Wednesday, June 29, 2005

EC:WC FCA Review - The Life Aquatic

A West Coast Critic Review:

I never thought I would ever say this next sentence. This Bill Murray movie is completely unfunny.

I just spent the last 118 minutes watching film stock that left me emotionally unmoved in any way. It doesn't even deserve to be called a bad movie because a really bad movie would make you chuckle at the lameness of it all. There wasn't even a moment that was unintentionally funny. There was nothing to make me cry one sappy tear. Not one piece of action to make me even wince slightly in awe. What's so mindboggling is that it's so weak even with a cast that includes Angelica Huston, Cate Blanchett, Owen Wilson, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum and Michael Gambon. This movie is so vacuous that MST3K couldn't even successfully parody the poor thing. It's THAT bad.

This isn't even worth one of my usual five wine bottles. This vapid, mind numbing, brain cell reducing DVD is barely worth 1 corroded cork. (Oh no, Mr. Bill!)

.... bad.... just.... just.... that bad.


Just Desserts, indeed!!! link here

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A California man, angry over a U.S. Supreme Court decision expanding government power to take private property, says he will try to use the ruling to seize the New Hampshire home of Justice
David Souter and convert it into a hotel to be named the Lost Liberty Hotel.

Souter voted with the 5-4 majority last week when the Supreme Court ruled a Connecticut city could use its powers of eminent domain to take private homes to make way for a riverfront hotel, health club and offices.

The justices said the project served a public purpose of revitalizing a depressed local economy, but critics have called the ruling an unprecedented expansion of the powers of government to seize private property in America.

"This is a serious project and if we get enough money from investors we will proceed with it," said Logan Darrow Clements, who runs a California video production company called Freestar Media that he said is dedicated to exposing abuses of power.

"It's solely for the purpose of showing (Souter) that his decision was unjust," he said. "We hope to make a profit as well but I don't agree with eminent domain so the irony is that we are going to use eminent domain against him."

Clements said he had contacted officials in Weare, New Hampshire, for an application to build a hotel on the property where the Supreme Court justice's home now stands, arguing that a hotel would increase tax revenue and provide an economic boost.

He said the hotel would be called the Lost Liberty Hotel and would include a restaurant called the Just Desserts Cafe and a museum with a permanent exhibit on the loss of freedom in America.

He said instead of a Gideon's Bible, each room would include a copy of Ayn Rand's novel "Atlas Shrugged," which many people embrace as a treatise on liberty and self-determination.

"This is not a prank," he said. "The town of Weare has five people on the Board of Selectmen. If three of them vote to use the power of eminent domain to take this land (from Justice Souter) we can begin our hotel development."

The Supreme Court had no comment on Clements' plan and the Weare Board of Selectmen could not immediately be reached for comment.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

In light of Congress' recent vote on a Constitutional Amendment to ban flag burning...

I've chosen to re-post something I wrote eleven months ago (July 15, 2004, to be exact):

Here are some serious Constitutional Amendment ideas to chew on:

How about a Balanced Budget Amendment (like 40+ of the States have in their own Constitutions)? One that includes:

1) A requirement that Spending increases by no more than the increase in the rate of inflation plus the increase in population, on a year-by-year basis,

2) A two-thirds majority in both houses of Congress in order to increase Spending above that rate, good for only one year,

3) A two-thirds majority in both houses of Congress in order to increase Taxes, good for only one year,

4) One half of all yearly surpluses automatically goes toward Nation Debt relief, the other half being returned to Taxpayers. Any annual shortfalls automatically trigger an across-the-board spending reduction if Congress does not act within a timely manner to implement tailored budget cuts,

5) A Presidential Line-Item-Veto (as 40+ States already have in their own Constitutions for their Governors), with a two-thirds majority in both houses of Congress in order to override the veto.

6) A Ban on all non-germane, rider amendments to Congressional legislative bills.

Speaking of Taxes... How about a Constitutional Amendment to Repeal the 16th Amendment, thereby ending the Income Tax and the I.R.S. in one fell swoop. We can then go back to collecting Federal revenues the way our Founding Fathers intended: No Capitation, or other direct tax shall be laid unless in proportion to the census or enumeration herein before directed to be taken (U.S. Constitution, Article I, Section 9, Paragraph 4). The 16th Amendment overwrote this clause, thereby obliterating the Founding Fathers' intent on limited government.

How about a Constitutional Amendment to Limit Terms for both offices of Congress (just as there already is an Amendment [#22] to limit the terms for President - Two Terms. 8 years, 10 years maximum):

1) Two Terms for U.S. Senate (12 years. 15 years maximum due to vacancy appointments),

2) Six Terms for U.S. House of Representatives (12 years. 13 years maximum due to vacancy appointments).

