Monday, April 26, 2004

Defending Equality, Defending Aristocracy
On the latest Start the Week, you can listen to Godfrey Hodgson and Peregrine Worsthorne. Hodgson's latest book More Equal Than Others is about the inequality in America in the last 25 years. Worsthorne's new book (excerpt available) is about the decline of nobility in new Britain. It should be an interesting discussion. As always, the show will be permanentely archived for later listening.

Yet Another Controversy at Emory
That would make four in one academic year. Mary Robinson, former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and President of Ireland, was invited to be the commencement speaker. Protests followed because she was involved with the infamous Durban conference on racism, which was justly accused of being unfair to Israel.

Kilroy Was Here

I never realized this before but it's possible to draw a fairly straight line through all the countries I've visited. The line would just have to be about 3mm wide to catch every country.

And you can tell which part of the U.S. I've been partial about not visiting.

Create your own personalized map of the USA
or write about it on the open travel guide

Thanks to Chuck for the link.

Friday, April 23, 2004

Three Chinese SARS Cases Reported

Sunday, April 18, 2004

The Winslow Boy (1999) dir. David Mamet
David Mamet's script here is a reworking of an older play by Terence Rattigan. Perhaps as a result we don't get echt Mamet baroquery but we do get Mamet's tart originality. The work is set in an innocent England where the honor of a young boy is impugned and a famous lawyer is called to defend him. The rhythm of the film, the surprisingly good performance by Rebecca Pidgeon, and the coy portrayal of the lawyer by Jeremy Northram work in consort to create a perfect film. Pay attention to the way so many things are communicated with so little being spoken.
Grade: A

Jean de Florette and Manon of the Spring (1986) dir. Claude Berri
These two films are meant to be watched in sequence, but each stands quite well on its own. The second part also is Gerard-Depardieu-less. That's unusual for a French film, but his character accidentally dies in the first half. The second film ends with a not so accidental death, tragically recapitulating the closing of the first film. I mention the deaths because the films are shaped even on smaller levels by tragic arcs. There is vengenance in the middle, but the films are mainly about resigning ourselves to our actions' unintended consequences.
Grade: A-

Speaking of Steve Martin
I enjoyed Steve Martin's writing in his book of essays, Pure Drivel, but over time I realized that he didn't do much that was new, always chose easy targets, and then used incorrect stereotypes to mock them. His piece on Mensa is awfully inaccurate, for example. As Dwight MacDonald wrote about Tom Wolfe, such work "exploits the factual authority of journalism and the atmospheric license of fiction."

His recent comic piece on The Passion of the Christ not only has an lame target—studio execs rather than Mel Gibson or the film itself—but it also comes across as trite. Oddly, newspapers standardly report that his piece mocks the movie.

L.A. Story (1991) dir. Mick Jackson
Woody Allen conceived Manhattan as a love story sewn into a tribute to New York. Steve Martin then did the same with Los Angeles in L.A. Story. He caricatures stock characters with mixed success but also sets the movie in some ultra-clean city that is definitely not L.A. Was this film shot in Montreal? The script incorporates Shakespearean snippets into the movie but they seemed insincere to me. The movie worked best when it focused on the love story. Steve Martin is convincing as a man tormented by boredom. Victoria Tennant also convinces as a woman who doesn't want to trust again. The scene in which they turn into happy children may come across as cloying to some, but to me it was priceless.
Grade: B+

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Films of the American South
While searching for films about the South to recommend to someone, I found this list of films from a course schedule. Having read the list, I think I'd sort the films into four subcategories: Appalachia, Deep South, Louisiana, and Texas. Louisiana in particular has enough French Catholic character to merit exclusion from "that Southern thing."

One film that's missing from the list is Maggie Greenwald's Songcatcher. It's not a great film, but it's commendable nonetheless in part because it shows the connections between Scotch-Irish and Appalachian folksongs and also because it's also the only film I know that has a musicologist as a protagonist.

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

I took the Grammar Quiz

Grammar God!
You are a GRAMMAR GOD!

If your mission in life is not already to
preserve the English tongue, it should be.
Congratulations and thank you!

How grammatically sound are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

But I'm sad to report that question 16 is about punctuation, so the quiz writers aren't all that. Some of the other questions have debatable answers too.

Friday, April 02, 2004

Just Married!
Law and poli sci blogger and Davidson alumnus Brett Marston

MacHomer at the Ferst
Rick Miller's one-man fusion of Simpsons voices and Shakespearean characters is playing tonight at the Ferst Center.

Thursday, April 01, 2004

Films at Emory
Emory unfortunately doesn't publicize its film schedule in the AJC or CLN, so I almost missed their screening of Blackmail (silent version) here are the remaining films of their spring semester:

Wednesday, April 14.
Ashamed to say I haven't seen it but it's Kubrick, whom I consider good but not great. His cold misanthropy gets old very quickly.
Compare Ebert's review with Steve Murray's.

Wednesday, April 21.
A TASTE OF CHERRY (Iran, 1998)
This emperor has no clothes. And the ending has no heart either. But go watch it for yourself; you may read more into it than I did. If you happen to know Hindi (as I do) you might enjoy the similarities between Farsi and Hindi. You may find Ebert's and David Denby's reviews insightful.

Wednesday, April 28.
HUMANITÉ (France, 1999).

UPDATE: There is also a Latin-American film festival at Emory entitled From Ink to Screen: Films of Literary Adaptation. It's not advertised or even hosted on their film site, but rather on the personal home page of a Spanish/Portuguese professor under the category Website Design. If anyone at Emory is reading this, please try to advertise your films on one website and please publicize them in Atlanta newspapers and zines.

UPDATE 2: Here's a list of other films at Emory, hosted by German studies, Irish studies, etc.

Metropolis (restored version) in Atlanta
You may have already rented it from Netflix, but you can now catch Fritz Lang's legendary film on the big screen at the Fox theater on May 30 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $15 apiece. Clark Wilson will be performing the original score on the Fox's piep organ.