Thursday, October 31, 2013

Elvis Costello Talks to Judd Apatow About Wise Up Ghost, His Album with the Roots, and His Musical with Burt Bacharach | Vanity Fair

"It’s essentially Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf with songs. It’s pretty dark stuff, but we’re hopefully injecting into it a little bit of pace here and there. We’ve written 12 songs in the last six days."

The Counselor (2013) **

Too vague for its own good, but full of beautiful people and colorful places and cheetahs! Cameron Diaz makes a lovely femme fatale.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Haute Cuisine (2012) ***

Delicious French food porn along with a spare, restrained portrait of a cook's life from the presidential palace to literally the ends of the Earth.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Last Love / The Dissolve

"It’s been three years since she died, but the former philosophy professor struggles to will himself out of his Parisian flat to face the world."

I'm sorry but I'll have to skip this picture since there is no way I could suspend my disbelief enough to accept that anyone, under any circumstances could feel that way living in a flat in Paris. ;-)

Monday, October 28, 2013

The Last Exorcism (2010) *

Not very frightening pseudo-doc about a preacher coming clean on fake exorcisms finally confronting the real thing. Or is it? Keeps going on like that until it ends up downright silly.

World Series Game Three Ends After Bizarre, Rare Obstruction Call - Connor Simpson - The Atlantic Wire

"By the book, Middlebrooks was dead or alive on that play. There was nothing he could do. 'If he lies prone on the dirt, he might be obstructing, according to the rulebook. If he gets up, he might be obstructing, according to the rulebook,' writes Samar Kalaf."

Sorry, Samar, but you are creating an either/or fallacy. All Middlebrooks had to do was put his legs down, like anyone would do if they were not TRYING to trip Craig! Craig tried to step over him and if his legs were down he would have. And despite the Atlantic Wire's histrionics, runner obstruction is NOT an incredibly rare call. Any regular baseball fan has seen it called before. It is a good rule and a valid, necessary rule. It goes hand in hand with fielder obstruction by the runner. Both players need to be cognizant of each other's right to move on the field and if they don't there are consequences. Ball players and coaches know this. It's really not that controversial.

German Astronaut Fact Checks Gravity Starring Sandra Bullock - SPIEGEL ONLINE

"SPIEGEL: It doesn't sound like a very nice way to go, drifting through nothingness in a spacesuit, waiting to die.

"Walter: On the contrary! When you're slowly running out of oxygen, the same thing happens as does when you're in thin air at the top of a mountain: Everything seems funny. And as you're laughing about it, you slowly nod off. I experienced this phenomenon in an altitude chamber during my training as an astronaut. At some point, someone in the group starts cracking bad jokes. Our brains are gentle with us. A person who dies alone in space dies a cheerful death."

Saturday, October 26, 2013

The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (1970) **

Apparently mutilated by the studio, this movie probably wouldn't have worked anyway since Holmes is misplayed by Sir Robert Stephens a bit too fey to make the story's conceit believable.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Great Gatsby (1974) **

All the principal actors in this flick should have sued the director. They look awful! Shot in tight closeup with sweaty, oily faces no matter what the conditions are supposed to be. And how in the world did Mia Farrow get to be the object of Gatsby's obsession? The whole movie is not cast very well. Still it moves along briskly and seems to be a fair depiction of the '20's.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Craig Venter: 'This isn't a fantasy look at the future. We are doing the future' | Science | The Observer

"Venter thinks that with the 2010 announcement he finally answered the question posed by physicist Erwin Schr̦dinger in his 1944 book written for the lay reader Рand of which Venter owns a first edition РWhat is Life? 'Life is a DNA software system,' says Venter. All living things are solely reducible to DNA and the cellular apparatus it uses to run on. The DNA software both creates and directs the more visible 'hardware' of life such as proteins and cells.

"With that question settled, says Venter, it's clear that if you give an organism new software by rewriting its genome, you have rewritten the software and life itself. He dismisses his scientific critics who say there is more to remaking life than creating DNA molecules as guilty of a kind of modern day vitalism, the pre-scientific notion that an intangible something sets life apart from other things made from atoms and molecules.

