Sunday, April 09, 2006

Random Cultural Observations

From this weekend, in no particular order:

Inside Man: First great popcorn movie of the year. Spike Lee pulled it off, all while minimalizing the prerequisite racism (limited to the one beat cop who can't help almost using the n-word to Denzel Washington) and casual misogyny (although we are made to watch in close-up as Jodie Foster is called a "magnificent cunt" to her face). I suppose this is what Oscar winners can expect when signing on with Mr. Lee.

But Denzel was in top form, Clive Owen sizzled (which is all I'll say without revealing plot points). And Jodie Foster --- mm, mmmm, that Jodie! She is truly magnificent in every way in this one. She oozes power from every pore and has a great time doing it. Girlfriend was fierce (and I do not use the F-word lightly).

The Washington Post: It's been my paper of record for a while now, what with the New York Times making shit up (see also: Blair) and repeatedly (and very unjournalistically) kowtowing to the Bush administration (see also: Miller; Bumiller; Woodward).

The Post gets special props today for a fine story on the special prosecutor's view of Cheney et al.'s "concerted effort" to discredit Iraq War critic Joe Wilson, and a wonderful news feature on the pressure to enlist felt by high school students in a rural town in Mississippi.

Sample quote from the latter:

A few weeks ago, some mail came for Blake Johnson. A cold front had blown through the working-class community of Meehan Junction, outside Meridian, and the daffodils of early spring shivered in the wind. Sticking out of the mailbox across the road from Johnson's trailer were two recruiting letters, one from the Army and the other from the National Guard -- the Guard offering a $10,000 signing bonus. All of Johnson's senior year, the local recruiters have come after him; the national mailers were the latest enticements.

As his mother said, as she placed them on the counter, "That's a whole lot of money when you are in the 12th grade."

Anne Hull does the details very perceptively, and movingly. You really should read the whole thing.

The West Wing: I've said it before. This thing was unwatchable for a while there, but the last season and a half, it's really been hitting its marks. Tonight was quite an hour, as the effects of Leo's death (and John Spencer's) resonated, and on Election Night no less.

One of my favorite shots was of the crowd assembled for the victory party as news of his death was announced on TV. That ballroom full of stunned faces in their straw hats. And then the nice moment, when CJ came in to tell the president that Leo had died at the hospital, without having to say those words -- and the president got up from his desk and came around to give her a hug.

But, really, this was Josh's episode, a fitting end to the arc that started last season when he told Leo in despair he was disappointed with the field of potential Democratic presidential contenders. And Leo asked him, you know a guy who would be good? Then you go and get him to run. And that led to many wonderful Josh Lyman moments (perhaps even inspiring some of my own).

Black Horse & A Cherry Tree: I heard this song by KT Tunstall on the radio for the first time this week, I came in toward the end and I thought, What the heck is that? I had to hear it again, soon I did, again only part of it though, so I kept waiting for the next time. I couldn't make out all the lyrics, but those I did were really something else, and of course there's that distinctive woo-hooing.

So I went and got it off iTunes and I can't help listening to it over and over. Boy, does it get my blood up, and in such a goooood way. Although I keep thinking it's some kind of lesbianic thing, and I don't know that that's right.


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