Video Wednesday: Little Bastard

 

Little Bastard

A child is running

On the beach

A run-of-the-mill kid

Out sized light bulb head

Bouncing on a spindly neck

Shirtless shoeless short pants’d

Running looks so easy

When he does it

A facile thing

One of millions of things

He finds easy

Running

A child is just running

One day

Some adult

Will say

I’ll race you and

The spontaneity will

Fall to planning and

Joy will go along with

The fall

The sky is a squinting bright gray

A gull glides unnoticed overhead

Its call cryptic and forlorn

The sea…The sea rolls either

In or out with its

Perpetual motion monotony

Sounding a never

Completed complaint.

But look now-

Like an old man might

Suddenly fart or drop dead-

The little bastard

Runs in a giddy

joyful circle

I envy him his joy

I fart

I do not drop dead

It is a joy

Of sorts.

 

Thanks for listening.

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Video Wednesday: Men

Originally shot on 16mm and edited AB roll with optical sound. It’s about the difference in opportunity for one group over another.

B. Granning plays the graduate.
P. Allen plays the cello.
B. Johnson did the camera.
J. Valentinetti did the concept and editing.

Thanks for listening.

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I Saw It On Netflix: Gettin’ Square

gettin squareGettin’ Square is the down-under way of saying Going Straight. I like films from down-under,  Australia and New Zealand, kind of New Auszealian films, if you will. They are especially skilled at broad humor.

Gettin’ Square is a caper film, with a strong comedic bent, about a recently released prisoner trying to turn his life around.  New Auszealian films are funny in a different way than American films even when the subject matter is similar. American actors seem to be willing to be funny only when they can cool at the same time, non-American actors skillfully avoid that trap.

Barry “Wattsy” Wirth (Sam Worthington) is the focus of a film loaded with characters. From `Dabba’ (Timothy Spall), the ex-criminal turned restaurant owner who hires Wattsy as a cook, to `Naill’ (David Roberts) an unreformed criminal. But the real treat here is the character named `Johnny Spiteri’  and called `Johnny Spit’ (David Wenham). Here’s a taste of dialogue between him and the QC (Queen’s Council), the equivalent of our DA.

Johnny Spit: I already told you: I don’t know nothing about that shit.

QC: Yes, well…

Johnny:  (To the judge) Oh… I’m sorry your honor. I didn’t mean to say “shit.” It’s just this fucking guy’s getting to me, he’s trying to put words into my mouth and that.

 

…and later,

 

Johnny: (To the judge)  Oh, I gotta get home. Who’s paying for my bus fare today?

QC: You don’t need to worry about that now, witness.

Johnny:  Well excuse me, I am worried about it! I’m on medication, you know? Gotta pick up me methadone before five, otherwise I don’t get nothing ’til the morning. ‘Scuse me, your honor, do you know who’s paying for my bus fare today?

Judge: Mr. Dent, has the witness been afforded appropriate expenses?

QC: Sir, I’m informed those instructing me will arrange a check in payment of Mr. Spitieri’s witness expenses directly.

Johnny: A check? Well, what am I gonna do with a check, your honor? I don’t want a fucking check. Me bus driver’s not going to take a check. I need me bus money, otherwise how am I supposed to get home?

Judge: Yes, alright Mr. Spitieri. Mr. Dent, I wonder whether, in the circumstances, some appropriate arrangements couldn’t be made?

QC: To avoid further delays, I’ll get Mr. Toole to fix that up now.

[Mr. Toole pulls a bill from his wallet and gives it to Mr. Dent who gives it to Spit]

Johnny:  Oh, that’s only $20. Me bus doesn’t come ’til four, I’m gonna need some lunch.

Judge: I think perhaps, in the circumstances, the witness is entitled to be reimbursed for his luncheon expenses, Mr. Dent.

QC: I’ll get Mr. Toole to give him another $20 to cover his luncheon expenses.

[Mr. Toole looks in his wallet, but it’s empty. He shrugs at Mr. Dent, who sighs and pulls a bill from his own wallet and gives it to Spit]

Johnny: Thank you.

Johnny Spit takes over the film whenever he’s on screen. When he’s on screen alone he is very funny. Wenham’s performance as Johnny Spit saw him win the Best Actor category in every major Australian film award the year the film was up for nominations.

 

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Surviving American Medicine: Book Trailer

Dr. Cary Presant talks about American medicine and your survival. You can also watch the full interview next week.

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I Saw It On Netflix: Coldblooded

MV5BMTk5NDM3OTE0OV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTYwNTkwMjQ5._V1_SX214_

Jason Priestly stars as Cosmo Reif, a low level mob employee who takes phone bets at a bookie joint. He is affect-less, much like the kind of person we all encounter everyday at the other side of retail counters, like at  Target’s or any of the ubiquitous fast food chains. He is dead inside and so is the world around him. He lives in the basement of a retirement home. He has a regular appointment with Honey (Janeane Garofalo), a hooker but even this doesn’t put a smile on his face. He is too preoccupied to go through with it. Preoccupied with what, you might wonder. After all, he is affect-less.

To his surprise, and mine, he is snatched from his low level post and promoted to hit-man in training by Gordon, the mob boss, played here by the perennial mob boss, Robert Loggia. He is turned over to the mob’s number one hit-man, Steve  (Peter Riegert) for training. It is soon obvious he is even better than his trainer: He is not just affect-less he is Coldblooded.

