June 2009 Archives

Movie Moxie

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Some recent movie viewings:

Duck Season (or, in its native language, Temporada de patos) tells the story of 3 teenagers stuck in a Mexico City apartment complex when the power goes out. The two boys are 14, and long time friends, while a neighboring girl, Rita, 16, comes over to try some cooking. Filmed in black and white, it's a very funny little comedy about life as a teenager, generally not something I find all that attractive. I love the little vignettes of life, the pizza guy, and the flirting that Rita does with Moko. It has been showing on Sundance recently and I highly recommend checking it out.


The Bourne Ultimatum is at the other end of the movie making spectrum - a megamovie with mega superstars like Matt Damon, and plenty of car chases and explosions. This third (and final?) chapter of the Bourne series starts literally minutes after the second one (The Bourne Supremacy, as Jason Bourne is limping out of the Russian girl's apartment. Thus begins another high speed action movie, as Bourne tries to uncover his nearly forgotten past and the CIA tries to erase their mistake.

A little too preachy for me, although it featured plenty of the Bourne touches, like trains and foot chases. A solid car chase, with a real bang up ending, although it didn't feel as wild as the one through Moscow in Supremacy. I also like the shtick where he shows how he is watching over them. This time it was something like

If you were in your office right now we'd be having this conversation face-to-face.

Those are always fun! Lots of exras on this Blu-ray disc, that's for sure. I like the 'backtracking' ones, that will fill in back story from the previous films when you select the icon. All in all, a good entry in the Bourne series, although it didn't have the standout moments of the previous two. I did finally get The Bourne Identity out of the library - it was an all time favorite book, but I haven't read it in quite some time. Wonder if I'll still like it after having been soured on Ludlum books?


Man on Wire is the fascinating Oscar-winning documentary on tightrope walker Philippe Petit's high wire crossing between the twin towers of the World Trade Center in 1974. It created quite the sensation, especially after he was arrested. The film does a great job of recreating the now 35 year old scene, as they snuck up the stairs and illegally set up the high wire between the towers using a bow and arrow. I would have liked to know more about what happened afterwards, as it seems the entire crew had a falling out, especially between Phillipe and his girlfriend. Phillipe, I guess, enjoyed the spotlight a little too much.
I was looking for a little light viewing late one night, so I flipped on The Devil Came on Horseback, a documentary on the genocide in Darfur - oops! It features Brian Steidle, an ex-Marine who went to work for the UN peacekeeping force in Sudan. He documents just sickening atrocities by the ruling military junta and tries to bring it to the attention of the American people and its ruling class, to little or no avail. The story is just incredibly tragic and yet hauntingly familiar. In the end, I just don't know what to think. Yes, it's an amazingly sad story, but just how many places in the world can we as a country rescue? Why do these awful things happen anyway? Just too sad. Not what I should have been watching at 1am on a Friday night! See it and be moved nearly to tears, trust me.
A friend and I saw Star Trek (aka the Reboot) at the local iMax theater. It wasn't 3d but it sure was big! The director Abrams loves his closeups, and I felt like a few times I was going to be sucked into someone's nostrils! The movie was a fun, mostly brainless, action sci-fi movie, with humor in all the right places. I'm by no means a Star Trek fanatic, so I just watched it as a movie, not a movement. It had the typically annoying Star Trek techno-mumble, and time travel just can't be pulled off without feeling broken, but I enjoyed it and you probably would too.
Star Trek 2009 - "The Best Star Trek Ever???"

As opposed to Night At The Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian, which was even worse than the first one, which I found only barely survivable. This one felt forced all around, as they struggled to find another way to get Stiller into a museum. The hook? He's not happy as the president and founder of his own very successful knick-knack company, he'd be much happier back as a museum guard - yup, it makes as much sense as all that. Nosiy, loud, and pointless, with only a very sexy looking Amy Adams in tight knickers as Amelia Earhart to redeem it. I saw this also at the iMax with my almost 9 year old daughter, but yet it wasn't in 3d. She wasn't even that impressed with it.
Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian (2009 Trailer) Official

And finally, I tried Wall-E again and, once again, I just don't get the accolades. We (Mark, Marta and I) watched it via Netflix Instant on my Roku box. Neither Mark nor Marta had seen it before, while I had seen it in the movie theaters with my family when it first came out. I wasn't all that impressed the first time with the story of the little cleanup robot, his EVE friend who showed up looking for a plant, and the fat humans adrift in space waiting to come home again. And I wasn't moved this time either. A few giggles, some nice animation and a heavy handed point of view is really all that remains.




