Friday, May 09, 2003

It looks like Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers has passed up Forrest Gump to take the No. 7 spot on the All-Time Domestic Box Office list.

Wednesday, May 07, 2003

Sen. Robert Byrd, D-Va., says much of what needs to be said about Bush's campaign speech aboard the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln the other day....

" I was deeply troubled by both the content and the context of President Bush's remarks to the American people last week marking the end of the combat phase of the war in Iraq.  As I watched the President's fighter jet swoop down onto the deck of the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln, I could not help but contrast the reported simple dignity of President Lincoln at Gettysburg with the flamboyant showmanship of President Bush aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln. 

"President Bush's address to the American people announcing combat victory in Iraq deserved to be marked with solemnity, not extravagance; with gratitude to God, not self-congratulatory gestures.  American blood has been shed on foreign soil in defense of the President's policies.  This is not some made-for-TV backdrop for a campaign commercial.  This is real life, and real lives have been lost.  To me, it is an affront to the Americans killed or injured in Iraq for the President to exploit the trappings of war for the momentary spectacle of a speech. I do not begrudge his salute to America's warriors aboard the carrier Lincoln, for they have performed bravely and skillfully, as have their countrymen still in Iraq, but I do question the motives of a deskbound President who assumes the garb of a warrior for the purposes of a speech.
War is not theater, and victory is not a campaign slogan. I join with the President and all Americans in expressing heartfelt thanks and gratitude to our men and women in uniform for their service to our country, and for the sacrifices that they have made on our behalf.  But on this point I differ with the President: I believe that our military forces deserve to be treated with respect and dignity, and not used as stage props to embellish a presidential speech."

The entire Iraq war, I'm afraid, was part of Bush's 2004 re-election strategy.


Tuesday, May 06, 2003

Time to catch up on a few movie reviews....
First up is “Evelyn,” the film that Pierce Brosnan made while he was waiting to do his latest James Bond caper. It is a shame that the film did not recieve more attention than it did because it is really excellent with an outstanding cast. It is directed by Bruce Beresford, the Oscar-winning director of “Driving Miss Daisy” and the supporting cast includes Steven Rea, Julianne Marguiles and Aidan Quinn. It is nice to see Brosnan going out of his way to show off his acting ability rather than resting on his laurels with his cushy Bond gig. In the film, we get to see Brosnan portray a working-class Irishman in the 1950s who struggles to keep his family together after his wife abandons him and the Church steps in and removes his children. Brosnan’s acting ability is most striking when you see him contrasted against Rea who plays an upperclass barrister who steps in to help him battle the legal bureacracy. It is a wonderful film.

Next up is “The Transporter,” a Hong-Kong style action movie featuring British newcomer Jason Stratham as the latest incarnation of Jean Claude Van Dam. It is a fun movie with a lot of potential that is unfortunately spoiled by the sloppy and cliched ending. The film has a fun car chase sequence at the beginning and several good fight scenes. But even more promising is that Stratham’s character is interesting in the beginning. You want to know more about who he is and how he got to this point. Although the film does not deliver on these points, the very fact that you care in the beginning is a testament to the way Stratham projects a quietly dignified demeanor to his character. Hopefully he will be presented with better material in the future.

“Maid in Manhattan” and “Two Weeks Notice” are both typical Hollywood fare and decent rentals. Maid is actually better than I expected with a good performance from Ralph Feines. Two Weeks is mostly enjoyable because of Hugh Grant’s whimsical performance.

Monday, May 05, 2003

And so another right-wing scold has been revealed to be a hypocrite. This time it is the nation's "Morality Czar" William Bennett, author of "The Book of Virtues," "The Moral Compass," and "The Death of Outrage," and many others, who we now know is a huge gambling addict thanks to this expose in The Washington Monthly.
As the article details, Bennett has lost more than $8 million during the past 10 years playing the high-dollar slot machines in Las Vegas and Atlantic City. Now we finally know what he has been doing with all the money he makes going around the country giving lectures at $50,000 a pop scolding "liberals" for their supposed failure to live up to his high moral standards. He takes all the money he makes and blows it all in "Sin City."

One big problem I have with this is the current proliferation of gambling, especially among Republican anti-tax lawmakers, as a way for state and local governments to make up budget shortfalls during the current Bush recession. Rather than raising government revenue through means that are legitimate and fair, they continue to push for expansions of casinos, slot machines, race tracks, lotteries and so forth.

So gambling isn't really all that bad, Bennett's conservative apologists argue. After all, they argue, it's his own money and he isn't hurting anyone else. It should be something between himself, his wife and his accountant, or so the argument goes. Of course, the same argument could be made on behalf of Bill Clinton and his sexual derilections, but that never stopped these same conservatives - Bill Bennett chief among them - from demanding Clinton's scalp on a stick.
The list of right-wing hypocrites continues to grow.... Jimmy Swaggart, Jim Baker, Newt Gingrich, Henry Hyde, Dan Burton, Bob Livingstone, and on, and on....