Like many movie goers I prefer to avoiding reading detailed reviews of movies before I see them, then enjoy reading a series of them right after. With the controversy surrounding American Sniper, it’s almost impossible to avoid exposure to what’s being said and written (and we’ve covered plenty of that controversy in the last few weeks) so it made even more of a challenge to stay away from reviews until I had an opportunity to see it myself.
A few hours ago, I finally saw American Sniper. I’ve only read a few reviews so far–and I plan add some of our own commentary soon–but this New Yorker review immediately struck me, because I prejudged the source. Admittedly unfair, but I don’t see the island of Manhattan as a place to expect anything but veiled score for Clint Eastwood, dislike of war films in general, and snarling distaste for this movie in particular. I’m happy to be completely wrong. Though it’s a short capsule double-movie review, given second-billing to Selma, all due credit to New Yorker film critic David Denby, for a positive, respectful, and insightful review of American Sniper.
Denby‘s first sentence nails it:
“Clint Eastwood’s ‘American Sniper‘ is both a devastating war movie and a devastating antiwar movie, a subdued celebration of a warrior’s skill and a sorrowful lament over his alienation and misery.”
The following comment is one of the most admiring things a critic can say about a filmmaker:
“Eastwood’s command of this material makes most directors look like beginners. As Kyle and his men ride through rubble-strewn Iraqi cities, smash down doors, and race up and down stairways, the camera records what it needs to fully dramatize a given event, and nothing more.”
And this characterization of Eastwood’s skill and talent as a director is perfectly summarized:
“There’s no waste, never a moment’s loss of concentration, definition, or speed. The general atmosphere of the cities, and the scattered life of the streets, gets packed into the action…” Read the rest of this entry »
— Wall Street Journal (@WSJ) January 26, 2015
Bring It Back
LIFE Magazine, 1956
[VIDEO] Reid’s Obstructionist-Era Senate Ends, McConnell Era Begins : Already More Amendments Voted On Than All Of 2014Posted: January 24, 2015
Originally posted on Quartz:
On Jan. 26, 1950, India celebrated its first Republic Day, as a few thousand members of the nation’s armed forces marched down Irwin amphitheater, now Delhi’s National Stadium, before a crowd of some 15,000.
Since then, the parade—the highlight of Republic Day—is held at Rajpath, a boulevard in central Delhi, every year. It includes colorful tableaux, motorbike stunts and India’s finest weapons.
The parade begins at the Raisina Hill, near India’s presidential palace, and passes along the Rajpath before finally concluding at the India Gate. This year, it is expected to last about an hour-and-fifty-minutes.
More than half the world’s leaders have attended the celebrations as the guest of honor. This year, US president Barack Obama will be watching the troops march down, making him the first American president to attend the event.
As India gears up for its 66th Republic Day, Quartz brings you some of the best pictures from its preparations.Soldiers march down…
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The Temptation of Adam and Eve
Oil on panel, 97 x 60.5 cm
Collection: National Trust
by Ary Scheffer
Date painted: 1854
Oil on canvas, 222.5 x 151.6 cm
Collection: National Museums Liverpool
Largest Protest Since Houthis Rebels Swept into the Capital
SANAA, Yemen (AP) — Tens of thousands of Yemenis marched in protest on Saturday against Shiite rebels who hold the capital, amid a power vacuum in a country that is home to what Washington describes as al-Qaida‘s most dangerous offshoot.
Some 20,000 hit the streets of the capital, Sanaa, where demonstrators converged on the house of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, who resigned Thursday along with his Cabinet. It was the largest protest since the rebels, known as Houthis, swept into the capital in September.
Protesters carried banners and chanted slogans denouncing the rebels and demanding the restoration of the president. Scuffles involving knives and batons broke out in one instance in Sanaa when the rebels tried to block one procession, leaving two demonstrators and one Houthi injured. Read the rest of this entry »
Ace Books D-274: World Without Men by Charles Eric Maine, 1958. Cover by Ed Emshwiller.
