Archive for category movies
UPDATE:Monday 2/25/13…1:25 p.m.PDT
Want the truth on “Argo”?
This is from the Institute for Public Accuracy, Washington, DC:
WILLIAM O. BEEMAN,
Author of The ‘Great Satan’ vs. the ‘Mad Mullahs’: How the United States and Iran Demonize Each Other, Beeman said today: “If it were a piece of fiction, I’d say that ‘Argo’ was great entertainment. But I was in Iran during the revolution and knew many of the people portrayed. A huge part of what’s depicted in the movie is fictionalized. Jimmy Carter himself acknowledged that the Canadians were responsible for 90 percent of getting the six embassy workers out. Tony Mendez [portrayed by Ben Affleck] was only in Iran for a day and a half.
“The danger of this for the American public is that it paints things as black and white with Americans and the CIA as the good guys and Iranians as bad guys out to kill any American they see. In fact, there were quite a few Americans living in Iran. The embassy workers were targeted because many of the Iranian revolutionaries were convinced that the U.S. was trying to re-install the Shah as it had done in 1953. …
“The P5 plus 1 talks start on Iran’s nuclear program tomorrow. How many Americans know that the Iranian nuclear program was started with U.S. encouragement 40 years ago?”
On Saturday, Shirazi posted the piece “Oscar Prints the Legend: Argo’s Upcoming Academy Award and the Failure of Truth,” which states: “Over the past 12 months, rarely a week — let alone a month — went by without new predictions of an ever-imminent Iranian nuclear weapon and ever-looming threats of an American or Israeli military attack. Come October 2012, into the fray marched ‘Argo,’ a decontextualized, ahistorical ‘true story’ of orientalist proportion, subjecting audiences to two hours of American victimization and bearded barbarians, culminating in popped champagne corks and rippling stars-and-stripes celebrating our heroism and triumph and their frustration and defeat. Salon’s Andrew O’Hehir aptly described the film as ‘a propaganda fable,’ explaining as others have that essentially none of its edge-of-your-seat thrills or most memorable moments ever happened. O’Hehir sums up:
The Americans never resisted the idea of playing a film crew, which is the source of much agitation in the movie. (In fact, the ‘house guests’ chose that cover story themselves, from a group of three options the CIA had prepared.) They were not almost lynched by a mob of crazy Iranians in Tehran’s Grand Bazaar, because they never went there. There was no last-minute cancellation, and then un-cancellation, of the group’s tickets by the Carter administration. (The wife of Canadian ambassador Ken Taylor had personally gone to the airport and purchased tickets ahead of time, for three different outbound flights.) The group underwent no interrogation at the airport about their imaginary movie, nor were they detained at the gate while a member of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard telephoned their phony office back in Burbank. There was no last-second chase on the runway of Mehrabad Airport, with wild-eyed, bearded militants with Kalashnikovs trying to shoot out the tires of a Swissair jet.
“One of the actual hostages, Mark Lijek, noted that the CIA’s fake movie ‘cover story was never tested and in some ways proved irrelevant to the escape.’ The departure of the six Americans from Tehran was actually mundane and uneventful.”
UPDATE: Monday 2/25/13
Congratulations are in order to Ang Lee and “Life of Pi.” It won 4 of the key Oscars, including Best Director. But there was no one film that you can say was a runaway winner this year.
“Argo,” the Best Picture, won 3, but not Best Director. The four actor awards were distributed among four different films. And just because your name is Spielberg (“Lincoln”) or Ellison (producer of “Zero Dark Thirty”), Oscar played no favorites.
Still, most of the winners are white, and diversity remains a major problem with the Oscars, where academy voters’ median age is 62, nearly 80 percent of them are male, and over 90 percent are white. Sounds like the old U.S. electorate, doesn’t it?
Which brings us to Ang Lee. I revere Lee and his great body of work. I was rooting for him too, but not necessarily from an Asian American perspective. Why? Because he’s Taiwanese, a brilliant Asian in America. The movie is more internatonal than not, with Pi named after a French swimming pool. Canada brought the book and the film to life.
The distinction of being Asian or Asian American is important.
You want Asian American, then you have to be taken by the other Patel in film this year, the Dr. Patel character in “Silver Linings Playbook.”
Though played by a Bollywood star, Anupam Kher, it’s still a depiction of an Asian American. And what a diverse cast, with a BBF, a black best friend (Chris Tucker), a Latino/white interracial marriage (John Ortiz and Julia Stiles), and the South Asian shrink (Kher). From that standpoint, all modern Hollywood films should be as inspired in their casting. Too bad the film didn’t win just on diversity.
As for Best Picture, I still feel “Argo” was over-rated compared to “Zero Dark Thirty.” Given both films loyalty to history, they missed out on the human side that was all over “Silver Linings Playbook.” That left the CIA films in the interesting and thrilling category, but not in the realm where the truly great films reside.
