Friday, August 30, 2013

Blue Jasmine (2013) ****

San Francisco stands in for New Orleans as Cate Blanchett's Jasmine crumbles before our very eyes. Director Woody Allen uses his actors and cameras superbly and Blanchett turns in a master class in how to carry a picture. One of Allen's better written films.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Lineup (1958) ***

Nifty crime drama about a couple of creepy gangsters after some heroin imported by unsuspecting tourists. Excellent use of San Francisco locations, nicely shot with long takes, incidental music only, and a terrific and twisted screenplay.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Aaron Sorkin: What I Read - John Hudson - The Atlantic Wire

"It's only by having smart people ('elites') who disagree with each other that we arrive at what we hope is the best solution to a problem."

This HAS to be a parody, right? If not, and Sorkin really said this, he is simultaneously more arrogant and more naive than I imagined possible.

US Department of Justice wants Bush and senior cabinet members exempt from Iraq War trial — RT USA

"The reason for the decision is connected with the ‘Westfall Act’ certification. The 1988 law gives the Attorney General the power to personally decide whether the United States is actually a defendant in the case. This in turn allows the granting of absolute immunity to politicians for actions carried out while in the government’s employ."

Let's think for a minute: what would be the consequence of enacting a law that allows one government employee to grant absolute immunity to another government employee?

Big Wheel Keeps On Turning: Elvis Costello Interviewed

"EC: Well, there was really no plan in my mind to make any more recordings after National Ransom, because quite honestly, and not to be morbid, I know that I don't have an endless amount of time left, and I was trying to divide it up for the best of my mental and emotional health. The plan was to just pursue my vocation as a performing musician, which I do really well, and that's how I make my living. I couldn't honestly justify the time away from my family to make records, even at that high level. National Ransom has The Imposters and [bluegrass A-listers] The Sugarcanes on it, the two best bands I've ever worked with, you can't actually work with any better musicians. On top of that, there's the best producer in the world [T Bone Burnett] who happens to be my friend, as close as a brother, and it's difficult to imagine ever trumping that. It was one of the two or three records of mine that I will always value above all others; I like the contents of all the other albums, in terms of the songs, but I can't say I like the way the records sound, retrospectively."

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Bursting the Neuro-Utopian Bubble -

"We know, for instance, that low socioeconomic status at birth is associated with a greater risk of developing schizophrenia, but the lion’s share of research into schizophrenia today is carried out by neurobiologists and geneticists, who are intent on uncovering the organic 'cause' of the disease rather than looking into psychosocial factors. Though this research may very well bear fruit, its dominance over other forms of research, in the face of the known connection between poverty and schizophrenia, attests to a curious assumption that has settled into a comfortable obviousness: that socioeconomic status, unlike human biology, is something we cannot change 'scientifically.' That it is somehow more realistic, 'scientifically,' to find a way to change the human being itself than it is to work together to change the kind of environment that lends itself to the emergence of a disorder like schizophrenia."

Schizophrenia may be "associated" with low socioeconomic status but to make the leap that there is a "connection" between the two has nothing to do with any sort of science. Correlation is not causation. Wealthy people can and do become schizophrenic. I think Mr. Fong needs to crack open a science book or two from his UNDER-graduate studies before he continues work on his manuscript. And please drop the annoying quotes around scientifically.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Much Ado About Nothing (2012) **

Admirable effort notwithstanding, this production of the Shakespeare play comes up short as entertainment. The modern dress and setting are distracting as is the horribly washed out and flat black and white cinematography. The acting is fine with Amy Acker a standout as Beatrice.

Caesar and Cleopatra (1945) ***

Entertaining filming of the Shaw play which could be subtitled "Pygmalion in the Sand". Nicely produced, impressive art direction.

Laura Prepon on the Mystery of Real-Life Alex -- Vulture

"I read that your family has a tradition of singing “Paradise by the Dashboard Light” around the holidays.
"Oh, every time we get together. It’s our family anthem."

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Ancient redwoods in growth spurt of a lifetime - SFGate

"The data are important not only for ecological reasons but also because ancient redwoods could become a valuable commodity in California's emerging carbon market. Redwoods store three times more carbon than other types of forests, according to researchers, and have unique decay-resistant qualities that allow them to hold carbon even after death, thereby keeping climate-warming gases out of the atmosphere."

Perhaps a part of Gaia's response to an excess of carbon in the atmosphere?

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Bourne Legacy (2012) **

Writer Tony Gilroy does a pretty good job but director Tony Gilroy is just not up to the task of breaking out of the modern action movie malaise of hyper-cuts, ultra-dark lighting and nihilistic regard for human life. Essentially a souped up modern take on Three Days of the Condor.

Monday, August 12, 2013

The Revengers' Comedies (1998) **

Pleasant enough attempt at droll comedy among the British upper crust with an appealing cast.

Friday, August 09, 2013

A Streetcar Named Desire (1951) **

This is a dated film and nothing about it, save the script/play, transcends that fact. The direction is ham-fisted, typical of Kazan, and he lets Vivien Leigh overact badly. Yes, I understand Blanche is supposed to be obviously "putting on airs" but Leigh just comes across as a bad actress.

Woody Allen Interview - Esquire

"I love Mel Brooks. And I've had wonderful times working with him. But I don't see any similarities between Mel and myself except, you know, we're both short Jews. That's where it ends. His style of humor is completely different. But Bob Hope? I'm practically a plagiarist."

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

5 Surprising Genetically Modified Foods | Mother Jones

"4. Squash and zucchini: While the majority of squashes on the market are not GE, approximately 25,000 acres of crookneck, straightneck, and zucchinis have been bioengineered to be virus resistant."

via @NekoCase

Friday, August 02, 2013

The League of Gentlemen (1960) **

Straight forward, undistinguished British bank heist film. Maintains interest despite being too long. Probably considered fairly racy for its time.

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Decades of books have vanished because of US copyright protections - Quartz

“'Copyright correlates significantly with the disappearance of works rather than with their availability,' Heald writes. 'Shortly after works are created and proprietized, they tend to disappear from public view only to reappear in significantly increased numbers when they fall into the public domain and lose their owners.'”

And the writer/artist will profit from shorter copyrights because more people will discover them sooner and be a larger market for their NEXT book/art work. This is the reality the shortsighted, just-get-the-stock-price-higher business mentality cannot understand.

via The Morning News