Mike Rice's Blog
Someone should be talking about the
Bush Administration's complicity in the fall of
Aristide in Haiti. The minute the Bushies
got in power they stripped aid from Haiti,
guaranteeing the country would be tasked
for resources and that Aristide would even-
Americans and their Press would seem to
care less. I'm inclined to believe we kid-
napped Aristide and removed him from the
country. The "rebels" were, in effect, our
own agents. But now that Aristide has been
dispatched, our Marines are down there
mopping up and disbanding the "rebels."
History repeats itself, first as tragedy, then
as farce. Aristide has already lost his Presi-
dency once before during the first Bush
Administration. The Clintons put him back
in office when they were elected. Are we
going to go thru this charade again? Will Kerry
put Aristide back in power when he is
I don't think Americans understand that part
of American Foreign Policy is to keep ALL of
South America at bay. Keeping them poor
and dependent on us is a long term goal so
that, with a compliant Canada, WE CONTROL
THE ENTIRE HEMISPHERE!
Its been going on for more than a Century.
The policy is one of the blind spots in the
average American's sense of what we are
doing, not that there aren't others. Watch
what happens if someone down there starts
accepting the Euro for oil payments. That
would be Venezuela, of course. Watch also
for the emergence of Brazil as our challenger
in South America. They alone have what it
takes to eject the US from its malign influence
over "Our Southern Realm!"
USA Today Top 150 Books Overview
Dan Brown's got three books on this list, two of them pre-Da Vinci Code. John Grisham has two. Dr. Atkins and his spawn have a half dozen together. The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald's 1925 Classic has spiraled up to 98. Some city must be making it their book of the month. 100 Years of Solitude, the Gabriel Garcia Marquez classic is in the top 50, thanks to the Oprah Book Club. That's pretty heavy reading for Oprah readers. Catcher in the Rye and Tequila (To Kill a) Mockingbird are earning their customary $1 million a year in royalties for their authors, both of whom are still alive. There's a Queer Eye for the Straight Guy spin-off,a Mel Gibson Passion spin-off, Automatic Millionaire, spawn of The Millionaire Next Door but not by its authors, and a Sex in the City spin-off and a new Danielle Steele, Ransom. There's a Cold Mountain trade paperback and a Mystic River popular paper, spawn of the movies. Holy Blood, Holy Grail is at 57, because it trades on the same Da Vinci code of Brown's book, but it may be a book older than Dan Brown's. Dr. Seuss, who has a nationwide Green Eggs and Ham reading each year at this time, to wide publicity, has three Seuss titles on the list. Dave Pelzer, perpetual childhood victim, has a new spin on the old bones, but only two of his original Child Called It and spawn, are on this list, not the new one. The Purpose Driven Life, a Christer restore your life and spirituality opus, has a companion book at the end of the list. Christer books don't usually sell that well,but driven by Bible Study Group marketing efforts, both Purpose-Driven Life and Daily Inspiration for the Purpose-Driven Life, along with Mel Gibson's Passion spin-off are both being driven by Bible Study Group Marketing pushes. Michael Moore, Sean Hannity and Bill O'Reilly each has two books on the list. I'm looking at the literalist Kingdom Hospital miniseries that Stephen King and ABC have coopted from Danish filmmaker Lars Von Triers. ABC hired King to put a pop spin on a savagely ironic critique of European hospitals that makes Paddy Chayefsky's Hospital look like Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm. For putting together this travesty, Eisner shouldn't have just been displaced but fired from Disney Wednesday. Suggest you all rent the original The Kingdom Danish TV series, and the Kingdom Two. They are very savage, but very funny. King has been putting on these dumb horror shows long enough.
Thunder on the Left Coast
USA Today has developed a fetish for
producing graphics which contain info
about the Country. I just tried to
lift one off their website to send to
all of you but the newspaper would
not part with it. My right click
apparatus to capture an image off a
website was instead gripped by one
that allowed me to zoom in and out
to make graphics bigger, and to show
a fine grain rather than a low grade
version of the graphic. Thanks USA
but no thanks, I'd rather have my own
Today's graphic suggested that monthly
(and more often) churchgoing in the
Midwest is higher than even in the
Bible Belt South. 45% of midwesterners
attend church at least monthly if not
oftener, while that figure in the South
is 40%. The cynical East sees 30% atten-
ding Church each month, and the West, where
Hollywood is centered, produces only 27%.
This tallies with a general sense of the
country. The Midwest is considered square,
the South backward and the two coasts are
overrun by degrees of sophistication which
undermine general morality and respect.
The other night I had a talk with a 32 year
old guy who gets most of his news off cable
and the few publications that are generally
read by folks here in the armpit of the mid-
west. This guy was trying to tell me Holly-
wood was where the Democratic Party ethos is
He told me the bigwigs in the party from Kerry
to Clinton get their money from the deep pockets
of corrupt Hollywood. I told him that that is
absurd. The larger implication is that in exchange
the Democratic Politicians corrupt their values
accordingly and vote for that old bugaboo, the
Ultra-Liberal Agenda that would allow gays in
the military, fifth trimester abortions and all
manner of sexually decandent behavior to be foisted
on America's impressionable children.
