Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Let the Yankees bail them out

I think the next time the automobile companies or anyone else needs a bailout they should go to the New York Yankees not the U.S. government. According to the NYT, the Yankees came to an agreement with
first baseman Mark Teixeira on an eight-year, $180 million contract that pushes the team’s off-season expenditures within shouting distance of half a billion dollars.
Once it becomes official, the Yankees will have the four players — Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter and the newly signed C. C. Sabathia — with the largest contracts in the sport, at an overall cost of slightly more than $800 million.
It seems to me that while people are losing jobs all over the place, this could only happen in the U.S. and that no one will bat an eye.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Screen Actors Guild awards 2009 nominations

Continuing our tracking of the awards season, here's the Screen Actors Guild nominations: Remember actors are the largest segment of the Film Academy voters.
on Sunday, Jan. 25, 2009
the 15th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards Will be Simulcast on TNT and TBS

LIFE ACHIEVEMENT AWARD:

James Earl Jones

Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture: (This is the SAG equivalent of Best Picture)

DOUBT (Miramax)
FROST/NIXON (Universal Pictures)
MILK (Focus Features)
SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE (Fox Searchlight Pictures)
THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON (Paramount Pictures)

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role:

RICHARD JENKINS /THE VISITOR
FRANK LANGELLA /FROST/NIXON
SEAN PENN /MILK
BRAD PITT /THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON
MICKEY ROURKE /THE WRESTLER

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role:

ANNE HATHAWAY /RACHEL GETTING MARRIED
ANGELINA JOLIE /CHANGELING
MELISSA LEO /FROZEN RIVER
MERYL STREEP/ DOUBT
KATE WINSLET /REVOLUTIONARY ROAD

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role:

JOSH BROLIN/MILK
ROBERT DOWNEY, JR./TROPIC THUNDER
PHILIP SEYMOUR HOFFMAN/DOUBT
HEATH LEDGER/THE DARK KNIGHT
DEV PATEL/SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role:

AMY ADAMS/DOUBT
PEN√ČLOPE CRUZ/VICKY CRISTINA BARCELONA
VIOLA DAVIS/DOUBT
TARAJI P. HENSON/THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON
KATE WINSLET/THE READER

PRIMETIME TELEVISION

Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series:

BOSTON LEGAL
DEXTER
HOUSE
MAD MEN
THE CLOSER


Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series

30 ROCK
DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES
ENTOURAGE
THE OFFICE
WEEDS


Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries:

RALPH FIENNES/BERNARD AND DORIS
PAUL GIAMATTI/JOHN ADAMS
KEVIN SPACEY/RECOUNT
KIEFER SUTHERLAND/24:REDEMPTION
TOM WILKINSON/JOHN ADAMS

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries:

LAURA DERN/RECOUNT
LAURA LINNEY/JOHN ADAMS
SHIRLEY MacLAINE/COCO CHANEL
PHYLICIA RASHAD/A RAISIN IN THE SUN
SUSAN SARANDON/BERNARD AND DORIS

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series:

MICHAEL C. HALL/DEXTERJ
JON HAMM/MAD MEN
HUGH LAURIE/HOUSE
WILLIAM SHATNER/BOSTON LEGAL
JAMES SPADER/BOSTON LEGAL

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series:

SALLY FIELD/BROTHERS & SISTERS
MARISKA HARGITAY/LAW & ORDER: SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT
HOLLY HUNTER/SAVING GRACE
ELISABETH MOSS/MAD MEN
KYRA SEDGWICK/THE CLOSER

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series:

ALEC BALDWIN/30 ROCK
STEVE CARELL/THE OFFICE
DAVID DUCHOVNY/CALIFORNICATION
JEREMY PIVEN/ENTOURAGE
TONY SHALHOUB/MONK

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series:

CHRISTINA APPLEGATE/SAMANTHA WHO?
AMERICA FERRERA/UGLY BETTY
TINA FEY/30 ROCK
MARY-LOUISE PARKER/WEEDS
TRACEY ULLMAN/TRACEY ULLMAN'S STATE OF THE UNION

SAG HONORS FOR STUNT ENSEMBLES

Outstanding Performance by a Stunt Ensemble in a Motion Picture:

THE DARK KNIGHT
HELLBOY II: THE GOLDEN ARMY
INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL
IRON MAN
WANTED


Outstanding Performance by a Stunt Ensemble in a Television Series:

FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS
HEROES
PRISON BREAK
THE UNIT
THE CLOSER

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Doubt: a review

Transforming a play into a film is difficult at best. They are two different venues. Theater is an aural medium. People don't go to a Shakespeare or Shaw play for the action. They go for the poetry, language and ideas. Movies are a visual medium the words just connect the images and scenes. There are exceptions, but the best of film is visual. I can't argue with the people who say Doubt was a better play than it is a film, I never saw the play. I have great respect for Cherry Jones, Bryan F. O'Byrne, Heather Goldenhersch and Adriane Lenox who originally played the roles on stage, but I doubt that their performances compared with Meryl Streep, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams and Viola Davis in the film.

