Wednesday, September 15, 2004

wednesday night

Well, it's nine forty in the pee em and we've been seeing five films a day for the past week, six a couple of days and we're going home tomarrow morning. I'll dump a whole bunch of reviews over the weekend and then possibly end this thing.

Monday, September 13, 2004

I saw seven movies yesterday...

Which is why I haven't had enough time to post reviews and stuff. When not waiting in line or having a quick bite to eat, there've been lots of movies:

Innocence (2004/I)
Written and Directed
by Mamoru Oshii

The first "Ghost in the Shell" had a message. Machines are people too. There should be equal rights for software. It had a highly inflated reputation, so of course there would be a sequel, but TEN years? I guess they had to take that long to find a decent story. Unfortunately, they didn’t.

Okay. It’s 2039. A multinational corporation has been giving out robotic sex doll prototypes to select major clients, but the things seem to have thought they were being raped as they promptly murdered their owners and self destructed, leaving the cryptic message "help me."

Section 9 Department Chief Aramaki (voice of Tamio Ôki) brings in two of his top "men" to investigate: Bateau (voice ofAkio Ôtsuka), the dog-loving cyborg from the previous film is called in to investigate, and is given a mostly human partner named Togusa (voice of Kôichi Yamadera). They go off, talk philosophy, interview a few people and shoot up some gangsters for little or no reason. Then they go to a mysterious island where they know the mysterious Mr. Kim (voice of Naoto Takenaka) is hiding out.

What happens next is both boring and tedious. The ending doesn’t make too much sense and we don’t really know if it was worth the effort to sit through the thing. It certainly wasn’t worth the effort to pay the money to get in [and I got in for free].


Written, ,Directed and
Produced by Terry George

In 1994, upwards of 800 thousand people were murdered in a period of six weeks because of their ethnicity. The world watched but didn’t try to stop it. The reason was that the UN isn’t empowered to interfere in the internal affairs of any country except that of Israel, which it doesn’t either, but likes to try to because it’s a way to get away with being hypocritical, but that’s another story. In the 1994 genocide, there were heroes as well as villains, and this is the tale of the former, and how he saved thousands.

Paul (Don Cheadle) and Tatiana Rusesabagina(Sophie Okonedo) are an upper middle class couple living in Kigali, the capitol of Rwanda. He works at a luxury hotel, and lives a pretty good life for anywhere in the World. The problem is that he’s a Hutu and she’s a Tutsi, and that’s sort of like a German and a Jew living together in 1934 Berlin.

Paul knows about the ethnic problems of his country. There’d been a genocidal attack on the Tutsis in neighboring Burundi a few years before, and the Rwandan version of the Nazis, the Interhamwe had been threatening to rampage for quite a while. The murder of the President begins a series of events that starts when Paul arrives home and finds the entire neighborhood quivering in his den. By bribing Interhamwe officers to save not only his family, but his neighbors as well. He begs, borrows and steals to save the innocent on the way to his place of business, which soon becomes a place of refuge.

The second in command of the UN Peacekeepers (Nick Nolte) is of no help and is sick about it. Some brave journalists, notably the one played by Joaquin Phoenix, try to get the story out, but soon the various armies of the west arrive and much to the disgust of the viewer only pick up the whites and take them home. Paul is left to lead the staff and "guests" in their fight to keep the insanity that killed nearly a million people with machetes and pistols in six weeks outside the gates.

It’s much like an African "Shindler’s List" and is just as uplifting. This is, as far as we know, the first major cinematic take on the subject and the fact that it has everything a good Hollywood movie should have should serve as a reminder of man’s inhumanity to man. It’s one of the best movies of the year. See it.

Saturday, September 11, 2004

Saturday morning

Okay, just reviews:


Written and directed
by David O. Russell

Okay, a stupid question: Why has no one ever made a movie version of "Plato’s Republic?" Because philosophy is unfilmable, that’s why. Okay, it’s not unfilmable. "My Dinner With André" is just two guys talking about life and philosophy and it’s works rather well, but in general philosophical dialogues tend to be boring as hell [Don’t believe me, check out "Mindwalk" with Sam Waterston and Isabella Roselini].

Which is why the guy who did "Three Kings" and "Flirting With Disaster" decided to give it a try as a slapstick comedy. Maybe that would work?


Okay, eco-activist Albert Markovski (Jason Schwartzman) has had a number of close encounters with an African immigrant and thinks that there’s something mystical about it, so he goes to two existential detectives named Bernard and Vivian Jaffe (Dustin Hoffman and Lily Tomlin) and…what? You don’t know what an existential detective is? Come to think of it neither does anyone else. What one seems to be is a philosopher who sniffs out the meaning of existence for the customer. So Albert is analyzed by Bernard and investigated by Vivian.

However, there are complications: Jason’s old pal and rival Brad Stand (Jude Law) who is also a member of the eco-alliance, is an executive for Huckabees, a fictionalized version of Wal-Mart. Brad has everything, including a live-in relationship with Dawn Campbell (Naomi Watts), the Huckabees’ official spokesmodel. All well and good, but where does disgruntled fireman Tommy Corn (Mark Wahlberg) and what about that evil French nihilist Caterine Vauban (Isabelle Huppert)? Why does she come in out of left field to menace the Jaffees and seduce Albert?

Does this make any sense? Does the fact that Shenia Twain, the rightful queen of Canada, has a cameo as herself make the whole thing comprehensible? Noooooooooooooooo!

However is actually a fun movie to watch and is almost educational. Jude Law gives a splendid performance and the fact that it’s an astoundingly weird movie only adds to it’s entertainment value.

