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Found 18 results

  1. Don't *ever* say I'm not thorough. Because I didn't go ga-ga over "The Shining," I took it upon myself to rent and watch "Room 237," a documentary ripping apart Kubrick's film, exploring all sorts of conspiracy theories, going frame-by-frame over many scenes, etc. Because I just watched "The Shining" yesterday, the film was still fresh in my mind, therefore, "Room 237" was very watchable; if I hadn't been up-to-the-minute on "The Shining," then this documentary would have been very, very difficult to finish - it's 1:43 in length, and you can feel every minute. So, in terms of recommendations ... this is priced just like a regular full-feature film on all the movie rental outlets - if you want to drop $3.99 to watch an analysis of "The Shining," at an exhaustively detailed level, narrated by people who may, or may not, be as intelligent and knowledgeable as you, then you'll undoubtedly get something - however small - out of this. However, even just a day after watching the movie, I found it tedious, and struggled to finish: I had to sift through a lot of babbling, just to extract a few tiny nuggets of interest. This film is subdivided into nine chapters, each supposedly offering a different "meaning" of "The Shining." From Amazon Prime's "X-Ray" commentary, I noted this, which sums up my own feelings about "Room 237" quite nicely: "Stephen King - never a fan of Kubrick's adaption of his own novel "The Shining" - started watching this documentary only to give up halfway through as he felt the filmmakers were reaching for things that simply were not there." Stephen King got it right - there's very little here. You'll get another level of depth from Kubrick's film, but is it worth it? Only if you're a serious enthusiast.
  2. Wow, I'm almost certain I've seen the ending of "Silver Linings Playbook" before, but I'm also certain that I've never seen the entire film. Despite its spicy language, this is a somewhat classic, old-fashioned, rom-com - chock full of star power, and Jennifer Lawrence's vehicle for her first Best Actress Oscar. It's important to me that I see films "like this," but not for the reasons you may think: Although I'd heard the name "Jennifer Lawrence" a zillion times before, I didn't have the faintest idea who she was (I wouldn't have even been sure if she was a singer or an actress), and watching movies like this are the only way I can keep up with popular culture. The casting of this film was very star-heavy and strong, and there really wasn't a weakness in the entire ensemble that I can think of. That said, despite its "mental illness" twist, "Silver Linings Playbook" is a formulaic rom-com, and absent the language and some of the subject matter, could have been made with Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell (although you'd need to substitute "rapid-fire dialogue" for "subtle facial expressions"). I found the film charming, if perhaps twenty minutes too long, and everyone gets to walk out of the theater happy and carefree. Given that this is an almost stereotypical rom-com, what more could you ask for? (Other than, of course, eight Academy Award nominations including the Big Five.) Peter Travers said this film was "crazy good"; I contend that while it's well-made, slick entertainment, it's "crazy for-the-masses."
  3. "Red Sorghum" is one of the more challenging novels I've ever read. This was 2012 Nobel Laureate Mo Yan's first novel, and remains his most famous - it was made into a film, also called "Red Sorghum," in 1987. As with so many other great works of literature, I'm saying to myself right now, 'There's no way this could be made into a film without losing much of its "guts"' - there's just too much that goes on inside of peoples' heads for it to be conveyed on the big screen. Oh, the story can be told, but not in anything remotely resembling the strange and mysterious narrative penned by Yan. It doesn't even matter if I tell you what the book is about: "Red Sorghum" is narrated by a descendant of a family of sorghum winemakers, and he jumps back-and-forth through time (the duration of the story is about fifty years, from the early 1920s until the 1970s, passing through the Great Leap Forward (perhaps the deadliest event in human history), and ending with the Cultural Revolution), telling the strange and fascinating history of his family, and the hard times and misery they endure, with the red sorghum itself being the only thing (other than the narrator) which links together the tale. Also, don't assume you'll pick up any snippets of real-life history by reading this; you won't. So, even though I just told you what the novel is about, it doesn't make one iota of difference - it's the type of book you *must* read to understand, and it is extremely difficult to get through. It isn't the language that's difficult; it's keeping up with the numerous characters, and adapting to sudden shifts in time (without being told you've shifted in time). I've read tougher books in my life, but probably less than a dozen (and I've read some pretty darned tough books). I highly recommend "Red Sorghum," but it sure isn't for everybody - you have to *want* this novel, and steel yourself for some very complicated and confusing literature. I got to the point where, for the final two-thirds of the book, I was taking notes on the pages - titling every single page with the gist of what happened on it; otherwise, it would have been impossible for me to refer back and find something I needed to find. Is this Nobel-worthy literature? Yes. I understand the Nobel is a lifetime-achievement award, but this is a worthy component of Yan's oeuvre that contributes fully to him winning the Nobel. Writing long-form literature this complex is a skill that I could never possess, so it's difficult for me to even comprehend how someone could write something such as this - it must have taken him forever-and-a-day, and I suspect the reason this was Yan's first novel (at age 31) was that he had spent the past decade thinking about it. My guess is that it's very unlikely that any of our members have read this, but if anyone is out there (even just lurking) who has, I would love to discuss aspects of this novel with you - I read it without any help, and as I post this, I have still yet to read any reviews or critiques of "Red Sorghum." I look forward to doing so, so that I can figure out exactly what in the hell I've spent the past six months reading. Also, don't do what I did (pick the book up only occasionally) - this is a novel that needs to be read continuously; not sporadically. I am *so glad* I decided to take notes (I even bought a second book several months ago, so I could have a new one once I was finished defacing the one I read).