I admit that, without emotional resonance, it’s hard to tell if he’s going to kill someone or not. You come to expect that anyone in the same room with him is doomed. This gives a certain gravity to the scenes. Michael J. Fox guest stars. Is there anyone who could possibly shoot Michael J. Fox (here at his most adorable since childhood) in the face?

Enter love in the personage of a Yoga instructor named Jasmine (Kimberly Williams) to complicate Cosmo’s life. There once was a television show called The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet. As the announcer would say: The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet. The part of Ozzie is played by Ozzie Nelson. The part of Harriet is played by Harriet Nelson. And their two sons, David, who plays the part of David Nelson and Ricky Nelson who plays the part of the irrepressible Ricky. No kidding. This movie could have been called The Adventures of Ozzie Nelson Before His Salvation at the Hands of Harriet Nelson. Ozzie never had much affect, a bit of a smile now and then. What was he like when he was single? Well, maybe he was like Cosmo Reif, who just needed the love of a good woman to set him straight.

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I Saw It On Netflix: He Was A Quiet Man

MV5BMTUzMTI3NTkzMF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMzUxMjU1MQ@@._V1_SX214_It other reviews the main character, Bob Maconel (played by Christian Slater) is referred to as a troubled loner. This character is more than troubled, he is psychotic. For example, he is deeply attached to one of his possessions. A Hula doll. You know the kind, they shimmy when moved, a bobble hipped doll, if you will. Anyone who is attached to one of these is probably a little crazy but otherwise OK, if the behavior stops there. For Bob Maconel it does not. He talks to his pet fish. Still, many, otherwise rational people, talk to their pets, some even talk to their plants. It’s a free country, you can talk to your underpants if you want but if they start answering you, wondering what kind of day you’ve had, for example, you may be in over your head. Bob Maconel is in over his head. If you could make one of those, `you know you’re crazy when…’ sentences to describe his fix it would be this: You know you’re crazy when even your daydreams don’t come out the way you want them too. Your daydreams, for god’s sake. Is nothing sacred?

Bob is teased and taunted by his office mates but more crushing to his ego is how easily and completely he is ignored by people in the office. He is not invisible he is non-existent. He bring a revolver to the office and plans to kill those around him. When he gets home his fish chastises him for not carrying out his plan of ‘murdering the bastards’ (to quote the fish). In his cubicle the next day he loads the revolver with trembling fingers. He drops the last shell and it rolls out under the partition. He gets down on his hands and knees to look for it and he spots it just as someone steps on it. Suddenly he hears shots being fired and pandemonium erupts. He scrambles to his feet to find that another office mate has gone on his killing rampage for him.

This borrows a plot device from a movie and short story called An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge. It is carried out here to great effect. No one in this movie is given much to do. It centers completely on Bob Maconel. Christian Slater makes the most of the opportunity. From his make-up, the reddened cheeks, which make him appear both embarrassed and boiling to the point of explosion, to his fervent autistic rocking in his easy chair, he has found the inner workings of the psychotic mind and made them visible for all to see.

 

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I Saw It On Netflix: Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai

MV5BNDI0NTkzNDMxNV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTYwODA1MDY5._V1_SX214_ In Jersey City, Ghost Dog, (Forrest Whitaker) an African American hit man, follows “Hagakure: The Way of the Samurai.” He is retainer to Louie, (John Turmey) a Mafioso who follows Omertà, (the mafia code of silence) a surprisingly similar code for living. Jim Jarmusch directs and I use the word ‘directs’ instead of director because it describes his approach to film where little is complicated or obscure. When someone is killed in a Jim Jarmusch film you don’t expect they will turn up again in another movie-ever. After all, they are dead. I don’t know how he does it but death in Jarmusch is final. Perhaps because the killers are moving on even before the bodies hit the ground. For example, in one scene Louie and another Mafioso are stopped by a cop. She asked for ID. The driver shoots her. Louie says in surprise, You shot a woman! To which his partner says, You’re a male chauvinist! as they pull away.

When I look at Forest Whitaker’s face I wonder if those eyes can see at all or if they have something more than sight, if they are doing something more than seeing. The pupils float in an eerily liquid way, like candles on water.  You learn nothing from his eyes, not even if he is paying attention or not (what is he looking at?). Another part of his body must become active for his intentions to be revealed. He is often very still, holding on to the moment. That is why he is perfect for this movie.

Ghost Dog passes through the streets as though he is unnoticed or invisible. He has chosen a narrow path to inhabit in his life. The life of the Samurai is both a path of comfort and one of danger. The code tells them to consider the world a dream from which he can awake. Each moment is something to pursue, for to understand a given moment ends the need to go on. Louie’s code tells him to trust no one. To not help a government agency or ask for their help. He must mind his own business only and if wronged he must right the wrong without help. Louie’s is a less solitary path than Ghost Dog’s he at least can call on his family in extreme cases. This can cut both ways, in really extreme cases, he is expected to sacrifice himself to the code.  Either of them could write a Guide for the Modern Anarchist or How to Form a More Perfect Tea Party.

Two seasoned actors admirably act out the fate of two ancient cultures trying to survive in a modern urban setting. Jarmusch gets a good laugh in here or there but mostly this is an inevitable downward spiral for two former giants who think the past will save them when they are only trapped in their own salvation. Did I mention it’s fun to watch?

 

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