Skyline

The sky is far from the limit.

There are so many things to dislike about this film, I have to address them in the order that they appear on screen.  (This review will have many spoilers.  If you want the spoiler free version, here it is: "Don't see it.  The best stuff is in the trailer.")

Continue reading

Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps

Oh, Gordon, how we’ve missed you!

(This review is kind of out of date, but I wanted to get it up before I did my year end wrap up…)

In 1987, Gordon Gekko taught us that “Greed, for lack of a better word, is good.”  Nobody remembers the whole quote.  All they remember is “Greed is good.”  And this sequel is kind of like that memory.  It’s not as complex and engaging and filled with family drama and angst as the original.  It’s a simpler tale, told well all the same.

Gekko has done his time in prison, and is now hawking his new book which (prophetically, since this takes place in 2008) anticipates the sub-prime bust that dropped us smack dab into the Great Recession.  (Do you hate that term as much as I do?)

Gekko’s daughter Winnie (played by the remarkable Carey Mulligan) has tried to put her father’s troubles behind her, mostly by starting up a left-wing activist website with the terrible name “The Frozen Truth”.  But she certainly hasn’t backed away from Wall Street enough to, you know, leave New York.  Or not date Jake (Shia LaBeouf) who is (you guessed it) a Wall Street analyst.  And just so we are reminded of the whole Enron debacle, the screenwriters made Jake an expert in energy.

The film juggles quite a few plot balls.  Jake is on a quest to avenge the professional destruction of his mentor (Frank Langella) by a sort of mini-Gekko (Josh Brolin).  He’s trying to wean his mother (Susan Sarandon) off of her real estate tweaking.  He’s trying to marry Winnie.  He’s trying to finance the next phase of human development in laser-assisted fusion.  But all of these are secondary to his primary fascination: Gordon Gekko.

Ostensibly to help heal the rift between Gekko and his fiancé, Jake befriends Gordon.  But it’s clear from the outset that he worships the guy.  The central mystery of the film isn’t whether Jake will get the girl or destroy the bad guy or save the world.  The central mystery is whether Gekko has really been rehabilitated, whether he’ll help Jake or screw him over.

This is a pretty clever construction.  It gives all the heavy lifting to Shia, and leaves Michael Douglas to come in a few minutes at a time and be awesome.  And awesome he is.  By the climax of the film, I was really not sure which way he’d jump.  Some things he said and did were just like the Gordon of old, and others were a picture of an old man trying desperately to reconnect with anything from his pre-incarceration life.

Oliver Stone has done many superior films, not to mention some real turdballs (I’m looking at you, Natural Born Killers), but this one is, I think, certainly above average.

Resolved: Less “Legal Spam” for David in 2011

I just finished my annual year-end inbox cleanup, and wow, was I irritated to discover how much “legal spam” there was.  You know the stuff I mean—commercial e-mail from organizations I’ve done business with, but that I really never wanted.  There were thousands and thousands of messages, literally: nearly 70 percent of the 7000+ messages I received that didn’t end up in Gmail’s Spam Folder before I even saw them. 

Resolved: next year I’m going to be a lot more aggressive about unsubscribing from most things and deleting everything else after a quick look-see.  If you’re sending me e-mail I didn’t explicitly opt in to, you’d better be sending me cash—a lot of cash—or your message is history.

Thought for the Day

On the prospect of eating crawfish:

.bbpbox{background:url(http://s.twimg.com/a/1290538325/images/themes/theme1/bg.png) #c0deed;padding:20px;}

"What’s that? You want me to rip the head off a sea insect and suck it? Can we dip it in diarrhea sauce first?"Sat Dec 04 05:14:48 via web

links for 2010-11-27

HPATDHP1

I can't say that the first half of "The Deathly Hallows" is a perfect movie, and it's certainly not the best of the series.  (That would go to whichever of Azkaban, Goblet, or Order I've seen most recently.)  But it's miles better than "Half-Blood Prince".

The most unfortunate thing about this film is the palpable feeling of disorientation since there's not a single scene in Hogwarts.  Harry (and, by proxy, Hermione and Ron) are outlaws, missing their final year at the wizarding school because they're on a seemingly impossible mission to find and destroy the artifacts that contain the shards of Voldemort's soul.  And in this two-and-a-half hour installment, they only manage to find one, while they also manage to lose a number of friends in the process.

The least unfortunate thing about "Deathly Hallows Part 1" is that it's almost all about our three heroes.  Ron and Hermione got short shrift in the last film, I thought, and having all three of them stuck out in the wilderness, getting on each other's nerves (and generating some big laughs in the process) is enjoyable, at least for someone who really likes these characters.

But, make no mistake, this is definitely a "Part 1".  The ending is a real low point for Harry, and a real high for You Know Who, but that only cements my desire to see "Part 2" next year.

David’s Election 2010 Semi-Live Blog

6:27 am (San Diego Time) – So!  Anything interesting happening in the news today?

The day arrives at last.  All of the policy disagreements, the invective, the endless campaign ads, the rallies… all of that exhausting arrogance and ignoring-the-will-of-the-American-people… it all comes down to today.  I’ve been deliberately quiet when it comes to electoral predictions this year—partly because ohmigod there’s already too much of it out there already, and partly because I don’t want to jinx anything.

But I am very much interested in how this will turn out, and who will be surprised at the end of the day.  I think it’s pretty clear that today marks an inflection point in American politics, however it goes. Time to choose.

6:34 am – a trickle of tweets streaming in as people I follow vote.  Hey, I voted a week ago.  Early voting FTW!

6:38 am – Robert Stacy McCain via Twitter: Final Warning: Polls Are Not Elections.  True statement.  It will be interesting to see how close the polls are to the actual result.

Continue reading