To Serve the Governed not the Governors in The Post

Could it be more a more timely moment than now for Hollywood to remind the public (and Washington) of the purpose of the free press?

The first hour of The Post is a rather hum-drum by the numbers affair about the lead up to the publication of the Pentagon Papers, first by the New York Times (who instantly get sued by the Nixon administration) and then by the Washington Post.  But hey, it’s Steven Spielberg directing…and Meryl Streep as the “I can’t believe I got into this mess but by golly am I gonna make something of myself by leading with my gut here!” owner of the titular Post…and Tom Hanks as chief editor Ben Bradlee (previously featured in All The President’s Men, to which this film cannily sets itself up as a prequel in the final moments)…and just look at all those TV stars in supporting roles (Carrie Coon!  Bob Odenkirk!  His comedy pal David Cross!  Bradley Whitford!).  So what the heck, the humming looks and sounds great, even if it’s all a bit dry.

But then, thanks to Spielberg’s midstream change of pacing (and the work of excellent editors), and John Williams’ score that hums like that of a great thriller, all of a sudden this little bit of “history we already knew” plays like a cracker-jack suspense flick as reporters feverishly try to meet the printing deadline working out of Bradlee’s drawing-room, and lawyers and whatnot weigh in on the implications of publishing the top-secret stuff. Continue reading

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No Ruth My Love in Zero Dark Thirty

Director Kathryn Bigelow and star Jessica Chastain hold a mirror up to the manhunt for Bin Laden in ZERO DARK THIRTY.

Director Kathryn Bigelow and star Jessica Chastain hold a mirror up to the manhunt for Bin Laden in ZERO DARK THIRTY.

America’s grand dame of literature, Toni Morrison, has given us many haunting words…but none have echoed in my mind more than the ones from A Mercy when a young girl who has lived through a colonial hellscape in 17th century Virginia announces to the world that she is, “In full.  Unforgiven.  Unforgiving.  No ruth, my love.  None.  Hear me?”

I’d like to think that former art student and painter Kathryn Bigelow has read Morrison, but who knows?  That’s the beauty of connecting one piece of art to another.  Morrison’s words came to clear mind while watching Bigelow’s tightly wound dramatization of events more recent – the man hunt for Osama Bin Laden – in Zero Dark Thirty.  How does one fight against terrorist enemies who are willing to kill anyone (including themselves) to achieve their mission?  Well, the answer is painfully simple.  You show them no ruth.  No mercy.  And you hunt them down by any means necessary and kill them. 

At the center of Bigelow’s film is one of filmdom’s greatest female characters of all time (all the more powerful for having been based on a real-life CIA analyst still working in the field), an agent named Maya played with calculated precision by Jessica Chastain (the doe-eyed red-head, all awkward coils that are both sinewy and frail, and with a soft voice that hides her steely demeanor beneath) who announces her talents to the world with this role much in the way that Cate Blanchett first staked her claim as the Queen in Elizabeth.  Here we see Maya’s journey over ten years from wunderkind analyst to ruthless field operative.  Continue reading

The Spin Bids a Fond Farewell to 2012 and Tells 2013 to Hurry Up Already!

I got a lot of writing done in 2012, often making me feel like a kid again.  (For the purpose of this post, my KidSelf has been recast in Hollywood fashion)

I got a lot of writing done in 2012, often making me feel like a kid again. (For the purpose of this post, my KidSelf has been recast in Hollywood fashion)

Well, we did it. We survived the Mayan Apocalypse only to rush to the Fiscal Cliff. But hey, 2012 is now officially over…so say hello to 2013! Looking back, despite tumultuous world events, it was a great year at The Spin

On Notes Personal:

