Friday, December 09, 2005

Camera Obscura: Lions, Zombies, Sam and Katie

Gather round, sit, have a Christmas cookie, and of course I'll talk to you about movies - even some television too, yes, and your comments are welcome - when I am done!! Hang on, we're time traveling quickly, from the 1800s to the 1950s to the world within a child's mind to the war in Iraq. (Oh is this gonna be good.)

First, back in the 1950s, theologist C.S Lewis began publishing a series of books, beginning with "The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe," a parable/fantasy about Christianity and the battle between Good and Evil. Now with the success of "Lord of The Rings," (of course Lewis and Tolkien were friends) and the Harry Potter series, we get the CGI-heavy "Chronicles of Narnia". Personally, of Lewis' writings, I always liked his science fiction trilogy better (it was really powerful and scary and thougtful) and the satiric "Screwtape Letters" wherein Satan advises an upwardly-mobile demon on how best to tempt a human and steal his soul.

An interesting blog, Hollywood Jesus, following the making of the movie is here, produced by the same makers of the movies "Holes" and "Because of Winn-Dixie," Walden Media and their plans to improve movies in America. Will the Lion, Aslan, entertain audiences on the big screen? Time will tell.

And Time moves to the Present now and almost the Future in a vivid indictment of all things related to the War in Iraq in the horror epsiode of Showtime's Masters of Horror with the recent "Homecoming" installment. Here, undead soldiers from the un-named but certainly Iraq War, return to America intent on voting out the politicians who sent them to war. This one-hour event is so up-to-the-minute fresh - including an Ann Coulter clone who is as pricky-evil as can be - I was stunned Fox News didn't break in the movie to debunk it.

Director Joe Dante makes zombies rise up to chase George Bush from office and as one writer for Slate notes:

What's shocking about Dante's Homecoming is that he dispenses with the usual horror subtext completely. Pundits go on TV to defend the living dead's right to vote until they find out they're not voting Republican. Zombies rise from the grave, wrapped in the American flag. There's even a Cindy Sheehan stand-in with a zombie son. Nothing is too recent or too raw."

The entire Slate article is here.

Now let's jump back in the Time Machine and land in the Old West. I love Westerns, no doubt and I am a bona fide Sam Peckinpah fan too and was delighted to read this week about the January 2006 release of a restored version of "Pat Garrett and Billy The Kid." As usual, critics of the day hated the movie, but time itself has returned to show favor to Peckinpah's story of dying cowboys and shattered American heroes. This new two-disc set has much new commentary and runs 115 minutes, and not for every taste, it still presents Peckinpah's vision intact. James Coburn, Kris Kristofferson and Bob Dylan (in a nearly wordless role) star in the film. And another star is Dylan's soundtrack - still one of my favorites ever.

Some other notable DVDs released or on their way can be found here.

Ah, yes, one more item, somewhere outstide of Time: What if Katie Couric were to anchor the CBS Evening News??? What would that be like?

"Another car bomb went off in downtown Baghdad today, marking a further escalation in the violence that has plagued Iraq over the past two and a half years. There is still no official word on how survivors of the bombing feel about the upcoming Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes baby."

The rest of Katie's newscast is here.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

A Griswold Greeting

I am always glad when Christmas arrives - usually.

This year has not been my best as I struggle with losing my job and finding another. Fortunately I have been more than a little blessed by many good friends, who have helped me keep my gaze focused upwards and not down. For them, I wish the best not only on Christmas, but for every day of the year.

As for my former employer - this video is jes' for you. (Thanks, Jed, for the link to YouTube.)

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

A Twisted Case of Abuse, Life and Death

There is an astonishing legal case unfolding in Massachusetts, involving a nearly dead 11-year-old girl, and whether or not she should be removed from life-support, and the pleas of the suspect in the beating of the child, her step-father, who wants legal custody of her. His lawyer says if the girl dies, his clent then faces a murder charge.

