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SH*T MY UNCLE SAYS: Time 2 Take Out The Trash

Saturday, February 6th, 2021

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BY WILLIAM C. HENRY Breaking news: Just released transcript of Capitol Hill telephone conversation between Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy: “Oh, my God, Kev, I’ve just been informed that that strange Greene substance the scientists unknowingly brought back from the asteroid destruction mission is mutating into a Trump mimicking monstrosity!! I’m SMUStold it’s spreading like a giant Donnie lie dump in liquid form!! What are we going to do?! We’ve got to stop it!! Maybe we can get it scooped up into audio-tight containers and ship them off to a federal landfill, maybe in northwest Georgia, huh?! Waddaya think?! Maybe it’s too late for that!! Is it, Kev?! Is it too late?! Maybe we could get it funnelled into the Fox News broadcasting center?! Yes?! No?! For Christ’s sake, Kevin, talk to me!! We need answers!! The press is going to be on this like white on rice–if you get my drift!! This is way way beyond serious!! We need a solution and we need it NOW!! What the hell are we going to do?! Dear God!! Get on the horn to Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca and J&J!! Tell them to get their asses to work on a counteragent ASAP!! Tell them it’s a national emergency!! Tell them we’ll buy all the neutralizers they can come up with!! Listen to me, Kevin, I’ve got nearly six years to get this mess cleaned up, but you and about a third of the entire Trumpican Congressional contingent have got less than two!! We’ve got to get ahead of this Greene Slime shit, and we’ve got to do it NOW … and, goddammit, I do mean NOW!! Get MOVING!!”

This update on the Great Greene Slime Scare just in: Behind guarded closed doors, in the wee wee hours of this morning, Trumpican members of both the Senate and House of Representatives–while silently invoking the 5th–caucused and quietly implemented the Defence Production Act in order to force SERVPRO to come in and mop up all visible vestiges of the Greene Slime in and around the U.S. Capitol, and move them to an undisclosed location believed to be somewhere in Georgia. Members refused to comment on whether counteractive measures with respect to the remainder of the Greene slimed U.S. were anticipated. Stay tuned. Updates every hour on the hour.

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SH*T MY UNCLE SAYS: The Impeachment Vaccine

Saturday, January 30th, 2021

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BY WILLIAM C. HENRY Note to all wannabe 2024 Republican presidential candidates: It’s never too soon to start cementing that bucket list of seditionist acts you’ve always dreamed of committing but were entirely too fearful to vocalize. It just so happens that as we speak your previous Republican president is in the process of showing you, step by step, precisely how to insure that you will NEVER suffer any adverse effects from doing so. There is one small catch, however. You SMUSmust perpetrate said sedition–and/or your choice of felonious act(s)–within two weeks of termination of your presidential term. Unfortunately, at this time it appears that the extent of wiggle room with respect to that time frame is yet to be tested. But, what the hell, you’ve got two weeks. Are you going to quibble about a day or two at either end? Save your avarice and amorality for the preceding 206 weeks (or, in a limited number of instances, the previous 414). This is final fomentation time! And, yes, “standing in the middle of 5th Avenue and shooting somebody” is included.

Step One: Pay no attention whatsoever to the word “impeachment.” That’s just House of Representatives speak for “we think you did something really bad.” They simply write down what “badness” they claim to have uncovered and pass it on to the Senate for the actual legal stuff.

Step Two: Deny everything. Get yourself a few decent lawyers. Continue to deny everything. Go about your normal routine. Keep on denying everything. Round up a few character witnesses. Never stop denying everything.

Step Three: Count on your Veep to slow things down. I mean, that’s what you picked him for, right? Lean on him a bit if you think he’s wavering. Start calling him an ungrateful jerk if necessary.

Step Four: Drop a few hints to your Republican party Senators that they may rue the day they ever vote for conviction. Remind them of the huge treasure chest of donations you’ve amassed that could “possibly” affect their upcoming re-election bids. Heh, heh.

Step Five: Relax. Your spineless, quaking, servile, Groveling Obsequious Puppets have gotten the message and voted that the very act of putting you on trial is, in and of itself, entirely UNconstitutional.

