“John McCain‘s is not the resume that a presidential candidate wants to advertise as America faces its worst financial crisis since the Great Depression,” writes N.Y. Times columnist Frank Rich in the 9.21 edition. “That’s why the main thrust of the McCain campaign has been to cover up his history of economic malpractice.
“McCain has largely pulled it off so far, under the guidance of Steve Schmidt, a Karl Rove protege. A Rovian political strategy by definition means all slime, all the time. But the more crucial Rove game plan is to envelop the entire presidential race in a thick fog of truthiness.
“All campaigns, Barack Obama’s included, engage in false attacks. But McCain, Sarah Palin and their surrogates keep repeating the same lies over and over not just to smear their opponents and not just to mask their own record. Their larger aim is to construct a bogus alternative reality so relentless it can overwhelm any haphazard journalistic stabs at puncturing it.
“When a McCain spokesman told Politico a week ago that ‘we’re not too concerned about what the media filter tries to say’ about the campaign’s incessant fictions, he was channeling a famous Bush dictum of 2003: ‘Somehow you just got to go over the heads of the filter.’
“In Bush’s case, the lies lobbed over the heads of the press were to sell the war in Iraq. That propaganda blitz, devised by a secret White House Iraq Group that included Rove, was a triumph. In mere months, Americans came to believe that Saddam Hussein had aided the 9/11 attacks and even that Iraqis were among the hijackers. A largely cowed press failed to set the record straight.
“If you doubt that the big lies are sticking, look at the latest Washington Post/ABC News poll. Half of voters now believe in the daily McCain refrain that Obama will raise their taxes. In fact, Obama proposes raising taxes only on the 1.9 percent of households that make more than $250,000 a year and cutting them for nearly everyone else.
“You know the press is impotent at unmasking this truthiness when the hardest-hitting interrogation McCain has yet faced on television came on The View. Barbara Walters and Joy Behar called him on several falsehoods, including his endlessly repeated fantasy that Palin opposed earmarks for Alaska. Behar used the word ‘lies’ to his face. The McCains are so used to deference from ‘the filter’ that Cindy McCain later complained that The View picked ‘our bones clean.’
“In our news culture, Behar, a stand-up comic by profession, looms as the new Edward R. Murrow.”
By common consent, the three Obama-McCain campaign debates will be on the free-flowing and loosey-goosey side, but McCain camp advisers have refused to let Snowmoose Squareglasses debate the wily, free-associating, fork-tongued Joe Biden this way. Whoa, guys…our girl’s not good enough at this stuff! Different rules!
Hence the Vice-Presidential debates, set for 10.2, will be much, much simpler with shorter question-and-answer segments than those for the presidential nominees, and with much less opportunity for free and footloose moves, boxing, fencing and tap-dancing between Biden and Sarah Palin.
As the N.Y. Times Patrick Healy put it today, “McCain advisers said they had been concerned that a loose format could leave Ms. Palin, a relatively inexperienced debater, at a disadvantage and largely on the defensive.”
The first Obama-McCain debate will happen on Friday, 9.26, in Mississippi.
The Commission on Presidential Debates “had proposed that the first debate be on economic issues, and the third on foreign policy — in part, people involved in the process said, because the first debate is usually the most watched, and many voters rank the economy as their top concern.
But Obama “successfully sought to flip the proposed topics for the first and third debates, so foreign policy is now coming first and economic and other domestic issues come last.
“There is a second debate, in the format of a town hall meeting, in which the candidates will sit on director’s chairs and take questions from the audience and internet users on any topic.”
On October 11th, the American Cinematheque will be showing John Huston‘s Moby Dick (’56) with Eugene Lourie’s The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms (’53) as a creatures-from-the-sea double feature. Not to trash Lourie’s film, which was the first ’50s flick about a radioactive prehistoric monster invading a big city (a year before Gojira opened in Japan), but this pairing feels like a kind of light-hearted mockery of Huston.
Moby Dick, after all, was a flawed but in many ways admirable example of literate, authentic, epic-scale filmmaking in the classic mode; The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms had Ray Harryhausen‘s effects, fine, but it was primarily a fast-buck popcorn movie.
I’ll always worship Moby Dick for its luscious monochrome color scheme — a decision by Huston and cinematographer Oswald Morris to blend the coior-shot film with a “gray” negative in post-production and thereby creating a unique sort of faded steel-gray color. (The idea was to try and duplicate the faded color in those 19th Century Currier and Ives etchings.)
This monochrome color look was simulated for the Moby Dick DVD that came out in ’01, but will the American Cinematheque show a 1950s collector’s print that has the same immaculate look of the 1956 release prints, or will they just show a plain color print (i.e., one from the original negative but not blended with a gray negative). That, Mr. Starbuck, is the question.
A stirring discussion — lively, blunt, rousing — happened last night on Real Time with Bill Maher. Here’s one of the better portions, which dealt with Sarah Palin. The polls have returned to pre-convention levels, but Palin “is still doing well with white women…the people that Democrats need,” Maher noted, “Obama [right now] is now getting less women that John Kerry did.”
Here‘s the opening portion, which isn’t as interesting — a discussion of the Wall Street situation of the last few days.
Some points by Naomi Klein, author of The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism: The Wall Street sociopaths are “proponents of crybaby capitalism…when things are good they’re preaching deregulation, and when things are bad they want the bailout. The disaster was on Wall Street but it has moved the disaster to Main Street…the disaster that has now been transferred to the taxpayer…the real bomb has yet to detonate, which is the debt that’s been put onto the American taxpayer.”
