Friday, December 28, 2012

Now they're picking on Nick Stahl

And now they've accused innocent Nick Stahl of "lewd conduct". Sounds like the only "evidence" against him is the word of some LAPD vice cop, cruising the porn shops to make sure none of the consumers of pornography see anything lewd.

Turns out that this was the same unit of the vice squad that targeted Fred Willard. I never believed for an instant that Willard was guilty of anything.

I know almost nothing about Stahl, but considering what the cops did to Willard, I don't believe anything they say.

Nick Stahl, Man Without a Face, military school

Nick Stahl was the kid in Mel Gibson's Man Without A Face. He played a kid who actually WANTED to go to military school.

Has military school changed over the years? I knew a kid who saw an ad for a Naval military school in the back of a magazine. He was crying and pleading with his mother to go to the school while she tried to explain that military schools were for wealthy juvenile delinquents, not kids who wanted to join the Navy.

She probably should have sent the kid. He graduated from high school, joined the Navy, and quickly realized he had made a horrible mistake.

There was a 1963 episode of The Lucy Show where Lucy disguises herself as a cadet to visit her son in military school. When I was a kid watching that, military school looked fun. You got to dress up and run around with a toy gun. When I saw it again as a teenager, I wondered what kind of monster would send her son to military school.

On The Beverly Hillbillies, they put Jethro in military school. He was in the 6th grade, was the biggest kid in class and was surprisingly popular.

I saw an old B western where the cowboys save an orphan from outlaws then send him to military school. If I lived in a B movie version of the Old West, military school might not seem that bad to me, either.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Sarah Silverman attacks Spike Lee

Now there's a quote from Sarah Silverman defending the movie Django Unchained:
"Doesn't it take place like during slavery? Wouldn't it be odd if they didn't have that horrific word in it? [Spike Lee's] got a lot of mishegas with a lot of art. I think you can't really tell art what to do."
So. She defends Tarantino's conscious decision as a perfectly reasonable choice on his part, then asserts that "artists" have no control over what they do.

But I don't think Lee even brought this up in regards to Django Unchained. He had criticized Tarantino's Jackie Brown for the excessive use of "the N-word".  Lee said of Tarantino, "I think there is something wrong with him."

They're reporting that the word "n*****r" was used in Django Unchained 110 times in 180 minutes.

Why would anyone ask Sarah Silverman's opinion in the first place?

"You can't really tell art what to do," is a weak justification. 

Spike Lee vs Steven Spielberg

Years ago, there was a controversy around the movie The Color Purple, denounced as racist for its portrayal of black men. Siskel and Ebert reviewed it on their show without mentioning the controversy. Then went back to it a couple of weeks later to comment on it.

Gene and Roger agreed: The Color Purple was not racist. There might have been a time, they said, when it might have been necessary to show a balanced picture of black people, not portraying all black men as scum, but this was no longer necessary. That was all in the past. Even though The Color Purple was the first "black movie" Hollywood had made in years. 

A few years later, the same thing happened again. Spike Lee made the movie Mo' Better Blues. Nat Hentoff launched a smear campaign against the film because it had two apparently Jewish brother who owned a club. They appeared on screen for about two minutes and they were jerks.

At the time, Hentoff was devoting himself to defending white racist college students accused of "hate speech". He rushed to the defense of an Israeli named Eden Jacobowitz who screamed at a group of black women, "Shut up, you black water buffalo" and told them to go to a zoo. Jacobowitz later chuckled that when he called them "water buffalo", he was probably thinking of a Hebrew term they use for Palestinians.

Siskel and Ebert reviewed Mo' Better Blues on their show without mentioning this "controversy", then, as they did with The Color Purple, they came back and commented on it weeks later. And they agreed----Spike Lee was obviously an anti-Semite for not providing a "balanced" portrayal of two incidental characters. There's no need for a movie to be in any way balanced in its portrayal of blacks, but Jews are so underrepresented in Hollywood that every Jewish character has to be a paragon of virtue.

Ebert said he didn't even know they were Jewish until Siskel told him.

Sarah Silverman has claimed that anti-Semitism is everywhere and that Jews are being constantly persecuted. She says that she's popular "for a Jew". She said on CNN, “I mean, if there’s one thing we should realize is that it’s in general the world hates Jews, you know.”

Hyper-sensitivity to anti-Semitism is itself racist when it's combined with a depraved indifference to anti-black racism, and a depraved indifference to the lives of Palestinians.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Killing Bono

For some reason, I watched a movie called Killing Bono. It really wasn't my thing.

Two brothers, Neil and Ivan McCormick, were high school classmates of Bono while the band U2 was being formed. Bono wanted Ivan to join U2, but the older brother, Neil, told him no because they were forming their own band.

When U2 hits it big, Neil is wracked with guilt for stopping his brother from joining. He becomes driven to succeed, but makes one terrible decision after another, refusing to compromise on any point all the while withering in U2's shadow.

The movie got kind of dreary, watching someone do one idiotic thing after another. He and his brother would actually have been fairly successful if he hadn't turned down one opportunity after another. Rod Stewart wanted to record their song, but he was old and Neil didn't want to compromise. They had a chance to open for U2, but Neil wanted to play for his own fans, not U2's.

Like I said, the movie really wasn't my thing. I don't listen to much music. If I did, it wouldn't be U2 or their competitors. I don't know what Bono's thing is. He's basically a right-winger but I have the impression that he's too dumb to realize it.

In an article on, Dave Marsh related that Bono publicly challenged him to a debate on Marsh's view “that celebrity politics has been a pretty much complete failure”.  Marsh agreed to debate, but Bono chickened out, backed out of the challenge he made, and gave no explanation.

Read the whole article here:

From the article:
I don’t know why Bono spit the bit on debating these issues in a public forum with a well-informed antagonist. Maybe he decided that he’d fucked up and was about to lower himself by going head to head with a journalist. Maybe he doesn’t want to deal on the spot with descriptions of his repeated appearances at the conferences of the leading capitalist nations where he’s yet to ask his first hard question about anything but Africa; about his settling for promises from world leaders that patently weren’t going to be kept, and never doing more than mewing when they weren’t; about why it is that Zambian economist Dambisa Moyo, by no means an anti-capitalist, observes that she met him “at a party to raise money for Africans, and there were no Africans in the room, except for me,” or why so many other Africans have complained that he claims to speak for them but has never so much as asked their permission. In regard to the last, I did receive more courtesy than Andrew Mwenda, the Ugandan journalist Bono cursed for raising such questions at an economics conference. (But then, I’m white and Celtic-American.)


...The band’s decision to have its song publishing company flee Ireland for a tax haven in the Netherlands has been subject to protests in the streets of Dublin and has no obvious justification, despite Bono’s fatuous counterclaim that it is his critics who are the hypocrites because free-market values were what created the “Celtic Tiger” of Dublin’s capitalist boom economy. The Tiger’s death throes look to be particularly messy, in part because of capital flight of just U2’s kind. The band’s attempt to alter the Dublin skyline with its Clarence Hotel expansion is another example of its ruinous distance from everyday Irish reality.
“During the band’s performance of ‘In The Name of Love,’” wrote Hegarty, “he described Martin Luther King’s dream as ‘Not just an American dream–also an Irish dream, a European dream, an African dream, an Israeli dream . . .’ And then, following a long pause reminiscent of a man who’d just realized he’d left the gas on, he added, ‘. . . and also a Palestinian dream.’ This was his big shout out to the Palestinians… You can’t help but marvel at this latest expression of Bono’s Sesame Street view of the world. Hey Middle East, we just have to have a dream to get along.