The story takes place at St. Nicholas [Catholic] Church School in the Bronx. Autumn 1964. Once the setting is established the film steps outside the confines of the school only once, in a scene between Viola Davis and Meryl Streep, which may be the most moving scene in the film.

The play had a "ripped-from-the-headlines" feel about it. It opened at the height of the Catholic church abuse scandals. Another abuse story was in the paper or on TV every day. Not so much any more. The media can't follow a story to the bitter end. They lose focus on it after a while. So I'm not sure that it will attract the same attention as a film. But it is well worth your time and attention. It's truly extraordinary. The performances alone - Streep, Hoffman, Adams and Davis - are all Oscar worthy.They are at a level we rarely have the privilege of seeing. But the story about Sister Aloysius (Streep) who accuses Father Flynn (Hoffman) of giving wine to the only student of color at the school. A young nun, Sister James (Adams) sides with - trusts - Father Flynn. Viola Davis plays the boy's mother. The conversation between Davis and Streep first in Sister Aloysius's office and then on a walk, because the mother has to get to work, in which the mother talks about what harm will come to the boy - both at the school and, particularly, at home - by exposing the relationship with Father Flynn. Particularly, because the boy may have wanted it. This and the scene when the Aloysius and Flynn finally confront each other better acting has rarely been seen.

Who's right and who's wrong is ultimately left up to the viewer. I thought the Father Flynn was probably guilty of the behavior of which he was being accused, Ann thought he wasn't. That, of course, is the core of the film - doubt. If nothing else, it's not a simple film. As the title sugests the question of doubt versus
certainty is at its heart. From the moment the film begins with Father Flynn's sermon on doubt till it ends with doubt entering into the absolute certainty that has here-to-fore shaped Sister Aloysius's world we are confronted by deep questions. If we begin to doubt, then is there any certainty - even about god? That may be ultimately at the heart of the struggle and the film. But what acting.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Rick Warren stains Obama inauguration

The choice of homo-phobic Rev. Rick Warren to pronounce the invocation at the inauguration is truly puzzling. President-elect Barack Obama always calls for bringing people - with different points-of-view - together. But it seems that whenever he opens his arms to embrace someone with "different views," he always reaches out to the right, never to the Left. In other words, the Barack version of inclusiveness is from the Liberal center to the extreme right. He will still not win over the right-wing media (all of whom, for example, have already spread scurrilous rumors accusing him of playing footsie with with Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich.) That still resolute 25-30% of the U.S. population who believes that George W. Bush is "doing a good job" will not be won over by besmirching the Obama inauguration with the likes of Rick Warren. From America blog here are several choice quotes from Warren's Saddleback Church family.com :
Because membership in a church is an outgrowth of accepting the Lordship and leadership of Jesus in one’s life, someone unwilling to repent of their homosexual lifestyle would not be accepted at a member at Saddleback Church. That does not mean they cannot attend church – we hope they do! God’s Word has the power to change our lives.

In equal desire to follow Jesus, we also would not accept a couple into membership at Saddleback who were not willing to repent of the sexual sin of living together before marriage. That does not mean this couple cannot attend church – we hope they do! God’s Word has the power to change our lives.
I wonder how many members of restricted country clubs will play prominant roles at the Obama inauguration.

So much for Barack Obama's vaunted inclusiveness.

Here's Rachel Madow's comments on Rick warren at the inauguration:


If you're watching this on FaceBook click here to see Rachel Maddow video)

War Resisters League 2009 calendar: The Path of Most Resistence

Every year the WRL calendar is my favorite. You'll love it too.

The Path of Most Resistance:
A U.S. Radical History Tour

War Resisters League 2009 Peace Calendar

Edited by Judith Mahoney Pasternak
Foreword by Charles E. Cobb Jr., author of On the Road to Freedom: A Guided Tour of the Civil Rights Trail
Cover price: $14.95 + s&h

A desk calendar and state-by-state account of the places where radical history happened, from the civil rights and anti-racist struggles of Alabama and Mississippi to centuries of war tax resistance in Massachusetts, indigenous opposition to oil-drilling in Alaska, and union organizing in Kentucky and California.

Our radical history is everywhere, and The Path of Most Resistance pinpoints 50-plus episodes from it, with exact locations of places where people resisted, along with historic and contemporary photos and graphics of acts of resistance, history-makers and more. Includes directories of U.S. peace and justice organizations and publications, and international contacts.