He wanted to go over to Rookies where it was quieter
and discuss this where the roar of the Hip Hop in
Millenium or the Metal in Breakaway did not intrude.
I didn't want to leave Millenium, so we didn't have
But he believed this Hollywood bull so intently it
got me thinking. Its my own view that folks like O'Reilly
on Fox, the right wing Amen Corner of Talk Radio and
some of the alledged cable news networks promote these
ideas. But the real reason Hollywood is brought into the
mix is that it adds touches of glamour to a politics that
most people don't find interesting at all. The real reason
Hollywood is blended with radio and TV politics is the same
reason the newspapers spend as much space covering Show
Business: Because it brings uninterested readers
and viewers in to read and view their otherwise dull products.
For a couple of years Alec Baldwin has been the Bete Noir
of the Right. He is alledged to have said that if Bush were
elected he would move to Canada. Baldwin says that isn't
exactly what he said and he wasn't moving to Canada. But who
are these Hollywood fatcats my right wing friend claims are
running the Democratic Party?
Is Jack Valenti, the MPAA Maven one of them? Jack worked for
LBJ in the Sixties but his current politics seem very geared
to stopping Americans from downloading movies off the internet,
a practice that is highly overrated. This same guy I was talking
to Saturday is a computer expert, who used to download movies. I've
been reading that it takes forever, even with a DSL or cable modem
hookup. Then the movies themselves are not crisp replicas of the
DVDs one gets in a store, but copies made from gritty videotapes
shot in theaters, where members of the audience can be seen getting
up during the performance, and the videocamera shakes a lot. I
suspect Jack and the MPAA contribute to the campaigns of the right
committee members in Congress, from both parties, but Jack doesn't
seem committed to an ideology or bent on reshaping the morals of
The late Lew Wasserman, head of MCA almost until he died, is another
Hollywood fatcat, who certainly contributed to the campaigns of those
same congressmen. But its not Jack or Lew that O'Reilly and the others
talk about incessantly, its small bean movie stars like Baldwin, Barbra
Streisand, Michael Moore (yaeh, he makes movies but is connected more
closely to Flint in the churchgoing Midwest) and Martin Sheen. Another ineffective
ultraliberal not heard from much lately is Richard Dreyfus. Dreyfus was
still telling TV interviewers that half the Federal Budget was spent running the
Pentagon, at a time- the eighties and ninties- when that wasn't even
remotely true any longer. Baldwin is, like most actors, more interested
in his career than in promoting political wares. Barbra Streisand operates
a website in which she rails at Republicans, but Barbra constantly makes
gaffes, and is easy sport for the right wing commentators. I saw Jane Fonda
being interviewed about the photos of herself with Kerry, one of which was
faked, at CNN, a network her ex-husband once owned.., the photos being from the
era of Hanoi Jane. Jane was in an angry mood about the trivial Right's efforts
to link Kerry to her. No wonder. It has to be angering in two ways. First,
that her noble effort to stop the Viet War are haunting her 40 years later, but
also because there is fear a link to her could hurt Kerry. It just occurs
to me that Demi Moore's Woman Marine epic GI Jane, featuring Demi doing one-
armed pushups, was a veiled reference to our beloved Hanoi Jane. So Jane is
feeling a double lance from the latest controversy. Meanwhile, poor Martin
Sheen seems to be suffering from minor delusions of grandeur. Yes, he plays
the President on the West Wing, but that doesn't give him the right to make
policy. Sheen appears in TV and magazine ads for liberal causes, but that
doesn't make him powerful in the Democratic or any other party. He's another
small bean in Hollywood.
The real people behind the Candidacies of the two parties are actually the
same people. Both Republicans and Democrats who operate in the National
Sphere are drawing campaign contributions from the same Trough. Which is why
there is often a secondary story circulating in the Press about a candidate
(Dean, McCain) running from "Outside Washington and the Beltway" against the
"Washington Establishment." Often those outsiders are essentially simply
choosing tactics. McCain's father-in-law is the owner of the Budweiser
distributorship in Phoenix. McCain and Dean might run against Washington at
first, but should they ever have gotten into office as president, they both
would have begun dining at the same Washington Influence Trough as everyone
I've been making copies of favorite movies lately. I think I'm going to have
to make one of GI Jane. That and the new Texas Chainsaw Massacre paired with
the old one. The great thing about the new one, apart from the presence
of the wonderful character actor from Full Metal Jacket, R E Ermey, is that
the new Chainsaw has a deliberately comic, mocking subtext that is quietly
sending up the entire movie and all its horrifics. The new TCM, if careful
attention is paid, is a great comedy. The first one, which I saw at age 29,
was the scariest film I had ever seen in my life.
Wednesday, 7:23 a.m.
