Lancelot Links postsFriday January 07, 2011
- IFC lets us know the top 10 indie films for 2011. Particularly looking forward to the Cronenberg, the Almodovar, and the Alfredson.
- Josh Wilker blends talk of the last Jose Canseco card, “The Twilight Zone” and “Jersey Shore” into a great, morbid greeting for the new year.
- I rail on the stupidity of American moviegoers but French ones ain't all that. In this unscientific poll from Le Monde, French readers chose “Inception” as the best movie of the year, with only one movie, “Des hommes et des dieux” (“Men and Gods”), within 40 percent of the former's total. That's fine. I have no problem with that. But somehow “L'arnacouer,” a lame romantic comedy, wound up with three times as many votes as “Carlos”? Mon dieu!
- My god. How interesting talk shows used to be. This time Dick Cavett talks to, believe it or not, Robert Altman, Mel Brooks, Peter Bogdonavich and Frank Capra. All on the same stage.
- My god. What a good writer Hendrik Hertzberg is. This time he talks up the 111h Congress and talks down the filibuster.
- Another good writer. Roger Ebert's last graph in this “White Material” review is as good as film criticism gets.
- The Land of 10,000 Lakes looks to be in good hands, as new Gov. Mark Dayton allows tea party protesters, railing against “Obamacare,” to have their say at the Capitol.
- Meanwhile, Karl Bremer, of Ripple in Stillwater, does due diligence on one of those protesters, and discovers that the man railing against churches for not providing medical ministrations (forcing the government, his argument goes, to do so unconstitutionally) is in fact a minister ... whose church doesn't provide medical ministrations. But that's just the beginning of the tale.
- The Writers Guild of America announces its 2010 nominees. I've seen all of the originals, only two of the adapted. Not sure what to make of that. According to Nathaniel Rogers over at Film Experience (which finally has its own Web site instead of a mere blogspot), many screenwriters couldn't get nom'ed because they weren't WGA members.
- The Producers Guild of America announces its 2010 nominees. Six documentaries and no “Restrepo.” The world gets dumber by the day.
- Last word goes to Joe Posnanski and his Hall of Fame post: “And Bert Blyleven, finally, made it into the Hall of Fame. This should cut back my writing work load by about 10% in 2011.”
- No, wait. Last word has to go to my last man standing. Apparently Michelle Bachman (R-Mn.) recently told a crowd of well-wishers that she became a Republican after reading a snooty book by Gore Vidal. (“Burr” or “1876,” she's mentioned both.) Salon's Justin Elliott then went in search of Vidal for a response. He finally got one through an assistant: “She is too stupid to deserve an answer.”
- The New York Times lets us know their top 10 books of the year. I've read exactly zero. Should I try Franzen again?
- One of my childhood heroes is battling cancer. More later.
- Andrew Breitbart, manufacturer of the Shirley Sherrod controversy last summer, continues his quest to be the biggest jerk in the western world.
- Beautiful little post from Josh Wilker here on grace and Doc Gooden.
- The Winklevoss twins, now and forever known as the “Winklevii” thanks to either Mark Zuckerberg or Aaron Sorkin, are still fighting their legal settlement. Mostly, though, they're fighting their supporting role in history, their walk-on status. It's awful when your story stops being your own. Welcome to the asterisk, kids. Most of us aren't even there.
- Karen Durbin at the Times gives us five movies worth another look. Two of them (“Un Prophete” and “A Film Unfinished”) are among my favorite movies of the year. The other three (“Animal Kingdom,” “Fish Tank” and “Never Let Me Go”) I haven't seen. Now I will.
- Michael Cieply writes of the strong slate of documentaries in 2010 without once mentioning the best of the lot: “Restrepo.”
- My friend Jerry Grillo posted this Vic Chesnutt remembrance on Facebook.
- My friend Jerry Grillo writes this remembrance of his Uncle Bill, who nearly pitched with Bob Feller, who recently passed away.
- My friend Andy Engelson writes about 20 untranslatable words. Here's to wabi-sabi. Here's to hyggelig.
