September 2011

From Al Jazeera,
“Meltdown: Part One”


Frothy ol’ Santorum is virtually impossible to reach.

Go to his campaign website. Is there a place to email or call?

There is good reason this person’s name is mud.

In the recent GOP debate where a soldier asking about freedom was booed, Santorum responded but did not thank the
soldier for his service to the nation, nor did Frothy quell the crowd and say that all members of the Armed Services deserve

Is there a way to tell Frothy how you feel as an American? No.
Why is he hiding? What dirty secrets does he have to hide?





Holy Kamoly!
Read like the universe depends on it.
Because it does.

I do not agree with much of Paul’s stances, but I love this video on foreign policy!

Here’s a short list of somma my faves!

Beatles: Its All Too Much, Pepper’s Reprise, Carry that Weight

Korn: Freak on a Leash

White Zombie: More Human than Human

Paul Simon: Kodakrome, Baby Driver, Keep the Customers Satisfied

Ozzy: Goodbye to Romance

Red Hot Chili Peppers: Under the Bridge, Give It Away

Breeders: Cannonball

AC/DC: Thunderstruck, Money Talks

Iggy Pop: Lust For Life

Morrissey: Certain People I Know, King Leer, There’s a Place for Me and My Friends

Rage Against the Machine: Bombtrack, Bulls on Parade, Killing in the Name

Jane’s Addiction: Been Caught Stealin’

Lightning Seeds: Pure, The Price

System of a Down: Chop Suey

Led Zeppelin: D’yer Maker

Beck: Beercan

Leonard Cohen: So Long Marianne, That’s No Way to Say Goodbye

50 Cent: At the Club

Mammas and the Pappas: Glad to Be Unhappy, 12:30

U2: With Or Without You, Running to Stand Still, Where the Streets have No Name

Moby: Southside, We Are All Made of Stars

Metallica: Sad But True, Enter Sandman

Mickey and Sylvia: Love is Strange

They Might Be Giants: Birdhouse in your Soul

Pixies: Here Comes Your Man

The Doors: LA Woman

Weezer: The World Has Turned, Holiday

Stevie Wonder: Superstition

Kinks: Suzannas Gonna Cry, Some Mother’s Son

Dexy’s Midnight Runners: Come On Eileen

The Beastie Boys: Sabotage

Smashing Pumpkins: Today

Sublime: Santoria

Rolling Stones: Ruby Tuesday

The Yeah Yeah Yeahs: Maps

Neil Young: Heart of Gold

Bjork: The New World, I’ve Seen it All, Cocoon

Steppenwolf: Magic Carpet Ride

Bo Diddley: Bo Diddley

The White Stripes: Seven Nation Army, Gonna be Friends, My Doorbell

Contagion is a whole heap of bad and I will discuss its failings and how it could have been better.

I like some of Director Steven Soderbergh’s work. I do. “Sex, Lies, and Videotape” is one of my favorite films from the late Eighties and I do like many of the film’s he has produced, notably “Insomnia” and “Syriana.” I think that he knows a bit about film and that
only makes “Contagion” all the more troubling to figure out.

Steven Soderbergh’s film “Contagion” fails in much the same way as some of his previous films.
Like “Che Parts One and Two” there is only a series of events–not scenes that drive the film with momentum.
Like “Traffic” its big company of actors in disparate story lines lessen the film’s focus and emotional impact.
But I liked “Traffic” and “Che” enough to sit through them and enjoy them for what they were.
“Contagion” had me squirming with anger and I caught myself swearing out loud to myself as I went home.

It is pure tedium. It takes its audience for granted: “There’s stars in this! You’ll love it!”
No we won’t and we didn’t. The audience I saw it with (on a Saturday night there were about twenty people in the theater)
were silent the whole time and left silently. Not ’emotionally drained,’ but just depleted of energy. They’d sat through and hour and forty five minutes of monotony! My friend was just as shell-shocked as I.

