Unblogged

Sorry, just moved to a new apartment and don’t have regular web access. I was SUPPOSED to have access – there was a Cox cable service in place, which my roommate Jim was making use of. But as luck would have it, it burned out on Friday, and won’t be fixed until Tuesday.

If I’m invisible online, this is why.

More movies

Should’ve finished this yesterday, but, no tears!

“The Brothers Grimm” (Gilliam, 2005)
I knew this movie would fail financially when I saw the first trailers and said, “Meh.” Because I adore Terry Gilliam movies – when drafted into those bull sessions about the “best directors of all time,” I usally name him, because I enjoy everything he’s ever done. And initially, this movie looked like a commercial sell-out that wouldn’t work. Turns out it’s a commercial sell-out that didn’t work! But it’s also a pretty fun movie.

The very Germanly-named Jacob (Heath Ledger) and Will (Matt Damon) Grimm are scam artists who travel the French-occupied territories of their homeland creating “ghosts” and the like with human marionettes, then collecting huge fees to “destroy” the threats. (Incidentally, that “French-occupied Germany” thing, which appears in a dateline early in the movie, is one of the funnier gags I’ve seen this year.) They’re captured by French soldiers who draft them into an actual mission – something is killing children in a tiny village outside an ominous forest. Hijinks ensue.

There’s a lot here that works – it’s very surreal and dreamy, and if I was a 14 or 15 year old kid watching my first Gilliam movie, I think this would drop-kick “Star Wars” to become my new favorite thing. But there’s an abundance of annoying characters and mistaken identity situations, and a whole bit about Jacob Grimm wanting to solve this mystery because it’s “in the book” that … yeah, it doesn’t work. Definitely one of the lesser Gilliam movies, but better than I expected.

“Eurotrip” (Schaffer, 2004)
A piece of shit cash-in of the “nubile teens get in adventures” genre.

“Grizzly Man” (Herzog, 2005)
Here’s another movie I was lukewarm on, but this one completely blew me away. Instantly my favorite film of 2005.

Timothy Dexter was a handsome, athletic kid from New Jersey who threw out his back in college and lost a swimming scholarship. Crushed, he moved to Los Angeles to become an actor, where he changed his last name to “Treadwell,” claimed that he was from a remote Australian village, and started talking in a lispy accent. But he failed at that, too. It wasn’t until age 33 that he found an actual purpose in life – he began camping in remote parts of Alaska, studying and “befriending” bears. He spent 13 years at this, living with bears in the summer and spending the rest of the year touring schools to “teach” kids about our furry friends. At the end of his 13th summer, in 2003, he and his girlfriend were mauled and eaten by a bear.

That’s the “story” of this documentary – yes, all of that insane shit really happened. It’s told out of chronological order, but completely smoothly, via footage that Treadwell shot in Alaska and Herzog’s interviews with locals, friends, and experts. I’ve already spoiled the story, so I won’t spoil the human drama, philosophical questions, and frequently funny moments that make the movie so gripping. Just see it.

If you want Tinkerbell to live, clap harder

Oh, Drudge. Oh, National Review. Dudes.

CNNUSATODAYGALLUP POLL: ONLY 13% BLAME BUSH?
Wed Sep 07 2005 10:42:26 ET

A CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll of 609 adults taken September 5-6 shows:

Blame Game — 13% said George W. Bush is “most responsible for the problems in New Orleans after the hurricane”; 18% said “federal agencies”; 25% said “state and local officials”; 38% said “no one is to blame”; 6% had no opinion. — 29% said that “top officials in the federal agencies responsible for handling emergencies should be fired”; 63% said they should not; 8% had no opinion.

18% of people say the feds bungled the aftermath of Katrina, and 13% say Bush bungled it. Quick question – who’s in charge of the federal government? Whose staff and agencies are going to be investigated for months to come?

Jonah Goldberg says:

I guess the folks at the Daily Kos feel like they’re taking their crazy pills if the new CNN-USAToday-Gallup poll reveals only 13% of Americans said George W. Bush is “most responsible for the problems in New Orleans after the hurricane.”

First of all – taking crazy pills? Second, the issue here is not whether George Bush himself is to blame for what happened in New Orleans. The issue is, how’s he handling it? The answer is, shittily. 42% say he’s doing a “bad” or “terrible” job in “responding to the hurricane and subsequent flooding” compared to 35% who say he’s doing “good” or “great.”