- My friend Jim Walsh, as well as other Minneapolis music critics, list their best songs/albums/shows of 2010. From Jim's suggestions, and via the snippets on iTunes, I've already bought “Detroit Detroit” and “Sun's Gonna Shine.”
Weclome to 2011, everyone. Let's get it right this time.
- Are you counting down with Alex Pareene's “Hack Thirty”—the 30 worst, most insufferable political pundits—on Salon? It's brutal and fun. Hard to believe there are 29 worse than David Brooks, who begins festivities at no. 30, but I suppose in the scheme of things he's a lightweight. Consider no. 26, Jeffrey Goldberg of The New Yorker, of whom Pareene writes, “There's a special circle of hell for the journalist whose mendacity or incompetence directly leads to actual war.” Pareene, late of gawker.com, has a thing for exclamation points and the jugular, and so far (until he gets to someone I like?), it feels like something we're not used to in the cable-news/internet age: It feels like accountability. Here's Goldberg's representative quote, from the build-up to the Iraq War, hoisting himself:
“There is not sufficient space, as well, for me to refute some of the arguments made in Slate over the past week against intervention, arguments made, I have noticed, by people with limited experience in the Middle East (Their lack of experience causes them to reach the naive conclusion that an invasion of Iraq will cause America to be loathed in the Middle East, rather than respected).”
- Hendrik Hertzberg takes down Glenn Beck for his B.S. takedown of George Soros. Job done (but never done), Hertzberg then takes questions for New Yorker readers and assorted FOX nutjobs. Watch for the ones accusing the opposition of their own crimes. These people won't be happy until they destroy democracy. Don Segretti is the new norm.
- David Frum takes down Sarah Palin. Via Tweet.
- A reminder—again and again and again and again—which party is the truly fiscally responsible party during the last 30 years. Hint: It's not the party of voodoo economics. H.W. was right back in 1980. He was right in 1990, too, but the rich turned on him. They ate their own.
- James Surowiecki on how seniors voted earlier this month. It's not pretty. “The very people who currently enjoy the benefits of a subsidized, government-run insurance system,” Surowiecki writes, “are intent on keeping others from getting the same treatment.” I should add, in defense of the elderly, and with some small amount of pride: Not my old man. He's generally to the left of me. Don't mention George W. to him, for example, around anything flammable.
- I would like to live in a world where I could disagree with Andrew Sullivan more often—where we're both not fending off the idiocies of the right and thus in constant agreement—but here's a post with which I disagree. He's high on Bjorn Lomborg's “Cool It” doc, which I haven't seen, but for which I saw trailers; and for most of the trailer I assumed this guy was a global warming denier. He certainly positions himself that way. I think Andrew O'Hehir gets him right in his movie review, whereas Andrew Sullivan unjustly writes “O'Hehir whines from the right.”
- Great piece by Dave Kehr on the first cog in the star machine, Charlie Chaplin, whose movies at the Keystone Studios in 1914 are now available on DVD. “It was now possible for a performer to appear before widely different audiences in widely separated corners of the world,” Kehr writes, “and Chaplin was the first to feel the full impact of this new kind of celebrity.” In case anyone's thinking Xmas presents for yours truly.
- Nice Dave Niehaus obit by his former broadcasting partner Ken Levine. “People in the Pacific Northwest clung to his every word,” Levine writes. “The attraction was not the team; it was listening to Dave. His passion for the game, vivid descriptions, and magnificent voice made any baseball game sound exciting, even a Mariners’.”
- In between rants about the TSA, Tim Harrison nudges the M's on how they might, finally improve.
- Uncle Vinny, with whom I'm taking that Hitchcock class at Northwest Film Forum, drinks the Kool-Aid on Hitchcock. But it's French Kool-Aid, and il a tres soif.
