Saturday, April 29, 2006
Friday, April 28, 2006
Thursday, April 27, 2006
Wednesday, April 26, 2006
Tuesday, April 25, 2006
Monday, April 24, 2006
1. Casablanca Try to imagine the Hollywood of today making a bigtime, major melodrama with A-list Stars and a plot ripped from the headlines that also serves as a righteous piece of propaganda, urging people to CHOOSE A SIDE on the major events of the day, and the right side too. Now imagine that every line of dialogue and every plot point quickly becomes a popular cliche, and I mean cliche in the good sense, as in originality with staying power. Can you imagine all this? Are you in the Twilight Zone yet? In an age when most Hollywood movies tend to reverse that famous speech, by having world events and moments of great import not amount to a hill of beans when compared to the problems of three little people, this is the movie that got it right the first time. Casablanca works on so many levels it is mind-blowing. I once watched it just for the continuity, paying attention to how far down Bogie's cigarettes were smoked, and whether the glass on the table was half-full or half-empty, and the movie still kicked ass. I see that imdb says I don't know what I'm talking about; Casablanca has several continuity errors. A couple of these are undeniable, but I would still challenge and beg to differ with most of them. No, I still say the movie kicks ass continuity-wise and all other wises too.
Quotability Quotient: 100%
Double Featured with: Rossellini's neorealist melodrama Open City.
2. It Happened One Night This Capra movie is pure magic. I have nothing to add that hasn't already been said about the laughs, the romance, and the charisma of its stars. I will add that this ain't no studio bound production. This is a movie that gets out and sees some country. Much of it now works as docu-drama. I love its sketch of the roadside sleeping cabins, with weary travelers standing in line to use the bathhouse. Perfect. A funny, sexy gem that is very modern in its pacing.
Caveats: None. (Don't get suckered into looking for that always-filming-one-side-of-Ms. Colbert's-face thing.)
Quotability Quotient: 92%
Double Featured with: That Uncertain Feeling - very loosely our couple seven years later.
3. Lawrence of Arabia I never understood the critics who compained that after seeing Lawrence of Arabia they still didn't know much about the enigmatic T.E. Lawrence. Whatever. Those guys should try reading The Seven Pillars of Wisdom sometime. Lawrence of Arabia is the ultimate in cinematic teletransportation. I had already fallen in love with it on badly cropped video, but seeing it in glorious 70mm was a true revelation, and I count myself one lucky s.o.b. to have seen it on the big screen twice in Dallas, once at the Castro in San Fran, and a few more times while operating the only 70mm projector in Oklahoma City. Once upon a time, I had to tutor and watch after some preteens. To entertain them, I just ripped off Lawrence and told large chunks of the first half in the first person. Those kids were on the edge of their seats. The sensory experience of Lawrence was so strong that it was easy to tell it like it happened to me.
Caveats: Sure, it's super long, and the second half isn't as tight as the first, but I love the whole thing.
Quotability Quotient: 74%
Double Featured with: It's its own double-feature, so how about something short about Persians, not Arabs, but still nomads, like Merian C. Cooper's Grass.
4. All About Eve Who writes dialogue like this now? I'd say we're no longer worthy. Even today's best practitioners provide only a little fire or some music but never both the Fire and Music that Joseph L. Mankiewicz provided on a regular basis. This is one of the sharpest, most paradigmatic films about theater life, not that I'm in any position to know. And thank god these characters are in the theater, because if you made them all wear little Hitler mustaches and goose-stepped them through the plot, then the rest of the world had better watch out!
Caveats: A tad long.
Quotability Quotient: 99%
Double Featured with: Gregory Peck in The Gunfighter.
5. The Best Years of Our Lives As a kid, I fell in love with this movie right at the beginning, with its long takes of our returning heroes looking out the front of a B-17 as it flies over the home they've been homesick for: Boone City. The audience might get homesick for the movies' portrait of Anywhere, U.S.A. There's great deep-focus camerawork from Gregg Toland, and William Wyler stuffs the screen with wonderful details. I liked the folks in this movie, and the bottom line is I believed it. Sure, this wasn't the whole story after the war (and how could it be?) but with Best Years a whole swath of Americana comes to life.
Caveats: Long and soapy.
Quotability Quotient: 46% The same as its release year. Very weird.
Double Featured with: Let's start the evening with Raoul Walsh's WWII actioner Desperate Journey.