DVDs: Intimacy and In the Cut
I've just watched the most extraordinary
film. Its about a married woman with
child and a husband who takes up with
a divorced man who lives alone and works
as a head bartender in an English pub.
We meet them in the middle of the affair
and gradually learn they have been meet-
ing every Wednesday for a long time.
But heres the kicker. They don't know a
thing about each other. The divorced man
is down at the heel. One day he decides
he'd like to know more about this woman.
He follows her and learns that she has a
husband, that she is playing Laura in a
pub basement production of Tennessee Wil-
liams' Glass Menagerie, and that her hubby
is right upstairs playing pool. Our bar-
man plunges ahead to find out who this
woman he has been having sex with is. He
befriends the husband without, of course,
telling him why. Its an extraordinarily
But what is really grand about Intimacy is
that it explores intimacy among people who
alledgedly are in love. The woman is some-
what interested in producing love scenes on
stage- she teaches drama to students too- but
is unable to achieve it with students nor is
she much better at it as an actress.
As you know, the best filmmakers and stage directors
all fail at this regularly. Interestingly
though, this film's graphic love scenes are
much better than most such efforts. And the
amount of sexual play, sex organs and moves
revealed are more detailed than any film I've
seen outside porno.
The film is an exploration of intimacy among
lovers, other strangers, husbands and wives,
the like of which has never been seen before
onscreen. This is the movie Bertolucci should
have made instead of Last Tango in Paris. It
is about the failure of intimacy among the many
people who believe they remain in the prime of
their intimacy. This film suggests that is not
where they are.
Its like Inner Tennis and Levels of the Game
are. Only in this case its about human beings
and their connections rather than figuring out
your opponent's mental tennis game and how to defeat
it. Of course, intimacy is a lot more important
than tennis too.
Its a simple idea for a story, but the tale has
great implications and all kinds of avenues to
Kerry Fox plays the woman, Mark Rylance the man,
and Timothy Spall, the heavy, forbiddingly eye-
browed brother in Mike Leigh's Secrets and Lies,
gives his normal superb performance as the
husband. The film won the Golden Bear at the 2001
Berlin Film Festival. Patricia Chereau, whose work
I haven't seen before, co-wrote the movie with Ann
Louise Trevoic and directed it. The screenplay is
taken from stories written by Hanif Kureishi.
Its coincidental that Fox of Tanzania got her
break in Jane Campion's first breakthrough film
Angel at My Table, because, by chance, I rented
Campion's latest film In the Cut, along with Intimacy.
In the Cut is possibly the most graphic American
film ever made. It features frank talk about sexual
mechanics between stars Meg Foster and Mark Ruffalo
that haven't been put on an American screen before. Its
a crime thriller with Ruffalo as a cop, that explores
the sexuality of the two from the point of view of the woman. Foster
is nothing special here, but this is the best film I've
ever seen her in. Its sexual graphics also go beyond all
American non-pornographic film standards. These two
films were sitting right beside one another alphabetically,
at Sparta Video. What a coincidence? They were both
better than usual, but Intimacy is a groundbreaker.
Intimacy is so great I'm cracking the macrovision code
at this moment with a filter I bought in the late eighties,
in order to get myself a pretty sterling copy of it.
Email Dialogue Twixt Film Critic Jimmy Gillam and Mike Rice Vis Nazi Filmmaker Leni Reifenstahl
I've been meaning to write since I saw your
piece on Leni Reifenstahl. I thought you
were way too hard on her. I saw the film
something like ten years ago, and also read
what amounted to her companion autobiography
at that time.
The autobiography was more detailed. Leni
was originally a movie star, the heroine in
a particularly German genre called mountain
movies. On a dare she made contact with
Hitler not long after he became Chancellor.
She them made the remarkable Triumph of the
Will and later Olympia. The first film has
been marching in goosestep on film, television,
then cable, ever since. The film captured the
essence of the Fuhrer and his men, with her
novel multi-camera approach to the demonstra-
tion at Nurenburg.
Like other vassals of Hitler, Leni didn't get
to talk to him often. She was vaguely in the
artist-communication group headed up by Goebbels.
But since she had not met Der Fuhrer thru Goebbels,
she did not consider herself in the Communication
Goebbels, whose wife only married him to get close
to Hitler, tried repeatedly both to bring Leni under
his control and to get into her pants. At the end
of the War, Leni faced a lot of criticism from the
Allies and the new Germany. But while Hitler was
in power, Leni was dodging the amorous intentions
of Goebbel like the jewish lesbians were evading
the Gestapo in 1944, in Aimee & Jaguar, a wonderful
romantic love story that you must see if you haven't
I don't think she was so awful, and I don't think it
was reprehensible of her to make the films. Unlike
a good deal of the cardboard orthodoxy that passed
for art in the Third Reich, Leni's stuff was decidedly
Leni's films, particularly the first one, define the
look and feel of the Third Reich. They capture its
essence. No documentary about the Nazis can be made
without using cuts from it.
I would have preferred reading a good bio by someone
else about Leni. But I couldn't find one.