Rain Rain Go Away

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What a massively depressing forecast for late June here in the Northeast. Some rain and mid-70s for as far as the weatherman's eye can see...



Friday Random 10 - June 12

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Friday Random 10

  1. Hard Sun - Indio (Big Harvest 1989)
  2. A Letter From St. Paul - The Silencers (A Letter From St. Paul 1987)
  3. From Now On - Supertramp (Even In The Quietest Moments 1977)
  4. Shelter From The Storm - Bob Dylan (Blood On The Tracks 1975)
  5. I'm In Touch With Your World - The Cars (The Cars 1978)
  6. Joe's Been A-Gittin' There - Johnny Horton (The Specatacular Johnny Horton 1959)
  7. All Shook Down - Screaming Blue Messiahs (Bikini Red 1987)
  8. Risingson - Massive Attack (Mezzanine 1998)
  9. Konichiwa Bitches (alt version) - Robyn (Robyn 2005)
  10. cream - General Fuzz (Cool Aberrations)


Wow, some sweet oldies start of this week's set! From Johnny Horton in 1959 (still brings me back to playing the vinyl on the big ol' stand up record player at Grammie's house), thru the 70s (3 brilliant efforts from Bob Dylan, Supertramp and The Cars), and 3 80s New Wave classics (if you don't have Bikini Red, run out now and get a copy). We finish off the set with the great Massive Attack, who I just recently got into, a great mix by Robyn found in the stereogum collection, and some fantastic shareware electronica from General Fuzz. Good job, Amarok!

I Couldn't Say No

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Robert Ellis Orrall was a local singer here in the Boston area back in the day (say, early 80s) and I have a vinyl LP from him with 4 songs on it and it includes one of my all time favorites, "I Couldn't Say No", a minor hit for him, singing a duet with Carlene Carter (Nick Lowe's ex). Cleaning out my inbox I came across a link I sent to myself with a video of it. Guess he's a country guy now, but this song is great.



Book Review: Chain of Blame

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Chain of Blame: How Wall Street Caused the Mortgage and Credit Crisis Chain of Blame: How Wall Street Caused the Mortgage and Credit Crisis by Paul Muolo

My review

Rating: ★★★✩✩

One of those books that make me wish there were 1/2 stars, Chain of Blame tells an important story, yet does it in a very dry and by-the-numbers fashion. Muolo and his co-author, Padilla, are financial reporters close the the mortgage industry and obviously know their stuff, yet the book lacks compelling human drama. The closest it comes is in the description of how many of the long timers in the mortgage industry, like Angelo Mozilo, head of Countrywide, got started.

But the book tends to devolve into a headspinning web of who bought who, who borrowed money from who, tranches, wholesalers, and the ilk, some of which is explained and some of which isn't. The amounts of money are staggering, especially in terms of real money lost. Yes, there were paper losses of value when the stocks tanked, but even more incredible are the stories of banks buying lenders for billions of dollars, only to just shut them down a year later.

I think the real story of the house & mortgage crisis has yet to be told. I still would like to know why, beyond sheer pigheaded greed, some of these mortgage veterans would agree to such crazy lending practices. I had never heard of "payment option ARMs" before this book, which are adjustable rate mortgages (ARM) where the option of what to pay comes up every month and you can choose to even go negative and move actual money owed to the end of the mortgage! It's all insane, and I'd love an insiders view of why these guys, who should have know that house prices weren't going to keep going up 25% every year, thought they could get away with it. And why the people taking out the loans thought they could as well.

I still say that This American Life's Giant Pool of Money and its follow up show, Another Frightening Show About the Economy are the best reporting done so far on this financial meltdown and many of the characters mentioned in these shows are featured prominently in Chain of Blame.

View all my reviews



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This page is an archive of entries from June 2009 listed from newest to oldest.

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