Thursday, March 22, 2007

The Battle of Algiers (1966) Disc 3

Remembering History
Aside from the film this bonus disc had some very interesting dialogue.
The first part was a string of short interviews that started with an in interview with Saadi Yacef (military commander of the FLN in Casbah) that in my opinion was pretty callous and cold when talking about the bomb making and distribution as well as the interviews with one of the women that planted the bombs. And it continued with some pointed views by a variety of Historians.
It is brought up that there was plenty of infighting in the FLN including "purgings" of members all the way up to and including members of the CCE. Many opposed the FLN because they did not want a one party system including the rival leader Messali Hadj. In Melousi 374 villagers suspected of supporting Messali were massacred by their throats being slit by the FLN.

When I watched the film, I could not help but see the strong Islam authoritarian dominance in the FLN and that they wanted to "purifying Algeria as a Muslim land...and purifying the community (the Umah)"-purification.

It does clearly show that torture works, at least on a tactical level.

Etates D'armes
Interesting discussion about the imminent threat of a bomb going off. They find a bomb maker with a bomb set to go off at 6:30 and it is 3 now. If you do nothing you can expect 3-4 bombs to go off with at least 40 dead or interrogate him and try to save those lives.

A Case Study
A very nice study of the tactics used in the terrorism and the reactions to these actions.
Basic Formula:
1. General Population content with current situation.
2. Terrorist attack the power structure.
3. The power structure strikes back.
4. This falls not only on the guilty but also the innocent.
5. And lastly the General Population is no longer impartial but actively supporting the insurgents.

Other solutions that the French could have used:
Step back and assess how to gain a legitimate solution in the eyes of the general population as well as the many Ex-pats. A political solution to the problems. Of course making Algiers another state of France with all rights and responsibilities could have been a viable option. It is also important to show to the general population that the terrorists are not in it for their interest. De-Legitimized the terrorist and legitimize the actions of the government or controlling power. Win "The Hearts and Minds".

I guess that is one reason that I say we should stay in Iraq exactly until the time the Iraqis tell us to leave, either through their government or through polling with a plebiscite being the best way.

When interrogated:
Provide truth to low value items that can be collaborated,
then provide higher value untruths that can not be collaborated.

Return to Algiers
"Twenty-seven years after the release of "The Battle of Algiers" Gillo Pontecorvo returns to Algiers...(FIS vs. FLN)
This most important piece of the DVD starts with a collage of an insurgent that "mows down the President Mohamed Boudiaf with a burst of machine-gun fire".

Gillo narrates portions that describe the rise of Fundamentalist Islam and that these fundamental parties are funded by Iran. Surprise, surprise, surprise. Even he mentions about the ease of getting a nuclear weapon and shows one exploding.
You know, Ali, it's hard enough to start a revolution, even harder to sustain it, and hardest of all to win it. (Ben M'Hidi, historical leader of the fight for national liberation) But it's only afterwards, once we've won, that the real difficulties begin.

And Gillo adds this in hindsight:
Above all, if we aren't able to find a way to democracy and freedom.

So the irony here is deep. As from my other posts you can see that I saw it as a war for Islamic Fundamentalism where Gillo saw it as a war for independence. In hindsight he sees the major problems that developed for a one party rule by the FLN.

While all people want freedoms and independence from foreign control, we have to wonder if what they got in return was much better. As Freedom House shows Algiers did not get the freedoms they so richly deserved. Was it a changing of while cruel dictatorship to even a greater evil in Sharia law? While the French were cruel and continued to become even more inhumane as the war dragged on they had a free press, legal system and legislative branch of government to try and work out difference.

Even though they had revolutions since 1988 and the FLN made concessions, the freedoms have still not risen.
The FIS, or Islamic Salvation Front, finds itself in a good position. I'ts the party of religious fundamentalism. They have the backing of 10,000 mosques, which functions as their centers for propaganda and organization. Capable of every kind of demagogy, they channel the malcontents and deceive the disadvantaged.

