Wednesday, August 31, 2005

I'M SURE IT'S JUST COINCIDENTAL: But doesn't it seem like it took the looting to get the cavalry called up? I mean, it probably really is coincidental. But it's an uncomfortable juxtaposition: looting footage, the Mayor starts talking tough, police are called away from rescue efforts and onto protecting the downtown.

At least the water levels have apparently stabilized.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

KATRINA KOMMENTARY: It's like some bad Bruckheimer-Bay production. "You survived the hurricane....can you survive--THE FLOOD?" I mean, Sunday night, the newsheads were saying that New Orleans was not going to get dead-on hit like everybody feared, and I think there was a bit of a sigh of relief. But a levee's been breached and every half-hour NPR tells me that New Orleans is filling up with water. Well, great.

And I think we all know now that New Orleans is in the middle of a giant bowl.
THE FAIRLY OBVIOUS JOKE OF THE MOMENT: But--but--the Preznit can't release oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve! That would only provide comfort and succor to future hurricanes.

Make that the "very obvious joke of the moment."

Friday, August 26, 2005

UPON FURTHER "KILL BILL" REFLECTION: As well as watching Vol 1 and 2 at near-saturation levels over the past few days (plus both movies are in rotation on one of the Encores this month--those are great movie channels, by the way, even if everything is pan and scan and all the Hong Kong movies are dubbed) I have decided that no, it is not a bad thing that we're sympathetic to O-Ren Ishii. And it's actually good anime, what with the emotion-drenched Italian Western score in the background (by Luis Bacalov, who I've never heard of but apparently he did a whole lot of Western scores. And if you love Tarantino for nothing else, you love him for hipping you to great stuff you never heard of) accompanying O-Ren's mother's blood dripping onto her face. I still--STILL!--don't understand O-Ren getting only half her revenge. She clearly sees who kills her father--she looks up and growls at him! (And I don't buy the "Bill killed O-Ren's father" thing, which is supposed to be something David Carradine confirmed but I can't find proof of him saying that anywhere on the Internets.) It's not her movie, obviously, so maybe she got the other half of her revenge before she got to Boss Matsumoto. Only Tarantino knows for sure. And that's the great thing about "Kill Bill"--you know Tarantino has an idea about what happens to everybody. He's said many times how much he believes that if you're going to build a reality, you better know what's going on in it, even if you don't let the audience know everything. After exploring the groundlings-eye view of his little world in his first three movies, we're now seeing the gods and (mostly) goddesses who inhabit his universe.

My own little stab at the Tarantinoverse: Nikki--Copperhead's daughter--will grow up and take her revenge. I don't know if she'll be successful or not; she's up against at least one monster (The Bride, who admitted her monsterness under the influence of Bill's truth serum, admitted how she enjoyed every single killing she performed in the first volume) and possible a second (the grown BB, who, the child of two monsters, stands an excellent chance of being a monster herself. She probably is one; that little girl they cast as BB, she was cute, but you also got the chance that she knew something that maybe she shouldn't.) Tarantino said Sofie gets all of Bill's money and funds Nikki's vengeance. Maybe we'll get Gogo's sister too. (Tarantino never filmed a big big fight he had written between The Bride and Yuki Yubari, sister of Gogo. Gogo ended up getting Yuki's good lines.) We don't know if Nikki's a monster or not, but when people are justified in taking revenge in Tarantino's world, they succeed (was O-Ren born a monster, or made one? I don't know.) So maybe we can predict The Bride's demise at the hands of Nikki right now, without knowing how BB plays into it. Nikki kills Bride, BB comes after Nikki for more heapin' helpings of revenge? And BB will be successful, since she is the natural born killer where Nikki is not? I dunno. But I can practically guarantee it will be better than the Star Wars prequels.

And--gawd--I love the Kill Bills. I love the DePalma sequence with Elle going out to poison The Bride in the first one. I love the Gogo-Bride fight--it's clearly derived from Master of the Flying Guillotine, with a bit of Raimi stuck in (the comic sound effects, the quick closeups) but it becomes original in the retelling, like Kill Bill itself. I love the Leone-Morricone sequence in the casket, juxtaposed with The Bride's flashback to the Shaolin monastery. I love the Shawscope logo and the "Our Feature Presentation" thing that anyone who has ever gone to a local midnight screening of some Italian horror junk will recognize. I love the Old Klingon Proverb. These are fun fun movies.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

HEY YEAH: I can see closing Ft. Monmouth here in the Dirty Jersey--but why close Walter Reed with all the scores of injured coming back?

