Monday, November 24, 2003

Music list...

Every so often Rolling Stone Magazine dredges up some 'best of' list. Well, now they have outdone themselves with what might be one of the most inconsequential lists ever.

Rather than sticking with a mere best 100 they go all out and list the top 500 albums of all time.

Now, I don't know about you but after 100 does it really matter? Is there really a significant difference between #190 and #490 that can be explained?

Nonetheless, we all love lists so here is the link to the list of the 500 Greatest Albums of all time.

Here’s there top fifteen:
1. Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, The Beatles
2. Pet Sounds, The Beach Boys
3. Revolver, The Beatles
4. Highway 61 Revisited, Bob Dylan
5. Rubber Soul, The Beatles
6. What's Going On, Marvin Gaye
7. Exile on Main Street, The Rolling Stones
8. London Calling, The Clash
9. Blonde on Blonde, Bob Dylan
10. The Beatles ('The White Album'), The Beatles
11. The Sun Sessions, Elvis Presley
12. Kind of Blue, Miles Davis
13. Velvet Underground and Nico, The Velvet Underground
14. Abbey Road, The Beatles
15. Are You Experienced?, The Jimi Hendrix Experience

- The top ranked album by a woman is 'Blue' by Joni Mitchell at #30.
- The Beatles have 8 albums in the top 100.
- For you Replacement fans our there their highest ranking is #136 with their album 'Tim'.
- Radiohead’s 'The Bends' album ranks #110 and 'OK Computer' ranks #162.
- Bob Dylan makes the list 10 times; [11 if you count the title of Hendrix's album Electric Ladyland - okay, you wouldn't but my word find did].
- The New York Dolls are ranked #213. Is there no justice!
- Roxy Music - one of my personal favorites - is way down the list at #307 with 'Avalon'.
- Miles Davis' 'Sketches of Spain' - which, I recall, was on the most desert island lists compiled by People Magazine in the late 80's ranks #356.
- 'Elephant' by the White Stripes - released this year - is #390.

Friday, November 21, 2003

Bush vs the Environment (2)...

Here’s a fine article about Bush's dismal environmental record written by Robert Kennedy Jr for Rolling Stone (via truthout.org).

In a ferocious three-year attack, the Bush administration has initiated more than 200 major rollbacks of America's environmental laws, weakening the protection of our country's air, water, public lands and wildlife.
(…)
Bush's Environmental Protection Agency has halted work on sixty-two environmental standards, the federal Department of Agriculture has stopped work on fifty-seven standards, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has halted twenty-one new standards. The EPA completed just two major rules -- both under court order and both watered down at industry request -- compared to twenty-three completed by the Clinton administration and fourteen by the Bush Sr. administration in their first two years.

Cat in Hat Bashed...

Critics are bashing the new Hollywood movie The Cat in the Hat.

Over at Rotten Tomatoes, which charts film reviews the film - thus far - has 81 negative reviews and 9 positive.

Of note are the number of critics who wrote their reviews in the Dr Seuss rhyming format: Here are some excerpts:

Chris Vogner of the Dallas Morning News:
There once was a book called The Cat in the Hat.
You've probably read it, and loved it at that.
But now it's a film
And boy, is it rank,
Made just to put cash
In the studio's bank.
(…)
Mike Myers does shtick as the big feline friend
And after 10 minutes you'll want it to end.
He prances and dances
And mugs without shame.
If you've had a root canal,
The effect is the same.

Sean Means of the Salt Lake Tribune:
The movie derives from the Dr. Seuss tale,
But the Seussian magic gets lost in the wail
Of commotion and color and clutter and noise,
As the film aims to sell you some new Christmas toys.
(…)
"The Cat in the Hat" is the worst movie this year,
So if you go see it -- well, I warned you, my dear.

Manohla Dargis of the LA Times:
Why oh why did they make it like that,
oh why did they ruin "The Cat in the Hat"?
(…)
No one in Hollywood likes humor that's clean,
so the jokes in this film are lowdown and mean.
When the Cat sees a mom who's hotter than Hades,
his hat swells up to the size of a Mercedes.
A joke about poop is ever so limp,
and the gag with the hoe is fit for a pimp.

Mr Cranky:
Jim Carrey played Grinch; now Mike Myers plays Cat.
Though Carrey held his own, Myers falls flat.
(…)
His goal is quite clear: Show the kids how to have fun.
The audience, meanwhile, gets to have none.
(…)
This Cat's like a fart from which we all sit downwind.
He's a bit of Buddy Hackett, and a lot of Paul Lynde.