Universal has said no to Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson‘s Tintin project — a 3D animated feature based on the Belgian comic strip — because they don’t want to spend $130 million to make it. And, as L.A. Times reporter Claudia Eller noted yesterday, “the decision has left the two powerful filmmakers scrambling to find another financial partner.”
Update: Viacom has reportedly stepped into the breach, so I guess we’re stuck with the damn thing.
I was going to say that anything that takes Spielberg and Jackson down a peg is a good thing in my book. I’m intrigued as the next person about what a first-rate 3D animated film might be like, even one from the two most over-praised and spiritually bloated rich guys in the film business.
Before reading about Viacom I was going to spin my wheels and dream about Spielberg dropping Tintin and finally — finally! — getting around to making his Abraham Lincoln movie instead, but the evidence is pretty strong that he’s been afraid of it all along.
“When even Spielberg and The Lord of the Rings director Jackson, who have made some of the biggest blockbusters in history, can’t get their movie made, you know something is up in Hollywood,” Eller wrote. “Universal’s refusal to finance Tintin underscores how in today’s tough economic climate, bottom-line concerns trump once-inviolable relationships between studios and talent.
“Until now, however, filmmakers of Spielberg’s and Jackson’s stature were thought to be immune to the brass-knuckles tactics of the studios. Squeezed by a business trapped between rising costs and leveling revenues, the two filmmakers are Hollywood’s latest — and most prominent — victims of cost containment.”
You won’t have to deal with Rian Johnson‘s The Brothers Bloom (Summit, 1.16.09) for another few months yet, but the essence of its faux-comic attitude is pretty much summed up in the “yellow sports car crashing into the stone wall” bit. It’s in the trailer posted below. If you find it the least bit amusing, then maybe TBB will work for you. If you find it perplexing — a nothing moment times infinity — then you may share my reaction.
One of my complaints about this mostly terrible film — minor but hugely irritating — is that Adrien Brody‘s character’s last name is Bloom, as is his brother Stephen, who’s played by Mark Ruffalo…and yet Brody is repeatedly addressed as “Bloom” and Ruffalo is called “Stephen.” I fell in hate with the movie over this point alone.
Here’s an explanation of sorts from Brody, in an interview transcript sent to me this morning:
Questioner: “So it’s called The Brothers Bloom, and your character’s name is Bloom, so does that make you Bloom Bloom?”
Brody: “We had this discussion. (laughs.) I don’t know. I have no idea. That’s pretty much it. We joked around about what the first name might be, but we all settled on being happy with Bloom. Someone mentioned that it’s the Brothers Bloom, like a verb, which is, actually, a nice observation. So, it is what it is. Ferdinand Bloom — there you go. It just wouldn’t be as cool. Ferdinand just doesn’t flow as much.”
This is how professional filmmakers sort through script issues and figure things out? They shrug their shoulders and say, “I don’t know, doesn’t really add up, but let’s go with it anyway”?
This, I submit, is one possible indication why Adrien Brody’s career hasn’t really gone anywhere since he won his Pianist Oscar. If you don’t bring some level of discerning intelligence to the basics, you’re putting yourself at the whims of morons. If an element in a film is utterly nonsensical, you have to stand up and say “why are we going with this? what good is it doing? how does it elevate or enhance the film?”
A just-posted TV trailer for Oliver Stone‘s W on Coming Soon. Stone urging YouTube enthusiasts to create a W mash-up. And Stone telling GQ that he wanted Christian Bale to play Bush before he went to Josh Brolin.
“I needed a star, and Josh Brolin was not a star. Originally I went for Christian Bale. We did some rigorous prosthetic tests and spent a lot of dough — thousands and thousands of dollars – and then Christian said, ‘I just don’t feel like I can do it.’ I met Josh and liked him. He was more rural Americana. But man, he was scared shitless.”
Everything I’ve been saying all along about the under-educated white rube vote (which has been steadily disputed by the conservative trolls on HE talkback) is confirmed and then some in this just-released AP-Yahoo poll.
“Deep-seated racial misgivings could cost Barack Obama the White House if the election is close, according to an AP-Yahoo News poll that found one-third of white Democrats harbor negative views toward blacks — many calling them ‘lazy, ‘violent,’ responsible for their own troubles.
“The poll, conducted with Stanford University, suggests that the percentage of voters who may turn away from Obama because of his race could easily be larger than the final difference between the candidates in 2004 — about two and one-half percentage points.”
To repeat: “Barack Obama is facing a brick white-attitude wall. An under-educated, lower-middle-class mule-like obstinacy that has become a kind of folk legend at this point. An obstinacy that refuses to roll with the idea of a president with a permanent tan. The salt-of-the-earth bubbas and Walmart Moms are, it would seem, going to refuse to listen and dig their heels in no matter what. That is the reality, sad to say. And about as tragic as it gets.”
“It would be a disgrace and a humiliation if Barack Obama does not win,” Woody Allen told Spanish journalists at the 56th San Sebastian film festival a day and a half ago.
“It would be a very, very terrible thing for the United States in many, many ways. Obama is “so much better” than John McCain, and “represents a huge step upward from (the) incompetence and misjudgement” of the Bush administration. It would be a terrible thing if the American public was not moved to vote for him, that they actually preferred more of the same.”
- All Hail Tom White, Taciturn Hero of “Killers of the Flower Moon”
Roughly two months ago a very early draft of Eric Roth‘s screenplay for Killers of the Flower Moon (dated 2.20.17,...More »