George Clooney‘s Ides of March is a behind the scenes look at the days before the Democratic primary election in Ohio between a fictional US Senator (who looks surprisingly like Vladimir Putin) and a middle of the country Governor (played by George Clooney). In similar films from the past, the stages were filled with smoke filled rooms, while now, smoking has been cordoned off to only blind alleys and parking lots and instead of smoke filled rooms, the rooms are filled with stone cold staring contests and conversations between the likes of the intense characters played by Ryan Gosling, George Clooney, Paul Giamatti and Philip Seymour Hoffman. As my friend Sara put it, the film had a few too many of these intense stare downs, to the point where it was almost comical.
The film sports strong performances, but especially by Gosling and Giamatti (as a character so slimy and jaded, it feels like melted kryptonite), but one can not forget the performances of Marisa Tomei and Evan Rachel Wood who provide pivot points for the main players to play off each other.
The film seems to live in a fictional present day that references overtly the former US Presidents from George H.W. Bush through George W. Bush, while also covertly paying reference to the recent message of “hope and change.” At the same time though, the film also reflects back exactly how most Americans feel about politics, especially if you take just how low Americans polled recently have been rating their favorability of Congress below 20%, by showing that behind every strait arrow politician is a room full of dirty tricks and hustling sessions. This film is a far cry from the idealized Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, but instead brings shades of grey into this top notch game of political brinkmanship.
The film does a good job of keeping the audience in to loop with the plot except for one conflict point that became far too obvious as to how it would unfold about 3/4 through the film, which came as a surprise to the main character, which was surprising considering how the entire script leading up to that point in the film praised Gosling’s character as being the smartest man in the room, yet allowing the audience to pick up on the trick before he could figure it out. I won’t say anything more specific, in case it actually is not as clear to anyone else seeing this film as it was to this reviewer.
I fully enjoyed this film overall and I look forward to the next film slated for George Clooney in the director’s chair.
I was glad that even with the pending legal battle over the facial tattoo made famous by Mike Tyson that was also featured plastered on the face of Ed Helms (see above) in The Hangover 2, that the film actually was released on time for this holiday weekend.
The film itself though, is none too different from the original Hangover. So, you can take that two ways, if you loved the original, you will enjoy what is basically the same movie, just this time replace the backdrop of Las Vegas with Bangkok, Thailand. There is a lot that was not necessary in this film, like why was there a car chase in this comedy or why is this group (wolf pack) of guys actually friends with each other (Galifianakis not included)?
I know I will not remember much about this movie’s plot or many of the jokes, but just as with the first film, I will definitely remember the montage during the credits that actually chronicles the bachelor party night and how impressed I was with that trained monkey (on a side note, probably the most memorable on-screen monkey since Friends).
Regardless though, I know I had a lot of fun just watching the film unfold with all its one-off jokes. I enjoyed just letting the madness flow over me for 100 minutes.
Thanks to Pearl for sending over that montage.
I love how much effort goes into the stories The Onion come up with, whether it is from their Onion videos or their print stories, their stories are hilarious with biting humor. This week, they take on public education funding and being a political junkie myself, it was wonderful reading this article.
Jon Ronson has a book The Psychopath Test (buy it here). After just a couple of years of medical training, I sometimes forget what psychology knowledge isn’t common knowledge for the public. Watching this interview was a lot of fun for me.
Annie Jacobsen authored a book on the goings on at Area 51 (buy it here) over the years. First off, no aliens, but President Clinton did have to petition for access to their records after being denied access… wait, I forgot, officially, Area 51 does not exist…
Watching the depth and breadth of Newt Gingrich‘s fall from grace amongst his Republican peers after he pooh poohed Representative Paul Ryan‘s budget and Medicare plans was amazing to watch. The sheer gall of him trying to blame Meet the Press and then later saying that using that appearance in advertisements against him or Republicans would be considered lies was just stunning.
After the extensive interview with David Barton earlier this month, here is an extended interview with Constitutional Scholar Richard Beeman to provide a different perspective on the history of how the Constitution has changed over the years though amendments and legal judgments over the years in America.
Wow, Common and Ice-T have FoxNews and FoxNews.com all tied in knots, the corporation is a mass of mixed emotions when it comes to the music community. I guess it’s OK by FoxNews to have violent lyrics against the police, as long as they are old lyrics, you know, at least as old as from the early 1990′s…
Here is a very funny interview with Albert Brooks, promoting his new book 2030: The Real Story of What Happens to America (buy it here). Just as a side note, if you have never seen his film Defending Your Life, stop right now and get your hands on it ASAP, it is one of the most comedic and well done hilarious movies of all time.
Please don’t give Asbestos, Canada ANY of your business, they are CRAZY people that want to sell you MORE asbestos even though it causes hundreds of thousands of cases of lung cancer per year.
Last week, I posted President Obama’s official statement, announcing the killing of Osama bin Laden. This week, I have the only interview that President Obama gave on bin Laden’s death, which was released on the most recent 60 Minutes. The entire video piece is in 3 parts here.
