Friday, July 24, 2009

Just Back from Comic Con

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I took my son Chris to Comic Con for one day. It was so crowded and we were so tired from the drive down there and the parking hassles that we didn't think to check out the schedules and conferences. So all we did was walk the floor.

Though that was pretty interesting and Chris enjoyed looking at the anime stuff which is what he's into. There are so many people in costume and makeup, and they are so good at it that you can't tell the professionals apart from the regular people.

It's really cool to see so many enthused people and all their costumes. You don't get crowds like that at film festivals nor all the celebrities and Hollywood studios. It's almost cool that it's so crowded with people like that.

We got back home and the rest of the family was jealous, though I had asked them back in April to get tickets with us. Next year we're all going and I'll make sure we get to the conferences and know what's what.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Poker House - One Week Limited Release in L.A., Johnston Iowa, and Irvine Ends 7/23

Anyone who can should check out this awesome film. A true heartfelt story by Lori Petty. One week only at the Lamelle in Santa Monica. You may not get another chance to see it. It is a story of adolescent rape and as such is not easily able to get wide distribution - similar to Hounddog in that respect.

I caught the world premier last year at the LA Film Festival. Not a dry eye in the house. The audience went nuts. Standing ovation. It has a hard hitting ending that actually hits home in the credits, similar to how No Country for Old Men did but this one doesn't leave you guessing. It just leaves you in tears. What an incredible cast. But I'd have to say the real star of this film is the director, Lori Petty, despite not having an acting role in the film. Her perspective is so original and refreshing.

Set in the 70s, a young girl struggles to survive, with two younger sisters, in a home overrun by gamblers, thieves, and johns. Written and directed by Lori Petty. Right there you know a film about this subject matter written and directed by a woman has got to be good.

There are too few woman directors out there but when they succeed they have a refreshing, interesting and compelling voice. This film was first on my list at the festival. Strangely there were three shows still available when the festival started. People just don't know what's good.

The big problem with distribution is the same thing that makes this a great film, it's subject matter; that being the story of three young girls growing up in a poker house with a hooker mother and an abusive pimp along with their seedy associates. People don't want to hear that films like this are playing at the cineplex. They don't want to know what really goes on in America.

I was discussing this film with someone who mentioned Memoirs of a Geisha in comparison, which got me to thinking about how Geishas are highly respected and trained as in a profession. But in the US people in this business deal with drugs, guns, pimps and violence. It's one of the most outrageous saddest state of affairs that plague American society, and the reason is because it is illegal in most every state, forcing it into the hands of underworld unscrupulous characters.

The film distribution industry is so annal about edgy films like this. Hounddog had to be re-cut and toned down after the controversy generated over the adolescent girl's rape scene, played by Dakota Fanning. It then ended up with a limited release at Lamelle as well. I haven't seen it since then. It shows only than one limited release on IMDB. Will The Poker House have the same fate?

It is a tragedy when films like this don't get out because of the distribution industry's short sightedness. We didn't have this problem in the seventies when The Godfather caused a huge uproar with protests at theaters. The irony is that controversy like this sells. Thus Godfather became a classic hit and helped to launch Coppola's career so he could go on to do greater things.

Showtimes and Theaters

Saturday, July 11, 2009

The Real America

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PASADENA CA - On Thursdays since, June 25, 2009, a group of protesters gathered at the intersection of Orange and Hill Avenues to hold a protest vigil, shown in this film, and which continues there weekly. Drive by and honk if you care to.

So why after 60 years of Republican blocked attempts at nationalized health care are we finally seeing some movement? It looks like things are so bad that the insurance companies aren't even making out. If things get bad enough for people and people can’t afford to pay their bills, guess who gets screwed? The insurance companies who charged the outrageous premiums to begin with. Once again we see the authoritarian right digging their own grave. Keep up the good work guys. With any luck your kind will soon be extinct. Bailouts can't go on forever. At some point these greedy corporations will die if we refuse their services, whether out of necessity or not. The people have the power and always have. It's ultimately about cutting off the money. Now if only we could do this to Wall Street and The Pentagram.

