June 2007 Archives

Sat Jun 23 10:21:19 CDT 2007

Cheney Update

This just in, Dick Cheney isn't part of the Executive Branch, so his "office" does not need to comply with Presidential orders regarding the handling of classified information, because he's head of the Senate. And when the office of National and Records Administration challenged this, Cheney's office suggested they be eliminated.

A pretty arrogant response from the office of the Vice President considering they were the source of a leak that revealed classified information.

That's bad enough, but notable for other reasons, because in 2001, Cheney claimed (in court hearings) that his office enjoyed the benefits of Executive Privilege so it could hide information regarding Energy Task Force meetings from the U.S. public. In that particular case, the big story was who Cheney's Energy Task Force interviewed: Lots of Big Oil executives. They excluded environmental groups concerned about U.S. energy policy, which is why the Sierra Club sued to gain access to information about the Task Force (and were denied by ).

So which is it? Is the Veep part of the Executive branch or is it part of Congress? The short answer is that it's part of whatever agency can be used as a flimsy excuse to hide information from the American public.

In the bigger picture, Cheney simply doesn't think he's accountable to anyone is this country -- even the President. If he didn't claim Executive Privilege, or Immunity from Executive Orders, he'd just claim National Security or some other bullshit. Cheney doesn't think the U.S. public has any right to know what he is doing.

He should have been impeached long ago, but apparently our democracy is too weak to even confront him. A sad testament to our times, but definitely something to keep in mind next November: as bad as any Democrat has been over the last 50 years, none have had the cojones to thumb their nose at the American public, the U.S. Constitution, The President, and Congress.

Posted by johan | Permanent link

Mon Jun 18 01:07:23 CDT 2007

What happened to Terry Gilliam?

Until very recently, Terry Gilliam was one of my favorite director/writers. There are a few directors whose work i look forward to -- Jim Jarmusch comes to mind. And i enjoyed Sophia Coppola's Lost in Translation and Marie Antionette enough that i'm looking forward to seeing what she does next.

Sometimes directors "fall out of favor" really just because my tastes in movies change with time. But this is something different. I still really enjoy Gilliam's older movies: 12 Monkeys, The Adventures of Baron von Munchausen, Brazil, and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

But something has definitely changed since Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.. I was disappointed by Brother's Grimm, when i saw it in the theater, but i was willing to attribute that to (the widely reported) interference from the Brothers Weinstein. Gilliam himself reportedly said "Brothers Grimm helped him line up financing for Tideland," which i figured was a good thing, because Tideland was going to be a low budget pet project, and i was really looking forward to seeing Gilliam's pet creation.

Which brings us to this weekend, when i received Tideland (bought it used from Netflix.) I knew nothing at all about the movie, except that Gilliam had written the script and directed it. (I often avoid reading about movies i know i am going to see, because i prefer to see them without any preconceptions.) I guess i was sort of expecting something artsy, like Mirrormask, which was a little too esoteric for me to really get into, but i'd still enjoyed it a lot.

I could not have been any more wrong.

To be blunt, Tideland is a horrible, horrible movie. It is in fact a horror movie, except that where traditional horror movies scare with gore and suspense, Tideland simply overwhelms the viewer with an continuous and gruesome concepts and plot. I cannot imagine why or how any sane person would would enjoy to seeing it.

The problem is not at all the acting, nor the cinematography, or even the quality of the writing or direction. The problem is simply that the story itself is gruesome. It's so repellant that someone (perhaps Gilliam) felt the need to put Gilliam on screen before the movie (or at least the DVD), where he says something to the effect of "Many of you will hate this movie. Many of you will love this movie. And many of you will be wondering what was going on after it's over." After talking about how the movie is from the perspective of a 10 year-old and that children are amazingly resilient, he then adds "Don't forget to laugh." A director who comes on screen before his movie and tells you how to feel has failed. He had ~two hours to communicate something, and if he needs to fill the screen with his big dumb head and tell you what you feel, he has massively screwed up.

(Spoiler alert)

You can read the plot at Wikipedia, for the full, gruesome details. I will only add that i was relieved when after two hours, the movie was finally brought to a close by a train wreck. Yes, relieved at a train wreck.

I know Gilliam is working on Good Omens and i hope he doesn't screw it up like his last two movies. But even if it's great, i doubt he'll ever be a "favorite" director again; Tideland was simply too horrible.

Posted by johan | Permanent link | File under: movies