Here’s how the double-standard works: the President can’t “leak” information. He can only release it. The administration has that authority, regardless of any political implications that might exist. In contrast, CIA officials are not authorized to release classified information, unless ordered to do so. Why is that? Because the President is elected and CIA bureaucrats are not. It would be very dangerous for career CIA agents to determine policy. It’s a simple case of separation of powers (like civilian control over the military) – something that Democrats in Congress seem to be quick to cite though slow (if not incapable) to understand.
That’s the double standard - now on to the reporting:
The first thing that bugged me about Walter Pincus’s story is how he chose to describe the McCarthy leak and the release of Plame’s identity. Check it out:
Describing Plamegate –
Harman was referring to White House staff members disclosing the classified identity of CIA case officer Valerie Plame in 2003.And later on, in describing McCarthy’s leak –
McCarthy, while working for CIA Inspector General John L. Helgerson, is alleged to have "knowingly and willfully shared classified intelligence, including operational information" to journalists including The Washington Post's Dana Priest.Now I’m not a journalist and I would invite those Liverputty readers/contributors who have journalism experience to set me straight on the matter: How is it that Pincus makes sure to include “alleged” whenever addressing McCarthy’s leak, even though she reportedly admitted to leaking the information, yet, Pincus does not use “alleged” for the Plamegate accusations, even though 2 years of investigations have not turned up enough evidence for an indictment, let alone a conviction? Pincus’s presumption of innocence seems to be bass ackwards. Is it kosher to assume innocence on someone who has confessed guilt?
And then there’s the more minor matter of McCarthy’s political donations. Pincus does point out that McCarthy donated $2000 to Kerry, but does not mention the remaining $7K of donations she’s made in years past to other Democratic causes. By mentioning the Kerry donations, we do get the picture of her political leanings, but surely the other donations would’ve further hurt the claim that she “leaked” for our national security and not for partisan reasons. Of course, her political donations don’t prove one way or another what the real motives were for the leak, but that’s something a paper should report for the reader to decide, right?
I’ll refrain from criticizing Pincus for seriously reporting on John Kerry’s arguments, as it is hard enough for a person to describe how Kerry comes down on any particular topic without sounding utterly ridiculous, if at all coherent. That Kerry thinks “leaks” that are “true” are acceptable is pretty darn hilarious since it pretty much nullifies any belief that any administration can or should classify anything for any reason. Also, I find Kerry’s (and others’) comparisons between the leaking of black sites and the NSA program with Plamegate to be disingenuous at best - regardless of what the definition of is is. Whether Pincus agrees with Kerry’s rubric for what’s a good or bad leak is beside the point. For the record, I assume Pincus does agree that the NSA leak and black sites leak are good and the efforts to discredit Wilson are bad – but that’s just my assumption.
Sunday, April 23, 2006
Why'd you have to go and make Will Penny so lonely?
Okay, so the movie was from 1968...but it brought to mind 70s grit. And those were my words when the credits rolled and I threw my wet hanky at the screen. Will Penny's got to be one of the best Charlton Heston performances I've seen. I was sad with him, nervous with him, embarrassed with him...hell, I even wanted to learn to read with him. Everyone should be able to read. The little button could read - and read real good.
Don't know what I'm gum flappin' about? Watch the movie.
Saturday, April 22, 2006
Friday, April 21, 2006
There were more atrocities. The absence of a Chinese flag from the lamp posts. A Falun Gong heckler, which the secret service took three minutes to silence and imprison for life. THREE MINUTES! Vice President Cheney could’ve sobered up and taken off his glasses and confessed to murdering his entourage in that time. Bush knew the gal was a Falun Gong crazy because five years ago she was up to the same heckling tricks - and we all know he scrupuously reads all the papers. Obviously, it was a plot to discredit Hu. When that newsfeed hits Chinese television airwaves, every Chinese subject is going to fetch their torch and will be looking for you know Hu.
Plus, Bush wouldn’t give Hu a dinner, only a lunch. And, to complete the indignities, Bush insisted that Hu wear floppy clown shoes and a rainbow colored wig at the press conference, which clashed with his “Free Tibet” lapel pin. Truly horrible. No wonder the man spent last night crying into his pillow - according to "senior administration officials"!
