Happy Monday! Hope everyone had a good weekend. Mine was moderately eventful, partly due to my own initiative not to let myself get bored since there is, as always, something to do, and due in part to an unexpected phone call from the lead actor of my 10-minute student video project from my second year at film school. For that story, read Friday's post and one of the long comments I posted in there. Fantastic coincidence and hard, mathematical karma play a part. This weekend I also saw The New World in the theater, rented and watched Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room, finished reading Nabokov's Lolita (a great novel), watched the NFC and AFC Championship games (soul-crushingly awful games, both blowouts), ate bad food, talked to some friends, and cleaned up the place a bit.
The Smartest Guys in the Room wasn't at all bad -- I feel like I get the whole Enron thing much better now after having watched it, but it was not a technically brilliant documentary. The emotional and human costs of the Enron debacle were never really explored, just the hows and whys of the collapse. Interesting, but a little cold. However, it's supposedly a lock for an Oscar nomination for Best Feature-Length Documentary and a frontrunner for the award itself, while Grizzly Man, which I'm still dying to see and about which I've heard only esctatically good reviews, will not even be nominated. (I'm not sure if that's because it's ineligible, or if because the Academy wasn't into it, I don't know. Ebert and Roeper are my source on that one.)
The New World, Terrence Malick's new movie, is brilliant and everyone should go and see it. How's that for an endorsement? And even with slightly creepy Colin Farrell in it (who may prove to be this generation's Mickey Rourke), it's still damn good. Unlike other directors, who, in their films are concerned primarily with the vagaries of plot and making sure the audience is artificially primed for one twist or another, Malick is confident enough in both his material and his viewer that he doesn't feel the need to handhold the viewer. If his transition from one scene to another is a low-angle shot of an old pine tree reaching high into the air, he's not concerned whether it makes absolute sense to everyone at that moment. It's almost as though whatever thought or emotion a viewer has upon viewing that shot of the tree is, for Malick, the correct one. This is all just my undereducated film-student-y perception of it, but it feels that way. My friend David Speck likened New World to Baraka, and I think that's right. Where Baraka is essentially all cinematic poetry, New World is a mix of poetry and prose -- all used in service of telling a (if not the) story of Pocahontas, from naive wood nymph to the more-or-less westernized woman who had an audience with the King and Queen of England (Incidentally, they never once say her name in the movie -- kind of interesting). Anyway, good stuff. It's slowly-paced and doesn't feature a lot of dialogue, so it may not be for everyone, but I loved it.
This post is going on too long. I tend to do that. Quickly then, the main thing I wanted to talk about: On "Meet the Press" yesterday, Tim Russert had African-American senator Barack Obama of Illinois on his show via satellite. (I wasn't awake in time to watch the show, so I listened to the full podcast which NBC helpfully offers.) So Tim comes at Barack with questions about Iraq, about Hillary's "plantation" comments, but then Tim asks Barack Obama two questions about Anti-American comments made by Harry Belafonte. I was a little bewildered. Why in hell should Obama care what an aging leftist black singer thirty years past his heyday (his heyday-O?) has to say? Obama just answered the questions, inappropriate though they were, though he did sound slightly perplexed in his answers. He would have had every right to shoot back with, "Why are you asking me about Harry Belafonte, Tim?" I would have loved to hear his response. Would Tim Russert have asked John McCain about Harry Belafonte? Hillary Clinton? Doubtful. Looks to me like a race thing, and I'd like to hear Tim's response to that. And I have a blog so he has to do as I say.
Also, NBC officially cancelled The West Wing which sucks. I was never that into the show until last season when the campaign to find a successor to Martin Sheen's character got into full swing. The show had shaken off the lethargy left after Sorkin's departure and was getting really good again. And now it's gone. Darn it, I wanted to see another character in the Oval Office. Now all we got is St. Geena Davis on that Commander-in-Chief show. Blecch. All right, I've bored everyone enough for one day. More tomorrow.
PS. Good Molly Ivins column here. She's not supporting Hillary Clinton and says why. Ok, I'm done for real.