Lancelot Links postsWednesday October 15, 2014
Thursday October 09, 2014
Berenice Bejo is coming to Seattle? Merci mille fois, SIFF!
- Attention Seattle-area francophiles: SIFF Cinema is hosting a “French Cinema Now” minifest at SIFF Uptown, October 23-30. I'm excited! And not just because Berenice Bejo is making a personal appearance. Although that helps. Because it's Berenice Bejo.
- So is Marvel Comics discontinuing “Fantastic Four” in order to wrest it from the sweaty clutches of Fox Studios? And is Marvel mostly in the moviemaking business now? Consider it Stan Lee's dream fulfilled.
- More Hollywood Reporter Marvel news: Robert Downey Jr.'s Iron Man will be in “Captain America 3.” For a possible “Civil War” storyline? “This isn't freedom, it's fear.” Should work.
- Not to be outdone, Warner Bros. has announced a whole slew of DC superhero movies for the next five years, including a Wonder Woman movie and a Flash movie. WW, I assume, will be played by Gal Gadot, as in the upcoming “Batman v. Superman” flick. And Barry Allen? Would you believe Ezra Miller from “We Need to Talk About Kevin” and “The Perks of Being a Wallflower”? I didn't. Although the dude does talk fast. I think Warner Bros. is trying to get its own Downey, Jr.: someone to enliven a dull franchise.
- Meanwhile, the U.S. Postal Service is debuting Batman stamps. Give me '40s Batman (big ears) or '70s Batman (bat signal). The others? Meh.
- Director Guillermo del Toro lists his top 10 (really 21) favorite Criterion movies. The usual suspects: Kurosawa, Bergman, Kubrick, Sturges (the anti-Kubrick). But early David Lean gets a nod, too. My question (now and forever): When is Criterion going to come out with a version of “Breaking Away”?
- What is the most common three-word phrase spoken in movies? Probably “I love you,” but “Let her go” might give it a run for its money. The video is HuffPo, so vaguely annoying for that, but it does serve as a stark reminder of just how derivative Hollywood is. And awful. I mean, how many times do we need to see the good guy save the pretty girl from the bad guy? It seems we never get enough of it.
- My brother-in-law Eric Muschler, who works for the McKnight Foundation in Minneapolis, and knows everything about urban planning and affordable housing, was recently interviewed by Architecture MN. Check it out.
- I've never been a big fan of Anonymous, which always seemed a little too powerful and adolescent to me. I mean ... Guy Fawkes masks? David Kushner's New Yorker piece, “The Masked Avengers,” doesn't change this perspective much. If anything, Anonymous reminds me of that superpowerful kid in the “Twilight Zone” episode/movie who gets what he wants ... or else. No, I mean, what I mean is, it's good that you outted the wrong people in Ferguson, Anonymous! David Kushner is a bad man for what he wrote. I'm only thinking good thoughts!
- What does Rand Paul want? According to Ryan Lizza, and unlike his father, ca depend. Lizza's profile, “The Revenge of Rand Paul,” is fascinating stuff, much recommended. The dueling McCain quotes at the end had me laughing out loud.
- Finally, didn't I already link to Jill LePore's piece on money, politics and the Constitution, “The Crooked and the Dead”? I didn't? Apologies. Here's the sad takeaway: If you have to break the law to infuse your political campaign with massive amounts of money, you're just not trying hard enough.
Saturday October 04, 2014
- Want to see someone steal a base? I mean, like, so ahead of the competition it's not even competition? Ladies and gentlemen, meet Terrance Gore of the Kansas City Royals.
- Why are the Royals on such a win streak? What could explain their turnaround? Would you believe a visit from a longtime, optimistic fan from South Korea? The piece is from August, via my friend Andy.
- If that's not reason enough to root for the Royals, there's this: Did you see the female fan who held up the sign at the Royals-A's one-game playoff, with an arrow pointing to her boyfriend: IF WE WIN, *HE'S* BUYING ME A PUPPY! Well, they won. So this.
- Joe Posnanski has been strangely silent since the Royals victory over the Angels in the ALDS earlier this week. Is he writing a book? Holding his breath? Saving it all for the ALCS? But at least in this post, his only post-ALDS post, he gave us a new word based on the KC manager: Yostify (v.): to explain an irrational decision with an even more irrational rationale.
- Here's video of a bunny in a bathtub. Because it's a bunny in a bathtub.
- Now to the serious stuff. Was the big bad U.S. government mean to poor li'l AIG and its shareholders when it bailed them out in September 2008 in an effort to prop up our entire financial system? Yes, that was the point. Was it a violation of the fifth amendment? I don't think so, but David Boies is making that argument for former AIG president Hank Greenberg. (Who, of course, is besmirching the name of the great Detroit Tigers slugger.)
- Kaleif Browder, 16, who lives in the Bronx, was arrested in May 2010 for assault and stealing a man's backpack, charges he denied. He was sent to the Robert N. Davoren Center for male adolescents, a violent place. He remained there, without a trial, until he was 20. Jennifer Gonnerman reports for The New Yorker.