Bono is no man of peace–he has yet to speak out against any war. Bono is part owner of Pandemic/Bioware, producers of Mercenaries 2, a video game which simulates an invasion of Venezuela. Last year Bono met with US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates to discuss plans to set up a new U.S. military command for Africa. Forbes, the magazine Bono co-owns, constantly beats the drums for war (Bono says he was attracted to the magazine because it has a “consistent philosophy”).

...Bono sings the praises of some of the most warlike public figures. It starts with Dubya and Blair—Bono praised the UK prime minister for “doing the things he believed in.” He clearly meant to include massive British involvement in the war in Iraq. Bono also has nothing but praise for arch-reactionaries such as Jesse Helms and Billy Graham. In the video for Pat Boone’s video, “Thank You Billy Graham,” Bono intones “I give thanks for the sanity of Billy Graham, a singer of the human spirit.” Interesting. In 1966, Graham followed LBJ to the podium at the National Prayer Breakfast to give a ringing endorsement of the war in Vietnam. “There are those,” Graham said, “who have tried to reduce Christ to a genial and innocuous appeaser; but Jesus said ‘You are wrong—I have come as a firesetter and sword-wielder. I am come to send fire down on earth!” Sing that human spirit, Billy—you’ve got Bono on harmonies. Indeed, surrounded by America’s most hawkish politicians, Bono gave a fawning keynote speech at the 2008 National Prayer Breakfast. In a recent interview with the British music magazine Q, U2 drummer Larry Mullen said he “cringes” when he sees Bono hanging out with George Bush and Tony Blair, adding that those two world leaders should be tried as “war criminals.”


Despite the inspiration that many people take from the anthems Bono has written, there is not one shred of evidence that he disagrees on any issue—war, tax shelters, immigration—with the power brokers he wants us to believe are the last best hope of mankind.

No, Bono and U2 and rock and roll in general don't interest me.

But I understand the two fellows in this movie being ticked off at their more successful former classmates and I understand being rivals with someone who's so much more successful that they have no idea any rivalry exists.

I know a number of jazz musicians. Jazz doesn't sell terribly well. Jazz musicians (not counting Kenny G) are infinitely better musicians than rock stars, but they reach a far smaller audience. So watching this movie, Neil and Ivan's modest success as rock stars looked pretty good to me. They were doing quite well.

They shouldn't have thought of themselves as failed rock stars. They should have thought of themselves as incompetent yet wildly successful jazz musicians.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

A couple of documentaries about big budget failure

Watched a couple of documentaries. One was about the making of Heaven's Gate. The director, Michael Cimino, told someone that he would tell the studio what they wanted to hear then do whatever he wanted. Apparently, his plan from the start was to spend as much money as he could on his western. He didn't care that it started out with a seven million dollar budget. It ended up costing over $35 million.

This was not long after the head of United Artists and their top executives left to form Orion Pictures. The fellows left in charge of UA weren't terribly experienced. They wanted to prove themselves. United Artists was raking in money off the James Bond movies and some other series they already had going. But they wanted to do something new. the wake of Cimino's winning an Oscar for The Deer Hunter, they wanted to make a movie with him. I don't know why they thought a western was a good idea.

Executives knew they had a big problem, but they thought the movie would probably be really good even if it cost a fortune, and they already spent this much on it----should they keep going and spend even more or simply write off the fortune Cimino already wasted?

I don't know. Heaven's Gate, it turns out, was considered pretty good in Europe. In America, critics hated it, although their reaction came in part from all the news reports on its problems during production.

Cimino was a jackass. Now he's in his 70s and appears to have had extensive plastic surgery (he says he just lost weight.) His appearance has changed to the point that there are rumors he had a sex change.

He's made several movies since then. He managed to stay on schedule and on budget on them, apparently, but his other weaknesses as a director have become more evident.

Then I watched Lost in La Mancha, about Terry Gilliam's attempt to make a film based on Don Quixote. He mentions at one point that it could be cursed, like "the Scottish play", something that's just bad luck. There have been other attempts to film the story and none of them have succeeded.

According to Wikipedia, Gilliam has documentaries made about the production of his movies so that, if things go horribly wrong, there will be a record of it from his point of view, so the world won't think he's another Michael Cimino.

In this case, the movie was going to be the most expensive movie funded entirely by European sources ever made (I don't know if that includes the Soviet production of War and Peace) but things went badly from the start of production. The star turned out to have a herniated disc and had to leave, it turned out that they were filming next to a NATO bombing range (they went ahead anyway and decided to dub the sound) and there was a huge rain storm and flash flood the first day of shooting which permanently changed the looks of the location. They tried to keep going somehow, but they had to pull the plug after spending $15 million.

These things happen.

In the documentary, they kept referring to Gilliam's Baron Munchausen movie, which did go way over budget and gave people the idea that Gilliam was out of control.

I never liked Gilliam's movies that well. I think I expected them to be funnier since he was a Monty Python guy. I should watch them again.

He should have directed the Harry Potter movies. His criticism of Steven Spielberg I heard in YouTube is interesting:
"Spielberg, and the success of most films in Hollywood these days, I think is down to the fact that [they're] comforting, they tie things up in nice little bows, gives you answers, even if the answers are stupid. We go home and we don't have to worry about it. The Kubricks of this world and the great filmmakers make you go home and think about it.

"...There's a wonderful quote in the book that Freddie Raphael wrote about Eyes Wide Shut---it was called Eyes Wide Open---and he's talking to Kubrick about Schindler's List and the Holocaust, and he says, 'The thing is that Schindler's List is about success; the Holocaust was about failure.' And that's Kubrick. Spot on.

"Schindler's List had to--we had to save those few people. Happy ending. A man can do what a man can do, and stop death for a few people. That's not what the Holocaust is about. It's about complete failure of civilization that allows six million people to die."

In the documentary on Heaven's Gate, they kept referring to Cimino having directed Thunderbolt and Lightfoot, produced by and starring Clint Eastwood. Cimino stayed on schedule and on budget. He had no choice because Clint Eastwood was there. Eastwood didn't like wasting time. If they were taking too long to set up a shot, he would tell them it was good enough, let's just do it, and they had to beg him to do retakes.

Eastwood has said that filmmakers are going for a level of perfection that really isn't necessary.

On the other hand, I was watching Reel Geezers on You Tube, movie reviews by a pair of elderly film industry retirees. They reviewed Eastwood's Gran Torino. One didn't think it was that good and that the problem was that they didn't do retakes and they didn't do enough to help the younger cast members with their performances.

I don't know if Clint Eastwood is just thrifty, or if he doesn't have the sensitivity to know that his movies could be a lot better, although retakes would have been wasted on Cimino. He wasn't interested in actors, just in the visuals. His background was filming intricately choreographed TV commercials. His thing was arranging actors on the screen. If it ever seemed that he did more than that, it was by accident.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Spike Lee, Quentin Tarantino, Django

Spike Lee has spoken out against Quentin Tarantino's movie, Django Unchained.

"All I'm going to say is that it's disrespectful to my ancestors. That's just me... I'm not speaking on behalf of anybody else."