  • An unexpected death in the family in November spurred me to take stock of some things. This lead to tripping the light fantastic in the grand ballroom of nostalgia which lead to a re-watching of a childhood favorite, The Lady in White…which lead to one of my favorite posts from the year…which lead to a comment on said post from the actual director of the film! This nostalgia tinged final act to the year also sent me on a mission to uncover that lost box of books I wrote from the ages of 10-15. Just in the nick of time I unearthed the box. Reading briefly through some of the stories, I couldn’t help but think that if I were to write taglines for the outlandish and melodramatic plots (more on that below…with actual excerpts!) they would end up sounding like long-lost fake-films from Seinfeld…a topic that earlier in 2012 spurred another favorite post of mine.
  • On the travel front I visited two great cities I had never been to before: New Orleans (for pleasure) and Montreal (for business) both of which I would return to in a heartbeat. This year the horizon broadens even more with a business trip to St. Maarten…and hopefully (if everything falls into place) that long-delayed trip to Europe (for pleasure…to Amsterdam and Bruges specifically) though that might have to wait until 2014.
  • And most importantly, after three long distraction-filled, detour-heavy years…I finally finished the first draft of the new novel – a Depression Era thriller set in Upstate New York. I was working under a self-inflicted deadline of finishing before 2012 finished me, and I’m proud to say I got it done at the last possible minute with a final spurt of inspiration on December 31st. Now, the big question, what the hell am I going to do with it? I’ll be sure to let it sit for a while and breath before editing begins.
    Continue reading

Vice Presidential Debate Drinking Game 2012

Undecided voters…look into my eyes.

Behold!  A young savior of a party – a truth-deficient, budget-crunching, Tea Party-ing whippersnapper from the cheesy state of Wisconsin.

Regard!  An elder statesman – a hot-headed, gaffe-producing, “crazy uncle” to the incumbent President from the sales tax-free state of Delaware.

And for one night only – October 11th, 2012 – they’re duking it out in the home of the Colonel’s eleven herbs and spices – Kentucky, y’all!

A most delightful addition to Your Debate Drinking Games, don’t you think?

Let the Drinking Games continue!

And may the drinks be forever in your favor. Continue reading

Presidential Debate Drinking Games 2012

Hark, Citizens!

On yonder eve the third of October and subsequent eves henceforth totalling thrice, the electorate will listen and watch with bated breath as…

Sir Willard Mittenton T. Romney IV of the Celestial Kingdom debates…

Lord Barackus T. Hussein Obama Jr. of the Incumbency…

…for the opportunity to serve this great nation in the high office of the Presidency.

And regardless of the victor of these great debates…there is but one truth to illuminate the masses…

IT’S TIME TO GET YOUR DRINK ON!

Consider this, dear compatriots in libations, to be a living document.  Provide at will your best suggestions and most opportune and timely rules to be added to the games in the comments section so that we might all partake in drunken sloppiness and hangovers knowing that in our hearts we played the games to their fullest.

So let the Debate Drinking Games begin!

And may the drinks be forever in your favor. Continue reading

State of the Union Drinking Game V. 2012

Seriously, guys, I have to give this speech...now?

 
If I were President Obama, I wouldn’t want to get on national television on Tuesday night.  The more the media focuses on the current Republican Presidential Primaries, the better he looks.  He’s best out of the spotlight right now, but it is his duty…and tradition…so the show must go on at 9pm EST Tuesday, January 24, 2012.
 
Oh, how we’re all enjoying the dog (Santorum) and pony (Romney) and rabid wolf dog (Newt) and radically libertarian anti-war horse (Ron Paul) show that is the Republican primary season.  Heck, I’ve been so wrapped up in the raucous roller-coaster comedy of miss-manners that I have no idea what Obama is going to talk about this year.  Jobs?  Sure.  Gridlock?  Check.  The economy is in the midst of a mild recovery on paper (unemployment slightly down, job creation slight up) but it’s not enough to change the sentiments of the populace who are still feeling the full aches and pains of the recession.   Or maybe he’ll take about the season finale of his favorite TV show, Homeland?  (Seriously, are you watching that show yet?  The season finale was off the chains, yo!) Continue reading

Are You Ready for…DUN DUN DUN…2012?

Happy New Year from The Schleicher Spin! 

We’ve finally reached the year named after my favorite comedy of all-time (yes, I’m talking about Roland Emmerich’s 2012 – have I not told you already how much I love this film?) and I couldn’t be more stoked!  We have so much to look forward to this year:  Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises, the US presidential election, the Mayan Apocalypse and 27 new reality shows starring the Kardashians!