Bob Bloom from The Journal and Courier in Lafayette, IN:
The Cat is a letdown,
I ruefully confess.
Once again the studio
has made Seuss a mess.
(...)
So here’s what I say,
this is my hook.
You’d be better off reading
your children the book

Thursday, November 20, 2003

Bernie's Error-glance...

Here’s some dazzling reporting by The Daily Howler.

Bernie Goldberg has a new book out titled 'Arrogance', which is all about that nefarious 'Elite Liberal media.' At one point in the book he digs into Harold Raines the former New York Times editor (who was less than perfect to be sure) for apparently saying about Ronald Reagan:

"Reagan couldn’t tie his shoelaces if his life depended on it."

That's seems to be a pretty damning quote, for sure, but lo-and-behold the quote is extremely out-of-context and was not quoted by Raines but - in fact - by a fly fisherman (!) named Dick Blalock who was referring to the fly-fishing skills of various former Presidents.

It turns out Raines was on that particular fishing trip when Blalock said this and he quoted it in his book, 'Fly Fishing Through the Midlife Crisis'. The full quote was in Fly Fishing Magazine but it found its way into the Right wing media machine as a the kind of thing that Media Elite Liberals make about Republican presidents.

Goldberg took the quote from the Media Research Center, which too mis-attributed and mistook the quote. But old Goldberg bought it. Why? Because he doesn't do thorough investigation of his claims and because he is Right Wing biased.

The Daily Howler does more good, fun research on Goldberg’s book here:
and here

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

Photos...

Mr Jeff 3000! alerted me to The Charles Cushman Collection an amateur photographer and Indiana University alumnus who bequeathed approximately 14,500 Kodachrome color slides to his alma mater. The photographs in the collection bridge a thirty-two year span from 1938 to 1969, during which time he extensively documented the United States as well as other countries

You can browse by year, location, subject, genre and even roll number. He was no Ansel Adams but his photos are a good record of his travels and are fun to look at. Particularly his 7000 some odd photos of San Francisco in the 1940's and 50's.

Here are some of my favorites:

Telluride Colorado in 1965

California hills along Moro Bay in 1940

A man and his ‘family’ in Moab Utah.

Cable Car in SF 1954

Three young bathers in Bolinas beach 1968

Three little indians on fence in Vancouver Island 1938

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Post reviews Passion...

The New York Post invited five people to review Mel Gibson’s movie The Passion of Christ:
Here they are some of their comments.

Rabbi Levine
One-word review: "Appalling"
Portrayal of Jews: "Painful"
Recommendation: "I hope no one goes to see it."
Message to Gibson: "If he was trying to help people understand Christ's Passion, his movie doesn't succeed - there's too much violence and no real examination of the meaning of Christ's suffering, death and resurrection."

Lou Luminick (Post Film critic)
One word review: "Incomplete"
Portrayal of Jews: "Deeply troubling that they're being portrayed as bloodthirsty zealots. Could fuel anti-Semitic feelings."
Recommendation: "I can't say whether I recommend the movie until it's finished."
Message to Gibson: "Add more explanation and historical context."

Joan Wilson (Post Reader)
One-word review: "Riveting"
Portrayal of Jews: "Fair - I think every group [depicted] had good people and evil people."
Recommendation: "It's a must-see movie."
Message to Gibson: "You need to tighten it up by cutting 10 to 15 minutes of violence. We got the message."

Elizabeth Castelli
(Professor of religion)
One-word review: "Violent"
Portrayal of Jews: "Unfair" - they're based on "medieval stereotypes . . . that have a history of inspiring violence against Jews."
Recommendation: "No - nor would I recommend censoring it."
Message to Gibson: "He had an opportunity to reflect on the long history of the theology of suffering, and he missed that opportunity by producing just a picture of brutality."

Mark Hallinan (Catholic Priest)
One-word review: "Unhelpful"
Portrayal of Jews: "Very bad ... I don't think the intent was anti-Semitic, but Jews are unfairly portrayed."
Recommendation: "Don't go to see it."
Message to Gibson: "I'm disappointed that he didn't use the resources he had to do a balanced portrayal of the life and death of Jesus."

Monday, November 17, 2003

AFI Film Report...

The AFI Film Festival is now officially over. There were about 135 films from 40 countries but I only managed to get into 20 or so.