Now THIS is the news media I expected, just 3 days after the bin Laden killing announcement, there’s tons of footage of politics as usual again… how fun to be back to normal, it’s great to get the political horse race back.
Here is a look behind the scenes of the 24-hour media, showing that basically any media event will be debated as to whether it is the defining moment of the presidency… especially if you watch The Ed Show, which explains why I never like watching his show.
This Jon Meacham interview mixes the history of the Civil War (buy his Civil War Trilogy book set here) with the potential impact of bin Laden’s death (buy Beyond Bin Laden: America and the Future of Terror here) along with the importance of Pakistan in world affairs.
Is it wrong to LOVE it when religious zealots get caught in a steaming pile of their own propaganda BS? Watching this zealot getting tongue-tied when he can’t believe seeing a New Jersey mosque offering their prayer space up for Christians to pray in was GLORIOUS!
Here is an interesting extended 5-part-interview of David Barton on American history and the role, along with his view of the role of, religion in the US. I LOVE that they can agree that they both love open conversations that accomplish nothing! That’s how I feel after every political debate I ever have, even with nothing accomplished, I feel that much better after.
Breaking News Osama Bin Laden Dead with This Week in the Daily Show and the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner Week of May 1st, 2011
Tonight there was breaking news that President Obama confirmed around 11:45pm on the night of May 1st: US forces have killed Osama Bin Laden in Abbottaban, Pakistan and those forces now have custody of Bin Laden‘s body.
Here are the remarks from President Obama for the 2011 White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner, I must say, it has one of the best and most unexpected openings I would ever think a President would have, I felt like I was back watching wrestling back in the 1980′s. Obama also makes fun of himself and his Vice President, Joe Biden, with a funny movie trailer.
If polls of Republican and Democratic candidates 18 months prior to the election are so useless at predicting who will actually win the ultimate election, can we stop referring to them now? I guess we could fill all that dead airtime on all the 24 hour news networks with more footage of crazy cat videos.
It’s interesting to see how the different protests during the local town hall meetings are shaking out, while some prominent Republicans are getting booed, some democrats have to sit through a protest with people who ultimately sing that they love the President… by the way, I am VERY confused by that last one.
I heard about this interview with Gigi Ibrahim from No Agenda (subscribe here). I can’t believe that the story isn’t getting more press that Ibrahim was taught to do this from the American University in Cairo!
Here is a nice tirade over the latest news regarding funding 9/11 first responder health treatments. My only comment is that if we are checking 9/11 responders on this, instead of getting mad about it, just check any group the government gives money or aid to against the terrorist watch list, so that we never get any scandals in the news about terrorists receiving aid money from the US government. Shouldn’t THAT be what we are avoiding?
Elizabeth Warren comes back to explain again why she feels her new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is necessary and what has been happening since the agency was created. Currently, the agency takes effect this summer. You can track what her agency is doing at ConsumerFincance.gov
Thanks to the AP for the above photo.
A little bit of time has passed since Helen Thomas has left the White House Press Corps and recently Playboy wanted to get her side of the story about what happened, along with that though, they got a great retrospective of her time at the White House covering almost 1/4 of the Presidents of the United States (the last 10 Presidents). I don’t know what to think about Helen Thomas, she is a great reporter who said some things that I didn’t agree with, but I still think she should be sitting up front in the White House Press Corps asking the tough questions that no one seems to ask anymore. Sadly, I agree with her view of the current state of journalism in the US.
To get an idea, here are of my favorite exchanges:
“PLAYBOY: So is this how you pictured retirement?
THOMAS: I’m not retired! I was fired. In fact, I’ll die with my boots on. I’m still writing and I’ll continue to write and ask hard questions. I will never bow out of journalism.
PLAYBOY: Take us back to the White House courtyard on May 27 when Rabbi David Nesenoff pointed his camera at you and asked for your comments on Israel.
THOMAS: He pulled that thing out like a jackknife. I mean, he started out very nice, introducing me to these two young boys who wanted to be in journalism. He said, “Got any advice? Go for it.” I didn’t know it was Jewish Heritage Month, which is why he was at the White House and also why he asked “So what do you think of Israel?” That’s when I said, “They should get the hell out of Palestine.”
PLAYBOY: Did you realize how controversial those words were as you spoke them?
THOMAS: I knew I’d hit the third rail. You cannot say anything about Israel in this country. But I’ve lived with this cause for many years. Everybody knows my feelings that the Palestinians have been shortchanged in every way. Sure, the Israelis have a right to exist—but where they were born, not to come and take someone else’s home. I’ve had it up to here with the violations against the Palestinians. Why shouldn’t I say it? I knew exactly what I was doing—I was going for broke. I had reached the point of no return. You finally get fed up.
PLAYBOY: What was life like in the immediate aftermath as millions started viewing the video on YouTube?
THOMAS: I went into self-imposed house arrest for two weeks. It was a case of “know thyself.” Isn’t that what Socrates said? I wanted to see if I was remorseful—and I wasn’t.