Dear Mr. Rice:
I direct your attention to author Susan Sontag's groundbreaking 1974 essay, "Fascinating Fascism," in which she systematically and point by point completely debunks the tacit innocence and autobiographical claims of Ms. Reifenstahl, whose proclamations of "just being an artist" are disingenuous and wholly self serving. Hers is the now familiar claim of "I didn't know what was happening" and "I myself never personally committed any atrocities against Jews or others."
I also draw to your attention Daniel Jonah Goldhagen's "Hitler's Willing Executioners, Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust," which clearly details the far-reaching extent to which tens, if not hundreds of thousands of Germans were responsible for the atrocities of World War II. Such actions on a grand scale required the participation of a reasonably proportionate number-- the acts of Nazism were not the acts of a small cadre of inner circle generals and politicians. Nor is it plausible to believe that while whole communities were witnessing -- and here the key word is witnessing -- the wholesale removal of Jews who were never to return, can claims of ignorance be supported. It is therefore logical to conclude that someone as close to the source as Ms. Reifenstahl did, in fact, understand what the Nazis were all about and clearly aware of what their intentions were, even as far back as the early 1930s. The fact that she was a legitimate actress who appeared in the so-call! ed "mountain" films and the like is neither relevant or germane to arguing her lack of complicity and giving aid and comfort to the Nazis.
There is a key scene in "Judgment at Nuremberg," when Spencer Tracy is having coffee with Marlene Dietrich, whose character represents the Reifenstahls of the world, when she tells him that ordinary Germans did not know what was happening in their country before and during the war. In response, he says to her that he has heard this contention many times, but that during all of his time in Germany, he has yet to meet anyone who did know what was going on.
Again, in the case of Ms. Reifenstahl, to claim that her actions and involvement as the official Nazi filmmaker were tantamount to non-complicity is absurd, and if one listens carefully to those things she says in her defense in the documentary at issue, her continued admiration for the "fascist aesthetic" is easily detected.
In conclusion, I must say that, if anything, I was too easy on her.
As always, thank you for reading my column.
I've read Sontag, even her biography, but not
Fascinating Fascism. I have read Hitler's
Willing Executioners, however. The last was
about the tacit approval of most Germans in
the persecution of the jews. The reason I
found you too tough on Leni is that she is
often placed with Goering, Speer, Goebbels,
Martin Borman, Himmler and the others, as
one of the Beasts of the 3rd Reich. I don't
think she was a big enough figure in the Reich
to warrant such attention. Because she was
a filmmaker- and here's the point- an artistically
effective filmmaker, she was somehow elevated
into the company of the guys I mention above. I
don't believe she belongs there. She was
certainly as complacent as the average German
of Hitler's Willing Executioners, but producing
a couple of films and being in favor with the
Reich places her down several notches from these
other guys, most of whom were war criminals, who
would have been executed, or served a long sentence,
like Speer. A lot of coverage of Leni Reifenstahl
tries to suggest she is the War Criminal that got
away. I don't think she reaches that level, and
while your piece made no such claim, it had that
"reserved for war criminals" tone. I believe
Leni is more on a level with an ephemeral figure
like Tokyo Rose. Both women were held for a time
after the War, but eventually released.
2/13/04 Swimming Pool
I've just seen the last scenes from
Swimming Pool. My take is that the
writer actually dreamed the whole
story up, that we watched. Her Julie
was not the publisher's daughter, but
her own Julie of the novel. I'm looking
at a deleted scenes sequence at the end
of the DVD. I wonder if there will be
anything in there. This novelist lady..
she fooled us.
But its better than those doddy old
detective things she was doing. I don't
understand exactly why her publisher
didn't like the book. But I suspect it
was because she had imagined his life,
thought she knew what he was really like,
and knew he would not like the book.
The reason he wouldn't like the book is
because the book Julie's mother wrote
that he urged her to burn, was like the
book our police procedural writer has put
together. I think the book was a veiled
examination by Charlotte Rampling's charac-
ter of why after all these years, she
didn't like this publisher who didn't pay
enough attention to her. Which is why she
had the book published with someone else,
while pretending she was offering it for
his consideration. Writing the book had
put her wise to her publishers entire
These scissored scenes at the end of
the DBD show Charlotte Rampling
taking the train to Paris, dressed more
upscale. She was to be classier and in
classier clothes. She drove a car to the
villa, not a motorbike. The director has
her taking notes for the novel on the train. She is
sunnier and nicer. We see her first day
at the Paris house. She is by the pool
and happy. She goes to visit the home of
the Marquis De Sade who lived nearby in
the 18th century. This Charlotte Rampling
is not the one the author settled on for the
movie. I just saw the trailer for the film
and realized the scene on the train where she
was recognized by one of her readers was a
defining scene. It now dawns that she was
embarassed to be that dowdy author, dissatis-
fied with the boring career her publisher-lover
has sentenced her to. Which is why she claims
not to be the woman who wrote the book.
