Archive for February, 2016



This could be significant, or it could be more hot air from all concerned. The Turks have been warned against invading Syria, as has Saudi Arabia, although the best possible scenario I can think of would include Russia dealing directly with Erdogan and the Saudi terror-sponsors, old-school style.




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by James McEnteer

Best Picture IMHO

Oscars So White?

The Best Picture nominees are all artistically accomplished productions. “Rocky 7,” aka Creed, may or may not deserve to be among them. But Michael B. Jordan’s performance in the lead role is a glaring omission from the Best Actor category, especially considering Sylvester Stallone’s nomination for Best Supporting Actor in that same movie.

Stallone deserves a nomination. So does Jordan. Writer/Director Ryan Coogler also merits a Best Director acknowledgment for reviving the moribund Rocky franchise with fresh energy. What about Spike Lee’s audacious and timely Chi-Raq? Or the dynamic Teyonah Parris?

Beasts of No Nation suffers from a double disadvantage in the eyes of the Academy, with a black cast in a foreign land. (Like Straight Outta Compton!). Idris Elba has been recognized by the Screen Actors Guild and the Golden Globes, but not the Oscars. This oversight recalls the Academy’s inexplicable failure to honor David Oyelowo’s riveting portrayal of Martin Luther King in last year’s Selma.




These omissions reflect much more poorly on the motion picture establishment than on the snubbed artists. A boycott is a viable protest. But the Academy itself needs revision. Not affirmative action categories (Best Minority Actress in a Comedic Role) but a revolution in thinking that more accurately reflects the country in which we live and its rich, diverse artistic community.

Of the eight Best Picture nominees, I have a clear favorite. Running quickly through the field: The Big Short is a star-studded tutorial on the horrific mortgage loan bank scams of @ 2008. Expertly acted and deeply informative, the movie asks us to sympathize with the smart insiders who made a bundle predicting the inevitable financial collapse. But that sympathy is a hard sell.




Bridge of Spies is an earnest, Spielberg/Hanks rehearsal of a real-life Cold War spy exchange between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. Mark Rylance makes for a memorable Rudolf Abel. Watchable if unexceptional.

Brooklyn is a gorgeous, bittersweet coming-of-age story with Saoirse Ronan growing before our eyes from wretched waif to worldly woman, who falls in love with her native Ireland only after committing her life to the United States.

Mad Max: Fury Road is a wild ride through apocalyptic wastes, exhibiting director George Miller’s mastery at a whole new level of the genre he created. He richly deserves his nomination, as does the intense, astonishing Charlize Theron.




The Martian is a technically splendid post-modern Robinson Crusoe tale with Best Actor nominee Matt Damon as the sole inhabitant of a planet, reflecting the secret feelings of some Hollywood stars.

The Room is a harrowing, claustrophobic saga of a kidnap victim and her young son in prolonged captivity. To its credit, this film offers an unblinking look at the emotional complications the two face after their escape. Brie Larson dazzles here, as does Jacob Tremblay.




Spotlight is a terrific, old-fashioned journalistic procedural with a splendid cast. Against the odds, scrappy reporters get the goods on the entrenched political-religious powers of the Boston establishment. While I admired this movie, I was even more engaged by another journalism film, Truth, starring Robert Redford as Dan Rather and Cate Blanchet as his producer, Mary Mapes. A cautionary tale, this film was probably not nominated because it does not have Spotlight’s “happy ending.” And the probable perp, Karl Rove, is still at large.

Which brings us to The Revenant, a tale of revenge based loosely on historical events. But the direction and cinematography elevate this simple plot to an allegorical level. The elements of light and water are mesmerizing and seductive. The harsh retributive human world, where treachery is the norm, love is under constant threat and friends and generosity are rare, plays out in brutal, bloody inevitability before the cold, impassive natural world.

Leonardo DiCaprio, who hardly ever leaves the screen, is transcendent here as Hugh Glass, heartsick, dispossessed, wounded, abused and left for dead, driven to survive and keep moving by the only thing he has left: vengeance. He takes us with him on his painful, frightening journey. We feel every frigid plunge he takes into racing waters, every bite of raw meat he gobbles to stay alive.




Alejandro Gonzalez Iñarritu’s decisión to make the movie in a real wilderness was a gamble that pays off handsomely with its authenticity, beauty and menace. Emmanuel Lubezki exploits the natural elements to highlight the tragedy of violent human interactions. The battle action sequences convey the fear and confusionn of these fierce encounters.

In a recent article, a university professor condemned The Revenant as “a film that glorifies settler colonialism.” This seems to me a misreading of the movie. Glass marries a Native American woman who bears his child. He grieves her death at the hands of white soldiers. Neither the French nor the Anglo trappers are romanticized as anything other than mercenary. Native American leaders in the film castigate all the Euro-settlers as trespassers and thieves.

Iñarritu does not sugar-coat the murderous habits and consequences of the intruders into the North American wilderness. Quite the contrary. Can a film be raw and bloody, yet beautiful and elegiac? The Revenant shows that it can. For its moral and aesthetic complexity, in a stark setting with a simple plot, this film deserves to take home all the Oscar gold it can carry.


James McEnteer is the author of Shooting the Truth: the Rise of American Political Documentaries, Praeger, 2006. He lives in Ecuador where DVDs are 7 for $10.