PLAYBOY: Did the phone ring off the hook?
THOMAS: No. Nobody called. But I still have some friends in the White House press pool, who reached out to me. I understand they formed Jews for Helen Thomas at one point.
PLAYBOY: That’s interesting.
THOMAS: I also heard from Jimmy Carter. He called a few weeks later.
PLAYBOY: Has there ever been an honest press secretary?
THOMAS: Jerry terHorst. He lasted one month. He was President Ford’s press secretary. He had covered Ford in Washington. He had been here for 29 years as a reporter from the Grand Rapids paper and then The Detroit News. He understood the press. But he was incapable of lying, and he quit when Ford pardoned Nixon, on the very day. He couldn’t take it. Poor Jerry Ford. He just wasn’t ready to be president. He had prepared himself to be Speaker of the House and stepped into those shoes okay, but he just wasn’t equipped for the big job. We saw that Betty Ford struggled too, of course.”
Here is a great find by the Daily Show team of how when the issue is people making over $250K/year in business with giant benefits packages, 24 hour news pundits feel one way, but once you knock more than $150k/year off their yearly earnings and call them teachers, they are now treated as scum.
When it comes to unions, any deal where it becomes virtually impossible to fire workers is bad, just look at the NY teacher rubber rooms where bad teachers just sit in rooms away from students all day and wait years before their disciplinary hearings… but that doesn’t mean that unions are bad and should be abolished and if you can’t reneg on Wall Street bonus contracts, why is it rational to do just that with union contracts? If you want to join a union, you should have that option. Unions for the public sector though are a bit tricky because the government can’t really fold and the money the workers get paid are not the politician’s money, it belongs to the constituents of the state, so any deal an official makes to increase longterm benefits only comes into play years after they are no longer on the hook for making the deal, while in the private sector, the owners that agree to these contracts are on the hook if they make a bad deal because the business could fail and have to close its doors.
Here is an interesting interview with the Jordanian Ambassador Prince Zeid Ra’ad. King Abdullah has already dismantled the previous government, but I don’t think anyone yet knows what will come of his changes. The prince brings up some interesting possibilities, like what happens if the region unfolds into a battle between the Sunni‘s and Shia‘s on top of between the middle eastern countries that have already modernized vs the more conservative countries.
Allison Stanger tries to explain just how much money is flowing from the US government to military contractors for her new book One Nation Under Contract. One point she brings up is that because there was no military draft, that changed the political discussion over going into Iraq and how we probably would not have gone into Iraq like we did if a draft was a possibility.
Diane Ravitch talks about how complicated the issue of education is. How we stack up worldwide and what poverty does to education. Her book is The Death and Life of the Great American School System. I still think there needs to be a better way in a lot of these school districts to get rid of bad teachers, but it’s hard to put all the blame on them without dealing with the issues behind why the kids are doing badly in school. Teachers can’t make kids go to school and they can’t make them do their homework, sometimes the blame for why children do poorly in school is because of their family or their family situation.
Lastly on a different note, thanks to the 404 episode465 (subscribe here) for letting me know about the new Dead Island video game trailer. I know the game won’t end up looking like this ultimately, but it certainly has piqued my interest.
It would be interesting if the recent revolutions in Tunisia, Yemen, Egypt and many other countries in the region, lead the people if Iran to be able topple the government that they couldn’t topple after their last election.
January Jones (who does a great job on Mad Men, but I still have yet to see their latest season) is just cute as a button as she promotes her new movie Unknown (and you know how that worked out for me from my last post when I went to see the preview for it).
So far, proposals to cut the budget have only dealt with non-defense and non-medicare/medicaid/social security. The problem is that when you combine all those spending programs, that makes up over 80% of all federal government spending, so any cuts in spending not related to those programs, is just shaving off the top layer of snow from the iceberg that sunk the titanic. Until both parties get together and start talking about real spending cuts to the rest of the 80% of government spending (like how congress just voted to cut a military spending program on the F-35 fighter jet that the military did not even want anymore), all this is just one big kabuki theater. Although I must say, John Hodgman‘s got some interesting fiscal ideas!
John interviews Republican State Leadership Committee Ed Gillespie. I think I will miss Michael Steele being the spotlight Republican organizer, because even though I don’t agree with some of Mr. Gillespie’s conclusions, he is much more measured and interesting to listen to.
It is time to celebrate another edition of Tip of My Hat/Wag of My Finger. Colbert tackles such issues as the sale of the Huffington Post to AOL, wales and trash tv.
I love when secret memos get leaked out, especially when it makes news organizations seem petty and stupid. Thanks Fox News!
Clarence Thomas is again in the news, he has an illustrious history of scandal in the news, but any time a high profile lawyer/judge has problems filling out legal documents, it makes the news.
Jeffrey Leonard tries to explain how many big businesses are increasingly paying their small business contractors for their services anywhere from 30-90 days later than the small businesses have to pay for their own costs and how this change is really hurting the ability of small businesses from running efficiently, growing and hiring new people themselves.