Archive for February, 2014

Goodbye to Harold Ramis

Posted: February 25, 2014 in -
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Harold Ramis on the Metaphor of Ground Hog Day

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Time for another film discussion, this time centering on the most powerful single shots.  More important than aesthetics are the reasons why they stand out as exceptional and changed the directions of their stories.  This is not about length, although some are going to be long duration, but more about how what is revealed altered the story in front of our eyes.

The Good, The Bad and the Ugly

In a film filled with iconic, brilliant shots, the one that sticks out is when Tuco finally gets his greedy little hands on the gold.  With a handful of gold coins, he looks up from the grave he dug it out of, and he calls to Blondie to celebrate.  Only, when he looks up, he sees a noose hanging, and the camera frames him inside the noose looking down.  That moment changes everything.  The nature of their relationship has always been in question.  What Blondie would do to Tuco and how much he wants the gold are open questions.  Is Blondie a bad guy like Angel Eyes?  What would Tuco do if the situation was reversed?  All of this rushes forth in that one moment Tuco looks up into the noose.

They had been hanging one another throughout the start of the film.  Tuco had been a professional noose evader for a while.  It all brings the film to a breathless kind of climax at that moment, and the realization that there’s more to the story left to play out.

A Clockwork Orange

Kubrick does things you don’t expect.  The film opens right in Alex’s face, and he’s staring straight into the camera, dressed in a top hat, with odd makeup on his eyes.  The stare is cryptic and discomforting.  The music swirls, and the camera decides to roll back slowly.

The reveal is the point, as the location is extremely unusual.  Alex’s droogies are revealed, drugged out and yet dressed oddly in white long johns of some sort.  This seems like some evil clown convention, but the camera continues backward.  The tables are vulgar porcelain naked whores.  The contrast between Alex and his droogies and the women on which they rest their boots is indicative of something extremely weird, a world we haven’t seen before.  The camera simply rolls back the length of the space, showing that this is a semi-normal night for those present.

A Fish Called Wanda

John Cleese and Kevin Kline engage in a battle of wills, where Kline is insanely jealous over Wanda.  The shot opens up tight on Cleese, who a minute ago was stubbornly ready to fight Kline, insulting him in arrogant British form.  But in this shot, a close-up, he’s apologizing sincerely.  More than sincere, we pull out, flip upside down and find him hanging out the window by his feet.  The camera, on a crane, has swung back to reveal Cleese dangling by his legs, with stunned witnesses in the background, while Kline decides whether or not to drop him.  The shot uses a tight to wide kind of reveal over the duration.  Many of these most memorable shots use creative reveals that throw a monkey wrench into the story. In this case, we realize that Kline is totally psychotic and he might murder Cleese or any of the others at any time.

Strange Days

This harrowing first person POV shot opens in a moving car, at the start of an armed robbery.  The person wearing the camera, if that’s what it is, willingly participates in a violent assault on a Chinese restaurant.  We don’t have any idea who the person filming is, or if they are an important part of the movie to come.

Since these thugs are all we know, it’s another discomforting jolt that this film is being told from the POV of a lowlife, an unseen criminal.  By the end of the clip, he’s hanging on the side of a building, and he falls to his death.  The point then was not to set up this character at all, but rather the technology used to record his death.  These people were all disposable pawns, and the crucial information, the brain/media linkage is what is important.  The recording device successfully became a part of the plot in a unique way.

The Player

One of the most impressive shots of all time, the camera dances around a movie lot.  There it picks up snippets of various conversations, one of them through a window.  It also provides crucial data about the plot, involving postcards.

The shot itself begins with an odd giveaway, that the film itself isn’t real.  It actually opens on a painting of people making a movie, and the sounds of the crew are included.  The secretaries/assistants handle the studio’s business, but this was already spoiled as being unreal — only it isn’t unreal in the world of the film, because the entire rest of the movie plays as real, with those very same characters a part of the intricate world.

Pulling back and revealing more of the studio, the camera exits the interior and floats a bit, as a grand Hollywood opera plays out across the acres of studio lot.  Griffin Mill arrives, instantly harassed by a sci-fi writer pitching him a story.  Mill gives him the brush-off and barrels inside.  Camera stays on a different conversation, this one the head of security whining about the state of movies, “Cut, cut, cut…”  This obvious counterpoint to the 8 minute shot we are currently inside of is another way of teasing the audience.  There’s interplay, a wink and an acknowledgement of the film and its relationship to the viewer.

