Archive for the ‘movies’ Category

Movies: Schultze, and Caviezel as the Count of Monte Cristo

Sunday, September 21st, 2014


The Showtime Family cable channel is playing Schultze gets the blues, a delightful movie I reviewed nearly nine years ago>. Here’s my review,

Minimalism comes to life in Schultze gets the blues.

The story starts when Schultze and his two friends Manfred and Jürgen are pushed into early retirement from the salt mines and receive salt lamps as retirement gifts. Schultze spends his retirement days playing the polka on his accordion, gardening (and polishing his garden gnomes), watching his friends fight over chess, riding his bicycle to get around, visiting his mother at the nursing home, and enjoying a beer or two. At the nursing home he meets whiskey-drinking Frau Lorant, who wants him to take her to the casino.

Then he listens to a Zydeco tune on the radio and his life changes completely.

Schultze’s played by Horst Krause, who bears more than a passing resemblance to Curly Howard, if Curly wore eyeglasses and a fedora, and had a deep voice. Not that Shultze is a man of many words.

Director Michael Schorr’s touch is light, slowand I mean slow –, and makes for a very very funny movie. Schultze is a lucky everyman (I was told once that Schultze is a way to refer to a “generic German” guy, and probably not very complimentary, but have never wanted to find out on my own) who manages to break away from his everyday rutine, and, as Amazon reviewer Donald Liebenson said, “While Schultze’s journey comes to a downbeat conclusion, the film manages to end on a lovely grace note”. That note will make you laugh, too.

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I recently watched the 2002 version of The Count of Monte Cristo through Amazon Instant Video.

I read Alexandre Dumas Sr.’s novels and all of Arthur Conan Doyle’s books at the age girls read Nancy Drew’s mysteries (which never really caught my imagination), and have, over the years, watched many of the film and TV interpretations of their works. I’ve watched the 1934 Robert Donat, the 1975 Richard Chamberlain, and the 1999 Gerard Depardieu in the title role as the Count of Monte Cristo (or, as Prince would put it, the sailor formerly known as Edmond Dantes). All were different and good (as long as you suspend belief enough to think 13 years at the Chateau D’If could not decrease Depardieu’s avoirdupois), so Jim Caviezel’s Dantes would complete the set.

I loved the enjoyable, fresh, luscious production, and the very moving performances by Caviezel and Richard Harris. Don’t miss the Count’s grand entrance,

Why the game should stand tall

Wednesday, September 17th, 2014

My latest article, Why the game should stand tall, a review of the excellent When the Game Stands Tall, is up at Da Tech Guy Blog. Go read it, and hit Pete’s tip jar.

Guatemala: When The Mountains Tremble to be corrected UPDATED WITH PAMELA YATES’S INVESTIGATION

Sunday, July 6th, 2014

UPDATE:
Pamela Yates kindly sends the link to her investigation report:

What our guides from Batzul, victims of the massacre, asked of us is that we make clear that the guerrillas and not the Army carried it out. We intend to make a correction that will clarify what happened in this scene in both “When the Mountains Tremble” and “Granito”. It stands as a reminder of the terrible human costs of the violence in 1982-83, when the Guatemalan Government launched a massive offensive against the Maya Ixil people – part of a state sponsored campaign targeting civilians and which led to the CEH’s findings that during the years of the internal armed conflict 93% of the deaths were at the hands of the Armed Forces. What we have learned from this investigation will inform our new film “500 Years”. We remain committed to historical accuracy in our work and to supporting efforts to secure full human rights for all the people of Guatemala within a freely functioning democracy.

I applaud her efforts and thank her for contacting me.

(Please read also Gringo’s comments below.)

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Earlier post:

Filmmaker to correct 1983 film on Guatemala war (emphasis added):

“When the Mountains Tremble” was an award-winning movie that awakened wide attention to the war in Guatemala. But at least one thing turned out to be wrong — and filmmaker Pamela Yates says she’s going to set it right.