There's a scene jumping ahead to after she
has known Julie, and she is probing the
mystery of the missing mother, her publisher's
lost wife. It is an interpolative scene be-
tween the murder Rampling didn't yet know about.
and the return of Julie, who went away after
killing Jacques the waiter, by the pool. She
asks Marcel the servant if he knows Julie's
mother. Marcel does not. She calls Charles,
her publisher, who she has probably loved through
their 20 year professional relationship. Rampling
tells him she has dropped Dorwell, her erstwhile
gumshoe. You can hear Charles' disappointment at
this on the phone. Charlotte is disappointed in Charles,
because she now sees he never cared about her
artistically. He just wanted her to crank out
those bad dick novels. In the train scene, a young
girl in backpack Julie's age, has forgotten to
pay part of her fare, and Charlotte takes notes
about her in a notebook. But of course! Since
the audience never sees this, it is not a reference
one can think back on, after the surprise ending.
The director pulled out some fairly defining scenes
in this movie and it made it MORE mysterious. I
don't know if you've learned the trick of pulling
something totally out and then noting how it makes
a severe change that is sometimes good and sometimes
needs a nip and a tuck. I first learned about it
reading of Hemingway and Fitzgerald's reshapings.
You start by pulling excess language, then whole
phrases, soon you'er excising parts of paragraphs
and maybe whole chapters. Writing books. Its
interesting, even if one doesn't know quite how to
The movie is better without the trimmed scenes. They
make the mystery more powerful and Charlotte Rampling
less sophisticated, which works better. That way,
with less sophisto, the showdown with her publisher,
her rise to a higher level of authorship, is a
bigger surprise. The author has turned Agatha Christie
into Patricia Hightower. The latter is the author of
the Talented Mr. Ripley and some of the books Hitchcock
used for his films like Stranger on a Train.
My name is Mike Rice. You can write me at firstname.lastname@example.org
5:21AM - Lars Von Trier's The Castle on ABC
When I first learned last year that ABC was doing
an adaptation of Lars Von Trier's the Kingdom, I
had hopes it would be interesting. At the time,
there was no sign of Steven King. Now his marker
is all over it. I will not be tuning in.
You guys think King is insurance against the Public
"not understanding" the savage irony of Von Trier's
work. Lets be honest. King is a schlockmeister.
The Kingdom is not a horror film, it is a savage
commentary on hospitals and modern medicine, more
powerful than ten of Paddy Chayefsky's The Hospital.
But not your version.
Your press release suggests you have weakened the
character played by Andrew McCarthy. This man is
supposed to be our witness to the events in the
There is nothing wrong with taking liberties with
material if one adds interest. But that isn't
what you've done here.
Next year you'll lose a load more of 18 to 34s to
cable and satellite. Why would anyone want to keep
watching these tired old formulas you keep cranking
out, just so ABC can keep training eyeballs on
products. I think you're witnessing the end of TV as
a strong advertising medium. It is splintering
asunder. The continued proliferation of schlock by
the likes of yourselves is driving people away from
television. We are not a mass audience. We are
individuals who insist on being treated that way.
I have no cable, tho I used to own the local system
here, watch no live shows, skip all commercials
despite having no Tivo, watch all three nightly
newscasts in an hour, and occasionally reprogram my
machine to look at oddities like Trump's new show.
I seldom watch a second episode of any network show.
I'm a subscriber to Netflix with four vcrs and a
DVD player, but I spend way more time on the Internet
than I do watching television.
And I read more than I ever did before.
Sparta, Wisconsin 54656
(comment on this)
3:17AM - Did Shania Twain Pull the Same Stunt Janet Jackson Did at SuperBowl 2003 Halftime?
My name is Mike Rice. About two months before SuperBowl Sunday 2004 on February 1st, 2004, I received two still pics of a bare-breasted Shania Twain supposedly baring it all, from one of the email lists I subscribe to.
When Janet Jackson had her bra pulled off revealing her breast this year, I sent around the Shania bare-breasted shots along with the Janet shots, to my friends as attachments.
Even if the Shanias were fake photos, they were harbingers of what was to come this year, and so, interesting, even if
they are fake.
A friend of mine challenged their authenticity. So I went googling, looking for reportage on Shania's 2004
performance. I ran across a Slate story on the Sound System behind Shania at the Superbowl. The story was about how Shania and other singers often have a trusty technician behind the scenes playing a CD of her song, which can be cranked up should the performer falter onstage. The performer has a small hearing aid ($2,100) so she can hear the
CD or herself.
The story mentioned that Shania stepped off the stage for a short period into the crowd, and then returned, which may
indicate she was out of sight of TV cameras during her performance, for a time.
The bare-breasted jpgs I have of Shania
show her wearing the same outfit shown in a pic from her SuperBowl 2003 performance with the Slate article. She is wearing the same open black top
with the jeweled choker and the same hairstyle from the half time show. She is also wearing a silvery bra under the
black top with flared french cuffs, rolled up slightly.
