A timely music break, less for the spooky goings-on tonight than in honor of the late (and admittedly sometimes spooky) Lou Reed. Listen to “Halloween Parade”:
Z for Zachariah is a quiet but intensely melodramatic story about three people trying to make a go of things after the end of the world. Unlike most of your post-apocalyptical adventures (and there are at least two more young adult ones due to hit theaters this year), has threats aplenty but there of a more elemental nature: loneliness, boredom, starvation, bothering to go on.
It’s a smart piece of work and thusly more than likely to get lost in the end of the summer cinematic shuffle.
Z for Zachariah is opening this weekend. My review is at PopMatters.
Here’s the trailer:
- Most of the Bible’s spiritual heroes didn’t have “traditional” marriages.
- Kim Gordon, etc.; aspire to be cool, not beautiful.
- Maybe just open the borders and let everyone in, everywhere; they probably won’t stay.
- The myth of those 80-hour work weeks.
- The babies weren’t dead but secretly given up for adoption.
- Culture wars: How the neocons kept fighting against the Sixties long after it was over.
- Google map that might be meaningless: most racist places in America.
- Think Texas is going to let the military take their guns?
- “There’s one soda machine in town, and it’s in a guy’s driveway.” What happens when a couple moved back to their once-hopping, now faded Missouri bootheel town and tried to fix things up.
- Maus pulled from Moscow bookstores; what comes next?
- Print and read: The future of war, or, “the huge difference between possessing firepower and knowing how, where, when and why to use it; bonus print and read: It’s been a while since America won a war; is it still possible?
If you want to get a good short snapshot of the wicked alchemy that produced the Washington, D.C. punk and hardcore scene, or just like music, or stories about scrappy kids who don’t wait for the adults to tell them what to do, then Salad Days is the movie for you.
It’s playing now in limited release, and should be on DVD soon so you can rewatch all the Minor Threat and Bad Brains footage to your heart’s content. My review from last year’s DOC NYC festival, is at PopMatters:
DC punk was never an international scene like New York, London or even Los Angeles. The bands fostered in the cracks of the capital’s inhuman government institutions and post-riot urban blight didn’t aspire to get out there and make it big, even punk-rock big. They wanted to play their own style of blitzkrieg hardcore for the diehard packs of mostly white middle- and upper-class teens who didn’t much like late ‘70s arena rock or disco…
Here is the trailer (that’s Fugazi’s “Bad Mouth” playing at the start):
I like to pay taxes. With them I buy civilization.
– Oliver Wendell Holmes
Fans of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels were by definition fans of one of his greatest characters: Death. A calm, steady, and fairly graceful presence, Death could be counted on for some wry observations, delivered in ALL CAPS.
So it was appropriate that when Pratchett died yesterday of dementia at the age of 66, it was announced on his Twitter account in the voice of Death himself:
AT LAST SIR TERRY, WE MUST WALK TOGETHER.
How do you get people to believe in a lie. Well, when it’s something like climate change, it helps to have a well-paid mini-industry of fakers and dissemblers to help spread the mistruths. Whatever the subject, there’s plenty of so-called “experts” who will tell people what they want to hear.
That’s the subject of Robert Kenner’s new documentary Merchants of Doubt, which opens tomorrow in limited release. My review is at Film Racket:
This is an ugly film, though it has an upbeat spirit. Director Robert Kenner starts off with magician Jamy Ian Swiss giving a deft performance in close-up magic. “My expertise is in deception,” Swiss says with no small amount of pride. Kenner features Swiss so prominently, and laces the film with visual nods to card tricks, because as Swiss states about magicians, “We are honest liars.” The professional charlatans Kenner profiles later would be hard put to make such a claim. The tragedy of the film is that depressingly few people get the difference…
Here’s the trailer:
Seventy-five years ago this month, John Steinbeck published The Grapes of Wrath. The anniversary is as good an excuse as any to go back and crack open this gorgeous, painful, Biblical epic.
I wrote about The Grapes of Wrath and its continuing power and relevance for the The Barnes & Noble Review:
Freedom in America has always been entwined with freedom of movement. The freedom to immigrate, the freedom to relocate from one state to the next, the freedom to wander without being hassled. That’s one of the reasons John Steinbeck’s coruscating epic of exodus, The Grapes of Wrath, hit bestseller lists like a bomb when it was published in 1939. It wasn’t a novel about people taking wing and transforming themselves in new settings. Steinbeck showed Americans heading west to better themselves like waves of people before them, only to be blocked, harried, fenced in, run off, denied.
Seventy-five years later, the novel still speaks to us for this same reason…
Pundits who want examples of how America’s school system is failing can easily point to any number of metrics: How the kids are faring in math versus Singapore, or how few of them can locate their own country on a map. One other way might just be to listen to our politicians.
The right honorable Representative Trey Gowdy (R-South Carolina) went on the teevee over the weekend to talk politics. According to the Dumbest Man on the Internet (Missouri’s own!), Gowdy “hit it out of the park.” Judge for yourself:
Well, how would you like to run for reelection if you were in the House and the Senate based on Obamacare with its rising premiums, worse coverage and now we’re trying to convince you that you’re better off writing poetry than you working and getting money?
For those in need of translation from this garbled blather from an elected official, Gowdy thinks that Democrats are telling Americans that it’s better to go write poetry than look for a job. His mangling of the language is bad enough, but his gratuitous slandering of poets is just plain wrong.
As the great Charles Pierce (who memorably identified Gowdy as “a congresscritter from down in the home office of American sedition”) points out, the House of Representatives isn’t precisely known for working these days, unlike poets:
Trey Gowdy, who gets a base salary of $174,000, will work a total of 113 days in formal session this year, in which he will do very little. I happen to know several poets, and I can say with authority that every one of them works harder than does Trey Gowdy, that Philistine meathead, largely because most of them are working two or more jobs, none of which provide benefits.
From James Carroll’s thoughtful profile of Pope Francis in the end-of-year New Yorker, discussing his coming of age politically in Argentina during the “Dirty War” of the 1970s and ’80s:
The anti-Soviet paranoia of the era made it easy to see [liberation theology] as influenced more by Karl Marx than by Jesus Christ. Archbishop Hélder Câmara, of Brazil, famously captured the tension, saying, “When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a Communist.”