Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Sir! No Sir! (2005)

The little-known protest of the Vietnam War staged from within the ranks of the military is explored in director David Zeiger's revealing documentary. Despite the well-documented media coverage of Vietnam War protests that took place on college campuses across the nation, few people but the most ardent history buffs remain aware of the massive protests that flourished in U.S. barracks and military bases at home and abroad. Staged by countless military men disillusioned with the ongoing war, these protests reached from the hallowed halls of West Point to the bullet-riddled rice fields of Vietnam. Though hundreds of soldiers were imprisoned for voicing their controversial views and thousands more sent into exile for their subversive activities, the tireless efforts of the government and media to suppress this remarkable tale would eventually falter as the dissenting voices became too numerous to silence. Thirty years after the last bombs were dropped on Vietnam, the remarkable tale of the soldiers unafraid to stand up for their beliefs comes to the screen in a film that will forever alter the manner in which contemporary audiences view one of the most controversial wars in modern history. ~ Jason Buchanan, All Movie Guide

Running Time: 84 mins

The boycott on Tyrell Jewelers Inc. seems to be a wasted effort at least and secondly a misdirected outrage. According to the documentary, Tyrell would sell jewelry on credit to service men. And if they happened to die in combat then the debt was absolved. Sounds like a good thing. They were providing the service and risking their capital if someone died in the service to their country. They did not have to provide this service and instead went after next of kin or the 'estate' of the service member.

This is not to say the film provided a unique look at the anti-war movement that I was not aware of. Ultimately it was never as grand as they try to make it out to be.

No the subtlety of the Rabbit incident was not how to treat people but a simple lesson in survival in the jungles. The incident was described as someone showing how to skin and make a shoe out of the skin.

So another recommendation by ren that turned out to be a fascinating film to me. It definitely gave a perspective of how he acquired a view of the world and the USA. Often I see his views as very nihilistic and now I can get a glimpse as to why these views were formed.


Sir! No Sir! (2005)

Film Review: Sir! No Sir! (on DVD)[ET]

Monday, November 26, 2007

Arguing the World (1997)

The lives and opinions of the 'Alcove One Cafeteria members from City College'...
But the only alcoves that mattered to me were No.1 and No.2, the alcoves of the anti-Stalinist Left and pro-Stalinist Left respectively It was between these two alcoves that the war of the worlds was fought, over the faceless bodies of the mass of students, whom we tried desperately to manipulate into "the right position" but about whom, to tell the truth, we knew little and cared less.
Joseph Dorman wrote and directed this biographical documentary tracing four Jewish intellectuals from NYC's City College during WW II to the present day -- political essayist Irving Kristol, sociologist Nathan Glazer, the late socialist literary critic Irving Howe (who died in 1993), and social theorist Daniel Bell. At CCNY, debates raged in the school's cafeteria, later continuing in the pages of influential academic journals. Alan Rosenberg narrates. Shown at the 1997 Boston Jewish Film Festival. ~ Bhob Stewart, All Movie Guide

Running Time: 109 mins
Arguing the World (1997)

Todd Gitlin(Formally President of Students for a Democratic Society):
It was a response to the impersonality, the bureaucratization,
the abstraction of life.
Participatory Democracy was an idea that talk was a good idea,
Freedom is an endless meeting.

Tom Hayden:
I was not raised in (ugh) thankfully, a household of people yelling at each other about the correct line.
And so I could not comprehend the decibel level that these people would reach.
And also they reminded you of in a sick way of your father, you know they were very paternalism. Is beyond Abraham. I mean paternalism to an extreme that I never heard.
People pointing at you and lecturing to you. They did not appear to be doing anything. And we were going to jail. So lest we knew, we were on the right track.

