Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Shai-Hulud Will Not be Denied--Will Get Big-Screen Treatment Again in 2010; Also, Mighella; Also, Obama and Race

Frank Herbert's epic science-fiction novel "Dune" is once again getting the big-budget studio treatment. The director who's been lobbying hard behind the scenes for many a month to get the gig is Peter Berg, the actor/director who brought us "Very Bad Things," "Friday Night Lights," and, most recently, "The Kingdom." I haven't seen most of Berg's oeuvre, so admittedly I'm not the best guy to judge whether or not he's got the chops to remake "Dune," but you can color me hopeful about the result, though not really optimistic. I'm hoping his apparent passion for the novel will translate to the most faithful adaptation of Herbert's classic yet, but I have my doubts that the guy who made the execrable "Very Bad Things" can pull off an epic science-fiction film based on a beloved novel.

I love Lynch's 1984 adaptation. The little idiosyncrasies that drive some people crazy about it--the voice-overs, the over-the-top costumes, the new ending--make it a better, more interesting film to me. And even though I believe Lynch's "Dune" is one of the best science-fiction films ever made, it is not, strictly-speaking, a faithful adaptation. The miniseries produced by the SciFi Channel in 2000 hewed more closely to the novel, but it's limited budget prevented the filmmakers from truly realizing the scope of Herbert's novel. Berg has a chance here to make the definitive "Dune," which would be a boon to him personally, of course, but also to fans of Herbert's six "Dune" novels, some of which may get the same big-budget treatment by Paramount if Berg's adaptation clicks with audiences. If Berg and Paramount find a way to make "Dune"--a geopolitical novel laden with political intrigue, environmental science and philosophy--resonate with a mass audience, then they could have something resembling the "LOTR" franchise on their hands. Obviously, that's the best-case scenario. Worst-case, Berg goes back to making disappointing movies and "Dune" reaffirms its reputation as a hard-sell for mass audiences.

In other news, Oscar-winning writer and director of "The English Patient", Anthony Minghella, died today of a brain hemorrhage. He was 54.

And in political news, Barack Obama made a speech today intended to speak directly to some sermons given by Jeremiah Wright, Obama's pastor, and the larger issues of race in America. You can find the full text here. If you want a more stark contrast between Democrats and Republicans, look no further than this speech. Where Mitt Romney, the right-wing Republican golden child, was exclusionary in his big "Mormon speech," saying that non-religious people had no place in American life, Obama was inclusive in his "race speech" today, speaking frankly about where America stands right now on the issue of race. Here's a short excerpt:

"The profound mistake of Reverend Wright’s sermons is not that he spoke about racism in our society. It’s that he spoke as if our society was static; as if no progress has been made; as if this country – a country that has made it possible for one of his own members to run for the highest office in the land and build a coalition of white and black; Latino and Asian, rich and poor, young and old -- is still irrevocably bound to a tragic past. But what we know -- what we have seen – is that America can change. That is true genius of this nation. What we have already achieved gives us hope – the audacity to hope – for what we can and must achieve tomorrow."

Viable politicians rarely (if ever) discuss these issues frankly, which is, in part, why this speech is so fascinating. I don't know if this speech will be enough to counter the impact those grainy videos of Jeremiah Wright thundering away at the pulpit had on some voters, but I hope this thoughtful and inclusive speech will go some way in doing that. Definitely read it.


blankfist said...


Anonymous said...


I love this - shows you just how delusional Americans are regarding perspectives on race in this country.

Look how much the white power Repubs feel threatened on this chart!


Anonymous said...

Also, to add that I agree with many of Rev. Wright's points.

1) US continued war of aggression against Iraq is an unjustified war crime - Bush and co should be tried at the Hague like Milosevic and thrown in jail.

2) 1 out of 99 Americans in jail. 1 in 35 are minorities - most on non-violent offenses. One can't completely blame their own "people" for this.

3) Lack of funding in inner city development - cutting of social programs including welfare. The instructional racism runs deep in the US - as the suburbs and the modern American mall complex were created to separate well to do whites from black urban sectors - especially important after the Watts Riots...

4) The Treatment of the poor (mostly African-Americans) during Hurricane Katrina - and the Dems in Louisiana in the government positions, all turned a blind eye to helping these people. Of course, now the developers and state/city gov't of New Orleans using this as an excuse to rebuild the city, gentrify it and displace most all original inhabitants of the area.

5) Subprime predatory lending which targets mostly minorities and is the culprit behind recent banking crisis. Of course, Bush and his cronies are using public tax money to bail out unscrupulous investment banks, but not millions of people who are losing their homes - I guess because they messed up - and they should be punished and then find religion or pick themselves up by the bootstraps with some self-help B-S to find another way out. Oh well - I call this socialism for the rich.

