Friday, May 18, 2007

Special Needs

Have fun in the poky, Paris Hilton, even if it's just for your minimum sentence. Goes to show that even those famous for no reason - or famous well above the grounds of sound reason - can't wiggle out of a jail sentence essentially levied because the socialite is so damn stupid. It's less a slap on a wrist than a wake-up smack to the face, with none of the celebrity cachet of rehab. No, this is real punishment, even if she'll be spending time in a "special needs" cell. That puts her in the rare company of only a handful of celebrities to actually do time, but she's still young. No doubt Paris Hilton will be back for more in the near future, as the recidivism rate for stupid behavior is chronic and severe.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

The Wolfowitz Paradox

Paul Wolfowitz was found guilty of numerous ethical infractions, so he's being pressured to leave the World Bank. Yet Wolfowitz allegedly refuses to leave the World Bank unless he is absolved of all wrongdoing.

In other words, he's being pressured to leave because he's guilty, but he won't leave unless he's declared not guilty. Incredible, the cojones on this guy. If he had a soul, it'd be dragging him down all the way to hell, but there's always hope for the future (right, Falwell?)

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

28 Weeks Later

A good horror movie can be scary, intense, thoughtful or even silly, but it can’t get away with being stupid. That’s the problem with “28 Weeks Later,” the unnecessary (of course) sequel to “28 Days Later,” which was a bout a fast spreading virus that turns England into a land teeming with vicious, ultraviolent loonies.

“28 Days Later” was an A-grade B-movie, but “28 Weeks Later” is a C-grade b-movie, the differences being the quality (or lack thereof) of the acting, the clearly low-budget, and the soundness of the premise, all of which add up to what looks like a movie that was scraped together in a week. It also brazenly rips off a handful of very recent movies, from George Romero’s “Land of the Dead” to Robert Rodriguez’s tongue in cheek “Planet Terror.”

It’s a shame, since it starts strong, with a small band of English countryside survivors suddenly, shockingly decimated down to one, but once it shift to London it stinks. The U.S. Army is allegedly in charge, but the movie makes it look like a force of a dozen folks securing the whole of London. A few planes filled of civilian folks are brought in to … repopulate? Work? It’s never clear, except that the movie needs more warm bodies to fuel another viral breakout. And then there are the inexplicable actions of the characters, made all the more confusing when they even bother to try and explain their actions. It’s the kind of movie that makes you yell and the screen in frustration, and to tell the truth, I was so alternately angry and bored that I almost walked out.

Those curious to see something like “28 Weeks Later” done right would be wise to check out Romero’s oft-overlooked “The Crazies,” a film whose premise is so strong it more than makes up for the terrible acting and low budget. In his movie, a virus courses through the Pittsburgh area, causing the victims to turn homicidal. Martial law is declared, but the result is that the non-infected population starts to panic, leading to the conundrum: who is infected-crazy and who is not?

“28 Weeks Later” would have been better exploring some sort of ambiguity, since its blood-spewing growling creatures are so easy to pick out you’d think its protagonists woudl have a better plan than, you know, fire bombing the whole of London. Followed by gassing London. Followed by going street to street with flame-throwers. I mean, the island is empty. The infected die after a few weeks. Why not just make sure the exits, as such, are blocked, and wait it out again? What is the goal of the U.S. presence? If this is meant to be an Iraq-era parable, we need more to gnaw on than just soldiers going “code red” kill-happy.

And so on. Makes no sense.

Death by a Thousand Cuts

Finally, the current administration's head-scratching strategy becomes clear: they'll stall and do whatever it takes to ensure that no crony gets fired on their watch. Removed, sure. Transfered, OK. Retired, fine. But fired? No way, as getting fired implies that, shocker, someone did something wrong.

So Paul Wolfowitz, king of failing upwards, gets busted for bending rules to give his girlfriend a raise, and the World Bank's board says he's a burden, unliked and ethically suspect. At last, the White House hintssthat his exit is OK with them, but only if it can be orchestrated short of firing the guy.

Give me a break. The World Bank owes the White House nothing. The guy doesn't deserve a deal, so easing his exit with weak equivocating and mushy resolve does nothing but reward his backers with the illusion that they still possess a modicum of power of influence.

I say: throw the bums out, one at a time. And they are bums, too, freeloaders of the worse sort, in it for themselves, and degrading the institutions they allegedly serve in the process. The government needs a good scrubbing to get rid of the grimy ring this lot has left.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Don't Mess with Our Chocolate!

So it's come to this: big chocolate companies are twisting the arm of the FDA to allow cacao substitutes to pass as chocolate. This sitehas the scoop.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Rock n Roll-a-Thon

It’s concert season once again, and I’ve seen (and sometimes reviewed) some winners this seven days. And at least one loser, namely English enfant terrible Amy Winehouse, who’s a better drinker than she is a performer.

I fared better with Air, a band better known for being barely-there than blowing your socks off. Two nights later it was LCD Soundsystem, responsible for the best album of the year (so far), “Sound of Silver.” Another two nights later brings us up to date with a two-fer: an early show from the Arctic Monkeys, heroes to the British press (they were quite good, actually) and a late show from Peter Bjorn and John, whose performance was a whole lot better than their OK album “Writer’s Block” might indicate.

I get to rest my ears another two nights, and then I see Bjork, who a) doesn’t get played on the radio and b) keeps getting weirder and less commercial, yet c) sells out increasingly large venues. Go figure. I made up for the rock gap by visiting Jon Langford (of the Mekons, Wako Brothers, etc.) in his art studio to watch him work and find something to spend my tax rebate on.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Coming Soon, This Summer!

These are the would-be blockbusters opening this summer, most bound to be monstrously successful.

"Pirates of the Caribbean 3" (170 minutes long!!!)
"Spider-Man 3"
"Shrek the Third"
"Harry Potter 4"
"Fantastic Four 2"
"Oceans 13"
"Die Hard 4"
"Ratatouille" (it's Pixar, but the name will hurt it)
"28 Weeks Later"
"The Simpsons Movie" (the show hasn't been funny for a decade, but still...)
"Rush Hour 3"

The big mystery remains: how successful? Summer's only so long, and theaters can only hold so much interest/warm bodies once the weather gets hot.

It was Bound to Happen, Phil

Phil Spector has long been one of the music world's most legendary loonies, a reputation that served him fine until a series of disappointing sessionswith the likes of John Lennon, Leonard Cohen and, ultimately, the Ramones cost him that reputation and no doubt hastened his decent into creepyville. How creepy? How crazy?

Radar has dared to devise a timeline.