From Memoirs of a Trotskyist by Irving Kristol
Others who later found, to their pleasant surprise, that what they had took been doing in Alcove No. I was what the academic world would come to recognize and generously reward as "social science" were Nathan Glazer (Harvard), Philip Selznick (Berkeley), Peter Rossi (Johns Hopkins), Morroe Berger (Princeton), I. Milton Sacks (Brandeis), Lawrence Krader and Bernard Bellush (City University), Seymour Melman (Columbia), Melvin J. Lasky…

City College was a pretty dull educational place. The student who came seeking an intellectual community, in which the life of the mind was strenuously lived, had to create such a community and such a life for himself…

"Ever since I can remember, I've been a neo-something: a neo-Marxist, a neo-Trotskyist, a neo-Liberal, a neo-conservative; in religion a neo-orthodox even while I was a neo-Trotskyist and a neo-Marxist. I'm going to end up a neo dash nothing." Irving Kristol

Tom Hurwitz biography but no mention of membership in SDS.
Columbia had a way of containing within it, most of the problems of American Society. We were against the war and we were against the inequity of American society but we had in our administration an example of what was worst about our society. And we could confront it by confronting it right at home.

Other notables:
Michael Walzer
Where are we going? Where have we been?

Philip Selznick

Moscow Trials

Fellow traveler

Victor Navasky

Jackie Goldberg
Free Speech Movement

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Merry Christmas (2005)

The year is 1914, and as World War I continues to rage across the European countryside, four individuals stuck on the front lines find themselves faced with the unthinkable in director Christian Carion's Academy Award-nominated account of the true-life wartime event that would offer hope for peace in mankind's darkest hour. When the war machines began rolling in the summer of 1914, the devastation that it waged upon German, British, and French troops was palpable. As the winter winds began to blow and the soldiers sat huddled in their trenches awaiting the generous Christmas care packages sent by the families, the sounds of warfare took a momentary backseat to the yearning for brotherhood among all of mankind. It is here that the fate of a French lieutenant, a Scottish priest, a German tenor, and a Danish soprano's lives were about to be changed forever. On Christmas Eve of that year, the lonely souls of the front lines abandoned their arms to reach out to their enemies on the battlefield and greet them with not anger or hostility, but with the simple, kindly gesture of a much needed cigarette or a treasured piece of chocolate, and to put their differences aside long enough to wish their brothers a sincere "Merry Christmas!" ~ Jason Buchanan, All Movie Guide

Running Time: 116 mins
Merry Christmas (2005)
A quite touching movie where men put aside their strife for the betterment of others. But ultimately the party had to end...
I know that it was meant to show that if men/women could just get to know each other then there would be less strife in the world. But we do forget that these men were forced to be in a condition that was not their choosing and as such they had a common shared misery that leaders of countries do not tend to share. Even the most destroyed country like North Korea or Zimbabwe their leaders are well fed and safe from the hazards that these men in WWI faced.

As far as the goals and the purposes of WWI, yes, that was a senseless and worthless war over some piece of ground that was no longer of any value after all the blood was shed on it and the massive destruction by the bombs and trenches and chemical weapons.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Big Fish (2003)

Tim Burton directs the fantasy drama Big Fish, based on the book Big Fish: A Novel of Mythic Proportions by Southern writer/illustrator Daniel Wallace. Billy Crudup plays William Bloom, a young man who never really knew his dying father, Edward (Albert Finney) outside of the tall tales he told about growing up, making his way, and meeting his mother (played as a young woman by Alison Lohman and in older age by Jessica Lange). During Edward's last days, William and his wife Josephine (Marion Cotillard) hold bedside vigil as the old man recollects elaborate memories of his youth (in which he is played by Ewan McGregor). Still doubting the the legends and folklore, William makes a journey to meet a mysterious woman (Helena Bonham Carter) from whom Edward had bought property. Steve Buscemi and Danny De Vito also star. ~ Andrea LeVasseur, All Movie Guide

Running Time: 125 mins
Big Fish (2003)
A charming little story about a man and his father and how the younger man is trying to get to know his father. The only side the younger man knows of his father is through a variety of "Big Fish" stories. Even if the tales are hard to believe there is always a hint that some could be true and the end has the cast of characters we were introduced to earlier show up outside of the dream sequences. It reminded me a lot of the movie The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1989).