The scene of a soldier randomly spraying machine gun fire down a street with people just around the corners is pretty striking.

I do agree that stopping the elections was a bad idea. Of course they feared the worse case scenario. Many Islamic Fundamentalist do not mind using elections to get to power or revolution but then to create a system that supports only Fundamentalism, much as we saw in Iran. So I think since the film was first made Gillo has a better understanding of what democracy is and the value of it.

The prison where the guillotine was used in the opening scene was still in use for political prisoners. The section of town that was the racist French (as Gillo described) now is a stronghold of the FIS. And this is where the FIS refused Gillo to film because the representative said there was a Mosque nearby.
All foreign journalists are accomplices of the government and our enemies.
-All foreign journalists!
-But we're Italian.
-Italian, American, French- they're still foreigners.
-Wait. Italians are friends of Algerians.
-The Mosque is nearby.
-You think we're gonna eat it or what?

And the next scene at a college was interesting that one student (apparently supporter of the FIS) starts talking about not laundering their problems in public and the TV is distorting the truth. He of course lost me with bringing up the Palestinians.

In the interview process he does revert back to some of his colonization theories.
But anyway a great collection of documentaries and interviews.
Rating: 4.5 (/5)

The three posts:
RDRutherford Movie Reviews: The Battle of Algiers (3 disc set)

RDRutherford Movie Reviews: The Dictatorship of Truth|Battle of Algiers Disk Two

RDRutherford Movie Reviews: The Battle of Algiers (1966) Disc 3

Alistair Horne A Savage War of Peace: Algeria 1954-1962

Algerian War of Independence 1954-1962

A Country Study: Algeria

Algeria: The Psychos Will Inherit the Earth

Excellent PDF report piece about how some insurgencies were eliminated.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (2005)

Rating 3 (/5)
Douglas Adams' oft-adapted tale of an normal guy making his way through the universe (it's already been presented as a novel, a radio serial, a television series, and a comic book) finally makes its way to the big screen in this endearingly goofy sci-fi comedy. Arthur Dent (Martin Freeman) is a very ordinary man who is having a truly unusual day -- after discovering that one of his best friends, Ford Prefect (Mos Def), is actually an alien, Ford tells him that the planet Earth is going to be destroyed so that otherworldly forces can make room for construction of a hyperspace bypass. Since Arthur accidentally saved Ford's life years ago, Ford does him a favor -- he first gets him a ride on a spaceship passing by, and then presents him with a guidebook that will tell a beginner everything he needs to know as he hitchhikes through outer space. Along the way, Arthur encounters such interstellar notables as sleazy Galaxy president Zaphod Beebelbrox (Sam Rockwell), the girl of his dreams Tricia McMillan (Zooey Deschanel), perpetually glum robot Marvin (voice of Alan Rickman), interplanetary construction magnate Slartibartfast (Bill Nighy), and cult leader Humma Kavula (John Malkovich). The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy was the first feature film for Garth Jennings, previously best known for his work in television commercials and music videos; he was recommended to the producers by director Spike Jonze after Jonze had to turn down an offer to head up the project. ~ Mark Deming, All

I have to say that I was disappointed by the movie. Aside from Zooey Deschanel I was unimpressed with any of the actors. While I enjoyed the special effects and the interesting gadgets including the manic-depressive robot, I never felt like the actors were committed to their parts. I especially felt disappointed since I enjoyed the book so much when I was young.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Stranger Than Fiction (2006)

