Saturday, June 18, 2005

Now showing:

This past week's video viewings included:

1) The martial arts classic Master of the Flying Guillotine, which I am embarrassed to confess I had (until now) gotten mixed up with an earlier film, The Flying Guillotine. MOTFG should not be confused with Flying Guillotine II either, however it is also known as One-Armed Boxer Vs The Flying Guillotine. In fact, one of the cool things about the version I have is that it incorporated both titles into the opening sequence. It seems like this would be a great film to promote the Americans With Disabilities Act, because the protagonist only has one arm and the antagonist is blind, yet both function quite well in their chosen field. The only reason I can think of that the ADA has not jumped on this already is that the characters are not in fact Americans with disabilities, but Chinese with disabilities.

2) The Hitchcock homage High Anxiety, which I watched for about the 10th time. During this particular viewing, I got a 50-point Scrabble bonus for making the word "botanies" for a total of (I think) 83 points. It's legit; look it up.

3) Uncovered: The War on Iraq by Robert Greenwald. Greenwald is a much less bombastic, much more rational Michael Moore (albeit with a prefix fetish). He directed or produced the Un- Trilogy (Unprecedented, Unconstitutional, and Uncovered) as well as Outfoxed. Greenwald avoids (as far as I am aware) Moore's tendency to throw out a bunch of out-of-context, misleading irrelevancies to support the two or three important points he has per movie.

Even though he is a lefty, I like Greenwald's approach because (unlike Moore or Karen Hughes) he proceeds in an orderly manner, which invites rebuttal in an orderly manner. The combined resumes of his interviewees must have reflected centuries of experience in the intelligence, diplomatic, military, scientific, and journalistic sectors. Were someone to respond to his points in the same style as he presented them (in print, on video, or on the Web) I would certainly take the time to consider the rebuttal as well. Note to "Outfoxed" star Bill O'Reilly: "Shut Up" does not count as an orderly rebuttal.

Speaking of O'Reilly, my problem with Faux News is not that they are conservative; my problem with them is that they are so populist. Elitists often get a bad name, but maybe the reason they got to be elite is that they actually know something about something. To me, populism just tells people what they want to hear, encourages one group to blame another, demonizes cultural change, and celebrates mediocrity and lack of individual achievement. IMHO the best Senator of the last 25 (maybe 50) years is the non-populist, non-sound bite, CFR-friendly hoosier Richard Lugar, the guy who (with Sam Nunn) we may have to thank for the fact that al Qaeda didn't get hold of four planes with nukes on 9/11. Nunn and Lugar have been snubbed by the Nobel Peace Prize folks so often and so egregiously that I hear they are starting a club with Martin Scorsese. I'd like to see Pat Buchanan or John Edwards contain the WMDs of the former Soviet Union using nothing but their populist tactics (bombast in the case of Buchanan; white teeth & hairspray in the case of Edwards).

Greenwald's next (untitled) film is about the much-maligned Wal-Mart, so who knows but I may be directing my "Populist! J'Accuse!" comments at him next year. Or he may win me over. In any event, if you have a catchy title, you can submit it for consideration. Single words with prefixes get extra points. Just like in Scrabble.


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