Step Six: Tell them to warm up Air Force One. You’re free to go. Roll out the red carpet. Strike up the band. Shoot off the salutes. Wave to the witless out the window. Enjoy the trip.

So, as you can clearly see, you have absolutely nothing to fear. And never forget that QAnon, the Proud Boys, the KKK, the Boogaloo Bois, the Three Percenters, the Wolverine Watchmen, Fox News, and almost the entire Republican establishment–and let us never diminish the putrefactive pandering prowess of Marjorie “The Queen Of Spleens” Taylor Greene–will always have your back … well, maybe.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Fed up early stage octogenarian who has actually been most of there and done most of that. Born and raised in the picturesque Pocono Mountains. Quite well educated. Very lucky to have been born into a well-schooled and somewhat prosperous family. Long divorced. One beautiful, brilliant daughter. Two far above average grandsons. Semi-retired (how does anyone manage to do it completely these days?) and fully-tired of bullshit. Uncle of the Editor-In-Chief.

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CINEMA: The Walls Have Ears

Friday, January 22nd, 2021

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MLK/FBI (directed by Sam Pollard, 104 minutes, USA, 2021)

Dan Tabor_byline_avatarBY DAN TABOR FILM CRITIC In 2019 the FBI released a treasure trove of documents related to the Bureau’s notorious surveillance of Martin Luther King Jr. that began in the wake of the March On Washington in 1963 and persisted until the Civil Rights icon’s assassination in 1968. Director Sam Pollard has sourced these documents for his latest documentary MLK/FBI which doesn’t waste its time with the more salacious accusations, but instead delivers some amazing context and insight into the how and the why this was allowed to go on given King advised both Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson on Civil Rights matters. The most refreshing thing I found about this film is how objective Pollard is in his approach to the material and how he details both King’s and J. Edgar Hoover’s motivations in meticulous detail and how that influenced the way this disgraceful chapter in the FBI’s history played out.

The most fascinating piece of this story is how Hoover got permission to bug and wiretap MLK in the first place: the Red Scare. Stanley Levison, a close advisor to King, was a card-carrying member of the Communist Party up until 1957, and MLK was warned by both Robert and John Kennedy  to steer clear of him given his past political ties and how it could taint his movement. Given current events, Sam Pollard gives a painfully-relevant-to-the-here-and-now history lesson on how Kennedy’s recommendation was partially based on a belief at the time that black people were most susceptible to joining extremist groups.  King chose not to abandon his friend and advisor and opened the door for Hoover to begin wiretapping MLK.

Once Hoover discovered King’s infidelity, however, he became obsessed with derailing the Civil Rights movement with this ill-gotten intel. Pollard doesn’t simply demonize Hoover nor idealize King, instead plays devil’s advocate time and time again pointing out that the disconnect between King’s swinging lifestyle and the piety of his meticulously curated public image that drove the conservative Hoover over the edge. While there is enough salacious material about both men to go around, Pollard sticks to the facts that pertain to the story. King is portrayed as a flawed man that did have extra-marital affairs, but it’s ultimately left to the viewer to decide if the sins of the man taint the righteousness of his cause.

The film very effectively brings some much needed context to the most shocking revelation in King’s FBI file: that King allegedly “looked on and laughed” as a pastor he knew raped a woman. Pollard paints the more salacious allegations in these documents as suspect, pointing out that agents were not only encouraged to dig up dirt on King, they were rewarded for it with career advancement and praise from the big boss — the more sordid the bigger the pat on the back from Hoover.  Let the record show that the transcripts present only one side of the story, and given that these documents are merely the FBI’s interpretations of events that were overhead on hidden listening devices but rarely eye-witnessed their reliability is somewhat suspect. The duplicity of the Bureau’s actions is only amplified by the fact that actual audio tapes won’t be released till 2027, thereby affording the FBI’s dubious narrative decades to harden into fact decades before the public will have a chance to decide for themselves what’s on those tapes. In stark contrast, MLK/FBI shuns the sensational and the speculative in favor of verifiable facts and evidence-based conclusions. While the more voyeuristic among us may be disappointed that Pollard chose this course, given the uncorroborated yet explosive nature of the FBI’s allegations, it’s clear he took the high road. Would that the FBI had done the same.