6) The introduction of crack cocaine into inner cities in the US to illegally fund the Contras in Nicaragua. Read about Gary Webb's findings.

7) Kicking 45,000 African-Americans off the voter roles (illegally) in Florida - which ultimately gave the presidency to Bush. Of course, African American leaders were vociferous in not giving in and conceding. But what did Al Gore do?

The list goes on and on...So, Obama who DOES NOT support a Wealth tax or any type of serious financial regulations or an egalitarian redistributive system - wants change??? What change???

Personally, I think his Rev was projecting way too many positive attributes onto Obama. He doesn't deserve it. His Admin or potential Admin will NOT solve any serious crisis because he will never take on the main entity that backs him -Wall Street and the Military-Science -Industrial Complex. Just you wait and see if either he or HRC is elected. Atleast McCain is honest about his intentions and who he is.

So, like Plato's allegory of the cave - the truth blinds and hurts those who willingly stroll into a paradise of illusion. Americans buy into the illusion that things can change if we work together. But how???

Nobody wants to pay higher income taxes or institute a Swiss-style Wealth tax, or tax financial transactions, or cut the military budget or close bases, nobody wants to take responsibility for their own community, most people think environmentalism is B-S, nobody (especially African-Americans) really at an aggregate level feel like their efforts will change anything on Capitol Hill. Why?

Because the business of America is Business. Pure and simple. 50% of the people who don't want to vote know this and don't give a care what happens. They just want their piece of the pie (which really isn't that much left over after 95% of American wealth is inherited). Notice why Bush wanted to repeal the Estate tax. Surprise! Surprise!

And the business of Americans is to consume - blindly, uncritically and react to stimulus - there is no critical thought (but that which is mediated within the liberal intelligentsia who are apologists for power and the right wing think tanks and church organizations), rarely people mobilizing to truly change things. I mean - a few - but nothing at a substantial level for a country of 300M. Most just want to remain moderate, static – forever pretending that this system is sustainable and that a few tweaks here and there will bestow bountiful wealth for all!

Many Americans have bought into the illusion that they each have a chance to get rich - and to hell with world problems, politics, etc..It is inconceivable for my fellow country folk to connect the dots of their "way of life" to others who don’t have squat. How can you when you come from a culture that only celebrates the winner?

Oh, they say - let the "specialists" handle it - why should the proverbial "we" worry? So, we revert to this feel good, neo-spiritual nationalism which makes me want to vomit.

That is why to me - the last great vestige of a revolutionary group, any group that could spearhead a true social revolution in this country are African-Americans and migrant workers. They alone have the power to remind us of our history which is being erased daily by our bankrupt culture.


dirtylikemine said...

Obama's speech was a humdinger. That bit about his white grandmother was effective. After all, who among us doesn't have a racist Grandma?

I was watching that clip they keep showing of Reverend Wright delivering his controversial sermon. I turned the volume all the way down and just laughed my ass off at his mannerisms. At one point, it looks like he's tap dancing. Good times. Straight clownin'.

As a token of my goodwill toward the good Reverend, I have donated one $50 Applebee's gift certificate to the Trinity United Church of Christ. That should be good for at least 7 Pick 'n Pair lunch combos. I suggest the Mini Chicken Ranchers.

Minghella? Hell, what about Arthur C. Clarke? And don't even get me started on Swayze. It reminds me of his line in Point Break:

"This game, we both lose. See you in hell, Johnny!"

blankfist said...

Does anyone in here know what a Rick Roll is? Or the act of being Rick Rolled?

Harwell said...

Yes. Like six months ago. Anything new to offer, Heath?

David said...

I have been day playing on the latest collaboration of Dirctor/ DP from atonement called the soloist.

Both men are really great people who were very close with minghella. Both broke the news early that morning and basically in shock all day.

sad stuff.

Anonymous said...

I haven't been reading this blog very long, but I'm starting to realize that "Papa" is a bit of a nutcase.

Gretchen said...

Papa's not a nutcase, he's just very passionate.

Craig Moorhead said...

I liked Obama's speech, though it wasn't quite as moving to me as to some, and the bit that you site here is why - no joke, I kinda feel like he slipped a shill in for his book. I was getting into it, then he mentions the title of his book and I remember that I'm listening to a politician. Still, I'm with him.

As for the Revered - this is why I no longer go to a church. An incident much like this. I can't stand having people I don't trust speaking for me.

Anonymous - Papa will show you the way, dude. Prick up your ears.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I am certifiably insane and writing this from Dorthea Dix mental institution!