The grim and grisly details of what happened to young Haileigh Poutre at the hands of her step-father, Jason Strickland and her adoptive mother, Holli, who was her aunt, indicate the child was beaten with a baseball bat and thrown down the stairs more than once. According to the news report, her aunt was killed shortly after Strickland and Holli were released on bail, but that incident is also still being investigated:

Within two weeks of the couple pleading innocent to the beating, Holli Strickland was dead, fatally shot in her grandmother’s West Springfield apartment. The body of her 71-year-old grandmother, Constance Young, was beside her. The possible double suicide or murder-suicide is still under investigation.

In a legal brief filed before Tuesday’s hearing, Strickland, 31, asks to be declared Haleigh’s de facto parent. His lawyer, John Egan, insists his client is not motivated by the chance he could be charged with murder if the girl dies."

Holli, who had a degree in child care, and Strickland, both attacked the child, according to one witness:

"But Alicia Weiss, a baby sitter for Haleigh, testified at a hearing in Strickland’s criminal case that she saw Holli Strickland kick the girl down the stairs repeatedly and hit her with a baseball bat. She said she also saw Jason Strickland hit the girl twice with an open hand and once with a plastic stick.

Although he has not been accused of dealing any particular blows to the child, court documents accuse Strickland of watching as his wife abused Haleigh."

The state's Supreme Court heard the case Tuesday, though Justices indicated Strickland had no real standing in a custody claim.

The state's Department of Social Services now has legal custody of the comatose child, and doctors are saying she will never come out of her vegetative state.

Within the maze of abuse and abandonment and legal rights, the child remains in the center spotlight. What will the courts do? Will more state officials argue for the girl's life-support to be suspended? And is there any punishment which might suit this string of brutal crimes?

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

A War On Christmas?

UPDATE 2 - From the Press Briefing at the White House:

Q: Scott, you very graciously answered seven questions from two reporters, and I have a mere three-part question. First, at the National Christmas Tree lighting last week the President said, "Each year we gather here to celebrate the season of hope and joy, and to remember the story of one humble life that lifted the sights of humanity. Santa, thanks for coming." And the question: Will the President apologize to Christians offended by his referring to Jesus as Santa?

MR. McCLELLAN: The President meant exactly what he said, Les."

UPDATE: First, what the heck is a MegaChurch (outside of a Japanese anime series) and second, why would they close on Christmas Sunday?
Now on to the rest of today's post .....

A comment last week on the Very Unscientific Survey noted the current effort to remove the word Christmas from our language. So I did some checking - seems the White House is in on it.

Even using the word Christmas and Winter together are, apparently, wrong.

Maybe the real issue is this ever-evolving (or if you prefer, Intelligently Designed) use of the word War. There's the Culture War, the Cola War, the non-War against non-insurgents in Iraq and the Axis of Evil, the Diet War, the Red-State, Blue-State War, the obesity War, the anti-War, the pro-War .... I'm dizzy, lemme sit down for a moment.

Whew. (And thanks to all those, by the way, who took time to take that survey. I promise to ask fewer questions next time.)

Perhaps the American mind is jes' gettin' a little paranoid. Any viewpoint contrary to your own is reason enough to invoke War. I'm more than a little tired of it. It's like a bunch of whining children in the playroom - "Are too!!" "Am not!!" "Uh-huh!" Nuh-uh!" "Waaaaaaaa ......."

Somebody changes these diapers, give them a cookie and some coloring books and lets see if the rest of us can reclaim some normalcy.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Worst of the Worst

He's been called the "Worst of the Worst," and he even has a "little list" he's keeping on the folks he says are out to get him. And he says, that Christmas itself is under attack.

Bill O'Reilly may be the Fox News equivalent of Howard Stern -- people love him or hate him and there is no middle ground.

Both of these "media masters" are proof that controversy, no matter how ridiculous, sells.