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NPR 4 THE DEAF: We Hear It Even When You Can’t

Tuesday, January 19th, 2021

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FRESH AIR: From the March on Washington in 1963 up until his assassination in 1968, the FBI engaged in an intense campaign to discredit Martin Luther King Jr. and his work. Film director Sam Pollard chronicles those efforts in the new documentary, MLK/FBI.

“The first fear that [FBI director J. Edgar Hoover] had was that King was going to align himself with the Communist Party, which … J. Edgar Hoover was obsessed with destroying,” Pollard says. Pollard’s documentary is based on newly declassified files obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, along with restored archival footage. It shows the government’s extensive targeting of King and his associates in the 1960s.

The FBI campaign against King began with wiretaps, but quickly ballooned. When wiretaps revealed that King was having extramarital affairs, the FBI shifted their focus to uncover all evidence of his infidelity by bugging and taping him in his hotel rooms and by paying informants to spy on him. Eventually, the FBI penned and sent King an anonymous letter, along with some of their tapes, suggesting that he should kill himself.

Reading the letter, Pollard was struck by the fact that it was made to sound like it was written by someone close to King. “They were trying to make it sound like it was not only a former associate but a ‘Negro’ who wrote that letter,” he says. “This is supposed to be the nation’s police, that’s supposed to be doing the right thing, and this is the lengths they’ll go to destroy a human being? It’s awful.”

Pollard is an Emmy Award winner and Oscar nominee. His first work as a director was for Eyes on the Prize, a groundbreaking documentary series about the civil rights movement. He’s also edited many of Spike Lee‘s movies, including Jungle Fever, Mo’ Better Blues and When the Levees Broke. MORE

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SH*T MY UNCLE SAYS: Make America Pastel Again

Monday, January 18th, 2021

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SMUS-avatarBY WILLIAM C. HENRY The following is a just received excerpt from the text of Trump’s original (it was removed from the final text because his aids thought it might bring into question his diehard fans’ image of him as a “really smart guy”) self-congratulatory speech commemorating his “Great Trumpian Wall” and fulfillment of his pledge that fair, unbiased, comprehensive immigration legislation would never get passed during his four-year tenure as neo-Fascist in Chief … well, sorta:

My Fellow Pale Riders,

I have asked you to gather here today to kick off my executive order proclaming that henceforth the 12th of January shall be recognized as Make America Pastel Again (MAPA) day. We’ll also be dispensing with the Make America Great Again (MAGA) and Keep America Great (KAG) stuff given the bad press it appears to have generated and the fact that Fox News appears to have fallen below even MSNBC in the most recent TV ratings. The order also mandates that MAPA day be recognized as a national holiday. I think you’ll agree that we need to recast ourselves as a softer, more subtle, slightly less uncivil movement while retaining all of our hardcore fake news factualizing in pursuit of the paler, more pliable, nationalistic society we strive to ultimately achieve. In addition, I am officially announcing a renaming of the Republican party. From this day forth it is going to be called the Trump Adoration and Subservience Society (TASS)–and, yes, the change has received Putin’s express approval and endorsement. So, having dispensed with my formal comments, what do you think of my great big beautiful 450 mile wall (yeah, I know I promised you 1000 miles, but I’d planned to split it up between two terms)?! Isn’t it wonderful?! Isn’t it fantastic?! Believe me, no one does fences better than me!! It’s spectacular, right?! Tell me, who does walls better than The Donald?! No one!! Isn’t it simply tremendous!! I ask you, who builds barriers bigger and better than Donald J. Trump?! Nobody!!

Anyway, you’ve probably noticed that I’ve got scores of acolytes (yeah, I admit I had to look that one up) among you passing out our new Trump slogan caps. Help yourself. You’ll notice that these new TASS caps themselves and the monogramming have changed colors. Available stock slogans have been reworded as well. The bright, all-orange cap represents my most recognizable feature and sets a whole new standard for immediate association with me. The snow white of the monogramming stands for–well, I think you can guess what gave me the inspiration for that. They’re free and you can have as many as you like. Take some home for your insurgent friends and relatives.

