Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Scorsese Rules/Ezra Pound/Logs

New Feature: Political Trivia Answer this question- put your answer here- then look in the next posting for the answer, a detailed explanation, and a new Political Trivia question. Here goes: Who said: I wonder if it isn't possible "to get some of the people in these down-trodden countries to like us instead of hating us"? Hint: A US president during a National Security Council meeting on Iran.

(P1) Philosophical

Scorsese Rules!

I need to say something to Martin Scorsese:

"Marty, you are my choice for both Best Picture and Best Director for your vastly entertaining The Departed. But then, with the possible exception of Gangs of New York, you're always my choice. Interesting that you and Clint Eastwood were born and grew around the same time. I loved The Unforgiven and would probably choose it every time you're not up against it. What is it about Hollywood that eschews your non-gratuitous violence? Let's review: Raging Bull, Goodfellas, The Aviator, and Taxi Driver- You, sir are a generous genius full of everything good about the cinema and of history, music, celebration, and the brightness of the dark side.

"So, my strongest advice to you is that, if small minds select anything or anyone at all over you or over your film, this time, you get up in front of the press and declare in the loudest possible voice you can muster, 'I'm pissed off, and I'm not going to take it anymore. I will have nothing further to do with the Academy, and if you ever attempt to offer me a Lifetime Achievement Award, I will tell you precisely where you can stick it! Amen.'

"But I believe in justice and in art, and I'm convinced that this will be your rightful turn."

PS - Let me also pay due respect to your lighter sided efforts including The Last Waltz, Kundun, No Direction Home: Bob Dylan, Casino (OK, pretty wonderfully dark), The Last Temptation of Christ, T he King of Comedy (yes, I know), and New York, New York.

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(P2) Poetical
And the Days Are Not Full Enough

And the days are not full enough
And the nights are not full enough
And life slips by like a field mouse
Not shaking the grass

- Ezra Pound-

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(P3) Political (and Ecological)

U.S. Forest Service May Not Be the Big Warm Fuzzy You Thought
I've recently come to enjoy the humorous travel and ecologically friendly books of Bill Bryson.
Here are some eye-opening comments about the Forest Service that
Americans might want to know:

"The Forest Service is truly an extraordinary institution. a lot of people, seeing that word forest in the title, assume it has something to do with looking after trees. In fact, no--though that was the original plan...In fact, mostly what the Forest Service does is build roads. I am not kidding...378,000 miles of roads in America's national forests...it is eight times the total mileage of America's interstate highway system. It is the largest road system in the world in the control of a single body...It is the avowed aim of the U.S. Forest Service to construct 580,000 miles of additional forest road by the middle of the next century.

"The reason the Forest Service builds these roads, quite apart from the deep pleasure of doing noisy things in the woods with big yellow machines, is to allow private timber companies to get to previously inaccessible stands of trees. Of the Forest Service's 150 million acres of loggable land, about two-thirds is held in store for the future. The remaining one-third--49 million acres, or an area roughly twice the size of Ohio--is available for logging. It allows huge swathes of land to be clear-cut...

"...By the late 1980's--this is so extraordinary I can hardly stand it--it was the only significant player in the American timber industry that was cutting down trees faster than it replaced them. Morevover, it was doing this with the most sumptuous inefficiency. 80% of its leasing arrangements lost money, often vast amounts. In one typical deal, the Forest Service sold hundred-year-old lodgepole pines in the Targhee National Forest in Idaho for about $2 each after spending $4 per tree surveying the land, drawing up contracts, and, of course, building roads. Between 1989 and 1997, it lost an average of $242 million a year--almost $2 billion all told...This is all so discouraging..."

Bill Bryson A Walk In the Woods (Anchor Books, January 2007)

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Larry C. said...

Sounds like either Jimmy Carter or possibly Bill Clinton. But I'm guessing it may go back many years earlier. Hmmmmm

Larry C. said...

Re Scorsese & the Oscars:
Bravo, Eddie! Marty delivered a terrific film and should get it at last! This can also be a tribute to the fantastic work he has done in the area of film preservation! He is indeed a Man of the Film World!

Two last comments on the Oscars:
As much as I loved "The Departed," I think "Pans Labrynth" will stand the time as a masterpiece (all that grisly violence notwithstanding!) I say this despite the fact that while it is absolutely a gorgeous piece of cinema, it does feel a bit artsy fartsy as well. But the power of the human experience transcends it all!