Lee tweeted: "American Slavery Was Not A Sergio Leone Spaghetti Western.It Was A Holocaust.My Ancestors Are Slaves.Stolen From Africa.I Will Honor Them."

One "academic" argued with him----apparently, he thought the word "holocaust" didn't exist before the Nazi genocide and could refer only to events that were exactly like the Nazi genocide. Even if he had been right, it had nothing to do with the movie. Fifty to a hundred million black people died in the slave trade, by the way.

When I was in high school, some friends and I started writing a novel. It opened with a private eye going to a neo-Nazi compound in Idaho and freely killing neo-Nazis in order to capture a Nazi war criminal they were harboring. One of my friends pointed out that the hero murdered a lot of more or less innocent neo-Nazis, but he took the actual Nazi war criminal in alive so he could get a fair trial.

Not long after that, I was horrified at what we had written. We trivialized Nazi genocide, used it in what we intended as a pulp novel. I wouldn't dream of doing that now.

I haven't seen Tarantino's movie, but making a big budget spaghetti western exploiting slavery in the way he did seems like a terrible idea, or at least something you want to approach very carefully. I don't think Tarantino has the sensitivity to pull it off.

I read a lesbian parody of a Nancy Drew novel which was great until we find out that Nancy was raped by her father who was then murdered by their housekeeper. You don't want to put such strong material in that context.

One tweeter responded to Lee: "MAN I been waiting for you to speak on it! Never is there a point in Inglorious Bastards where Jews are the butt of the joke..."

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Some more Breaking Bad stuff

There was Planet of the Apes, a planet where apes act like people and people act like apes. That wasn't exactly what it was about. But that was the general idea.

But then you had the Planet of the Apes TV series and the movie Battle for the Planet of the Apes. Suddenly people and apes could both talk and carry on conversations, and the series became completely pointless.

That's what's happened with Breaking Bad. I know I've said this before.

It started as a very nice story of a mild mannered-yet- angry and embittered high school chemistry teacher becoming a criminal. He was a fish out of water. He couldn't discipline his unruly students, but he found himself facing down extremely dangerous, violent drug lords.

But once we got past that---once Walter White learned the ropes---all we had left was a story about an especially vile criminal, and who wants to see that?

It would like if The Beverly Hillbillies had evolved into something like Dynasty or Falcon Crest.

I don't know how the people of Albuquerque feel about the series. What kind of a crime rate does that place have? Because, on the show, one lawyer knows scores of people who can provide almost any criminal service. There was a guy would confess to crimes and go to prison in your place, there was a guy who would whisk you out of the country and help you disappear completely, there were hitmen, hired killers, Nazis who could arrange murders in jails and prisons. There's money laundering, children working as drug dealers then being murdered by drug dealers.

It seems kind of surprising that a major drug lord could pose and live as a fast food manager. Wouldn't this leave him rather vulnerable? In fact, the guy's criminal enterprise seems to be dependent on a handful of people. One of them got shot and the whole thing fell apart.

Well. the show doesn't have much longer to go. There was a flash-forward that gave the impression that there will be a terribly violent conclusion.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

The Walking Dead

Last year, I got a Walking Dead dvd for Xmas.

I'm watching it now before Christmas is upon us. I may have to answer the question, "Hey, did you watch that DVD I gave you last year?"

Man. It's kind of depressing.

I was always creeped out by the nuclear war movies from the '50s and '60s, movies like The Day the World Ended and This is Not a Test. But reading The Stand by Stephen King, the apocalypse sounded sort of fun in its way.

I don't know what the wave of zombie movies tells you about society. There was the wave of vampire stuff around the time of the AIDS epidemic, spread by blood.

What's the zombie thing about? Economic crisis? The country on the verge of collapse? I suspect it's coming.

How many unburied bodies are there lying around, anyway? Doesn't seem like people rising from the dead would be that serious a problem. And I never understood why zombies don't eat each other, like sharks in a feeding frenzy. How can zombies even tell who's a zombie and who's not? The movie Shaun of the Dead noted this problem.

Gilligan's Island vs. Lawrence of Arabia

When I was a kid, I was inspired watching old Roger Corman movies. They were reasonably professional, but cheap enough that you felt like you could be a filmmaker, too. I never understood Steven Spielberg who said he was inspired by Lawrence of Arabia.

Was Spielberg more ambitious than I was? Well, yes, OBVIOUSLY he was. But was that why he was so inspired by David Lean?

The lowest level of art appreciation is judging an artistic work according to how difficult it was for the artist to create it. Admiration for the early works of Roger Corman simply shows a higher level of art appreciation. I was just a lot smarter than Spielberg, that's all.

When I saw Lawrence of Arabia in the '80s when it was re-released to theaters, I noted it was long but very gripping. Could I possibly do the same thing? Here was my idea----instead of making a long movie that seemed much shorter, take a long script and actually cram it into a shorter movie.

This was Gilligan's Island's appeal. It was a top-rated show up until the day it was cancelled. And one reason for its success was that they took long scripts and packed them into a half hour.

To some degree, movies are made the way they are simply to look expensive. Look almost every commercially produced movie of the 1980s. The camera moves constantly. Every shot was a tracking shot. And this was done for no reason I can see except to make them look expensive.

I suspect this is the reason why, in this era where people can and do make movies for practically nothing---movies where the only expense is the cost of charging the camcorder battery and turning on the computer---Hollywood is spending hundreds of millions of dollars to produce stuff that's just crap. They need to do something to distinguish themselves.

If, today, you wanted to make a shot-for-shot remake of Gone With The Wind, making full use of blue screen technology and digitally generated imagery, how cheaply could it be done?

Russian Duma votes to ban US adoptions, and for pretty good reason

Russia has passed legislation, not yet signed into law, banning the adoption of Russian children by Americans.

This is in response to "Magnitsky Act" which bars Russians deemed to be "human rights violators" from entering or owning property in the United States.

The U.S. doesn't care anything about human rights anywhere else. How many Palestinians have "died in police custody"? For that matter, how many people have died in American jails?

In the U.S. media, reporting on the Russian adoption law has been completely negative. The Russians are hurting the orphans, depriving them of loving homes, just to retaliate against the United States.

In fact, there have been 19 Russian children murdered by their adoptive American parents. We don't know how many more have been abused because there's no follow up by adoption agencies or anyone else. One Russian girl was adopted by child pornographers. She was waiting for the adoption agency to come check on her and rescue her, but they never did.

There was the American mother who put her child alone on a plane and sent him back to Russia. Her defense was that she had called a Russian cab driver to pick him up at the airport. An American woman was so proud of how she abused her adopted Russian child that she sent videotape of it to the Dr Phil Show. She poured hot sauced in his mouth and forced him to take a cold shower.

This is a human rights issue, too. The Russian government is barred in the U.S. from representing or even inquiring about Russian children. The Magnitsky Act was named for a Russian who died in police custody. Here, nineteen Russian children have died, most of them beaten to death after months of abuse. And penalties for Americans murdering and abusing Russian children have been very light. Obvious cases of aggravated murder are prosecuted as "voluntary manslaughter". In at least one case, the killers were released on bail after they were convicted.