“PI” might have been imaginative with its special effects, but SLP came the closest for me this year as the movie that “hits home.”
When you see it on DVD in your living room with your family, you’ll see why.
UPDATE: 9pm Pacific:
FLOTUS surprise, but ”Argo.” Really?
Oh, well…Hope you didn’t lose in your office pool.
Caught up with all the CIA movies just before the red carpet.
“Zero Dark Thirty” is a great film, but it plays like a dossier. Jessica Chastain is the best thing about the movie, as “Maya,” but as the film shows us, the character has no friends, no home, no family, no life. That would have helped the film immensely. Torture scene was less torturous than buildup. Key point: the torture didn’t have to happen. CIA had a lead years before any torture, but the lead fell through the cracks. Even more interesting was the raid and how precarious the situation actually was. I’ve heard that some audiences cheered at the end, but not in my group. I kept wondering why UBL wasn’t taken alive?
Still, “ZD30″ is a great movie, and much better than “Argo,” which also over-relied on ”history” to create its fiction , but in doing so, missed out on the personal aspects of the story line that would have helped the movie greatly. In the end, I really didn’t care much if the Americans got out.
And so I think I’m sticking with my personal favorite, “Silver Linings Playbook.”
Is it that odd that a movie where pyschtropic drugs play such a big role is the “feel good movie” at the Oscars?
The film, rooted in family, home, and love, would be a worthy Best Picture winner tonight.
I’m just feeling it for SLP tonight.
Maybe it’s the meds.
I may be late to the bandwagon, but I shouldn’t be.
Certainly, I shouldn’t be surprised that I know about Paxil, Prozac, Wellbutrin, Tofranil, Abilify, et.al without ever having taken a single pill. It just seems that people all around me are taking them, and instead of being judgemental, I should be glad that they are.
In that sense, “Silver Linings Playbook” is the perfect mirror of dysfunction in America. And, on that level, a movie breakthrough.
In America these days, the road to happiness includes a trip to the medicine cabinet.
But the movie is also a breakthrough in the depiction of Asian Americans in Hollywood.
If they gave Oscars for that, “Silver Linings Playbook” would deserve one.
Read my post at the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund blog
I just saw “Argo” last night, and don’t think it is as good as its Golden Globes win. ( It’s definitely a period piece. All the actors look like Dickie Smothers.) But if SLP doesn’t win, maybe “Lincoln” will overtake them all. Look at all the man accomplished—without psychotropic meds!
I wrote extensively about this when the abuses on the HBO series ”Luck” were exposed by whistleblowers through PETA last year.
Now the American Humane worker who says she was fired because she tried to protect the horses is suing HBO and others connected with the production of “Luck.”
SCOTUS and Prop.8 ; Imagining a post-racial, post-same sex marriage debate world: the movie, “In the Family”; and Manny Pacquiao’s “Groundhog Day”
If you’re not sure what the Supreme Court is doing about gay marriage from all the different news reports, then you need a time line.
Like the proverbial egg passing through the snake, the issue is going through the process: In 2008, California narrowly passed a state amendment that banned same-sex marriage, but then a Federal court declared the ban unconstitutional. That ruling was subsequently upheld by an appeals court. Today, the U.S. Supreme Court simply said it would review the lower court’s decision.
Asian American same-sex marriage advocates saw it as a hopeful sign. API Equality-Northern California released this statement: “By granting a review now of the lower federal court’s ruling which held Proposition 8, California’s statewide constitutional ban on same sex marriage, to be unconstitutional, we hope that the U.S. Supreme will not uphold Proposition 8, but instead seek to affirm the lower federal courts’ ruling on this issue,” said Heidi Li, a California family law attorney and Steering Committee member of Asian Pacific Islander Equality – Northern California.
So the end is in sight of this snaky process. Maybe. We hope.
THE POST-RACIAL, POST-SAME SEX MARRIAGE DEBATE MOVIE, “IN THE FAMILY”
Those of you who remember me from my TV days in San Francisco, know that one of the things I did was act as resident film critic for the NBC affiliate (I was the one with the flower in the lapel, in between the convicted pedophile and the gal with the hat fetish).
I saw a lot of films in the ‘70s and 80s. Since then, I’ve been a lot more selective. But around the holidays, I always get the urge to see films (besides “Planes, Trains and Automobiles” for the umpteenth time) because this is truly the season when we are all prodded to the cinema right through Christmas.
But do you really want to flinch at another loud, crash’em up, blow’em up, spectacle in 1,2,3,or 4-D in the 8,14, or 16-plex?
I just saw the new Bond film and already find myself in need of a break. Slow food movement? I’m ready for the slow film movement.