We settle in on Griffin Mill’s office, through the window like voyeurs.  We’re allowed a glimpse into the pitching process, the thinking of these guys and how people stream in seeking approval and green lights.  Mill is a prince of the system, and his main job is to say no repeatedly, over a hundred times per day.

We quickly learn that Mill seems alarmed about the sci-fi writer, and he alerts his assistant to notify security.  Of course the sci-fi guy looks as harmless a nerd as they come.

But the action takes a turn and a spill as the bicycle carrying the mail tumbles in the lot.  An unremarkable accident, except for one thing: the camera goes out of its way to home in on a particular postcard in the dropped mail.  It pulls back up again, and the bicyclist is helped.

An asshole in a white Porsche arrives and stops abruptly to chat up a smoking hot actress in a red dress.  Japanese business tourists stroll through.  Lots of exposition passes left and right, right and left with minimal effort or time.  The building blocks of the studio system are all included, tiny snippets that don’t warrant their own scenes or much elaboration.

New suits stroll out of the building, conspiratorial, hushed tones.  “What’s all this talk about heads will roll?”  There’s intrigue around the studio.  Everyone is on edge, and the class system and hierarchy is clear.  As they walk past Griffin Mill’s window, they note how the rumors suggest he’s to be replaced.

Instantly back into the window, Mill is now openly paranoid about the security situation.  We leave the office to rejoin several of the faces we’ve already seen and then return to Mill’s office for the big moment.  The postcard arrives.  Mill’s current pitch involves he and the studio’s aversion to “political” content.  Real political ideas aren’t welcome.  There is a possible political opening, however, if it’s funny, weird, lighthearted, etc.  All this plays upon our perceptions of what we’re watching right now and how we’re to interpret it.

When Mill flips the postcard, it’s a chill.  The card is a threat.  Somebody out there really, really doesn’t like him.  He turns over his shoulder to spy out the window, and we see his face well for the first time.

 

 

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This is Oleh Tyahnybok, he has claimed a “Moscow-Jewish mafia” rule Ukraine and that “Germans, Kikes and other scum” want to “take away our Ukrainian state.”

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US warmonger John McCain supports Tyahnybok.  Previously McCain posed with Syrian terrorists well known for kidnappings.

Neo-Nazis and far-right protesters in Ukraine

 

 

Musical Sunday 27

Posted: February 23, 2014 in -
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Interdisciplinary Toxicology:
Glyphosate, pathways to modern diseases II: Celiac sprue and gluten intolerance
ABSTRACT
Celiac disease, and, more generally, gluten intolerance, is a growing problem worldwide, but especially in North America and Europe, where an estimated 5% of the population now suffers from it. Symptoms include nausea, diarrhea, skin rashes, macrocytic anemia and depression. It is a multifactorial disease associated with numerous nutritional deficiencies as well as reproductive issues and increased risk to thyroid disease, kidney failure and cancer. Here, we propose that glyphosate, the active ingredient in the herbicide, Roundup®, is the most important causal factor in this epidemic. Fish exposed to glyphosate develop digestive problems that are reminiscent of celiac disease. Celiac disease is associated with imbalances in gut bacteria that can be fully explained by the known effects of glyphosate on gut bacteria. Characteristics of celiac disease point to impairment in many cytochrome P450 enzymes, which are involved with detoxifying environmental toxins, activating vitamin D3, catabolizing vitamin A, and maintaining bile acid production and sulfate supplies to the gut. Glyphosate is known to inhibit cytochrome P450 enzymes. Deficiencies in iron, cobalt, molybdenum, copper and
other rare metals associated with celiac disease can be attributed to glyphosate’s strong ability to chelate these elements. Deficienciesin tryptophan, tyrosine, methionine and selenomethionine associated with celiac disease match glyphosate’s known depletion of
these amino acids. Celiac disease patients have an increased risk to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, which has also been implicated in glyphosate exposure. Reproductive issues associated with celiac disease, such as infertility, miscarriages, and birth defects, can also be explained by glyphosate. Glyphosate residues in wheat and other crops are likely increasing recently due to the growing practice of crop desiccation just prior to the harvest. We argue that the practice of “ripening” sugar cane with glyphosate may explain the recent surge in kidney failure among agricultural workers in Central America. We conclude with a plea to governments to reconsider policies regarding the safety of glyphosate residues in foods.

