Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Canada Profit Decline Seen in Worst Market Since ’98 - Bloomberg

Canada Profit Decline Seen in Worst Market Since ’98 - Bloomberg

The Harper Regime on  the Canadian economy suggest OGL should be asking Merkel for help over dinner:

1) S&P/TSX performance is the worst since 1998 relative to MSCI world index. Shares trail all of the world's 24 developed markets. Only Greece, Spain, Italy, and Portugal did worse.

2) 30,400 jobs lost in July increasing unemployment to 7.3%.

3) Household personal debt to personal disposable income at all time high of 154% exceeding the U.S. figure of 141%
4) S&P cuts credit rating for RBC and TD from stable to negative in July.

I'd be curious to know what the Harper Regime's supporters think of this performance.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Batman joins the police to take on Occupy Wall Street - thestar.com

Batman joins the police to take on Occupy Wall Street - thestar.com

Political implications are not unlike those in the Showcase TV series Continuum, but, unlike the TV series, there is no ambiguity - Batman is defending the fascist 1% and corporate America, and the message is clearly antidemocratic: the people can't be trusted.  What a message at this moment in time!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Moonrise Kingdom: Enjoy the Quirkiness

Moonrise Kingdom  is another one of those quirky Wes Anderson films with a characteristically  wonderful production design and brilliant cinematography. I especially like the tableau-like shots with such rich, detailed mise-en-scene, including the outdoor scenes. The self-reflexive opening moving tableau sequence is notable, and of course one could linger on the mise-en-scene details of the St. Jack church sequences for at least an hour.  (I’ll do just that once the blu-ray comes out.)  If Anderson is anything, he is a consummate visual storyteller, maximizing film as film whenever he can. It is in this context that our primary engagement with the film should take place.

And of course that trademark slightly off-kilter "reality" - it's not surreal, it's not hyper-real, and it's not fantasy -  is rendered superbly here through Anderson's co-written script but with self-referential allusions to all three modes through the books Suzy reads and the "variations" and “increments” themes in the music played at the Bishops’ house.  In some ways, the film is about the desire to fantasize, the desire to dream, the desire to mythologize, and of course one of our deepest, unconscious urges is to mythologize the past including our personal past - which can frequently lead to nostalgia, in either a fantasy or mythic mode. As I've suggested, this film isn't exactly either, though it could be accused of such, especially because of the romanticizing of 60’s technology and an America that never was and could never be on a fantasy island off the coast of Maine.  In this context,  a serious weakness in an otherwise interesting film is the historicizing narrator functioning like a voice-over, which is an attempt to elevate story self-consciously to the status of myth. It simply is unnecessary as a framing device.  We can mythologise and historicize on our own if we must.

But, as always, despite the self-indulgent auteurism, what redeems Moonrise Kingdom,  as all Anderson’s films, is Anderson's intriguing story-telling mode:   it's "unreal" but “real” enough to be accessible  in terms of storyline, character, and thematic content. The viewer can thus both identify with and distance herself from story and character, both enter into story and simultaneously aestheticize that experience through a massaged recognition of both narrative and filmic technique.  In fact, you really can’t process the film without doing both.

As always in an Anderson film, casting is uncanny. Notable are the cameos from Tilda Swinton, Harvey Keitel, and Jason Swartzman. Both Ed Norton and Bruce Willis surprised me with their nuanced  performances,and both Frances McDormand and Bill Murray were their usual quirky selves. No stretch for these two. Most intriguing, however, were the two young leads, Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward, who were called upon to do what Anderson would ask of his adult actors - believable eccentricity, realistic quirkiness - no easy task for any actor lacking experience, young or old, but they do pull it off.

A film worth playing with and lingering over.

The Problem with Best Films of All-Time Lists -- Even Great Directors Screw Them Up | Alternet

The Problem with Best Films of All-Time Lists -- Even Great Directors Screw Them Up | Alternet

I have no problem with lists that provide a rationale for the inclusion of a particular film. I taught An Introduction to the Study of Film, the History of Film, Science Fiction, and Canadian Film fairly regularly; and I know exactly why I wanted students to watch my choices in those courses.  Each contributed in some way to the art, craft, narrative technique of film-making in some way. Each expanded the possibilities of the medium through technique or narrative strategy, some more than others. This cannot be said of Vertigo, as interesting as that film may be. Some day, when I'm not doing politics - will that day ever come under the Harper Regime? - I'll pick a bunch of films I think worth watching.

In the meantime, in the next post, you'll find a review of a film you probably didn't see last month.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Tyee – Understanding Harper's Evangelical Mission

The Tyee – Understanding Harper's Evangelical Mission

This is truly scary stuff, especially if the claim that Harper believes this delusional crap has any merit.  Is there any doubt this is a form of neoliberal religion?

"Unknown to most Canadians, the prime minister belongs to the Christian and Missionary Alliance, an evangelical Protestant church with two million members. Alberta, a petro state, is one of its great strongholds on the continent. The church believes that the free market is divinely inspired and that non-believers are 'lost.'...

Harper would seem to take his advice from the Cornwall Alliance, a coalition of right-wing scholars, economists and evangelicals. The Alliance questions mainstream science, doubts climate change, views environmentalist as a 'native evil,' champions fossil fuels and supports libertarian economics.

A book published by the Alliance called Resisting the Green Dragon: Dominion not Death even portrays environmental groups as 'one of the greatest threats to society and the church today.' One passage reads that, 'The Green Dragon must die... [There] is no excuse to become befuddled by the noxious Green odors and doctrines emanating from the foul beast...'

The Cornwall Alliance also believes that renewable forms of energy such as wind and solar are only good enough for poor or rural peoples until nuclear and fossil fuel facilities 'meet the needs of large, sustained economic development.'"