Stock slogans include: Make America Pastel Again; MAPA; Trump Adoration And Subservience Society; TASS; It’s A Whole New Wall Game; Stolen But Still Rollin'; Still Humpin’ For Trump; Truth Is For Twits; Facts Are For Fools; and one that is certain to grab their attention–but be careful to not get caught having to provide a definition–Tergiversators For Trump. And, if you have another catchy slogan in mind, just leave your name, address, email and/or twitter handle, current family income and bank balance, along with what you’d like the cap to display. We’ll monogram and mail it to you free of charge (keeping in mind, of course, that whatever wording you request must reflect positively on my image and/or our collective xenophobia). It’s the least I can do–short of a full pardon–to show my appreciation for your continued sedition and support.

Incidentally, Mexico has informed me that delivery of the check to cover construction costs has probably been held up by the COVID, but it’s definitely in the mail.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Fed up early stage octogenarian who has actually been most of there and done most of that. Born and raised in the picturesque Pocono Mountains. Quite well educated. Very lucky to have been born into a well-schooled and somewhat prosperous family. Long divorced. One beautiful, brilliant daughter. Two far above average grandsons. Semi-retired (how does anyone manage to do it completely these days?) and fully-tired of bullshit. Uncle of the Editor-In-Chief.

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CINEMA: Dead Man Talking

Friday, January 15th, 2021

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THE DISSIDENT (directed by Bryan Fogel, 119 minutes, USA, 2021)

Dan Tabor_byline_avatarBY DAN TABOR FILM CRITIC There’s been no shortage of great political docs this awards season, and the most intriguing offerings seem to be the ones surprisingly absent from the bigger streaming services. Alongside Assassins, Ryan White’s excellent deep dive into the assissination of Kim Jong-nam, is The Dissident, the latest film by Bryan Fogel (Icarus). Like the Assassins, The Dissident digs into another polictically motivaved murder, that went unpunished: the murder and dismemberment of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi by a government-sponsored Saudi death squad. Where The Dissident differs from Assassins is how it masterfully director Bryan Fogel frames the story on the world stage, leaving the viewer with quite a bit of food for thought after the credits roll.

At its core. The Dissident is the shocking story of the 2018 assassination of Saudia Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in plain sight of the entire world. The film paints Khashoggi as a gregarious gentleman who truly loved his country, and wanted to bring real “fair and balanced” journalism to a nation where the role of the press is to serve as a de facto PR department disseminating the state-sponsored narrative of the Saudi royal family. Khashoggi’s boundary-pushing critiques of those in power led to his frequent dismissals from Saudi news outlets and threats of impending arrest which eventually led to a self-imposed exile in Europe, far away from family and country. While the film’s first two acts are full of sporadic info dumps, interspersed with a tense narrative of political intrigue and cyber espionage, it works to give a much needed context to the line that Khashoggi eventually crosses, resulting inthe Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordering his death.

Fogel immediately challenges the viewer with a methodical recounting of the history of the Saudi’s 100 year old monarchy and how over the last century they have influenced the balance of power in the Middle East in their favor. While it may at first feel over indulgent, the background helps give necessary context to the forthcoming narrative since we find Khashoggi was not only being a mouthpiece for the government as a journalist, but also rumored agent for the Saudi Arabian Intelligence Agency. It’s how these two stories finally collapse into one under the theme of cyberterroism that lets the viewer fully understand how the tragedy unfolded while the world watched Khashoggi’s fate unfold in those days after his disappearance powerless.

Given the Saudi’s penchant for hacking their enemies, a key plot point in the film, it’s understandable that some distros may be a bit reluctant to carry the film and amplify its cry for justice. Remember what happened to Sony when it dared to mock North Korea for fun and profit? This only adds to the film’s urgency at a time when cyber attacks are becoming more frequent. It’s this sinister thread of the power of information and how the Saudi’s wield it as a weapon that the film closes on, leaving the viewer with an overwhelming sense of dread. It’s simply masterful how Fogel is able to educate through news clips and interviews as he slowly pulls back the focus and the bigger picture finally reveals itself. While we can all agree the death of Jamal Khashoggi is a tragedy and that in itself would have been a good enough film, Fogel isn’t simply satisfied with that rather superficial hot take. The Dissident instead, leaves the viewer with a deep understanding of the much more terrifying machinations which enabled it and how they are still at work today.

