URLs du Jour

2008-04-22

  • Brendan Nyhan points out that you don't need to be a conservative to politicize science.

  • In honor of Earth Day, Rebecca Onion at Slate discusses the latest "hatefully regressive" manifestation of misanthropic fantasy: the book World Made by Hand by James Howard Kunstler. It's a charming tale of post-environmental armageddon. Ms Onion's characterization of the author's POV:
    Why can't the world just collapse already? Then "we"—or, at least, those of us with taste, discretion, and true environmental feeling—could get on with the business of remaking it … without all those pesky extra people around.
    A point we've mentioned before here and here.

  • Wikipedia is probably OK for finding out stuff about Richard Feynman or Martha and the Vandellas, but Lawrence Solomon's bitter experience indicates that it probably shouldn't be trusted for accurate information on "climate change" issues. (Via Shawn at AmSpecBlog.)

Atonement

[Amazon Link] [3.5
stars] [IMDb Link]

It's yet another madcap British comedy, as class conflict, sexual desire, and mistaken identity give rise to—literally—years of wacky repercussions.

Oh, wait. Not a comedy? Well, nuts. That changes my whole interpretation of the movie.

It takes place in 1935, 1940, and (roughly) the present. The 1935 section is interminable, carefully—too carefully—setting up characters and motivations for the rest of the film. But fortunately, the main characters wind up three-dimensional: people I had thought to be simple upperclass twits turn out to have depth and redeeming qualities.

The scenes set around pre-evacuation 1940 Dunkirk are jaw-droppingly good, catching the filth, chaos, and confused desperation of the British soldiers waiting for a ride across the Channel. If you need a reminder that war is Hell, this is a pretty good choice.

The brief scene set in the present is either (depending on your point of view) a neat little trick, or a dishonest little cheat. I'm ambivalent.

And it did get nominated for 7 Oscars, including Best Picture.


Last Modified 2012-10-12 8:26 AM EST

Dan in Real Life

[Amazon Link] [3.5
stars] [IMDb Link]

Yes, I watched two movies in a row that toss together a hodgepodge of family members for comic result. Good catch!

Steve Carell plays the titular Dan, a widower with three daughters and an advice column in the local paper. He's obviously doing a heroic job raising the young ladies on his own, but the older two are chafing against Dad's, um, concern about their relationships with boys.

Being a father, it was more than easy to sympathize.

To make things worse, or for comedic purposes, better: they're all off to Rhode Island for the yearly family reunion, where the clan is headed up by everyone's dad, John Mahoney, and Dianne Wiest. Sent off by his mother to allow for a cooloff, Dan meets Marie (Juliette Binoche) in a bookstore; they hit it off immediately. The complication: Marie turns out to be the current girlfriend of Dan's brother, Mitch (Dane Cook).

This is professional comedy! Once you know the setup, it's pretty easy to predict the story arc, so you better have some fun along the way. This is very competently done, and Steve Carell demonstrates again that he can play other roles besides "likeable idiot" as in The Office and, later this summer, the Get Smart movie.


Last Modified 2012-10-12 8:26 AM EST