- I'm fascinated by Nicholas Nixon's 40 years of photographing the New England Brown sisters. For whatever reason, my eye almost immediately goes to the shortest and, I assume, youngest one (Mimi, second from left) or Laurie on the far right. I hardly ever look at the other two. Not sure why. And I'm particularly fascinated by Mimi. Because she has the hardest stare? Because she reminds me of girls I've had crushes on? Text by Susan Minot. I like her comment about the increasing “united front” of the sisters.
- Paul Krugman in Rolling Stone? Yes. In defense of Obama. Yes again.
- Finally, sadly, I never met Shelly Fling, who died of cancer on Sept. 21 at the age of 49, but I communicated with her often while writing two essays for the University of Minnesota Alumni magagzine, which she edited for 15 years. One essay was about the Marx Brotherhood, a 1970s U of M monthly club, and the other was about address books after the death of friends. I'm fairly irascible as a writer, partly because I've had bad experiences with editors in the past, and partly because I think I'm always right; but she was always willing to do back-and-forth, give-and-take, on edits. She listened. She also knew what was good and what wasn't: accepting these pieces and rejecting lesser ones. I even wrote her once, after she apologized for rejecting a lesser essay, “Actually this is one of the finest rejection e-mails I've received.” We were forever talking about words. Now? No words.
Sunday September 28, 2014
- Why is the former head of A.I.G., Hank Greenberg, suing the Feds for bailing out A.I.G.? And why is the rest of the press treating it as a legitimate lawsuit? And why does he have my man David Boies on his side? Is it really about the Fifth Amendment or is it to get Tim Geithner on the stand? John Cassidy reports.
- That report might make you angry enough to flip tables. If so, feel free to watch this compendium of cinematic table flips: from “Jesus Christ Superstar” to “Moonstruck” to “Die Hard” to “Pulp Fiction.” It makes you realize what an odd thing it is. I mean, who does that? In real life? Besides Jesus, of course.
- Jelani Cobb on the recent Secret Service scandals and Barack Obama's safety. What he doesn't mention, where he doesn't point fingers, is at the Hate Machine that's been pumping out vile since January 20, 2009. If something happens, how culpable would these people be? Can you shout “fire!” in a crowded theater? Can you shout “Kenyan Fascist Socialist Traitor!” at the Oval Office?
- An editorial cartoon about the White House intruder backfires.
- Why am I adding Ben Affleck to my list of heroes? Not because he's playing Batman, and certainly not because he played Daredevil. No, it's because he refused to wear a Yankees cap for a scene in “Gone Girl.”
- Are you watching the MLB playoffs? Particularly the American League playoffs? If not, you're missing greatness. But you can catch up on it by reading the greatness that is Joe Posnanski. Here he is on one of the craziest games I ever saw: that one-game Wild Card playoff between the Royals and A's. And here he is on Game 1 of the ALDS between the Angels and KC.
- Another school board with new conservative members (in Jefferson County, Col.), another fight. The board want kids to study “the postive aspects” of U.S. history while the protesters are accusing the board of censoring that history. Here's a debate I wouldn't mind having: What are the positive aspects of U.S. history? Because I get the feeling my positive aspects wouldn't jibe with the new board members'. Also this: Are there important aspects of American history that fall outside the board member's view of what's positive? If so, what's their rationale for not studying that? Broader: Do we learn from our mistakes? Or: What do you call a person who feels like they've never done anything wrong?
- So who are these conservative school board members? Pam Mazanec is one. She believes in American exceptionalism. As an example, she writes, “Yes, we practiced slavery. But we also ended it voluntarily, at great sacrifice ...” Extra credit: Debate the use of the term “voluntarily.”
- At least it's all led to a great, saracastic Twitter hastag. Plus a Funny or Die post on the new, more patriotic, American history test. But we should be past this. People like Pam Mazanec are just wasting our time.
Tuesday September 23, 2014
- How did “The Shawshank Redemption” become one of the most beloved movies of all time? Margaret Heidenry gives us a fun, well-written account of the film from soup (Darabont's dollar) to nuts (Ted Turner).
- Here's a nice story: a 31-year-old minor-league journeyman with the Texas organization was called up from Double A recently and got his first Major League hit. Applause, standing o, tears from his parents in the crowd. David Shoenfield reports. Beats all the over-the-top Derek Jeter econimums, doesn't it? Speaking of ...
- Keith Olbermann goes off on the Derek Jeter industry. He says a lot of what I say. But is he a little too insisent? Yeah, he is. He always is.
- This one's better: Author Dan Epstein in Rolling Stone: Derek Jeter: The Longest Goodbye. What other titles might we use for this topic? “Goodbye to All That”? “Goodbye, Farewell, Amen”? “Hello, You Must Be Going”? Work with me here, people. It's his last day in the Majors, after all.