“Health care reform is no longer just a moral imperative, it is a fiscal imperative. If we want to create jobs and rebuild our economy, then we must address the crushing cost of health care this year, in this Administration.” - President Barack Obama, White House Forum on Health Reform, 3/5/09

The following excerpts are from

“With All These People Losing Jobs, A Lot Will Lose Their Health Insurance”
The Wall Street Journal, Thursday, April 23, 2009 - President Obama has said that health reform “cannot wait, must not wait, and will not wait another year.” Today the Wall Street Journal cited evidence that illustrates why so many Americans cannot afford to wait another year for health reform. Layoffs are causing thousands of Americans to lose their health care coverage, and as was reported today, insurance companies are seeing their profits shrink as they lose members.

Insured, but Bankrupted by Health Crises
New York Times, 7/1/09 - It is commonly cited that nearly 50 million Americans go each year without health insurance. What is perhaps less apparent is that millions more are severely under-insured. The unfortunate reality is that even those with insurance are too often brought to financial ruin because of medical expenses.

Medical Bankruptcy
South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 6/23/09 - Americans across the country are struggling to keep up with rising costs of medical bills, high deductibles, increasing premiums, and the escalating costs of prescription drugs. For some Americans health care costs result in medical bankruptcy. According to a new Harvard University study, 62% of bankruptcies in 2007 were caused by medical-related debt.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Iranian Protests in U.S. Streets may Save them from Dehumanized War, unlike the Iraqi and Afghan Victims of U.S. Occupation

Iranians have been holding a protest vigil since the Iran election in front of the federal building at Westwood and Veteran Avenues in West Los Angeles. On Sunday, June 28, 2009, about 5,000 of them took to the streets there in the march depicted in this film. Many would not be interviewed on camera, probably in fear of reprisals against their families in Iran by the Iranian government, as some told us. Of those who spoke on camera, they explained how their presence was only to show solidarity with those in Iran. They feel frustrated that they cannot do something more to stop the Iranian government. Some want the U.S. and the U.N. to impose sanctions on Iran, specifically to companies like Nokia that do business with the Iranian government in providing surveillance technology used wrongfully against the Iranian people, to deny them basic freedoms.

However, sanctions on Iran from the U.S. in the past have hurt the Iranian people as much, if not more than it hurt the Iranian government. Is it possible for the U.S. or the U.N. to have the acuity to distinguish between the Iranian people and the Iranian government; to impose selective and targeted sanctions on companies like Nokia, or at least the offending technologies they sell? If so they would then target the Iranian government's anti-democratic behavior without hurting the Iranian people, unlike what the U.S. did to Iraq after the Gulf War in obtuse sanctions that effectively broke down their infrastructure, and took away basic human needs like water and electricity from all the Iraqi people.

One good thing that these marches do is to show the world and the Iranian government the faces of Iranians, which makes it impossible for the U.S. and other governments, to dehumanize the Iranian people in order to wage war, as the U.S. has done in Iraq and Afghanistan. Iraq War veterans have testified to this fact in the Winter Soldier testimonies on U.S. military racism (, citing how their superiors demean Iraqis, and now Afghans, by routinely referring to them as "hodgie", a slag term for Hajji.

It is a well known fact among scholars (like Dr. Haig Bosmajian, University of Washington in Seattle) that the U.S. military has, as a matter of policy, demeaned the people of entire countries that we have gone to war with, ever since the Korean War when they referred to Koreans as "gooks", which carried over to the Vietnam War. It is no stretch to call our military racist. But this was also found during WWII when they called the Germans "krauts". The Germans are especially infamous for their pro-war dehumanization campaign of the Jewish people in calling them "rats". The purpose of this as government policy is to make it easier for people and troops to accept war, especially the killing and genocide of innocent people.

See also: Iran Was an Easier Enemy Before We Saw Their Faces by David Bromwich, Huffington Post, June 24, 2009 12:32 PM

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