Movie Review: World Trade Center: Directed by Oliver Stone With Nicolas Cage, Maria Bello, Maggie Gyllenhaal. Ann Coulter See The Film Swallow Your Ve

August 29, 2006 by · Leave a Comment
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Oliver Stone did a magnificent job of bringing the scale of the terrorist act of 9/11 down to the human level. Prior to this film it was hard to imagine the impact on individual lives because of the immensity of the disaster.

It would be like trying to imagine the human consequences of Pearl Harbor or the bombing of Hiroshima. This picture reveals the human damage by focusing on the fate of two police officers and their families while interspersing their story with the scenes of destruction and rescue that the world saw on television.

The officers are played by Nicolas Cage( John McLoughlin) and Michael Pena (Will Jimeno). Their wives are Maria Bello (Donna McLoughlin) and Maggie Gyllenhaal (Allison Jimeno).

The script was written by Andrea Berloff and this is only the second film made by Stone where he didn’t participate in writing the script. He skillfully shows the impact of this event on the lives of the two officers and their wives and children. Stone brings out the officers family life with their wives and children and the things that made life meanful for them. He depicts how this terrorist act savaged those innocent and wholesome lives.

This is a very emotional drama and the sub text is a strong indictment on the men who caused this devastation to these innocent people.

However the film is apolitical in that the strongest words about retribution are spoken by David Karnes a former Marine who hearing of the disaster at his office in Connecticut dressed in his fatigues slipped on to the disaster site and aided in the search for survivors. He is instrumental in finding McLoughlin and Jimeno the 18th and 19th persons to be rescued alive of the last twenty. Michael Shannon plays Karnes and toward the end of the film he voices his intention to reenlist, as there will much work to do to avenge this assault. Karnes in real life did reenlist in the Marines and although the picture shows him as a white man in life he is black.

After seeing the human tragedy of 9/11 so well portrayed by the actors in this film one wonders what level of evil lies in the hearts and minds of the men who caused this terrible scar on the history of humanity.

It has been reported that Osama Bin Laden described the event to and associate as “our good fortune.”

Stone never mentions Bin Laden or shows the Jihadists in the film. Indeed John and Will aren’t sure of what caused the planes to hit the buildings. However the subtext of the film is a very strong indictment of the vicious inhumanity of the perpetrators.

The film also shows the professionalism and the selflessness of the two policemen who go into the burning building along with the other members of their team who were killed.

In all 343 fireman and 23 policemen were killed in the disaster along with thousands of other workers.
Ann Coulter’s Attack On The Widows.

After seeing this film one wonders if Ann Coulter, a forty five year old single woman, would like to swallow her venomous tongue. She said the four activist wives of 9/11 decedents were “self-obsessed” “millionaires” “reveling in their status as celebrities.”

This is contained in references to her new book and was said again obviously said as hype to get publicity for the book on the Today Show. One wonders how far she will go in trying to profit from someone else’s misery.

While the four New Jersey women were not widows of first responders, their grief can be no worse than the concern depicted in the picture. Yet Coulter characterized them in her book, as “These broads are millionaires, lionized on TV and in articles about them, reveling in their status as celebrities and stalked by grief-arazzis. These self-obsessed women seemed genuinely unaware that 9/11 was an attack on our nation and acted as if the terrorist attacks happened only to them. … I’ve never seen people enjoying their husbands’ deaths so much … the Democrat ratpack gals endorsed John Kerry for president … cutting campaign commercials… how do we know their husbands weren’t planning to divorce these harpies? Now that their shelf life is dwindling, they’d better hurry up and appear in Playboy.”

Coulter further described them on the today show as “These self-obsessed women seem genuinely unaware that 9-11 was an attack on our nation and acted like as if the terrorist attack only happened to them. They believe the entire country was required to marinate in their exquisite personal agony. Apparently, denouncing Bush was part of the closure process.”

The crimes these widows are guilty of are being active in encouraging Congress to hold hearings to determine how a similar disaster can be prevented in the future.

This film is a tribute those first responders who selflessly risked body and soul to help those trapped in the building and no amount of money can ever repay them for their sacrifice. This film is an important comment on 9/11 and well worth seeing.


Movie Review: MIAMI VICE:B. Gong Li As The Femme Fatale In A TV Action Remake?