  4. William Windom (1923-2012) Dec 22, 1961: William Windom as Major in "Five Chraracters in Search of an Exit" on "The Twilight Zone" - Feb 21, 1963: Windom as Dr. Wallman in "Miniature" (with a young Robert Duvall) on "The Twilight Zone" - Oct 20, 1967: Windom as Commodore Matt Decker in "The Doomsday Machine" on "Star Trek" - Feb 30, 1972: Windom as Professor Putman in "Little Girl Lost" on "Night Gallery" - --- Now I'm going to focus on one thing which nobody has ever written about - it occurred in 1971. Jan 20, 1971: Windom starred as Randy Lane in the acclaimed episode, "They're Tearing Down Tim Riley's Bar," on "Night Gallery." Mar 30, 1971: William also guest starred as Eddie Frazier in "Success Story" on "All in the Family." So, what's the link, other than William Windom? The song, "For He's a Jolly Good Fellow." In both of these episodes, the song plays a major, pathetic role, i.e., Pathos with a capital "P." Is this coincidence? I don't think so. It also just so happens that these are two of the greatest episodes in their respective series. Especially, on "All in the Family," it could easily bring a tear to your eye; on "Night Gallery," it's the only episode that was ever nominated for a Primetime Emmy award. "All in the Family" was the superior of the two series, so even though Windom plays a smaller part, it resonates like the chimes of Big Ben (you can watch a fair-to-poor-quality version for free on Dailymotion, but I can't recommend it). In my mind, these two episodes will forever link William Windom through this one song.
  5. Towards the beginning of "Argo," they showed some American churches, businesses, etc. with "Free the Hostages" signs - despite the Iranian embassy being stormed in 1979, one of the buildings depicted is still open - it's right across Chain Bridge Road from what is now Santini's (formerly Boston Market). The first picture is from the film; the second picture is from Google Maps. It's also amazing (and not coincidental) that when Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck) first enters the CIA Headquarters in Langley, he's actually entering the CIA Headquarters in Langley (just a couple miles from McLean Cleaners) - this is the first time I've ever seen any pictures of the Headquarters (which is way back from the street), and apparently, special access was granted entirely due to honoring Tony Mendez (you should read about him on Wikipedia). *** SPOILERS FOLLOW *** I had never heard of the Canadian Caper before reading about Mendez on Wikipedia, which is pretty pathetic, because 1979 is the year I graduated from high school - I guess I was more worried about college life, and the Iranian hostage crisis was only on my mind as much as the television allowed it to be. From my viewpoint, 38 years later? This was an act of war on the part of the Iranian people, period - embassies are designated as foreign countries, and the safe harbor which comes from being within those countries' borders - these Iranians invaded the United States the moment they broke into the embassy - tell me where I'm wrong, please. In the distant future, Rodney King will be remembered as a hero, for his words, "Can we all get along?" They mean more than any crime he ever committed, and he will be regarded as a role model. Within five seconds of first seeing John Chambers (John Goodman), an homage is made to "The Blues Brothers." And it's very, very funny that the name of the movie ("Argo") comes from a crude knock-knock joke. This, for an Oscar-caliber film: 'Knock-knock.' "Who's there?" "Argo." "Argo who?" "Ar Go fuck yourself." What I can't understand is why, when Mendez first meets the six hostages at the Canadian Embassy, he would assume the room *isn't* bugged. I mean, come on ...
