Video Killed the Video Star: Short Movie Reviews

Blonde Venus: This is a severely odd movie. Dir. Josef von Sternberg. Cabaret star Marlene Dietrich is wooed, won, and whisked off to America by Herbert Marshall... but when she has to return to her nightclub job and Cary Grant starts tiptoeing around, all bets are off. Going in I only knew this as "the one where Dietrich sings in a gorilla suit" but maybe the most memorable part of it is the extended passage in which she tries to avoid losing custody of her child due to homelessness. The ending … [Read more...]

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“Punk Rocker Rescues Ancient Christian Music”

I keep forgetting to post this: ...He quickly began to focus on Aleppo, the largest city in Syria and home to many of its Jews, as well as its Syriac Orthodox and Armenian Christians. The city, which may be one of the oldest continuously settled places in the world, has also seen the most destruction of any Syrian city in the present conflict.The music he documented has, in many cases, never been written down, much less recorded with professional equipment. Some of the hymns date back … [Read more...]

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The Butcher Birds: Lloyd Alexander, “The Kestrel”

I recently read a q&a with two authors in which one of them, Rachel Manija Brown, was asked for recommendations of books on post-traumatic stress. She's written some really clear & useful posts on the subject, so I was interested in what she'd say--and especially intrigued when she cited a children's fantasy novel as "one of my favorite depictions of how war can make people completely lose their minds, and how some of them come back from that and some don't."I'd read a couple of the … [Read more...]

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“Mass Shooting Hysteria and the Death of John Crawford”: I’ll stop linking Radley Balko’s articles

when the nation stops needing them... ...There are some obvious questions here about police training, most importantly why they fired so quickly and made no attempt at de-escalation. If they had, it seems pretty clear that Crawford would have dropped the gun and would still be alive today. It’s hard to believe that a father of two knowingly provoked police with a pellet rifle. That Crawford was black and the police officers who shot him are white (as is Ritchie) also raises the usual questions a … [Read more...]

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Organizing Anguish: DC’s #NMOS14

Last night DC residents gathered at Malcolm X Park (Meridian Hill Park) for a vigil to honor the memory of those killed by police. My own strongest impression was how raw everything was. This was an outpouring of pain.Various people had various proposed solutions--the Socialist Workers were there, doing what they do best, i.e. holding up well-designed signs ("END MASS INCARCERATION, THE NEW JIM CROW"), and there were some other groups at various points along the spectrum of plausibility. But … [Read more...]

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“City of God”: Love and Rocket

I watched the 2003 favela gangster film City of God last night, and I have little to add to Victor Morton's insightful review: ...[T]he hyper-caffeinated style in CITY OF GOD is just breathtaking and entertaining as all get-go — the orange-clay look of the 50s segment, a bravura one-shot dissolve through the history of a single room in the favela over decades, the repeated freeze-frames, a 360-degree stop-motion shot, the great sequence of Benny’s “leaving the life” party. And it’s not all that … [Read more...]

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From an Interview w/Rene Girard

in First Things: In a way, Christianity is the end of archaic religions because it reveals that the victim is innocent. When you understand Christianity correctly in its closeness and distance from archaic religion it is the same structure, the scapegoat phenomenon, that Jesus is victim of. Yet the text is intended to destroy your belief in scapegoat phenomenon instead of using it in order to have sacrifices. more … [Read more...]

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