August 22, 2006 by · Leave a Comment
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Miami Vice is an interesting movie in some ways and other ways it is a typical remake not of a popular movie but a popular television show in the eighties. I guess the old adage that there is a new audience every twenty years and if the show was popular to a certain group twenty years ago it will be to the members of that group in the new generation, if updated and starred properly. The stars of this movie are Jaime Fox, as Ricardo Tubbs, Colin Farrell as Sonny Crockett and Gong Li in a supporting role as Isabella the Cuban- Chinese half of a husband and wife drug distribution empire.

Gong Li is considered by many as the best dramatic Chinese actress working today. She is held in similar esteem in China as Meryl Streep is in our country. So why does she want to take a supporting role as a drug dealer requiring little dramatic range in a remake of an action television show? The show it self was and the movie is a hackneyed, action, cops and drug dealer’s shootem up in boats, planes and helicopters with out any great dramatic range required. Indeed she plays her role pretty woodenly. Actually the script is pretty run of the mill and doesn’t give her much to work with and Michael Mann doesn’t bring out her range either. Why she would pick this picture after the much stronger role of Hatsuhana in Memoirs Of A Geisha is strange.

Zhang Yimou, The famous Chinese director of Farewell My Concubine and Shanghai Triad (I suspect these are awkward translations of the titles) and many other acclaimed films discovered her at the Beijing Central College of Drama and cast her in an award winning Chinese film named Red Sorghum, a story about a young girl whose family puts her into an arranged marriage with a rich leper who owns a vineyard. The girl goes to meet her future husband with scissors in her blouse to ward off any marital advances. The plot gets thicker if you can believe it. Thus Gong Li made her name by playing roles like this.

Gong Li’s parents were college economics professors who were sent along with the rest of their children to work as farm laborers during the Cultural Revolution. She was excepted from farm work since she was too young. Later she failed her college admissions test twice before being admitted to the Beijing Central College of Drama. Her role in Red Sorghum led to a long relationship with director Zhang both artistically and romantically. Indeed he called her his muse. Together they made many classic Chinese period movies so for her to play the narrow part of Isabella is like Bette Davis playing Gumby.

She was born in 1965 and she is at a point in her career where actresses in the U. S. tend to be supplanted by younger actresses although she is in demand in Chinese language films.

Why she wants to establish herself as an action star in films that are mostly viewed by sixteen to twenty four year old U. S. males is strange. If she needed the money it would be one thing but she is allegedly married to a Shanghai tobacco tycoon.

Tycoon could mean anything from a street seller of cigarettes to a manufacturer of tobacco products but most likely the latter. Ostensibly one would think money is not a motive.

Maybe it is that the dialogue in action films is short, monosyllabic and lets the action carry the story. That is the why Chinese actors with limited English are first cast in American films for their action skills like Jet Li and Jackie Chanand not their acting abilities.

However Gong Li is not an action star in China but a dramatic actor whose limited English makes the crossover difficult. Michael Mann must be a silver-tongued devil to talk China’s most acclaimed dramatic actress into takeing a role in his T.V. remake.

Then again Maggie Q an American-Vietnamese actress who started her career in Hong Kong was cast in Mission Impossible 3. However she is mainly an action movie actress and has not tackled the serious dramatic roles Gong Li has.

MI3 is a film that requires little if any dialogue. Both actresses look alike so maybe Michael Mann was trying to duplicate the worldwide gross of MI3 of about 400 million and counting. However he didn’t have Tom Cruise so it is unlikely Miami Vice will come anywhere near MI3 in income. To be fair it must be remembered some of MI3 took place in Shanghai so this will also affect its Asian gross. But has Gong Li started a new trend; well known dramatic Asian actors instead of kung fu specialists for the Asian market? It will be if it is supported at the box office in Asia. Maybe Michael Mann was trying to add a little class to his thin action remake and failed to make it work.


Political Opinion: Who Is George Bush Taking His Cues From? Hint; Another President Who Spent A Lot Of Time Cutting Brush On His Ranch

August 16, 2006 by · Leave a Comment
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Bush is a Reganite. In fact two of the principle members of his administration served under Reagan namely Cheney and Rumsfield. They of course brought along numerous lieutenants and minions that also served in the Reagan administration like Wolfowitz and Richard Pearl. Milton Friedman not in Bush’s administration but influential, was on Reagan’s Council of Economic Advisors.