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Rats Fleeing A Sinking Ship Are Not Moral Or Principled, They Are Just Scared, Wet Rats

Saturday, January 9th, 2021

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Where have all these Donnie-Come-Latelies been for the past 5 years?! Where have all these now “forsaking” Cabinet Secretaries, advisors, aids, confidants, and assorted creeps, crawlers, cronies, spaniels and suck-ups been?! Were they just too stupid to recognize his toxic imbecility? Were they just too like-minded to SMUSrecognize his racism, bigotry and xenophobia? Were they simply too fear-ridden to say aloud that the Emperor wore no clothes? Were they just so proud of their own partisanship as to gladly perpetuate his division? Were they so mindful of their own dishonesty as to overlook his blatant corruption? Were they so occupied with enriching their own as to turn a blind eye to his nepotism? Which ones of this gut-churning group are the worst? The rats now deserting the ship of state in order to salvage a turd’s worth of their rancid reputations, or the ones still wading around in the slime? The ones experiencing these phony “epiphanies,” or the ones still in the thrall of the tyrant? The “finally found a mind of their own” cultists, or the “staying to save the nation but that doesn’t mean the election wasn’t rigged” conspiracy cravers? Take your pick. ALL of them have known for their entire lifetimes that Trump was an imbecilic, narcissistic, sociopathic–often psychotic–LYING piece of fetid dog shit! Every last one of them! Yet they did NOTHING! They were, and continue to be, the sewer-dwelling enablers of this treasonist, seditionist, fascist, immoral, murderous, Inciter-in-Chief. – WILLIAM C. HENRY

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WORTH REPEATING: Impeachment Now!

Thursday, January 7th, 2021

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ESQUIRE: He has to go. Now. This moment. Donald J. Trump cannot be allowed to be President* of the United States for a single second longer. It’s not simply that he is unfit for the office he holds. I mean, that’s true of Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz, too. Trump is something worse. He has proven himself to be a national security threat, the most serious one in Washington since the Royal Marines burned the place. He’s a traitor to his oath and to his country. He needs to be forced out, either through the provisions of the 25th Amendment or through an accelerated impeachment process. Any elected officials who do not agree with this simple and obvious fact dishonor the offices they hold with every second they decline to do it hereafter.

He is responsible for all of it. He is responsible for the assault on the Capitol and for the incredibly lax response from the Capitol Police. He created an atmosphere in which the worst impulses in the worst cops all over the country are inflamed and encouraged until the Capitol Police refused to defend…the Capitol. He has to go. Now. This moment.

[…]

He is responsible for all of it. This country has a serious fascism problem now. It has a fascism problem that is fed and encouraged by what is at best a fascist-adjacent media ecosystem and, at worst, a communications network that would embarrass Goebbels. There is a genuinely subversive rightwing movement in this country that found its focus in this president*, and that will be rested and ready when the next one comes along. There is no Republican politician with either the courage or the clout to cure the prion disease that has now eaten away all of the party’s higher functions and reduced it to a rough beast that is no longer anything but an accumulation of base and abandoned appetite. History has turned down a dark alley and he sent it there. He has to go. Now. This moment. MORE

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SH*T MY UNCLE SAYS: The Art Of The Steal

Tuesday, January 5th, 2021

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BY WILLIAM C. HENRY The following is an exact transcript of phone call between the President and Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger … well, kinda:

SIDNEY POWELL: Mr. President, please pick up on line #1. We’re having a bit of a problem with “secure” connections today, but I don’t think it’s anything you have to worry about. Anyway, I finally have Brad Raffensberger on the line. Says he’s been up to his ass in phony vote tally allegations lately but has finally found time to get back to you.

DONALD TRUMP: Thank you, Sidney, I’ll take it from here. Hello, Brad, this is the President. Where the hell have you been? I’ve placed 18 calls to your office! What’s going on? You know, people don’t usually ignore calls from me. It’s just not politically prudent … if you get my drift.

