Ethan and Joel Coen‘s Burn After Reading just barely clipped Tyler Perry‘s The Family That Preys this weekend, earning $19.4 million in 2,651 theaters vs. Family‘s $18 million on 2,070 screens. Overture’s Righteous Kill, the mediocre Jon Avnet cop flick with Al Pacino and Robert De Niro, came in third with $16.5 million from 3,152 screens. And Picturehouse had its best opening ever with Diane English‘s The Women, which made an estimated $10 million from 2,962 locations.
As you listen to Paul Begala talking about the campaign with Bill Maher, you may (or may not) want to consider the double standard that white-rube America is going by these days. Two or three graphs hence, I mean.
All I know is that I’m so scared about what’s going on right now with the national polls that I’m afraid to look at them. I’m living in a fetal tuck position, praying that I’ll wake up (or that the nation will wake up) from this ongoing devolving nightmare. We’re all citizens of the DVA these days — the Divided States of America. Bush-Palin Nation, I’m absolutely convinced, is a thoroughly rancid, racist, titanically clueless and revoltingly ignorant place — and even a bit worse than Bush-Cheney Nation, given the possibilities for succession.
If this was the 1860s and a war was about to start that would afford the Blues an opportunity to defeat, crush and subjugate the Reds once and for all and put them all into re-education camps, I would volunteer for the infantry tomorrow and sing John Ford “tah-rah!” songs as the troops march into battle.
Read this letter from longtime Sarah Palin acquaintance Anne Kilkenny and tell me you wouldn’t enlist as well.
Here’s that letter I was sent earlier….
If you’re a minority and you’re selected for a job over more qualified candidates you’re a “token hire.” If you’re a conservative and you’re selected for a job over more qualified candidates you’re a “game changer.”
Black teen pregnancies? A “crisis” in black America. White teen pregnancies? A “blessed event.”
If you grow up in Hawaii you’re “exotic.” Grow up in Alaska eating mooseburgers, you’re the quintessential “American story.” Similarly, if you have the first name Barack, you sound like an unpatriotic outsider. Name your kid Track, you’re colorful.
If you’re a Democrat and you make a VP pick without fully vetting the individual you’re reckless. A Republican who doesn’t fully vet is a maverick.
If you spend 3 years as a community organizer, growing your organization from a staff of 1 to 13 and your budget from $70,000 to $400,000, then become the first black President of the Harvard Law Review, create a voter registration drive that registers 150,000 new African American voters, spend 12 years as a Constitutional Law professor, then spend nearly 8 more years as a State Senator representing a district with over 750,000 people, becoming chairman of the state Senate’s Health and Human Services committee, then spend nearly 4 years in the United States Senate representing a state of nearly 13 million people, sponsoring 131 bills and serving on the Foreign Affairs, Environment and Public Works and Veteran’s Affairs committees, you are woefully inexperienced.
If you spend 4 years on the city council and 6 years as the mayor of a town with less than 7,000 people, then spend 20 months as the governor of a state with 650,000 people, then you’ve got the most executive experience of anyone on either ticket, are the Commander in Chief of the Alaska military and are well qualified to lead the nation should you be called upon to do so
because your state is the closest state to Russia.
If you are a Democratic male candidate who is popular with millions of people you are an arrogant celebrity. If you are a popular Republican female candidate you are energizing the base.
If you are a younger male candidate who thinks for himself and makes his own decisions you are presumptuous. If you are an older male candidate who makes last minute decisions you refuse to explain, you are a shoot-from-the-hip maverick.
If you are a candidate with a Harvard law degree, you are an elitist who’s out of touch with the real America. if you are a legacy (dad and granddad were admirals) graduate of Annapolis, with multiple disciplinary infractions, you are a hero.
If you go to a south side Chicago church, your beliefs are extremist. If you believe in creationism and don’t believe global warming is man made, you are strongly principled.
If you cheated on your first wife with a rich heiress, and left your disfigured wife and married the heiress the next month, you’re a Christian. If you have been married to the same woman with whom you’ve been wed to for 19 years and raising 2 beautiful daughters with, you’re risky.
If you’re a black single mother of 4 who waits for 22 hours after her water breaks to seek medical attention, you’re an irresponsible parent, endangering the life of your unborn child. If you’re a white married mother who waits 22 hours, you’re spunky.
If you’re a 13-year-old Chelsea Clinton, the right-wing press calls you “First Dog.” If you’re a 17-year old pregnant unwed daughter of a Republican, the right-wing press calls you beautiful and courageous.
If you teach abstinence only in sex education, you get teen parents. If you teach responsible age appropriate sex education, including the proper use of birth control, you are eroding the fiber of society.
“The ideas this nation was founded on came from the most cosmopolitan people of their day — the founding fathers who believed in science, who looked to Europe for wisdom and who had no use for hicks like Bush and Palin. We keep hearing about small-town values — you know, like shooting wolves form an airplane or forcing your daughter into a doomed loveless marriage. Cities are about diversity and thought. Small-towns are about..well, crystal meth.” — excerpted from Bill Maher’s “New Rules” riff from the latest Real Time show.
