Apparently there’s a rumor making the rounds in some corners of Wall Street that yesterday’s election results are driving today’s stock market rally—the theory being that the results are a blow to Obama’s agenda, and stopping Obama is good for the market. (I just got a call from a producer at CNBC asking me what I thought about this). The reasons why this theory is utterly ludicrous are almost too numerous to catalogue, but let me give it a quick shot: First, as I write this (around 1:30 pm), the Dow is up about 100 points, or just over 1 percent.
New York magazine's Vulture demonstrates that it is no longer possible to be ironic when it comes to Broadway: A little over a year ago, this Vulture editor wrote a silly comic for New York's 2008 Fall Preview issue imagining Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes's life in Manhattan during the time she was performing in Broadway's All My Sons. In said comic's last panel, Tom made his own stage debut in Cocktail: the Musical, a made-up show we thought was so stupid-seeming that no producer could ever pitch it to backers with a straight face. Oops!
Alex Jones is a husky man with short sandy hair, weary eyes, baby cheeks, and the kind of deep, gravelly voice made for horror-movie trailers. And it’s horror he has in mind. "Your New World Order will fall!" he screams through a megaphone at the shiny façade of a nondescript office building. "Humanity will defeat you!" A syndicated radio host, filmmaker, and all-around countercultural icon based in Austin, Texas, Jones has long been one of the country’s most significant purveyors of paranoia.
China, it's rapidly becoming clear, has a trash problem. As the country has gotten wealthier, it's become the world's largest producer of household garbage. Packaging, old electronics, newspaper, bottles, plain old junk—all of it's piling up and there's increasingly no place to dump it. As Keith Bradsher reported in The New York Times yesterday, "Beijing officials warned in June that all of the city’s landfills would run out of space within five years." One remedy is to incinerate the trash, which China has been doing.
On a Wednesday night in San Francisco, opening night, in a theater no more than half full, the truth was as inescapable as rain at a picnic. Johnny Depp just wasn’t cutting it. He wasn’t even making the attempt. Once again, Michael Mann had poured his nearly liquid talent over a gangster picture without ever thinking to ask himself why. That oddly vague title Public Enemies--why isn’t it called Johnny D. or just Dillinger?--was turning into a startlingly detached and affectless movie.
It's not an easy thing to balance jocular irony and geopolitical earnestness in a film, and it's harder still when it's a film about war. David O. Russell somehow managed the feat in his 1999 Three Kings; Andrew Niccol fell somewhat short in his 2005 Nicholas Cage vehicle Lord of War; and now Richard Shepard has missed the mark altogether in The Hunting Party. At the opening of the film onscreen text informs us that "Only the most ridiculous parts of this story are true." This playful boast is utter hogwash, as viewers will soon conclude themselves.
Damon Runyon called fighter James J. Braddock the greatest human interest tale in boxing history. His once-promising career cut short by losses and injuries, Braddock and his family fell into poverty during the Great Depression. Though he took any available job working on the docks, he couldn't make ends meet. His children near starvation, he applied for federal relief and begged former colleagues for help. On a fluke, in 1934 he was offered a one-time fight against a contender, a fight he was given no chance to win.
One of the most emotionally affecting moments of Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow comes, unfortunately, during the closing credits, when jazz vocalist Jane Monheit sings "Over the Rainbow." It's a wistful, haunting rendition that plays beautifully off Judy Garland's Wizard of Oz version, becoming at once old and new, an homage and an original. It's this challenge, of simultaneously conjuring the classics and offering something fresh and vital, that largely eludes Sky Captain, released on video today.
The Hong Kong crime thriller Infernal Affairs begins with a Buddhist epigram, though not a particularly memorable one (something about "Continuous Hell" being the worst of the eight hells).
It's not often a television show can make you reconsider the talents of a longtime celebrity. "Arrested Development," the nearly cancelled FOX sitcom whose first season is now out on video, has made me reconsider the talents of two: Ron Howard (whom I'd written off as a purveyor of tame commercial pabulum) and Liza Minnelli (probably best if I not detail my objections). Their mere involvement with "Arrested Development"--Howard as executive producer and folksy narrator, Minelli as a self-parodic supporting character--suggests I may have given neither adequate credit.