- Finally, my favorite show on television right now may be the little-seen “Bored to Death,” about a failing writer who takes up detective work, and which just finished its second season on HBO. The lead character, named for the creator, Jonathan Ames (Jason Schwartzman), is the opposite of hard-boiled; he's part of my touchy-feeling generation, forever drinking white wine, forever engaging people in conversations about heart-felt issues. Example: In one episode, Jonathan worries about the size of his penis and mentions it to his friend, Ray (Zach Galifianakis), while they're at a cafe in Brooklyn. Then he asks him to come into the bathroom to check him out. Watching, I thought: “Like Hemingway and Fitzgerald in ”'A Moveable Feast.'“ A second later, Jonathan says, ”Hemingway checked out Fitzgerald when he went through a crisis like this. He wrote about it in A Moveable Feast.“ ”Bored to Death“ is a show for every literary person who fears for the death of the literary; who cares for the literary in an off-hand but all-encompassing way. I haven't even mentioned the best part yet: Ted Danson is to ”Bored to Death“ as Alec Baldwin is to ”30 Rock." Brilliant. Check it out. And don't tell me you don't get HBO. There's a thing called DVDs now, and DVD players? You put one into the other and, boom, you have shows to watch.
- Tim Egan has become a must-read. Here he is writing about... well, the headline says it all: “How Obama Saved Capitalism and Lost the Midterms.”
- In a similr vein: WTF has Obama done so far? Plenty.
- Whenever someone argues that FOX-News isn't biased, or is only as biased as MSNBC or NPR, trot out some of these figures. Then there's that slogan. If the most untrustworthy man is the man who says “Trust me,” what do you make of a news network that keeps reminding us they're “Fair and balanced”?
- Rush Limbaugh keeps getting it wrong and keeps on trucking. This time he complains about the graduated income tax. Where did that come from? he asks. People who read stuff answer: Abraham Lincoln and Thomas Jefferson.
- After all that, not to mention Nov. 2, here's a little cheerer-upper: Ricky Gervais singing a celebrity lullabye to Elmo on “Sesame Street.”
- I also love this early 1970s visit to “Sesame Street” from Paul Simon singing “Me and Julio” and getting upstaged (almost) by a little girl who just loves to sing. This may be the second time I've linked to it.
- A documentary about Jews and baseball has opened in New York. I'm over here in Seattle. Am I holding my breath? Probably. Ah well. DVD. Streaming. Something. Eventually.
- There's a new term in baseball, “super utility player,” but it's not a new phenomenon. Rob Neyer does the Dr. Livingstone thing and tracks it to its source, or at least a source: Cesar Tovar, one of my favorite players when I was a kid.
- Skip the first eight paragraphs of Jeff Sullivan's MLB piece, “Season of the Improbable,” and just get to his list of all of the improbables that happened during the 2010 season. Fun! Yes, and not, Mariners fans. If there's any of you left.
- The New York Times is screwing over David Waldstein! Or their search engine is. In Monday's edition, or Tuesday's west-coast edition, Waldstein published a piece titled “Renteria Is Positioned for Another Last Swing at a Title.” All about how the Giants shortstop had the final at-bat in the '97 Series (winning it for the Marlins) and the '04 Series (on the losing end of the Red Sox first title since 1918), and, who knows, maybe it'll happen again. It didn't, but Renteria did, in a sense, swing for the title: his three-run homer decided Game 5 and the Series for the Giants—their first since 1954. But online the Times appear to have written over that prescient piece. Search for it, then click on what appears to be the article (“Giants' Renteria Seeking Another Last Swing at Title”) and it takes you to a piece entitled, “Decisive At-Bat is Again Renteria's,” which is after-the-fact analysis. What the hell? To find the original opening you have to scroll a third of the way down Kenneth Plutnicki's live-blogging of the game. Not sure why the Times would destroy an online record of a helluva call.
- I've been trying to write a Josh Wilkeresque piece but couldn't get past the definitive way he describes the joy of opening a pack of baseball cards What could one add? Then I came across this piece from Jim Caple, which is from last February:
You hold the pack in your hand as if it were a lottery ticket. What players might be inside? You rip open the foil and are greeted by a familiar face. It is not a star — the first card is never, ever a star — but it is a reliable veteran, or a middle reliever, or maybe a September call-up who looked promising. You shuffle through the cards as hopeful as when you're dealt a hand in poker. Let's see, you got Eddie Guardado, and Nick Punto, and Ryan Garko, and — good grief, another Willie Bloomquist? — and James Parr, and then, boom! There's an Ichiro! When you turn over the card to glance at Ichiro's stats — nine consecutive .300-average and 200-hit seasons — summer and your childhood both seem a little bit closer.