  6. I feel like I just ate an entire box of Chips Ahoy! cookies. I am so ashamed that I have now watched - and enjoyed - "Jack Reacher," the Tom Cruise action thriller from 2012, but so I did. Sometimes, multiple external factors converge to make you want nothing but the cheapest, most escapist brand of diversion, and such was it with me, and the previews for the Reacher sequel which just came out were enough to reel me in for the most tawdry brand of entertainment there is. And I enjoyed it. This was my beach book, my Robert Ludlum, my Twilight Zone without the historical significance. I'd enter a spoiler alert, except there's nothing to spoil, any more than me taking pictures of the Domino's pizza that arrived, twenty minutes into the film. And I'm kidding about the pizza. But the movie was perfect within its genre, and I'm actually looking forward to the sequel.
  7. I'd never before seen "Zero Dark Thirty" (2012), and only knew - or thought I only knew - that it was about what the U.S. did with captives suspected of Al Qaeda involvement, so I went in with a very clean slate. Note this thread about torture (and feel free to comment there), which does *not* reflect my personal views on anything, much less torture - I only mention it because it's probably related to this film. In my opinion, this is very much related to our thread about Lt. William Calley as well. "The Saudi Group" is mentioned prominently at the beginning of the film, and I'd never even heard of the term before (and I've always considered myself pretty well-informed about current events, especially things such as this). Some important (real-life) names you may want to familiarize yourself with - or at least have the Wikipedia links handy while watching the film), aside from the obvious, are: Ammar al-Balauchi (brilliantly played by Reda Kateb), Hazem al-Kashmiri, Ramzi Yousef, Abu Faraj al-Libbi, Hamza Rabia, Khabab al-Masri, Atiyah Abd al-Rahman, Humam Khalil Abu-Mulai al-Balawi, and Abu Ahmed (I'm writing as I watch, trying not to pause the film, so I'm bound to make some typos, and will also probably miss some key people). You should also know about the general concept of "Black Sites," and what "ISI" is. Note: It's not at all essential to the plot of the movie to know who these people are - in terms of the film itself, most of them are "mix-and-match" high-level Al Qaeda operatives, and that's more than sufficient to watch Zero Dark Thirty - if you hear a name mentioned multiple times (for example, Abu Ahmed (pronounced "Ahkmed")), then you can make a stronger mental note. When Mark Strong (George, the senior CIA supervisor) was chewing out his group for not eliminating more Al Qaeda personnel, I was thinking to myself, "Well, who's in charge of the group, you brain-dead dork?" Mark Strong also played Maj. Gen. Stewart Manzies in "The Imitation Game," who was the man that made Alan Turing's life (more) helllish, so he's good at playing power-hungry authority figures, and these are two pretty huge roles in a short period of time. Jessica Chastain is a terrible choice to play Maya, the quiet, passive girl who becomes psycho-edgy the longer she stays in the group - her acting is terrible, and she's about as believable as watching Geena Davis playing Ronda Rousey (of course, Ronda Rousey isn't very believable playing Ronda Rousey, either, so ....). Ninety more minutes have passed since I wrote the previous paragraph, and the film is almost over. While lauded by both critics and the public, I'm taking a dissenting view and saying that "Zero Dark Thirty" is a stupid, Hollywood rendition of something that could have been made into a great film. Jessica Chastain was laughably bad in her role - she was miscast, plain and simple, and carries about as much gravitas when she uses big, aggressive words around high-up CIA operatives as an Englishman prancing his French poodle around in a dog show. Furthermore, she was a completely fictional character, and the producers had a chance to make her into anything they wanted - and they chose *this*?! In a way, the film is like the absolutely abysmal "Airport '77" in that the ending is terrific - the final hunt for UBL is brilliantly filmed, believable, and dripping with tension even though we all know what's going to happen. It was the same way in Airport '77 with the rescue, which was filmed using actual military techniques, and was the only good part of the movie. This film is like a wrapped piece of toffee - it's really strong at the beginning, and at the end, and there are nearly two hours of Hollywood tedium, over-acted dreck, and God-awful Jessica Chastain who, inexplicably, was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress - I can certainly see "Zero Dark Thirty" winning awards for lighting, editing, sound and the like, but acting? Not unless it's either Reda Kateb or perhaps even Jason Clarke, but nominating Jessica Chastain shows just how much the Academy Awards are dumbed down for the masses, and should never be taken as anything more than "notoriety." Go to Rotten Tomatoes, and you'll think this is a great movie - a can't-miss movie - but to this viewer, it was "okay" at best, and very typical Hollywood: big, bold special effects, and story-driven rather than concerning itself with character development, nuance, or subtlety. If anyone thinks Jessica Chastain was successful in her role as Maya, please offer up your opinion - I'd like to know what you think.