....Never mind: they're just building a new one.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

THE PROBLEM WITH KILL BILL: It's the anime sequence--it just doesn't fit. It gives Lucy Liu's character a degree of sympathy none of the others got, and makes her future alliance with Bill inexplicable. It's not particularly interesting as anime, either. I don't quite understand why he put it in there.

My theory is: The other genres Tarantino built Kill Bill out of--samurai, kung fu, Italian Western, a little Italian horror; all the seventies schlock genres--that was the stuff he grew up on. But he couldn't have been exposed to anime in great quantities until much later, since it was only sparsely available in this country until fairly recently. It's not something he lives and breathes like he does the rest of the films he uses. It certainly isn't "grindhouse cinema"--it's "your parents' basement" cinema. So--I mean--that explains why it sort of sticks out like a sore thumb in what is otherwise an incredible movie. Why he made the decision to use something he didn't have such a strong command of, when he made so many other good choices in 1 and 2, that I can't explain.

Monday, August 15, 2005

JEAN CHARLES DE MENEZES: The revolting conclusion.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

THE ROBERTS ADOPTION THING: Traven in an Atrios comment thread--here and here--explains why there's nothing shady about what the Roberts did. Via Is That Legal? via Atrios himself. Yes, I followed a link from Atrios to Muller back to Atrios. My thoughts:

1. The circumstances of the Roberts' adoptions is a perfectly legitimate area of inquiry. International adoptions can be shady, and there was a not-insignificant chance something illegal/unethical could have happened in their adoption.
2. The fact that Drudge started this means it was most likely designed to gin up outrage from the right, which is what has in fact happened.
3. You can't judge the Roberts for wanting their children to be of their race; that's probably none of your business. You can't judge them for going international to adopt either--how would you like to worry about regretful birth parents showing up at your door with a legal team for fifteen years? But we don't even know if the Roberts picked their kids for their Irishness or not; as Traven suggests, the veddy Catholic Roberts probably went through a Catholic charity to adopt their newborns, and, as you may have noticed, Ireland is full of Catholics.

As you were.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Friday, August 05, 2005

BSG: FRAGGED: Just wanted to throw my thoughts up here about last week's episode before I got home tonight. The delay, in this case, indicates I wasn't too excited by this episode. Like, I thought Valley of Darkness was saved by strong characterization in the absence of a particularly cohesive plot. But this episode depended on just about everybody acting goofier than they usually act. Consider:

--In the space of a week, the President reduced to mumbling in her cell.

--Tigh hits the liquor a little hard and ends up going over-the-top. He called Richard Hatch "laughing boy," which is funny, but not necessarily something I expect him to say.

--Baltar loses every bit of his reason. He usually has a back-and-forth with Nine, though eventually he does what she wants. But in this episode he is one with his mania.

--And Nine wants Baltar to "be a man"? When was that ever in the Cylon plan? (What is the Cylon plan? Please--please, second season of Battlestar Galactica, do not go Matrix sequels on us.)

--I can see why Crashdown would feel guilty for losing Socinus and especially Tarn (and isn't it cute how BSG redshirts have names?) but his freakout was out of nowhere.

Only the unconscious (Adama), the dialogue-challenged (Lee, Gaeta) and the level-headed crewpeople who are never in charge (the Chief, Dee, Billy) were in character. I did love this exchange, though:

Tigh (snapping): "Why aren't you in the brig?"

Billy (after a pause): " one put me there?"

Tigh: (long stare. Walks away.)

But no Sackhoff and no Park means the show lacked their distinct charms (Sackhoff's moodiness and edgy whimsy, Park's strange relationship with my Tivo's pause button) and when you pull a few people out of your ensemble cast, the show doesn't function as well. But the odd character turns were why this was the first episode I found mediocre.

UPDATE: Oh hey, and did you notice Baltar putting his hand on Female Crewmember's leg just after the Raptor blew up the Cylons? It was either 1. an extremely human moment after a tense near-death situation, or 2. Baltar going riiiiight back into character. I'm guessing 2.