Warner Home Video’s new How The West Was Won, which came out on Blu-ray and DVD last Tuesday, presents the 1963 Cinerama film — the last narrative feature shot in the original three-strip, three-projector process — as a unified, spruced-up, seam-free thing. It’s now just a colorful, sharp, super-wide image — the aspect ratio being something like 2.85 to 1.
And most DVD/Blu-ray reviewers are calling it a vast improvement over the way How The West Was Won looked on previously released discs, which had the vertical seams showing and the imperfect blending of the three frames plain as hell. But it’s an improvement only in the most bland cosmetic sense. It’s basically a digital reconstitution that erases what watching Cinerama films was really like. (Within the last couple of years I’ve seen This is Cinerama! and How The West was Won shown in the original three-projector process at the Cinerama Dome.)
The old Cinerama seams are not something to avoid but to savor. Or at least accept. They were what they were, Cinerama was what it was, and the process shouldn’t be “upgraded” on Blu-ray and DVD to the point that it doesn’t resemble what it originally loked like. Audiences in 1963 had to cope with these faint visual divides, and they paid through the nose to see Cinerama movies all through the ’50s and early ’60s. This is how present-day audiences should see How The West Was Won also. Clean up the dirt and sharpen the image, fine, but erasing the seams is the same kind of vandalism as the colorization of black-and-white films.
On top of which the right, center and left images were never perfectly aligned, and I say roll with that also. The process was imperfect and so what? The old Cinerama technicians did the best they could with what they had to work with, and their work should be left alone and respected for what it was.
SmnileBox image of James Stewart in How The West Was Won; here‘s a larger image of same.
And why not offer an alternate version of all Cinerama films, genuine and fake, in the SmileBox process? And why did WHV decide to offer a SmileBox version of How The West Was Won only on Blu-ray and not on DVD? This is hugely unfair to Luddities like myself who are still watching 36″ Sony flatscreens. Here’s a reaction to the Smilebox Blu-ray version by Some Came Running‘s Glenn Kenny.
SmileBox portions from HTWWW are offered in disc 3, as part of the documentary about the Cinerama process. It gives you a sense of how the film actually looked if you sat front and center at a good Cinerama theatre in the ’50s or early ’60s.
Here’s a little rundown on the SmileBox process.
Every and every film that was ever presented in real of “fake” Cinerama (the single strip 70mm simulation in which widescreen films were projected onto a super-curved Cinerama screen, including It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, Grand Prix and 2001: A Space Odyssey) should be issued on special SmileBox DVDs and Blu-rays.
Another thing you’re not allowed to say in this culture of p.c. confinement and denial (on top of saying on TV that the 9/11 attackers weren’t cowards and saying online that Hurricane Ike was a case of the chickens coming home to roost for Houston/Galveston) is “why did he kill himself?” Go to an Irish wake and after a couple of whiskeys the friends and family of the deceased, standing off in a corner or outside on the street with a cigarette, will confide what his or her life was really like and why it ended as it did. But don’t ask in mixed company. We all know and accept this.
I’m not saying one should trumpet the sad particulars or make them part of the lead graph, God forbid, but somewhere in the obit or tribute piece or farewell speech I think it’s right and fair and complete to explain what happened. Okay, maybe not in a tribute speech, and maybe not in a standard obit either, but I don’t believe in sweeping stuff under the carpet. Not altogether.
I’m bringing this up because when an obviously gifted and well-respected writer takes his own life, as David Foster Wallace did on Friday night, no writers of tributes ever ask, much less provide any sort of answer.
People avoid any mention or allusion to the particulars out of (a) sensitivity for the immediate family and close friends, (b) a natural human instinct to counter-act the goblins of darkness and tragedy that we all carry around by emphasizing the positive — by creating a counter-myth, and (c) out of a standard emotional-political urge to honor and cherish those things about the deceased that were beautiful or elegant or inspiring or what-have-you.
Sorry to step out of bounds, but when someone dies I want to know why, and too bad if that offends you. I want to know what happened. And it doesn’t make me a monster for asking.
Because life is not just about what you’ve done with your potential or lack of one — not just about being brilliant or mediocre or being wonderfully creative or not having the moxie to do anything more than order a beer at a tavern or re-fill a monthly prescription at the pharmacy. Life is also about stuff that happens to you, and how you stand up to it…or not.
It’s about how you respond to hungry wolves sticking their snouts through the hole in your front door or to hurricane waves washing over your lifeboat when one of your oars has been washed away and your rations are gone too. Life can be cruel and fierce and sometimes brutal, and when someone I know or respect has gone under I want to know why, and anyone who says this isn’t the first question out of their lips when a person suddenly passes is a liar.
This said, Glenn Kenny‘s tribute piece about Wallace, posted earlier today, is very well written and remembered.