The NRA, school shootings, Wayne LaPierre and Sergio Leone

To start with a movie quote, from A Fistful of Dollars:
"There's an old saying in Mexico. When a man with a man with a .45 meets a man with a Winchester, the man with the pistol is a dead man."
So here's my proverb:
"When a teacher with a pistol meets a lunatic with an assault rifle, the teacher with the pistol is a dead teacher."
The idiots suggesting that teachers start carrying guns don't consider the fact that, in these mass murders, assault rifles are the weapon of choice. The teachers would be badly outgunned.

They should STILL ban assault rifles so the teachers would have a fighting chance.

Now Wayne LaPierre, in charge of the NRA, thinks lightly armed minimum wage security guards are going to fight it out with assault rifle-wielding maniacs.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Swinger Dinesh D'Souza makes an ass of himself

A short, amusing article on by David Weigel:

It seems that Dinesh D'Souza's anti Obama movie, 2016: Obama's America, didn't get an Oscar nomination.

Weigel writes:
I pick this up only because D'Souza's snarky response is so clueless.
By ignoring 2016, the top-performing box-office hit of 2012, and pretending that films like Searching for Sugar Man and This Is Not a Film are more deserving of an Oscar, our friends in Hollywood have removed any doubt average Americans may have had that liberal political ideology, not excellence, is the true standard of what receives awards.
Oh, those wacky liberals! D'Souza's movie exposed the raw truth of Barack Obama's ideology, by sending a khaki-clad conservative to ask leading questions of people who knew the president's father. This Is Not a Film is merely a clandestinely filmed documentary about Iranian director Jafar Panahi, who is under house arrest in Tehran.

And a short interview in The New York Times

Read it here. They discuss the movie and the interviewer asked Dinesh about life as a swinger:
You recently resigned as president of the Christian-affiliated King’s College after it was reported that you brought a woman to a Christian convention and introduced her as your fiancĂ©e when neither of you had actually divorced your spouses. Did you do anything wrong? 
I exercised imprudent judgment. In Christianity there is no intermediate status of being separated. I asked an attorney if there is anything problematic with being engaged while separated, and I was informed absolutely not.
You wrote, “I had no idea that it is considered wrong in Christian circles.” I am not a Christian, but I’d guess that it would be high on the list of wrong things. 
What I meant was I didn’t know what rule of Christian morality it violates. I recognize that there would be people who might say Dinesh has only met this woman a few months ago, Dinesh is rushing into things. But that is completely different from saying Dinesh is violating one of the Ten Commandments. Imprudent is not the same thing as wrong.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

NRA members inspired by school shooting

The gun nuts are flocking to buy AR-15's like the one used in the Newtown school shooting. The sudden rise in demand has driven prices up.

Shows what kind of scum these people are.

Monday, December 17, 2012

The NRA and school shootings

Several years ago, we had a school shooting near here at Thurston High School in Springfield, Oregon. A fifteen-year-old undiagnosed paranoid schizophrenic named Kip Kinkel walked into the cafeteria with a rifle and started shooting. He killed two and wounded twenty-five.

A kid named Jake Ryker was shot while disarming Kinkel. Ryker was taken to the hospital. They called his parents. His father left work and jumped in his pick-up. Instead of heading straight to the hospital, he went home to get his NRA baseball cap. He said he knew there would be reporters at the hospital and he wanted everyone to know that he still loved guns.

Loved them more than he loved his son, apparently.

You think these gun nuts care about the children in Newtown? I'm not sure they care about their own children.

A local NRA member was whining because he had to defend his gun rights every time there was a school shooting. He said that banning assault rifles wouldn't help---the killer could have used bombs and there was an attack on a school in Germany in the 1960s with a homemade flamethrower. It's an argument that could be used to defend bombs and flamethrowers just as well as guns.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Brakhage and the Soviets

I've seen a few Soviet movies that were supposedly banned by the Soviet government. I didn't buy it. There was nothing in them that you couldn't see in movies that were freely available in the USSR, and the allegedly banned movies were just awful. They weren't "banned"---they were just lousy. No one would  sit through them.

I just read some nonsense by Stan Brakhage. He hailed Tarkovsky as the greatest living filmmaker. (Brakhage died in 2003; Tarkovsky in 1986.) Maybe he was right. But then Brakhage wrote some nonsense about how the Soviets had persecuted Tarkovsky by not bankrolling his movies. He falsely claimed that Soviet movies were made only for export to convince the outside world they had free expression.

Soviet people watched a lot more American movies than Americans watched Soviet films.

Tarkovsky made one great movie, Ivan's Childhood, which is still popular in Russia. Then he made a plotless art film called The Mirror that had to go into limited release. He wasted a fortune on it. Did Brakhage think Hollywood would have put up with that? How many movies did Tarkovsky make after he left the USSR? He never did anything in Hollywood. There was an American re-make of Solaris that lost a fortune.

Brakhage knew nothing about Soviet cinema, and I doubt he knew anything about Hollywood. All he did was made "art" movies.

Here's one of his "films":

It may well be that people see things in Brakhage's work that I don't. I can understand it's appeal up to a point.

I saw Brakhage when he spoke at the university here. I was working as a dishwasher back then. I got there as early as I could but I was probably forty-five minutes late.

He showed a slide of a painting by Whistler. The horizon was higher up on the canvas than most artists would have put it. Then he showed some guy's art film which was simply a wavy line that went across the screen, and it was higher than other people would likely have placed the wavy line. So...he was like Whistler. Or something.

I sat there in the classroom, watching the films. People kept walking out a few at a time. Someone asked Brakhage how he felt about people walking out. He said that maybe they had seen some image that was so striking to them that they wanted to leave and contemplate it---which is possible. I've done that. Or, he said, that it could be that they're really stupid for not appreciating his work. He used the word "stupid" two or three times.

So. I walked out. I was sitting through one incredibly dull film after another afraid I'd hurt his feelings if I left. And he thinks I'm stupid anyway for being bored. I had made eye contact with him earlier when I left for a moment to use the restroom. I realized he was thinking, "You idiot!"

After an hour of art film, it felt so good to be out of there, it completely overwhelmed any feeling of guilt or fear that I was missing something.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Giuliani still loves guns

Last night, I saw Rudolph Giuliani on CNN. He was asked about the shopping mall shooting in Oregon. He said that guns weren't the problem---if mass murderers didn't have guns, they could use poison instead. The guy would have put on his hockey mask and walked through the mall saying "Here! Drink this!"

I don't know what the cockroach has to say today.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Dragnet: The Big .22 Rifle for Christmas

It's the Christmas season and I just watched one of the Christmas episodes of Dragnet. This from 1952.

Joe Friday always seemed like a bit of a fascist, but I don't think that was the case.

In this episode, it's a few days before Christmas. Joe Friday is working homicide. They get a call. There's a missing nine-year-old boy. Blood and a .22 shell casing was found in his back yard.

"Blood stains and a cartridge."

"It could mean a hundred things."

"You have any ideas, Friday?"

"Just one and I don't like it."

The blood is found to be the same type as the missing kid's. And another kid is missing. An eight-year-old playmate.

"Do you have any guns in the house?"

Just a .45 automatic. Oh, and yes, a rifle they got the kid for Christmas, but they haven't given it to him. It's wrapped up in the closet.

Turns out the kid had found package and opened it. He and his friend were playing with the rifle. The other kid shot himself accidentally.

"What's it all prove, Joe?"

"You don't give a kid a gun for Christmas."