Of Oscars past due, can anyone ever correct the egregious error of overlooking Peter O'Toole as Lawrence of Arabia? Talk about a cinema classic. Granted, he lost out to Gregory Peck's Atticus Finch in "Mockingbird," and they probably should have delivered two Oscars that year. I share all of this without having seen the O'Toole film "Venus" (not opened in the North Bay yet) AND still recognizing Forest Whittaker's brilliant stint as Idi Amin. Forest is one of our most underrated character actors. Did anyone besides me see his wonderful work as Charley Parker in "Bird?" Another Eastwood marvel!

Edward Coletti said...

I remember Whittaker best as the prisoner in "The Crying Game."

Nope, not Carter or Clinton.

Willy Chaplin said...


"Denial" is a term used in psychology meaning "to refuse to accept the obvious." Today we want to extend that term to a group of people, notably the American public, call it "mass denial." What triggers this is the fact that fully 80% of the public viewed Bush's recent State-of-the-Union speech as at least somewhat favorable.

So, what's wrong with that? After all, the Monster in Charge did send some rhetorical flowers to the Democrats...now that they are in the majority. He also made some...feeble...gestures in favor of some enormously important subjects, like global warming and...indirectly by favoring an increase in the minimum wage...to the subject of the increasing gap between rich and poor.

Yet, the main thrust of the speech was to support his new "plan" for "saving" Iraq, the "surge" of new cannon-fodder to that sad country. This is enormously unpopular with the American people. Almost no one believes that it will work. Young men and women will die before they have had a chance to really live their lives. But, the "decider" has decided and that, my fellow Americans, is that.

On the other hand, the "opposition" refuses to oppose...except, of course, rhetorically. Instead of actually using their power...as one of three "coequal" branches of government...to bring this fiasco to an end, they offer words of discouragement to the administration. As if THAT will have any effect!

But what about the rest of us? Why aren't we marching in the streets demanding an end to the really quite obvious collapse of morality, decency and common sense on the part of our elected officials?

We believe the answer is denial. Republicans have no trouble noting and complaining about the faults of the Democrats. Democrats are equally sage in recognizing the faults of the Republicans. The rest of us...independents and non-voters...a large majority, by the way...more or less see that there is a disease affecting both major parties, but we don't know what to do about it.

More importantly, ALL Americans...including the authors...desperately want to believe that our system is not broken, that the promises of democracy and freedom made by our founders is still intact and even growing. But, it is not. We want to believe that our leaders are not "crooks," not sold out to special interests...whoever puts the most money in their pockets...for elections and "incidentals." But they are. All of them.

Some of us...mainly bloggers who are not beholden to one or the other of the majors...try regularly to relight the flames of reason...our own as well as yours. We point out that the...now regular...arrests and convictions of various functionaries and corporate biggies is just the tip of the iceberg. Scooter Libby? A definite fall guy, a hapless victim of scapegoating. Enron? A bunch of bigger and richer fall guys, but just a distraction to keep us from noticing Halliburton and others suckling on the teats of "wartime funding."

The bitter truth is that one can not succeed in conventional politics without selling out big time. That is the main reason we are supporting a citizen...albeit a rich and famous citizen...Oprah Winfrey...as president of the United States. Since our quest is so quixotic, we are often accused of being merely bewitched fans, oblivious to the "obvious" that she "can not win." Far from being starry eyed fans...we don't even like her show!...we are merely trying to advance an alternative to JACWM (Just Another Corrupt White Man).

But what about Obama? Or Hillary? He ain't white and she ain't a man. Somehow, we don't see that replacing corrupt white men with equally corrupt black men or white women is any improvement, even an apprentice "criminal" like Barack. So, who's in denial?

ALL OF US! Time for a change...a REAL change.

Talk to you later...

Anonymous said...

I believe President Eisenhower said that.


Paul S.

P.S. Nope, I'm not that smart... I googled the quote!

David Beckman said...


I can't go with you regrding Scorsese on this one. I felt that THE DEPARTED portrayed men (all men in the film) as blinded by urges to revenge, and self-righteous about rooting out "rats," where in fact every man in the film (maybe excepting the Alex Baldwin character) was a betrayer of someone else, and so all were rats.

And the violence had no substance...no lasting impact, so the story was therefore shallow, unlike UNFORGIVEN, where, in Eastwood's great speech, where he plumbs his regret about being a killer, he says, "when you kill a man you take away everything he has and ever will have," and where the young killer-in-traning cowboy is shown to be a coward.

This is a moral awareness, simIlar to the one beautifull captured in LETTERS FROM IWO JIMA. For me, Scorsese doesn't have that awaness, and so is a technician of film, not an artist.