"Although Venter works on single cells, he says he believes it holds true for even the most complex organisms. 'I can't explain consciousness yet, but like anything else it will be explainable at the molecular level, the cellular level and therefore the DNA coding level.'"

Simple Sitting Test Predicts How Long You'll Live |

"People who scored fewer than eight points on the test, he found, were twice as likely to die within the next six years compared with those who scored higher; those who scored three or fewer points were more than five times as likely to die within the same period compared with those who scored more than eight points."

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Mitch Hurwitz on Jeremy Piven, Loose Seals -- Vulture

"But I just think, even though we talk about character, what we’re really wired too as species is just story. It’s what keeps us interested in things, it’s how we turn these crazy, random firings in our brains at night while we sleep into a story. Our brain’s just trying so hard to say, ‘then that caused me to do this,’ so it’s a funny thing."

The Witches (1990) ***

Like another beloved Roald Dahl adaptation, this film was made by folks who cared about the material as an end in itself. Never condescends to its audience. Nic Roeg falls in love with the fish eye camera lens a bit much here and there but overall the pace is crisp and the actors play it straight as it should be.

Security Check Now Starts Long Before You Fly -

"For instance, an update about the T.S.A.’s Transportation Security Enforcement Record System, which contains information about travelers accused of 'violations or potential violations' of security regulations, warns that the records may be shared with 'a debt collection agency for the purpose of debt collection.'

A recent privacy notice about PreCheck notes that fingerprints submitted by people who apply for the program will be used by the F.B.I. to check its unsolved crimes database.

“'The average person doesn’t understand how much intelligence-driven matching is going on and how this could be accessed for other purposes,' said Khaliah Barnes, a lawyer with the Electronic Privacy Information Center, which has fought to block these initiatives. 'There’s no meaningful oversight, transparency or accountability.'”

Just a reminder, this is not a movie this is real life.

via @theHarryShearer

Monday, October 21, 2013

The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005) **

Takes its subject matter seriously and features a top notch cast doing fine work, but ends up a mixed bag with the script going nowhere in particular.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Creator (1985) *

As if one needed any, this flick provides all the proof necessary of Peter O'Toole's acting ability. He is light years beyond the dreck of this screenplay. Nonsensical nonetheless and a waste of time.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Lady in White (1988) *

This flick is not just bad, it's offensively so. Tries to be To Kill A Mockingbird one minute then A Christmas Story the next and not hitting either target. Many scenes feel staged and arbitrary.

Twilight (1998) ***

Stylish neo-noir with a stellar cast and a tight, witty script. Feels like it was made in the early '70's.

Planet of the Apes (1968) ****

Iconic and deservedly so. Sci-fi about ideas rather than spfx. Crisply and imaginatively directed with a cast and script that takes things seriously. A classic.

South Dakota's cattle cataclysm: why isn't this horror news? | Carrie Mess | Comment is free |

"Can you even imagine what that would feel like? Standing with your hands tied as your life's living, breathing and mooing work is destroyed. I can't imagine, I don't know how I would recover from a loss like that. This wasn't just one or two herds of cows. This wasn't just one or two families that lost animals. This wasn't just a few cows. Tens of thousands of cows are gone. Some ranchers lost their entire herds. All of their cows, gone."

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

A Dr. Strangelove sequel by Terry Gilliam? Stanley Kubrick wanted it to ... / The Dissolve

"But according to a recent interview with Terry Gilliam at Twitch, Dr. Strangelove director Stanley Kubrick didn’t see it that way. He actually entertained the idea of a sequel called Son Of Strangelove, and worked on the concept with Strangelove co-writer Terry Southern. But rather than direct it himself, he was interested in Gilliam leading the project."

Bleak House by Charles Simic | NYRblog | The New York Review of Books

"Anyone who averts his eyes from the hopeless lives many of our fellow citizens lead and tells himself and others that these men and women only have themselves to blame, is either a fool or a soulless bastard."