The two winning films were a romanic comedy from Denmark titled Old, New, Borrowed and Blue and the best documentary went to Beah: A Black Woman Speaks, which is about actress, poet and activist Beah Richards. Of course, I missed both of these films. But I saw plenty of others as anyone who has been reading my blog for the last week can attest.

Here are the final blurbs.

Blind Shaft (8) - Using a fable as an outline first time director Li Yang makes a comment about some of the evils of capitalism in China. The story revolves around two killers who take jobs in mines and lure unsuspecting workers - whom they befriend - into blind mining shafts and kill them. After the deaths they find a way to collect money on the death by pretending that the person they killed was a direct relative of theirs. Gritty and realistic with great character development the film was illegally shot in and around real coal mines and has been banned in China.

Kitchen Stories (7) - A subtle character driven comedy (of sorts) about a friendship that develops between a Swedish Kitchen scientists and an older Norwegian man. The film by Brent Hamer has a bizarre premise in which scientists come to observe and take elaborate notes on the movements of people in their kitchens. The idea is to develop a model kitchen that will serve people the best. Not quite dead-pan but a very restrained and quiet film that pays off in the end.

Pornography (6) - Probably the most intellectually rigorous film I saw at the festival this Polish film by Jan Jakub Kolski takes place in Nazi-occupied Poland in 1943 and deals with a writer and filmmaker who pay a long visit to a country estate as the war unfolds. The two play mind games with the young Lolita-like daughter of the estate owner and make bets that they can get her to fall out of love with her fiance and in love with her male childhood friend. All the while as they orchestrate this mean game history is orchestrating or playing them. Beautifully shot and edited the film simultaneously has engaging characters and a cold narrative structure. In short, it is not very involving but it builds to a strong ending. This is the kind of film that probably require two viewings to get everything and in time I may rate it higher. Or maybe I'll just read the book by Witold Gombrowicz.
AFI Film Report...

It was a long weekend and I have not had time to sit in front of the computer and write some more blurbs. But now I do so here are a few more reviews from the AFI Film Festival.

Sexual Dependency (5) - The Los Angeles Times touted this Bolivian film as the best in festival and the buzz was hot but the film is merely an interesting dud. Shot over five years the film deals with the loss of sexual innocence; from virginity to prostitution to rape. Formally the film is very interesting because it has a raw naturalistic look and the entire film is shot split-screen but rarely is the spit-screen used for anything but aesthetic value. The film does get better as it goes along but it too often feels like a heavy-handed (albeit auspicious) first film. Of note this is the first film to be made in Bolivia in six years! Good article here.

The Letter (6) - A good but somewhat pedantic documentary about recent bad race relations in Lewiston Maine. The city had an influx of people from Somalia, which the mostly white community began to be wary of especially as the economy worsened. Eventually the incompetent mayor wrote a letter to the local newspaper asking the Somalians to stop coming. What ensued was a town split down the middle along racial and racist lines. Soon racist hate groups came into the town to protest the Somalis and the media ate it all up. Director Ziad H Hamzeh has his heart in the right place but he focuses too much on the protest and doesn't get much in-depth reporting on the community as a whole. This episode is a good starting place for a better documentary that perhaps someday will be made.

The Blessing Bell (6.5) - Really darn good Japanese film until the final five minutes. A man loses his factory job and goes wandering for a couple of days. Along his journey he witnesses the death of a yakuza, gets thrown in jail overnight, saves a woman's child from a burning house, gets hit by a car, sees a ghost, wins the lottery, has the lottery money stolen, wanders furthur into the night and literally ends up in hole. Then he wakes the next morning and backtracks. The film, directed by Sabu, is slowly paced, mostly silent and very engrossing. The film's style is not as consistent as it could be but it does maintain a certain quite mood throughout.

Thursday, November 13, 2003

AFI Film Festival Report...

Friends, I sat in an hour-and-a-half of traffic to go ten miles last night just so that I could see two below par movies at the AFI festival. The life of a critic can be tough and I know you can all sympathize. Anyway, here are a few more reviews. [Rating scale is 1 to 10].

Noi Albinoi (7) - A bleak Icelandic comedy about a bored high school student named Noi who lives in a small remote village. Noi has no mother, his father is a drunk and he lives with his haggard grandmother. Life is pretty dull, and although he seems bright he is at odds with the entire school and manages to get himself expelled. The film has a casual pace to it but is absorbing and picks up pretty well in its second half as Noi is thrown into a situation where he must confront his fate and his future.