Why Was This Film Made?
If this film had been made closer to the ‘swine flu’ or ‘bird flu’ scares a couple of years ago I could see producers feeling that a
film of this nature might have some interest. Was it written many years ago (by Scott Z. Burns) and shelved?

What Can Motivate Story Telling, And Why “Contagion” Has Almost No/Poor Motivation.
The ‘purpose’ behind a story (in this case movie making) can vary pretty widely. I’ve come up with some, and I’m sure you
can think of others.
1. Entertain
2. Titillate/Shock
3. Catharsis/Emotional Journey
4. Showcase Artistic Excellence–in acting, directing, editing, etc
5. Give Voice to The Audience’s Unspoken or Unconsciously Known Feelings

I don’t feel that “Contagion” does any of these, but rather it appears to have as its source the weakest type of
6. To Inform

Even documentaries which are created supposedly to inform are best when they move you. They are emotional, connecting,
they take you on a journey. You find out about yourself, humanity, a specific social concern, a person of interest…whatever it is, it
makes a difference to you.

“Contagion” views like a tutorial 101 on “How Government Agencies Plan To React To Epidemics.”

In other movies that feature an ensemble cast over many locations (“Babel” being one that has done it well recently) the
‘wide lens’ on the issues is grounded in good characterization and relationships that we care about.
“Contagion” does not have that, and it suffers as a result.

Scenes That Go Nowhere
There are so many individual scenes that have no driving need in them. Each scene feels lifeless and when you stack a series of
scenes like that together they make a movie that has no momentum, no need, no urgency, no drama.

Characters (and the lack of characterization)
The film’s great vacuum is the total absence of characters that we care about, are unique, have character arcs, and are in relationships that we connect with/care about.

Let’s start off with:
A) Gwyneth Paltrow. Do we care about this character? No. All we do know is that she is unlikeable because she is cheating on her husband (Matt Damon!) and while she is away from her child and husband on a business trip she’s at a casino acting like she’s Lindsay Lohan (the LiLo that used to be accepted at parties). She comes home, dies. That’s that. The weak-ass tacked on portion at the end we find out it is her company (a mining company tearing down trees) that is in part the cause of the outbreak. What irony! Ohhhh! Irony! Right?

B) Matt Damon. Do we care about Matt Damon? No. His wife dies and he’s like “Okay. Anybody up for casserole?” and then immediately his son dies and he’s like “More coffee anyone?” And then his daughter shows up at the hospital when he’s in isolation and they’re both like: “How’s the hospital food, there Dad?” “Ah, yah know. Not bad and there’s lots of it, don’t yah know.” At the end of the film we’re subjected to watching Matt Damon look at pictures of Paltrow having fun at a casino for like five minutes. Is this his “remembering the good times” moment? Is he giving us any idea that he’s pissed at her for being an absentee mom who’s globetrotting around the world at parties while he’s made to take care of their son and she’s cuckolding him with some schmuck in Chicago? Nope. He’s just gonna cry a bit. “Gosh, I miss my two timing absentee wife.”

Matt Damon had no character arc, and the one chance he had at it was lost. Here’s how:
Its set up that he is preventing his daughter from seeing her boyfriend for fear of her catching the contagion. He’s a man who’s been cheated on. Maybe there’s a more personal reason he’s coming between them! Nope. We’re never given that idea. It gets worse. At the end of the film when he creates a ‘Prom Night’ for his daughter and secretly invites the boyfriend over…is it because he’s learned to allow his daughter to make up her own mind and be okay with seeing her trust another person even though it could end in heart ache?
Its revealed that the boyfriend has been given the vaccine! Ohhh! Good choice, Scott Z. Burns and Steven Soderbergh.
Nothing like taking away the last chance of a character growing and changing.

