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Archive for September, 2009

Despair Under the Elms.

Growing ever more disaffected and anti-social, Rorschach (Jackie Earle Haley) trades in the inkblot mask for a stripey sweater (he’s kept the fedora, tho’) in the new teaser for Platinum Dune’s forthcoming Nightmare on Elm Street remake.

The original Nightmare was one of the cornerstone scary movies of my youth, but I’m not seeing much to recommend this one yet. And I definitely wish they’d gone more dream-surreal with it and skipped over the goofy Hannibal Rising-style backstory.

How the Irish Became Euro.

‘Europe has been very good to Ireland,; says Daly, the wine-store owner, who says he’ll vote yes for a second time this week…’People may be unhappy with the government, but to punish them in the Lisbon vote would be the wrong thing to do. Being a member of the euro [currency zone] is what’s got us through the crisis so far. I can’t see Ireland surviving alone.’

This Friday, Ireland votes on EU’s Lisbon Treaty for the second time. “Support for the treaty has been hovering around 50% for months. In the latest national poll, conducted by the Irish Times last week, 48% of respondents said they supported the agreement, compared to 33% who said they were against it. But a full fifth of the population hasn’t made up their minds, giving the no camp the belief that it can sway enough voters in the final days to make the tally close.

Outrage, Bought and Paid for.

“The two primary groups — Americans for Prosperity and FreedomWorks — actually grew out of the 2003 breakup of an outfit called Citizens for a Sound Economy that had been integral in the fight against Hillarycare. Indeed, the same ‘Tobacco Strategy’ memo in which Philip Morris boasts of shaping McCaughey’s writings also reveals that the tobacco giant paid Citizens for a Sound Economy to engineer a “grassroots” revolt against health care reform by staging demonstrations in the home districts of key congressmen.

In Rolling Stone, Tim Dickinson follows the money to expose the Republicans’ recent astro-turfing campaign against health care reform. In short, it’s the “Brooks Brothers Riot” all over again. In fact, “Americans for Prosperity, which has taken the lead in the current fight against reform, is a front group for oil billionaires David and Charles Koch, co-owners of the world’s largest private oil and gas conglomerate…Matt Schlapp, one of the original ‘Brooks Brothers rioters’…now serves as director of federal affairs for Koch Industries, orchestrating the firm’s political efforts in Washington.

Fall on Me. (It’s Gonna Fall.)

Since it’s a lazy Sunday morning, which I’m about to spend watching football with one eye while catching up on work, and since it occurred to me earlier this weekend that the trifecta of Fame, Pandorum, and Surrogates just has to be the lamest movie weekend we’ve seen in many moons, here’s the rest of the fall film schedule. If a movie is listed below without parentheses, it’s on my must-see list — Movies in paras are definitely-maybes. Also, some of these, particularly the ones in and around xmastime, may be limited release on the date given.

Out now: (The Baader-Meinhof Complex)

Oct. 2: A Serious Man. (Capitalism: A Love Story, The Invention of Lying, Whip It)

Oct. 9: (An Education, Zombieland)

Oct. 16: Where the Wild Things Are. (New York, I Love You)

Oct. 23: Amelia. (Astro Boy, Anti-Christ, Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant)

Oct. 30: (Gentlemen Broncos)

Nov. 6: The Men Who Stare at Goats. (The Box)

Nov. 13: (2012, Pirate Radio)

Nov. 20: (Red Cliff)

Nov. 25: The Road. (Nine, The Fantastic Mr. Fox, Me and Orson Welles)

Dec. 4: Up in the Air.

Dec. 11: The Lovely Bones. (Invictus)

Dec. 18: Avatar.

Dec. 25: The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus. (Sherlock Holmes)

Guinness for Strength.

“The company is celebrating the decision by Arthur Guinness, the son of a land steward, to sign a 9,000-year lease on a run-down brewery in Dublin’s St James’s Gate in 1759.” Granted, this whole “Arthur’s Day” business today has the strong whiff of a brazen marketing ploy. Still, I don’t need much of an excuse to raise a glass to my favorite drink (this side of Red Bull and the occasional Jamesons.)

