Saturday, May 26, 2007

Bruce Willis dies hard on Iraq?

I knew I liked Bruce Willis.

From the Vanity Fair article this month:
"I am for stopping world aggression. And sometimes that takes punching guys in the face. And keep punching 'em until they don't get up anymore. So the president didn't say the right thing. Who cares? Politicians misspeak and make mistakes all the [expletive] time. He said the war was about weapons of mass destruction. But because they didn't find all of them, it was b.s.? Not really. They know for a fact that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction, chemical-gas agents. They could be buried somewhere in the desert. He could have moved them, overnight, across the border, into Syria — and we can't go into Syria."
Granted, I haven't read the entire piece. Granted, some are saying he actually now comes off as a whiny anti-war punk. Granted, he also apparently believes JFK's killers might still be out there. But I'll take what I can get at this point.

The guy has been a tireless supporter of the troops, more than once heading overseas to entertain with his band, and he famously put a personal, million-dollar bounty on Osama's head during an appearance on O'Reilly.

If this quote is legit, that makes Die Hard 4 worth watching this summer on principle alone.

So that makes Bruce Willis, Gary Sinise, James Woods and Jon Voight... Four out of the 120,000 members of the Screen Actors Guild. We're making progress!

Friday, May 25, 2007

'Lost' Libris

The season finale for ABC's 'Lost' was nothing short of spectacular this week, and the twist this time has sent many of us scouring the Web yet again for new theories and clues to just what's going on in this crazy universe.

As I've always seen it, the creators have left us the true trail of breadcrumbs from the beginning in the various books, comics and other reading material shown in passing from day one. Many, books in the scavenged personal library of Sawyer.

I checked, and sure enough, someone has compiled a complete list of titles in this untapped gold mine of clues.

I don't recall a few of these, but the one that made me sit up and take notice when it first aired was "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge."

I read this short story in high school and always thought it would make a fantastic film. It's too obscure a title to be here by accident (not that there are any accidents on this show) and it has a huge, huge 'Lost' feel to it.

Whoever blogged this book list apparently didn't get it though, because the description there misses the goodies completely.

Here's what happens: Confederate is being hanged during the Civil War when the rope snaps and sends him plunging into the river below. He dodges bullets and escapes his captors, running on into the night to make it back home. But as he does, he senses things aren't right. Even the stars in the sky look oddly out of place. And in the end, just as he's made it home and is headed into the arms of his family, the narrative cuts back to the hero -- swinging dead on the bridge where's he's been all along.

Significant? How could it not be?

Particularly given the fact parallels with the other books are pretty obvious by now. "In Lord of the Flies," the lost boys find a parachutist hanging (dead) from a tree. "Catch-22" involves characters named Naomi and Ruth, both mention in 'Lost' in conjunction with newcomer Naomi Dorrit, who arrives with a copy of the book. And even a quick glance at Stephen King's "The Stand" shows an obvious connection.

"Watership Down" is another, and a personal favorite of mine, that happens to be about a group of faith-minded wanderers led by a mystic vision in search of their true home.

One that really has me intrigued is Charles Dickens' "Our Mutual Friend," "the last book Desmond will read before he dies." ABC's Website also implies the book's significance as Desmond's defining image on its "Lost Connections" page here (image of the book appears behind hi
s head when you click on him).

What does it all mean? Who knows? But it sure is fun trying to work it all out, isn't it?

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Why I hate the mainstream press, part II

No point. It just makes me feel better.

Fans of true cinema verite (as opposed to the Michael Moore/'War Tapes' variety) are urged to click on over to this fantastic Website.

More accurately, it's a hard-hitting blog and documentary-in-progress being put together by a Hollywood agent who quit his job -- and has since been ostracised by just about everybody he knew -- to be embedded with Marines in Iraq.

Tons of footage to check out. Watch the “Living With Snipers” clip (the only bit I took the time to watch before rushing here to tell you about it) to hear how frustrated the guys on the ground are at the complete and apparently wilful shafting they get in the press.

When you're done there, check out this e-mail quote posted at the BlackFive blog, from a soldier also fed up with the b.s. Note that Fox News doesn't get a pass here either.