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The Deep State Hiding in Plain Sight
“The Deep State is unconstrained.  It’s out of control.”

Mike Lofgren, a former GOP congressional staff member with the powerful House and Senate Budget Committees, joins Bill to talk about what he calls the Deep State, a hybrid of corporate America and the national security state, which is “out of control” and “unconstrained.” In it, Lofgren says, elected and unelected figures collude to protect and serve powerful vested interests.

PS.

Outrageous corruption covered at the end of the report, the TPP scam and corporate thugs nominated for Obama’s secret TPP negotiating team.  Banksters were given huge bonuses as they left their posts to go screw over the world for ObamaCorp.

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Parody Artists Wins Case Against NSA, Homeland Security

“After a near three-year legal battle, Dan McCall has been given the green light to continue his parodies of federal agencies and their respective emblems.”

 

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Chelsea Manning acceptance statement of Sam Adams Award for Integrity inIntelligence

 

In a recent Freedom of Information Act case(2) — a seemingly Orwellian “newspeak” name for a statute that actually exempts categories of documents from release to the public — a federal district court judge ruled against the New York Times and the American Civil Liberties Union. The Times and the ACLU argued that documents regarding the practice of “targeted killing” of American citizens, such as the radical Sunni cleric Anwar Nasser al-Aulaqi were in the public’s interest and were being withheld improperly.

The government first refused to acknowledge the existence of the documents, but later argued that their release could harm national security and were therefore exempt from disclosure. The court, however, felt constrained by the law and “conclud[ed] that the Government [had] not violated the FOIA by refusing to turn over the documents sought in the FOIA requests, and [could not] be compelled . . . to explain in detail the reasons why [the Government’s] actions do not violate the Constitution and laws of the United States.”

However, the judge also wrote candidly about her frustration with her sense that the request “implicate[d] serious issues about the limits on the power of the Executive Branch under the Constitution and laws of the United States,” and that the Presidential “Administration ha[d] engaged in public discussion of the legality of targeted killing, even of [American] citizens, but in cryptic and imprecise ways.” In other words, it wasn’t that she didn’t think that the public didn’t have a right to know — it was that she didn’t feel that she had the “legal” authority to compel disclosure.

This case, like too many others, presents a critical problem that can also be seen in several recent cases, including my court-martial. For instance, I was accused by the Executive branch, and particularly the Department of Defense, of aiding the enemy — a treasonable offense covered under Article III of the Constitution.

Granted, I received due process. I received charges, was arraigned before a military judge for trial, and eventually acquitted. But, the al-Aulaqi case raises a fundamental question: did the American government, and particularly the same President and Department, have the power to unilaterally determine my guilt of such an offense, and execute me at the will of the pilot of an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle?

Until documents held by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel were released after significant political pressure in mid-2013, I could not tell you. And, very likely, I do not believe I could speak intelligently of the Administration’s policy on “targeted killing” today either.

There is a problem with this level of secrecy, obfuscation, and classification or protective marking, in that they supposedly protect citizens of their nation; yet, it also breeds a unilateralism that the founders feared, and deliberately tried to prevent when drafting the American Constitution. Now, we have a “disposition matrix,” classified military commissions, and foreign intelligence and surveillance courts — modern Star Chamber equivalents.

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Imprisoned CIA Whistleblower John Kiriakou Threatened with ‘Diesel Therapy,’ Suffers Shakedowns for Talking to Press

““One of my cellmates, a 40-ish African-American whom I like, respect and consider a friend, made an important point,” according to Kirakou. “‘Don’t you see what they’re doing? They’re trying to make us mad with these shakedowns so that we’ll turn on you.’ He imagined a conversation: ‘Let’s piss off the big black guy so he pressures Kiriakou to stop writing and doing interviews.’”

It did not work that time. “My cellmate urged me to ‘keep up the fight. Keep telling people what it’s like in here.’ I promise to do that.”

John Kiriakou exposed that the CIA was torturing people in violation of the law, and with impunity.  For exposing CIA crimes he was imprisoned and his life threatened repeatedly.  This is truly a lawless, criminal age, and the criminals are in charge.

 

UKRAINE PROTESTS CAREFULLY ORCHESTRATED

Posted: February 22, 2014 in -