Hold on to some watchwords for today: freedom, justice and peace. … In especially vivid ways the pages of this calendar help us gain a sense of direction by taking us to some of the … battlefields for these ideas. [It] proves that it is possible to resist war and the causes of war—that great power lodged in weapons or ruthless political ambition [can’t] crush either the belief that something better is possible or the struggle to create something better; and that's a reminder …that we need.
From the Foreword by Charles E. Cobb Jr.


Order online at the warresisters.org
Order by phone. Call toll free (877) 234-8811
CALL for bulk orders!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Season's Greetings: Show the bottom of your shoes to the Pres.


I thought you'd enjoy this Christmas greeting:

The ANSWER Coalition is joining with other coalitions, organizations, and networks in a March 21 National Coalition to bring people from all walks of life and from all cities across the United States to take part in a March on the Pentagon on the sixth anniversary of the Iraq war: Saturday, March 21.

If you want to send this card to a friend or member of your family click here.

Monday, December 15, 2008

AFI's best in theaters and at home in 2008

In case you were wondering here are the American Film Institute (AFI)'s choices for the best films and TV shows of 2008. I don't know if any of these will end up on the AFI's list of 100 best the next time it's updated, but, at least for this year, here they are:



AFI AWARDS 2008

AFI MOVIES OF THE YEAR-OFFICIAL SELECTIONS:

THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON

THE DARK KNIGHT

FROST/NIXON

FROZEN RIVER

GRAN TORINO

IRON MAN

MILK

WALL•E

WENDY AND LUCY

THE WRESTLER



AFI TV PROGRAMS OF THE YEAR-OFFICIAL SELECTIONS:

BREAKING BAD

IN TREATMENT

JOHN ADAMS

LIFE

LOST

MAD MEN

THE OFFICE

RECOUNT

THE SHIELD

THE WIRE



WHAT IS AFI AWARDS?

America's cultural legacy resonates around the world through movies and television. When placed in an historical context, these stories archive a complex, rich, visual record of our modern civilization.
AFI was created to protect and preserve the legacy of the moving image art form so that future generations will have a greater understanding and appreciation for the proud heritage reflected in the realities of a new modern day.

Each year, AFI AWARDS honors excellence in the moving image arts within the context of a Year in Review. This is the next chapter in AFI's national mandate — specifically, the creation of an annual almanac that records and preserves the evolution of the moving image arts in the 21st century.

AFI AWARDS adds a volume to the history of American film and television each year by documenting the collective opinion of the moving image communities, recognizing the year's significant moments and honoring the individuals and creative ensembles who have created the year's outstanding achievements.

HP has created 20 scholarships to the AFI Conservatory for a second consecutive year, one for each of the AFI honorees. The AFI Conservatory is world-renowned for its advanced training of the next generation of storytellers.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Republicans just don't play well with others

On Nov. 9th Robert Parry on Consortiumnews wrote this about the modern Republican Party:
Even if some Republicans did want to shift toward a more bipartisan approach – after more than three decades of successfully using "wedge" tactics and armed with a right-wing media infrastructure built to destroy opponents – such a change might be impossible.

The idea of transforming modern Republicanism into some less partisan form might be like trying to train a boa constrictor which fork to use at the dinner table.
Since Parry wrote these words two things have happened which have not only proven him to be prophetic but have exasperated the situation. The right-wing owned Republican Party seems clearly incapable of hearing the voice of the people in the last two elections. The first thing that the right has jumped on to undermine the forthcoming Obama administration is their utterly partisan response - both politicians and right-wing media - to the absurd Blagojevich situation in Chicago. And the second is the unquestionably partisan obstruction of a House-passed Congressional bailout of the Detroit-based automobile companies.

There is no way in which anyone who is rooted in reality could believe that the President-elect or his staff were in any way implicated in the Blagojevich follies. Talking to someone doesn't mean you were involved. It's just part of doing the job. It is Obama's Senate seat that is at issue after all. If anyone doubts Obama's team's innocence try Blagojevich's own words:
they're [Obama's team] not willing to give me anything except appreciation
for possibly naming Obama's choice to the Senate. Now anyone without a partisan ax to grind would conclude that that settles the matter. But unfortunately it does not satisfy the wildly partisan Republicans. Here is what Republican Party Chairman Robert M. Duncan said after Obama at a press conference promised to provide all the information as soon as he had it:
While it is encouraging that the president-elect has stated his office will disclose contacts with the scandal-ridden governor, it remains disappointing that his actions are in response to political pressure. Americans expect the highest degree of transparency from their elected leaders, rather than promises of openness on the campaign trail.
It's the old campaign catch-22: Republicans try to tie Obama to Blagojevich and then no matter what he says in his defense it's only because of the pressure they've put on him. Neat isn't it? The other night on MSNBC another right-wing media dupe - Pat Buchanan - was complaining about why it was taking so long to get the information to the press. Of course the Obama transition team has nothing more important to do than respond on Buchanan's schedule to the bogus attacks.