According to Milbank, this was all terribly costly, as it made Hu too upset to negotiate with later. As a result, Bush couldn’t get Hu to release all his political prisoners, free Tibet, let the KMT absorb the mainland, force N. Korea to give up on nukes, so on and so forth. If only we’d put a Chinese flag on the White House pole and given the man a dinner, we could’ve hade all that stuff! See, according to Milbank’s logic, Hu is too much of a wuss to suffer all those indignities and then turn around and negotiate like a man. By being so darned insensitive, we completely blew an opportunity to bring peace and harmony to the world.
Contrast that with Bush. No leader in the world today has been compared to Hitler more, respected less, called and idiot or a big meany as much, been heckled and shown the correct way off as many stages as him. Does it ever shake him? Does he ever not conduct himself in a professional manner? And if he did, would Milbank blame others and excuse Bush for not being in the mood to negotiate?
Thursday, April 20, 2006
Meanwhile, Reid blasts that unilateralist SOB President for not being unilateral enough. President Bush has been a dismal failure when it comes to winning Reid’s heart and mind. Notice how with Reid it cannot be done. Always. Can’t this, can’t that. He’s already removed the military option for Iran:
"We don't have the resources to do it " because of the ongoing war in Iraq."
Wednesday, April 19, 2006
Tuesday, April 18, 2006
An Imperial Japanese Army soldier who vanished in what is now Russia's Far East after World War II has been found living in Ukraine, officials said Monday.I'm not sure what that final paragraph means. He was confirmed alive in 1958. By whom?
Ishinosuke Uwano, 83, was officially listed as dead in 2000. He is due to return to his native Hirono, Iwate Prefecture, on Wednesday for a visit through April 28 to meet with relatives and others.
Officials said Uwano married a Ukrainian woman. He lived in Sakhalin after the war and was last confirmed alive in 1958.
"Iran, which is threatening the United States if it tries to block Iran's nuclear ambitions, has now been elected to — of all things — the leadership of United Nations' Disarmament Commission, which oversees international disarmament and security. At its annual meeting in New York, the Commission on Disarmament — part of the U.N.'s General Assembly — voted to make Iran a vice-chair of the commission, along with Uruguay and Chile."
Monday, April 17, 2006
So, to recap, President Bush didn’t lie about Iraq shopping for uranium in Niger but Joey Wilson did
Saturday, April 15, 2006
When you dress a cat up in something silly, you always sense their dignity is still there somewhere, trapped beneath the farce - which, of course, is why its funny in the first place. Beware if you choose the Japanese schoolgirl outfit for your cat - as it tends to attract the middle aged Japanese male. This feline will be groped on the train for sure.
Friday, April 14, 2006
I’m partial to paints, so I’d say that the most handsome horse was Scout or Rusty, though Champion had some classic good looks. If I had to be a horse, then it would certainly have been Buttermilk, Dale Evan’s mount – meow! Of course, Trigger is the type of horse you could introduce to mom.
I finally finished watching King Kong last night and here are my thoughts. It's very long. The first night I only got through about 15 or 20 minutes before I fell asleep. It wasn't good and I was worried. I had something riding on this movie because when I was talking to my brother about my still unposted essay Do I Still Love the Movies? (yeah, yeah, it's coming soon) he kept giving me a hard time and wanted me to clarify what I meant by "love the movies." When I kept fumbling around he said "Look, if you like King Kong, then you still love the movies."
"Really," I said "You're just going to come right out and say that? You haven't even seen it."
"Yes, I'm just going to come right out and say that."
After that first night, I called him. "I don't know, man, I watched the first part, and whoa! it's gonna be a long one. I'm twenty minutes in and I haven't even seen Adrien Brody yet. There's way too much back story and the subject can't support it. I mean, the original was in and out in ninety minutes."
"What about CGI Manhattan?"
"Well, it looks pretty good on the hi-def monitor, but it's still boring somehow, and sloppy too. With all the effects, you'd think it would've forced them to plan it better, but instead it looks like an excess of footage. Jackson starts wide with all the buildings and taxis, then goes in for a two-shot conversation, and suddenly he widens out again in the middle of it for no reason. He just can't help showing it off. It's not done in blocks, like you'd think, and there's a kind of annoying montage that tries to convey the whole city during the depression. Just too much info."
"Too much, huh?"
"Yeah, let's just say we've already seen shanty town."