But first…a look back on 2011.  It was a record-breaking year in terms of readership here at The Spin and we couldn’t have done it without the tireless commenting and blogging of our friends across the blogosphere:  Sam Juliano, Jason Marshall, Dianne Glave, John Lehman, John Greco, Prakash Jashnani, Julio Ibanez, Christopher Tait, The Guy from Condemned Movies, CC Yager, Matt Stewart, Matterspamer, ScarletSp1der, Maurizio Roca, Bobby Myers, Stephen M, Nicky D, Boz and everyone else who has stopped by and shared their thoughts this past year.

Here are some of the highlights from 2011:

And what’s in store for 2012?

  • Reviews of Michael Ondaatje’s new novel The Cat’s Table and hopefully of all those films I missed at the tail end of 2011 (Hugo, The Artist and A Separation)
  • The 6th Annual Davies Awards in Film
  • More issues of The Stone
  • More Guest Bloggers (hopefully)
  • …and coverage of the year’s most anticipated film: Christopher “Fritz” Nolan’s  The Dark Knight Rises

Sidney Lumet Dead at 86

Legendary filmmaker Sidney Lumet (1924-2011), whose cinematic depiction of his hometown of New York is rivaled only by Martin Scorsese and Woody Allen in terms of lasting and prolific impressions, passed away in Manhattan on Saturday, April 9th, at age 86 from lymphoma.

You can’t say the man didn’t have a long and fruitful life, as he directed films for over half a century from the 1950’s all the way through the 2000’s, with successful stints directing stage and TV as well.  I had feared for a while Lumet might be near the end as the workaholic who never turned down a job had no projects in the works since 2007’s Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead, which I initially named as the second best film of that amazing year behind only There Will be Blood.

For me, Lumet will always be remembered for directing one of my top five favorite films of all time – Network. Continue reading

State of the Union Drinking Game V. 2011

President Obama looks over the speech one last time to see if they can fit in any more allusions to Graham Greene or Terrence Malick to make Dave happy.

In the words of Bob Dylan, the times they are a changing.

It’s amazing what the other party regaining power in Congress and one rousing and comforting speech in the wake of a tragedy can do for a guy’s approval ratings.  After quoting everything from the Bible to the trailer for Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life in his Tuscon Speech (which served as a Hail Mary pass that will be left hanging in the air until 2012), Obama looks to get back down to it with his highly anticipated and much ballyhooed State of the Union speech on Tuesday night, January 25th and 9pm EST.

Gone are the days of crazy-eyed blinking Pelosi, and now sitting next to Biden and his comb-over behind the President will be Sooki-colored blubbering Boehner.  Apparently out on the floor those kooky tea partiers, blue dogs, and bleeding hearts will be mixin’ it up, sittin’ all up in each others’ pieces singin’ kumbaya.  Ah, political theater.  Ain’t it grand?

All eyes will be on the Prez, and there ain’t nuthin’ to do in times likes these but get your drink on. Continue reading

Rooted in the Earth

Congratulations to fellow blogger and film buff, Dianne Glave, whose non-fiction book, Rooted in the Earth was released August 1st by Lawrence Hill Books!

I first came across Dianne Glave’s writing through her blog when I read her amazingly perceptive review of the sci-fi/horror melodrama, Splice, a movie that for film bloggers had to be the most talked-about box-office bomb of the summer.  Her unique environmentalist spin on the film drew me in, and I quickly found that her love of film was matched by her passion for the environment.  Glave’s film reviews are unlike anything out there on the web, and she serves up filet-mignon style observations on typically fast-food entertainment.  Until I read Glave’s reviews, I never thought I would think so deeply about films like Iron Man 2where she argues the film promotes a destructive environmental policy and mirrors our BP spill crisis in the Gulf.  Or take for instance Glave’s spin on Predators where she discusses Survival of the Fittest and a new fractured vision of Paradise.  She also features posts on music, photography, books and current events tied to environmentalism.

While her blog should be of special interest to cineasts and bloggers looking for reviews and opinions with greater substance, her new book should be of interest for those involved with or who are students of African-American Studies and/or The Environmentalist Movement. Continue reading