C) Marion Cotillard. Do we care about her? Nope. She is kidnapped! Oh! I might be starting to care! Nope. She’s just a ruse to get a
village some vaccine. She’s safe. Don’t worry. Does she has a character arc? Nope. We know nothing about her to begin with so when she “comes to find that she likes living as a pseudo-captive in rural China” we don’t care! Was she a cruel and heartless person before who didn’t care about kids or poor people or rural Chinese? Who knows. She may have been a nun before working for the World Health Organization and this was totally up her alley the whole time. We just don’t care.

D, E, F) I could go on and on. We don’t care about anyone here. Which sucks because this is a movie about millions dying and we don’t care about who lives or dies. We don’t feel anything for these idiotic, flat, non-characters!

Character Arcs, Decisions, Pivotal Moments
This movie has none.
A movie/story is driven by the decisions that characters make. Usually movies will have lead protagonists make ‘good’ decisions that we could probably have guessed they’d make but we need to see how they come to the conclusion. Audiences like to see the tension, the character under duress. Even the example of Jesus riding into Jerusalem on the donkey. Okay, so he does it and we could guess that he might…But we’re given the scene of Jesus looking over Jerusalem and saying “You who kill your prophets” Damn! What a scene right? Gethsemane is the same thing: We see the travail. Its the decisions that show characters’ growth and change. But! We need to know what the person is about. What is their fear? Where do they come from? What challenge must they face and what problem must they solve?
We see Marion Cotillard in the airport after learning her beloved village was given placebo instead of vaccine. She stares blankly for like two seconds and gives up her life as she knows it to presumably go back to the village (to what? see them die? warn them? die with them?).
We see Laurence Fishburne give his vaccine to a kid. Maybe out of guilt? Who knows? Do we see any emotion about it or any pathos as he then goes to his wife and gives her a vaccine? Nope.
We see Jennifer Ehle inject herself with a trial vaccine and then go visit her dying dad (gimme a break). How can we care about this decision when in one scene we are made to see her subject herself to potential death and meet her father for the first time in the film and be given all this backstory about how he was a doctor also and told her about how “science needs to take chances” or something. It becomes a “flippant decision amidst an info-dump exposition while we meet a character who also by the way is on his god damned death bed.” Give me a break.

Missed Chances

1. We’ve got the issue of Paltrow cheating on Matt Damon. She brings sickness home that kills their kid. Is there any idea of how STDs are commonly brought into marriages through cheating?
2. Why not have a character arc of Matt Damon ‘doubting the goodness of humanity’ after his wife cheats on him and he sees all these people fighting over scraps (in very Un-Minnesotan fashion I might add)?
3. Why is there no idea about ‘paranoia?’ We have all these close ups of people touching things and there’s no sense of the creeping paranoia that we could always live in.
4. Why not show us the goddammed scene where Kate Winslet tells Matt Damon his wife cheated on him? Wouldn’t that be an interesting scene? We only hear her reference the conversation. Sheesh.
5. Why are we given ambiguity about whether Jude Law is lying about the homeopathic medicine or not? Wouldn’t that be a potential for a ‘twist’ or be revealing of his character one way or another?! Dammit, this movie is horrible! Was the CDC looking at the early drafts of the screenplay (since they were featured so heavily) and ask that nothing controversial be included about Jude Law’s conspiracy theory?

What Do We Learn?
1. China is dirty and is where flu comes from.
2. There are two black people in the world and one of them is Laurence Fishbourne.
3. America is where daring scientists kick disease’s ass.
4. Demetri Martin!
5. America kicks ass because “we shake hands, and always will, goddammit!”
6. Sometimes Elliot Gould is in a movie for no reason because he’s worked with the director in all three of the “Ocean’s Eleven” films.

This is a lot of very good actors put to bad use by a overly-hyped director. It is not a ‘serious’ movie, nor moving, nor interesting.
It is billed as a ‘thriller’ and it bastardizes the very word ‘thrill.’ It drags and bores.
It views like a movie that may have been a bad basic cable ‘Movie of the Week.’
Horribly bad. Yuck.