247 Articles


8 years Ago

Capsule Movie Reviews Vol.2012.2

Published by marco on

Observe and Report (2009) — 2/10
Seth Rogan stars as a bipolar mall cop. It’s as bad as it sounds. Written and directed by someone named Jody Hill, it’s hard to believe that the ordinarily quite genial Rogan was in this movie for any reason other than that he lost a bet. None of Rogan’s fellow mall cops are in any way endearing. His quote-girlfriend-unquote is appalling and nothing recommends this film.
Cowboys & Aliens (2011) — 5/10
Daniel Craig stars as an alien abductee from the old... [More]

Capsule Movie Reviews Vol.2012.1

Published by marco on

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (2009) — 9/10
This movie is dedicated to Heath Ledger—he died halfway through the filming—who stars alongside Christopher Plummer as the eponymous Doctor Parnassus. Ledger was very good; Plummer was spellbinding. The remainder of Ledger’s role was filled seamlessly by Johnny Depp, Jude Law and finally Colin Farrell, who played the character in the “imaginarium” scenes, where reality was slippery anyway. It’s never possible to predict how a Terry... [More]

Books read in 2011

Published by marco on

Tell Me No Lies: Investigative Journalism that Changed the World (2005)

by John Pilger

This book contains the best—or most legendary—articles from the best journalists of the 20th century. They range from Martha Gellhorn’s reports on Dachau to Pilger’s own reports from the Killing Fields to Fisk’s peerless reporting from Iraq in the early 21st century. It’s highly recommended for anyone who cares about history—and getting their news from people who got it right when it was happening.

... [More]

Capsule Movie Reviews Vol.2011.8

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Machete (2010) — 6/10
This movie is—and I never thought I’d use this phrase—a Danny Trejo vehicle directed by Robert Rodriguez (of Once Upon a Time in Mexico fame), so it’s got lots of blood, lots of flying appendages and lots of buxom, armed babes. Machete continues Rodriguez’s homage to Russ Meyers and proves relatively entertaining, no thanks to Jessica Alba’s wooden acting. Good thing Lindsey Lohan was also in the flick or Alba might have looked bad. Lohan plays a tweaking daughter... [More]

Capsule Movie Reviews Vol.2011.7

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Talking Funny (2011) — 8/10
A four-person round table about comedy starring Ricky Gervais, Jerry Seinfeld, Chris Rock and Louis C.K. Lots of laughs and some interesting points made—though Gervais seemed to be far ahead of the others in pure erudition, trying to delve deeper into the philosophical and perhaps philological implications of humor and what it means to say that something’s funny. The others seemed more into gut feeling that something was funny and weren’t too interested in... [More]

Capsule Movie Reviews Vol.2011.6

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My Life in Ruins (2008) — 6/10
A cute comedy about tour guides in Greece. Almost totally formulaic but still somehow entertaining.
Crimson Tide (1995) — 8/10
An excellent submarine thriller with Denzel Washington as Captain Gene Hackman’s executive officer as their sub heads toward a showdown with Russian rebels with their fingers on the nuclear trigger. Viggo Mortenson is excellent as well, and James Gandolfini plays a small-minded kowtower so well that one wonders whether he’s acting at... [More]

Capsule Movie Reviews Vol.2011.5

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Changeling (2008) — 8/10
Angelina Jolie directed by Clint Eastwood about a woman’s struggle to find her abducted child. However, the struggle is more against a patriarchal and corrupt LA police department, who cover up their ineptitude by returning to her the wrong child and then commit her to an insane asylum when she refuses to accept that the child is hers. She was clearly suffering from “the vapors”. Dark, infuriating and very well done.
Black Dog (1998) — 4/10
Patrick Swayze is a... [More]

Capsule Movie Reviews Vol.2011.4

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Fireflies in the Garden (2008) — 8/10
A decent film with a strong cast—Willem Dafoe and Ryan Reynolds are very good, with Carrie Anne Moss and Julia Roberts in smaller roles—about a family with an overbearing (asshole) patriarch (Dafoe) whose son (and wife, actually) has eluded his grasp. Think Death of a Salesman where Loman has a sadistic streak and a wicked temper instead of a pathetic air about him. Ryan Reynolds is more subdued, adapting his trademark rapier wit and coolness to the... [More]

9 years Ago

Movies Without Reviews

Published by marco on

I’ve been keeping track of the movies I watched for a couple of years now, but have only recently been adding mini-reviews[1] to each so I can remember (A) what it was about and (B) whether I liked it.