A little context. On September 14-15, 2001, Gallup asked people: “Do you approve or disapprove of the way George W. Bush is handling the events surrounding the terrorist attacks that occurred in the United States this past Tuesday?” Ninety-one percent of people approved. Only 5% disapproved and 4% had no opinion.

I mean, come on. Spinning this stuff as a win for Bush is like Julie Nixon Eisenhower telling her dad that millions supported him at the end of Watergate.

Movies

Lots of trips to the cinema and HBO-playing-in-the-backround this week.

“The Day After Tomorrow” (Emmerich, 2004)
After much prodding from friends who remembered my love for end-of-the-world movies (Hi, Laurel!), I finally caught this blockbuster from last summer. It has a fine high concept, heavily politicized at the time of release – our much-abused environment revolts, and the earth undergoes a massive climate change manifested in a “superstorm” that freezes the Northern Hemisphere. Dennis Quaid is the Professor Frink character whose warnings to the government go unheeded, and Jake Gyllenhaal is his son who’s visiting New York w/ an academic decathalon team. (He’s accompanied by the lovely future Mrs. Emmy Rossum-Weigel, who unfortunately isn’t given much to do beyond look adorable and otherwise be the future Mrs. Emmy Rossum-Weigel.)

It’s much better than it has any right to be. Apart from a silly, unneccessary scene involving some wolves and killer frost, the special effects are terrifying – even more so post-Hurricane Katrina. All of the right beats in the Apocalyptic genre are hit – characters lose their attachments to material things, roles are reversed (there’s a wonderful scene where Americans illegally cross the Rio Grande into Mexico, escaping the storm), millions die.

UPDATE: More movies here.

Silver linings

What’s with people (Rich Lowry, in this case) saying this poll is great news for Bush?

Two-thirds in this ABC News/Washington Post poll say the federal government should have been better prepared to deal with a storm this size, and three-quarters say state and local governments in the affected areas likewise were insufficiently prepared…

Other evaluations are divided. Forty-six percent of Americans approve of Bush’s handling of the crisis, while 47 percent disapprove.

That’s not good. For starters, any kind of semi-competent handling of a natural disaster results in a fat poll bounce for the handler-in-chief. Witness Bush’s small bounce after the tsunami, or Jeb Bush’s Democrat-enraging bounces at the end of Florida’s hurricane seasons. Now, breaking even in a poll like this? That’s like getting a stack of lottery tickets with winning numbers, then instead of collecting the winnings, recycling the tickets for paper and collecting the nickel reward from the recycling station.

Secondly, I think there are going to be high-profile hearings on the way the government handled the hurricane. Yes, the hearings will probably destroy the career of Louisiana’s Democratic governor. But they will also cast a spotlight on the response of White House and FEMA, whose semi-intelligent director Bush praised on live television. And this spotlight will shine months from now, after all the White House’s spinning.

Zelig

Holy shit. Is that Matt Taibbi sitting behind Sean Penn in this picture?

I usually hate hotlinking, but it underscores the theory. Here’s Sean Penn, and the guy behind him.

Here’s Matt Taibbi.

I’m going to read the hell out of Rolling Stone when his story comes out.

The little things

Hey, did you know the main suspects in the Natalee Holloway case were released today?

You forgot Natalee Holloway existed, didn’t you? It’s okay. I forgot Aruba existed.

It’s not cold to stop and appreciate the re-centering of our priorities when a calamity strikes. One of the few delights of this period has been the way it brought FOX News anchors to life. Shepard Smith always struck me as a half-empty leaking douchebag, but his performance on the ground in New Orleans was positively Herculean. I even sense a change in the coverage of the Supreme Court battles, so recently pitched as a “total war” (the “judges war,” in Pat Buchanan’s logy neologism) that now seems … sort of mundane. The very sick conservative William Rehnquist will be replaced by a healthy conservative? OK. Back to the hurricane.

Wheeeee

Wonderful, another month of pundits and journalists speculating about a Supreme Court choice whose identity they have no way of knowing. (Remember Edith Clement? Ha, ha.)

Now, here’s something for my conservative readers:

And for the liberals:

UPDATE: A thought: Rehnquist is gone, but O’Connor said she’ll serve until Roberts is confirmed. But’s let’s pretend she’s tired and takes some time off. The current, unretiring Supreme court majority is Stevens, Souder, Ginsburg, and Breyer. Scalia, Thomas and Kennedy make up the conservative minority.

If you kids want to retry Roe vs. Wade or Bush vs. Gore, now’s the time!