The other thing that happened was may in the long run be more serious than Blagojevich. Last week the House passed an auto bailout bill to save the possibly millions of jobs in Detroit and around the country. The Senate failed to pass it because of Republican nays. According to Politico.com:
The GOP strategy, previewed in an 'action alert' sent by a Republican lobbyist and outlined by Republican aides, is based on the idea that the best defense is a good offense -- and the hope that the taint of the Illinois governor will rub off on organized labor.

This is the Democrats’ first opportunity to pay off organized labor after the election . . . a precursor to card check and other items. Republicans should stand firm and take their first shot against organized labor, instead of taking their first blow from it.
In other words, the Republicans are not even making a pretense at having voted against the bailout for principled economic reasons (wrong as that would be). It's all very simple. The right wing blames organized labor for the recent election loss (that kind of dismissal of the voice of the people is quite typically Republican). So they want to destroy the labor movement. It's Reagan redux. Remember PATCO (th air traffic controllers union). I never thought I would utter these words; but William Kristol says it very well in Monday's New York Times:
...Senate Republicans now run the risk of being portrayed as Marie Antoinettes with southern accents.
Kristol also points out, in an extraordinarily "fair and balanced" column, that despite the Republican attack on the UAW, "labor amounts to only about 10 percent of the cost of a car."

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Right-wing bumper sticker reveals all

Every once in a while the right-wing Republicans (who are deeply embittered by the last election because they have no ability to understand what the American people were telling them) tell us more about themselves than they could ever imagine. Here's a bumper sticker they're currently peddling:
I'll Keep My Guns... You Can Keep The 'Change'
If that doesn't tell you all you need to know about the right-wing whores (sorry! I didn't mean to besmirch honest whores), I'll have much more to say about the current un-American Republican Party.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Blagojevich: Innocent until proven guilty?

I was watching the Rachel Maddow show on MSNBC tonight (Thurs. 12/11) and she interviewed Illinois state Rep. John Fritchey, who is currently the Chair of the Illinois house judiciary committee. You can imagine what the subject of the interview was. (If you have been out of the earth's orbit for the last week, it was the shenanigans of Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich.) Here's Rachel's interview with Fritchey:

(If you are seeing this on FaceBook, click here to see video)

What troubles me about this interview is not only Fritchey's unseemly haste to get rid of the Governor but Rachel's lack of any skepticism about what Fritchey is saying. For example, when he says:
In Illinois we have allot of latitude in seeking to impeach a governor.... Essentially all we need to show is that he has an inability to perform the duties of his office. The way we would envision an impeachment resolution looking is that he has violated his oath of office, namely to uphold the laws of Illinois and the Constitution of Illinois and he has not been able to fulfill his duties as governor. And that he has rendered (?) official misconduct as a result of the allegations brought forth by the U.S. attorney.
It would seem to me that impeachment is one of the most serious actions that can be taken in a democracy. And until recently people were considered innocent until proven guilty. With all due respect to U.S. attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, "allegations" are not proof. I think, that no matter how inconvenient the governor's behavior may appear to be, we still have to protect our democratic values. Essentially I wish Rachel - for whom I have great admiration - had questioned Fritchey's haste to impeach.

Hollywood Foreign Press 2009 Golden Globe nominees in TV

Awards will be presented Jan. 11 on TV (NBC):

BEST TELEVISION SERIES, DRAMA:

DEXTER (SHOWTIME)
HOUSE (FOX)
IN TREATMENT (HBO)
MAD MEN (AMC)
TRUE BLOOD (HBO)

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A TELEVISION SERIES, DRAMA:

SALLY FIELD, BROTHERS AND SISTERS
MARISKA HARGITAY, LAW AND ORDER: SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT
JANUARY JONES, MAD MEN
ANNA PAQUIN, TRUE BLOOD
KYRA SEDGWICK, THE CLOSER

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A TELEVISION SERIES, DRAMA:

GABRIEL BYRNE, IN TREATMENT
MICHAEL C. HALL, DEXTER
JON HAMM, MAD MEN
HUGH LAURIE, HOUSE
JONATHAN RHYS MEYERS, THE TUDORS

BEST TELEVISION SERIES, COMEDY OR MUSICAL:

30 ROCK (NBC)
CALIFORNICATION (SHOWTIME)
ENTOURAGE (HBO)
THE OFFICE (NBC)
WEEDS (SHOWTIME)

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A TELEVISION SERIES, COMEDY OR MUSICAL:

CHRISTINA APPLEGATE, SAMANTHA WHO?
AMERICA FERRERA, UGLY BETTY
TINA FEY, 30 ROCK
DEBRA MESSING, THE STARTER WIFE
MARY-LOUISE PARKER, WEEDS