Since I’m no longer maintaining the old text file in which I kept this list, I’m dumping the list here.

2008 (or so)

  1. Monster (2003) — 8/10
  2. The Good Shepherd (2006) — 7/10
  3. Breach (2007) — 7/10
  4. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007) — 7/10
  5. Eastern Promises (2007) — 9/10... [More]

Capsule Movie Reviews Vol.2011.3

Published by marco on

Salt (2010) — 6/10
Angelina Jolie (or what’s left of her after what seems like an exceedingly strict diet) stars opposite Liev Schreiber as a deep-cover Soviet/Russian agent. It meanders along predictably, jolts you with a couple of neat plot twists and then ends predictably (with a mini plot-twist right at the end again). It’s a pretty uneven movie overall, with a lot of gung-ho bravado and idiocy as well as seemingly pathetic aim on the parts of the antagonists (read: police, naturally).... [More]

Capsule Movie Reviews Vol.2011.2

Published by marco on

Goodfellas (1990) — 8/10
I finally saw this mob movie after all these years of hearing it quoted again and again and again. Though it was nice seeing the origins of the quotes, it kind of took the edge off of the surprise a bit. I don’t know what I was expecting and the film wasn’t bad, but it didn’t blow me away like The Departed. In a way, I felt like I’d already seen part of it in Blow.
Cop Out (2010) — 5/10
Bruce Willis and Tracy Morgan, with a nice smaller part by Seann William Scott... [More]

Capsule Movie Reviews Vol.2011.1

Published by marco on

Late December/early January are what I call “guy movie month” here because the wife is away.

Inception (2010) — 9/10
Fantastic film from start to finish with an exceedingly interesting storyline and well-put-together concept. Excellent effects, excellent cast and challenging material make for a film that you’ll want to watch again.
Zombieland (2009) — 8/10
Woody Harrelson is always entertaining, but the kid doing the Michael Cera schtick of being absolutely pathetic and neurotic got old... [More]

Books read in 2010

Published by marco on

  1. Foucault’s Pendulum (1988) (second half) – Umberto Eco
  2. The Great War of Civilization (2005) – Robert Fisk (second half)
  3. Naked Pictures of Famous People (1998) – Jon Stewart
  4. The Drought (1965) – JG Ballard
  5. Drowned World (1962) – JG Ballard
  6. Spook Country (2007) – William Gibson
  7. Free Lunch (2007) – David Cay Johnston
  8. Stardust (1999) – Neil Gaiman
  9. Heat (2006) – George Monbiot
  10. Unbowed (2006) – Wangari Maathai
  11. Grieche sucht Griechin/Mister X macht Ferien/Zeitungswesen in der Steinzeit... [More]

Struggling through the Lost Symbol

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It was the start of the long week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve and it was time to start a new book. A quick scan of the book shelf revealed many interesting candidates, but most of those were a bit more challenging than a week of this kind warranted. But look who’s hiding on one of the shelves: good ol’ Dan Brown.

This copy of The Lost Symbol had been obtained from the local Salvation Army secondhand shop for only a couple of bucks. I’d gotten Brown’s two other books in the same way,... [More]

Notes on Der Dativ ist dem Genitiv sein Tod by Bastian Sick

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In an effort to continue improving my German, I read the book mentioned in the title, which is a rollicking guide to the finicky nuance of the German language. A few years back, I read Eat, Shoots and Leaves by Lynne Truss, which effects a similar service for the English language. Another absolutely wonderful essay on the issue of usage and grammar is Tense Present: Democracy, English, and the wars over usage by David Foster Wallace (a few citations of which are documented on earthli News),... [More]

10 years Ago

Citations from Heat by George Monbiot

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Heat is a very accessible book on the state of the world’s climate, energy and heating needs today and going into the future. The author sets himself the task of coming up with a plan for our planet that is economically, socially and climatologically viable. His express goal is to keep convenience and freedom as much like it is now as possible while reducing CO2 emissions by 90% across the board—domestic usage, air travel, industrial, transports, construction and so on.