The National Rifle Association was outraged. They launched a letter writing campaign against Dragnet. Jack Webb passed the letters on to the Chief of Police who made a public statement that he hoped they did more shows exposing the idiocy of giving guns to children.

Would you see a TV episode like this today? Such a depressing Christmas episode. The death of a child is a subject few shows would touch. Jack Webb stood up to the NRA, and there was no attempt to be "even-handed", giving the pro-firearm fatality side of things.

It shows how bad things have gotten that Dragnet, 1952, would be too radical for today's viewers.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Hulu really stinks

If you have Roku, be careful about getting Hulu. I can't get it to work. I can start movies and TV shows, but they often freeze. The only way I can correct it is to unplug the Roku and plug it back in.

Also, I can't get the remote to work with it. I can't pause or stop anything that's playing. Again, if I change my mind and want to stop something, I have to unplug the Roku.

I don't have this problem with any other channel. I look on message boards and a lot of other people have the same thing happen to them, it's been happening for a long time and I don't see any sign that they're interested in correcting it.

Look into it before you buy.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Counting the days...

Throughout Christendom, children---the ones who aren't horribly impoverished---are counting the days until Christmas.

I dread Christmas. But I know how the kids feel. I can hardly wait for Ray Carney to go back to work in February. He'll finally be compelled to offer some explanation for his crimes.

I'm surprised at how long this has gone on. What could Carney possibly say? How is this good for him?

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Community access TV soap operas

Some advice I read on how to produce a community access TV show: Quantity is more important that quality. Don't worry about getting it perfect. Just get it done and on the air.

This was probably intended for talk shows, but I don't know how a scripted show could be any different. How do you produce a half hour drama a week? And this is assuming you have a job and a life and that you're working with other people who have jobs and lives. You might have a total of only four hours a week to film half an hour of material.

The community access station here operated on the theory that they could legally use other people's music without permission. I don't know if they were right, but they did in any case. So I watched one show produced by middle school students, an hour long movie at least half of which was musical interlude, footage of classrooms and students with pop music playing. It was pretty good, actually.

There was a long-running soap opera that has about fifteen minutes of scripted material and fifteen minutes of interviews with actors and behind-the-scenes footage.

The advantage of a soap opera is that you can can have the same cast in every episode. If you do, say, a private eye show, you needs a new supporting players every episode.

But the few community access soap operas I've seen haven't taken full advantage of the genre. Real soap operas have demonic possession, spy rings, mafia murders, serial killers; General Hospital had a mad scientist in possession of a machine to control the weather that he was going to use to freeze Port Charles. They have all kinds of weird crap.

I don't watch soap operas. I did watch General Hospital for about a week once when I was in high school. I was out of money so I started walking home every day for lunch. I would eat and watch General Hospital and miss a couple of classes each day. Laura was engaged to Scottie, but Bobbie was pretending to be pregnant with Scottie's baby for reasons that were never made clear.

When I tried watching the show again a few months later, Laura and Bobbie were friends, and that sort of killed it for me. Then, even later, I think it was Luke and Laura who were frolicking on a tropical island where the mad scientist was preparing to freeze the city.

One of the local community access TV soaps was produced by a former child actor who had been on Days of Our Lives playing Neo Harrington. I read online about a community access soap producer in Tennessee who had been an avid soap viewer in the past. He was now opposed to the more colorful aspects of soap operas---the identical twins, people coming back from the dead, the supernatural stuff they threw in. These two respected the genre, and made very serious dramas.

On the other hand, you have the ones who have little respect for the genre and make soap operas because they figure it's easy.

But the results are similar. The ones who respect the genre try to be serious. The ones who don't respect the genre never really watched them and are unaware of all the stuff they're free to do. They end up being more serious than they need to be, even when they're trying to be funny.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Jean Dujardin, OSS 117

Watched the two OSS 117 movies, made by the same people who made the Oscar winning silent movie, The Artist. The films are French spoofs of 1960s European spy movies.

Jean Dujardin would have made a better James Bond than most of the guys who've played that role, although it would have been a waste of his talent. In these films, he plays a dimwitted racist, sexist French secret agent.

They make a monkey out of those lousy Austin Powers movies. 

Saturday, December 1, 2012

What Angus T Jones needs to be careful of

I quit worrying about other people's religious beliefs. Except for Scientologists---I can't stand those idiots. Religious beliefs are mostly innocuous, and I disagree with almost everyone about almost everything else, so why should that be any different?

Angus T Jones becoming a Seventh Day Adventist doesn't bother me. I'm less offended by his talk about Satan using smutty TV shows to harm humanity than I am by the smutty TV shows themselves. I'm tired of that crap----South Park, Family Guy, Two and a Half Men. Those are the only ones I've watched but I know there are lots of others. I want a wholesome adult sit-com. Remember The Bob Newhart Show? The Mary Tyler Moore Show? And I wouldn't mind a good private eye show, either. There hasn't been one of those in a while.

But Angus needs to beware of this thing where celebrities become spokesmen for whatever they get involved in.

Roseanne Barr claims to have recovered memories of childhood sex abuse, and a week later she's pontificating before Congress on the subject. Suddenly she's an expert.

Christopher Reeve is in a horseback riding accident, and as soon as he's out of the hospital he's an expert discussing paralysis and disability before Congress and on the news. He annoyed a lot of disabled people. Many need government assistance for their daily lives, but Reeve didn't understand the issues. All he talked about was finding a cure.

Imagine you're a teenager. You've just joined a church for the first time and a week later you're on TV and on the internet acting as their spokesman, explaining their beliefs and talking about how to live as a Christian. It's a recipe for humiliation. The poor boy has already had to apologize for jokingly begging people to not watch his show. The people he was trying to appeal to don't watch it anyway. If anything, he boosted their ratings.

Angus needs to lie low. Play it cool.  He should model himself after Ann B. Davis who joined a religious community in the '70s, not Kirk Cameron.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Palestine in the UN

So, who were the nine countries that voted in the UN against recognizing Palestine as a non-member state with observer status? 138 countries voted in favor, 41 abstained. The U.S., Israel, Canada, the Czech Republic, Panama, The Marshall Islands, Palau, Nauru, and Micronesia voted against.

The U.S., a handful of tiny puppet governments---I don't know what Canada's excuse is, and next time those snotty Czechs start whining about how they were "oppressed" by the Soviets who died by the tens of millions to liberate them from the Nazis, they can go screw themselves.

I was just looking at the comments on the New York Times website on their article on the UN vote. One or two Zionists commented, but there were hundreds of others condemning the Obama administration for completely isolating the U.S. in the world, all for the benefit of a nasty, vile little apartheid state known mainly for stealing land and murdering children.

Americans are tired of Israel. The world is sick of them. All they have to do is act human, but that seems beyond them.

This Island Earth

I saw the movie on video tape years ago. I sat there with a friend watching it. The box in the video store talked about how many years it took them to produce. It was a big budget science fiction epic in its day. Rex Reason said he was pleased that it was the subject of Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie. It inspired the Coneheads on Saturday Night Live. Aliens walk around with big heads and no one notices, or at least no one has the bad taste to mention it.

But it wasn't quite as entertaining as you'd think.

