Wednesday, October 26, 2005
Monday, October 24, 2005
Here's the best summation I've yet read of the entire CIA leak scandal drama, giving a pretty decent rundown of all the relevant information and key players up 'till now. Probably as close as we're going to get to a scorecard for this whole sordid affair.
After you're done with that, click on over to Frank Rich's column from yesterday's New York Times, which goes even deeper in examining the motives and series of events that ultimately led to "Plamegate":
For Mr. Rove and Mr. Bush to get what they wanted most, slam-dunk midterm election victories, and for Mr. Libby and Mr. Cheney to get what they wanted most, a war in Even with all the talk of editorial bias and outright incompetence at the Times in the wake of the Judith Miller fiasco (which itself came in the wake of the Jayson Blair fiasco), none of which I'd be hard-pressed to disagere with, Rich has been and continues to be one of the best op-ed writers out there.
Sunday, October 23, 2005
A new interview for The Progressive magazine, in connection with his film A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE, is no exception, and finds the actor reflecting on Hurricane Katrina, Cindy Sheehan (including his visit to Camp Casey in Crawford), and much more. Here are his thoughts when queried on hopes for eventual change in the current political paradigm:
I think most Americans will look back on this period since 1980 as a morally bleak, intellectually fraudulent period of history. There will be a certain amount of shame, a feeling we were part of something wrong. People standing outside of this country can see this because it’s very obvious. It’s like looking at a spoiled brat, a kid who’s totally out of control, but because the parents are really rich and because they own the school, you have to put up with it. America is an empire in decay. But we don’t have to lash out and do damage on the way down. We can reverse some of the damage we’ve done. It’s possible.Read the rest of the interview here.
The faint promise (well, faint hope, anyway) hangs in the air of forthcoming indictments from the independent prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, currently in the midst of investigating what could turn out to be The Most Important Criminal Case in American History and presumably aimed seeker-like at Turd Blossom Karl Rove & Company.
Given all this, it's amazing how much information is finally starting to emerge. What was initially the slowest of trickles from this, the most secretive White House in recent memory, has now built up to a veritable typhoon of new information. When taken taken together, we are shown a frightening portrait of the results of unchecked power in the hands of a malevolent menagerie of arrested development adolescents.
It seems more and more disgruntled current and former staffers are working to distance themselves from the mass of morasses the junta has managed to accumulate in so short a span. To wit, there are these charges from Colin Powell's former chief-of-staff which are backed up by Newsweek, which features an in-depth look at the mechanics of Cheney chase for the Iraq invasion, with some insight into the Cosa Nostra-like regime the veep presides over.
All this comes right on top of the very embarrassing and very public flogging administered to Judith Miller over her connection to Plame Leak. The New York Times reporter, who served 90 days in prison before finally outing her source as Cheney advisor Lewis Libby, was at first heralded as a First Amendment Martyr but has since shown her true stripes as just another administration crony.
Now add to that pile new charges that former Christian Coalition head and occasional Bush advisor Ralph Reed had a part to play in the ongoing corruption probe that has already forced Tom DeLay (seen here smug as ever in his mugshot) to vacate the House Majority Leader's post. But wait, there's more. There's also the continuing investigation into allegations that Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist engaged in insider trading. Starting to see a pattern here? What we're looking at is an absolutely unprecedented number of legal squabbles threatening to engulf the entire crony-infested facade in a web of graft and corruption.
And let's not forget Iraq, where even after the ostensible "success" of last week's constitutional referendum, beating a hasty retreat has taken precedence over Bush's goals of establishing in Iraq a shining beacon of democracy in the MidEast.
Taken together, one emerges with a picture of a president so mired in self-deception that he has effectively taken a daisy cutter to his own legacy -- pre-emptively, at that. All of this has in turn buried America's image as The Last Superpower -- internationally, if not domestically (there's plenty of delusion to go around, after all).
I'm sure we'll all be watching with much interest over the coming days and weeks what (if anything) will finally come of the Fitzgerald investigation.
Thursday, October 20, 2005
(Remembering that there are people who actually speak fluent Klingon...)
Tuesday, October 18, 2005
Today's biggie is of course BATMAN BEGINS, being unleashed in both a no-frills "cheapo" version and a deluxe "extra spiffy" version for the connoisseurs. Don't really have too much more to say about this reboot of the Batman film franchise, having pretty much stated all my thoughts and then some here when the movie first came out. As far as the DVD goes, while I'm looking forward to the seeing the various behind-the-scenes goings-on, I'm a little disappointed in the lack of (director) Christopher Nolan and/or (writer) David Goyer commentary. Still, that's a small complaint for what appears to be a truly jam-packed package.
