Wednesday, December 3, 2008

There Will Be Blood

There Will Be Blood was one of my favorite films from last year. I think it stands as one of the great American films of all time, up there with Citizen Kane and The Grapes of Wrath. It deals with the same themes and on the same scope as those films and the performance of Daniel-Day Lewis is one of the best onscreen performances I've ever seen. It's iconic and the best work by director Paul Thomas Anderson who directed Boogie Nights, Magnolia, and Punch-Drunk Love. I've attached the theatrical trailer. Check it out on Blu-Ray DVD as this films deserves to be seen in the best quality HD available. Would you watch Dr. Zhivago or Lawrence of Arabia on a tiny screen? As far as the R rating is concerned, again the MPAA really messed this one up. There isn't one word of profanity in the entire film. There is no nudity or sex. The only violence occurs at the conclusion of the film, and even it doesn't compare to the violence seen on CSI or Heroes. So go figure for yourself why this film received an R rating. It doesn't even deserve a PG-13. I would've given it a PG. I'll guarantee that you will find nothing offensive in this film. Now, I won't guarantee you'll like the movie, but at least you won't be offended by it.

The Pitiful End of the American Auto Industry

With the United States treasury being plundered by Wall Street, it was only a matter of time before the CEO's of the American automakers wanted to do the same. Once upon a time in this country, American built cars were the best in the world. Then came the 70's, with two major oil shortages and a sagging economy. Does anyone remember the Pinto? Or the Gremlin? These were America's answer to the new Japanese upstarts, Honda and Toyota, who were turning out little cars like the Civic that got 40 miles per gallon. Unfortunately, the American versions weren't as fuel efficient nor dependable. Since then, Ford, GM, and Chrysler have seen their market shares dwindle. Now that Honda and Toyota are selling more cars than the Big 3, the pinheads who manage these companies believe the American taxpayer should be obliged to bail them out. GM asks for $18 billion to keep the company alive, but will still have to let go of 20,000 employees. Can someone with a degree in economics explain to me the logic behind giving a company $18 billion of taxpayers' money? Instead of giving them money, should the government get into the auto business and just assume ownership of one of the Big 3? Invest some capital in developing cars that don't rely on fossil fuels, perhaps develop technology for better mass transit systems such as light rail? Or is that too radical of an idea? Should government have ownership of any company? We already have a huge interest in AIG, why not invest in ownership of something that manufactures something tangible. To all my friends and family out there, I know you have an opinion on this, I want to hear them. Please educate me.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Raiders of the Lost Ark

This might be the film that inspired me to get into the film industry. Besides being one of the most iconic adventure films of all time, it's just great filmmaking in every aspect. The attached scene is, in my opinion, the best chase scene of all cinema. Great camera work, amazing cutting and stuntwork. Spielberg shows off all of his talent in this one. It's too bad that the latest installment has disappointed. I still haven't seen it.

The Southland Is Burning!

What a couple of crazy weeks! We have a new President-elect, Proposition 8 passed, and now the Inland Empire is in flames. The picture on the left pretty much shows what the skies of Los Angeles have looked like. What's next? Oh yeah, we're way, way behind schedule at Lost which means I'm working every weekend which then means I see very little of my family. I hope we'll be able to catch up enough this upcoming week so that we won't have to work again next weekend. We'll see what this week brings us. I have to say I'm not surprised at the angry backlash at the passing of Prop. 8. Last Sunday was very tense in our Stake as our Stake President was nervous about potential disruptions of meetings because of demonstrators marching around the perimeter of the temple grounds. Our chapel is adjacent to the Los Angeles Temple so President Bragg assigned various High Council members and others to patrol the parking lot to make sure no one tried to cause trouble. I think prayers were answered because we haven't experienced any disruptions, although we still have to keep an eye out until the emotions of this vote simmer down a bit. It's an emotional issue no doubt and they have every right to protest. Now we just have to wait and see what happens with the various lawsuits against Prop. 8.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Grand Canyon

Another link to a trailer of one of my favorite movies. I had a difficult time finding an actual scene on You-Tube to link up, so the trailer will have to do. Writer-director Lawrence Kasdan who co-wrote The Empire Strikes Back, Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Return of the Jedi, Silverado, and The Big Chill to name a few, made this film about the lives of six different people in Los Angeles in the early 90's and how they intertwine. Think of this film as the serious side to the funny movie L.A. Story which also starred Steve Martin. This film has a phenomenal ensemble of Kevin Kline, Danny Glover, Mary McDonnell, Alfre Woodard, and Mary-Louise Parker. And if you're a current Law & Order fan, you might recognize a very young Jeremy Sisto playing the teenage son of Kevin Kline and McDonnell.

The Day Is Almost Here . . .

At last! In just a few days, we will know who will be our next President. We will know if Proposition 8 passed or not. Even better, no more political ads flooding the airwaves. I just pray that I don't wake up on Wednesday morning to turn on the news to see that provisional ballots are being counted and that it's still too early to call. Just the thought of the mess of the 2000 elections makes me ill. I have to admit, I feel good about Obama's chances. The polls are in his favor and he even seems to be doing alright in McCain's home state of Arizona. I do have to say something that's been bothering me for awhile. Why does it seem that if you're a Democrat and you're LDS, that you have to keep it on the "down-low"? Why do I hear members of the Church express fear that Obama is someone to be afraid of, that he will allow Islamic extremists to overrun the country if he is elected. Why do I see "Joe the Plumber" endorse the idea that Obama is in favor of terminating the state of Israel? Where do these ideas come come from? Fox News? Rush Limbaugh? Sean Hannity? Sarah Palin? Does anything in Obama's behavior or actual political views resemble anything near these extreme right-wing water carriers are squaking about on their daily radio shows? In fact, I just received a mailer today for a "Yes On 8" that was distributed by a coalition of inner-city ministers who believe in standing up for traditional marriage. Guess who also believes in the same? Barack Obama. If you have the mailer at home you'll recognize the quote. Speaking to a group of Southern California ministers back in August, Obama said the following: "I'm not in favor of gay marriage . . .". On the same flier, there's an additional quote saying: "Now, for me as a Christian, it's also a sacred union. God's in the mix." Does that sound like someone who would be tolerant to Islamic fundamentalism? If someone out there can explain to me or document to me anything with real journalistic integrity that Obama is a secretly raging Islamic fundamentalist, please do. Please, nothing from Limbaugh or Hannity or William Kristol, I want something from a real unbiased source. Perhaps these pathetic notions of the country needing to be afraid of Obama come from a place within ourselves we don't want to have to face, racism. Are we afraid that if a black man is elected into the Oval Office, that he'll go Simon Legree on us white folk? Maybe I'm completely off base, but somehow I don't think I am. I just wanted to get that off my chest. It's the elephant in the room nobody want to talk about. Please flood me with your comments, rants, and pontifications as I know I surely have.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

"That'll Be The Day . . .

I love many of John Ford's films. I've already posted a clip from his masterpiece The Grapes of Wrath, now I'm posting clip from another favorite Ford film, The Searchers. John Wayne plays Ethan Edwards, a bigoted Civil War vet searching for his niece that has been kidnapped by a band of "Comanches". As with most of Ford's westerns, this one was filmed in Monument Valley in Southern Utah. Also, Ethan Edwards coined the phrase "That'll Be The Day!" that would ultimately become a title to a huge Buddy Holly song. The linked scene establishes Ethan's prejudices toward Native Americans but it also highlights his desire to avenge the murder of his brother's family. As far as acting is concerned, this is Wayne's best film in my opinion.