Thursday, July 30, 2015

The Third Man (1949) ***

Orson's great, the cinematography is great, the direction top-notch and the script has something to say beyond the plot, but the two lead roles and actors are so dull the film really suffers. Still, worth seeing.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015 Blog Archive: RR talks with Woody Allen about new film, “Irrational Man”

Not that Allen looks down on those of us who “Twitter,” or become preoccupied with reading the gossip provided by the TMZ’s and Perez Hilton’s of the world.

“You know, you’re born and you mark time until you die. And people have got to fill their lives with things, and some people fill it with very noble things, but most people need stuff to fill their lives with. They go to work in the morning, they’ve got to earn a living. In their free time they play golf, they go on their boat, they go to the movies … it livens up their life.

Given Allen’s upbeat mood during our talk, I had to ask: Has he found something approaching contentment?

“You know, given the tremendous nightmare that life is, then I’m OK. Then I’ve had a lucky life. But life is a difficult, meaningless, tragic, suffering proposition, and really for many, many people, [it’s] awful. So you know by the standards of what life is, I’ve been blessed. I’m very lucky.”

Eye of the Needle (1981) ***

Terrific, 3 dimensional spy thriller. Hitch would have enjoyed this.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Sandra Bland Was Murdered | Rolling Stone

That's why the issue isn't how Sandra Bland died, but why she was stopped and detained in the first place. It's profiling, sure, but it's even worse than that. It's a systematic campaign to harass people using misdemeanors and violations as battering ram that's been going on forever, and against which there's little defense. When the law can be stretched to mean almost anything, obeying it is no magic bullet.

The Mystery of ISIS by Anonymous | The New York Review of Books

The thinkers, tacticians, soldiers, and leaders of the movement we know as ISIS are not great strategists; their policies are often haphazard, reckless, even preposterous; regardless of whether their government is, as some argue, skillful, or as others imply, hapless, it is not delivering genuine economic growth or sustainable social justice. The theology, principles, and ethics of the ISIS leaders are neither robust nor defensible. Our analytical spade hits bedrock very fast.

I have often been tempted to argue that we simply need more and better information. But that is to underestimate the alien and bewildering nature of this phenomenon. To take only one example, five years ago not even the most austere Salafi theorists advocated the reintroduction of slavery; but ISIS has in fact imposed it. Nothing since the triumph of the Vandals in Roman North Africa has seemed so sudden, incomprehensible, and difficult to reverse as the rise of ISIS. None of our analysts, soldiers, diplomats, intelligence officers, politicians, or journalists has yet produced an explanation rich enough—even in hindsight—to have predicted the movement’s rise.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Newly Released Dashcam Video Shows Sandra Bland Traffic Stop - NBC News

The video shows state trooper Brian Encinia stopping Bland in her silver Hyundai Azera after he says she failed to signal a lane change.

"You OK?" Encinia asks Bland.

"I'm waiting on you, this is your job," Bland responds. "I'm waiting on you."

"You seem very irritated," Encinia adds.

Failed to signal a lane change, refused to put out a cigarette and displayed noticeable irritation. Don't mess with Texas indeed.

Go Set A Watchman - An Opinion Piece | Brilliant Books

It is disappointing and frankly shameful to see our noble industry parade and celebrate this as “Harper Lee’s New Novel”. This is pure exploitation of both literary fans and a beloved American classic (which we hope has not been irrevocably tainted.) We therefore encourage you to view “Go Set A Watchman” with intellectual curiosity and careful consideration; a rough beginning for a classic, but only that.

via @KUSCGail.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Bicycling with Moliére (2013) **

Making Moliére accessible to modern audiences is the idea under the guise of a low-key comedy/character study as only the French can do. Pleasant and well acted, but so light it tends to flutter away.

Review: ‘Go Set a Watchman,’ by Harper Lee - SFGate

When Lee submitted the manuscript of “Watchman” to publisher J.B. Lippincott in 1957, her editor, Tay Hohoff, astutely saw the germ of a better book in the childhood passages and suggested Lee rewrite the novel from young Scout’s point of view, set 20 years earlier, during the Depression. Comparing “Mockingbird” — the result of two years of arduous revisions — with “Watchman” demonstrates clearly just how important a good editor can be. Put simply, where “Mockingbird” beguiles, dazzles and moves to tears as it conveys core values of empathy and human decency, “Watchman” horrifies with its ugly racism, even as it emotes and moralizes didactically, clunkily and shrilly.

It is hard not to wonder whether this manuscript made it into print after all these years because of a genuine late-life change of heart by its infirm, 89-year-old author, or because of the new gatekeeper who succeeded her sister (and longtime lawyer) Alice, who died in 2014.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Blade Runner (1982) ***

Influential and ground breaking sci-fi flick that unfortunately set the look for too many other 80's movies. It's a pretty good yarn with a few too many incongruent moments that look great but make no sense. Rutger Hauer steals the picture.

Friday, July 10, 2015

The military tested bacterial weapons in San Francisco - Business Insider

Over the next 20 years, the military would conduct 239 "germ-warfare" tests over populated areas, according to news reports from the 1970s (after the secret tests had been revealed) in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Associated Press, and other publications (via Lexis-Nexis), and also detailed in congressional testimony from the 1970s.

These tests included the large-scale releases of bacteria in the New York City subway system, on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, and in National Airport just outside Washington, DC.

Monday, July 06, 2015

On the Beach (1959) **

Ultimately unconvincing doomsday tale thanks to heavy handed and plodding direction. It's also way too long. Still Misses Gardner and Anderson are easy on the eyes and Mr. Astaire turns in a fine performance in his straight dramatic debut although he's supposed to be British and has no accent whatsoever. Same goes for Gardner and Perkins who are supposed to be Australian.

The Mission (1986) ***

Full of lush and cinematic imagery, a handful of moving sequences and a terrific score, nevertheless the film fails to achieve the greatness to which is aspires. The symbolism is a little too overt, the earnestness a little too strong. Not enough of the characters, especially the native peoples, are fleshed out and remain caricatures. Still, entertaining and thought provoking.