Friday, October 31, 2014

The Police Are Still Out of Control - Frank Serpico - POLITICO Magazine

"Today the combination of an excess of deadly force and near-total lack of accountability is more dangerous than ever: Most cops today can pull out their weapons and fire without fear that anything will happen to them, even if they shoot someone wrongfully. All a police officer has to say is that he believes his life was in danger, and he’s typically absolved. What do you think that does to their psychology as they patrol the streets—this sense of invulnerability? The famous old saying still applies: Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely."

Thursday, October 30, 2014

St. Vincent (2014) **

The first half of this movie is terrific, riding on the marvelous performance by Bill Murray but not even he can save it from the awful denouement.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

so, alex goes... - "Relax, it’s a compliment."

"If you’re not a woman (or, in many cases, a gay man), you might not realize that we are the object of a pervasive, constant, and often stifling gaze. It is not unique to women, no, but women unequivocally, inarguably bear the brunt of it, and we see this in advertisements, on television, in movies, through dress codes, even in the way people talk to and compliment very small children. A lot of the images we find in media and pop culture cater to a powerful demographic and, thus, to the straight male gaze. The gaze is rewarded, consistently. It is used to being fed and satiated. But women aren’t here to sell men a product or a lifestyle or an image. Women do not exist to feed and satiate and appease the gaze.

"These are not compliments. These are leers that borrow the language of compliments."

The Blame Teachers Game: Has Anyone Heard of the South? | Beat the Press

"Of course if we look internationally, the best education outcomes on standardized tests are typically found in countries like Finland, where unionization of teachers is close to universal. One of the factors that might explain their success in education relative to the United States is that teachers are paid more relative to other professions. The ratio between the average pay of a doctor and a teacher in these countries is something closer to 2 to 1 rather than the 5 to 1 in the United States. And, they don't have a bloated financial sector where good performers can easily make 10-20 times the pay of an average teacher...The reality is that it is far-fetched to imagine that our schools will overcome all the disadvantages that poor children face. Countries that succeed in educating the bulk of their children don't have large portions of them living in poverty. They don't go to school hungry and worry about having a home to come back to."

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Silence of the Lambs (1991) ***

Stylishly, but annoyingly, directed crime thriller boasts a fine performance by Jodie Foster and an even better performance by Anthony Hopkins. Strives to be something more than the sum of its parts and doesn't quite get there.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

He Walked by Night (1948) **

Prototypical pseudo documentary police drama/noir about the hunt for a master thief who has killed a cop. Richard Basehart is surprisingly good and there's some nifty camera work.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Billy Joel, Thirty-Three Hit Wonder

"They’d met in a hotel bar on the island of St. Bart’s. He was fooling around on the piano, and Brinkley, along with the model Elle Macpherson and a nineteen-year-old Whitney Houston, gravitated to the little sunburned dynamo on the keys who was hamming it up for the girls. Brinkley sang the Portuguese lyrics of 'The Girl from Ipanema.' Macpherson draped herself over the piano. Joel quietly thanked his mother for forcing him to take piano lessons. Houston said, 'I’d like to sing,' but Joel, focussed on the supermodels, didn’t pay her much mind. Eventually, she persuaded him to play 'Respect.' 'She knocked it out of the park,' Brinkley recalled. Joel wound up dating Macpherson for a while, before he got together with Brinkley."

Never feel bad for Billy Joel. Ever.

Children of the Corn (1984) *

This flick gives Plan 9 a run for its money on the awful meter. Extremely low budget, extremely nonsensical even for the horror genre.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex * But Were Afraid to Ask (1972) **

One of Woody's earlier, funnier films. 7 segments, some successful some not so much, but always interesting.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Pack of pit bulls mauls seniors in Modesto home - SFGate

"An elderly man and woman were mauled and left in critical condition by a pack of pit bulls Tuesday evening in Modesto, officials said. Around 4:45 p.m. numerous 911 calls came into the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Office reporting an elderly man was being mauled by four dogs in a yard on the 800 block of Glenn Avenue within blocks of elementary and middle schools."

I can see the comments now about how the dogs had bad owners or were mistreated, etc. But you know you never see a headline that says "Pack of Golden Retrievers mauls seniors" or "2 year old killed by family Dachsund". Other dog breeds are owned by bad owners and mistreated and they just don't behave like "mistreated" pit bulls. There are intrinsic differences between dog breeds. Pit bulls need to go.

Monday, October 13, 2014

The Haunting in Connecticut (2009) **

Long, meandering ghost story wastes Virginia Madsen and a stunning Amanda Crew. Some effective creeps, but you can see them coming.

Friday, October 10, 2014

A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy (1982) **

Much like his most recent picture this is a light, beautifully filmed bedroom farce with a number of good one liners. Not top tier Woody, but enjoyable.

Thursday, October 09, 2014

Inside Scoop SF: Thomas Keller and Jacques Pepin on their Bouchon dinners, classics and generational bridges

"The idea was born during Bouchon’s quarterly brainstorming meeting, where Thomas Keller meets with the Bouchon chefs to discuss special dinners and the like. Doing a menu centered around the legendary chef was a natural fit, says Keller, and it worked out especially well because Pepin is currently in the Bay Area shooting a new television show."


Wednesday, October 08, 2014

The Boxtrolls (2014) ***

Spectacular stop-motion animation plus some stellar voice work. The finale drags a bit and becomes too obvious, but some very inventive scenes and many "how'd-they-do-that" moments. Never quite reaches the essential level but comes close.

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

It Is News That the AIG Bailout Was a Way to Give Money to Goldman Sachs | Beat the Press

"Finally, Sorkin again makes the annoying assertion on the AIG bailout that, 'we got our money back — with more than $22 billion in profit.'

"This one deserves derision. Access to liquidity back in 2008-2009 carried an enormous premium. We gave $192 billion to AIG at a time when other companies were dying for cash. We would have made an enormous profit if we had invested government cash almost anywhere. For example, if we lent $192 billion to Dean Baker's Excellent Hedge Fund, which used it to invest in the S&P 500 and then split the gains with the government, the country would have pocketed over $100 billion from the deal. So would Dean Baker's Excellent Hedge Fund.

"Saying that the government made a profit on the bailout deals is irrelevant in any meaningful sense. The people who make this assertion are either showing their ignorance or being dishonest."

Monday, October 06, 2014

My Darling Clementine (1946) ***

Prototypical Western showcases many iconic shots that would become the template for years to come. Stylized, romantic fantasy of "The West" skirts self awareness in some scenes. Henry Fonda is quite good.

How A 1977 Box-Office Bomb Became A Cult Classic 35 Years Later - Yahoo Finance

"Friedkin was certainly ambitious in how he shot the film. The most famous scene takes place on a rickety rope bridge as the trucks attempt to traverse it. In his memoir, the director explains that the entire sequence took over three months to shoot and construction of the bridge cost $1 million.

"When the original river meant for the scene went dry, the crew was forced to tear down and rebuild the bridge elsewhere at the cost of another million dollars. When the second river proved just as difficult, Friedkin and the crew were forced to add an artificial current and rainstorm. He says that it was the single most difficult sequence he ever filmed in his career."