Wednesday, October 28, 2020

The Way I See It (2020)

Rotten Tomatoes
The Way I See It (2020): Documentary about Pete Souza, White House photographer for President Obama. It's at its best when it lets his photographs do the talking. It's not as good when it expands to include video and photos taken by others. Souza's "Shade" was a surprise hit. B-

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

"Identity Politics" in the 1860 Election

In a review of a biography of Abraham Lincoln in The New Yorker, Adam Gopnik makes a couple of throwaway observations of the 1860 campaign for the Republican nomination for President, observations about parallels to today's world.
The Lincolnians also courted a now often overlooked interest group, the √©migr√© Germans, including many exiled by the failed liberal revolutions of 1848. As [Sidney] Blumenthal notes, Lincoln had bought a German-language newspaper, in order to appeal to those key players of the “identity politics” of the time. (It was the equivalent of surreptitiously funding Facebook pages in 2020.)

Identity politics. Facebook. Both in a paragraph about the election of 1860. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Monday, October 26, 2020

POTD: For a Dreamer of Houses

Today's photo-of-the-day is from the Dallas Museum of Art. It shows "Rubber Pencil Devil," by Alex Da Corte, ("2018, glass, aluminum, vinyl, velvet, neon, Plexiglas, high res digital video, color, sound"). It's part of the exhibition "For a Dreamer of Houses".

Bonus photo after the jump.

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Borat Subsequent Moviefilm (2020)

Rotten Tomatoes
Borat Subsequent Moviefilm (2020): Blunt satire of Trump supporters, debutante balls, plastic surgeons, anti-abortion clinics, and, yes, Rudy Giuliani. But vulgarity is no longer shocking, merely vulgar. But then, Giuliani and Trump themselves are vulgar, so call it a draw. D+






Saturday, October 24, 2020

My Octopus Teacher (2020)

Rotten Tomatoes
My Octopus Teacher (2020): Nature documentary like you've never seen. Diver in South Africa spends a year visiting, studying, and learning from one particular octopus. He even makes friends, if that's the right word. It's clearly intelligent, curious, and playful. Fascinating. B+

Friday, October 23, 2020

Review: The Index of Self-Destructive Acts

From The Index of Self-Destructive Acts, by Christopher Beha:

Open quoteOn the day that Waxworth arrived in New York to write for the Interviewer, a man named Herman Nash stood on the rim of the fountain in Washington Square and announced that the world was about to end." The Index of Self-Destructive Acts
The index of self-destructive acts is a baseball statistic developed by Bill James that counts up all the mistakes a pitcher makes that are entirely in his control: balks, wild pitches, errors, etc. There's not much baseball in this novel by Christopher Beha, but there are a lot of self-destructive acts.

Thursday, October 22, 2020

The Man Who Wouldn't Spy for the US

"The F.B.I. tried to recruit an Iranian scientist as an informant. When he balked, the payback was brutal." Laura Secor tells the story of Sirous Asgari, an Iranian who had once attended graduate school in America, where his wife gave birth to his American citizen daughter, and where his two sons attended American universities. But on a visit in 2017 he was detained by the F.B.I. He was charged with "theft of trade secrets, visa fraud, and eleven counts of wire fraud." He considered the charges to be nonsense and refused a deal offered that appeared to be the real reason behind the charges — to get him to agree to act as an informant, that is to spy for the US back in Iran. He fought the trumped up charges in an American courtroom and won. But after the judge dismissed all charges against him, even before he could leave the courtroom, he was detained by I.C.E. And then the real hell began.