Saturday, June 11, 2016

100 Must-See Films! -- Travolta

“I'm from a working-class family. We didn't have a lot, but we had the arts. You're talking to a guy who is making a living at doing what he loves doing - acting, singing and dancing. So any career ups and downs were not that significant to me; the only things that really powerfully impinged on me were my losses, and there were many in my life.”—John Travolta, undoubtedly thinking of his first child, Jett, who died at age sixteen following a seizure.

“I don't think I'm very cool as a person. I'm just better than anyone else at acting cool.”

The heart is a lonely hunter…

74. A Love Song for Bobby Long (2004, USA)
Scarlett Johansson, John Travolta, Gabriel Macht

This is a warm earthy film with rich dialogue and much to say on the fragile nature of relationships: friendship, family, pseudo-family and self.

Roger Ebert explains it well: "What can be said is that the three actors inhabit this material with ease and gratitude: It is good to act on a simmer sometimes, instead of at a fast boil. It's unusual to find an American movie that takes its time. It's remarkable to listen to dialogue that assumes the audience is well-read. It is refreshing to hear literate conversation. These are modest pleasures, but real enough."

Said Carina Chocano of the L. A. Times: "…deep-down, a redemptive makeover story drenched in alcohol, Southern literature and the damp romanticism of the bohemian lush life in New Orleans. A lovely noble rot pervades the film in much the same way that it does the city, a longtime repository of lost-cause romanticism. If there's something a little bit moldy about the setup (drunken literary types, hope on the doorstep, healing from beyond the grave), the movie is no less charming or involving for it, and it's no less pleasant to succumb to its wayward allure and wastrel lyricism.”

The ending might be accused of being predictable, but so what? The story is legitimate and like any other, should not be perverted for the sake of surprise.

Writers: Ronald Everett Capps, Shainee Gabel
Director: Shainee Gabel (Anthem)
Budget: unknown
IMDB rating: 7.2

75. Michael (1996, USA)
John Travolta, Andie McDowell, William Hurt, Jean Stapleton, Robert Pastorelli

Here Travolta’s capacity for bold presence is put to work as a heavenly angel with some very down-to-earth habits; a sort of divine mind with very human urges. If categorized a comedy, it is one of depth. I found it delightful and amusing though critics seemed not to know what to make if it. Nonetheless it was a box office hit, ranking in the year’s top twenty.

Writers: Peter Dexter (Mulholland Falls), Jim Quinlan
Director: Nora Ephron (Julie & Julia, Lucky Numbers)
Budget: $46,000,000
IMDB rating: 5.6

76. Phenomenon (1996, USA)
John Travolta, Kyra Sedgwick, Forest Whitaker, Robert Duvall

Oddly, Travolta starred in a second 1996 fantasy-drama box office hit, also about a character with extraordinary powers put to work in rather altruistic aid of those around him; but here an everyman turned genius by some apparently supernatural event.

This story is more serious; more of romantic bent than comedic and touches the heart a little deeper.

The film and its principle actors earned attention from a variety of awards including MTV wins for best kiss (Travolta/Sedgwick) and Eric Clapton’s song Change the World.

Writer: Gerald Di Pego (Instinct)
Director: Jon Turtletaub (National Treasure)
Budget: $32,000,000
IMDB rating: 6.4

Sunday, June 05, 2016

The Tallest Bridges art Nearest to Heaven

Should you figure you linger at a stopping ground;
Your real home a gift yet received,
Then oughtn’t you quit your farting around
And pack your bags and leave?

Thursday, June 02, 2016

Why Trump is ahead of his time

If cats have nine lives, how many lives does capitalism have?

Nobody ever builds or buys corporations in order to maintain their wealth; but only to increase it. The wealthiest of Western society keep getting wealthier, yet money doesn’t grow on trees. Money is still just points on a ledger; a share in a finite system. The rich can only get richer through growth within a limited pool. Capitalism is a pyramid scheme and the base of that pyramid maxed out the realm of North American productivity a long time ago, when our particular manifestation of capitalism (be it pure or perverted) should have asphyxiated.

Yet this ghost of capitalism keeps feeding the elite.

