Thursday, March 29, 2012

...And They Lived Happily Ever After (2004)**
French farce about, what else, marriage, fidelity, sex, etc. Light and playful, sometimes absurd.
The Hot Rock (1972)**
Breezy heist flick with an appealing cast and smart script. Ron Leibman is a hoot.
Age of Ignorance by Charles Simic | The New York Review of Books:
"Where else on earth would a president who rescued big banks from bankruptcy with taxpayers’ money and allowed the rest of us to lose $12 trillion in investment, retirement, and home values be called a socialist?"

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Banks, debt creation, and the financial takeover | eats shoots 'n leaves:
"This is the clearest explanation we’ve heard yet of the mechanisms used by politically powerful financial institutions to capture both public and private wealth.

"The fundamental principle: Creation of money by banks in the form of debt allows banks to use compound interest as a mechanism to capture the commons, while government creation of money through investment in public infrastructure and services creates wealth."

Monday, March 26, 2012

Downhill Racer (1969)****
Stellar directorial debut for Michael Ritchie in this tale of a young man with a talent for skiing and little else. Best skiing sequences on film. Tight, spare script, no filler. Marred only by the occasional heavy handed soundtrack.
Cobra Verde (1987)**
Klaus Kinski is exceptional yet again, in another Werner Herzog tale of crazy men in South American. This time he's a ruthless bandit who manages to become a slave mogul. Interesting in parts, but as a whole it feels like we've been down this road before with Herzog/Kinski.
Jeremiah Johnson (1972)**
So-so direction mars this otherwise fine character driven tale of old time mountain men. Will Geer is terrific.
Anthony Zimmer (2005)**
Gorgeous Nice locations and Sophie Marceau are the highlights of this French thriller.

Friday, March 16, 2012

The Housemaid (2010)**
Impeccably photographed, well acted and visually interesting, but the film never seems to reach its full potential.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Neuroscience And Justice Edge Master Class 2011 | Edge:
"And so the whole notion, I think, there's a realization for me, that the whole notion of this free will and the brain and determinism has been miscast. We just accept the fact that we have this automatic brain, and we use this as our metaphor. So cars are automatic, and yet cars with all their determinism that we can specify, in no way tell us about traffic. So when the cars start interacting in a social setting, you get all of a sudden, incredible new capacities that cannot be described in any way by studying the individual cars.

"I would just say the same with brains. Brains are automatic. But our freedom and our sense of personal responsibility come from the interaction, the social interaction, the glue of the environment, of the social grouping. And that's where you look for responsibility, and that's why even though we are these finely tuned machines and narratives and all the rest of it, we hold people responsible because that is the nature of the social exchange between people, and that's how you should look upon responsibility."
The Skin I Live In (2011)**
Strange Frankenstein-ish tale of revenge attempts to serve as some sort of metaphor for gender identity. Compelling, but a misstep for Almodóvar.
The Candidate (1972)****
Still the best film about modern politics and still, unfortunately, relevant and topical. Redford is quite good, Karen Carlson is stunning, director Michael Ritchie at the top of his game. Smart, witty, spot on script.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Fitzcarraldo (1982)**
Like an opera it is far too long, but there are many fine moments as well as the lovely Claudia Cardinale.
They Might Be Giants (1971)**
Dated counter-culture fable in gritty NYC nevertheless watchable due to the performances of Scott and Woodward in the leads. Focus on them, ignore the supporting cast and shoddy direction.
Woyzeck (1979)*
Kinski is impressive again but, as usual, Herzog's off-the-cuff style undercuts him.
Aguirre: The Wrath of God (1972)**
A film made off-the-cuff in difficult conditions and it shows. Klaus Kinski gives an interesting and potentially great performance, some remarkable river rafting scenes, some stunning photography but Herzog's bizarre seat-of-the-pants directing style fails to capitalize.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Elaine Pagels on the Book of Revelation : The New Yorker:
"You can’t help feeling, along with Pagels, a pang that the Gnostic poems, so much more affecting in their mystical, pantheistic rapture, got interred while Revelation lives on. But you also have to wonder if there ever was a likely alternative. Don’t squishy doctrines of transformation through personal illumination always get marginalized in mass movements? As Stephen Batchelor has recently shown, the open-minded, non-authoritarian side of Buddhism, too, quickly succumbed to its theocratic side, gasping under the weight of those heavy statues. The histories of faiths are all essentially the same: a vague and ambiguous millennial doctrine preached by a charismatic founder, Marx or Jesus; mystical variants held by the first generations of followers; and a militant consensus put firmly in place by the power-achieving generation. Bakunin, like the Essenes, never really had a chance. The truth is that punitive, hysterical religions thrive, while soft, mystical ones must hide their scriptures somewhere in the hot sand."

Sunday, March 04, 2012

The Artist (2011)**
This picture was apparently made by and for fans of silent movies. It is made well enough, but the story is pedestrian at best, and the acting is not enough to overcome that. Dull.

Friday, March 02, 2012

Love Crime (2010)**
Kristin Scott Thomas is her usual compelling self but Ludivine Sagnier can't match her and looks perpetually in a state of shock in this circular tale of corporate back stabbing.
Hugo (2011)**
A nearly constant and distracting score, an extremely mobile camera for no other reason than 3d gimmicks, scenes that are oddly paced, a story that seems to be saying that movies are far better than books and none of the trademark Scorsese vitality. Technically superb but it's over-designed and cluttered.