...Hello media, do you know you indirectly kill American soldiers every day? You inspire and report the enemy's objective every day. You are the enemy's greatest weapon. The enemy cannot beat us on the battlefield so all he does is try to wreak enough havoc and have you report it every day. With you and the enemy using each other, you continually break the will of the American public and American government.

"We go out daily and bust and kill the enemy, uncover and destroy huge weapons caches and continue to establish infrastructure. So daily we put a whoopin on the enemy, but all the enemy has to do is turn on the TV and get re-inspired. He gets to see his daily roadside bomb, truck bomb, suicide bomber or mortar attack. He doesn't see any accomplishments of the U.S. military (FOX, you're not exempt, you suck also)...
Amen, brother. The Wavelength feels your pain. And stands ready to crash down without mercy on anyone who doesn't.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Fourth Estate, Fifth Column

American as apple pie!

As a recovering journalist, I cut the mainstream media too much slack. I've been desensitized, and I'll admit it. But rarely have I been more thoroughly pissed at the idiocy of the biz than I am right now.

I'm talking about the survey of American Muslim opinion conducted by the Pew Research Center. Everyone's talking about it today, so I'm not here to react purely to the findings. It's the reporting thereof that has me dreaming of a suicide bombing at the New York Times building.

Headline, in today's Fresno Bee:

U.S. Muslims assimilated, optimistic
Poll finds that vast majority do not back bin Laden, terrorism

To recap, the poll reports -- with insanely positive spin here in this widely run Washington Post story -- that...

...21 percent of the 2.35 million Muslims in this country openly support or refuse to condemn the use of suicide bombings as a political tool.

...about 1 in 4 "said they do not think that Arabs were responsible for the attacks."

...9 percent of black Muslims expressed a favorable attitude toward al-Qaida. Just 36 percent held a very unfavorable view of Osama bin Laden's terrorist organization.

...64 percent of foreign-born Muslims hold the same "very unfavorable" position.

The article paints all of this with a "glass is half full" optimism.

"What emerges is the great success of the Muslim American population in it's socioeconomic assimilation," said Amaney Jamal [a Princeton professor and] senior advisor on the poll.

Doesn't surprise me a guy named Jamal considers it a "great success" that 493,500 Muslims already here are somewhat or fully okay with suicide bombings. Or that a Princeton professor's notion of assimilation is 36 percent of foreign-born Muslims refusing to even anonymously condemn Osama bin Laden here in their new home nation.

Nor does it remotely surprise me 1 in 4 of those 2.35 million fifth columnists disavow 9/11.

But the American press has truly reached new heights of cooperation with the enemies of the United States and mankind in glossing over all this.

Ann Coulter nailed it in a recent piece on the ascendancy of pro-U.S leaders in Europe:

"The Democratic Party is now officially the only organization on Earth that does not take the threat of Islamic fascism seriously. Between the Democrats and the media, America has gone from its usual position as the world's last hope to radical Islam's last hope."
A gratuitous jab at the Democrats on my part? Not really. The poll also found that Muslims, though socially conservative, vote Democrat by a margin of 6 to 1.

On the Lot

John Avnet and Carrie Fisher will guest judge 'On the Lot'

The overnight ratings are in for Fox's "On the Lot," and the news isn't great. The reality contest search for "the next great filmmaker" drew a mere 8.5 million, despite the mega hand-me-down viewership from the season finale of "American Idol" leading in.

With Steven Spielberg and reality TV pioneer Mark Burnett backing this show, I've had it locked into TiVo for weeks now. Nothing I saw last night makes me regret that decision yet, but I can understand the lack of enthusiasm out there after this first impression.

For starters, with Spielberg and Burnett aboard, I expected something fresher than a wholesale "Idol" retread in terms of format. The show is so far a complete cut-n-paste, including the pool of quirky wannabes herded into a high-pressure "audition round" designed to elicit laughs at the weirder and more self-deluded applicants.

There's even a three judge panel -- two guys and a gal, no less -- meant to simulate the Simon/Paula/Randy experience. The fact these three are the veteran and convivial Garry Marshall, A-list producer/director Brett Ratner and Carrie "Princess Leia" Fisher herself is one of its strengths in my opinion, but many viewers no doubt tuned out the moment it became apparent Spielberg himself wouldn't be occupying one of those chairs.