A dramatic scene from the 1983 documentary will be corrected to show that the Batzul massacre highlighted in the film was committed not by the military, but by leftist rebels disguised as soldiers.
. . .
She did not specify how the films will be corrected. In an emailed message, she said “at this point it is premature to say just how I will modify the earlier films.”

Specifically, the Ejército Guerrillero de los Pobres – EGP, (Guerrilla Army of the Poor) were responsible for the Batzul massacre.

When The Mountains Tremble has a 20th anniversary edition; here’s the Amazon product description,

The film that shook audiences and critics alike upon its original theatrical release this revoutionary [sic] tour-de-force and Sundance Film Festival winner is now available for the first time on DVD. Digitally remastered to commemorate its 20th Anniversary this special edition chronicles the astonishing story of one woman who stood up for her people and helped wage a rebellion in the wake of seemingly unconquerable oppression. Shot at the height of a heated battle betwwen [sic] the heavily-armed Guatemalan Military and a nearly defenseless Mayan population filmmakers Pamela Yates and Newton Thomas Sigel threw themselves into the center of a storm to capture live combat footage with a surprisingly robust passion and exhilarating flair. As the first film to depict this previously unreported war it is firmly anchored by the firsthand accounds [sic] of Rigoberta Mench+Ý [Menchú] a Quich+ª [Quiche] Indian woman known around the world for her humanitarian efforts. Throughout the imminent chaos and danger Menchu provides courage and optimism in a time where death squads kill without conscience and an oppressive dictator seizes power. Updated after Mench+Ý [Menchú] was awarded the Nobel Peach [sic, Peace] Price WHEN THE MOUNTAINS TREMBLE includes a compelling filmmaker commentary as well as a never-before-seen introduction from Susan Sarandon and an illuminating epilogue reflecting on the country’s events a decade later. DVD Features: Filmmaker Commentary from Pamela Yates Newton Thomas Sigel and Editor Peter Kinoy; Never-Before-Seen Introduction by Susan Sarandon; Epilogue featuring Rigoberta Mench+Ý [Menchú]; Filmmaker Biographies; Interactive Menus; Scene Selection

Regarding Menchú, you may want to read The Truth About Rigoberta Menchú, a review of the book Rigoberta Menchu And The Story Of All Poor Guatemalans

Stoll went on to examine other aspects of Rigoberta’s book and soon found other claims that were not true. In her book, Rigoberta describes herself as an uneducated peasant girl. In interviews with Rigoberta’s relatives and former classmates, however, Stoll discovered that she’d spent several years at convent schools—first at the Colegio Belga in Guatemala City and then at the Colegio Básico Nuestro Señor de Candelaria in Chiantla, Huehuetenango, where she finished seventh grade—a remarkably high level of education for an Indian girl in Guatemala. Because she’d been in convent school, moreover, Stoll argues that Rigoberta can’t have been employed—as she claims to have been—as a maid for a rich family in Guatemala City, and can’t have worked in abusive conditions on coastal plantations—where she claims a younger brother Nicolás died of malnutrition. Stoll, in fact, found a living brother, Nicolás, who successfully resettled the family’s land long after the war had finished.

Stoll does not deny that Rigoberta’s village was destroyed and that half her family was killed, including her father, her mother, and her brother Petrocinio. But he points out that many of the other events in Rigoberta’s book are either distorted, fabricated, or claim to be eyewitness accounts of events which Rigoberta herself cannot actually have seen. The reason for all this, Stoll argues, is that after Rigoberta fled to Mexico in 1980, she allied herself with guerrilla groups there and “drastically revised the prewar experience of her village to suit the needs of the revolutionary organization she had joined.” In other words, when she wrote her book, Rigoberta was essentially serving as a propagandist.