Rex Reason plays a scientist who goes to secret lab in Georgia where other scientists are working for the aliens. The day he arrives, the aliens are ordered to blow up their lab and return to their home planet. Reason and his scientist ex-girlfriend are taken aboard the flying saucer. They fly to their home planet which takes very little time. They're only there a few minutes. The planet is about to be destroyed so they jump back on the flying saucer and head back to Earth.

Reason is the main character, but he's simply dragged from place to place. Hell, I could do that. He watches helplessly as his girlfriend is attacked by a giant insect-like mutant. When he's finally able to run to her rescue, the mutant has died on his own.

Someone noted that it was pro-nuclear.

Rex Reason should have beaten up a few aliens.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Angus T Jones' recent conversion: The kid has a point

The boy won't end up like Charlie Sheen, but will he repeat Kirk Cameron's mistakes?

Angus recently became a Seventh Day Adventist. He wasn't sure if he wanted to continue on Two and a Half Men anyway. It's been eleven years, he's nineteen and has been accepted by some colleges. He put out a video. He smiles and laughs slightly as he asks people not to watch the show because he doesn't want to be on it anymore. 

Two and a Half Men is rather filthy. I'm not saying I don't watch it, but it's filthy.

I read that they used to have to keep cutting away from Angus while filming because he would always laugh at the jokes. He understood them even when he was eight or nine. At the beginning, the actors would apologize to his mother for all the stuff they had to say in front of her child, but she didn't care.

I watched an interesting video of Angus being interviewed on a show for the Seventh Day Adventist Church. He said he attended Christian schools all these years. When he was accepted by colleges, he wasn't sure what he wanted to do, if he wanted to go back to Three and a Half Men. He was talking to a friend, a poor kid, strangely, who told him that because of the money involved, he would definitely do the show.

In the interview, he sounded quite normal. There are people on the internet talking about it as if he's joined a cult.

Angus says he's a virgin. I don't know why I care, but good for him. But he shouldn't have said this publicly. Now the hyenas in the press will keep asking him if he's still a virgin, and when he gets tired of answering, they'll take it as a "no".

It was silly for Kirk Cameron to get whatever religious undergarment he wore into a twist over the immorality of Growing Pains. Alan Thicke told him that if it was "too blue" for him, he should get a show on a Christian cable network. But Angus has a point about Two and a Half Men.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

50 Years of James Bond

Ian Flemming

A long article on James Bond, going into the political and psychological elements of the series, by the late Alexander Cockburn:

Talks as much about the novels and Ian Fleming as the movies.

There were Fleming's psychological issues, all the father figures that appear in the books. There was the fact that the women in the books are basically men in disguise:
Of course there was dutiful mention of Vesper’s “fine” breasts but Fleming does not seem to have been too interested in them. Four years later in From Russia With Love, Fleming scurries past Tatiana Romanova’s breasts with a mumbled “faultless” before assuming a hotly didactic tone on the matter of her ass: “A purist would have disapproved of her behind. Its muscles were so hardened with exercise that it had lost the smooth downward feminine sweep, and now, round at the back and flat and hard at the sides, it jutted like a man’s". A year later, after publication of Dr No, Noel Coward wrote to Fleming, saying that he was slightly shocked by the lascivious announcement that Honeychile’s bottom was like a boy’s. “I know that we are all becoming progressively more broadminded nowadays but really, old chap, what could you have been thinking of?”

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Hitchcock's earliest known surviving work on line

  Recognize this nice young man?

The White Shadow (1924), Alfred Hitchcock's earliest known surviving work, is available for viewing online at the U.S. National Film Preservation Foundation's website:

A copy of the film was recently discovered in a film archive in New Zealand. Alfred Hitchcock was credited as writer, assistant director, art director and editor.

Hitchcock wanted to be an artist, but his parents pressured him into getting a degree in engineering. He took his portfolio to the movie studio trying to get a job drawing pictures to go on the title cards.

He was only 24 when this film was made.
The White Shadow was the first film on which he worked with his then-future wife, Alma Reville.

You can watch other silent films on the website.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Grizzly Man, Elephant in the Living Room

There was a horrible case about twenty-five years ago. Three eleven-year-old boys broke into the Prosepect Park zoo in Brooklyn to go wading in the shallow mote around the Polar Bear enclosure. One kid changed his mind and didn't go in. One scaled the fence and the other squeezed through the bars. One was killed and partially eaten while the other escaped.

The kids may have thought the bears would sleep through it. I don't know if they imagined themselves swimming with the polar bears.

It's possible that children's books with all the anthropomorphized animals played a role in it. If they did, kids aren't the only ones who've fallen for it.

There are two vaguely related documentaries about men and the extremely dangerous animals they love. One is Werner Herzog's Grizzly Man about Timothy Treadwell, a former junkie and failed actor who spent thirteen summers in Katmai National Park and Preserve in Alaska communing with the Grizzlies--he had cute names for them, he would touch them, play with their cubs. The other is Elephant in the Living Room, about people who keep dangerous exotic animals as pets.

Grizzly Man

Much of Grizzly Man was footage shot by Treadwell himself. He was out there alone, or he tried to make it appear he was alone. He would mount the camera on a tripod and kneel in front of it with the bears in the background. One of the first shots was his explaining that if he showed any fear at all, the bears would kill him for sure. But all he had to do was face them down and show he wasn't afraid and the bears would respect him.

I don't know where he got that idea. Did someone tell him that, or did he make it up?

Treadwell claimed that he was protecting the bears from poachers. Park Rangers said that there were no poachers, that there hadn't been even a single case of poaching at the park and they considered his actions to be wildlife harassment.

An Indian they interviewed who ran a museum thought it was terrible. For thousands of years, they had kept their distance. They avoided bears and the bears avoided them.

Now Treadwell was getting them accustomed to human contact. They wouldn't know to run away if they did encounter poachers, and they might approach humans looking for food which could result in their having to be killed.

I'm not giving anything away when I tell you that Treadwell and his girlfriend, Amie Huguenard, were eventually killed and eaten by a grizzly bear .

Herzog says in the narration:
"...what haunts me is that in all the faces of all the bears that Treadwell ever filmed, I discover no kinship, no understanding, no mercy. I see only the overwhelming indifference of nature. To me, there is no such thing as a secret world of the bears. In this blank stare speaks only of a half bored interest in food. But for Timothy Treadwell, this bear was a friend, a savior."
Treadwell had gone to Hollywood to become an actor. Appeared on Love Connection. He auditioned for the role Woody Harrelson got on Cheers but came in second, whatever that means. Instead of taking heart that he had come so close, it sent him into a downward spiral of alcoholism and drug addiction.

At one point, he told people he was an Australian orphan, but his phony accent was very bad. He had bangs to conceal his receding hairline. He often has a bandana around his head.

Before he leaves at the end of the summer, he speaks to the camera. He stops to fix his hair. Then starts again. He does multiple takes on his videos:
"...I came here and protected the animals as best as I could. In fact, I'm the ONLY protection for these animals out here. The government flying over for a grand total of two times in two months. How DARE they! How DARE they challenge me! How dare they smear me with their campaigns! How dare they when they do not look after these animals and I come here in peace and in love, neutral, in respect.