Stories of young Spielberg's own arrival on the lot straight from film school are legend -- tales of how he crashed Universal (or was it Paramount?) by waltzing right past the gate guards with an official-looking clipboard and a friendly wave, urban legends of his setting up a fake office in a broom closet, anything to get that foot in the door by hook or crook... I therefore envisioned something more Bowfinger than Big Brother.

Still, it gave me goosebumps to see those opening scenes from Casablanca and Raiders of the Lost Ark juxtaposed with the contestants' arrival to the Universal back lot. I remember the day I first took an unchaparoned stroll around the Sony lot, and there's nothing like that feeling. These people are about to start living the dream, my dream. So I'll stay tuned. The question is, will anybody else?

Friday, May 11, 2007

The politics of zombies

It seems my fears here may -- may, I say -- be unfounded. Libertas has now posted a review of the film that suggests liberal reviewers may be willfuly reading their own agenda into this movie:

If there’s an Iraq allusion it’s that we had to do something, what we did is messy, and maybe the solution’s to clear out and let a mushroom cloud solve the problem. What choice did the film’s unseen government and their military have but to carefully rebuild and just as carefully bring its citizens home? There isn’t chaos breeding chaos in 28 Weeks Later. There’s a military not acting lethally or quickly enough breeding chaos. The film’s message can’t possibly be don’t rebuild people’s lives, can it? The message I got was if you promise to protect a people you better be willing to go all the way.

Now I really want to see this.


A.O. Scott's review of 28 Weeks Later indicates we're in for another political sermon. Which is a huge bummer given how much I was looking forward to this, um, sequel.

Here, Scott describes a plot point in which the hero, chased by zombies, makes it to...

...the Green Zone, an island of security in London overseen by occupying American troops... That bit about American soldiers patrolling the Green Zone — see what I mean about allegory? ... The initial benevolence of the occupation is clear enough: a shattered country needs to be put back together, its remaining population protected and reassured.

It is only when things spin out of control that the inherent brutality of the situation becomes clear ... To the soldiers and the survivors alike, there are only bad choices, and doing what seems like the right thing ... can turn out to have horrendous consequences.

So... Green Zones... An American occupation... Inherent brutality... Only bad choices... Doing the right thing leads to horrendous consequences...

Seriously, when is it going to end?

I'll defer for the second time this week to D.H. over at Libertas, albeit on a different topic:

Democrats in Congress have already signalled our surrender of Iraq to al-Queda, the mainstream news media refuses to report any good news in Iraq, where the surge is working, or the true nature of our enemy — you’d think al-Queda wasn’t even in Iraq! — and Hollywood incessantly blasts its message to the world that we’re the problem. ... What is their plan other than insuring Bush and America are humiliated in Iraq?

Scott does indicate "some Americans" come off heroic, but he also implies these are renegades, reluctants or otherwise conscientious objectors to whatever the American game plan is.

Then again, I may be pleasently surprised. It's all probably closer to Children of Men than V for Vendetta in terms of its pinko rating at any rate.

But enough of my informed prejudice. I haven't seen this film yet. And I have to admit it sounds like a fun ride whatever its politics.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Obama 'Gores' himself; No steak knives for O.J.

Bush lied, 10,000 died!

Oh what a beautiful moooorning! Oh what a beautiful daaaaay!

Nothing like enjoying a big bowl of Wheaties over headlines (page 8, if anwywhere, for the liberal press) of a Democrat presidential candidate shooting himself in the foot.

In case you missed it, Barak Obama just went Al Gore's "I invented the Internet" route by claiming 10,000 people died in Kansas.

Where's that big Conan O'Brien "ASS!!" stamp when you need it?

Notice too the AP story gives him a pass in the very first line of the story, offering he was merely "caught up in the fervor" of campaigning. That, my friends, is called "editorializing," and it's allowed only in benefit of left-leaning individuals on the public stage.

Watch the video. He's in full control of himself, even pausing to repeat himself for effect just before the gaffe.

Another reason this is such a lovely morn is the tall glass of "O.J." that arrived with my Obama Flakes. Story here.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Sequels, sequels, sequels...

Do I bloody look like I want to make another one?

For the record, I'm looking forward to Indiana Jones 4, Pirates of the Caribbean 3, Shrek the Third and whatever clever title they've come up with for the second "Batman 2."

