Saturday, April 30, 2016

Daisy Miller (1974) ****

Terrific showcase for Cybill Shepherd and she delivers a standout performance in a well directed period piece. Cast, photography, costumes, production design, it's all there and all top notch.

Monday, April 25, 2016

The Jungle Book (2016) **

Convincingly solves at least 2 problems with previous CGI heavy films: they got the eyes right, and the lighting (typically very dark) is not an issue. Hard to call this a "live action" film since everything but Mowgli is purportedly animated, but it is a technical marvel and enjoyable on that level alone. Everything else is mediocre owing to director Jon Favreau's constant eye on the bottom line approach to film making.

'Taxi Driver' Oral History: De Niro, Scorsese, Foster, Schrader Spill All on 40th Anniversary - Hollywood Reporter

PAUL SCHRADER (screenwriter) I had a series of things falling apart, a breakdown of my marriage, a dispute with the AFI, I lost my reviewing job. I didn't have any money and I took to drifting, more or less living in my car, drinking a lot, fantasizing. The Pussycat Theater in L.A. would be open all night long, and I'd go there to sleep. Between the drinking and the morbid thinking and the pornography, I went to the emergency room with a bleeding ulcer. I was about 27, and when I was in the hospital, I realized I hadn't spoken to anyone in almost a month. So that's when the metaphor of the taxi cab occurred to me — this metal coffin that moves through the city with this kid trapped in it who seems to be in the middle of society but is in fact all alone. I knew if I didn't write about this character I was going to start to become him — if I hadn't already.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Robert De Niro: 'Every day for 40 years someone has said: You talkin' to me?' | Film | The Guardian

Bernard Herrmann’s jazzy score for Taxi Driver is justly revered. Yet the legendary composer almost didn’t do the project, which would turn out to be his last. Producer Michael Phillips recalled a meeting with Herrmann, where the musician sneered: “I don’t do movies about cabbies.” Scorsese then met with Herrmann, convincing him to give Taxi Driver a shot. “[Herrmann] liked it,” Scorsese said of the script. “Especially when Travis poured peach brandy on his cereal in the morning. He really liked that.”

Scientists can now make lithium-ion batteries last a lifetime | Computerworld

"Mya was playing around, and she coated this whole thing with a very thin gel layer and started to cycle it," Penner, chair of UCI's chemistry department, said in a statement. "She discovered that just by using this gel, she could cycle it hundreds of thousands of times without losing any capacity."

"That was crazy," he added, "because these things typically die in dramatic fashion after 5,000 or 6,000 or 7,000 cycles at most."

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Harry and Tonto (1974) **

A little too unrealistic for any sort of drama and not funny enough to be a comedy. Tries too hard to be quirky at times. Still some memorable scenes and the overall themes are worth exploring. Plus it's good to see evidence that not too terribly long ago it was possible for the elderly and less well off to actually live and work in our great cities.

Pee-wee's Big Holiday (2016) **

For fans only, but if you are this is a well done riff on the Pee-wee universe. Nicely cast and Reubens is a gifted performer even if he is definitely way too old for the part by now.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Best in Show (2000) ***

John Michael Higgins steals the show from a top notch comedy cast in Christopher Guest's second best mockumentary.

Thursday, April 07, 2016

The sugar conspiracy | Ian Leslie | Society | The Guardian

One of the scientists who called for the retraction of Nina Teicholz’s BMJ article, who requested that our conversation be off the record, complained that the rise of social media has created a “problem of authority” for nutrition science. “Any voice, however mad, can gain ground,” he told me.

The problem of authority for nutrition "science" as it currently exists is not due to the internet but being horribly and disastrously wrong for such a long time. Hopefully this can change that.

Wednesday, April 06, 2016

A programming language for living cells | MIT News

Users of the new programming language, however, need no special knowledge of genetic engineering.
“You could be completely naive as to how any of it works. That’s what’s really different about this,” Voigt says. “You could be a student in high school and go onto the Web-based server and type out the program you want, and it spits back the DNA sequence.”

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

Marcia Clark’s Final Verdict on People v. O.J. -- Vulture

They asked for his testimony to be read back because he stated that when he pulled up to the driveway he noticed two cars in the driveway. And when Johnnie was cross-examining him Johnnie laughed and said, "Well, of course, that's not true, Arnelle was not home yet.” Alan Park was remembering the photos taken by the police after the fact. I asked him about that and he said, "Yeah that's true so there might have only been one car.” It wasn't really important to me how many cars were in the driveway. It wasn't important to anyone. But the jury said, Oh see. He said there were two cars in the driveway, so we can't trust anything he says. And if there could ever be a more clear illustration of the fact that a jury will buy exactly and only what they want to buy, that has to be it.

And if there could ever be a more clear illustration of the fact that a prosecutor will buy exactly and only what they want to buy, THAT has to be it. The prosecution bungled this case because they had too much faith in the blood evidence and never considered alternate defense tactics and ways to counter. Eyewitness testimony is typically least convincing, least accurate. I would've disregarded this testimony also and not because I had the verdict decided in advance.

Monday, April 04, 2016

Erik Bauersfeld, radio dramatist and ‘Admiral Ackbar’ voice, dies at 93 - SFGate

But he was best known in popular culture for voicing Ackbar in “Return of the Jedi” and “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” as well as being the voice for the “Return of the Jedi” character Bib Fortuna. Bauersfeld was a last-minute recruit for both roles; he said he provided lines for the characters in about 45 minutes with little direction from sound designer Ben Burtt.
“I went over, he showed me the picture of Admiral Ackbar, and I did it,” Bauersfeld told the Chronicle in 2012. “I saw the face, and I knew what he must sound like.”