Live Forever (6) - This documentary is about the Brit pop phenomenon of the mid-90's. The subject could fill many hours but director John Dower cuts right to the chase and interviews the primary musicians of the time. What we get is a humorous Noel Gallagher (Oasis), a bemused Liam Gallagher, a conceited Damon Albarn (Blur) and a self-deprecating Jarvis Cocker (Pulp) as well as a few passing lines by critics, artists and a other musicians. The filmmaker attempts to tie together the musical resurgance and the way it tied in to the political period and specifically the rise of Tony Blair and the Labour party. As it is the doc is a good starting point but if you are not familiar you may wonder what all the fuss was about. [Just for the record Albarn is the best musician among the lot even if he has attitude].

The Rage in Placid Lake (4) - A barely tolerable coming-of-age comedy about a kid who decides to change from his nerdy self to a more 'normal' kid, which perplexes his hippie parents and his bright bespeckled girlfriend. The film is clunky from start to finish. How this film got into the competition category of a big festival like AFI is beyond me.

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

AFI Film Festival Report...

More from the AFI film festival. [Rating scale 1 to 10]

Bodysong (8) - An exceptionally mesmerizing work by Simon Pummel that consists of an artful montage of hundreds of archival moving images, which tell the story of human life from birth to death and everything in between. The film recalls such films as Koyanisqaasti and Baraka except that all of the shots are found footage rather than specifically shot for the film. Two-and-a-half years in the making the film is a marvel to behold (especially in the second row!) and features a fine score by Radiohead's Jonny Greenwood. The film has an accompanying interactive website (requires Shockwave) that is remarkable as well in that it includes every shot in the movie with explanations of each shot. [The film and CD will be released simultaneously in the UK soon and I'm sure a US distributor will pony up some cash within the month].

The Big Empty (6) - An out-of-work actor (Jon Favreu) is 'hired' to take a suitcase to the deadend desert town of Baker California and wait for 'the cowboy'. Of course, nothing goes as planned. The film is sort of a cross between comedy suspense noir and an X-Files episode. Enjoyable enough but insignificant.

James' Journey to Jerusalem (6) - This low budget Israeli feature is about a young African Christian who represents his village by making a trek to Jerusalem. But within minutes of crossing the border of Israel he is suspected of seeking illegal work so his passport is seized and he is imprisoned. James eventually becomes a wage slave to a racist rich white family that in time begins to trust him as a useful black man. James never actually gets to Jerusalem though because he gets greedy and finds a way to manipulate the system all the while unable to realize that he is sacrificing his dream and his Christian ideals. The film has a good story but feels very thin and is limited by its budget mainly in the acting category.

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

AFI Film Festival Report...

Here are more review blurbs from the AFI film festival. [Rating scale 1 to 10]

Bright Leaves (8) - Ross McElwee (Sherman's March) returns with another idiosyncratic documentary. This time he heads to North Carolina to dig up information on his great-grandfather who helped start the tobacco industry in the late 1800's. McElwee investigates history, personal stories, a Hollywood movie about his grandfather - staring Gary Cooper titled 'Bright Leaves' - and the effects of tobacco both good (economic) and bad (cancer and death) in our society. At once insightful, self conscious, funny and poignant this is the kind of documentary that everyone can appreciate - the problem is how do you market such a film?

The Flying Classroom (6) - A big hit in Germany this film by Tomy Wigand is about a bunch of tough but lovable kids in a boarding school. The film takes a positive approach to boarding schools and troubled youth and in this way treads the ground perfected by Francois Truffaut. But after a while it begins to feel awful thin and a bit moralistic and even though the acting is very good the style is a bit flat.

She Got Game (6) - The subject of women's professsional tennis is explored fairly well in this documentary. The doc is good when it follows the trials and travails of Canadian Sonja Jeyaseelan who is a second tier player on the circuit. The film too deals a bit with parental expectations as well as the pressures on young women in the sport. The filmmakers seem to want to indict the industry (or society, or magazines, or TV) but the evidence they provide comes up short on proving that there is a real problem with inflated and unrealistic goals for young women and girls (which BTW is a problem). Everyone they interview - including Sonja - seems to be having a good time traveling, playing tennis for a living, signing endorsements and making money. So what's the problem?

Monday, November 10, 2003

AFI Film Festival report...

The AFI film festival started last Thursday and runs until November 16. This year there are 134 films from 42 countries. Here's a few that I saw with a rating from 1 to 10.