It is that silvery bra that is missing from the two pics sent to me two months ago. It is possible the bra could have
been removed and photos taken while Shania was in the audience. The bra could then have been put back on when Shania returned to the stage. Below is the Slate website:
If you'd like copies of the Shania "Barebreasts," write me at my email address, email@example.com and I'll send them as attachments.
Meanwhile, I've not given up my search for the truth in this matter. Google is endless. I'll see what else I can
(comment on this)
Monday, February 2, 2004
4:47PM - Cooler, the real "Leaving Las Vegas!"
Winners and losers. Bad luck Good Luck. Thats what the Cooler is about. Down at the mouth William H. Macy plays Bernie, a loser who has worked for Shelly (Alec Baldwin) for thirty years. Bernie walks with a limp thanks to Shelly. Bernie owed the Shangrila $75,000 all those years ago. When he didn't pay, Shelly kneecapped him with a baseball bat in the back room. But later, realizing Bernie is a real Joe Bl?!@*sfx (from L'l Abner), he hires him to bring bad luck to roulette players who are taking serious money from the casino.
There's even a little interlude about saloon singers. Paul Sorvino plays the worn crooner who works the lounge at the Shangrila. In his room Bernie puts an actual LP on a turntable to entertain a waitress he has enticed. I recognize the song as Sinatra's dependable Luck Be A Lady. I listen closely. Its a perfect Sinatra parody but its not Sinatra, its by someone named Bobby Caldwell. I watch the credits at the end. Sorvino, who always saw acting as a way to become what he really wanted to be, an opera singer, does a faux saloon song called You're Getting To Be a Habit With Me. The Sorvino character is seen as dead meat too retro for the modern audience, by the young corporate bloods who want to transform the Shangrila. Shelly is a friend of Sorvino, like he is a friend of Bernie's. Each night after the performance, Shelly brings this Jimmy Roselli-like singer his fix of heroin and Sorvino relaxes.
Shelly's world is undergoing a transformation. The film is set in the Steve Winn era, when Winn was going to establish a recreation area for "families" in Las Vegas. A young guy has been sent in to help Shelly transform the Shangrila into a "family friendly" operation. There's even a model of the new place in the office. Shelly's having none of it. Vegas is about booze, broads and big players, bad luck and good luck. And whats the problem. Shangrila did $35 million last year. Those in the audience who know "family values" has failed in Vegas and booze, broads and big players are being reinstated, have an extra irony in watching the picture.
Gradually we learn that Bernie is the key to the large profits. Only Bernie has had enough of the Vegas squalor. He tells Shelly he's finished, that he'll be leaving in a week. Suddenly though, a waitress falls for Bernie. But this is trouble for Shelley, because now Bernie has lost his ability to "Cool" winners. When he shows up next to a roulette player, the man starts winning. Once Bernie is standing next to a new $100,000 payoff one-armed bandit. He's just standing next to it while a casino flunkie is demonstrating it, when the machine unaccountably starts dumping out the whole $100,000.
Some lucky players come in and when Bernie is sent over, their luck gets even better. Shelly is in a funk. His cooler has lost him over $1 million in one day. Bernie's long lost kid Mikie, by a long ago abandoned alcoholic wife, shows up with a pregnant girlfriend. He gives Bernie a hard luck story and a touched Bernie turns over his entire accumulated bankroll of $3,000.
Meanwhile, Shelly is getting into trouble with the people who own Shangrila. They are never shown, but a crooked associate in his sixties seems to represent their interests. When the associate starts getting a bunch of crap about his age while taking a couple of passes at the roulette table, he first decides to ignore the kid and walk away. Reconsidering, he comes over, pretends to offer a handshake, headbutts the kid instead and beats him to a pulp.
But this palls next to what Shelly has in store for Mikie when the kid wins $150,000 at roulette. Shelly and two big guys say they will arrange the payoff in the office. Bernie has been at that table watching, offended that his kid is using his $3,000 to gamble rather than take care of his (Bernie's) grandchild. He follows Shelly, the hoods, Mikey and his girl to the backroom, where Shelly has now switched from baseball bat to croquet mallet for kneecapping. They're going to pay Mikey alright, with the same medicine served up to Bernie 30 years earlier.
You may think I've told you too much of the story. But there's a lot more, about the love affair, about Shelly's loyalties and about luck. The Cooler is a hell of a movie. Baldwin, Macy, they guy who played the old Mafioso and the waitress are superb. There are better ways to leave Las Vegas than the first version suggested.