"I will continue to do this. I will FIGHT them. I will be an American dissident if need be. There is a patriotic time going on right now, but as far as this fucking government is concerned, FUCK YOU, motherfucking Park Service!" Herzog cut out the audio here as Treadwell attacks Park Service employees by name. "I BEAT YOUR FUCKING ASSES! I PROTECTED THE ANIMALS! FUCK YOU!"
He and his girlfriend go to another campsite, the one where they will finally be killed. Treadwell makes another video a few days before his death:
"...Am I a great person? I don't know. I don't know. We're ALL great people. Everyone has something in them that's wonderful. I'm just different. I love these bears enough to do it right. And I'm edgy enough and I'm tough enough, but mostly I love these bears enough to survive and do it right. And I'm never giving this up. Never giving it up. Never giving up the maze. Never. This is it. This is my life. This is my land!"
The Elephant in the Living Room

The other documentary, The Elephant in the Living Room, about people who collect dangerous, exotic animals. Poisonous snakes, lions, tigers, bears, elephants, mountain lions.

A man's pet lions got free and were running loose near a freeway. Children find an African snake, one of the most deadly in the world, and play with it, hanging it around their necks. Finally, animal control people arrive, realize what it is and are horrified.

The film focuses on an older man, the one who owned the escaped lions. He had been in an accident and suffered extreme depression and chronic pain until he got the lions. This was why he was so attached to them, why animal control officers couldn't convince him to part with them. He does give them up, though, after a terrible accident. Even before that, he says that he wouldn't go through it again, becoming so attached to such huge, dangerous animals that required so much care.

There was an article in the local paper several years ago. A woman traveled to Kenya. She was so happy to be there. It was evening and she started to walk out into the savannah. She walked until a Land Rover appeared. Officers jumped out and arrested her. Walking around out there was extremely dangerous and illegal. She was horrified because she was facing thousands of dollars in fines and she simply didn't have the money.

 The officers decided to drop the charges, they told her, because she was a "stupid white person."

Africans don't befriend lions. Indians don't keep cobras as pets. American Indians don't frolic with bears.

Both films are available for instant viewing on Netflix.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

This is the last thing about Justin Bieber

I watched it on You Tube. Justin Bieber at the American Music Awards. He walks up on stage. A forty-year-old matron called Jenny McCarthy kisses him. The male presenter kindly rubs his hand on Bieber's cheek to remove the lipstick. The boy is alarmed by the gesture and steps back toward McCarthy who violently grabs him by the throat. Bieber is grimacing as McCarthy kisses him again. Then she grabs his bottom.

Imagine a couple of middle aged men doing this to, say, Taylor Swift, or to a high school girl waiting for a bus.

Bieber then "joked" that he felt violated. I'm sure he did feel violated.

It's not Justin Bieber's fault he's adorable. He's trying to make himself less so by covering himself in tattoos and wearing unattractive hats.

He unwisely dedicated his award to all the "haters" who said his career would never last. He'll look terribly foolish if his tweenage fans suddenly turn on him. The day will come when he'll be playing in a lounge in Reno, a washed up former star. It happens to all of them if they last long enough.

Frank Sinatra had an embarrassing lull in the middle of his career.

And, by the way, I never understood the Elvis Presley cult. The guy was a sell-out. He quit music and did nothing but a movie theme song every few years, and he did it strictly for the money. 

Monday, November 19, 2012

Never wear a hat that's bigger than your head

Justin Bieber needs a smaller hat. Look at how tiny his head looks. The rest of that outfit looks like something an old woman would wear, at least in this picture. I'm sure if the camera were zoomed out more his ensemble would look somewhat more masculine.

Kids used to walk around wearing sailor hats. They were cute:

There are so many better choices:

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Number one in Gaza

Anderson Cooper in Israel

There he is, right on schedule. Anderson Cooper, mincing around Israel whining about the suffering of God's Chosen People while children are slaughtered in Gaza.

The picture above is from 2006. He looks only slightly less dignified today.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

What the hell is Justin Bieber wearing?

Is this what young people are wearing now? Here is Justin Bieber. What the hell is that thing? The boy is looking weird and sinewy anyway and the tattoos sure aren't helping.

Gaza, Obama

The majority of Israeli Jews hate Obama. Netanyahu openly insulted him and endorsed Romney. The Israel lobby attacked him, although most American Jews still voted for him.

If Obama has any self-respect at all, he'll remember who his enemies are. (He doesn't and he won't.)

The truth is that Israeli Jews feel very little attachment to Israel. Even the one who were born there. 70% of them either hold, have applied for, or plan to apply for a foreign passport. They're all ready to flee the country. They're no different from other colonialists. The French and the Brits were in Africa and Asia far longer than the Jews have been in Palestine. There were white Europeans who insisted they were Africans and would never leave! But they cleared out the instant colonial rule ended. The same will happen in Palestine.

We'll see how many Zionists die in their new attacks on Gaza. 1,400 Palestinians died in "Operation Cast Lead", around 400 of them children. When it was over, Israeli soldiers put out commemorative tee-shirts for the "war". One had a picture of a Palestinian child in the crosshairs of a telescopic rifle sight. The caption read "The smaller, the harder". Another showed a pregnant woman in the crosshairs with the caption, "One shot, two kills" and another showed a woman crying over a dead baby lying in a pool of blood. The caption read "Better use Durex", the slogan used in condom ads.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Gaza, Kim Kardashian

I thought it was rather big of Armenian reality star Kim Kardashian to tweet that she was praying for the people of Israel. Israel has spent the last sixty-four years claiming that the Armenian genocide was a hoax. When Bob Dole introduced legislation to make the 75th anniversary of the onset of the Armenian genocide a national day of remembrance, the Israeli embassy called on Jewish groups to oppose it, and oppose it they did.

Some claim that Zionists deny the Armenian Holocaust only because the Israelis were allies with Turkey. In fact, Zionist denial predates their alliance with Turkey.

People responded to Kardashian's tweet by informing her rather forcefully that it was Palestinians who were being murdered by the Israelis. So Kardashian tweeted that she was praying for the people of Palestine and all the other people in the world. The Chosen People got their yarmulkes in a bunch at the thought of anyone praying for goyim they intend to massacre, so Kardashian removed both tweets.

I'm surprised Kardashian is so religious. I have no strong feelings one way or the other about other people's religiosity, as long as they aren't Scientologists.

The Soviet Union always told their allies not to start wars because the consequences were always unpredictable. The U.S. launched it's bombing campaign against Libya, and here is the result. Fighters and weapons from Libya have been smuggled into Gaza. We'll see how well-armed Gazans are if the Zionists try to invade.

The U.S. has reportedly handed stinger missiles to "rebels" in Syria. Not all are rebels, strictly speaking, but are foreign terrorists. The U.S. is arming them without knowing who exactly they are and who they're apt to target next.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Bernie, Jack Black, Shirley MacLaine, (2011)

Watched a pretty good movie called Bernie. From last year. Jack Black in the title role as a funeral director who befriends and wealthy widow (Shirley MacLaine) and kills her. I don't think I'm giving anything away.

It says it's based on a true story, and it seems like I saw the same thing on an episode of City Confidential.

Bernie starts out seeming like an exceptionally smarmy, vaguely effeminate funeral director. But as it progresses, it seems he was quite sincere. A very nice man who befriended an elderly widow who nobody liked. People had excellent reason to dislike her, and if Bernie hadn't been such a nice guy, he would have walked away from her. But, instead, he stayed around until she drove him off the deep end.

The movie seemed like a wholesome antidote to all the lurid murder documentaries they have on TV.