BRAD RAFFENSPERGER: Could you hold for a minute Don, I’ve got another call coming in. [five minutes of silence] Okay, I’m back. What was it that you felt couldn’t wait Don?

DONALD TRUMP: Show a little respect for Christ’s sake, Brad! It’s not like Pence was trying to get in touch with you! Anyway, listen up. I need you to find about 12,000 or so Republican votes for me. I don’t give a damn where you find them, just make the “find” tenable or, at the very least, plausible. I can handle it from there. That’s it, Brad. Sorry, but I have to run. Got Graham, Hawley and Guiliani waiting for me on the first tee. Oh yeah, and of course this conversation never took place. Have a great day!

BRAD RAFFENSPERGER: Hold it, Don, hold it! Sounds like you’re asking me to commit fraud, to actually “rig” the election. Is that what you’re asking?

DONALD TRUMP: You decide, Brad. The ball’s in your court–no pun intended. Do you like your job? Do you feel that there’s a future for you in the Republican party? Just asking, of course. I wouldn’t want you to think that I was in any way asking you to commit a criminal act or do anything that could even remotely be construed as underhanded. You do understand that, right? Got to go, Brad. Tee times aren’t negotiable. Bye.

DONALD TRUMP: How’d I do, Sidney?

SIDNEY POWELL: They don’t call you the Artist of the Deal for nothing, Donnie. Are we still set to hook up later? I’ve got some choice conspiracy theories for you to review … and maybe we could catch up on a little extracurricular activity as well … if you get MY drift! 

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SH*T MY UNCLE SAYS: The Hider In Chief

Monday, January 4th, 2021

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The President is missing! The President is missing! Where is the President?! Well, have you looked on the golf course? Yes, he’s not there! Have you looked in his bedroom? Yes! He’s not in the bathroom either! Did you check the closet? Yes, no luck! Did you check Melania’s closet? Yes; and besides, there’s no room in there to hide! Have you checked the SMUS-avatarbunker? Of course, but it’s empty! Have you scoured Mar-a-Lago and Trump Tower? Yes, top to bottom! How about Jim Jordan’s closet? Yes, he’s not in there! What about Ted Cruz’s closet? Yes, we checked there too! What about Mitch McConnell’s office? Yup, we checked it! What about Ron Johnson’s and Josh Hawley’s closets and bathrooms? Yes, we’ve checked them all! We’ve literally checked under the desks, in the offices, bathrooms and closets–and under the skirts where applicable–of every single Republican member of Congress and Republican appointed Supreme Court justice! Have you checked with Moscow? Yes, they deny any connection and claim to not even know who we’re talking about! Wait a minute! There’s a bulletin coming in! The President has been found! The President has been found! Okay, so where has he been for God’s sake?! Apparently he’s been on an extended sojourn at Sing Sing Prison in Ossining, New York. Claims he just wanted to get acclimated. Details are sketchy at this time and close advisors and confidants have so far remained silent. Stay tuned for updates after January 20th! — WILLIAM C. HENRY

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SH*T MY UNCLE SAYS: Smell Ya Later!

Tuesday, December 29th, 2020

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How marvelous it will be to have a President who actually serves a higher cause than his own naked self-interest. How wonderful it will be to have a President who doesn’t lie with every word he utters. How hopeful it will be to have a President who truly cares about the kind of world he’ll be leaving for our children and their children. How comforting it will be knowing that the nation is in SMUS-avatarthe hands of an intelligent, capable, informed, compassionate, decent human being brimming with dignity and integrity. No more pretending that the COVID19 and opioid pandemics–and our Russian enemy–are figments of the fake news media’s imagination. No more denying responsibility for everything. No more upside down Bibles and Christofascist cosplay photo ops. No more beating and gassing American citizens exercising their First Amendment rights. No more Oval Office talk of imposing martial law. No more sullying of the Constitution. Thank you, EIGHTY-ONE MILLION AMERICANS, for one of the greatest Christmas gifts ever given to the citizens of the United States of America. Our new President-elect may not be a panacea for all that ails this optimistically salvageable country, but he’s already one hell of an improvement on the guy who finished in second place and the incompetence, hatred, malice and division he has bequeathed us! — WILLIAM C. HENRY

