Friday, May 29, 2015

Denny Hastert is Contemptible, But His Indictment Exemplifies America's Over-Criminalization Pathology - The Intercept

When everything – even trivial transgressions – can become a serious felony, it empowers law enforcement to punish whomever they want. It’s a key reason they are able to basically use arrest and prosecution powers to control and punish minority populations in the U.S. The arrest and destruction of Eliot Spitzer for prostitution was accomplished through the same type of detection system and charges being used against Hastert.

Turning someone into a felon and putting them into prison for years, or even threatening to do so, is one of the most repressive things a government can do to its citizens. Only serious acts of wrongdoing should enable that. The “past misconduct” in which Hastert allegedly engaged may qualify, but that’s not part of his charges. The acts for which he has been charged – hiding withdrawals and lying to the FBI about why he wanted that money – do not qualify.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

The Blue Room (2014) ***

Expertly directed by lead Mathieu Amalric this quintessentially French noir grabs the viewer from the get go and doesn't let up until the puzzle is solved 75 minutes later. Or is it?

r.i.p. blank slate (and what does “the environment” mean anyway?) | hbd chick

the authors looked at “17,804 traits from 2,748 publications including 14,558,903 partly dependent twin pairs, virtually all published twin studies of complex traits.” 14.5+ MILLION twin pairs! as james thompson said, this study pretty much represents “the mother of ‘F*** Off’ samples.” (~_^) in future, if someone says to you that twin studies were debunked a long time ago, blah, blah, blah, just point them to this paper.

and the upshot is: we are not blank slates. we never were.

Taxi Driver (1976) ****

Superb trip to Hell in the guise of NYC in the early '70's with a deranged Vietnam vet as guide. Every aspect of the production feels fresh and original even 40 years on.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The Birth of Eleanor Rigby

‘All our songs come out of our imagination. There was never an Eleanor Rigby. One of us might think of a song completely, and the other just adds a bit. Or we might write alternate lines. We never argue. If one of us says he doesn’t like a bit, the other agrees. It just doesn’t matter that much. I care about being a song writer. But I don’t care passionately about each song.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Art Garfunkel on Paul Simon: 'I created a monster' - Telegraph

“George came up to me at a party once and said “my Paul is to me what your Paul is to you.” He meant that psychologically they had the same effect on us. The Pauls sidelined us. I think George felt suppressed by Paul and I think that’s what he saw with me and my Paul. Here’s the truth: McCartney was a helluva music man who gave the band its energy, but he also ran away with a lot of the glory.”

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Leap Year (2010) ***

Fascinating character study of a woman struggling to deal with deeply buried pain and willing to try one approach to its inevitable conclusion. Unflinchingly and realistically portrayed by Monica del Carmen and nicely directed by Michael Rowe on just one set with no closeups (yay!). Runs rings around films with much larger budgets and more "name" talent.

Monday, May 18, 2015

The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985) **

Has not aged well. Most of the cast seem miscast which hampers the impact of the final scenes. Some decent Woody one-liners and his usual fine pacing, but it's not up to his impressive visual standards.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Nestle boss says he wants to bottle more water in California despite drought | US news | The Guardian

Brown admitted that Nestlé currently wastes about 30% of the 700m gallons of water a year it draws from the ground in California. On Tuesday, the company announced plans to reduce water waste at its bottling plants in Bakersfield and Tulare by 12%.

More than 82,000 people have signed a petition calling on Nestlé to stop bottling from a spring in southern California, and protesters armed with plastic pitchforks have blocked the entrance to a Nestlé plant in Sacramento.

Despite the protests, Brown said: “We feel good about what we’re doing delivering healthy hydrating to people throughout the state of California.”

Woody Allen at Cannes: Life Has No Meaning, and His Amazon Series Could Be a 'Cosmic Embarrassment'

“The bottom line is that life has its own agenda, and it runs right over you. We’re all going to end up in a very bad position sooner or later. The same position, but a bad one — and the only way out of it, the only thing you can do as an artist, is to explain to people how life is worth living and has a meaning.”
He shrugged. “Now, you can’t really do that without conning them. We’re living in a random universe with no meaning. Everything that Shakespeare or Michelangelo or Beethoven did will all be gone one day. It’s very hard to sell anyone a bill of goods that there’s any good to this.”
So his tactic, he insisted, is simple: “The only possible way you can beat this is through distraction. I distract myself by making these movies. I think, ‘Oh God, can I get Emma and Parker to get this scene right?’ Like it means something, like if I make a bad movie I’ll die.”

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Factotum (2005) ****

Immensely perceptive and lyrical look at humanity through the misadventures of a not likable, not employable and barely tolerable would be writer. No happy endings, no growth arcs, just the bitter truth exposed with humor, cinematic imagery and excellent acting, directing, writing.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Seymour M. Hersh: The Killing of Osama bin Laden : LRB 21 May 2015

The remains, including his head, which had only a few bullet holes in it, were thrown into a body bag and, during the helicopter flight back to Jalalabad, some body parts were tossed out over the Hindu Kush mountains – or so the Seals claimed. At the time, the retired official said, the Seals did not think their mission would be made public by Obama within a few hours: ‘If the president had gone ahead with the cover story, there would have been no need to have a funeral within hours of the killing. Once the cover story was blown, and the death was made public, the White House had a serious “Where’s the body?” problem. The world knew US forces had killed bin Laden in Abbottabad. Panic city. What to do? We need a “functional body” because we have to be able to say we identified bin Laden via a DNA analysis. It would be navy officers who came up with the “burial at sea” idea. Perfect. No body. Honourable burial following sharia law. Burial is made public in great detail, but Freedom of Information documents confirming the burial are denied for reasons of “national security”. It’s the classic unravelling of a poorly constructed cover story – it solves an immediate problem but, given the slighest inspection, there is no back-up support. There never was a plan, initially, to take the body to sea, and no burial of bin Laden at sea took place.’ The retired official said that if the Seals’ first accounts are to be believed, there wouldn’t have been much left of bin Laden to put into the sea in any case.

I guess ZD30 really IS fiction then. Too bad it will still be treated as a doc by lots of people.

Saturday, May 02, 2015

Ex Machina (2015) ***

Thought provoking, very well made sci-fi fable about man v. machine and WHAT a machine! Reminiscent of a Soderbergh flick in a good way.