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Testament of Dr. Mabuse (1933)

Fritz Lang directed this sequel to his nearly four-hour Dr. Mabuse silent of 1922 (often shown in two parts, Dr. Mabuse: Der Spieler/The Gambler and Dr. Mabuse: King of Crime). The film opens with Detective Hofmeister (Karl Meixner) spying on the activities of a criminal syndicate. Not realizing he has been seen, Hofmeister is attacked by the thugs and later turns up out of his mind. He is placed in the institution of Professor Baum (Oscar Beregi), who becomes increasingly obsessed with another patient -- the master criminal and hypnotist Dr. Mabuse (Rudolf Klein-Rogge). Baum's assistant, Dr. Kramm (Theodor Loos), connects Mabuse's writings to a series of the syndicate's recent criminal activities, and is murdered for his knowledge by crime lord Hardy (Rudolf Sch√ľndler) who takes orders from a hidden Mabuse. Putting all these pieces together is chief investigator Lohmann (Otto Wernicke), whose story plays out simultaneously with that of ex-cop Thomas Kent (Gustav Diessl), a member of the gang who is torn between his need for money and his love for a young woman named Lilli (Wera Liessem). Various clues lead Lohmann to suspect Mabuse's involvement, but when he arrives at the asylum, Baum reveals that Mabuse has died. Meanwhile, Kent's decision to confess to the cops lands himself and Lilli in a room with a hidden bomb. Lohmann traps the gang in a moll's house, leading to a wild shootout. Kent and Lilli escape and race to Lohmann to tell him that Mabuse is behind the crimes. They all race back to the asylum where they discover that Mabuse has taken control of Baum, who sets a monstrous fire at a chemical factory. The mad doctor then leads Lohmann and Kent on a wild car chase back to the asylum where the mystery behind the Baum-Mabuse-Hofmeister connection takes a disturbing turn. ~ Patrick Legare, All Movie Guide

Running Time: 121 mins
The Testament of Dr. Mabuse (1933)
A classic Fritz Lang movie where a driver is killed by another cars passenger and then when the light changes all the cars that could identify the killer drive off. This time he uses the honking of cars to drown out the noise of the gun while in another one it was a silent blow-dart gun or something like that. The other film where he uses or specifically reuses this plot twist is in The Thousand Eyes of Dr. Mabuse.

Lang uses the concept of rhymes to link scenes and acts together where one question leads to another scene that answers that question for the viewer but not necessarily the actors parts in the movie. He also used sound to merge or overlap scenes. While if the sound in the new scene blends into the action can be most appealing, movies like Tarzan Lord of the Jungle with Bo Derek was a complete waste of a movie plot with the sound overlapping with the next incongruent scene.

The Empire of Crime:
Humanity's soul must be shaken to its very depths, frightened by unfathomable and seemingly senseless crimes. Crimes that benefit no one, whose only objective is to inspire fear and terror. Because the ultimate purpose of crime is to establish the endless empire of crime. A state of complete insecurity an anarchy, founded upon the tainted ideals of a world doomed to annihilation. When humanity, subjected by the terror of crime, has been driven insane by fear and horror, and when chaos has become supreme law, then the time will have come for the empire of crime.

The narrator did make me laugh at his description of Lilli in the film. An observation I also made but not as humorously. Even though it was a bit part I liked the part of the gangsters girlfriend that at one time gives Lohen a snaring glance when the gang is taken past Lohen after he fools the gang into giving up.

Interesting that Bill Gates and George Soros were identified as Mabuse like, that is according to the narrator (David Kalat).