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A TELEVISION SERIES – COMEDY OR MUSICAL:

ALEC BALDWIN, 30 ROCK
STEVE CARELL, THE OFFICE
KEVIN CONNOLLY, ENTOURAGE
DAVID DUCHOVNY, CALIFORNICATION
TONY SHALHOUB, MONK

BEST MINI-SERIES OR MOTION PICTURE MADE FOR TELEVISION:

A RAISIN IN THE SUN (ABC)
BERNARD AND DORIS (HBO)
CRANFORD (PBS)
JOHN ADAMS (HBO)
RECOUNT (HBO)

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A MINI-SERIES OR MOTION PICTURE MADE FOR TELEVISION:

JUDI DENCH, CRANFORD
CATHERINE KEENER, AN AMERICAN CRIME
LAURA LINNEY, JOHN ADAMS
SHIRLEY MACLAINE, COCO CHANEL
SUSAN SARANDON, BERNARD AND DORIS

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A MINI-SERIES OR MOTION PICTURE MADE FOR TELEVISION:

RALPH FIENNES, BERNARD AND DORIS
PAUL GIAMATTI, JOHN ADAMS
KEVIN SPACEY, RECOUNT
KIEFER SUTHERLAND, 24: REDEMPTION
TOM WILKINSON, RECOUNT

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE IN A SERIES, MINI-SERIES OR MOTION PICTURE MADE FOR TELEVISION:

EILEEN ATKINS, CRANFORD
LAURA DERN, RECOUNT
MELISSA GEORGE, IN TREATMENT
RACHEL GRIFFITHS, BROTHERS AND SISTERS
DIANNE WIEST, IN TREATMENT


BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE IN A SERIES, MINI-SERIES OR MOTION PICTURE MADE FOR TELEVISION:

NEIL PATRICK HARRIS, HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER
DENIS LEARY, RECOUNT
JEREMY PIVEN, ENTOURAGE
BLAIR UNDERWOOD, IN TREATMENT
TOM WILKINSON, JOHN ADAMS

Hollywood Foreign Press 2009 Golden Globe nominaees in film

The Golden Globe Award nominations have been announced by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.

(Remember that the Globes cover both Film and TV and divide the main awards into drama and music or comedy, so there are more nominees than for any other awards. Many people believe this allows the Foreign Press to kiss the ass of more Hollywood notables. Also remember that - unlike the awards I have already covered - these are just nominations. The awards will be announced on NBC (if there is no actors' strike) on Jan. 11)

Best Picture, Drama:
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Frost/Nixon
The Reader
Revolutionary Road
Slumdog Millionaire

Best Picture, Musical or Comedy:
Burn After Reading
Happy-Go-Lucky
In Bruges
Mamma Mia!
Vicky Cristina Barcelona

Best Actor, Drama:
Leonardo DiCaprio, Revolutionary Road
Frank Langella, Frost/Nixon
Sean Penn, Milk
Brad Pitt, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Mickey Rourke, The Wrestler

Best Actress, Drama:
Anne Hathaway, Rachel Getting Married
Angelina Jolie, Changeling
Meryl Streep, Doubt
Kristin Scott Thomas, I've Loved You So Long
Kate Winslet, Revolutionary Road

Best Actor, Musical or Comedy:
Javier Bardem, Vicky Cristina Barcelona
Colin Farrell, In Bruges
James Franco, Pineapple Express
Brendan Gleeson, In Bruges
Dustin Hoffman, Last Chance Harvey

Best Actress, Musical or Comedy;
Rebecca Hall, Vicky Cristina Barcelona
Sally Hawkins, Happy-Go-Lucky
Frances McDormand, Burn After Reading
Meryl Streep, Mamma Mia!
Emma Thompson, Last Chance Harvey

Best Supporting Actor:
Tom Cruise, Tropic Thunder
Robert Downey Jr., Tropic Thunder
Ralph Fiennes, The Duchess
Philip Seymour Hoffman, Doubt
Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight

Best Supporting Actress:
Amy Adams, Doubt
Penelope Cruz, Vicky Cristina Barcelona
Viola Davis, Doubt
Marisa Tomei, The Wrestler
Kate Winslet, The Reader

Best Director:
Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire
Stephen Daldry, The Reader
David Fincher, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Ron Howard, Frost/Nixon
Sam Mendes, Revolutionary Road

Best Screenplay:
Simon Beaufoy, Slumdog Millionaire
David Hare, The Reader
Peter Morgan, Frost/Nixon
Eric Roth, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
John Patrick Shanley, Doubt

Best Original Song:
"Down To Earth," Wall-E"
"Gran Torino," Gran Torino
"I Thought I Lost You," Bolt
"Once in a Lifetime," Cadillac Records
"The Wrestler," The Wrestler

Best Original Score:
Alexandre Desplat, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Clint Eastwood, Changeling
James Newton Howard, Defiance
A.R. Rahman, Slumdog Millionaire
Hans Zimmer, Frost/Nixon

Best Animated Film:
Bolt
Kung Fu Panda
Wall-E

Best Foreign Language Film:
The Baader Meinhof Complex
Everlasting Moments
Gomorrah
I've Loved You So Long
Waltz with Bashir

New York Film Critics Circle Film Awards, 2008

The second major critics film awards have been announced.

