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Showing posts from February, 2014

Non-Stop

Photo: Universal Studios Non-Stop

One of the things about it being just a small group of guys with flying lessons and box-cutters hijacking two jumbo jets into the World Trade Center, is that it's opened up who exactly Hollywood might contrive as a possible jacker in its movies. There is a sense that it was going to need it, because when they do movies concerned with attracting the widest possible audience, you know there are always certain categories of people that can't be involved -- especially in politically sensitive times. So, for example, in this film, you know it couldn't possibly be the muslim / hindu doctor, no matter how many times tempted to you, because the aggregate of our nation is still "Obama" not Fox News. Still, one of the gratifying moments in the film involves Liam Neeson's character Bill Marks panning the plane, with us knowing most of the people with their hands up might just be stretched into being a possible candidate. Not just the num…

Pompeii

Pompeii
You wouldn't always readily assume a movie about the eruption of Vesuvius that destroyed Pompeii, would necessarily be a "Noah's Arc" story -- about "God" finally having it up to here with the decays of spoiled mankind, and abruptly calling "Cut!" I know it's advancing toward second century AD, and therefore somewhere near the vicinity of where most of us would start looking for advanced moral decay in the once-great empire, but it'd of had to have been fourth or fifth for us to think of it as so far out on the precipice we might even feel sorry for its inevitable coming savage plucking apart. However, Paul W.S. Anderson just advances along as if the Roman Empire was Caligula -- barely even a shell of virtue over grandiose evil -- and it feels about right for our times. 
I was feeling sorry for Pompeii, for owing to our current predilections the poor dear was going to be ripped apart by an angry overseeing Vulcan god as well as by a …

3 Days to Kill

3 Days to Kill

Kevin Costner's character, Ethan Renner, is in a dangerous situation. One, he's dying -- months to live. Second, he's in one of those occupations we're "reforming" to think of more in proletariat, working-stiff, terms. He's a superb CIA operative who does the dirty work better than anyone else can. This must have floated him twenty years plus of being a bit shot -- James Bond-like, big shot. But just like how even the current James Bond could be casually insulted by being dandyied the most sparse of supplies -- and by a new young Q who can hardly be daunted by the legend of James Bond owing, evidently, to how much credit geniuses like him are now being routinely given over even top agents -- Ethan's precariously close to having all sense of him as a star being drifted out of him, leaving him an aging, dispensable, workhorse agent, who on his own is going to have to take care of the feeble-pensioned rest of his life. 

But he's not ther…

Throwbacks

When President Obama declared in December that gross inequality is the “defining challenge of our time,” he was right, and resoundingly so. As is his habit, however, he quickly backed away from the idea at the urging of pollsters and various Democratic grandees. I can understand the Democrats’ fears about venturing into this territory. It feels like a throwback to an incomprehensible time — to a form of liberalism that few of them understand anymore. Unfortunately, they really have no choice. Watching first the way the bankers steered us into disaster in 2008 and then the way they harvested the fruits of our labored recovery — these spectacles have forced the nation to rediscover social class, and as we dig deeper into the subject we are appalled to learn what has been going on for the last three decades. I was born in a comfortable middle-class America of the postwar years, the “affluent society” you hear about sometimes, and the shattering of that social order has been the story of …

Homegrown

It is a strange thing to say in the year 2014, as the political battle-lines grow harder and our bitter-enders ever more bitter, but there was a time when I didn’t think of my home state of Kansas as a particularly right-wing place.It is true that the Kansas City suburb where I grew up teemed with standard-issue business-class Republicans back in the ’70s and ’80s; I had been one myself once upon a time. But I also knew that Kansas was the kind of place that valued education, that built big boring suburbs, that never did anything risky or exciting. Its politics in those days were utterly forgettable, dominated by a succession of bland Republican moderates and unambitious Democrats. We were the epitome of unremarkableness. When the notorious “Summer of Mercy” took place in 1991 — the event that marked the beginning of the state’s long march to the right — I remember reading about it from graduate school in Chicago and thinking how strange it was that Operation Rescue had chosen Wichita…

Shifting support columns

On the subject of media "balance" concerning Woody Allen and Bill Cosby, Katie McDonough recently said this: 


It’s been two weeks since Dylan Farrow published her open letter detailing the alleged sexual abuse she experienced at the hands of Woody Allen. Since then, she has addressed the abuse in interviews with People magazine and the Hollywood Reporter. It’s been 20 years since Allen held a press conference on the steps of Yale University to announce the findings of the Yale-New Haven Sexual Abuse Clinic’s (incredibly fraught) investigation into Farrow’s allegations. Since then, he hasn’t much addressed the issue, but really, he doesn’t need to. He is a critically celebrated writer and director in a culture convinced of its own righteousness, confident that it would never grant such distinctions to a sexual predator.Despite enjoying two decades of the presumption of innocence (and a massive accumulation of wealth), Allen was given column inches on the New York Times editori…

If it was Nelson Mandela, would our bravery falter?

Concerning allegations against Bill Cosby, Prachi Gupta said this:  Two weeks after Dylan Farrow resurrected 21-year-old allegations of sexual abuse at the hands of her father, filmmaker Woody Allen, Gawker’s Tom Scocca reminded the world that in 2004, 13 women came forward with allegations that comedian Bill Cosby drugged and sexually abused them. At the time, the lawsuit made a minor ripple in the media, but, like Farrow’s, their accounts were eventually dismissed as barely a blemish on the spotless image of a beloved celebrity. Now, their stories are reemerging. Last week, Newsweek interviewed Tamara Green, one of the women who served as a witness in the case brought forth by Andrea Constand. On Wednesday, 46-year-old Barbara Bowman spoke out in Newsweek. Both Bowman and Green joined Constand’s lawsuit as witnesses in 2004 after hearing about her case on TV. Newsweek reporter Katie Baker explains that “neither had anything to gain financially, as the statute of limitations had expir…