But check out this post worth reading over at Libertas regarding Hollywood's addiction to sequels, a sickness reaching new heights this summer. I've wanted to post on this topic for some time, but thanks to 'Dirty Harry' I get a free pass.

Let me add my humble observation that 'sequelitis' is even better evidence than its politics that Hollywood is the worst-run business on the planet. Imagine Goodyear spending $1,000 a tire to produce retreads, making a few new ones that don't fit cars actually on the road, then lavishing gold statuettes on itself at the annual earnings report.

The sad fact is that Hollywood is an industry with zero clue how to make its own product anymore, zero clue as to why these movies in their original form worked so well, and zero faith in its ability to consistently produce bankable new stuff the way it did during its Golden Era.

Back then, of course, studio execs demanded to know "will it play in Peoria?" before green-lighting ideas. Today, they take it as a snobbish badge of honor when their unwieldy, pretentious slate o' crap is ignored by flyover country -- a badge of honor they'd wear all the way to the poorhouse were it not for sequels "tent-poling" their house of cards.

Libertas sees light at the end of the tunnel:

"People are flocking to [sequels] because they don’t trust or even like 'mainstream' Hollywood anymore. This will work itself out. It always does. It just takes a while for a bloated, narcissistic, battleship to turn around. "

Even better is an emerging model for film funding that some think will replace studios soon. Borat was funded by a limited partnership of venture capitalists created to produce the film and reap its sizable profits. It was a gamble that paid off, so look for others to follow suit. Should this become the norm, studios would be reduced acting as distribution systems with benefits, something a few have reportedly indicated they may be more comfortable doing.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Vive la France!

I realize American conservatism and French conservatism are not the same thing. And I realize attention to "climate change" was one of Nicolas Sarkozy's first pledges to the French people upon his election yesterday.

But the election of Nicolas Sarkozy yesterday is nothing but a good thing.

He defeated a socialist who bears a striking resemblance to Hilary Clinton in policy and tone, and did it with style. Mocking Segolene Royale's negative tone in the last days as "moodiness" -- the French equivalent of "must be that time of the month" -- was a move I guarantee no Republican will have the balls to perpetrate should they face Mrs. Bill Clinton next year. (Fred Thompson might be in the ballpark, but he hasn't declared yet.)

Last year 'Sarko' also referred to punkass immigrant youth who set the country on fire as "scum" and steadfastly refuses to recant. His immigration reform reportedly will include restriction of new arrivals to skilled workers and people who, um, don't want to burn France to the ground. (Tom Tancredo is probably the only Republican candidate who would dare suggest a sane agenda like that here. Expect "melting pot" platitudes from the rest.)

His fiscal and foreign policies will reportedly seek to strengthen ties with the U.S. as well as block Turkey's entrance to the E.U.

The list goes on.

And best of all, Sarkozy's landslide win is being seen as something of a youth movement itself.

Of course it all depends on how parliamentary elections go in June. His German counterpart hasn't been able to enact much of her rightist agenda due to coalition government snags. Then again, he appears to have more backbone than anyone in Europe since De Gaulle, so maybe "Sarko and Angie" can become something of a bad cop, good cop duo to begin righting Europe's sinking ship.

Probably too early to really break out the champagne and caviar, but I'll certainly be ordering the large French Fries with my dog at the Giants/Mets game tonight.

Friday, May 4, 2007

I'd like to thank the Akadhemi...

Don't know why I bother drawing attention to these hacks anywmore. It's not like anybody's ever going to watch this s--t.

From IMDB:

"Taxi to the Darkside, directed by Alex Gibney, received the $25,000 for top documentary [at the sixth annual Tribeca Film Festival Thursday night]. The film describes the fatal beating of an Afghan taxi driver by U.S. guards in 2002 and other alleged cases of abuse in Guantánamo, Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan and Abu Ghraib in Iraq. Taking note of the fact that the Tribeca Film Festival was founded out of a sense of purpose following the 9/11 attack, Gibney said in accepting the award: 'I fear that along the way that sense of purpose and hope for a better world was hijacked by some people who played on our fears and in a way took us on a journey to the dark side.' "

So let me get this straight. Islamic mass murderers filled us with hope for a better world on Sept. 11, 2001... The only hijacking involved was done by America... And now we've taken the world on a journey to the dark side...

I'd respond if I hadn't just blown out an eyeball reading this the second time.