So happy 250th, and Slainte to you and yours. May you all have warm words on a cold evening, a full moon on a dark night, and a road downhill all the way to home.

Prevent Defense.

“‘We must recognize that these detention policies cannot be unbounded,’ he said at the time. ‘They can’t be based simply on what I or the executive branch decide alone.’” The Obama administration backs away from the new preventive detention law they’ve been floating in recent months. This is a clear victory for civil liberties advocates, but, as The Prospect‘s Adam Serwer makes plain, only a partial one: “‘It may be one of the better results we could hope for, but in reality indefinite detention continues,’ said Michael W. Macleod-Ball, Chief Legislative and Policy Council for the ACLU’s Washington Legislative Office. ‘That’s antithetical to the American justice system.‘”

Indeed, the administration’s fallback position is one long held by Dubya — that the authority for preventive detention already exists in the post-Sept. 11 blank check written by Congress. That’s not change we can believe in. See also Glenn Greenwald today on this and recent developments on the state secrets front: “[T]he Obama administration has proven rather conclusively that tiny and cosmetic adjustments are the most it is willing to do. They love announcing new policies that cast the appearance of change but which have no effect whatsoever on presidential powers.

In the NY Review of Books, meanwhile, Garry Wills takes the long view of all this: “[T]he momentum of accumulating powers in the executive is not easily reversed, checked, or even slowed. It was not created by the Bush administration. The whole history of America since World War II caused an inertial transfer of power toward the executive branch…Sixty-eight straight years of war emergency powers (1941-2009) have made the abnormal normal, and constitutional diminishment the settled order.

Wills concludes his essay on a worthy, if fatalistic, grace note that holds for a lot of ideals in this troubled age: “Nonetheless, some of us entertain a fondness for the quaint old Constitution. It may be too late to return to its ideals, but the effort should be made. As Cyrano said, ‘One doesn’t fight in the hope of winning’ (Mais on ne se bat pas dans l’espoir du succes).

Lord of the Flies.

“The project would represent a chance for Cronenberg to return to a film that helped establish his career, but to do so in the effects age, using techniques that weren’t possible nearly a quarter-century ago.” Um, ok. Apparently caught in a feedback loop of some kind (I blame those pesky transporters), David Cronenberg looks to remake his remake of The Fly. No word on whether Jeff Goldblum or Geena Davis will be involved…Frankly, I’m not seeing the point.

Chandraayan’s Tears.

”This will create a considerable stir. It was wholly unexpected,’ said one scientist also involved in Chandrayaan-1. ‘People thought that Chandrayaan was just lagging behind the rest but the science that’s coming out, it’s going to be agenda-setting.’” Well, this definitely changes things if it holds up: India’s first mission to the moon discovers “evidence of large quantities of water on its surface(!)”

Another lunar scientist familiar with the findings said: ‘This is the most exciting breakthrough in at least a decade. And it will probably change the face of lunar exploration for the next decade.’” NASA comments tomorrow, so be ready to hum a few bars

Norsemen and Networks.

Casting for Kenneth Branagh’s take on Thor fills out, with Jaimie Alexander and Colm Feore joining the cast. Alexander plays Sif, while “Feore’s character is shrouded in mystery, though it is known to be a villain.” (That spells trouble to me — Be it stage or screen, Feore can be super-hammy.)

Whoever Feore is playing (Mephisto?), it’s not Loki — That would be Tom Hiddleston, appearing alongside “Papa Kirk” Chris Hemsworth as Thor and Natalie Portman as Jane Foster.

Meanwhile, the strange Aaron Sorkin-penned, David Fincher-directed Facebook movie, The Social Network, gets a cast in Jesse Eisenberg, Justin Timberlake, and Doctor Who alum Andrew Garfield (also soon to appear in Gilliam’s Imaginarium.) “Eisenberg will play Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg; Timberlake will play Sean Parker, the Napster co-founder who became Facebook’s founding president; and Andrew Garfield will play Eduardo Saverin, the Facebook co-founder who fell out with Zuckerberg over money.

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