(comment on this)
Tuesday, January 27, 2004
1:08AM - My Netflix Movie Rentals to Date: 1/24/04
Movie Title Shipped Returned
Jerry & Tom (1998) 01/12/04 01/23/04
The Snows Of Kilimanjaro (1952) 01/12/04 01/22/04
Night Porter (1974) 01/12/04 01/21/04
Strange Impersonation (1946) 12/31/03 01/12/04
Lucrezia Borgia (1935) 12/31/03 01/12/04
Variety Lights (1950) 12/16/03 01/12/04
Killer's Kiss (1955) 12/18/03 12/31/03
Ossessione (1943) 12/15/03 12/31/03
I know Where I'm Going! (1945) 12/01/03 12/18/03
Purple Noon (1960) 12/02/03 12/16/03
Traces of Red (1992) 11/26/03 12/15/03
Frankenstein: Classic Monster Collection (1931) 11/18/03 12/02/03
Mahler (1974) 11/14/03 12/01/03
Roger Dodger (2002) 11/10/03 11/26/03
Talk to Her (2002) 11/10/03 11/18/03
Old Dark House: Special Edition (1932) 11/03/03 11/14/03
Farinelli (1994) 10/29/03 11/10/03
Army of Darkness (1993) 11/03/03 11/10/03
Beautiful Thing (1996) 10/27/03 11/03/03
Hysterical Blindness (2002) 10/29/03 11/03/03
The Devil and Daniel Webster (1941) 10/17/03 10/29/03
Stonewall (1995) 10/22/03 10/29/03
The Shape of Things (2003) 10/16/03 10/27/03
Mostly Martha (2002) 09/29/03 10/22/03
Autofocus (2002) 10/01/03 10/17/03
Lawn Dogs (1997) 10/08/03 10/16/03
Things Behind the Sun (2001) 09/22/03 10/08/03
The Gift (2000) 09/22/03 10/01/03
The Salton Sea (2002) 09/22/03 09/29/03
A Doll's House (1973) 09/02/03 09/22/03
Most Dangerous Game: Criterion Collection (1932) 09/10/03 09/22/03
Serendipity (2001) 09/10/03 09/22/03
Irreversible (2002) 09/02/03 09/10/03
It Had to Be You (2000) 09/02/03 09/10/03
Haunted Strangler (1957) 08/15/03 09/02/03
Body and Soul (1947) 08/18/03 09/02/03
Look Back In Anger (1959) 08/18/03 09/02/03
Nine Queens (2000) 08/08/03 08/18/03
Shadrach (1998) 08/08/03 08/18/03
Bride Of Frankenstein: Classic Monster Collection (1935) 08/08/03 08/15/03
Endgame (2001) 07/30/03 08/08/03
Swept from the Sea (1997) 07/31/03 08/08/03
The Game of Death (2000) 07/28/03 08/08/03
The Ninth Gate (1999) 07/23/03 07/31/03
Donnie Darko (2001) 07/23/03 07/30/03
Six Feet Under: The Complete First Season: Disc 1 (2001) 07/16/03 07/28/03
Hangmen Also Die (1943) 07/16/03 07/23/03
Beautiful People (1999) 07/15/03 07/23/03
Devil's Playground (2002) 07/07/03 07/16/03
Decameron (1970) 06/30/03 07/16/03
Under Heavy Fire (2001) 07/02/03 07/15/03
The Center of the World (2001) 06/27/03 07/07/03
Winter Sleepers (2000) 06/25/03 07/02/03
Shackleton's Antarctic Adventure: IMAX (2001) 06/24/03 06/30/03
The Grey Zone (2002) 06/19/03 06/27/03
Shackleton: Disc 3 (2002) 06/18/03 06/25/03
Shackleton: Disc 2 (2002) 06/17/03 06/24/03
The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum: Criterion Collection (197506/11/03 06/19/03
Time Code (2000) 06/11/03 06/18/03
Shackleton: Disc 1 (2002) 06/11/03 06/17/03
East/West (2000) 06/05/03 06/11/03
Love & Anarchy (1973) 06/03/03 06/11/03
The Seduction of Mimi (1972) 06/03/03 06/11/03
Lured (1947) 05/29/03 06/05/03
The Anniversary Party (2001) 05/27/03 06/03/03
Rhinoceros (1973) 05/16/03 06/03/03
Butley (1974) 05/15/03 05/29/03
Luther (1973) 05/12/03 05/27/03
Secretary (2002) 05/08/03 05/15/03
The Maids (1974) 05/08/03 05/15/03
All That Heaven Allows (1955) 05/01/03 05/12/03
Full Frontal (2002) 05/02/03 05/08/03
8 Women (2002) 04/30/03 05/08/03
Charterhouse of Parme (1948) 04/25/03 05/01/03
The Man From Elysian Fields (2002) 04/24/03 04/30/03
A Map of the World (1999) 04/24/03 04/30/03
The Niklashausen Journey (1970) 04/16/03 04/25/03
The Iceman Cometh: Disc 1 (1973) 04/17/03 04/24/03
The Iceman Cometh: Disc 2 (1973) 04/17/03 04/24/03
The Merchant of Four Seasons (1972) 04/11/03 04/17/03
The Fassbinder Collection: Whity (1971) 04/10/03 04/17/03
Effi Briest (1974) 04/07/03 04/16/03
The Fassbinder Collection: Pioneer in Ingolstadt (1971) 04/01/03 04/10/03
Fox and His Friends (1975) 04/03/03 04/10/03
The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant (1972) 03/31/03 04/07/03
Querelle (1982) 03/24/03 04/03/03
Katzelmacher (1969) 03/21/03 04/01/03
Rio Das Mortes (1971) 03/21/03 03/31/03
(comment on this)
Monday, January 26, 2004 8:35AM
Latching Onto A Lady
A writer from the Times Sunday Style section says
he has divined the secrets of seducing a woman.