The next night, somehow the planets were in alignment and my wife and I were able to watch the movie together. We started at one in the morning and saw all the way till Kong was captured. By then, it was just too late and we were too tired to continue. Besides, my wife wanted to stop there anyway. She was already in love with Kong and didn't want to get sad watching the end. It turns out she did the smart thing, but I'll get to that. Once the movie gets on the boat it begins to pick up steam. Some supporting players help it along, especially Thomas Kretschmann as the captain, Evan Parke as the first mate, and Kyle Chandler as a full of himself ham actor. My wife recognized the last from the tv show Early Edition. I don't see very many new movies so these were all fresh faces to me ( I just looked them up on imdb) and I hope to see more from them in the future.
When the ship gets pulled into the fog of Skull Island, the movie really kicks into high gear. I wasn't expecting the islanders to be Orcs, but maybe I should have, it being Peter Jackson and all. They are a particularly savage bunch, with weird get-up and strange coloration. When it started to rain, I half expected their body paint to wash off. Some of the old crones were in bad need of a shave. Well, I admire their tenacity for survival on this nasty island, anyway. What would you look like if a giant gorilla did a scary monkey dance on your community for god knows how many generations. Kong takes the girl, and after that, it's predicament piled on predicament in Temple of Doom fashion, with just one damn thing after another. We get every manner of life-threatening creature popping up and saying "Boo!", a spooky gorge bottom that is not fit for humans, and a spectacular dino-pile-up that reminded me of the elephants crashing down in Dumbo. When King Kong does battle with a couple of T-Rexes while hanging on industrial strength vines over the gorge, the acrobatics are ludicrous, funny, exciting, and great. There are plenty of How-the-hell-are-they-gonna-get-out-of-this-one moments and I heard myself saying "sheesh, Jackson you dog" a lot. By the time this island stuff was over, I was pumped and ready for Peter Jackson's 5 and 1/2 hour Sinbad movie. I wonder how long it would take him to show all seven voyages.
The final night, I called my bro again. "Well, are you up for it?"
"Up for what?"
"King Kong. The kids down for a late nap, if we start now we might get through most of it."
"I don't know."
"C'mon, you need to see Skull Island. It's gotta be one of the most inhospitable islands I've ever seen."
He agreed and we watched the whole damn thing. I could lose everything once they get back to Manhattan and never miss any of it. The problem is that in the original, people didn't know what was going to happen, and the makers just told the story: top of the Empire State Building, great ape gunned down in his prime, 'twas Beauty killed the Beast. I still think it was biplanes with machine guns, but okay. Now, though, everyone knows the story by heart, so what can Peter Jackson do? He takes the same thing and drags it out in color and lyricizes it. Slo mo with falsetto singing. It's boring and it left a bad taste in my mouth. It turned into The Passion of Kong.
So, to sum up, I spent close to 8 hours watching this movie. Much of it is bad, but if you start when they're on the boat and stop when they chloroform Kong, then you will see a hell of a movie.
Thursday, April 13, 2006
Wednesday, April 12, 2006
In retrospect it is clear that the weapons did not exist, although they had inIs it really clear? Later in the article, Mr. Hughes cites Tariq Aziz as saying that Saddam revealed the absence of WMDs to his generals in 2002, which sent morale plummeting. Still, there are several conflicting claims. It’s one thing to say we didn’t find any WMDs, but quite another to assume they never existed, especially when so many Iraqi documents about WMDs are to released over the coming months. It’s hard to tell whether these documents will add to the confusion or answer questions, but at this juncture, assuming with any certainty that WMDs did not exist is simply not a responsible conclusion to make. However, regardless of the actual status of WMDs, concluding that Bush didn't lie is perfectly reasonable.
the past, and Hussein had used them against his enemies.
UPDATE: In another unrelated WMD story, the Wash Post sends up a misleading headline. Captain Ed has the details.
Friday, April 07, 2006
Thursday, April 06, 2006
If I was Hamas, I wouldn’t know who to bomb to get what I wanted.
"This is part of the announced economic war because we have chosen the path of democracy," said Palestinian Finance Minister Omar Abdel-Razeq.
Nothing is sadder than seeing the most comprehensively wrecked people in the world drawing the wrong conclusions.
Wednesday, April 05, 2006
Tuesday, April 04, 2006
Monday, April 03, 2006
One part of the story that made me snicker was the producer’s supposed remorse:
"John would be the first to say this has been a real lesson to him. John is abjectly sorry for all the comments that have come to light, and that's appropriate."
Something tells me it’s the fact that the comments came to light that he regrets.