What are these bonus lives which keep money flowing uphill? I see it as this:

1 – Waste. Though the workers of society cannot collectively afford to purchase all the products they collectively produce, we keep on producing too much, and we stockpile shelves and warehouses and destroy “non-fresh” food and imperfect-looking produce and breed billions of livestock to eat far more food quantity than what they eventually return to us in meat. We advertise everything to death which addresses no consumer need, which convinces our dull brains to buy outrageous shit we don’t need (and which in fact harm us) and redundantly pits brands against each other for no greater purpose but just to fight one another in the pursuit of growing faster than the other guy grows. And best of all, we produce enormous volumes of weapons, ammunition and war machines and outrageously phony excuses to declare enemies and blow things up so as to then have to manufacture them again, along with all the pretty coffins.

2 – Globalization. We drag poorer nations into the capitalism game by lording power over them, inflicting world trade conditions upon them in drag as charity and forcing them to bid for the privilege of being our slaves and producing our groovy swag at the lowest possible cost, thus unavoidable: child labor, slave labor, compromises in safety, compromises in environmental protection. A lovely boon: we outsource our pollution and divert blame for global warming when truly it is squarely ours.

3 – Oil. We destroy critical components of the biosphere in order to dig up millions of years worth of liquid sunshine (and other fossil fuels), releasing those toxins into the air and powering machines, the sub-slaves which give we elite slaves; you and me, a privileged life. For as long as oil lasts (a mere blip of time by any real perspective) it is the machines harnessed to the grindstone instead of us.

4 – Matricide. North American natives have always understood Mother Earth; have always known that it is she who gives us life. We feed the Western Imperialist machine beyond the capacity of our own labour by mortgaging the Earth with no means to repay. Already we’ve destroyed more than half of fresh water sources, more than half of the world’s topsoil and more than half of the critical wetlands and rain forests. We have literally crippled the biosphere to the point that it is no longer a game of rampant subtraction. We are into exponents now because we have triggered massive feedback loops in the system. We have drawn down the Earth’s capacity to support life to the point that it is already tail-spinning.

5. Financial buggery. When the pros from various financial corners try to explain their little vistas of the ever-increasing complexities around the thousand-and-one ways we’ve concocted for money to change hands without any product or value of any kind materializing, I quickly run into acronyms or jargon which I do not understand and I wonder if there is a human being anywhere who has a handle on the whole entire picture? I suspect there is not one. It’s just becoming clear that our capitalist system of the rich skimming off the labour of the not-rich is growing and complexifying to allow greater means and layers of skimming and re-skimming.

6. Population explosion. Do I need to explain why seven-point-something billion people on a planet with as limited a biosphere as ours is an obscene perversion? I am going to assume that I do not need to explain why seven-point-something billion people on a planet with as limited a biosphere as ours is an obscene perversion.

7. And here I will concede. I’m not going to get to nine. Winner: cats.

The obvious problem with all of these bonus lives is that they are all very swiftly drying up. Oil reserves, all other natural resources, opportunities for global imperialist frontiers; all of it is currently maxing out as we speak. We’re heading into crash mode.

And as everything crashes; water, food, social stability, the viability of individual nations and the U.N., unraveling slowly at first and gathering momentum, the global hatred toward Europe and North America and (fairly or unfairly) especially toward the United States of America, will rapidly increase, not just out of blame but from desperation, as elite nations (generally the least affected by climate disaster thanks in part to wealth and in part to geographical irony) maintain slower depletion of privileges, as other societies descend more swiftly into unavoidable hunger and violence.  

As America draws even more hatred and is targeted for its rarefying assets, it will require more and more justification for privilege and exclusion and militancy and will need more and more delusional reasons to hate back. Hate, however deluded, will literally become the essential ingredient to the new dwindling version of the American Dream/Nightmare.

I don’t presume that Trump understands this or that perhaps his people do; his elite cohorts who usher him down this path. More likely, I suspect, understanding only exists in the collective insanity of their instinctive minds. In any event Trump is serving as a shock absorber. Just as gas prices spiked hugely in the early millennium, taming our reaction, soothing our outrage, falling back down before soon migrating upwards again, Trump is normalizing hatred of the other and getting killed by the backlash that some of us are still capable of.

Trump won’t win this presidency, I suggest, because it’s still too early for hate to overtly and unapologetically rule, but later, when the essential wave of hatred must roll into the realm of normal, it will not be so noticeable. And the media will be bored of it. Perhaps Trump is a martyr to his people, perhaps a sacrificial lamb.

He may be scum. But at least he’s taking one for his team.