The Triplet of Bellville (6) - Very imaginative French animated feature that is often fun to watch but also equally annoying. The animation style is like 1930's France with strong caricatures including a wimpering dog, a homely mother and her son a rail thin cyclist with huge muscular legs. Ths son is kidnapped by some mafia types. The mother and dog go in pursuit and with the help of a trio of old hags named 'The triplets of Belville' they try and get the boy back.

The Green Butchers (5) - This Danish film is about two buddies who open up a butcher shop and find their business booming when they start selling human meat in the place of chicken. Funny and grisly the film loses steam mainly because it cops out in the end.

Dolls (7) - Takeshi Kitano returns with a beautful myth-like film about two lovers destined to a life of aimless wandering. On his wedding day a man learns that his ex-girlfriend has become brain dead due to an attempted suicide so he cancels the wedding and attends to her. He literally gives up everything in his life to be with her including any sense of dignity. There is a parallel story about an aging yakuza who is reunited with his first love after 50 years. The film is about the absolute committment to love taken to the level of Greek tragedy.

Nicotina (5) - A diamond-heist-gone-bad movie from Mexico in which all the characters find a way to get themselves killed before the cops even get there. Shot on Hi-definition the program note says the film is in real time but that is only to be believed if the characters stop doing anything until the camera is trained upon them.

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Film news...

Ron Mann (Grass) and Jim Jarmuch (Dead Man) will be teaming-up soon to make a documentary about mushrooms. They will start shooting in late summer at a mushroom festival in a small Colorado town that is also host to a famous film festival. (In order to keep the paparazzi away I'll let IndieWire name the town - but you're free to guess).

Friday, November 07, 2003

Bush vs. the Environment...

Clean Air

"A change in enforcement policy will lead the Environmental Protection Agency to drop investigations into 50 power plants for past violations of the Clean Air Act, lawyers at the agency who were briefed on the decision this week said."

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes:

"The EPA's announcement is just the latest signal that the agency has all but abandoned its mission to protect the nation's air quality. That's a revolting development, but hardly a surprise. Polluting companies have invested heavily in politicians, ranging from the president to congressmen, and they're now profiting nicely from that investment."

And then this about Clean water

"Bush administration officials have drafted a rule that would significantly narrow the scope of the Clean Water Act, stripping some wetlands and streams of federal pollution controls and making them available for commercial filling

State and federal officials have estimated that up to 20 million acres of wetlands, 20 percent of the wetlands outside of Alaska, could lose protections under a rule similar to the one in the draft. The impact would be greater in California and other parts of the West, where many streams flow only seasonally or after rain or snow melts."

------

So is this the way to revive the economy? Clinton didn't need to do this.
Jessica Lynch Story Redux...

"In her first public statements since her rescue in Iraq, Jessica Lynch criticized the military for exaggerating accounts of her rescue and re-casting her ordeal as a patriotic fable.

Asked by the ABC News anchor Diane Sawyer if the military's portrayal of the rescue bothered her, Ms. Lynch said: "Yeah, it does. It does that they used me as a way to symbolize all this stuff. Yeah, it's wrong," according to a partial transcript of the interview to be broadcast on Tuesday.
(…)
Asked how she felt about the reports of her heroism, Ms. Lynch told Ms. Sawyer, "It hurt in a way that people would make up stories that they had no truth about. Only I would have been able to know that, because the other four people on my vehicle aren't here to tell the story. So I would have been the only one able to say, yeah, I went down shooting. But I didn't."
(...)
Ms. Lynch also disputed statements by Mohammed Odeh al-Rehaief, the Iraqi lawyer, that he saw her captors slap her.

"From the time I woke up in that hospital, no one beat me, no one slapped me, no one, nothing," Ms. Lynch told Diane Sawyer, adding, "I'm so thankful for those people, because that's why I'm alive today."


Thanks to Atrios for this entire post.

----
In my book this makes her more human and more real and hence a real hero.
Look for the interview on ABC next Tuesday.
Google News search word-of-the-day...

Today's word: Phalanx

- Miller compares the national Democratic Party to "streetwalkers in skimpy halters and hot pants, plying their age-old trade" to a phalanx of interest groups he refers to derisively as "The Groups."

- Jeanne Bell was the star of the blaxploitation throwdown TNT Jackson, and in one of the movie's best-known scenes, she took out a phalanx of thugs while topless.

Thursday, November 06, 2003

Reagan mini-series...