A+ troll by Goodyear (via redditor TheWakened)
Originally posted on TIME:
The political-themed Oscar firestorm season—or is it Oscar-themed political firestorm season?—has reached its height of late, with Clint Eastwood’s war flick American Sniper overtaking Ava DuVernay’s Selma as the preeminent flashpoint for all the grousing. (The film is up for Best Picture and Best Actor, among other awards.)
Thanks to their tweets, Michael Moore and Seth Rogen both spent the week on the receiving end of criticism from the pro-Sniper crowd, most notably Kid Rock. On Friday night’s Real Time with Bill Maher on HBO, the reliably cantankerous Maher suggested that Chris Kyle, the Navy SEAL played in the film by Bradley Cooper, is a “psychopathic patriot.” Maher also read excerpts from Kyle’s 2013 autobiography, the book on which the film is based, in which he called Iraqis “savages.”
But his critique may not have had much of an impact at the box office: Deadline reports the film…
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Originally posted on TEAM YELLOW:
Sure, blame the bacon. Chinese municipality Dazhou has been experiencing some pretty severe air pollution, according to the provincial environmental monitoring center. Officials from Dazhou’s environmental protection bureau, however, believe the central cause of this air pollution to be bacon.
They believe that the smoking of bacon by local residents has contributed to the less than spectacular condition of Dazhou’s air. We talk about how much we’d love to live in a world where bacon is constantly cooking, but after a while, we’re guessing it can be overwhelming for folks.
This whole situation kind of reminds us of the Sriracha outrage of 2013.
Zheng Jian, head of Chongquing-based social service agency Bayo NPO Development Center, stated in a report that even if smoking bacon could have a negative impact on air quality, it’s unlikely that impact would be substantial.
Smoked bacon is a much-enjoyed delicacy…
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[VIDEO] Smug vs. Smug: Bill Maher Exposes Howard Dean’s Ignorance in Argument Over Radical Islam: ‘You’re Just Denying The Facts’Posted: January 24, 2015
Bill Maher Confronts Howard Dean for ‘About as Muslim as I Am’ Comment
BILL MAHER, HBO’S “REAL TIME” HOST: [Saudi] King Abdullah died. He was praised by everyone from Obama to McCain as a “moderate.” Christine Lagarde, head of the IMF, said he was a strong advocate of women. In the kingdom, women can’t drive, leave the house without a man, hold a lot of jobs. There’s summary beheading of female criminals. This is what I call the soft bigotry of low expectations when it comes to Muslims.
And Howard I know we disagree on this. I head you say that “ISIS is as Islamic as I am.”
HOWARD DEAN: I’m thrilled you brought it up because the right-wing jumped all over me after the usual suspects distorted what I said. Here’s why I say that. Here’s why I don’t call ISIS Islamic terrorists: it empowers them to do it. What they are, are a group of thugs who are murderers and subhuman. I mean, they do horrible things.
“When you don’t call things by their real name, you always get in trouble… We’ve entered the theater of the absurd… But it is not good for us or the Muslim world to pretend that this spreading jihadist violence isn’t coming out of their faith community.”
– Bill Maher quoting Tom Friedman
They want us to call them Islamic terrorists because it connects them with a billion people. They are not.
MAHER: But they are connected.
BRET STEPHENS, WALL STREET JOURNAL: But they are Islamic terrorists.
MAHER: And they are connected.
DEAN: They are thugs and murderers.
MAHER: Howard —
DEAN: And for us to — we empower them —
MAHER: Of course they are. And we’re not saying that all Muslims are thugs and murders, but this idea that they are not connected to the religion… Tom Friedman wrote about it this week. He said in an article “Say It Like It Is.” He said:
When you don’t call things by their real name, you always get in trouble… We’ve entered the theater of the absurd… But it is not good for us or the Muslim world to pretend that this spreading jihadist violence isn’t coming out of their faith community.
