What happened to her face?

>> Saturday, February 6, 2010

And it looks like she's wearing a wig. I watched the first five minutes of her speech for the sheer novelty. That hair did not move.

In honor of Palin's speech to the "Tea Party Nation," let's revisit these gem-laden paragraphs by Matt Taibbi from last November.
Palin never had anything like that kind of attitude toward the press, although in fairness the bullets were flying at her from the moment she entered the campaign. It doesn’t matter; the point is that she’s getting it from all angles now and that wouldn’t be happening if she still had any friends in high places.

The press corps that is bashing her skull in right now is the same one that hyped that WMD horseshit for like four solid years and pom-pommed America to war with Iraq over the screeching objections of the entire planet. It’s the same press corps that rolled out the red carpet for someone very nearly as abjectly stupid as Sarah Palin to win not one but two terms in the White House. If there was any kind of consensus support for Palin inside the beltway, the criticism of her, bet on it, would be almost totally confined to chortling east coast smartasses like me and Glenn Greenwald and Andrew Sullivan.

What the people who are flipping out about the treatment of Palin should be asking themselves is what it means when it’s not just jerks like us but everybody piling on against Palin. For those of you who can’t connect the dots, I’ll tell you what it means. It means she’s been cut loose. It means that all five of the families have given the okay to this hit job, including even the mainstream Republican leaders. You teabaggers are in the process of being marginalized by your own ostensible party leaders in exactly the same way the anti-war crowd was abandoned by the Democratic party elders in the earlier part of this decade. Like the antiwar left, you have been deemed a threat to your own party’s “winnability.”

And do you know what that means? That means that just as the antiwar crowd spent years being painted by the national press as weepy, unpatriotic pussies whose enthusiastic support is toxic to any serious presidential aspirant, so too will all of you afternoon-radio ignoramuses who seem bent on spending the next three years kicking and screaming your way up the eternal asshole of white resentment now find yourself and your political champions painted as knee-jerk loonies whose rabid irrationality is undeserving of the political center. And yes, that’s me saying that, but I’ve always been saying that, not just about Palin but about George Bush and all your other moron-heroes.

What’s different now is who else is saying it. You had these people eating out of the palms of your hands (remember what it was like in the Dixie Chicks days?). Now they’re all drawing horns and Groucho mustaches on your heroes, and rapidly transitioning you from your previous political kingmaking role in the real world to a new role as a giant captive entertainment demographic that exists solely to be manipulated for ratings and ad revenue. What you should be asking yourself is why this is happening to you. Even I don’t know the answer to that question, but honestly, I don’t really care. All I know is that I find it extremely funny.

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If Filmmakers Directed the Superbowl

(h/t Awards Daily)

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Food, Inc.

>> Thursday, February 4, 2010

I totally skipped seeing this last summer. I heard so much about it when it was being promoted but decided against seeing it in the theaters because I have read so much about modern, American food that the subject has just become boring. I read Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser five years ago. I've read countless articles by Michael Pollan and listened to plenty of his interviews. I read The End of Food by Paul Roberts last year. That was a book so comprehensive, it took the fun out of watching King Corn. Most of the territory covered in Food, Inc. is covered more in-depth in The End of Food. If I had to suggest one over the other, I'd suggest The End of Food. That book demonstrates the wide-scale nature of modern food problems. Food, Inc. skims the surface of it.
That is not to say that this is a bad film. Quite the contrary. It does present the complex nature of modern food in an easy to understand way from the opening credits hidden in food labels to notes constantly stating this or that corporation declined to speak with the film makers. For those few people who have managed to be unaware of modern, industrialized food problems, the film gives a great overview of why everything in the supermarket isn't necessarily good for you. For those who are very aware of what's going on, it's a bit boring. I think the only new things I learned was that (super evil) Monsanto is going after farmers saving their seeds and the machines that help them do it. Fuckers. I would swear that something like that is going to come back and bite us some day. Like King Corn, I always enjoy listening to what the farmers have to say. They can be so practical, like the farmer from Polyface Farms, particularly when he was discussing processing chickens outside, that you wonder why can't other people wake up and smell the coffee?

