December 31, 2012 |
NEW YORK - Ang Lee, the famously meticulous director of "Life of Pi," originally had planned to hire a survival consultant to infuse the allegorical tale of a boy's oceangoing raft journey with a tiger with a dose of realism. Then he read Steven Callahan's riveting 1986 memoir, "Adrift," detailing his own perilous life-raft adventure in the Atlantic. In Callahan, Ang and screenwriter David Magee saw a guide who understood and could articulate the metaphysical themes they were hoping to explore in the film.
December 12, 2012 |
A new stripped-down logo for the University of California is drawing criticism for looking like a flushing toilet. In an age of austerity, that might be appropriate. Here, a look at other logo designs that reflect these lean, mean times for the once-vaunted state university system. ALSO: Photo gallery: Ted Rall cartoons Slideshow: Worst insults to women in 2012 Anne Hathaway strikes a blow for an underwear-free America Follow Ted Rall on Twitter @TedRall
November 8, 2012 |
Not too long ago, friending someone involved more than just clicking a button on Facebook. So in a retro twist to social networking, a wave of Web start-ups are encouraging users to get off their couches, away from their smartphones and tablets, and back into the real world. "We have an internal tagline: Use the Internet to get off the Internet," said Kathryn Fink, community manager at Meetup, an online-to-offline start-up with 11 million members. Hybrid social networks are connecting strangers with similar interests online, then directing them to meet in person for dinners, bar-hopping, bowling or biking excursions.
October 24, 2012 |
Every few years Laurie Anderson, who was once dubbed a performance artist for lack of a better descriptor but is simply a performer sui generis, puts together a report from somewhere that is much like our world. She tells stories about places and situations we recognize. She plays something we might recognize as a violin. She uses electronics that have come to seem familiar enough. Most important, the feelings she expresses tend to be ones we share. When she makes us laugh, which is often, she does so with expert traditional-comic timing, the kind at which Jack Benny excelled.
October 16, 2012 |
In "Underemployed," which commences Tuesday on MTV, the youth network, five pretty people face life after college. Shockingly, it is not what they expected. The series, which is set in the lovely - and this season, much-used - city of Chicago, comes from Craig Wright, who created the ABC one-percenter soap "Dirty Sexy Money. " It begins as a tightly knit clutch of graduating seniors imagine success in their chosen fields; then it jumps ahead ever so slightly to see where time has taken them.
October 11, 2012 |
"Argo" takes you back. Not just to the dark days of the 1979-81 Iranian hostage crisis but to a brighter, earlier time, when Hollywood regularly turned out smart and engaging films that crackled with energy and purpose. Very much like Clint Eastwood before him, actor turned actor-director Ben Affleck not only has a passion for those kinds of throwback entertainments, he knows that the only way to get them on the screen effectively is to do the work himself. After a hesitant start with "Gone Baby Gone," Affleck found his footing with the crackling crime drama "The Town" and now takes things one step further with this breakneck tale of how an ace CIA agent rescued six Americans from the jaws of the Iranian Revolution with a little help from, hard as it may be to believe, the good folks of Hollywood.
October 3, 2012
Re "Voters back easing up on three strikes," USC Dornsife/Times Poll, Sept. 30 This otherwise informative article contains this misleading statement about California's three-strikes law: "The law targets offenders who have previous convictions for at least two serious or violent crimes, such as rape or robbery. " I served on a jury years ago dealing with a man who tried to steal a pair of pants. The jurors were not allowed to consider the possibility that the defendant might go to prison for 25 years to life.
September 15, 2012
Mitt Romney was wrong (and, of course, politically motivated) when he insinuated that the U.S. government had offered an "apology for America's values" by criticizing "Innocence of Muslims," the now-infamous film that mocks the prophet Muhammad. While it is true that in a statement issued before protesters stormed the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, the embassy staff criticized "continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims," it didn't apologize for the fact that the film and other hateful forms of speech are protected by the Constitution.
September 11, 2012 |
"Forward" is a perfectly appropriate slogan for progressives. Progress suggests forward or upward motion. That's why revolutionaries and radicals as well as liberal incrementalists have always embraced some derivation of the forward trope. So ingrained are these directional concepts in our political language, we often forget they are mere geographic metaphors applied - and often misapplied - to policy disputes. For instance, some on the left might see enrolling more people on food stamps as a step in the right direction, moving us "forward" to a more generous and all-encompassing welfare state.
August 22, 2012 |
If you're looking for something light and lovely to finish out the summer before worrisome and weighty films fill theaters this fall, catch"Ruby Sparks"before it floats out to sea. Starring Paul Dano and Zoe Kazan, it is a smarter-than-most romantic comedy that begins with writer's block. Dano plays the writer, but Kazan actually wrote the movie. In the real world they're a couple, so it's all kind of sweet. In the film, the block breaks when Calvin (Dano) starts to put the girl he's been dreaming about onto the page.