Do you disagree with that?
DEAN: This is not about political correctness. This is about depriving —
MAHER: Oh, come on. Read the rest of this entry »
Yemen: ‘When President Obama Declares Something a ‘Success Story,’ You Know It Has ‘TOTAL FAILURE’ Embedded in its DNA’Posted: January 24, 2015
U.S. Halts Some Counterterror Efforts in Yemen
Greg Miller and Craig Whitlock reporting for The Washington Post — The Obama administration has been forced to suspend certain counterterrorism operations with Yemen in the aftermath of the collapse of its government, according to U.S. officials, a move that eases pressure on al-Qaida‘s most dangerous franchise.
Michelle Malkin writes:
Four months ago, America’s King Midas in Reverse crowed about the fruits of his triumphant foreign policy in jihad-infested Yemen. A “light footprint” approach to counterterrorism operations, he claimed, was the most effective path to stability. In addition, Obama has shoveled nearly $1 billion in American tax-subsidized foreign aid to Yemen.
Four months later, Iran-backed Shia rebels seized a Yemeni presidential palace. The president and his entire cabinet tendered their resignations on Thursday, creating a vacuum that al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula is ready and eager to fill. ISIS is gaining its own Sunni foothold in the Muslim terror-breeding ground. And while the JV team at the State Department dithers with hashtag games and selfies, adults at the Pentagon want to evacuate U.S. embassy personnel and other Americans before it’s too late…(read more)
Armed drones operated by the CIA and the U.S. Joint Special Operations Command remain deployed for now over southern Yemen, where al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula is based. But some U.S. officials said that the Yemeni security services that provided much of the intelligence that sustained that U.S. air campaign are now controlled by Shiite rebels, known as Houthis, who have seized control of much of the capital.
“The agencies we worked with… are really under the thumb of the Houthis. Our ability to work with them is not there.”
– Senior U.S. official
Even before the disintegration of the government, officials say, the growing chaos in Yemen had resulted in a steady erosion in intelligence-gathering efforts against AQAP and a de facto suspension in raids by Yemeni units trained, equipped and often flown to targeted al-Qaida compounds by U.S. forces.
Michelle Malkin continues…
The Yemen chaos didn’t happen overnight. The White House has allowed jihad to fester there from Day One. Reminder: In late January 2009, the U.S. Embassy in Yemen came under gunfire. American diplomatic staff had been warned of a pending attack. That same month, two former Yemeni Gitmo detainees, Said Ali al-Shihri and Abu Hareth Muhammad al-Awfi, released a video publicly recommitting to “aid the religion,” “establish the rightly guided caliphate” and “fight against our enemies” after undergoing terrorism “rehab” in Saudi Arabia.
Why has Obama so wantonly aided and abetted our enemies? Appeasement of the international human rights crowd and agreement with the soft-on-jihad lawyers infesting his own Justice Department. As I’ve reported previously, Attorney General Eric Holder’s law firm, Covington and Burling, provided dozens of dangerous Yemeni Gitmo detainees pro bono legal representation and sob-story media relations campaigns. At least nine Obama DOJ appointees represented or advocated for Gitmo denizens before taking positions in our government….(more)
“The agencies we worked with . . . are really under the thumb of the Houthis. Our ability to work with them is not there,” said a senior U.S. official closely involved in monitoring the situation. In a measure of U.S. concern over the crisis, officials also signaled for the first time a willingness to open talks with Houthi leaders, despite their suspected ties to Iran and antipathy toward the United States.
The developments have unraveled a campaign that President Barack Obama described last year as a model for how the United States should fight terrorist groups, and avoid being drawn more directly into overseas conflicts. The turmoil in Yemen has exposed the risks of that strategy, with U.S. officials now voicing concern that the suspension in operations in Yemen could enable AQAP — which has launched a series of plots against the United States and claimed credit for the attacks in Paris this month — to regroup. Read the rest of this entry »