He will not... [More]

Books read in 2009

Published by marco on

  1. The Omnivore’s Dilemma (2006) – Michael Pollan
  2. Wicked: the Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West (1995) – Gregory Maguire
  3. Beyond Beef: The Rise and Fall of the Cattle Culture (1992) – Jeremy Rifkin
  4. The Great War of Civilization (2005) – Robert Fisk (partial)
  5. Armed Madhouse (2006) – Greg Palast
  6. The Tales of Beedle the Bard (2007) – J.K. Rowling
  7. Rough Music (2005) – Tariq Ali
  8. Fahrenheit 451 (1953) – Ray Bradbury
  9. Confessions of an Economic Hit Man (2004) – John Perkins
  10. The Good... [More]

Citations from Tense Present: Democrac...glish, and the wars over usage by DFW

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The full text of the article can be downloaded in PDF at In memoriam by David Foster Wallace (Harper's Magazine). All of the articles he published for that magazine are available there.

“A Democratic Spirit is one that combines rigor and humility, i.e., passionate conviction plus sedulous respect for the convictions of others. As any American knows, this is a very difficult spirit to cultivate and maintain; particularly when it comes to issues you feel strongly about. Equally tough is a D.S.‘s criterion of 100 percent intellectual... [More]”
Pages 41-42

Citations from "Ein Tag im Leben des I...issowitsch" by Alexander Solschenizyn

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These are just rough notes to accompany the citations; the book was in German, but yours truly does not yet feel comfortable enough with his grasp of that language’s grammar to formulate the accompanying notes and thoughts in it. So, English it is. Apologies to all those who can only read half.

This small book quickly—so quickly—establishes the gulag life as normal that one hardly notices how restricted and miserable the lives of the inmates actually were because Schuchow’s[1] attitude was... [More]

Fabio Viale’s Unique Marble Sculptures

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Fabio Viale’s Hyper-realistic sculptures are all marble, but of everyday objects and with exquisite detail. Click on the images for more detail. Check out the site for much more. (Including a marble boat!)

Citations from A Supposedly Fun Thing ...ever Do Again by David Foster Wallace

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“A problem with so many of us fiction writers under forty using television as a substitute for true espial, however, is that TV “voyeurism” involves a whole gorgeous orgy of illusions for the pseudo-spy, when we watch. Illusion (1) is that we’re voyeurs here at all: the voyees behind the screen’s glass are only pretending ignorance. They know perfectly well we’re out there. And that we’re there is also very much on the minds of those behind the second layer of glass, the lenses and monitors via... [More]”
From E Unibus Pluram, television and U.S. fiction, page 24

Citations from Siddharta by Hermann Hesse

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“[…] fern und leise rauschte die heilige Quelle, die einst nahe gewesen war, die einst in ihm selber gerauscht hatte. Vieles zwar, das er von de Samanas gelernt, das er von Gotama gelernt, das er von seinem Vater, dem Brahmanen, gelernt hatte, war noch lange Zeit in ihm geblieben: mäßiges Leben, Freude am Denken, Stunden der Versenkung, heimliches Wissen vom Selbst, vom ewigen Ich, das nicht Körper noch Bewußtsein ist. Manches davon war in ihm geblieben, eines ums andre aber war... [More]”
Seite 63

Citations from A Connecticutt Yankee in King Arthur’s Court by Mark Twain

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“Seven-tenths of the free population of the country were of just their class and degree: small “independent” farmers, artisans, etc.; which is to say, they were the nation, the actual Nation; they were about all of it that was useful, or worth saving, or really respect-worthy, and to subtract them would have been to subtract the Nation and leave behind some dregs, some refuse, in the shape of a king, nobility and gentry, idle, unproductive, acquainted mainly with the arts of wasting and... [More]”
Page 81

11 years Ago

Four Short Book Reviews

Published by marco on

Rough Music: Blair, Bombs, Baghdad, London, Terror by Tariq Ali
Ali’s scathing recap of the Blair/New Labour era in British politics reminds the world that the British have just as much to answer for as the Americans when it comes to picking absolutely corrupt leaders. It’s a very short book, but packed with a very succinct rundown of the depths of Blair’s moral depravity – depths which brings him to the nadir once monopolized by good old “iron balls” Maggie Thatcher.
Beyond Beef: The Rise... [More]