Rating: 3.5
A socially isolated IRS agent whose every move is documented by a disembodied female voice discovers that his life is the subject of a book currently being written by a best-selling author, whose creative block has stunted her repeated efforts to kill him off, in a quirky fantasy comedy written by Hollywood hot property Zach Helm and directed by Finding Neverland's Marc Forester. Harold Crick (Will Ferrell) lives a life of solitude. Kay Eiffel (Emma Thompson) can't seem to find a way to finish her latest book. Though Harold and Kay have never actually met, their fates are about to become intertwined in a most unusual manner. With her publishers growing increasingly impatient with her apparent inability to put the finishing touches on her latest novel, Kay is assigned a new assistant whose task it is to help provide the creative push needed to get her book finished and into the hands of her many eager fans. The subject of Kay's novel is a lonely and despairing IRS agent named Harold Crick, who believes that his life has lost any real meaning. As Kay continues to weave Harold's woeful tale without realizing that her protagonist is actually a living human being unable to concentrate on his life and career due to the constant interference of the narrator who inexplicably seems to anticipate his every move and read his every thought, her continued efforts to kill her perplexed subject finally provide him with the incentive needed to fully experience life by seeking out the source of the voice that plagues him. Penned by the screenwriter named by Variety magazine as one of the "Top Ten Writers to Watch" and who was also included in Esquire magazine's "Best and Brightest" list of 2004, Stranger Than Fiction features supporting performances by Maggie Gyllenhaal, Dustin Hoffman, and Queen Latifah. ~ Jason Buchanan, All Movie Guide

Will Ferrell adds this to his long list of accomplishments as well as being nominated for 2007:Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy. I like the playing of one of my favorite songs "Whole Wide World" by Harold on Ana's Guitar but still liked the Monkey's version better.

The "GUI" interface was more interesting to think about it after watching the featurettes. And it includes a lot of back scene dialogue.

But of more interest to me was the performance by Maggie Gyllenhaal as Ana Pascal. Ana was the revolutionary baker bucking the system including against the IRS men (Harold). But Ana provides the reason for Harold to live and the impetus for Harold to look for and find the writer and to ask for his life back. Maggie does a fine job displaying the sentiment of trying to help out her fellow man. So even though it was a fairly fast romance, it still had substance.

Even off screen she has been a rebel:
Gyllenhaal is a politically active Democrat[2] and like her brother and parents supports the American Civil Liberties Union. Gyllenhaal participated in anti-war demonstrations in the lead-up to the Iraqi conflict[3] and achieved some notoriety for being quoted as saying America was "responsible in some way" for the 9/11 attacks.
Gyllenhaal drew fire after an interview with NY1 at the 2005 Tribeca Film Festival where she suggested that the United States was somewhat responsible for the September 11, 2001 attacks. She remarked, "I think America has done reprehensible things and is responsible in some way..." In response to the criticism, she issued a statement saying that 9/11 was "an occasion to be brave enough to ask some serious questions about America's role in the world" and that it was "useful as individuals or nations to ask how we may have knowingly or unknowingly contributed to this conflict." She pointedly denied saying that the 9/11 attacks were deserved.[12] Gyllenhaal later said that she regretted her comments, and asserted that film interviews were not the "right place" to discuss politics.[13] Gyllenhaal also said that she had "nothing but gratitude and admiration" for firefighters and that she should have "been more gentle and more thoughtful" in her comments.[14]

Gyllenhaal eventually met with Port Authority officer Will Jimeno and his wife, Allison, whom Gyllenhaal depicted in the 2006 film World Trade Center. Gyllenhaal said she would have left the project if the Jimenos wanted, but Allison Jimeno expressed that she and her husband were comfortable with her and "had no problem with her in [the] movie."

Interview : Maggie Gyllenhaal

Thursday, March 15, 2007

An Inconvenient Truth (2006)

Former vice president Al Gore shares his concerns on the pressing issue of global warming in this documentary. A long-time environmental activist, Gore first became aware of evidence on global warming in the 1970s, and since leaving public office he has become a passionate advocate for large- and small-scale changes in our laws and lifestyles that could help alleviate this crisis. An Inconvenient Truth records a multi-media presentation hosted by Gore in which he discusses the scientific facts behind global warming, explains how it has already begun to affect our environment, talks about the disastrous consequences if the world's governments and citizens do not act, and shares what each individual can do to help protect the Earth for this and future generations. An Inconvenient Truth was directed by Davis Guggenheim, a veteran documentary filmmaker who also has an extensive background in episodic television. ~ Mark Deming, All Movie Guide

Running Time: 96 mins

Talk about inconvenient. I can see why he wants to charge people up front to watch it. If he really wanted people to watch it he should provide the film for free for all.