Naturally he started his quest on the internet.
He mentioned that he discovered one guy who said
the secret to reaching a woman is buddying up with
everyone around her EXCEPT her. This is a slight
revision since I discovered this trick years ago.
Mr. Mystery, as the writer was dubbed by the savant,
said you pal up to the MEN around the girl. But here
is my codicil: It doesn't matter if they are men.
Buddy up to EVERYONE around the selected girl, every-
one but THE GIRL. The Savant advising Mr. Mystery says
the one ignored person - THE GIRL- will find a way to
join the conversation. When she does, pay massive
attention to her. If she is beautiful, give her a
"NEG." That is, a minor criticism, like "Are those your
real nails?" The reason you give the beautiful girl
the "NEG" is because she is so used to being hit on,
she'll sit up and take notice if one tosses a NEG in
her direction. Yes, that's right, we're playing the
expectations game here. When you turn to the girl you've
ignored, and charm her quickly, with some clever chatter
or some other mind-boggling trick you've conceived before-
hand to impress her.., when you've done that, give her
a massive compliment that you actually believe to make up
for the "NEG".
Group dynamics are not the whole story on getting the girl's
attention. Even academics are playing this game. One man uses
a kind of hypnosis. It happens I know something about this myself. It takes careful paying attention. You start small and gradually talk to the girl in her own voice. Even getting the tones right is necessary.
Your can collect a lot of telephone numbers this way. But here's the biggest secret to scoring: You must believe that
YOU are the prize and not the girl. Ladies are very aware when
a man who is insecure is trying to get her attention. Take the Dale Carnegie Course first before you try. But, really, start treating yourself as if you are something. You have to in order to succeed. The article is in the Sunday, January 25, 2004 Sunday Style section of the New York Times. The guy writing the article will eventually be putting out a book, and there is one mentioned there you might want to pick up while you're waiting. Don't tell the whole world about this. It won't do much good if every guy in the world is playing these games.
(comment on this)
January 18, 2000 8:30AM
Subject: House of Sand and Fog of War
Actually, that's two films slammed together.
Fog of War is the documentary that stars
Robert McNamara and is about the Vietnam
War. House of Sand is a tragedy to rival
Hamlet and Othello put together. A woman
feels she doesn't owe any business taxes
to the county, so she ignores the notices
she gets from them. The Sheriff shows up
one day and tells her to get her stuff out.
An Iranian Colonel spots the Sheriff's
sale in the paper and everything flows from
that. This is a very adult story and very
good. Its two hours long.
Then there's my good deed. I quickly got
over to Buzzard Billy's just before they
closed their cajun kitchen, ate, and then
went to the Hip Hop Conoco on Cass. There
I was approached by a guy in his late 40s
on a bike, who told me he was pedalling his
way from Alaska back home. He wanted to give
me some Allen Wrenches in return for $10 so
he could buy earphones for his portable radio,
which is important to him in his journey. I
listened to this hard luck story and gave him
$11 to cover the sales tax. He may have been
a La Crosse drunk looking for the price of some
Ray Wanlass apparently committed suicide Friday
night. I mentioned it to Gomez at the CK this
(Mon) morning where they were having their regular
monthly politician gathering. Teeny Gleiss and
Barbara Rice came in. So did Al Wright and a
bunch of country board types I didn't know. Go
didn't know Ray had committed suicide, because
he only knew from the death notice. Musser was
there and Ron Kind. Bill Gleiss showed up late
to cover it for the paper. As I was leaving, I
ran smack into that Christian-Right asshole Assem-
blyman Mike Huebsch coming in the door. He's the
only one I didn't say Hi to.
(comment on this)
Monday, January 19, 2004
10:30AM - Reading overnight 1/18/03
Read discussion of Bush proposal to spend $1.5 billion to promote marriage in America.
Interesting Discovery: Women who come from disadvantaged families do reap some advantage from being married, but a study published in February, 2003, found that those women who married and later divorced experienced higher rates of poverty than if they had never married at all.
Thats something to worry about, Ladies.
That the Nascar Dad wants to be left alone. Liddy Dole sponsored a car on the NASCAR circuit when she was running for US Senator from N. Carolina. Trouble is, the car was a dog, so
Liddy's effort was of no value to her candidacy. Nevertheless,
Howard Dean is likely to sponsor a car during the campaign if
only to follow through on his remarks. Its not clear whether
Dean is simply joking here. It may be clearer later. The NYTimes looked into the NASCAR Dad crowd and found they were at
least in their thirties and wore really dreadful clothes. If Howard or Liddy's car don't do well, then NASCAR Dads won't even notice it.