Books read in 2008

Published by marco on

  1. A Widow for One Year (1998) – John Irving (second half)
  2. Bleachers (2003) – John Grisham
  3. The Glass Castle (2005) – Jeannette Walls
  4. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (1950) – C.S. Lewis
  5. Tuesdays with Morrie (1997) – Mitch Albom
  6. Die Weisse Massai (2000) – Corrine Hofmann (de)
  7. The Kite Runner (2003) – Khaled Hosseini
  8. A Thousand Splendid Suns (2007) – Khaled Hosseini
  9. The Book of Saladin (1998) – Tariq Ali
  10. The Great Gatsby (1926) – F. Scott Fitzgerald
  11. More Tales of the City (1980) –... [More]

Citations from A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway

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“The world breaks everyone and afterwards many are strong at the broken places. But those that will not break, it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially. If you are none of these, you can be sure it will kill you too, but there will be no special hurry.”
Page 178

'It is the body that is old. Sometimes I am afraid I will break off a finger as one breaks a stick of chalk. And the spirit is no older and not much wiser.‘

‘You are wise.’

‘No, that is the great... [More]

Page 187

Citations from the Human Stain by Philip Roth

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“It was time to yield, to let this simple craving be his guide. Beyond their accusation. Beyond their indictment. Beyond their judgment. Learn, he told himself, before you die, to live beyond the jurisdiction of their enraging, loathsome, stupid blame.”
Page 64
“Nor was he a radical or a revolutionary, not even intellectually or philosophically speaking, unless it is revolutionary to believe that disregarding prescriptive society’s most restrictive demarcations and asserting independently a free personal... [More]”
Page 155

12 years Ago

Books read in 2007

Published by marco on

  1. Cell (2007) − Stephen King
  2. The Essential Ghandi (second half) (1962) − Mahatma Ghandi (edited by Louis Fischer)
  3. Zwischen Krieg und Terror (2006) − Ulrich Tilgner (de)
  4. A Man without a Country (2005) − Kurt Vonnegut
  5. Wild Fire (2006) − Nelson DeMille
  6. Das Parfum (1994) − Patrick Suskind (de)
  7. Cobweb (2005) − Neal Stephenson & J. Frederick George
  8. The New Rulers of the World (2002) − John Pilger
  9. Thud! (2005) − Terry Pratchett
  10. Count Zero (1987) − William Gibson
  11. Infinite Jest (1996) − David Foster... [More]

13 years Ago

Books read in 2006

Published by marco on

  1. Song of Susannah (2004) − Stephen King (second half)
  2. The Dark Tower (2004) − Stephen King
  3. Things Fall Apart (1959) − Chinua Achebe
  4. Blink: the Power of Thinking without Thinking (2005) − Malcolm Gladwell
  5. No Longer At Ease (1960) − Chinua Achebe
  6. ‘Tis (1999) − Frank McCourt
  7. Teacher Man (2005) − Frank McCourt
  8. City of Light (1999) − Lauren Belfer
  9. Night Watch (2002) − Terry Pratchett
  10. Der große Boss: Das Alte Testament, Unverschämt fromm neu erzählt (1992) − Fred Denger
  11. Going Postal (2004) − Terry... [More]

14 years Ago

Books read in 2005

Published by marco on

  1. Monstrous Regiment (2005) − Terry Pratchett
  2. Die Vergessliche Nation (2004) − Gore Vidal (de)
  3. Fight Club (1996) − Chuck Palahniuk
  4. Bush in Babylon (2003) − Tariq Ali
  5. The Poisonwood Bible (1998) − Barbara Kingsolver
  6. Across the Sea of Suns (1984) − Gregory Benford
  7. America (The Book) (2004) − The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
  8. A Small Death in Lisbon (1999) − Robert Lisbon
  9. Deception Point (2001) − Dan Brown
  10. Darwin’s Children (2003) − Greg Bear
  11. Amerikas Kreuzzüge (2005) − Claus Kleber (de)
  12. Gravity’s... [More]