The New York Film Critics Circle has selected:

Best Picture: Milk

Best Actress: Sally Hawkins (Happy-Go-Lucky)

Best Actor: Sean Penn (Milk)

Best Supporting Actress: Penelope Cruz (Vicky Cristina Barcelona)

Best Supporting Actor: Josh Brolin (Milk)

Best Director: Mike Leigh {Happy-Go-Lucky)

Best Screenplay: Jenny Lumet (Rachel Getting Married)

Best Cinematographer: Anthony Dod Mantle (Slumdog MillionaireO)

Best Foreign Film: (4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days)

Best Animated Film: WALL-E

Best First Film: Courtney Hunt (Frozen River)

Best Non-Fiction Film (Documentary): Man on Wire

(The awards will be presented Jan. 5 in New York.)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Blogojavich on film

I know that this tends to minimize the Rod Blagojavich (pron: Blagoyavich) scandal, and I fully understand how deeply this kind of corruption threatens democracy, but I can't help it. Only a screenwriter could have created those phone conversations.
It reminds me more than anything else of a 1930's/40's Warner Bros. film. Just think about it, a 1930's/40's film in real life (reel life) in 2008. What in the world is going on here? Anyway here it is

Blagojavich ---- John Garfield
Patrick Fitzgerald ---- Humphrey Bogart
Chief of Staff, John Harris ---- George Raft
Publisher of the Chicago Tribune ---- Edward G. Robinson
Patti Blagojavich (wife) ---- Audrey Totter
Jesse Jackson, Jr. ---- Canada Lee
Barack Obama ---- Clarence Muse

Quote of the Day

In a democracy
it's your vote that counts;

in feudalism,
it's your count that votes.

--- Mogens Jallberg

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Dec. 10: Demonstrate: Support Chicago workers taking over their plant

Support Chicago workers taking over their plant

KEEP THE PLANT OPEN
Jobs at a Living Wage are a Right


Demonstrate
Wednesday, Dec. 10, 12 Noon
Bank of America, 261 Broadway
(subway - R or W train to City Hall; 1, 2, 3, A or C to Chambers Street; or 6 train to Brooklyn Bridge)

Over 250 heroic workers—overwhelmingly immigrants—at the Republic Windows & Doors factory in Chicago are fighting back! These members of Local 1110 of the United Electrical, Radio and MachineWorkers of America (UE) have taken over their plant until they get their jobs back.

Their workplace was suddenly shutdown when Bank of America withdrew a line of credit. No 60 days notice was given to these workers, as required by the WARN (Worker Adjustment Retraining and Notification) Act. Their vacation pay was stolen, too.

George Bush gave $25 billion of our money to his pals at the Bank of America. This financial octopus already has over $1.7 trillion in assets. With all this dough, they go ahead and steal the jobs of these Chicago workers.

Join the fight back against layoffs, foreclosures, racism, immigrant bashing, tuition and subway fare hikes!

Sponsored by Bail Out the People Movement and the May 1st Coalition for Worker and Immigrant Rights. (212) 633-6646;
e-mail: bailoutpeople@safewbmail.com;
www.BailOutPeople.org
www.may1.info


(Another important action: Support the Stella D’ Oro workers, who've been on strike for four months. Come to the picket line on Wednesday, Dec. 10 from 3 to 6 pm at 237th St. and Broadway. Take the 1 train to 238th St.)

Monday, December 08, 2008

What's wrong with the college football championship?

Some thoughts on the Bowl Championship series (BCS).

The current BCS makes no sense. This year the BCS championship game will be fought between Oklahoma (#1) and Florida (#2), which means that Texas (#3) will be a bridesmaid instead of a bride. But why is this the case, despite the fact that Texas beat Oklahoma earlier in the season (Truth: Oklahoma beat Texas Tech., who beat Texas in the last second).

There are three components that decide the BCS rankings: The Harris interactive poll, the USA Today coaches poll, and the average of six computer rankings. According to the computer rankings Oklahoma is #1, Texas #2 and Florida #3. Based on this alone, the championship game would be between Oklahoma and Texas, only when you add the much more subjective (and therefore subject to prejudice) polls to the mix do the rankings change. And the contestants in the championship game change. The only way to sort all this out would be to actually have the top eight (as the president-elect suggested) or 12 teams play it off against each other on the football field not in the poll-makers' minds.