- My friend Nathalie, who watches “Dances with the Stars,” was complaining about this very thing the day before Andrew Sullivan posted it on his site.
- My friend Andy visits Hue, Vietnam, and sees ghosts.
- Seriously, isn't the autocorrect on text messages one of the most annoying things about iPhones? It's bad enough that their suggestions are almost never correct; they also make the suggestions the default. You have to take action to prevent the auto-correct from writing over your words. The assumption is that they are smarter than you. That's getting into Microsoft territory.
- Finally, happy belated birthday to Famke Janssen (above), who is two years younger and four inches taller than me. But where has she been lately? She never calls anymore. Back in 2005 I placed her second on my list of the 10 sexiest actresses (oh, the crap we'll write when editors call), and since then I've seen her in exactly one thing: playing the thankless role of the ex-wife in Liam Neeson's “Taken.” It doesn't help that she's on “Nip/Tuck,” which I don't watch, and starring in movies like “100 Feet,” which I'd only see if they paid me. Apparently in that film she's under house arrest for killing her abusive husband, then discovers that the house is haunted...by the ghost of her abusive husband! On the poster she's frightened and crying. Because we don't see enough frightened and crying women on movie posters. You're a beautiful 46, Famke. Come back soon.
- A Nirvana retrospective at EMP on the 20th anniversary of “Nevermind”? I'm there. Next spring.
- It's always good to have a little Bob Dylan in the middle of the day. Or the beginning of it. Or at 2 a.m. when you can't sleep. “Yes, and how many ears must one man have/Before he can hear people cry?” That song doesn't get old, does it?
- What makes Will Ferrell laugh? Now you know.
- Peter Knegt over at IndieWire on 10 underdog acting noms this year. I'm including him here because he includes two I've touted: Pierce Brosnan in “The Ghost Writer” and John Hawkes in “Winter's Bone.” We'll see what the rest of the year brings, but those two are at the top of my list, followed by Tom Hardy in “Inception,” and, if you want to go broad or get into comedy (and why wouldn't you?), Mickey Rourke in “Iron Man 2” and Michael Keaton in “The Other Guys.”
- Over at flick philosopher, Maryann Johanson attempts to define “the female gaze” by what it isn't, “the male gaze,” then lists off lame (“Marmaduke”) or disgusting (an unnamed gossip site) versions of the latter. She only gets back to the female gaze at the end (“Bright Star,” “The Runaways”) but not in a revelatory way. I still don't know what she means. Are there no variations in the male gaze or female gaze? Why dismiss the homosexual male gaze, for example, as she seems to do? (Off the top of my head: Gore Vidal, Tennesee Williams, Merchant-Ivory.) Since most gossip sites attract women, to what extent is that unnamed gossip site a female gaze? Her post is a good second draft, though.
- Somebody, in this case “The Independent,” likes “Restrepo,” the Sebastian Junger and Tim Hetherington documentary about a platoon in Afghanistan in 2007-08, as much as I did. Hell, they go further. They ask: Is it the greatest war movie ever made?
- The M's have a new manager! Former Indians manager Eric Wedge! I know. Can he hit? Jerry Brewer calls the announcement cheerleading at a wake.
- The Coolest Asshole of the Week is Bobby Knight, who takes on the God-in-sports question deep in the heart of Texas.
- Speaking of Texas: Here's Joe Posnanski's beautiful column on Cliff Lee's beautiful pitching performance in Game 3 of the ALCS: striking out 13 New York Yankees.
- Speaking of New York: those fans in the Bronx can't keep their sticky fingers off the playing field, can they? This time, at least, it didn't affect the outcome of the game.
- Finally, one of my first posts, way back in February 2008, was about that tension between saving and letting go. My friend Kristin says it better here.