  8. Please don't remember John Glenn only for his partisan politics - the man was, is, and always will be a great American Hero - just look at those tags in this thread, and there could have been more. I have total respect for this great American, and I hope everyone else does, too. Senator Glenn left us earlier today at the age of 95 - we lost a giant today: What a great man.
  9. Warren Stevens was a very recognizable character actor on many television series from the late 40s to the late aughts, and has a very recognizable face, as he's been in some of our (well, "my") favorites: Oct 9, 1955 - Perry Stanger in "Premonition" on "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" - Mar 15, 1956 - Lt. "Doc" Ostrow in "Forbidden Planet" - Nov 4, 1960 - Richard Crown in "The Strengthening Angels" on "Route 66" - Jan 19, 1962 - Nate Bledsoe in "Dead Man's Shoes" on "The Twilight Zone" - Feb 23, 1968 - Rojan in "By Any Other Name" on "Star Trek" - Dec 15, 1971 - Officer Art McCall in "The Dinosaur" on "Adam 12" -
  10. Ha! I will have you know that I LOVE Jethro Tull, and just the other day was practicing "Too Old To Rock and Roll, Too Young to Die" for future karakoe opportunities. I am especially fond of the faux-Robert-Burns era. Someday I will refine and publish my explanation of how you can tell a lot about a 50-ish white USAian man by what proggish rock group he will admit to having loved. Rush people, Tull people, Yes people, King Crimson people ...
  11. I've never been a fan of Quentin Tarantino because I'm very much against the use of gratuitous violence in film. That said, I've only seen "Pulp Fiction" and (probably all of) "Reservoir Dogs," which are 12 and 14 years old, respectively: There's something about "Django Unchained" which called out to me, despite me suspecting it would probably be Tarantino-esque; violence was terribly real in the days of slavery, and so here was a film in which I could perhaps justify it - perhaps even enjoy it, in a vengeful sort of way - depending on how it was used, and for what purposes. I also had a rough week at the office, and needed some mindless escapism - Tarantino is about as mindless as it gets: A bloodhound gift-wrapped as an intellect. Maybe Django (played by Jamie Foxx) will get some sort of revenge at the end of all this, and shoot the bastards who deserve it. That's the kind of week it has been for me. *** SPOILER ALERT *** It's a safe bet that I'll be discussing things from this point forward that will ruin the movie for you - as usual, I'm writing while watching, so my comments will arrive in mostly chronological order. As usual, I'm writing this as I go, and so far, Dr. King Schultz (played by Christoph Waltz, who won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor), worries me. He has been almost superhuman in killing the Speck brothers, and now he has taken on an entire town, killing the sheriff in cold blood, and getting everything he wanted in the process. He's a little too good to be true, I'm afraid, though I admit it was satisfying to see the poor, chained-up slaves have the final say against the remaining Speck brother - I only hope they followed the North Star as recommended by Schultz. The scene where they were arguing about the eye-holes in the KKK masks was the first time I've ever seen comedy surrounding a KKK meeting, and it was brilliantly done, too - acting both as comic relief, a suspense-builder (for what we dread is about to happen), and most importantly, foreshadowing - for what actually happened. This guy Schultz is no dummy. With almost two hours remaining in the film, Schultz and Django have just partnered, and I'm afraid that things are going a little *too* good - there's plenty of time left for lots of terrible things to happen. I sure hope Schultz isn't guilty of a last-minute betrayal; he sure seems like a decent fellow so far. Okay, this Mandingo fighting is making me physically sick to my stomach (some movie fans will remember the 1975 Blaxploitation Film, "Mandingo"). This is the side of Tarantino I don't like - there's nothing left to the imagination, and if he could do it in 3D, he would, if he could do it so that you could smell the blood, he would, if he could do it so that you were there in the room with fighters, he would, if he could do it so that you felt the pain, he would. There's no subtlety with Tarantino - even in this film, over a decade later, he's still doing body horror under the very thin veil of "high art" - he is the most contemptible of directors: the kind that