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CINEMA: A Q&A With Wonder Woman 1984’s Star Gal Gadot And Director Patty Jenkins

Thursday, December 24th, 2020

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Dan Tabor_byline_avatarBY DAN TABOR FILM CRITIC Wonder Woman has always been a feminist icon, but director Patty Jenkins resurrected the fearless and Amazon just when the world needed her most. The first film hit in 2017 and establishing this new take on the character while the seeds of Trumpism were just starting to take root in America. Now three years later, Jenkins has brought Diana back and transported her to the go-go 1980s where she does battle with Maxwell Lord (Pedro Pascal), an Art of the Deal pyramid scheming business tycoon, complete with a blonde cowlick. Maxwell Lord’s superpower is bending the very fabric of reality through deception, which eventually lands him in the Whitehouse. Stop me if you’ve heard this before.

I’ve been excited about Wonder Woman 1984 since I first caught this trailer that celebrated all things ‘80s to the tune of New Order’s “Blue Monday.” Given our current sociopoliticaI mood I thought the ‘80s would be a rich playground for Diana Prince and her no nonsense brand of feminism and having seen it, I’m here to tell you I was not mistaken. A few weeks ago I got the opportunity to virtually sit down with Patty Jenkins and Gal Gadot for a few moments on Zoom in advance of the film’s HBOMAX release.Enjoy.

PHAWKER: Patty, first of all, congratulations. Thank you so much for giving people this film that is so full of hope, just when we needed it the most.

PATTY JENKINS: Thank you so much. Thank you for those kind words. It feels really great to finally share something with the world and to have something to share with the world in this time. So I appreciate that.

PHAWKER: So, where did you start with writing this film? Was this already in your head as to where Diana’s journey would go?

PATTY JENKINS: It was kind of interesting. We were finishing the first film, or, you know, maybe a little earlier than that. We were having such a great time as friends making the film that I found myself thinking, ‘wow, I would think I would be exhausted and sick of this, but actually I’m only frustrated by what I didn’t get to do with Wonder Woman and this whole great group of people’. And so really we spent the entire first film creating Wonder Woman. She’s only Wonder Woman in the last scene of the movie. So I found myself really craving doing a movie about full-blown Wonder Woman and then I started reflecting on what was going on in our world and what Wonder Woman would want to say to the world. And the story came out of that.

PHAWKER: Was there something that given the reaction to the film you wanted to make sure was represented in this film?

PATTY JENKINS:Yeah, definitely. I think the first film, like I said, it was about the birth of Wonder Woman. I think what Wonder Woman goes on to stand for in the world, which is that she’s trying to teach everyone she encounters how to be their better self, and trying to like help mankind to be better.

So, the last one was her discovery of humanity. Now, how does she live with humanity? And by the way, she’s not perfect either. So her own struggles and journey to do the right thing, which is so universal, (like) all of us. Like being a hero is not an easy thing, it’s actually a super difficult thing. So that I was really interested in too, like, what does it feel like?

PHAWKER: With Wonder Woman 1984, we catch up with Diana in the eighties. Was her life up until then something you and Patty discussed in depth, like where Diana’s head would be at when we catch up with her?

GAL GADOT: First of all, I’m very grateful to have such an amazing director to work with and yes, you know, we discussed a lot about the history of Diana and how her life had been since we last saw her in 1918, all the way to the 1980s. You know, she lost all of her team members. She’s been very lonely. She doesn’t really want to engage and make new friends because then they’re going to realize she doesn’t age and they’re going to die and she has to let go. So, she kind of isolated herself from the world, and her only goal is just to help and better mankind and be there for them and guide them and try to do good.

PHAWKER: So Gal, Wonder Woman sends an incredibly powerful message to young girls showing them that they already have the strength they need to be the heroes of their own lives. What would it have meant to you as a young girl to see Wonder Woman on the big screen growing up?