Last Friday, Fermin Felipe Solano Barillas, also known as ‘Teniente David’, was sentenced to

90 years in prison for ordering a group of 10 guerrillas to strangle and kill in the town of El Aguacate 22 pro-government indigenous farmers, accusing them of collaborating with the army

Solano was with the Organización Revolucionaria del Pueblo en Armas, or ORPA (Revolutionary Organization of Armed People), another one of the four guerilla groups of the Unidad Revolucionaria Nacional Guatemalteca or URNG (Guatemalan National Revolutionary Unity).

The correction of When The Mountains Tremble is quite overdue, but in LatAm leftist circles the truth is glimpsed at a very slow pace.

Venezuela imports US$3 billion worth of Cuban surveillance equipment

Friday, August 2nd, 2013

First, The Lives of Others (full movie):

Since the Cuban Communists were trained by the Stasi, they have the tools Maduro wants:

a. Cuban Information Technology Penetration in Venezuela (emphasis added):

[In 2011,] The year after Valdes’ trip, El Nacional published a special edition detailing that the Venezuelan government had granted Albet S.A. the contract to provide and administer the software to manage SAIME’s functions. SAIME’s functions include creating and issuing electronic identification documents (ID cards and passports) and maintaining a civilian registry. The software also manages databases for:

• Public and private registries,

• Centers to analyze information,

• Educational software,

• Project “Alba Guardia” database which keeps track of oil rigs managed by PDVSA, Venezuela’s national oil company,

• The President’s communication office,

• Any information pertaining to the country’s prison, security, emergency and
hospital systems. [7]

It is particularly alarming that a non-Venezuelan company manages the country’s civilian registry and has the ability to issue personal identification documents. It does not only violate Venezuelan sovereignty but it exposes the personal information of every Venezuelan citizen to Cuban authorities.

b. Castro Sells “Security Software” to Venezuela

According to El Nacional newspaper, last year the Castro regime exported over $3 billion in “security, citizens databases and communications interception software” to the Venezuelan government.

The transactions were conducted through Albet, a Cuban state-owned company linked to the University of Information Sciences (known as “UCI”), an entity created by Castro in 2002 to form the regime’s “cyber-warriors.”

The UCI is located at a “former” Soviet espionage and communications interception base.

A former Venezuelan government consultant recently described Albet as “a camouflage of Cuba’s G2.”

Ironically, Cuba maintains the lowest Internet connectivity rate in the Western Hemisphere and one of the lowest in the world.

But it’s #1 in control.

No wonder people are leaving, Cuba reports highest outflow of citizens since 1994

In Betty Jo’s podcast

Tuesday, June 4th, 2013

celebrating her 6th anniversary: Six Years of Movie Fun!

Pro-bono Depardieu

Saturday, May 18th, 2013

The trailer for Welcome to New York is no longer available on YouTube, but Gerard Depardieu played the part of Dominique Strauss-Kahn for free,

He’s doing it for the pleasure of working with Abel Ferrara.

And perhaps a cut of the ticket office, no?

Maybe not.

Dèdè

said he took the role because he does not like Strauss-Kahn. During an interview at the time, Depardieu called the former IMF chief “unpleasant” and “arrogant.”

Considering his current avoirdupois, if I were a casting agent, I’d suggest that he play a nice guy, send him a fleece jacket, & have him star as governor of NJ.

This roundup has been brought to you by the letter “Q”

Thursday, February 21st, 2013

Q at the movies:

(That last one looks rather familiar…)

Q at the weather service:

 

In other news, not only have the oceans stopped rising, the fat has melted away: White House Credits ‘Let’s Move’ for Halting and Reversing Childhood Obesity Trend

The press release does not include any data to bolster the claim.

And George Galloway’s a firm supporter of human rights:

Hillary Clinton To Charge $200k Per Lecture. In case you missed it,

If you could play it for her,

Tuesday, February 12th, 2013

And a question,
Rick, at the end: heroic and self-sacrificing, or just another guy who didn’t want to commit?

(Yes, it’s symmetry day here.)

Play it, Sam,

Tuesday, February 12th, 2013

In Betty Jo Tucker’s podcast right now

Tuesday, February 5th, 2013

talking about Hugh Jackman!