The Testament of Dr. Mabuse

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Power and Terror: Noam Chomsky in Our Times (2002)

Noam Chomsky is arguably the most important and best-respected dissident political analyst in the United States. While his outspoken opinions on American foreign policy have hardly endeared him to the mainstream media (or the leading lights of either the Republican or Democratic parties), his sharp but well-considered opinions have made him a mainstay of leftist political journals and a tireless opponent of misdirected military violence and political bullying. Power and Terror: Noam Chomsky in Our Times is a documentary which explores Chomsky's lectures and writings on the Bush administration's responses to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Chomsky discusses foreign policy decisions which helped to create the climate in which the 9/11 attacks could happen, as well as military and political decisions against Afghanistan and Iraq which have taken their toll largely upon civilians -- which, by Chomsky's estimation, makes the United States as much a terrorist agency as our opponents. ~ Mark Deming, All Movie Guide

Running Time: 72 mins
Power and Terror: Noam Chomsky in Our Times (2002)
I know that I am a masochist to watch through this two times, but I just hope that I learn something from this nihilistic leftist. The film was more of a "cult of the personality" than a real film that explored the issues. Like the opening scene spends a minute about how the microphone works and how his personality. As I was talking recently on Thom's forum, Noam acts like a 5 year old boy that is looking for approval from his father. The father being others as in crowds.

The editing is nothing more than a random collections of his random drunken like talks. Weasel words describes his way of speaking.
Everyone is worried about stopping terrorism, well there is a real easy way, stop participating in it.
Well as usual he has so many lies and untruths that it is hard to nail them all down. But he did say something about North Korea that it was totally defenseless, isolated and thus a perfect target by being cheap easy and no one will object. How can such an intelligent man say so many stupid ass statements. Let me see, does Chumsky know that the DMZ is filled with thousands of landmines. That they have the whole country barricaded is weird ways like bridges have these huge concrete structures that can be dropped on the road at a moments notice. The terrain is mountainous that makes digging in easier as well as harder moving equipment around in a hostile environment. The winters are miserable for an army. Let me also wonder if he even understands the Korean War. Who does he think we were fighting? We were first fighting the Russian supplied armies of the north and then when we nearly defeated them we fought the Chinese. Do you think China would also stand by again if we invaded NK? They may not like NK regime but that is an ally of the Chinese and as such they would not want a government favorable to the west on their doorstep. This might hem them in if they made moves for Taiwan. Even again the Russians would not like it also. Also does he even know about NKs vast arsenal of missiles that could destroy much of South Korea. That would escalate the costs in many ways and thus not be so easy as he seems to think. Again how can a educated man be so much of a dumb ass. Chumsky!!!
...because he was useful at that time. I mean it is true that he is a monster. He was much more of a monster then, probably true that he is developing weapons of mass destruction. Then he was certainly doing it with our support, and he was far more dangerous way more powerful and much more dangerous. He is a threat to anyone within his reach, but the reach is much smaller now. He is evil all right, but his crimes can not possibly be the reason for the planned attack.
The answer Saddam before the Second Gulf War.

International Economic Globalization: convergence toward a single price and wage single market??? Well that is declining. Globalization (Palo Alto, CA, March 22,2002)

Polyarchy (The American Political System: UC-Berkeley, March 19,2002)

I know I should not base movies on my own bias views but I rated this as 0.5 out of 5 because the lies just got too much to give it anymore.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

You Only Live Once (1937)

Archetypal depression-era stars Henry Fonda and Sylvia Sidney are felicitously teamed in Fritz Lang's You Only Live Once. Fonda plays an ex-convict who can't get a break on the "outside". He marries Sidney, who like her husband is one of life's losers. Framed on a murder rap, Fonda is forced to take it on the lam, with his wife and baby in tow. In trying to avoid capture, Fonda becomes a murderer for real, condemning himself and Sidney to an early demise. Partly based on the legend of Bonnie and Clyde, the Gene Towne-Graham Baker screenplay stacks the deck against its protagonists to such an extent that the audience is virtually forced to hate their various antagonists. As superb as Henry Fonda is in portraying the foredoomed hero, Sylvia Sidney is even better as his wife; her reading of such lines as "We just call" are enough to shrivel the heart even after six decades. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide

Running Time: 86 mins
You Only Live Once (1937)
I may be reading too much into this. But it seems that I could see some of Lang's signature markings. Especially concerning the basic theme that individuals can be lost in the system and that system turns on them when it should not. Of course the police state was pretty heartless by even willingly letting innocents die.
Closing remarks...
Eddie. You're free Eddie, the gates are o-open.