One of the main contention points over CBS's now canned (and pawned off to Showtime) mini series is that the script has a line in which Reagan refers to AIDS victims by saying; "They that live in sin shall die in sin."

Right wing pundits were up in arms over that line. Joel Mowbray complains: that "the 'merits' were often fictitious, even by the filmmakers’ own admissions.... but facts must be treated as the stubborn things that they are.'

Okay, here is a fact reported by one or Reagan's biographers Edmund Morris. According to Morris what Reagan actually said about AIDS was that "maybe the Lord brought down this plague" because "illicit sex is against the Ten Commandments."

If the script said those exact words would the Right Wing press complain? Most likely they would then turn their criticism toward Morris. But that's the way it is with the Right Wing; they don't want anything to tarnish their legendary leader.

Eric Alterman has a good piece on Reagan and his 'wonderful' reign.

GLAAD also has something to say about Reagan's slow response to the AIDS epidemic in the 1980's.

Wednesday, November 05, 2003

Cool and Useful...

It's a busy day at work today so I'll just suggest some cool sites:

For politics check out Cursor and the always valuable Agonist.

For book news and views see Bookslut.

If movies are your thing check Movie City News.

For fun (with Flash) check out The Big Myth
And Moluv's Picks

For mildly sick fun see Psycho Studio (for you Hitchcock fans and film editors)

And for wacky humor and links see Everlasting Blort (because everyone needs wacky humor).

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

Informative blog...

Uggabugga has an impressive list of many of the lies and distortions about Iraq peddled by Bush.


Documentary...

There's a new documentary out about the Bush Administation's over-hyping of the Iraqi threat. The film by Robert Greenwald is titled; Uncovered: The Whole Truth about the Iraqi War.

This controversial and arresting film takes you behind the walls of government, as CIA, Pentagon and foreign service experts speak out, many for the first time, detailing the lies, misstatements and exaggerations that served as the reasons to fight a "preemptive" war that wasn't necessary.
(...)
The film will present interviews with more than 20 experts, all of whom have informed opinions about the reasons we were given for war and the evidence presented to support those reasons.


Greenwald approached all the major news networks to get footage of interviews and the only network to refuse his request was...you guess it - FOX News. (scroll down)

Look for screenings in your area or for a mere $14.95 you can purchase the DVD online.

It should be noted that Greenwald is a good filmmaker who unlike Bill O’Reilly actually won a Peabody award. An interview with Greenwald can be found here.
Death threat over a 'toon...

Cartoonist Darby Conley received death threats because in his daily toon ‘Get Fuzzy’ (about a goofy cat) he made a humorous snipe at how the city of Pittsburgh smells.

Here’s the toon.

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I wonder what happens to people who comment how bad their football team is these days?

Monday, November 03, 2003

Film Book...

More from 'It Don't Worry Me; The Revolutionary Films of the Seventies.'

About Star Wars:
- Star Wars was actually even more rudimentary than [Roger] Corman's most ramshackle rush-job, the better to broaden its commercial appeal. The characters [are] standard types: a eunuch hero (Luke Skywalker), a damsel who, for all her superficial feistiness, was still frequently to be found in distress (Princess Leia), a lovable rogue (Han Solo), an umambiguous villain (Darthy Vader) and a platoon of wacky supporting characters distinguished by varying degrees of deformity, eccentricity and body hair.

About Close Encounters:
- Spielberg gives the UFOs the best line in the film - the coded musical signature that suggests erudition, warmth and wit in five sparse notes.

About Jaws:
- Jaws is actually about the repellent vulnerability of people. The shark is only a convenient means of exposing that vulnerability.
- The film begins with an image of disorientation: the camera observes a midnight skinnydipper from below, as though she is floating in the night sky.... The cameraman is like a schoolboy dropping dimes on the dancefloor to get within viewing distance of women's underwear. But that voyeuristic thrill is quickly subverted by our realization that we have been assigned the role of shark.
Founding Father's Multiple Choice...

What do Thomas Jefferson's records show he did on that famous Fourth of July in 1776 when the Declaration of Independence was adopted?

A) Having a congratulatory beer with John Adams and friends.
B) Out buying seven pairs of gloves for his wife.
C) Having a secret rendevous at half past midnight with one of his slaves.
D) Deciding between the phrase 'freedom of religion' or 'freedom from religion' in an early draft of the Constitition.
E) Hunting in the forests of France with King Louis XVI oblivious to the meaning of the 'Fourth of July'.

Answer here.

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(Info from Understanding Jefferson by E.M. Halliday).