Director Robert Kenner interviewed by Anne Thompson of IndieWire:

Find more videos like this on AnneCam

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Dollhouse: Season 2

>> Monday, February 1, 2010

A couple episodes into season 2, I couldn't help but wonder why we hadn't seen more of the ensemble story lines in season 1. Season 1 picked up after five or six episodes, I can't remember which, but if some of the corporate control/corruption had been interspersed within that season instead of waiting for the next season, I think this series would have lasted much longer. Possibly a full slate of episodes (22) for season 2 and even a season 3. The Charlie's Angel-type stories of season 1 pale next to the complex, ensemble nature of season 2. Perhaps if some of the stories from season 2 popped into season 1, then we could have been spared the typical Joss-apocalypse theme. I know most people enjoy that theme, but I consider it to be trite at this point. I've seen so much apocalypse written or executive produced by Joss Whedon that I can't stand it anymore.

Which is why I enjoyed the exploration of identity and human exploitation by corporations so much more. Being used by a corporation, that's something I can relate to. Identity issues? A wealth of stories existed with these characters and excellent actors. From the fourth episode of the season to the second to last, the writing was tip-top. The last episode wasn't bad, but having watched so many Whedon series, I begin to get a little tired of the Joss Whedon rules on love. Ballard talks to Echo about letting him in? Well, I could figure what was going to happen next. *yawn*

The best moments will always be finding out how Sierra/Priya came to the Dollhouse, Topher and Bennett's geek love, any of the jaw-dropping acting moments involving Enver Gjokaj imitating Topher or partying like a frat girl, and wondering when we were going to have a Boyd-centric episode.

I don't feel that the Boyd of season 1 matched the Boyd in the last few episodes of season 2. But I can understand how they needed to wrap everything up and not leave any lose strands.

Still, better than most tv series.

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The Hurt Locker

I've been wanting to see this for a long time. I missed it in the theaters. I had heard so many raves about it that it became a must-see film for me. There's been so many films about the Iraq War recently; most of which haven't made much of a dent in national consciousness. I remember hearing a lot about Brian De Palma's Redacted, which received terrible reviews, and some other movie with Jessica Biel whose title I can't even remember.

The Hurt Locker doesn't involve any politics, which many have said may make the film a bit more timeless than other war movies. Kind of hard to imagine. I remember when I first saw Platoon. It didn't feel dated when I saw it. Now when I catch parts of it on tv, it feels dated. I'm sure that something like that will happen to The Hurt Locker, eventually. It's a politics-free movie, but I think the quote by Chris Hedges ("The rush of battle is a potent and often lethal addiction, for war is a drug.") will probably date the movie, eventually. It seems to be an accurate observation in the age of large volunteer-based armies such as the United States military, but too general to be accurate for every war ever fought. But the theme of young men not being able to let go of fighting pops up in subtle ways. There's the guy who plays a violent video game when he has free time (what happened to book reading?); guys rough-housing one evening after drinking. These guys don't get a lot of relaxation time and don't seem to wind down even after watching guys they know get blown to bits.

My palms were sweaty through most of the movie. I figured that Jeremy Renner had to make it through most of the movie since he was the lead, but still, with a countdown noting how many days left are in their rotation, you can't help but wonder if something is going to go wrong and one of them is going to get shot or be blown to bits. It happens.

I watched it once and then watched the commentary. Now, a day later, I'm kind of wishing I could watch it again, except I've already returned it. Watching it with the commentary helped me appreciate some of the acting a bit more as I couldn't hear the actors say their lines. I could just see their faces while producer/director Kathryn Bigelow and producer/writer Mark Boal were talking. Stress and exhaustion in the actors' eyes at a few points looked absolutely authentic.

Kathryn Bigelow will be the first woman to win Best Director. I am sure of it now. That may seem like a premature statement to make on the eve of the Oscar nomination announcements, but it sure feels like something you can take to the bank. The scene staging and overall execution is just flawless. Rolling out the superlatives seems a bit cheesy, but I think it's certainly merited. I think of the bomb scene near the fictional UN building. We follow three characters, know completely where they are and how they feel about their situation, which is constantly changing, along with bystanders, who may or may not be able to trigger the bomb and/or shoot them, and watch the bomb that is being diffused/disposed. The editor deserves a lot of credit for constructing the scene from who knows how many feet of film, but Bigelow is able to have scene upon scene like this work and maintain the overall narrative. Michael Bay wishes he could direct an action film on this level.

Jeremy Renner is totally deserving of an Oscar nod. He'll probably get one. You can see the wheels turning in his head under pressure while dealing with these bombs. His character is slightly crazy, but he made sense after a while. Yet he's still more gung-ho than some of his counterparts. Anthony Mackie is totally deserving of a supporting actor nod. I'd like to see him get it because while all three main characters work in concert, it doesn't make sense to just highlight Renner. Mackie's Sanborn contrasts Renner's James. Yin and yang. The push and pull of the movie doesn't work without either of them.

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