One other controversial aspect of all this: Oklahoma's move from #2 to #1 in the rankings is a result of their beating #21 Missouri in Big 12 title game. The only reason that Oklahoma was in that game was because of an "obscure tie breaker." Had Texas been in that game (and won it) they would be in the BCS championship game.



(The college football championship is decided by a single game (Jan.8th) rather than championship series. I should also say that we are fans of Texas, where Ann went to school.)

Communicating with Obama: what can we lose?

I know that the only way to actually influence the incoming administration is to stand up and demand the "change we need." We need to organize and protest when we see violations of what we've been promised. But there are, in fact, many ways to communicate our ideas for change. This administration-in-waiting seems open to thinking outside the box. With this in mind here's a website you might want to know about: click on Change.gov then go to Agenda select an issue on which you want to influence the course of action (for example, Health care) and tell Obama/Biden what you think they should do, what kind of "change we need."

We know that this is not the whole answer. But it is part of the struggle for change. The more progressive voices they hear from the more likely they will act in our interests and not those of the military-industrial complex. Anyway I think it's worth a try. Maybe I'm just a "cockeyed optimist."

(Thanks to PDA-America: Health care not Warfare for directing me to this site)

Friday, December 05, 2008

Who should replace Hillary Clinton in the Senate?

Now that Sen. Hillary Clinton has been formally nominated by the president-elect as Sec'y of State the question arises: who will Gov. Patterson select to replace her? A number hats have been thrown into the ring, either by their wearers or those who support them. The National Organization for Women (NOW) Political Action Committee and the Feminist Majority Political Action Committee announced yesterday that they are endorsing New York City Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney for the seat. Twinmom on My DD suggests upstate Rep Kirsten Gillibrand. According to Reuters, Gov.Paterson told the newspaper he discussed the Senate seat on Wednesday with Caroline Kennedy. Paterson characterized the conversation as "informational." It should be noted that all of these women have one thing in common, they are white. When Obama resigns from his Senate seat, there will be NO Black senators. It seems to me that Gov. Patterson has an opportunity to rectify this situation.

The National Board of Review awards 2008

Well the film award season is upon us, leading up to the 81st Oscars on Feb. 22.

(The Oscar nominations will be announced on Thursday, Jan. 22. Traditionally the nominations are announced on a Tuesday, but due to the presidential inauguration on Jan. 20, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences decided to push back the date.)

Here are the first awards announcement, The National Board of Review awards for 2008:

Best Film:
SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE (Dir. Danny Boyle, based on Q and A by Vikas Swarup)

Top Ten Films:
(In alphabetical order) BURN AFTER READING, CHANGELING, THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON, THE DARK KNIGHT, DEFIANCE, FROST/NIXON, GRAN TORINO, MILK, WALL-E, THE WRESTLER

Top Ten Independent Films:
(In alphabetical order) FROZEN RIVER, IN BRUGES, IN SEARCH OF A MIDNIGHT KISS, MR. FOE, RACHEL GETTING MARRIED, SNOW ANGELS, SON OF RAMBOW, WENDY AND LUCY, VICKY CRISTINA BARCELONA, THE VISITOR

Best Actor:
CLINT EASTWOOD, Gran Torino

Best Actress:
ANNE HATHAWAY, Rachel Getting Married

Best Supporting Actor:
JOSH BROLIN, Milk

Best Supporting Actress:
PENELOPE CRUZ, Vicky Cristina Barcelona

Best Ensemble Cast:
DOUBT

Breakthrough Performance by an Actor:
DEV PATEL, Slumdog Millionaire

Breakthrough Performance by an Actress:
VIOLA DAVIS, Doubt

Best Foreign Language Film:
MONGOL (Dir. Sergei Bodrov Sr., Russia) [Nominated for a 2007 Oscar)

Top Five Foreign Films:
(In alphabetical order) THE EDGE OF HEAVEN (Ger.), LET THE RIGHT ONE IN (Sweden), ROMAN DE GARE (French), A SECRET (French), WALTZ WITH BASHIR (Israel)

Best Documentary:
MAN ON WIRE (Dir. James Marsh)

Top Five Documentaries:
(In alphabetical order)AMERICAN TEEN, THE BETRAYAL (NERAKHOON), DEAR ZACHARY, ENCOUNTERS AT THE END OF THE WORLD, ROMAN POLANSKI: WANTED AND DESIRED

Best Director:
DAVID FINCHER, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Best Directorial Debut:
COURTNEY HUNT, Frozen River

Best Adapted Screenplay:
SIMON BEAUFOY, Slumdog Millionaire and ERIC ROTH, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Spotlight Award:
MELISSA LEO, Frozen River and RICHARD JENKINS, The Visitor

Best Original Screenplay:
NICK SCHENK, Gran Torino

Best Animated Feature:
WALL-E

William K. Everson Award For Film History:
MOLLY HASKELL and ANDREW SARRIS

The BVLGARI Award for NBR Freedom of Expression:
TRUMBO

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Thoughts on Plaxico and his gun

Some thoughts on Plaxico:

My thinking about Plaxico's troubles have gone through a number of transitions since the story first broke.