In case that isn't enough of the Dark Knight for you, today also marks the release of Warner Bros' long-promised, long-delayed BATMAN ANTHOLOGY, collecting the four films that make up WB's previous go at the Bat-franchise, begun with much ballyhoo in '89 with Tim Burton's BATMAN, and crashing to Earth so infamously in 1997 with Joel Schumacher's BATMAN & ROBIN (which Burton once referred to as "The Gay Icecapades"). This eight-disc set is popping at the seams with all manner of features new and archival, including commentaries on all four flicks by their respective helmers. Despite my utter abhorrence for the franchise-busting Schumacher entries, I'm still sort of looking forward to hearing his full-length audio apology for the latter two flicks. It might end up being more entertaining then the movies themselves...
But wait, the Bat-party doesn't end there. We also get the 1943 movie serial BATMAN, which is memorable not for its solid acting or intricate plot (neither of which exists), but rather for its eschewing of traditional comic book villains like The Joker or The Penguin in favor of the evil scientist Dr. Daka (a blatantly offensive Japanese stereotype played by the very non-Japanese J. Carroll Naish). If you like hearing your superheroes refer to "those Jap devils," or you're still nursing a grudge from Pearl Harbor, it seems your ship has finally come in...
It's not all Bat guano today, mind you. Playing catch-up with his DC Comics cohort, The Last Son of Krypton also makes an appearance. With Christopher Reeve, Dean Cain, and even Tom Welling already having gotten the digital treatment, it was only a matter of time 'till the very first TV Superman, George Reeves, made his DVDebut. The first season release of the 1950s television series ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN hit today, featuring 26 black & white half-hour episodes. Not having seen more than a few minutes of this show to date, I'm both looking forward to and skeptical about giving these plates a spin. While I'm cognizant of how well-regarded it is by both historians and those who grew up during the era, I curious to see if it'll hold up well or just be an embarrassing curio from a more innocent time.
In other release news, there's also the first season (well, half-season anyway) of HE-MAN & THE MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE, following the ten episode "best of" release that I previously mentioned here. Now you can look forward to even more poorly-animated cartoon violence (but with a lesson at the end of every half hour) for your DVD-buying buck. Cant' wait.
And that's the roundup until next time...whenever that is.
(Also, read a New York Times article about it here.)
Also of note, last night saw the premiere of the Stephen Colbert's DAILY SHOW spin-off, THE COLBERT REPORT. Being one of those not blessed with Comedy Central, I didn't see the show in its entirety and thus can't say how Colbert's schtick plays once it's been freed from the confines of the occasional DAILY segment and unleashed on a series all his own. However, this clip, with the newly-minted host livin' the life of (O') Reilly, is amusing enough, and seems to signal the general direction in which the series is headed.
Monday, October 17, 2005
After nearly a decade of shameless stumping, and several close calls, Sylvester Stallone has finally signed a deal to direct and star in ROCKY BALBOA, the sixth film in a saga that began (along with the actor's career) in 1976. I knew as soon as this news hit the trades that we were surely in for a long spell of jokes on all the late night talk shows revolving around Stallone once again donning the star-spangled boxers at 59. But even so, this is one trip to the well that I'm actually looking forward to, believe it or not.
Despite his current residence in Has-Been Central, there was a time when Stallone was not only one of the foremost power players in Hollywood, but also one of its most talented behind-the-scenes craftsmen. Heck, he won an Oscar for the screenplay for the original ROCKY, and he was even nominated for Best Actor. Granted, such choices as COBRA or JUDGE DREDD seem to call into question the man's judgement, but as a child of the '80s, I've always held out hope that the guy could pull off some kind of late-career resurgence. The idea of Stallone returning to Rocky starts sounding a whole lot less ludicrous the more you think about it.
Though you wouldn't know it from the jingoistic propaganda of 1986's ROCKY IV and its "Rocky wins the Cold War singlehandedly" plotline, the series always foregrounded the struggles and travails of the main character, and Ol' Sly has made no bones about how closely he relates to the role. Indeed the line between character and actor blur regularly throughout the series. It's hard not to see Stallone himself reflected in the montage depicting Rocky's meteoric rise in ROCKY III (You know, "Eye of the Tiger"...).
