Friday, October 28, 2011

The Masque of the Red Death (1964)**
I suppose in its time this was a daring and risqué film depicting Satan worshiping 12th century Italian 1%ers engaging in depraved, immoral acts. But today it seems rather naïve and quite tame. Still, Corman's use of color and the lovely cinematography of Nicolas Roeg are worth a peek.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

David Lynch: mild at heart - Telegraph:
"In fact, film criticism aside, the harshest thing anybody has had to say about him was when ex-girlfriend Isabella Rossellini blamed their painful break-up on Lynch’s unreasonable hatred of 'cooking smells' in the house."

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Body Snatcher (1945)**
Early Robert Wise picture about the procuring of cadavers (against their will) for medical research in mid 19th century Scotland and the moral toll it exacted on those involved. Nicely done with a creepy and believable Karloff the high point.
The Book Bench: Is Self-Knowledge Overrated? : The New Yorker:
"Nevertheless, there is a subtle optimism lurking in all of Kahneman’s work: it is the hope that self-awareness is a form of salvation, that if we know about our mental mistakes, we can avoid them. One day, we will learn to equally weigh losses and gains; science can help us escape from the cycle of human error. As Kahneman and Tversky noted in the final sentence of their classic 1974 paper, “A better understanding of these heuristics and of the biases to which they lead could improve judgments and decisions in situations of uncertainty.” Unfortunately, such hopes appear to be unfounded. Self-knowledge isn’t a cure for irrationality; even when we know why we stumble, we still find a way to fall."
O Lucky Man! (1973)**
It's tough to buy Malcolm McDowell as a naive Candide and episodic films are extremely difficult to pull off especially when they run to 3+ hours. Well made, well intentioned failure.
House of Usher (1960)**
Lush and atmospheric, but a threadbare story line doesn't expand to feature length well. Yawn.
OWS's Beef: Wall Street Isn't Winning It's Cheating | Matt Taibbi | Rolling Stone:
"That's why it's so obnoxious when people say the protesters are just sore losers who are jealous of these smart guys in suits who beat them at the game of life. This isn't disappointment at having lost. It's anger because those other guys didn't really win, and people now want the score overturned."

The misunderstanding about the protests also has the stench of the "we're the smartest guys in the room these plebes can't possibly understand us" mentality that the 1%-ers carry. That's also reflected in the infuriating copy the financial "journalists" foist upon us, the whole "it's just too complex to explain" lie.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Michael Clayton (2007)**
The film is shot very darkly and may have been better off in black and white since it's essentially a noir with a script intent on keeping viewers confused all the way beyond the ending.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Wild Things (1998)**
Sexy neo-noir boasts a fine cast and pretty location scenery, but when it gets to the fifth double-cross, and that's early in the picture, you stop caring about what happens.
The Thing (1982)***
Terrific gross-out monster movie that takes itself seriously. But not TOO seriously. Good fun.
The Night of the Hunter (1955)***
Bold, inventive, confounding film by first (and only) time director Charles Laughton. Robert Mitchum gives a no holds barred performance in a career destroying role for any other star. Weird at times, silly at times, but always interesting. It's a shame Laughton never directed another picture. Very influential film.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Terror (1963)**
Spooky "thriller" from legend Roger Corman. The cast keeps it moving.
Murder by Decree (1979)**
A truly top-notch cast, but appalling script and direction as well as shoddy production values. Not a good Holmes film.
Did Fannie Cause the Disaster? by Jeff Madrick and Frank Partnoy | The New York Review of Books:
"In particular, the authors accuse two quasi-public but profit-making companies, Fannie Mae (the Federal National Mortgage Association) and Freddie Mac (the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation), of adding risks to the mortgage markets that resulted in disaster. Much the same criticism has been made by Peter Wallison, a fellow of the American Enterprise Institute, who wrote an angry dissent to the findings of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission (FCIC), which was appointed by Congress to investigate the causes of the crash.1 Contrary to Wallison, the nine other members of the commission, including three others appointed by Republicans, concluded that Fannie and Freddie were not the main causes of the crisis.

"Along with many other experts, the nine members pointed to considerable evidence that, despite large losses, these government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs), as they are known, bought or guaranteed too few highly risky loans, and did so too late in the 2000s, to cause the crisis. But in their new book, Reckless Endangerment, the New York Times reporter Gretchen Morgenson and mortgage securities analyst Joshua Rosner try to revive the issue of their responsibility."

This is a frequent occurrence: make an assertion, the assertion is proved wrong, write a book reiterating the assertion. This is how "history" and "the facts" are made.

Friday, October 07, 2011

Director drama heats up on "Dredd" - latimes.com:
"EXCLUSIVE: It's not often that a director of a major action film is asked to step aside as the movie enters its postproduction phase. But that's what has happened with director Pete Travis and 'Dredd,' the remake of the 1995 Sylvester Stallone vehicle 'Judge Dredd,' casting a pall over the anticipated reboot."

Wait a minute. "Judge Dredd" reboot? Has our culture just STOPPED? Have we completely run out of ideas?

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Secret panel can put Americans on kill list | Reuters:
"Some details about how the administration went about targeting Awlaki emerged on Tuesday when the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, Representative Dutch Ruppersberger, was asked by reporters about the killing.

"The process involves 'going through the National Security Council, then it eventually goes to the president, but the National Security Council does the investigation, they have lawyers, they review, they look at the situation, you have input from the military, and also, we make sure that we follow international law,' Ruppersberger said."

Oh they have lawyers? Well ok then. Thank goodness they're following international law. At least there is some accountability then, right? Oh did I say "accountability"? Forgot that word doesn't exist any more.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

The Omen (1976)**
Gregory Peck lends more gravitas to this flick than it deserves. It's well photographed, just a bit too silly to be truly frightening. Intrusive score doesn't help.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)**
Clunky remake of the classic sci-fi thriller tries for a slightly more political angle by placing the main action in San Francisco (liberals can be conformists too!). Interesting time capsule of mid-70's SF.
Walk the Line (2005)**
Bio-pic about the early years of Johnny Cash but the only reason the film exists is because of Cash's popularity. There's nothing bigger going on and the lead performances are not compelling enough.
The Exterminating Angels (2006)*
Now I enjoy watching young French actresses masturbate as much as the next guy, maybe even more than the next guy, but even that has its limits. This "film" exceeds that by an order of magnitude. And THEN it gets silly!
Secret Things (2002)**
Nice soft-porn-ish French "thriller" about 2 young women using their, uh, "feminine wiles" to succeed at business. Too bad the company that hires them is run by Satan himself. Or something close.