This is by no means a complete list of his time wasting documentary:
1. Why do we need to know that he lost the Presidency to George Bush? He had a montage of the event, and a stupid joke at the beginning of the movie.
2. Why did we need to know his dad earned breeder of the year award?
3. Why did we need to know that he totaled his car and where it occurred?
4. His plane ride was suppose to show what? That he wastes so much energy in his globe trotting?
5. What did his sister (Nancy) dieing of lung cancer have to do with global warming?
6. Phone calls like impromptu conversations is pretty poor.
7. Yes, both sides have discriminated against scientist that do not walk in lock step with what the propaganda machine.
8. Who cares how many times you have spewed your propaganda?
9. Over-population is a liberal meme that will never die. We are having a population growth mostly due to increased age longevity. So why does he not show what happens after 2050 when the population starts dieing off?
10. Can't he identify the areas of study as more than just "scientist"?
11. He has no knowledge of permafrost and construction techniques used. Why did he use a couple of not well designed buildings and assume global warming?

I hate the argument about when the north pole ice cap melts it will mean more radiation absorbed than before. If you have been anyway near the north pole you would realize that solar radiation is minimal even during the summer. Just think of how much heat is generated the 5 minutes before sunset even in the summer. And for nearly 6 months there is no solar radiation (darkness).

The cheesy animated feature was definitely the cake for me to have any respect for the movie.

Rating: 1 (for conservatives)
But if you are a fan of Al Gore then it may be a 5.

Well, I mark this up as a condescending piece of shit.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

No Man's Land (2001)

The grim futility of the war between Bosnia and Serbia is reduced to its essence as two enemy soldiers are forced to share a wary trust for one another in this drama. A group of Bosnian soldiers are advancing upon Serbian territory during a misty night when the fog lifts at daybreak, making them plainly visible to their enemy. Serb forces open fire upon them, and soon only Chiki (Brancko Djuric) is still alive, after diving into a trench in no man's land. Two Serbian soldiers scouting the area set up a land mine using the body of a Bosnian soldier as "bait;" if moved, the mine will jump into the air and explode. Chiki watches as the soldiers set the trap, and furious at the disrespect to his fallen comrades, he kills one of the Serbs, and takes the other, Nino (Rene Bitorajac), hostage. With both soldiers alone and equally armed, they find themselves at a stalemate, and begin trying to attract help from either side. Eventually, the two men are found by a squadron of French soldiers attached to a U.N. peacekeeping unit; now held by supposedly neutral forces, Chiki and Nino are with the French troops when it's discovered that the dead Bosnian soldier isn't dead after all, though no one is sure how to disarm the mine without killing him in the process. No Man's Land was the debut feature from Bosnian writer and director Danis Tanovic. ~ Mark Deming, All Movie Guide

It was a nice touch that the Bosnian had a Rolling Stones Tongue T-shirt. After all his friends die close to the beginning he risks his life to get some smokes out of a friends back pack.

Actually the movie review is wrong about the discovery of the Bosnian to be alive, it was before the UN forces arrived and one of the reasons for them to waive down the other sides.

The funniest part was the French UN soldiers talking to the soldiers on the Serbian Barricade. Of course it really showed some incompetence of the UN bureaucratic apparatus. Chiki called the UN Smurfs!