Conversely, it's hard not to see the parallels with Stallone's own career when the champ falls from the pinnacle of his success in ROCKY V. A new look at Rocky Balboa thirty years later could prove to be powerfully symmetrical not only with the other films n the series, but with Stallone's own career. Also, titling it ROCKY BALBOA as opposed to affixing the next Roman numeral in the sequence at the end clearly delineates this as something separate from the other films. More of an epilogue, the way THE GODFATHER PART III is for the character of Michael Corleone (though nobody seemed to like that one except me so maybe that's not necessarily the best example...).
Given all this, I think that the actor's current slump (which has lasted pretty much from the last ROCKY flick in 1990 until now) could prove worthy fodder for what is purported to be the final chapter in the saga of the Italian Stallion. I don't know about anyone else, but personally I'm rooting for the Southpaw Slugger to pull out one last victory before that final bell.
Friday, October 14, 2005
Some are calling it a perfect storm. Me, I'm thinking more along the lines of karma. But heck, don't take my word for it, read all about it here.
While the lack of success for the movie has been disappointing, I can't say I'm especially surprised that it hasn't lit up the record books, given the marketing campaign seemingly crafted to turn away anyone not already intimately familiar with Joss Whedon's intricate sci-fi world.
If the utterly unappealing posters and TV spots, or no-name cast didn't turn you off, then the footage of fanatical self-styled "Browncoats" proclaiming their love for the FIREFLY television series (upon which the film is based) was sure to finish off any stirrings of interest you might have had. Heck, I love the show and those guys creeped me out.
But forget all that. See for yourself what you're missing out on by watching the first nine minutes of SERENITY here.
Go ahead, I'll wait.
Okay, now that you've been completely won over and/or your curiosity has been sufficiently piqued, run out and see SERENITY. And then, after you see it, you can go ahead and send me an e-mail thanking me.
Don't worry, I won't mind.
But wait, it doesn't end there. This was followed by one of the more tempestuous White House press briefings in recent times, where poor Scott McClellan was virtually under siege by the press corp. Let's just say that when Fox News' Carl Cameron has the long knives out, you've got trouble. Anyway, Keith Olbermann was good enough to shine his COUNTDOWN lens on these twin fiascos on his MSNBC program yesterday, and the footage has been posted via OneGoodMove.org, along with Olbermann's look at the political aftermath.
On the subject of Olbermann and COUNTDOWN, earlier this week he also featured a fascinating look at what he calls "The Nexus of Politics and Terror," examining the conjuction between political expediency and the fluctuations of the terror alert scale. You can check out the video from that segment here, and read Olbermann's lengthier blog entry on the subject here. Highly recommended, both.
If CASINO ROYALE, the first "serious" adaptation of the book that introduced James Bond to the literary world, is indeed an attempt to get back to the character's darker, "grittier" roots, then I think Craig is ideally suited to the task. However, Given Brosnan's proven audience pull (his four films have taken in a staggering $1.5 billion, out of the franchise's $4 billion total take), I wonder if EON's "baby with the bathwater" approach will pay off or prove a very costly decision in the long term. The last time they tried to take the character back to his literary roots resulted in the widely-derided, little-watched two-film Timothy Dalton era (which really ended up being more of an excursion than an era, though I happened to like both of his films).
One thing I'm still somewhat confused about is the premise of this new film. It's been touted in several different places by director Martin Campbell, writer Paul Haggis, and most recently producer Michael G. Wilson as a BATMAN BEGINS-style rebooting, but it's also been announced that Judi Dench and John Cleese will be reprising their respective roles as M and Q from the Brosnan films. So which is it? Restart or continuation? I have to say, my preference would be for the former rather than the latter, as I don't think there's anything really "wrong" with the Bond franchise that would necessitate a ground-up restart. DIE ANOTHER DAY may not have been perfect, but it was no BATMAN & ROBIN, that's for sure.
Either way, look for CASINO ROYALE to hit theaters next year during the traditional late Fall berth of all Bond films since GOLDENEYE.
(Edited to add the first official publicity shot of Craig as 007.)
Thursday, October 13, 2005
Here's Arianna Huffington making her case for the former Veep.
Wednesday, October 12, 2005
Well, the furor seems to have come to a boil over the past few days, and it looks like Sony Pictures (who acquired the billion-dollar Bond franchise in their recent buyout of MGM) is finally set to announce who will star in CASINO ROYALE, film 21 in the 43-year old series. So who's vodka martini will be shaken, not stirred, you ask?