substitutes gross-out shock value for true artistry. When Leonardo DiCaprio perks up upon hearing the outlandish amount that Schultz and Django are willing to pay for a top-level Mandingo fighter, he just goes to show that even the most heinous, sadistic people will gladly sell their principles if the price is right. This is a universal theme. Tarantino could have made the dog-killing scene much worse, but then the film would have carried an NR-17 rating - I honestly wonder if that's the reason he chose to make most of it impressionistic. Assuming there *were* slave owners as sadistic as Calvin Candie (DiCaprio) - and I assume there were - this is just 165 years ago, and we, as a species, haven't evolved all that far from this. In fact, genetically, we've scarcely evolved at all - there are still people, Americans, who would be doing this if given the right. Maybe Tarantino is a better director than I give him credit for, because he's being quite successful at making me hate people. --- Comic Relief: The Candyland plantation is located in Greenville, MS (trivia: there are more towns and cities named "Greenville" in the 50 United States than with any other name - at least, that's what I remember reading about ten years ago). Greenville is near the Mississippi Delta, and not far from both Arkansas and Louisiana. Some real-life people born in Greenville that you may have heard of are Jim Henson, Shelby Foote (these two men alone have provided PBS with a disproportionate share of talent), George Scott, Frank White, and Mary Wilson. These are the ones I know, but there are others whom you may know that I'm not familiar with. Well, I guess this wasn't really "comedy," but at least it wasn't someone getting ripped to shreds by three angry dogs - back to the film. --- The best scene in the movie so far is when they ride into the Candyland estate, and the elderly butler gives Django the biggest eat-shit look I've ever seen. [Edit: Hoo boy was I wrong, and I had *no idea* this was Samuel L. Jackson at first, either.] Vintage Quentin Tarantino: A director with finesse wouldn't have felt any need to see Broomhilda graphically pulled from the hotbox; (s)he would have simply shown Django's facial expressions the entire time, and let viewers use their imagination. Any excuse for gore, violence, and shock value: That's Quentin Tarantino. I know, I know, it'll make Revenge Time all the more sweet to watch, right? That said, the scene at the dinner table with the wise old butler is suspense at its finest, and I mean it is *masterful*. The entire course of events, from the hotbox up until the handshake was masterful - a flash of brilliance from a sadistic provocateur. Oh, look! A bloodbath juxtaposed with rap - how intellectual. And ... I just stopped watching the film before the potential castration scene - I have no need for this in my life, and shame on Hollywood for a Best Picture nomination for this piece of sadistic garbage. Since I try to always finish what I start, I may or may not finish the film later, but I will most certainly read the synopsis of the plot before I do, because at this point, I no longer care what happens: they can castrate Django ... or not. They can kill Django ... or not. They can kill Broomhilda ... or not. The two can magically escape and ride off into the sunset ... or not. I couldn't care less. Franco Nero in a cameo:
  12. Saw Allegiance last night partially out of obligation as a Japanese American. The musical tells the story of the JA experience during WWII in the concentration camps and the struggle to prove the patriotism and allegiance of various individuals to the ideals of this country. It follows primarily one family which has the father as a no-no (responses of no to willingness to serve in the army, and no to forswear allegiance to Japan, which for many who were barred from US citizenship would have left them without citizenship) and the son becomes a war hero serving in the 442nd. The daughter/sister in the family falls in love with another man who refuses the draft until his family is released from the camps and is sent to prison. For a 2.5 hour performance, it packs a lot in with regard to Japanese American cultural influences and how it shapes the evolution of the various attitudes towards what is patriotic and what ideals different actors were standing up for. If you have a chance to see it, I highly recommend going to this in the next two weeks. The music was surprisingly strong, and I think they built it around the strength of Lea Salonga as the lead singer.