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

It's a Wonderful Life (1946)

I know nothing new here, but after my favorite nemesis spouting the horrors of Pottersville and conversely how great Bedford Falls.
This is director Frank Capra's classic bittersweet comedy/drama about George Bailey (James Stewart), the eternally-in-debt guiding force of a bank in the typical American small town of Bedford Falls. As the film opens, it's Christmas Eve, 1946, and George, who has long considered himself a failure, faces financial ruin and arrest and is seriously contemplating suicide. High above Bedford Falls, two celestial voices discuss Bailey's dilemma and decide to send down eternally bumbling angel Clarence Oddbody (Henry Travers), who after 200 years has yet to earn his wings, to help George out. But first, Clarence is given a crash course on George's life, and the multitude of selfless acts he has performed: rescuing his younger brother from drowning, losing the hearing in his left ear in the process; enduring a beating rather than allow a grieving druggist (H.B. Warner) to deliver poison by mistake to an ailing child; foregoing college and a long-planned trip to Europe to keep the Bailey Building and Loan from letting its Depression-era customers down; and, most important, preventing town despot Potter (Lionel Barrymore) from taking over Bedford Mills and reducing its inhabitants to penury. Along the way, George has married his childhood sweetheart Mary (Donna Reed), who has stuck by him through thick and thin. But even the love of Mary and his children are insufficient when George, faced with an $8000 shortage in his books, becomes a likely candidate for prison thanks to the vengeful Potter. Bitterly, George declares that he wishes that he had never been born, and Clarence, hoping to teach George a lesson, shows him how different life would have been had he in fact never been born. After a nightmarish odyssey through a George Bailey-less Bedford Falls (now a glorified slum called Potterville), wherein none of his friends or family recognize him, George is made to realize how many lives he has touched, and helped, through his existence; and, just as Clarence had planned, George awakens to the fact that, despite all its deprivations, he has truly had a wonderful life. Capra's first production through his newly-formed Liberty Films, It's a Wonderful Life lost money in its original run, when it was percieved as a fairly downbeat view of small-town life.

Yes, Bedford Falls is a great little town where the town drunk dispenses medicine while in a state of stupor. And then when he makes a mistake he takes it out by abusing his help that causes the child to bleed from his bad ear. Yes really great!

The movie begins on Christmas Eve as the multiple prayers of many people on Earth for a man named George Bailey are heard by beings in Heaven. In the heavens, Clarence Oddbody is told that he must help George Bailey in order to earn his wings. One of the higher-up angels, Joseph, begins to tell Clarence the story of George Bailey in order to prepare him for his mission. It's a Wonderful Life

Where sexual harassment of the Negro staff is allowed.
Destruction of personal property.
Keeping clothes from his lovely date when she was naked.

I don't how anyone can say a bank is not needed in a city. Banks are usually one of the most profitable businesses in a city. Even the loan to the cab driver on his house is backed by the value of the tangible asset and as the value increases in time in a prosperous town the house value will also go up. So the "capitalist" pig was not actually a capitalist.

Bedford Falls prevented George from obtaining a decent education that could better himself and society at large. Part of this was because his father failed to save for his own family.

It was nice the way that everyone in the family basically tramples on George especially when his brother gets married and his brothers bride has already a job set up for him when George was suppose to go to college.

Alcoholism and cigarettes flowed freely. And George is the biggest jerk with respect to Mary. "I don't want to get married!" Forgets his wife on his wedding day and spends all their honeymoon money on supporting the bank during a bank run.

From personal experience blocking the door to a business from people exiting is a big no-no. Considered improper arrest.

Why would a bank employee be in the customer area with $8000? And then need to get a stamp for the amount to deposit?

George has a temper that just goes wildly out of control when things don't go his way. Like when he yells at the teacher over the phone.

Now to Pottersville:
It was funny when the Angel tells George that an Angel gets his wings every time a bell rings when the cash register rings. Can you imagine how many Angels would get wings every day? Even Nick has fun creating more Angel wings.

Only Bedford Falls had the Emporium.

The other versions sound like they would have been good for a remake presently.
One version is the good George fights and wins against the bad George and kills him.
And another version he sees the world not as without a George but with a bad George if he lived his life differently.
But neither had Mr. Potter as a character.