While official word isn't due until Friday, pretty much all the smart money seems to be on actor Daniel Craig, who is familiar to me only from his role as Paul Newman's son/Tom Hanks' nemesis in 2002's ROAD TO PERDITION, though he's gotten some strong notices for this year's LAYER CAKE. Will it turn out to be Craig, or is this more misdirection from Her Majesty's Secret Service? I guess we'll find out on Friday.
Nostalgic Memories of LAND OF THE LOST Ruined in DVD Release
TORRANCE, CA—Fond memories of the Sid and Marty Krofft Saturday-morning TV classic Land Of The Lost were quashed by a weekend viewing of its first season on DVD, 38-year-old Don Richards announced today. "You can't expect the cheap blue-screen to look good today, but man, what a steaming pile," said Richards, who has abandoned the idea of introducing his childhood favorite to his 7-year-old daughter Bailey. "I can't believe how much they re-used that same shot of the same tyrannosaurus approaching Marshall, Will, and Holly's cave. And that Cha-Ka was such a bad Planet Of The Apes rip-off." Richards still holds out hope that his as-yet unwatched Lidsville DVD set "stays true" to his memories.
Tuesday, October 11, 2005
Look for THE FLASH to hit shelves on January 10th, and check out the original announcement here.
Monday, October 10, 2005
All this is of course to bolster the rapidly-descending support for his Iraq Adventure, and yet nothing seems to be taking. It really makes you wonder how much longer the center can hold on this disaster. What does it tell you when someone like Zbigniew Brzezinski, NSA Advisor under Jimmy Carter, and hardly anyone I'd put up for sainthood, is saying things like, "Flailing away with a stick at a hornets' nest while loudly proclaiming 'I will stay the course' is an exercise in catastrophic leadership."
Friday, October 07, 2005
Apparently someone in the US Military is a STAR TREK fan, according to this article in the Scripps Howard News Service.
Last year, the Air Force spent $25,000 on a report, titled "Teleportation Physics Study," to examine possible ways to teleport humans and objects through space.
The military has a long history of funding research into topics that seem straight out of science fiction, even occultism. These range from "psychic" spying to "antimatter"-propelled aircraft and rockets to strange new types of superbombs.
Ah, our tax dollars at work.
(By the way, I defy the non-Trekkies out there to make heads-or-tails of the heading for this post...)
First, there was Tom DeLay's indictment, followed immediately by his "Woe is me" World Tour to several major news outlets, which in turn led to more contradictions emerging in his various statements, all of which is now trickling down to his replacement as House majority leader, Roy Blunt. Naturally this set the blogosphere afire, with those on the Left ready to set off fireworks in celebration, and those on the Right proclaiming a vast Left Wing Conspiracy.
My thoughts? I'd be shocked -- shocked -- if anything lasting came of this. I'd be positively verklempt if DeLay actually served a single day in jail over any of this. Corruption? Are you kidding me? That's as much a part of modern politics as lying and kissing babies, and the naked gall with which its done these days shows that these people have absolutely no qualms about it nor any fears about getting caught. Ultimately I predict DeLay will get a slap on the wrist, a token stern talking-to, and it'll be back to business as usual. Notice how every article on the subject takes great care to point out that Tom DeLay's departure from the role of majority leader is only temporary. Like I said, business as usual.
Moving on, Bush nominates Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court, prompting a collective "??" from pundits and politicos across the spectrum. Since, like the rest of America, I know absolutely nothing about Miers I can't really say much about how she'll pan out, two things immediately spring to mind. First, she has absolutely zero judicial experience. Zilch. Nada. How do you figure she gets a shot at the big chair?
It'd all be absolutely dumbfounding, except for the fact that she's an old Bush Family friend, and she's GW's White House Council, and thus it becomes perfectly clear that, like ousted but still-feisty FEMA head Michael Brown, cronyism has won the day yet again. God bless America, right? I will say this, though, anything that makes the twin harpies of the Right, Ann Coulter and Michelle Malkin, squirm is maybe not such a bad thing...
Bottom line after all of this, I'm absolutely sick to death of politics right now, so let's shift gears entirely. Watch this trailer for the upcoming CURIOUS GEORGE -- based on the children's books we all read growing up, and starring Will Ferrell as the Man in the Yellow Hat -- which proves one simple universal truth I learned a long, long time ago: You can't go wrong with a monkey.