First I thought, despite his not being the brightest player in the clubhouse, he didn't mean any harm and didn't hurt anyone but himself, so what's all the fuss about? But the more I thought about it, it began to seem more thoughtless and dangerous than at first. First of all, it was only lucky that he didn't shoot anyone other than himself. When he clumsily and stupidly dropped the loaded gun, the bullet could have hit anyone in a crowded club. He may be very good at catching passes in the end zone, but he is obviously not skilled enough to be anywhere near a loaded firearm. That's why people (all people) have to be licenced to carry a gun.

Secondly, he clearly had no hesitation about putting other people in jeopardy. He carried the gun into the club endangering the jobs of the door guards and the club's licence. As the cover up developed he placed the career and freedom of Antonio Pierce in jeopardy. Perhaps the most self-indulgent acts occurred at New York-Cornell Hospital. According to media reports, he lied about who he was (Harris Smith?), what happened (how he got shot), and where it happened (Applebees?). The same reports indicate a long-standing relationship between the Giants and Cornell hospital. It seems a Giant's executive met Buress at the hospital. The most egregious act was to implicate the hospital and a doctor (Dr. Josyann Abisaab) in not reporting the gunshot wound to the police. Dr. Abisaab's privileges have been suspended by the hospital. Plaxico has been suspended by the Giants. Despite the fact that neither has been convicted of anything and two major institutions may be covering their own asses.

So what to conclude from all this? The alleged perpetrator - Burris - because of his stupidity, selfishness and duplicity has placed other people in danger - physical and in terms of their lives and careers. All because he believes he's special. All because he believes he can do whatever he wants to do without consequences.

If he's convicted of all this he should be punished accordingly; but until then he should be given the benefit of the doubt. In other words, considered innocent until proven guilty. No one should be suspended until then.

Oh! one other thing. The mayor should keep his stupid self-indulgent mouth shut. Right now he's only placing any future prosecutions in jeopardy. This whole story is about self-indulgence and its cosequences.

Just for the record, I am a Giant's fan.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Georgia Senatorial run-off

Saxbe Chambliss (R) 1,220,854 57%
Jim Martin (D) 905,637 43%

99% precincts reporting

Dec. 7: Studs Terkel Memorial


Sunday, December 7, 4:00 pm-6:00 pm

A memorial celebration of the life and work of
Studs Terkel,
who died on October 31st at the age of 96,

The Great Hall of Cooper Union
7 East 7th St (3rd Ave)
(6 to Astor Place, N/R to 8st)

The event will be open to the public and free of charge.






Participants will include:

Jimmy Breslin (Pulitzer Prize-winning Newsday columnist and author)
Steve Earle and Allison Moorer (musicians);
Laura Flanders (host of GritTV and RadioNation and New York Times bestselling author)
Sydney Lewis (long-time friend and collaborator);
Walter Mosley (best-selling author)
Victor Navasky (publisher emeritus of The Nation and Director of the George Delacorte Center for Magazine Journalism at Columbia Journalism);
Andre Schiffrin (founding director of The New Press and Studs' editor and publisher);
Dan Terkell (son of the late Ida and Studs Terkel);
Katrina vanden Heuvel (editor and publisher of The Nation);
Gary Younge (columnist and feature writer for The Guardian);
Howard Zinn (historian, activist, and prize-winning author of A People's History of the United States)

Co-sponsored by The New Press, The Nation and The Indypendent.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Palin: continues to exploit troops

Today (Dec.2) is the runoff election in Georgia between Jim Martin(D) and Saxbe Chambliss(R). Today the Governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin, campaigned for Chambliss. Although it would be better if she would simply stay in Alaska and stop talking, watching the TV coverage of her appearances, I can't help but wonder if she will ever stop exploiting the troops for her own political purposes.

Obama and Clinton's remarks at the introduction of his "National Security Team"

Here are the comments of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton on the introduction today of his "National Security Team." I will have more to say about all of them collectively and as individuals and its portent for Obama's presidency. But just for now does it bother anyone else that these appointments (Sec'y of State, Representative to the UN and Attorney General, etc.) are collectively labeled by Obama and the media as his "national security team." Many words got short shrift today, but the one that was very rarely mentioned was "Peace."



(If you are seeing this on FaceBook, please click here to see video)