Divine Intervention (2002)

I figure this is going to be a funny film when it starts out with a Santa Claus being chased by 4 young men with all his presents dropping all over the place and will not tell you how that ends. But then the second scene is of a Palestinian man driving down a narrow street and waving at his neighbors and he says to himself:
What a fucked morning.
What a pimp.
What an asshole.
Son of a bitch.
Bald prick.
Collaborator, husband of a whore.
Fuck the sister of your children's father.
Fuck your mother's sister.
Fuck your father's sister's cunt.
Go get fucked and get paid for it.

Director Elia Suleiman uses a mixture of romantic comedy and quirky humor to shed light on the problems of Palestinians in Yadon Ilaheyya (Divine Intervention). E.S. (Suleiman and his girlfriend Manal Khader), because they live in separate cities, must meet near an Israeli checkpoint. The film is little more than a series of usually comic but occasionally poignant scenes in which Suleiman and others must confront any number of Israeli nemeses. Suleiman's second film, Divine Interventions, was screened in competition at the 2002 Cannes Film Festival. ~ Perry Seibert, All Movie Guide

Running Time: 90 mins
Divine Intervention (2002)
All I can say is "It’s so, so bizarre"...
There was even a small Sci-Fi/Mythical part where a Palestinian Woman kills a few well trained IDF marksmen and destroys a Helicopter.

I really liked the song "I Put a Spell on You".

Friday, November 2, 2007

The Woman in the Window (1944)

Since I liked the classics from Fritz Lang especially the Dr. Mabuse movies, I wanted to see how he also adapted to the commercial environnment of Hollywood and the US market.
Directed by Fritz Lang, The Woman in the Window, a sadly tragic film noir, is the story of the doomed love of married psychology-professor Wanley (Edward G. Robinson), who, with murderous results, meets and falls in love with another woman. Wanley first sees the portrait of a beautiful woman, Alice (Joan Bennett), and then meets the woman herself. After committing murder in self-defense, he finds himself blackmailed by Heidt (Dan Duryea). The script, written by Nunnally Johnson, is carefully structured with crisp dialogue and a convincing ending. Lang is at his best, getting excellent performances from Robinson, as the doomed, naive professor, and Bennett both. The Woman in the Window shows that good and evil are present in all, and that circumstances frequently dictate moral choices. Based on J.H. Wallis' novel Once Off Guard, the film gives viewers their money's worth with not one but two logical and satisfying surprise twists at the end. ~ Linda Rasmussen, All Movie Guide

Running Time: 99 mins
The Woman in the Window (1944)
Just like Lang's earlier films, time again was an obsession. Even the outside of Alice's apartment had a street clock. Lang also deals with guilt and redemption with the police basically acting dumb and thus making Wanley feel the pains of guilt. The 'chance meeting' of them also portends the same basic beguiling woman as in Body Heat.

And yes there was two surprises that could have been expected and then another that leads to "Not for a million dollars", when asked for a light from a young woman on the street.

I hope I am not giving anything away in the film but I ran across the idea of Reset button technique.
The reset button technique (based on the idea of status quo ante) is a plot device that interrupts continuity in works of fiction. Simply put, use of a reset button device returns all characters and situations to the status quo they held before a major change of some sort was introduced. Often used in science fiction television series, soap operas, and comic books, the device allows elaborate and dramatic changes to characters and the fictional universe that might otherwise invalidate the premise of the show with respect to future continuity. Writers may, for example, use the technique to allow the audience to experience the death of the lead character, which traditionally would not be possible without effectively ending the work.
The TV drama Dallas—An entire season of the show, including the death of a major character, was written off as a dream of another character.
When reading the top portion of the article, I of course thought back to the Dallas series whole year long dream...