  13. I have been a huge Washington state fan for a long time. 2012 is perhaps their best year ever. 97 points for the vintage from the Wine Advocate with some individual wines representing the absolute best of the state-ever. But this is about two wines. One is locally known as the "Eagle Eater": 11/14/15 - "10 Things We Don't Know About Screaming Eagle" by W. Blake Gray on winesearcher.com is an article about Screaming Eagle which includes a very interesting comment, the sixth one down. It notes that a '12 WA wine, Woodinville Cellars '12 Reserve "once again" beat Screaming Eagle in a brown bag tasting. Several friends of mine and I were struck by this. Especially since Woodinville Cellars '12 Reserve has not been reviewed by anyone and, there are only our barrels of it-none of which come East. We bought three cases @ $40.00 a bottle with free shipping. ($50 list): 2012 Woodinville Wine Cellars on woodinvillewine.com and took delivery of them two weeks ago. Three of us could not wait and opened one of the bottles. Initial swirl and sip after only a couple of minutes of air for the bottle was "at least a 94-96" from all of us. An hour later we opened a second bottle-the first bottle was now "in the high '90's." We also all agreed that if this had been $150 a bottle we would not have been disappointed. It was that good. An absolutely remarkable wine regardless of what it cost. Never mind the $1500+ per bottle release cost of a single bottle of Screaming Eagle-the '12 Woodinville Reserve would hold its own against anything. Having said this, considering the cost, we picked up the phone and bought two more cases. The 2012 Woodinville Reserve really is the "Eagle Eater" described. We now have a total of 5 of the approximately 90 cases that were made. With all of them at hand I can tell the world: as I write this there are only a few cases left and I have no financial interest in them in any way. Until a few weeks ago I knew nothing about them. Now, having talked to the winemaker, Sean Boyd, whose father was the original editor of the Wine Spectator in the early '80's (!), I have to share my enthusiasm. A few DC restaurants really should have this on their wine lists. This speaks well, really well, for Washington-both state and D. C. the city. And, there is another '12 WA state wine: Bergevin Lane Moonspell cabernet. The '11 picked up 92 points from the Wine Spectator which is especially remarkable since it is a $28 wine. One of their highest ratings for the price for the year. The '12 Moonspell is better. I actually think much better. Almost breathtaking the kind of point rating that this $28 wine might receive. I have now bought six cases of the '12 Moonspell-three for me and three for friends. I also know Bergevin Lane having bought their cabs (Intuition, Moonspell) every year since 2007. But this is their best. A remarkable value that is jammy, unctuous, mouth coating and full of fruit. Full bodied, too, 14.5+ %. They are still trying to sell the 92 point WS '11 Moonspell and have not actually started trying to sell their '12. But they will. They, similar to Woodinville, do not have a distributor in the D. C. area-you will have to call them and buy direct. Annette Bergevin at Bergevin Lane, Sean Boyd at Woodinville. This is the website for the '11 Moonspell. Both wineries will hold their wines and ship in the spring. I am actually wondering if I should have bought a little bit more of each? Happy New Year !!!!
  14. And this thread could just as easily go in the Art forum, or the History forum - I'm actually thinking about moving it to the latter. I've decided to pick up my copy of the AIA Guide to the Architecture of Washington, DC (my copy is the 3rd Edition), and study it a bit. The link is to the 5th Edition, which came out in 2012 - if it's substantially different, and people want to attend this party, I'll spring for it, since a lot has changed in the past 21 years. After the introduction, Tour A starts off in Capitol Hill, with an 8-page description of the Capitol (and more detail later about certain aspects of the Capitol). Anyone interested in doing a pseudo-walking tour with me? I want to actually see these things, rather than simply reading about them - I had no idea, for example, that the Capitol had corn-cob and tobacco-leaf capitals (a capital is the top part of a column). Also, I always thought Robert Mills was responsible for the Capitol Dome; here, he doesn't even get a mention (although I'm sure he'll be mentioned in the Washington Monument (*) section) - Thomas Walter is credited with making the dome as high as it is today (it looked really "squat" in bygone eras), and I cannot imagine it like that after having seen the current version my entire life. Did you know they extended the east face by 32 1/2 feet in 1959-1960, and in the process, added *102 rooms*?! If anyone wants to do an on-your-own group tour of DC's architecture and discuss it here, I'm game. (*) Who knew that before the Washington Monument, the world's tallest building was the Cologne Cathedral? Boy, I certainly didn't.