‘Wake Up, South Carolina!’ Endorsing Sanders, Spike Lee Slams Rigged System


“Bernie takes no money from corporations. Nada. That means he is not on the take.” —Spike Lee


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Risking Nuclear War for Al Qaeda?


A source close to Russian President Vladimir Putin told me that the Russians have warned Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that Moscow is prepared to use tactical nuclear weapons if necessary to save their troops in the face of a Turkish-Saudi onslaught. Since Turkey is a member of NATO, any such conflict could quickly escalate into a full-scale nuclear confrontation.


The farce in Syria is beyond rational debate at this point. The US and its gang of terrorist-supporting thieves have placed the future of humanity in jeopardy.

Obama has direct responsibility. His playing games with Erdogan and the Saudi Wahabbi fundamentalists is why we are here today.

Evidence for the trial of Barack Obama:

White House, August 7, 2013:

“President Obama spoke by phone today from California with Prime Minister Erdogan of Turkey, at the Prime Minister’s request, about developments in Syria and Egypt. The President and Prime Minister discussed the danger of foreign extremists in Syria and agreed on the importance of supporting a unified and inclusive Syrian opposition.



This is important, and even more reason to pull out all the stops and support Sanders…


In 1974 Call to Abolish CIA, Sanders Followed in Footsteps of JFK, Truman

[Sanders]…called the Central Intelligence Agency “a dangerous institution that has got to go.” Sanders complained that the CIA was only accountable to “right-wing lunatics who use it to prop up fascist dictatorships.”



Because we’re so fucking peaceful?

US will rehearse invasion of N.Korea in record-breaking joint military drills


This is under Obama, the Nobel Peace Prize winner? You wonder why countries seek nuclear weapons and ICBMs–as North Korea has done. Not difficult math.

In other simulations:

War Games Between China and US Lead to Nuclear Attacks


They’ve, of course, been threatening nuclear Russia in Ukraine, Syria and other flashpoints, such as Chechnya/Dageston, South Ossetia.

It’s like the ghouls of Washington DC want to destroy the world. It’s not enough owning it, they have to incinerate it. These people should be arrested and tried for their many past crimes. They are recklessly hurtling toward disaster, and the American public is too obtuse to even notice, never mind oppose them meaningfully. They think the Democraps are peaceful! The above is after 7 years of Obama rule!

Coincidentally, today CIA thug Michael Hayden tries to sell more drone murder as the solution. His rampage has already enraged 1.5 billion Muslims and told them their lives have no value and International Law doesn’t apply to them. How’s that strategy actually working out?

How about if other countries took his advice and turned it on the US itself? They would be as legitimate as he is today. Hayden is a war criminal and responsible for thousands of unlawful, extra-judicial killings.  The CIA’s secret death squads are not legitimate in the law, in the Constitution, in any context.

Declined to Review

Posted: February 22, 2016 in -, Joe Giambrone

J. Giambrone


Readers of this blog may think that I review a lot of movies. The truth is that I also ignore quite a few of the films i’ve seen, for various reasons.

Over the past year here’s a list of films I didn’t bother burdening you with…

1. The Martian

This one generated so much noise that I couldn’t be bothered. I wanted to hate this film, based on the initial trailer. Then I decided to see it anyway, as mars is interesting (I have an action thriller screenplay set there), and the research was supposed to be impressive.

To my surprise it wasn’t as annoying as I had initially assumed. Then they hit us with the Saran Wrap bulkhead. At that moment I lost faith in the storyteller. Once you lose faith in the guy behind the story it’s over. If he would resort to that, then it was clear…

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The exact guilty demeanor we saw from the US when Rachel Corrie was brutally murdered.





American musicians who support boycotting Israel over the issue of Palestinian rights are terrified to speak out for fear their careers will be destroyed, according to Roger Waters.

Pink Floyd star on why his fellow musicians are terrified to speak out against Israel




This was last year. If you haven’t seen it, then you are in for quite an eye-opener.

Why are US leaders immune from answering why they deliver tons of deadly weapons to terrorists?


Not an isolated incident…



Between 3,000 and 5,000 so-called ‘foreign fighters’ – EU citizens trained in Islamic state terror camps – have returned to Europe and pose a “completely new challenge,” according the continent’s top police chief.


Europe and America,

Your leaders are depraved criminals. They have created this situation and bear responsibility for the atrocities that will follow.

5,000 ISIS militants trained in Syria & Iraq
walk free in Europe – Europol


The Witch – My Review

Posted: February 21, 2016 in -

J. Giambrone

Good. Not great.


Anya Taylor-Joy is fantastic to watch, and they realized the world in an authentic, raw depiction. But the film suffered from a few problems, one of which I won’t get into, as it would entail spoilers.

The Witch is the kind of film that could have greatly benefited from Aronofsky’s “Subjective Filmmaking” style. And by that I mean a complete focus on only the main character, cutting out tangents. This would have shown a couple of gaps in the plot and a character progression that could have used quite a bit more attention. It would have attached us to the main character in a visceral way, and made the emotional content work. It would have given a truer vision of this story and potentially made it a great film.

But, alas, they did no such thing. Hindsight is 20/20, so take heed. There is a profound difference…

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