GAL GADOT: Well, I wasn’t lucky enough to see so many Wonder Women type of characters when I was growing up. I got to say that when I watched the movie for the first time and I’m, you know, I’m the star of the movie, I’ve read all the drafts and I was, I thought that I was ready to see anything. But then when I saw the opening sequence (Young Diana in WW84) it was certainly something, the reaction I had, I just didn’t expect to have. I just, I got so emotional and for the first time, I didn’t feel like I was Gal, the actress, Gal, the woman, Gal, I felt like Gal the eight year old – watching another eight year old, doing something out of worldly and being so good at it and she is doing it in her way. It’s her own and it moved me so deeply and so much that I just, I got emotional, but then I realized, like the power of these movies
(more…)

CINEMA: Waiting For Gadot

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2020

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WONDER WOMAN 1984 (directed by Patty Jenkins, 151 minutes, USA, 2020)

Dan Tabor_byline_avatarBY DAN TABOR FILM CRITIC This has been a weird year for superhero films. It’s been over a year since the last Marvel tentpole and in their absence DC has really stepped up their game up, proving they’re more than simply dark and gritty superheroes pining over mothers named Martha and misogynistic clowns. First came Birds of Prey , a colorful story of girl power that gave Harley Quinn the spotlight she so desperately deserved. That was followed up with The Harley Quinn animated series, which was easily one of the most raunchy, self-aware and hilarious animated superhero shows ever made. Now comes Wonder Woman 1984, which was originally supposed to hit theaters back in August, but is now screening on HBO Max and theaters simultaneously in a bold move by Warner Brothers. For those keeping score this is the third female led superhero DC film, meanwhile Marvel yet to release their Black Widow film that is, like, two years too late.

Wonder Woman 1984 picks up as you’d expect in the decade of decadence where we catch up with Diana Prince AKA Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), who has been living amongst humanity now for 60 years, and has taken up residency in DC working for the Smithsonian. In this installment of the Wonder Woman saga, we are introduced to Maxwell Lord (Pedro Pascal), a Trump surrogate – part infomercial star and part scam artist — who’s after a stone that offers the bearer the ability to have their deepest wish granted. This fact comes to light when Diana is examining the stone at the Smithsonian offhandedly wishes for her love, Captain Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), to return and he does – in a manner of speaking. Meanwhile, her awkward coworker, played by Kristen Wigg who has mastered this aesthetic to a T, wishes to be “just like Diana” and gets way more than she bargained for. From there it’s the classic horror of the monkey’s paw, where no wish quite pans out as expected, paired with a hamfisted metaphor for Trump, makes WW84 easily one of the most relevant and audacious superhero films to date.

In a fun power dynamic shift, flipping the fish out of water story of the first film provides WW84 with its emotional core as Diana rekindles her relationship with Steve Trevor while educating him this time on the importance of parachute pants and breakdancing. This narrative thread is the flaw in Diana that is exploited by Max Lord enabling him to execute his plan of trading up wishes for raw power, much like that guy who traded up a paperclip until he got a house, which of course has Max trading up into the White House. This all transpires while Diana is conflicted about taking out Max, because by doing so she would lose Steve yet again.

This film barrells through its two and a half hours like a well oiled machine, and that’s no doubt because director Patty Jenkins has been quietly toiling over it during the ensuing two years of delays. Jenkins executes some of the most graceful and awe inspiring action sequences committed to comic book celluloid and in the process brands her own personal stamp on the genre. While the film cribs the candy-colored ’80s palette you’d expect, Jenkins relies primarily on a traditional score instead of leaning on the needle drop crutch. Gadot , who has grown into the embodiment of the Wonder Woman character, holds her own against a scene stealing, pudgy blonde Pedro Pascal. Better known as the titular Mandalorian, Pascal will no doubt catch you off guard as he not only humanizes the antagonist, but also somehow manages to lay down a path to redemption as well.

Unlike the majority of super hero directors, Jenkins actually has something to say and not just about feminism and female empowerment, though there is plenty of that. With WW84 she has tasked her superheroine with trying to make this world a better place, while showing that anyone could be seduced by the power of lies. The message here is ultimately one of hope and that’s a very welcome commodity in 2020. WW84 is a near perfect superhero film that outshines the original with its infectious sense of joy and optimism and nuanced deconstruction of the power of truth and how that can be a tool of good or evil. Because if any fictional superhero could save 2020, it’s Wonder Woman.

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