Here’s my answer: “In the Family,” an independent film by Patrick Wang that some are calling a “masterpiece.” That may be a bit grand, but it is a fine antidote to the crashingly commercial. It opens this weekend, Dec. 7 at the Opera Plaza in San Francisco and the Camera Cinema in San Jose, and it’s definitely worth a look.
The film is a quiet tour-de-force. It’s absolutely one of the first post-racial, post-gay, post-hang-up movies I’ve seen ever. Hang up? That is to say it doesn’t get hung up on the obvious and because of that goes deeper. When do you recall seeing a film starring an Asian male, who is gay, in a conflict with his white family, over custody over a Caucasian child? And never once is there a mention of being Asian, or gay? Fish-out-of-water is a Hollywood convention and always played to the hilt. But here, the oddity of a Chinese American gay father in the South? Well, the movie just presumes it’s totally natural, like “Oh sure, there’s a gay interracial marriage and they’re raising a kid, and when the white father dies, the straight sister comes in to take the child.”
Oh, yeah. Like, you’ve seen these movies on Lifetime in your lifetime.
So are you ready for that? In this movie, there’s nothing prurient or tawdry. When in a movie about gays is a kiss ever just a kiss? It is here. When is a movie with an Asian male in it just an excuse to show off some marital arts moves? All the time. But this movie is kung-fu free.
There’s also interesting things going on cinematically here. It’s an indy film so realism is a given, but this film shows off by disdaining the quick edit and letting the camera see and the actors act. It seems like one long take after another. It is a long take. But by letting the camera go, the audience gets to see something amazing in the performance of the actors. They’re creating and letting us in on it. Cutaways? Sometimes. Mostly the camera is still and not moving, set on a wide shot and turned on. The viewer is allowed to see it all unfold as if watching a play (indeed Wang directed live theatre). Wang, an MIT grad naturally, shoots the movie in New York (Yonkers) but sets it in the South, (Martin,TN). And it’s totally believable.
So let’s review: here’s an Asian guy talking like a redneck, kissing his white husband, and raising a little white boy who calls him Daddy. With no karate chopping?
Yes, yes, yes and yes.
It doesn’t always work. In fact, you might feel like a fly in the wall who wants to move in for a closeup. Or land on someone’s nose instead of a backside.
But on the whole the movie works because it gets beyond the political rhetoric of race and gender, and marriage, and just looks at the human situation. There are even scenes that humanize the lawyers, which I actually found to be among the film’s best segments.
By the end, Patrick Wang playing Joey Williams makes perfect sense. It’s an Asian American story in a world where we simply exist. And may even be coincidentally gay, as if that matters. It’s the film after the culture clash. But even after some form of acceptance, there’s still conflict. And that’s where the movie reaches its peak.
Seeing the film reminded me of my days in Texas and Missouri where I spent the early days of my career. People thought I was Mexican and not Filipino. And then they were really confused when they heard my unaccented English and saw that I was dating their daughter.
If you want to imagine a post-racial future free of any race or gender B.S., or want to see a “Gaysian” portrayed in something other than the effeminate gal pal in chick flicks (those are the parts that used to go to Bronson Pinchot), then “In the Family” is a welcome sight.
Opening Dec.7 at the Opera Plaza in San Francisco and the Camera Cinema in San Jose.
“GROUNDHOG DAY” FOR MANNY PACQUIAO?
After losing the debacle known as the Timothy Bradley fight which was so unfair even I felt cheated, Manny Pacquiao has run out of options. The best he can do is repeat himself. And the guy is human, not a machine.
The Mayweather fight is the only thing left, and that’s not happening. So what’s a Filipino super-star pugilist to do? In keeping with this posts’ movie theme, call Marquez-Pacuiao 4, “Groundhog Day.”
Manny answers the bell and it’s Marquez. Again.
No.4.(Four, by the way, rhymes with “whore” if you haven’t noticed). And what are we doing by going to the well another time except for money? I mean, I guess Pac-man shouldn’t dignify Bradley’s “championship” by fighting for the crown that was stolen from him.
So what’s left? Marquez? Again?
If it’s all rigged anyway, let me watch it all a week later when it’s free. So, to pre-empt your question, I’m not watching the fight this week.
I’ll be watching my “24” DVDs all weekend long when I’m not going to Christmas cookie parties.
Pacquiao has been a great champion, but he’s got other things on his mind. And now boxing is his J-O-B.
He’s 2-0-1 against Marquez, who some say beat Pacquiao in at least one of the previous fights. I saw them all. It was close. But Pacquiao deserved the edge. Now, I’m not sure. Both are older and Marquez may get the better of Manny finally. But so what?
Part of me says, who cares about championships and belts, let’s just see a good fight. Marquez and Pacquiao fits the bill. But the other part of me hates to see Manny expose himself to more of boxing’s brutality.
He’s got a future outside of the ring—if he can leave with his brains intact.