Or a human being caught in the myriad built-in brain biases that can make it so easy to believe that *I* am the victim of circumstance but *they* get what they deserve. Which explains the GOP voting base. I don't know how to explain the Democrat's voting base.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Gravity (2013) ***

Stunning technical achievement but falls short in the emotionally engaging department. A little disappointed in a couple of choices made by director Alfonso Cuarón (too much music, dialogue), but some incredible action sequences. Can't imagine this film being watchable on a small screen though.

NSA collects millions of e-mail address books globally - The Washington Post

"Spam has proven to be a significant problem for the NSA — clogging databases with information that holds no foreign intelligence value. The majority of all e-mails, one NSA document says, 'are SPAM from ‘fake’ addresses and never ‘delivered’ to targets.'”

Lovely spam, wonderful spam!

via @theharryshearer

Monday, October 14, 2013

The Last Days of Disco (1998) ***

The same sort of folks we saw in Metropolitan about 10 years later, still messed up but in the same witty and self-unaware way. Great disco soundtrack.

The Efficiency Expert (1992) **

Amiable but formulaic fable of productivity consultant who has let his work take over his life and the goofy but charming moccasin factory workers who set him right.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Zookeeper in Mo. killed when charged by elephant - SFGate

"Several employees were with Bradford at the time because Patience had a history of being aggressive, she said. The zoo has two female and two male elephants. Another female, named Connie, died earlier this month. Zoo officials said they did not yet know what would happen to Patience."

I'm conflicted. I grew up going to a great zoo and have enjoyed many other zoos around the country, but I am beginning to think that perhaps this is an idea whose time has come and should be gone. Let's move towards virtual zoos or holographic, interactive museums instead.

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Mama (2013) ***

Jessica Chastain is mesmerizing in an otherwise so-so ghost story/creature feature. Some exceptional work in a few brief dream sequences.

World Bank Insider Blows Whistle on Corruption, Federal Reserve

“'This is like crooks trying to figure out where they can go hide. It’s a mafia,' she said. 'These culprits that have grabbed all this economic power have succeeded in infiltrating both sides of the issue, so you will find people who are supposedly trying to fight corruption who are just there to spread disinformation and as a placeholder to trip up anybody who manages to get their act together.… Those thugs think that if they can keep the world ignorant, they can bleed it longer.'”

Tuesday, October 08, 2013


"The song 'Mother and Child Reunion', meanwhile, had taken its title from a dish of that name he'd been served in a Chinese restaurant—a dish composed entirely of chicken and egg."

Monday, October 07, 2013

The Exorcist III (1990) **

Might have been better had the producers not insisted on making the film fit the title, but it has some scary moments and some well written scenes before it goes off the rails.

New Yorker Festival Dispatch: Noah Baumbach and Greta Gerwig : The New Yorker

"'We didn’t set out to write something that didn’t have any heterosexual romantic relationship in it,' Gerwig said. 'There was no thesis statement that we were going to accomplish something like this. But once we did it, it struck me—I almost can’t think of a single movie where a woman doesn’t either fall in love, or fall out of love, or lose love, or love is an issue, and I can think of so many movies where men—it’s not even part of it at all. It’s not even in the equation at all.' She went on, 'Movies and theatre and television shows—we look to them to tell us what’s important in the narratives of our lives, and what moments count. And if the only moment that counts is whether or not he likes you—that’s not good enough. You know?'”

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Requiem for a Dream (2000) ***

Searing examination of addiction features some intriguing visuals, and a knockout performance by Jennifer Connelly. Pulls no punches and is tough to watch at times.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Don't Be Afraid of the Dark (2010) *

Evil tooth fairies terrorize a young girl and her family. Seriously. And they look like hairy Gremlins. Guillermo del Toro should know better.

To the Wonder (2012) **

Director Terence Malick's most abstract, impressionistic film doesn't quite work despite gorgeous cinematography of some pretty bleak places. A beautiful, ambitious experiment.