Saturday, October 21, 2006

The Departed

If
a) you are a Scorsese fan
b) from Boston
c) interested in Leonardo DiCaprio
and
d) generally enjoy crime family films

then The Departed is a must-see.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Death of a President - a running diary

This film is running this evening on Channel 4 in the UK. A few thoughts while I'm watching it.

Starts at 10:00

10:20 - I'm a bit slow to start. Thus far the film has been entirely focused on how scary protesters are and how wonderful President Bush is. They have protesters running around in leather and face masks and bandanas on their faces. Policemen and security are interviewed and they all exude an air of fear of protesters. The film glorifies Bush to a great extent.

Oh, and the protesters "hate Bush". That's all that's going on.

"There's a new breed of anarchist...the only way to deal with this kind of individual is brute force," says a police captain interviewed.

The film plays up the Kim Jong Il threat.

10:24 more interviews with a Bush speechwriter

Hmm...now Bush's "we seek peace" speech is being contrasted with drum-beating, flag-burning protesters.

10:25 now the Police are attacking protesters who had refused to move away to give Bush his free city block (or whatever the distance was) so he could leave his speech location.

10:27 Bush is leaving the hotel. Security guy has a "bad feeling" about the walk to the car. More verbal fellating by a speechwriter. "When the President shakes your hand there is noone else in the world."

10:30
"Danny Williams", an environmental protester is whisked away.
Shooting happens right after - very quickly.

10:31 limo is racing to hospital

10:33
Oh, it seems that the suspect "Frank Mollini" had been the subject of NSA wiretapping! This movie is really hitting all the bases, isn't it!

(I'm really glad I'm not paying money for this.)

10:38
More involving sympathetic Secret Service people, policemen, etc.

10:40
Protesters are celebrating the fact that Bush had been shot. Movie is starting to bore me. It's making Path to 9/11 look brilliant. I miss Harvey Keitel.

10:43
Ooh - on the back of one protester's hoodie is the word "Yglesias".

10:48 getting very bored. Starting to see what people at IMDB have said.

Ooh - more people talking about "hatred of the President".

Hmmm...it seems like it's picking up. They are letting the Mollini character complain about the police. Uh oh, now he's talking about penetrating security. Oh, but Mollini wasn't the shooter, he just had an amateurish poster.

10:51 Samir Kasri - an American of Yemeni descent, is the next subject. "Bush and Ashcroft deported my mother and father."

10:52 "We weren't just rounding up people, we had probable cause every time." I think this man needs some clarification about the meaning of the phrase "probably cause" because he follows this up by saying that they were looking for a "non-white" person. I guess being non-white is probable cause.

10:55 Oh crap - Bush is dead and Cheney is the new President.
This is the scariest movie I've ever seen!

11:01
Now an Arab has been arrested. This is annoying because they are interviewing the suspect's mother and she speaks Arabic (I'm guessing) so I have to pay attention to subtitles. Which makes posting harder.

11:03 some hack cop says Syrian suspect is "a man without a conscience"

11:09 now they have a Syrian expat calling the suspect guilty and saying this was a "Syrian state-sponsored assassination". Points to the film for highlighting the lack of credibility of expatriates who want the US to overthrow their home government.

11:11 They are playing "Battle Hymn of the Republic" at Bush's funeral. Uh, Battle Hymn was a Union fighting song during the Civil War. Odds it will be played at the funeral of a President from Texas? Seems low.

Yikes! President Cheney!

11:41 I've been totally bored for the past half hour. The movie is mired in what is apparently the conviction of one man for the shooting when apparently somebody else is guilty.

11:47 movie ending - wrong guy has been convicted, true killer had committed suicide after shooting Bush.

On the whole the film was really quite dull. A number of the things it's trying to do it doesn't do very well. It also falls into the trap of "evenhandedness", where all of the characters are shown to be equally reasonable people.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Blog refurbished

I grabbed one of the templates, which is a lot nicer than the basic blah. It comes with something that looks like a lighthouse!

That reminds me that I just read PD James' The Lighthouse. It's a very good book. I'm a huge PD James fan. I'm glad her books are easing away from the grimness that marked many of her earlier work. Incidentally, her sci-fi novel The Children of Men made for a very interesting film with the inimitable Clive Owen, the lovely Julianne Moore and the eternally charming Michael Caine.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

howler monkeys at the Natural History museum

Met PZ Myers, a leading science blogger, and many others interested in Pharyngula-type discussions yesterday at the Natural History museum in London. See Pharyngula for details.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

the North Korea problem, exacerbated

Why say Clinton's policy was a flop? The purpose was to get some handle on the plutonium that was being used to develop a weapon program. To that end, the Clinton policy worked. It's true that North Korea found a loophole and started to collect uranium instead of plutonium. Is it really fair to say that this is Clinton's fault? In any case, the question then is: what do you do about this discovery? The Bush administration's response was to throw away the progress Clinton had made and leave a status quo where North Korea was developing either a uranium program or a plutonium program with no oversight whatsoever.

And the Clinton plan was a flop?

In response to Shakespeare's Sister:


Unless you are prepared to go to war with North Korea, you have to negotiate with them, and you have to accept the reality that any progress made may be somewhat less than you want. Bush hasn't had a plan at all of how to deal with North Korea. His negotiating tactics are straight out of a juvenile's playbook. The current administration views "talking to a country" as a reward, and thinks that diplomacy of any sort at all is seen as a sign of weakness.
And yet they have no other plan.

It's been alleged that Bush's actual goal in all of his policies is simply to exacerbate the situation. Certainly the tabloids fall right in line with this. I saw one two days ago with a picture of Kim Jong Il and the massive headline "Be Very Afraid". The fearmongering is no longer very subtle or hidden. There is an old saying: you either part of the solution or part of the problem. Bush has seemed to find a third way: not only to ignore a problem, but to actively make it worse, since fear is his only electoral strategy.

p.s. See William Perry's take on this matter.