Friday, January 08, 2010

Camera Obscura: A-Team Returns; Lana Turner Does LSD

-- Are there actually people who will pay cash money to see a movie remake of the old "The A Team" TV show? Really? Trailer (including a parachuting tank and requisite explosions) here. I suppose since Liam Neeson is playing Zeus in the remake of the 1980s movie "Clash of the Titans" he was a natural to play Hannibal (and who better to direct the movie than Joe Carnahan, who oozes bullets and blood in his previous movies, like "Smokin' Aces", which of course has a sequel on the way).

-- Hollywood is gearing up for their annual awards, but there is a real problem in a fundamental part of filmmaking -- a problem many of us have seen for some time. Good writing is scarce. And when you add in a list of rules so byzantine and twisted, the nominees for Best Original Screenplay and Best Adaptation from another work, turn very odd. One example: the critical acclaim for "Inglorious Basterds" is likely to earn a Best Picture nominee, but Quentin Tarantino won't get a script nod because he is not a member of the Writer's Guild. Then there's writer Nick Hornby, whose movie "An Education" is gaining lots of praise and nominations, but since he belonged to the 'wrong chapter" of the Guild, he is not eligible for an Oscar nod. The rules in place are making a shambles of the potential race for "the best" and a fine write-up at Cinematical details how everyone is being disqualified.


Tonight, film fiends will want to stay up late for a chance to see movie star Lana Turner in her one and only wacky LSD trip motion picture. Turner Classic Movies will air "The Big Cube", made in 1969, and certainly a vivid snapshot of ... hmm, well, a snapshot of Weirdness, in a groovy sexy '60s kind of way.

It airs at 2 a.m. and is followed by another drug/romance tale, "I Love You Alice B. Toklas". But since The Big Cube barely was released to theaters and just hit DVD last year, that is the one to watch.

Turner plays an aging actress (what a stretch) who has a daughter who speaks with an eastern European accent for some reason, and the daughter falls under the seductive allure of a Bad Man (George Chakiris from "West Side Story") and pretty soon murder, orgies and crazed LSD trips fill the movie screen. Here's the trailer for the movie (all nudity is genteelly blocked):

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Citizens For Accountability Target Morristown, Hamblen County Government

Some local residents have decided the city and county government in Morristown and Hamblen County needs some rigorous oversight and dedicated input to improve how they function.

Citizens for Accountability has launched a website to provide information about how these local governments operate, where they have failed and what needs to be done to improve conditions overall. WBIR offered a small feature on their efforts in their Tuesday news report.

One comment from that report by interim city administrator Lynn Wampler stands out -- that to get accurate information about city government, residents should attend the council meetings rather than visit the CFA website. However, with the meeting time of 4 pm, it's a tough to schedule or plan to attend.

What to do to change that? A very simple act, something the city has refused to do, is to record and replay the meetings for broadcast on the local cable Government and Education Channel. The county government has been doing this for years. The city refuses to participate or even investigate how to use very ordinary technology to inform and educate the public.

Why? Why not allow for meetings to be rebroadcast? Why allow only after-the-fact reporting from local media of city meetings?

Maybe the city council and mayor and city administrator want to keep their actions cloaked and obscured because what has been taking place has not been legal under state guidelines ....

Writer and blogger Linda Noe offers some perspective on the current financial mess in the city at the CFA website:

This year the City is “caught” with a 6/30/09 deficit that it can’t erase with another illegal, unauthorized loan. While there is no official loan, the auditors are apparently going to report that “$1 Million + is due from the General Fund to the Sewer Fund” and “$1 Million + is due to the Sewer Fund from the General Fund.” Sounds like a loan but it just doesn’t use the word loan. When state officials get the city’s audit, they will likely see and know what’s going on this time and report that the city is in violation of state law.

This three-year fiasco highlights a number of serious problems at the City Center:

1. Auditors that have allowed illegal, unauthorized loans (Sewer Fund to General Fund) for 2007 and 2008 without reporting them to the Mayor and Council.
2. Budget and Finance Personnel who have been a party to these illegal, unauthorized loans without reporting or seeking approval of the Mayor and Council.
3. A former City Administrator who was a major player in these illegal, unauthorized loans without reporting or seeking the approval of the Mayor and Council.
4. A Mayor and Councilmembers who did not take the time to examine the yearly audits, ask questions, and get answers. [The cash poor condition of the General Fund was evident in the audits--but you had to actually open the audit and look at a few key pages to see that unauthorized loans were being recorded in the audits to "cover up" the dire financial condition of the City].

Elected office is not just a fancy title with a nameplate and special parking place. It is a high calling when you are entrusted with other people’s money. Elected officials ask to be put into office. If given the opportunity to serve, they have an obligation to give whatever time it takes and to do whatever is necessary to see that taxpayer dollars are spent wisely and legally."