- You ever go to the Majestic Bay Theater in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle and see the “Trip to the Movies” trailer beforehand? Basically dos and don'ts with two 1950sish kids named Russ and Ellen. Well, it's getting a 1970s-style update. Actors wanted.
- This week, Dinesh D'Souza avoided prison time but was sentenced to five years probation, eight months of community confinement, one day a week of community service, and a $30,000 fine. No, not for his writing or his documentaries. For being stupid enough to violate our wide-open campaign finance laws.
- Apparently a Chinese rom-com riffing on (or ripping off) “Sleepless in Seattle” has inspired a real estate boom here. Even though, of course, the film was actually shot in Vanouver, B.C.
- What was fake on the Internet this week. I was fooled by #1 and (via NPR) #3. I heard about the three-boobs thing but knew the background. Most of the others I didn't even hear about. I need to surf more often. Or maybe less.
- Finally, on the last day of the regular season, a New York Times photo essay by Ray Whitehouse of every Major League ballpark. Favorites? I like the shots of Wrigley Field, Comerica, Miller, Busch, Progressive/Jacobs, Nationals, AT&T, and PetCo (SD). My friend Erika was least impressed with the Safeco shot and I kind of agree. I've taken similar ones while waiting for friends at the Glove. Hey, why not the Glove? The Russ Davis Glove, as we called it back in the day. The glove with a hole in it. No matter. It's Game 162 and the M's are still alive—barely—and I'm going to the game with P and the Sheas and with Felix on the mound.
Here's my shot of the left-field Safeco Field entrance. It's B.C.: Before Cano.
All previous entries
- Rep. John Lewis (D-GA), one of the great, fearless men of my lifetime, a civil rights legend and speaker at the March on Washington in August 1963, denounces voter-suppression efforts in Georgia.
- Two of my faves: Jill LePore on Wonder Woman. I actually prefer the former. The latter did nothing for me in comic book form. Only in Lynda Carter form.
- They've announced the longlist for the National Book Award for non-fiction. None of my guys. No Rick Perlstein, no Michael Lewis. On the other hand, a slew of books I wouldn't mind reading if I didn't have a day job.
- What do Toni Morrison's “Song of Solomon” and Jeannette Walls' “The Glass Castle: A Memor” have in common? They've both been banned by the school system in Highland Park, Tex.
- Hendrik Hertzberg on the death of “Stephen Colbert.” All very spot-on, and highlighting my point that no one's mentioning: to replace David Letterman, they've hired an unknown.
- Nursery rhyme: Little John Boehner has lost his lawyer (in the lawsuit against Pres. Obama) but quickly got another.
- An ump tossing a fan for repetitive, profane language? I like it! (Better watch yourself, Tim!)
- You don't see enough of this kind of thing: Box Office Mojo's Ray Suber grades himself on his summer box office predictions. What did we think would take off and didn't? (“How to Train Your Dragon 2,” “A Million Ways to Die in the West.”) What didn't we and did? (“Guardians,” “Maleficent.”) The comments about July box office were particularly interesting. The studios' fault for putting the wrong movies there? I mean, “Hercules”?
- Here are the awards from the 2014 Port Townsend Film Festival, which P and I attended with friends this weekend. The big winners seem to be the doc “Return of the River” (local) and the feature “Amira and Sam,” which played SIFF and which has been picked up for distribution. We saw our friend's doc “The Only Real Game” (about baseball in Manipur, India: Recommended!) and a showing of “Breaking Away” with a local author presenting. It wasn't a good print; the author didn't have much to say about the movie. So it goes.
- A couple of items from the Sept. 14 issue of The New Yorker, which I finally got around to reading while in Port Townsend for its film festival. First, Kalefa Sanneh's profile of Bill Cosby: “The Eternal Paternal.” It's not bad, and I always like reading about Cosby since he reminds me of my childhood (“Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids,” comedy LPs) and young adulthood (“The Cosby Show”); but the piece seems tied to Mark Whitaker's biography of Cosby without really being tied to it. It's mentioned and then ... poof! Does The New Yorker do what most media outlets do? Only write about pop cultural figures if it's tied to something being sold?
- Then John Lahr, Bert's son, gives us a portrait of Al Pacino, which is pretty fascinating. I didn't know much about Pacino's life, inner or otherwise, so most of this was news to me. But how Lahr could write as much as he does, and mention as many of Pacino's roles as he does, without touching on “The Insider,” is a mystery.
- Finally, and most importantly, William Finnegan on unionizing fast-food workers and the struggle for a decent wage for a decent day's work. It's both personal (the story of Arisleyda Tapia, who works at a McDonald's in Washington Heights in New York) and panoramic (the fact, for example, that “52 percent of fast-food workers are on some form of public assistance,” or that McDonald's workers over 18 in Denmark “earn more than twenty dollars an hour ... and the price of a Big Mac is only thirty-five cents more than it is in the United States”).
The Lynda Carter incarnation. Good casting. More thoughts on Wonder Woman here.