but it tries way too hard mostly.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Romney Defends Mormon View of Christ's Second Coming on
"Mickelson switched the conversation to the Second Coming of Christ. 'Your church says it is going to happen in Missouri,' he said.

'No it doesn't,' Romney objected. 'The church says Christ appears on the Mount of Olives and splits the Mount of Olives and appears in Jerusalem. That's what the church says, and then over a thousand years--the Millennium--that the world is reigned in two places, Jerusalem and Missouri. That's what the church says. The Second Coming, the arrival of Jesus Christ, our church says, is in Jerusalem. That's the church doctrine.'"

From "Near the time of the coming of Jesus, the faithful Saints will build a righteous city, a city of God, called the New Jerusalem. Jesus Christ himself will rule there. (See 3 Nephi 21:23–25.) The Lord said the city will be built in the state of Missouri in the United States (see D&C 84:3–4)."

I stand corrected. I was led to believe The Second Coming of JC was to occur in St. Louis. It's actually on the western edge of the state near Independence. Glad to have that finally cleared up.
I, Cringely: iCloud’s real purpose: kill Windows:
"And what happens once all our data is in that iCloud, is there any easy way to get it back out? Nope. It’s in there forever and we are captive customers — trapped more completely than Microsoft ever imagined.
Apple and Google will compete like crazy for our data because once they have it we’ll be their customers forever."

The best thing about the PC has always been it's openness. It's a much more hackable and vulnerable platform, yes, but it's also much more versatile and uncontrollable. I'm gonna start stockpiling hard drives and desktops to keep all my data off the fucking clouds. Anything in there is going to be as bogus as I can get away with. They needed at least another generation to come along who don't really care about privacy to finally make this transition and it's finally here. Sad, sad, sad.

Monday, June 06, 2011

Slipstream (2007)***
Lots to chew on in director/screenwriter Anthony Hopkins' semi-autobiographical excursion into David Lynch territory with outstanding cinematography by the great Dante Spinotti. Non-linear, at times nonsensical, but always interesting.
Weiner admits he sent lewd picture; won't quit - Yahoo! News:
"Weiner gained a national profile during the debate over President Barack Obama's health care plan when he outspokenly professed support for a government-run 'single-payer' program for everyone and later a 'public option' to compete with private health insurance. He got the notice of liberals even though both proposals failed to make it into law."

This is disputable. But there's no question he needs to resign. Anybody this stupid cannot be a member of congress. Wait a minute. What am I saying???
Peter O'Toole Has a Few Words for Directors -
"Q. For this particular character, did you draw upon your experiences with filmmakers who’d directed you?

A. Look, for me, a person, a character, a part is on the page. I don’t invent, I don’t copy anybody or think of anybody. Something happens, and I can’t explain it. I’ve tried to write about it. How the ink from the page comes up into my eyes and forms itself into a part that I want to play, and I’ve no idea how it happens. Intellectually, I can understand that I read it and enjoy it. But why this particular one, I don’t know.

Q.So the notion that Eli Cross was somehow a gloss on, say, David Lean —

A.“That’s Orson Welles?” “That’s John Huston?” No, no, no. It’s Eli Cross. He lives for me. I don’t want to be anybody else, thank you very much. He’s not copying anybody. He’s himself.

Q.Did you do any background research to learn how to play a director?

A.I don’t play directors. I play men. No, I don’t do any of that. Unobserved, uninhibited, private study of the script. I rehearse myself, l lock myself away for a month, before film or any play, and I absorb every word and every moment. And when it comes to the curtain going up or the action being started, I’m there. Ancient old pro speaking."

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Touchez Pas au Grisbi (1954)***
Scorcese so changed the gangster genre that it is difficult at times to see a film made well before he came along. Still this French noir is enjoyable and shows an elegance and subtlety sometimes lacking in modern films. Some rich scenes and great characters.

Friday, June 03, 2011

Marlins' Cousins speaks out about Posey injury:
"Giants general manager Brian Sabean criticized Cousins on his weekly radio show on KNBR this week, calling the play malicious and unnecessary. Sabean also said that 'if I never hear from Cousins again, or he doesn't play another day in the big leagues, I think we'll all be happy.'

'He chose to be a hero, in my mind,' Sabean said. 'If that's his flash of fame, that's as good as it's going to get, pal. We'll have a long memory.'"

Um...that's a threat plain and simple. Sabean needs to be relieved of duty immediately. What a completely ridiculous thing to say. The play was not only legal, it was required within the rules and traditions of baseball. The only reason Posey broke his ankle was because he was not standing properly and his leg was caught underneath him when the collision took place. It was an ACCIDENT. These collisions happen quite frequently in baseball and believe it or not, nobody gets seriously hurt. This time somebody did. Deal with it.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011 - Why We Get Fat And What To Do About It:
If you don't have the time nor inclination to read the book, at least take an hour and listen to the interview. (Answer: It's sugar and refined carbs.)

via @garytaubes
Juggernaut (1974)****
Probably the best "disaster" flick of the 70's. A top notch cast, taut, clever script, and assured, imaginative, restrained direction from Richard Lester.
Facial Recognition: The One Technology Google Is Holding Back:
"'I'm very concerned personally about the union of mobile tracking and face recognition,' he explained, adding that the company feared that these capabilities could be used both for good and 'in a very bad way.' Schmidt described a scenario in which an 'evil dictator' could use facial recognition to identify people in a crowd and use the technology 'against' its citizens."

I'm more worried about a "good" leader using technology to track what people see, read, listen to, interact with, correspond with, talk to, record their movements, and use that to incarcerate them without trial, torture them, and kill them if the "good" leader saw fit. But that could NEVER happen, so don't worry Eric.