I'm as much against murder as the next guy, of course, but there is such a thing as voluntary manslaughter.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

September Morn, 9/11 truther movie

There was a movie called Communion, a UFO movie based on Whitley Strieber's bestselling "memoir" about how space aliens keep abducting him.

The book was a huge bestseller, but the movie bombed. Stuff that sounded creepy and vaguely plausible on paper was laughable on film.

There's been other stuff like that. I watched the movie Sleepers, a supposedly true story. I didn't read the book and I held off watching it because I knew I would be upset by it, a true story of kids subjected to horrible abuse in reform school. But when I finally saw it, I didn't buy it for a second. Again, things that seemed plausible on paper looked absurd under the glare of the Kleig lights.

There was a fairly recent Russian World War Two movie, based on a book which claimed to be true. A group of Soviet middle school boys, juvenile delinquents incarcerated somewhere, are trained as commandos and sent on a suicide mission to destroy a Nazi installation in the mountains. It was anti-Communist. People were supposed to watch the movie and think, "What kind of monsters would use innocent children as commandos!" But on the big screen, it looked ridiculous. The movie was too grim to work as an adventure story for boys but too idiotic to be taken seriously.

September Morn

Now? Now we have a movie called September Morn which is set to star Woody Harrelson, Martin Sheen and Ed Asner. They're still raising money. It looks like it will be a 9/11 "truther" movie, based somehow on the theories that the September 11th attacks were an inside job. It's not clear how they're going to approach it. The production company's website says it will be in the "vein of Twelve Angry Men."

If the movie shows scores of men in coveralls pushing hand trucks, placing explosives in busy office buildings without anyone noticing and without any of these guys ever saying a word about it, it will make a lot of the Truther claims look silly. 

But it's something to think about. They're going for a niche audience. Like Kirk Cameron making Christian dramas, or Glen Pitre in Louisiana who made Cajun-dialect historical dramas. Robert Rodriguez made El Mariachi for the Spanish language video market.

It doesn't always work that well. Audiences that are ignored by Hollywood still watch TV and still watch movies. Kirk Cameron's movies still cost a relative fortune. In the late '70s, when Hollywood produced next to nothing for black audiences, independent filmmakers tried to fill the void, but they attempted it on very low budgets. They often used the approaches of Third World Cinema for a first world audience and they generally failed.

You have to find a niche audience that will accept really cheap movies.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Day of the Jackal, 1973

The Day of the Jackal was a big 1973 UK-French co-production about a fictional attempt to assassinate Charles de Gaulle in the 1960s. Sort of a combination of James Bond and Dragnet. The movie was a procedural. It goes through the procedures used by the assassin as well as by French security services, and it was a bit of a travelogue. We see the Jackal driving through France in his sports car, catching a train, staying in hotels.

It turns out that the French in the 1960s were worse than Americans. There's an execution, police torture, warrantless wiretaps. Police walk around with submachine guns, members of the armed forced try to murder the president. It would have been a nice place except for all that stuff.

It was set in '63 but they they freely used cars made after that which was probably just as well.

You can be pretty sure that a movie made two years after Charles de Gaulle died of natural causes isn't going to end with him being assassinated ten tears earlier. The director took it as a challenge to hold the audience's attention when they knew full well how the movie would end.

Available now for instant viewing on Netflix.

Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez.

I guess everyone's heard the news by now. Eighteen-year-old Justin Bieber has split up with his 20-year-old girlfriend, Selena Gomez. I would comment on it, but I don't know who Selena Gomez is.

Bieber's Canadian. He started getting tattoos while in high school (if he went to high school). Apparently this is normal in Canada. He played laser tag one time and the other kids recognized him and kept shooting him, so he socked a 12-year-old. The RCMP investigated but nothing came of it.

He played a juvenile delinquent on a TV show and his character was gunned down at the end of the episode. One of the regulars on the show later regretted telling interviewers that Justin was a "brat" and added that he was a pretty good actor.

And I'm sure he's a very nice boy. If he's not, then I'm sure he would be if he weren't writhing under the scourge of stardom. Or maybe he would be even worse if he weren't a celebrity.

I don't really know if he's a very nice boy or not. Forget I said it.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Obama wins

Well, the election was quick and painless. Ralph Nader was right---the networks had a conflict of interest. The more they maintained the illusion that Romney had a chance, the more people would watch the news and the more advertising they could sell.

I went to bed early and I just got up. Any word yet? Did Obama lose the popular vote? If he did, he should do what George Bush did. He should explain everything he does with the refrain, "That's what the American People elected me to do!"

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Two Minute Warning

There was an old disaster movie called Two-Minute Warning, about a sniper in a football stadium. My next door neighbor had gone to Hollywood to become a star and played a gunshot victim. I watched it again recently---the recent unpleasantness involving Ray Carney made me want to watch John Cassavetes movies, and Cassavetes played a SWAT team commander in it. Gene Rowlands is in the crowd arguing with her boyfriend, David Janssen.

I thought it was a pretty good movie at the time. Directed by Larry Peerce who had a varied career, directing Goodbye, Columbus early in his career. It had looked like he'd be a major director, but he found himself making made-for-TV movies for a time. He directed the 1960s pilot to The Hardy Boys.

Two-Minute Warning was terribly violent. It had to be heavily edited when it was shown on TV, which might explain the weird thing they did.

I watched it long ago when they showed it on network TV.

"I don't remember this happening," I thought.

There was no explanation for the sniper's actions in the movie. So the network shot some additional material and added a plot. Art thieves planning a heist decide to cover their escape by having a sniper open fire at a football game. The art gallery is somehow located next door to the stadium.

But the thieves find they can't flee in their van because of the crowd pouring out the stadium.

"Hey! They robbing the art gallery!" someone yells. "Let's stop them!"

The crowd climbs all over the van and stops them from fleeing.

Man, that was stupid!

Watching it again, John Cassavetes' character seemed like less of a jerk than I remembered. The SWAT guys seemed to like the idea of shooting people, but you had to hand it to them----they climbed really high ladders. 

USS Enterprise heads for the scrap heap

The aircraft carrier the USS Enterprise is on its way back to the US. It's 50 years old, isn't terribly safe and is nuclear powered. It was sent to the Persian Gulf to threaten Iran leading to speculation that the US was hoping it would spontaneously sink or blow up so that the US could blame Iran and start a war, or, if Israel attacked, Iran would easily sink the Enterprise and the US would have an excuse for joining in.

That much is over.

The US hasn't won a war since 1945 and it's not going to start now. The Zionists comfort themselves by bombing refugee camps and murdering children, but they haven't won a war in nearly 40 years.

Ray Carney petition delivered

Still nothing from Ray Carney. What's that guy doing?

If he were smart, he would have spent the last couple of months copying the tapes and photocopying the papers. He could have Mark Rappaport's cake and return it, too, and everyone would be relatively happy.

Daniel Levine posted on Jon Jost's Cinemaelectronica blog that he's delivered Jost's on-line petition to Boston University faculty. They were aware of the situation and were already consulting their attorneys to figure out what to do.

When does Winter term start? That's when Carney will be back teaching, trying to explain to his students why he did what he did. Hard to imagine what he could say.

Horace Vernet, "Invalid handing a petition to Napoleon at the Parade
in the Court of the Tuileries Palace"