Reagan was famous for embracing trickle down economics and using this thoroughly discredited economic theory to justify tax cuts for the wealthy while running massive budget deficits that led some responsible economists to speculate that Reagan’s profligate spending on defense might lead to bankruptcy. The boom years of the nineties and Clinton’s responsible fiscal and monetary policies put the United States back into the black. Nearly.

While Bush Jr. is an ideological heir to Reagan, He doesn’t talk about trickle down economics (anyone with common sense knows that money trickles up in our economy. When the average person has a job and a living wage he spends money on the necessities of modern life like appliances, cars and housing which causes money to flow into the coffers of the companies that sell those things.) However Bush follows Reagan in giving massive tax cuts to the wealthy while running steep budgetary deficits. Already this has been part of the reason for recent interest rate increases (along with increased oil prices caused by his foreign policy.)

Will Corporations Profit At The Expense Of The American Worker?

Reagan was anti union, pro deregulation and a free market capitalist as averred by University of Chicago economist Milton Friedman, as was Mrs. Thatcher, England’s prime minister while Reagan was president. She divorced the British government from owning or supporting industries like coal and steel that were unprofitable but provided well paying jobs. When the British government got out of these businesses they basically either closed down or reorganized and cut employment.

We saw the effect of these policies in the movie The Full Monty when laid off British steel workers were forced to become male dancers to earn a living. However Thatcher appears to have been right in getting the government out of these old smoke stack industries and allowing the market to dictate which businesses thrive and which die. The English economy seems to be thriving so far.

In South America we have seen the application of Friedman’s principles of free market capitalism produce mixed results particularly in Bolivia. Bolivia is now nationalizing its energy industry while allowing private companies to operate it. Venezuela is threatening to take a bigger chunk of oil profits of the oil companies who developed its fields. Brazil has been a social democracy with reasonable results for some time. Chile, which embraced Friedman’s theories under Pinochet and after seems to be on economically sound ground.

So Milton Freeman’s free market unregulated economies do not work everywhere and it is doubtful they work in their purest form anywhere. One could imagine the disaster if the U.S. pharmaceutical industry didn’t have to comply with the Food and Drug Department’s regulations or there was no Securities Exchange Commission to regulate the financial markets. Friedman believes the Great Depression was not a failure of capitalism but a failure of government and in particular the Federal Reserve System. according to Friedman it failed for allowing the money supply to rapidly contract by as much as a third.

Of course all this is counter to the Keynesian policies put into place by Franklin Delano Roosevelt after the essentially free market policies of the Twenties and which ended in the Great Depression

That is why Bush and his cronies would like to do away with Social Security, Medicare and create individual medical and retirement accounts for workers in order to free government and industry from their fair share of these social costs.

A medical savings account sounds great if a family never suffers a major medical crisis. However if a child is born into the family with an illness or disability requiring major and prolonged medical treatment an individual family’s account will soon be exhausted and the family driven into bankruptcy. Indeed most individual bankruptcies are now caused by the medical expenses of uninsured families. Families who can’t obtain insurance because of that severely disabled child or other family member.

The pooling of small contributions in a general fund works. Some people will never need substantial amounts from the fund while others will. Small affordable contributions by everyone is a small price to pay for the peace of mind that you will have access to medical treatment in a catastrophic event or that you will receive Social Security whether you die at sixty eight or if you live to be ninety and beyond. This is the basic rationale of insurance; for a small contribution you can spread the risk of life’s uncertainties.

Bush and his cronies are against these plans because they fetter free market capitalism and limit the profits of large companies.

The thousand largest American corporations have well over a trillion dollars in cash reserves at this point largely due to the efficiencies of computers, tax cuts, globalization, and the reduction of American employees in favor of cheaper foreign labor,with the concurrent reduction of pension and medical benefits promised to American employees. If you are waiting for this cash horde to be invested in new plant and equipment in the U.S. thus benefiting the American worker think again. What reason does an American company have to invest in the U.S. when most manufacturing and many services have been out sourced to other countries whose goods and services have been sold back by the companies to Americans who have mortgaged the equity in their homes to buy those goods, services and oil from abroad.

Do you think it will ever trickle back so that we once again will be a lender rather than a debtor country?