November 24, 2004

Russian Ark

"Russian Ark" is filmed in Hermitage musem for 90 minutes in one shot, with over a 100 actors and over a 100 extras.

This is an extremely boring movie. The interesting parts of the plot could fit into a 3 min short film. You pretty much need to know a lot about Russian history in order to make any sense out of the movie.

On the other hand, "The making of the Russian Ark" on the same DVD is great. I was impressed by the movie's technical complexity, before I saw how it was made. And then I was impressed many times over!!!

"The making of..." shows all important scenes, but with the commentary so one can actually understand what the director wanted to say. You will see everything worth seeing in the feature.

Posted by laza at 02:50 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 12, 2004

Poor in America

A recent FoxNews article The Specter of Poverty in America says that the poor in the United States have color TVs, DVD players, etc. It is a very mean attempt to negate the problem of poverty in this country. But many (such as ESR)have parroted the article and used it as a "proof" that the poverty is almost non-existant.

Oh, right. as if FoxNews is an authoritative source on "compassionate" republican issues such as poverty and homelessnes. I am not sure if the article is correct on numbers or not (Fox is usually as wrong with the numbers as reasonably possible) but here are the obvious falacies of the article:

- "30 years ago, only 36% of the entire U.S. population enjoyed air conditioning." Which is of course due to cheap Chinese ACs, not due to Americans getting richer in the last 30 years. Mobile phones used to cost $1000's 30 years ago.

- "The average poor American has more living space than the average individual living in Paris, London, Vienna...". And probably more than an average millionaire has in Manhattan (1BR apt = $1million). U.S. cities such as New York, and European cities such as Vienna, have much much much smaller apartments than the size of houses built in wide open spaces of Oregon. Why not compare living space of a bedouin in Gobi desert to a studio apartment on Upper East Side?

- "Nearly three-quarters of poor households own a car" ... because they would not be able to make a living otherwise. While cities and Europe allow poor people to commute by public transportation, necessity for car spendig IS one if the reasons for poverty in the US.

- "78% have a VCR or DVD player ... 73% own a microwave oven...97% of poor households have a color television..." which costs $80 at BestBuy, or about one day worth of food for a family. Unless they found the TV thrown out in garbage or bought in on yard sale. Realistically, it is easy to save $1 a day and buy a TV in a couple of months. These are indecent attempts of using cheap consumer items in order to show how the poor have a lot.

- "62% have cable or satellite TV reception." Now this is a real expense: cable is a recurring expense anually more expensive than VCR, DVD, TV, AC, stove, refrigerator, and microvawe combined!

You can also see poor teenagers that wear $150 sneakers. The reason they buy Nike's and pay for the cable is that:
1 - if they saved that money, it would take them about 1000 years to buy a house or start a business
2 - they use entertainment as an escape from the bleak prospects of a $5/hour burger flipper

It is true that American poor are not nearly as poor as elswhere in the world. But there are poor people: just read excerpts from the book "Nickled and Dimed". It is easy not to see them while sitting in a fenced neighborhood. Let's start thinking instead of parroting FoxNews headlines.

Posted by laza at 07:02 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 05, 2004

R.E.M. Concert

Like last year, R.E.M. had a flashy stage at MSG last night, but nothing spectacular. Angela McCluskey's unusual voice (as Bjork would sound if she was American) was a warm-up before the main event. Her other talents include the ability to put "fuckin'" into every single sentence she utters.

R.E.M. opened with "It's The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)" rousing the fans. A friend immediately related this to the presidential elections, which was reaffirmed throughout the concert by Mike's references to "this very strange Thursday evening". The newer stuff followed for the next half hour until "This one goes out to the one I love" brought everyone to their feet, matched only by "Losing My Religion". The second part of the concert (a.k.a. fake encore) was essentially "The Best of R.E.M" including "What's the Frequency Kenneth?", "Drive (tick-tock)", "Imitation of Life (C'mon, C'mon)". I was a bit surprised to see a large group of teenagers around us respond to all songs, old and new, just like I did a decade ago. That is what makes R.E.M. great.

These teenagers loudly complained after the concert that "Orange Crush" was not played. I wish I heard "Radio Song", "Bad Day", and "Everybody Hurts". Just if it could have lasted longer!

Posted by laza at 12:09 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack