Saturday, August 28, 2021

Movie Reviews: Blood Red Sky

Blood Red Sky
directed by Peter Thorwath
This is a German supernatural horror film that bears a great deal of visual resemblance to the classic German movie Nosferatu and many of the descendants of that film, most notably the original TV version of Stephen King's Salem's Lot
It also thematically reminded me of the short story "Popsy", also by Stephen King, in which a child trafficker finds that the child he's chosen to kidnap is (a) not normal and (b) has a relative, the title character, who is protective in the extreme. So Blood Red Sky is set up to be a kind of extended mugging the monster situation with the twist that the monster is linked to our side by a tenuous connection to its child. So what's greater, maternal love or the need to be who you are? 
Another theme explored here was the fact that parents will do and say things to provide for or protect their children that either (a) the children will not understand or (b) are simply immoral. The parent simply can't tolerate if the child was to see or learn about those actions, even if those actions were needed for the child to survive. 
This could be something as prosaic as taking a demeaning job as a house domestic and tolerating racist treatment and language in order to help provide for a child's law school education or overturning a kitchen table and threatening racist co-workers with an axe if they should speak out of pocket to you ever again. 

Saturday, August 21, 2021

Farewell Afghanistan

The United States has just about completed its withdrawal from Afghanistan. The 20 year war is over. Or at least the US role is
Instead of the Afghan government fighting the Taliban for another two years, a year, or even a measly six months the Afghan government and military collapsed in a matter of days. 
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani evidently decided that instead of taking a last stand with some death or glory hardcases who would ensure that their names lived forever as sources of fear to the Taliban, it was better to do like every other Taliban Afghan opponent and run away. Yes brave President Ghani ran away.
President Ghani popped up in the United Arab Emirates, alternately saying that he left for the good of the people and because he didn't want to get hanged. Ghani also denied that he had left with a bunch of cash (most likely because he had already transferred his wealth out of the nation). Other Afghan leaders who had worked with Ghani basically called him a punk. So it goes. 
Smart collaborators (and that is what Ghani was) tend not to stick around once the occupying force packs up and leaves.

Movie Reviews: The Empty Man

The Empty Man
directed by David Prior
This is a horror movie that initially gives the viewer the impression that it's like any number of hundreds of other horror movies in which people-usually sex crazed teens-summon an evil spirit by foolishly performing some stupid ritual. 
Maybe they chant a demon's name five times while looking in a mirror. Maybe they sacrifice an animal in a graveyard. Maybe they play spin the bottle or truth or dare in an abandoned church. Maybe they read cuneiform or hieroglyphics in some ancient Iraqi or Egyptian tomb. 
Maybe they open up a locked book with warnings written in blood that state "You big dummy! Yes you! Do not open this book under any circumstances!!" In any event after the people do whatever stupid thing they do, they usually die in horrible ways, often while having sex, trying to have sex, or thinking about having sex. 
Along the way the few group members with functioning brain cells find a mentor who can advise them or stop by a library or church to discover what happened the last time someone did something so stupid and if the older stupid people survived. Usually there's a final confrontation where Mr. or Miss Smarty Pants defeats whatever evil was set loose but often not before losing someone valuable to him or her. 

Saturday, August 14, 2021

Movie Reviews: Wrath of Man

Wrath of Man
directed by Guy Ritchie 
How do you review a film in which almost any plot description is something that could veer into spoiler territory. 
Very carefully, succinctly and without discussing much of the plot that's how. Let's first review what you might expect from a Guy Ritchie movie. 
You might, if you had watched previous Ritchie films such Snatch, ,Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels or even The Gentlemen, expect a Ritchie film to be about a motley crew of lovable rogues who get themselves into some over the top trouble through misplaced ambition or simple bad luck, cross paths with more dangerous or less moral people, and through the power of being cool, good luck, guts, and some carefully planned double or triple crosses mostly manage to come out ok. 
You might also expect a Ritchie directed movie to feature a tremendous number of sudden close ups, freeze frames, occasionally incomprehensible British accents and slang, a few good natured ethnic or racial jokes, intersecting plot lines, law enforcement who appear at exactly the wrong time for the bad guys, and a general sense of somewhat warped glee at being alive and getting away with it. 
This movie is not like that. It's a remake of a French film.

Saturday, August 7, 2021

Movie Reviews: Slaughter

Slaughter
directed by Jack Starrett
The good about Slaughter was that it featured a two fisted Black masculine male hero who plays by his own rules, doesn't take any stuff off anyone, and is going to get the girl.
It's surprising how rare that combination still is in Hollywood today, let alone fifty years ago. I suppose at the times an over the top film like this could have been cathartic for Black people who were, it must be remembered, just less than a decade removed from the official end of legal apartheid. 
The bad about Slaughter was almost everything else. The writing was indifferent. Jim Brown is not a bad actor but he's not a great one either. The film was low budget even for the times and looked it. 
Even so, I had a soft spot in my heart for this movie, because although Brown gives a one note performance, his role really doesn't require more than that. His character knows what he wants, knows how to get it, and doesn't spend a lot of time talking things out. One day I'm going to try just to speak all day in one liners from this film.
Okay, what's it about? What is any blaxploitation revenge movie about? Slaughter (Jim Brown) is a Vietnam veteran Green Beret captain who has come home. His parents are killed in a car bomb. Doing some investigating Slaughter finds some of the men who did it and removes them from the planet. 

Devoted Geese

I am not crazy about Canadian Geese. Not even a little bit. They have ugly voices, beady little eyes, can be irrationally aggressive, destroy ponds and small lakes, damage just-washed vehicles, and routinely turn sidewalks and yards into deadly minefields.
In formerly semi-rural suburban Michigan areas such as the one which I call home Canadian Geese are a regular sight, because among other reasons, they don't have many natural predators left around. More's the pity I say. 
Still, I suppose one decent trait such geese have is the habit of monogamously mating for life and apparently being concerned about their mate's whereabouts and safety. 
This redeeming quality was recently put on display by two Canadian Geese at the Birdsey Wildlife Center in Barnstable Massachusetts.
In case you’re hearing it for the first time, Arnold the goose, a resident of the pond outside the Cape Wildlife Center, had an injured foot requiring surgery. While Birdsey’s medical director Dr. Priya Patel and the veterinary staff worked to repair Arnold’s left foot, his concerned mate came tapping at the wildlife center’s door to check up on him and quite literally stand by her man.

Amelia, who’s named in honor of aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart, continues to be a frequent visitor to Birdsey, keeping Arnold company during his recovery, Mertz said. “She leaves occasionally to go for a swim or for food, but is still making daily visits to the porch,” he said. The wildlife center’s staff is making special efforts to allow the “love birds” to share a meal together every day, which Mertz said is very heartwarming.

Monday, August 2, 2021

Federal Eviction Moratorium Expires

If you have the resources to ensure that you and yours have housing for the foreseeable future then this news will not have any immediate impact upon you but the Federal CDC moratorium on evictions expired on Saturday, July 31. 

This means, at least in the states and localities that have not legislated or mandated their own eviction moratoriums, that landlords both corporate and individual, great and small, honest and corrupt, can start to pursue evictions against those individuals who are either unwilling or unable to pay rent in accordance with the lease that they signed. 

(CNN)It's like Democrats in the White House and Congress forgot the date. Now it's the first of the month and rent -- and back rent -- is suddenly due for millions of Americans who have been shielded from eviction during the pandemic.
Millions of households could face eviction over the next month -- when lawmakers on are on their annual August recess -- and some have predicted a full-blown eviction crisis, just as a surge in Covid cases from the highly contagious Delta variant may be prompting renewed calls for people to stay home and keep their distance.