  15. I posted a link to Etta James singing "The Very Thought of You" from her beautiful "Mystery Lady" album over in the Carmen McRae thread. Here's another great track from the same album, "How Deep Is The Ocean." I totally love this album and can't say enough nice things about it: Here, on the other hand, is Etta James doing the kind of thing she was better known for, tearing up Otis Redding's "I Got The Will." I hate to use the word "apotheosis" again so soon, but if this ain't apotheosis, I don't know what is:
  16. It would break my heart to find out that Louis C.K. wasn't a nice guy - he comes across as being just a wonderful person, and I *love* his standup comedy. Yes, he's the whitest of white boys, but in the best of ways. This show started out so weak - with his comparison between Hitler and Ray Charles, and then he came right out and said, "I don't know how to start shows," so you don't know if it was on purpose or not. And then he launches into being divorced when you're in your 40s. His bit with the cell phones "sucking" was so dead-on - people complaining about how their cell phones "suck," when it fact it's their own lives that really suck; not the phones themselves - if people from the previous generation had this technology, they'd be awed, wondered, stupified, amazed, but this generation is complaining about how terrible their phones are. It really hits home. Half-way in, when Louis C.K. was launched into a diatribe about the word "hilarious," this program just wasn't that funny (and I'm a big Louis C.K. fan). Oh, there were moments, but not extended moments and certainly not anything meriting a long delivery. "Hilarious" was recorded in 2009 and released in 2010, so it was a pretty mature version of Louis C.K. - it seems to me that he largely botched this, and the stand-up routine as a whole just isn't that sublime. The Fig Newtons bit towards the end - and everything after that (essentially, the final ten minutes) - was pretty funny, and drew a couple of chuckles from me. But I'm fairly dissatisfied with this nearly-90 minute routine. What on earth happened with this show? This is the first thing I've ever seen by Louis C.K. that I didn't love. "Hilarious" gets rave reviews by pretty much everybody - what am I missing?!
  17. Feeling out of touch with the zeitgeist, I watched the first Hunger Games movie a couple of nights ago. Generally, I'm predisposed to like post-apocalyptic science fiction movies with attractive lead actresses. But I'm also predisposed to dislike movies based on teen novels. So how would these two sources of bias interact? (Plot Discussion and Minor Spoiler Alerts Follow) I guess my conclusion is that if you can convince yourself that the plot device the movie is based on is plausible, then it's a pretty enjoyable movie. The device, of course, is that this society keeps its proletariat in check by having each district submit two teenagers to a yearly battle royale in which only one survives ("The Hunger Games"). Donald Sutherland (the leader of this Nation) explains it as a way to remind the Nation of futility of previous uprisings, and provide hope, but not too much hope (hope for what, I couldn't say - perhaps hope that you or your child can be that one person who survives and lives on as some kind of pseudo-celebrity). I should also say that the Hunger Games are televised and treated like the most popular reality show of all time in this world. Sort of like the Truman Show. So as I'm sort of indicating, you really have to do some mental backflips to make this twisted prison logic make sense. My guess is the reason kids like it is the confluence of action, the there can only be one reality TV/Kardashian component, and the easy to draw social commentary (Obama is President Snow - OPEN YOUR EYES PEOPLE!). It's also not hard, knowing there are two other installments, to figure out where this is all going. But that said, it's a pretty well-executed action movie with a compelling performance by Jennifer Lawrence. It's hard to not make parallels to her coming out party in Winter's Bone, which I'm sure the Hunger Games producers were much influenced by. A lot of similar ground is covered. In both movies she hunts and cooks squirrels, is beat up, and takes care of a younger sister (and is indeed driven by her desire to protect her siblings). Of course, it was all done in a much more evocative way in Winter's Bone, making it even harder to take Hunger Games seriously. That said, Lawrence is a commanding presence, and there are times when she portrayed internal conflict in such a strong yet understated way that I had to pause to movie to try to figure out what I really thought she was feeling. My only other complaint is that, out of no where, we learn that the Hunger Game producers can manifest giant pumas at will and insert them anywhere in the tournament grounds. That was a shocker.
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