Public Enemies

[2.0 stars] Public Enemies (2009) on IMDb [Amazon]

The second part of our Johnny Depp weekend movie festival, in which he plays notorious criminal John Dillinger.

I won't bore you with the plot details: it's a moderately-fictionalized story of Dillinger's rise and demise. That's a fascinating story, and this movie put a lot of talent to work in telling it: directed and co-written by Michael Mann; Channing Tatum as Pretty Boy Floyd; Christian Bale as G-Man Melvin Purvis; Marion Cotillard as Dillinger's main squeeze, Billie Frechette; Giovanni Ribisi as Alvin Karpis; and many more. They took pains (according to IMDB) to film at some of the actual historical locations.

But… eh. Nobody seems very interested in what they're doing. Prevailing attitude: Let's just get this over with. Even a philistine like me noticed Michael Mann's visual flair in his previous movies (Heat, etc.); that doesn't show up here.

The movie shows a few scenes of the actual flick Dillinger attended at the Biograph Theatre on the last night of his life: Manhattan Melodrama, with Clark Gable, William Powell, and Myrna Loy. I kind of wished we'd rented that instead.

If you want to see a Dillinger movie, I suggest instead Dillinger from 1973. Warren Oates as the bad guy himself, up against Ben Johnson as Purvis. Michelle Phillips as Billie, Richard Dreyfus (!) as Baby Face, Cloris Leachman (!!) as the Lady in Red. Written and directed by John Milius. Free to stream if you're an Amazon Prime customer.

Last Modified 2012-09-21 9:57 AM EST

The Rum Diary

[1.0 stars] The Rum Diary (2011) on IMDb [Amazon]

I have mentioned in the past that Mrs. Salad loooves her Johnny Depp. This weekend was a Depp double feature. Which worked out better for Mrs. Salad than I.

In this entry, Mr. Depp plays "Kemp", an alcoholic journalist who's wangled a job on a Puerto Rican newspaper in the 60s. Before long Kemp is involved with colorful characters: Sanderson (Aaron Eckhart), a rich corrupt plutocrat involved with the island's economic exploitation; Chenault (Amber Heard), Sanderson's fun-loving beautiful girlfriend; Moeburg (Giovanni Ribisi), a reporter even more devoted to substance abuse that Kemp; Lotterman (the great Richard Jenkins), the newspaper's craven editor; Sala (Michael Rispoli), Kemp's co-worker and roomie.

Everyone gets into various hijinks, mostly driven by the fact that just about every single character is an irredeemable asshat. Kemp develops a social conscience at some point, adding stridency to his other unpleasant qualities. Not my cup of tea.

It's based on a novel by Hunter S. Thompson. Thompson had a league of influential fans, who were barely discouraged by his suicide. Like Depp, who was instrumental in getting the novel published and this movie made. I never got the appeal.

Last Modified 2012-09-21 9:59 AM EST

URLs du Jour


  • MSL /MRO Probably the coolest, most amazing picture of anything you'll see for awhile. Details (and a bigger version) here.

    It's a wonderful time to be alive. Congrats to JPL and NASA for their amazing feat.

  • On a related note, I will duplicate this Slashdot story in full:

    "NASA's livestream coverage of the Curiosity rover's landing on Mars was practically as flawless as the landing itself. But NASA couldn't prepare for everything. An hour or so after Curiosity's 1.31 a.m. EST landing in Gale Crater,the space agency's main YouTube channel had posted a 13-minute excerpt of the stream. Ten minutes later, the video was gone, replaced with the message: 'This video contains content from Scripps Local News, who has blocked it on copyright grounds. Sorry about that.' That is to say, a NASA-made video posted on NASA's official YouTube channel, documenting the landing of a $2.5 billion Mars rover mission paid for with public taxpayer money, was blocked by YouTube because of a copyright claim by a private news service."

    Really? Well, only for a few hours apparently. But still. Additional information is here.

  • Gale Crater, by the way, is not named for Dorothy Gale. It's named after Walter Frederick Gale, an Australian (amateur) astronomer and (professional) banker. The crater has a central peak officially named Aeolis Mons, which pokes up above the crater's southern rim. How did that happen? Maybe we'll find out.

  • And you can always find a NASA apparatchik to make a tin-eared comment about a wondrous event.

    NASA spokesman Guy Webster said the rover, named Curiosity, is currently supporting about 700 people, but has supported 7,000 jobs at various times over the last eight years. The Curiosity project and its $2.5 billion budget has generated jobs not just at NASA but at companies ranging from Lockheed Martin to a bicycle manufacturer in Chattanooga, Tenn.

    Non rocket scientists like you and I (and Greg Pollowitz) can do that math: $357K per job "supported".

    It's not about the jobs. As Rand Simberg tirelessly points out: Space isn't (or shouldn't be) a jobs program.

  • Matt Labash discourses on the Chick-fil-A controversy:

    My natural inclination is to encourage the boycott. Not because of my political views, but because I figure it will help me get through the drive-thru faster. Though it’s a tough call. For the controversy centers around three things I hold sacred: marriage, all God’s children (both straight and gay), and Chick-fil-A’s rapturous spicy-chicken sandwich. Not necessarily in that order. Because when you make that last a combo platter, with waffle fries and coleslaw, it’s no longer a contest.

    The nearest Chick-fil-A to us is all the way down in Nashua. Sigh.

Last Modified 2017-12-02 7:44 AM EST