Saturday, July 18, 2009

Walter Cronkite

I was sad to hear that Walter Cronkite had died. It didn't really come as a surprise as he was rather advanced in years and had become clear that his last days were at hand, however, the death of such American icons is always something to reflect on. It seems that there have been many deaths lately, not that I suppose there has been a spike in death, that, at least, seems always a sort of constant. Of course, Walter Cronkite was not of my generation, but I remember hearing of him from my parents and grandmother. "Most trusted man in America..." That is something special, and I wonder if anyone could live up to that sort of praise in today's twisted and shallow new reporting. I stopped watching the news years ago, literally, in a very deliberate way, because it is everything but accurate. I realize any time something is told or reported it can get lost in translation, spun from different view points, and exaggerated/downplayed, however, I find the deliberate dumbing down and obvious buffoonery of the American people to be sickening and more depressing than anything they could ever show in the news cast. Take this recent obsession with Michael Jackson, when the same week something like the number of Swine Flu cases in the UK was doubling each week, with an outlook for almost the entire population being infected by the end of the summer. You know, you expect stupid news sites, like Yahoo, MSN etc... the ones that just have anything and everything, to be obsessed with Jackson -- its all very mainstream, popular, hit generating -- but CNN, the BBC, the Times, even (but not as much) NPR and other more "serious" newsies were exactly the same. Well, it is bound to happen, I suppose. Perhaps it is too much to ask of people to pay attention to whats going on and to want more than networks telling them whatever they wish to spin. Anywho! Back to Cronkite: I like this article that was in the Times, which has quotes from readers concerning the death of Cronkite.

On a happier note, and completely unrelated, except by era, I have been entirely obsessed with Herman's Hermits lately :) So, for your general amusement, here are some Herman's Hermits vids :) Peter Noone makes me smile, but you can call him Herman if you like :)


Mrs. Brown, You've Got a Lovely Daughter:

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Hide-and- Call the Cops?

There was a funny story on MSN today about a little girl who was playing hide and seek:

"Two-year-old Natalie Jasmer was playing the game with her siblings Tuesday in their Pymatuning Township home. When the family couldn't find her, parents Dennis and Michelle Jasmer called authorities. Emergency crews and friends frantically searched the neighborhood about 70 miles northwest of Pittsburgh for about an hour. The family's dog, Copper, finally sniffed her out. She had fallen asleep in a drawer underneath the family's washing machine. The little girl told her family she was sorry. Hide-and-seek is now banned in the Jasmer household...."

I think banning Hide and Seek was a little over the top! Ha!

We used to play Hide and Seek all the time as kids, but only in the house if my parents were gone. My brother's tutor used to babysit us sometimes and we would turn off all the lights in the house and play hide-and-seek. Grant it, this was an 100 yr old Victorian home, and it was SCARY with the lights out! Especially to a four year old! The scariest part was running away from him up the stairs -- his three steps to our one. Our favorite hiding place was the dryer! -- We definitely weren't allowed in there, but honestly it's the best hiding place ever!
I still like Hide and Seek, dang it, except I can't fit into dryers anymore...

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Public Enemies

I went to see Public Enemies, a film about J. Dillinger (I keep saying Salinger...) last night, on a whim. I'm a big fan of good gangster movies, and one can generally assume a movie with Johnny Depp and Christian Bale is going to be good. While the film itself was slightly inaccurate, they did a pretty good job, well excellent really, on certain aspects -- the capture and death scene at the Biograph, Dillinger's Robin Hood persona, etc.

The movie was almost entirely filmed with a shaky cam, which I found rather annoying. This is not because I dislike shaky cam (thought it was good in The Bourne Ultimatum and Cloverfield), but I felt in this movie, with all the violence and action already, it took away from the depth of character. Generally, one of the points of covering a famous story in film is really getting to the heart of a character or portraying him in a different light. Lucky then to have Johnny Depp, because I think the shaky cam took away from this. On top of this, where was the script for character development. It seems Bale's character, Pervis, gets more of a chance for development, while Dillinger is almost a flat character through 3/4 of the movie. This is Michael Mann we are talking about here though, even though he as done great biographical movies - The Aviator, Ali, Last of the Mohicans (not a biography, but arguably a set character nonetheless). I go back and forth.

Furthermore, this could have been a really beautiful film, but, again, this is disallowed for the most part by the filming method. There are, however, some great colours and shots near the end, sans shaky cam. I was especially pleased by Depp walking through the Chicago Police Dept. in rose colored glasses, and Bale in the white suit at the Biograph. Irony sells! (or is that sex sells... I can't remember...) If this were filmed in black and white, I'm not sure Mann could have redeemed himself. On a side note, it would have been interesting to see how it was filmed in black and white, light representing good and dark, evil. If I remember correctly, both Dillinger and Pervis are wearing white in the final scene together. I keep thinking about how much better this could have been with someone like Spielberg (think Schindler's List).

Finally, I don't know if I was just more deaf than usual, but I had the hardest time hearing the script? Anyone else? Strange.

On a pleasant note, Johnny Depp is really a phenomenal actor (and much better looking than J. Dillinger, but that is neither here nor there... :P) and they were lucky to have him for this part. I am unsure another actor could have done so much with so little. Speaking about the movie Depp said
"When I was about nine or ten years old, I had a fascination with John Dillinger - probably not a healthy one - but I think it was something about the twinkle in his eye. There was something mischievous about him and it intrigued me...
In terms of taking on the role - the guy was 'Public Enemy Number One' but if you think about it, he was never an enemy of the public, ever, so that intrigued and challenged me..."

Depp also revealed that the character's Indiana roots helped him find a voice for an infamous American of whom no audio recordings exist.

He added: "With a guy like John Dillinger and where we were in 1933 - which is not unlike where we are now - the banks were sort of the enemies and were taking the knees out from everyone, people's lives were being ripped from them.
"And John Dillinger arrives as someone who's spent ten years in prison for some youthful, drunken, ignorant crime and arrives in the ultimate existential arena and says: 'I'm gonna stand up against these people'....I think for me what's fascinating is the guy who says: 'I ain't taking it. I don't care who you are, I ain't gonna take it'."...

Here's a random piece of trivia: I read somewhere that Depp actually got to wear the trousers that Dillinger was wearing the night he was shot... nice.

I will have to see it again of course. Over all, I think it was worth seeing, despite my whining :) And hopefully I will be able to find some more screen shots once more people have seen it :)
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