Archive for July 2013

No Forgiveness for Only God Forgives

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By the time Detective Chang jabs a fifth chopstick into Van Gogh's brain, we're not just covering our eyes, we're wondering why. The senseless act perfectly mirrors the senselessness of the story: Chang's trying to find out who put out a hit on him, but when he begins his chopstick dance, we already know the answer to that question and so does Chang.

This scene, like so many others in Nicolas Winding Refn's disaster of a movie, made the impossible possible: falling asleep while a man's limb is severed, falling asleep when a sword passes through a woman's body, falling asleep while Ryan Gosling just stands there, waiting.

Oh god, the standing and waiting. A better actor might have sold this role, but while facing all his ethical turmoil (I assume that's what he's facing--it might be a particularly disappointing bout of constipation) he never achieves anything more than blankness.

Ryan Gosling

So thank goodness for Kristin Scott Thomas. She swoops in, a bundle of bleach and poison, bringing the only forward movement to a story that really doesn't need to move forward at all, and should have been terminated at the outset.

Utterly against type, she takes her character to a level of malevolence unseen since Jackie Weaver in Animal Kingdom (a movie you should not miss, if you haven't seen it already).


I don't know what to do when there's a single performance that shines like a diamond in a pile of shit. Is she objectively good, or is she better only in comparison? I've heard early clamors from the Twitterati for an Oscar nom for Thomas, and I find the thought strangely distasteful. Isn't the performance a failure when it's not in keeping with the rest of the movie?

I really shouldn't complain. At least she brought some entertainment to the whole dour business.

Thoughts on the Trayvon Martin Trial

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I've struggled to record my exact feelings on yesterday's acquittal. The court delivered an awful verdict that suggested that certain key questions are beside the point: What is the crime? Who committed it? Why? How?

Apart from the racial aspects of the case, which others have covered far more eloquently than I could, I'm disturbed by the way the final decision failed to reflect an actual crime. Isn't the whole notion of Western justice based on cause and effect? Crime and punishment?

We're left with the fact that a man was murdered, but hey, that's cool, just an annoying gnat of a fact irrelevant to the case at hand.

No one seems bothered by the proportionality of Zimmerman's act. That a man with a gun shot a kid without a weapon of any kind. That a guy who wilfully ignored police orders should not be allowed a gun in any circumstance.  That even when you strip away all the politics around this, the facts remain: a man with a gun shot an unarmed teenager.

A man with a gun shot an unarmed teenager, and apparently that's ok. What is our justice system even worth when that kind of core simplicity can be flim-flammed away?

This verdict is a travesty, and even if Zimmerman's acts are perfectly lawful, then we have to question the substance of the laws themselves.

Let's see how the civil trial fares.

When Bill Clinton asked Octavia Butler to Imagine the Future

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For whatever reason, I went down a mad Octavia Butler-related rabbit hole yesterday, which led me into, among other things, the classification of a movement called "afrofuturism", and the musical legacy of that terribly named movement.

My favorite find, however, was this little nugget from Essence Magazine (full pdf here)

Screen shot 2013 07 07 at 9 45 53 AM

Now, I'm ashamed to admit the total failure of my Google-fu, but I can't seem to locate the actual memo! I've scoured blogger, Google search, and even Clinton's digital archives to try and find the actual work, but I've been unsuccesful! Does anyone want to give it a go?

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