Sunday, November 24, 2013

Tristana (1970) *

Maybe this was supposed to be a black comedy. Either way I didn't get it.

Ball of Fire (1941) *

Interminable and insufferable "comedy" hopelessly mines the eggheads vs. regular Joe trope to disastrous effect. The leads are miscast and the whole thing goes on way too long. Embarrassing.

Looking for Richard (1996) **

Director Al Pacino hedges his bets and backs off a full fledged version of Shakespeare's Richard III for a combination "making of" and "Cliff Notes to". It works some of the time, especially in the last third of the film, but Al, please, next time lose the baseball cap huh?

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Paris Review – C. S. Lewis Reviews The Hobbit, 1937, C.s. Lewis

"For it must be understood that this is a children’s book only in the sense that the first of many readings can be undertaken in the nursery. Alice is read gravely by children and with laughter by grown ups; The Hobbit, on the other hand, will be funnier to its youngest readers, and only years later, at a tenth or a twentieth reading, will they begin to realise what deft scholarship and profound reflection have gone to make everything in it so ripe, so friendly, and in its own way so true. Prediction is dangerous: but The Hobbit may well prove a classic."

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Black Widow (1987) **

Appealing leads but a rather simplistic and all too slick noir. Lots of big hair and shoulder pads date the flick to VERY '80's.

A Neuroscientist's Radical Theory of How Networks Become Conscious - Wired Science

"According to Koch, consciousness arises within any sufficiently complex, information-processing system. All animals, from humans on down to earthworms, are conscious; even the internet could be. That’s just the way the universe works.

“'The electric charge of an electron doesn’t arise out of more elemental properties. It simply has a charge,” says Koch. “'Likewise, I argue that we live in a universe of space, time, mass, energy, and consciousness arising out of complex systems.'”

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Blancanieves (2012) ***

Beautifully made take on the Snow White tale set amid the Spanish bullfighting culture of the 1920's. Seriously. Just a tad long, but inventive and inspired, and much more successful as a silent film than this poseur.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Now You See Me (2013) *

A smug, arrogant movie about smug, arrogant people. The director apparently is in love with the 360 degree camera shot where it wraps around the subject. Major annoyance.

Twixt (2011) ***

Pared down to the essentials, this is a well made lucid dream of a flick made by a master who obviously still has a lot to say, and still has the skills to say it with style. Puzzling and a shame it wasn't given a standard theatrical release. Highly entertaining.

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Europa Report (2013) **

"Found footage" style sci-fi thriller impresses with its realistic production design on such a low budget but loses some of its impact at the reveal.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Strange Silence on Success in Removing Syria’s Chemical Weapons | Common Dreams

"The policy lesson is clear: when the United States has worked through the Security Council and other U.N. agencies, it has succeeded in ridding the region — including in Iraq in the 1990s and Libya in 2003-04 — of most weapons of mass destruction (except, of course, those possessed by Israel.) While the threat of American military force may have played a role in each case, the effectiveness of the U.N.’s inspection and disarmament capabilities is indisputable and will remain essential as the world seeks to remove weapons of mass destruction from areas of likely conflict."

via @DeanBaker13

Do Our Bones Influence Our Minds? : The New Yorker

"But Karsenty has long believed that our skeletons do a lot more than just give our bodies their shape. In 2007, he suggested that bones play a crucial role in regulating blood sugar: mice engineered to lack osteocalcin were essentially diabetic; they were less sensitive to insulin, and produced less of it. When he provided osteocalcin, however, their insulin sensitivity and blood sugar normalized."

Undernews: Canada's health insurance bill was 13 pages long; Medicare used index cards to enroll 20 million

"Physician, scholar and advocate, Steffie Woolhandler, co-founder of Physicians for a National Health Program says that 'complexity is baked into Obamacare.' ... Over forty years ago, Canada’s single-payer system was enacted with a 13 page bill that covers everyone for less than half of the cost per capita than the U.S.’s waste-ridden, profiteering, corrupt medical-industrial complex that drives honest practitioners up the wall. And, the Canadian system produces better health outcomes at this reduced cost."

Monday, November 04, 2013

Vietnam releases dengue-blocking mosquito - Yahoo News

"It's unclear why mosquitoes that transmit dengue do not naturally get Wolbachia, which is found in up to 70 percent of insects in the wild. But O'Neill doesn't believe that purposefully infecting mosquitoes will negatively impact ecosystems. He says the key to overcoming skepticism is to be transparent with research while providing independent risk analyses and publishing findings in high-caliber scientific journals.

"'I think, intuitively, it makes sense that it's unlikely to have a major consequence of introducing Wolbachia into one more species,'" O'Neill says, adding that none of his work is for profit. 'It's already in millions already.'"

They do all this science to figure out why mosquitoes are the transmitters of Dengue fever, yet when they come up with a solution they rely on INTUITION to claim it is safe? Sure it FEELS like it won't hurt anything, let's do it!

I, Cringely The Google File System makes NSA's hack blatantly illegal and they know it - I, Cringely

"This is a huge point of law missed by the general news reports — a point so significant and obvious that it ought to lead to immediate suspension of the program and destruction of all acquired data… but it probably won’t.

"That probably won’t happen because Congress seems hell-bent on quickly passing an intelligence reform bill that not only doesn’t prohibit these illegal activities, the bill seems to give them a legal basis they didn’t have before.

"Some kind of reform, eh?"

Friday, November 01, 2013

Real Steel (2011) *

A flick that revels in its cliches and un-originality in an incredibly annoying way. Wall-to-wall soundtrack and reaction shots to make darn sure we get the point.