How about a Constitutional Amendment to put appropriate Checks & Balances on the Federal Courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court to limit Judicial Activism and instill Judicial Restraint when the Courts overstep their bounds into legislative and executive realms:

1) This could include instituting Judicial Term Limits to 20 years or a Mandatory Retirement Age of 75 (whichever comes first).

Just a little food for thought.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

EC:WC FCA Review – Lucia y el Sexo (Sex and Lucia)

A West Coast Critic Review:

Released in 2001, this foreign film from Madrid, Spain, draws you into it’s masterfully intricate universe until you fall into its hole and you come back out again in the middle. I should state upfront that this is not child fare. Were it not for it being a foreign film, this movie would get an R rating for its strong sexual content… possibly even an NC-17. But don’t let this detract you. There’s something much deeper to this story than its initial carnal yet tastefully done exploits.

Told through a series of flashbacks, we peer into the lives of Lorenzo (a struggling novelist) and Lucia (his lover). The movie starts with the deterioration of their relationship, culminating in a horrible accident that takes Lorenzo away from Lucia. We’re then brought back to the beginning of their relationship six years prior, and we soon become absorbed into their lives and their thought processes along the way.

Lorenzo’s past haunts him until he’s forced to exorcise his demons by turning it into his latest novel. But his past ends up controlling him instead. Real people merge into fictional characters. And lives get intertwined into intricate patterns. Along the way we meet Elena, a proprietor of an isolated island beach hotel, who’s own life is inexplicably tied to Lorenzo.

The script is extremely well written. The color palette is perfect for the mood of the film. And the acting is impeccable. There were moments when I laughed out loud, and there were moments when I was brought to tears (even after the third viewing). You become a part of the lives of these people as you try to sort through their histories, which fold and link in extraordinary ways.

Paz Vega (who later played in her first English-speaking role in “Spanglish” with Adam Sandler and Tea Leoni) plays Lucia. Lorenzo is played by Tristan Ulloa (who previously played opposite Penelope Cruz in “Open Your Eyes,” the Spanish film on which Tom Cruise’s “Vanilla Sky” was based). Several additional characters are introduced throughout the film, and the entire cast is worthy of accolades.

This has become one of my all-time favorite foreign films (along with “Cinema Paradiso”). I give it 4 wine bottles out of 5… and maybe a couple corks as well. If you get confused after the first viewing, watch it again… and become fascinated at how well it all fits together.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

EC:WC FCA Review - Primer

A West Coast Critic review:

A small budget (a very, very small budget) independent film by first-time film director/writer/actor Shane Carruth. Less than 80 minutes long and shot on 16mm film, this is one plot-twisting conundrum of a movie about two guys who accidently create a time travel machine and then struggle with the moral consequences of the choices they then make.

There are NO special effects (except for one 5-second scene), yet Carruth makes this story believable. It's confusing at first because you become an eavesdropper; a fly on the wall in these guys lives, if you will. (heh... these guys lives... heh-heh-heh)

If you enjoy films like Pi and Cube or Memento, then Primer is right up your alley. If you don't like those types of movies, you'll end up ejecting the DVD before the film is finished. It's an acquired taste. And it definitely requires more than one viewing. The two commentaries on the DVD also help out tremendously with the plot. And if you really get sucked into the whole experience, you can lose your mind at the official website and forum here

Winner of the Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Award in 2004, I gave this flick 3-1/2 wine bottles out of 5 a week before watching it, and I wrote this review 8 days from now.

EC:WC FCA Review - National Treasure

A West Coast Critic review:

A national disappointment. I like Nick Cage. Most of the time his performances are strong, and the roles/films are of decent to very good quality. This movie, sorry to say, just doesn't work. Even before 9/11, the plausibility of the twisting plot would be hard to swallow. Post-9/11? It's a joke. You find yourself rolling your eyes constantly.

It's a shame because the basic premise of the secretive treasure hunt is intriguing and could have been fun to follow. There were a few moments here and there that make you cheer or blink in amazement, but it just lacks the moral import that you'd get from the thrilling Indiana Jones flicks, or the geewhiz/ohmygosh quirky fun of The Mummy series. And Cage's performance is just dialed in as though he isn't even trying.

I had high hopes when word came out that it was hitting the theaters last year. It bombed, and now I know why. The art direction & sets are cool, but it's missing essential ingredients to make it all work. Some of the acting performances are embarrassing. Basically, the script needed a lot a re-writing... or maybe it was just rewritten to death. It shows on the screen.

This is a 2 wine bottles out of 5 movie. I'm being generous. Worth a night's rental to go with your microwave popcorn, but that's about it.

The good news? Word was that National Treasure had very strong parallels with The DaVinci Code novel (which will soon become a movie in it's own right). If that's the case, I'm beaming with joy that that flick may flop as well (and deservedly so).