Beyond The Sea

Directed by
Kevin Spacey

I guess it was the success of the film version "Chicago" and "Moulin Rouge," because the musical’s comeback is gaining speed, if not force. However this doesn’t mean that this is all to the good. There is nothing wrong with this biopic of singer Bobby Darrin, but the structure is exactly the same as the recent "De Lovely" and whiff of plagerism, whether or not it’s deserved—and it probably isn’t, is clearly present in the atmosphere

Like "De Lovely" the plot is a show-within-a-show. . Bobby Darin(Kevin Spacey) is singing in what appears to be a nightclub when he sees his younger self(William Ullrich) staring out at him from the wings, unnerved, and this is where it gets slightly different, he shuts everything down and we see this for what it is.

The two versions of Bobby Cassotto/Darrin begin to argue with each other about the nature of their common life, especially where the beginning of the film should be. With the old deceit mingled with the new, we then go back to the beginning, to Brooklyn, in the home of Polly Cassotto (Brenda Blethyn) our hero’s supposed mother, his much older sister Nina (Caroline Aaron) and her husband Charlie (Bob Hoskins). He becomes sick and is loveingly tought music by Polly. He goes off with his friends Steve Blauner (John Goodman) and Dick Behrke (Peter Cincotti), and goes off to counquer the world of show biz…which he does of course. They wouldn’t make a film about a complete and utter failure, don’tcha know.

One thing that’s jarring are the "fantasy sequences" in which people, like musicals of old, just break out into song and dance. The younger Bobby complains about it to the older version and it has to be explained. The same thing happened in "De-Lovely" less than six months ago. I guess it’s because it’s a revival of a forgotten technique and it’s jarring in current cinema. It works, especially when we see Bobby courting his future wife, the notoriously virginal Sandra Dee(Kate Bosworth).

The marriage has it’s ups and downs, and Bosworth manages to be more than the wallpaper (she’s especially good in the scene where she confronts her mother(Greta Scacchi) over the nuptials). But it’s Spacey and his reaction to his character’s fading career that is most interesting. Darin managed to get to the very top of his profession but only rather briefly, and his attempts to cope with the downside of his career are rather poingent.

Also is his reaction to the mystery of his birth, but for that you’ll have to see the film.

Not a great film, but decent.

The Merchant of Venice

Written and Directed
By Michael Radford

Of the many plays in the Shakespeare canon, "The Merchant of Venice" stands out as the most unacceptable in our modern view. The reason is of course, the blatant antisemitism of the piece. Shylock is Shylock and thus the tragic villain. The bard makes him as sympathetic as possible, even though the disgusting stink of prejudice is in each and every frame. This is Shakespeare’s fault, not adapter/director Michael Radford, who does a really good job of bringing this to the screen. Other than that, it’s not one of the Bard’s better works…

It’s Venice: 1598. Young lord Bassanio(Joseph Fiennes) has heard a rumor about an extremely rich orphan named Portia(Lynn Collins) who is of age, and according to her father’s will has to marry the man who chooses the right box. So, being broke, he asks his old pal Antonio(Jeremy Irons) for enough money to put on a big enough show to get into the room with the boxes in order to play the game and win the big prize.

Antonio agrees. The only problem is that he’s currently broke as well. So he goes to Shylock(Al Pacino), the immortal Jewish loan shark, and asks him for the 16th century equivalent of a hundred thousand bucks. Shylock, having been spit on just the other week by the very same Antonio. This being the 16th century and all, vicious anti-Semitism is just normal and the fact that a Jew would have his FEELINGS HURT by being spat upon or thrown off a bridge never managed to cross anyone’s mind…except maybe Bill Shakespeare.

Antonio goes out to make the borrow the money and then makes the deal instead of interest, if he defaults on the loan he’d give Shylock the famous pound of flesh we’ve all heard about. Meanwhile Shylock’s daughter Jessica(Zuleikha Robinson) steals a couple of thou and runs off with a christian named Leonardo(Tony Schiena). We know that Shylock must be EVIL because his daughter wouldn’t do a thing like that to her own papa, right?

Pacino first did this on Broadway a few years back and was greeted with great acclaim. The acting is wonderful and the pathos he and Irons give to the film make the light comedy of the wooing of Portia all the more silly. The ending is rather ingenious, and Portia is the first lady lawyer in the history of literature. All in all one of the better Shakespeare adaptaions.

The best so far: Hotel Rwanda,of which I'll tell more, the Worst: The Rasberry Reich,hard core gay pornography of which I won't.

Friday, September 10, 2004

The first Gala

The big events at the festival are the galas, the first big one was Being Julia directed by István Szabó

Back in the 1930s, Somerset Maughmam wrote a novel called "Theater" and it was nasty little trifles that are remembered fondly by some and forgotten by most, but are rediscovered every now and again. Thus it is with this:

Julia Lambert(Annette Bening) is an actress, ON THE STAGE, DAH-LING, and she’s getting a bit bored.She wants her impresario husband (Jeremy Irons) to let her go on vacation. But he doesn’t want to do it because who would take her place? But then there’s other fish to fry, after all, and soon she’s having an affair with a peachy young thing named Tom(Shaun Evans) and this seems to do the trick. But Tom, being a man after all, quickly tires of being "kept" and soon he’s going out with Avis(Lucy Punch), who has lots of talent, not only in bed, and soon she’s to star in Julia’s next production.

Oh the fun, oh the joy while we see Somerset Maghman’s brain work up how Julia decides to wreak her revenge on Tom and Avis.

The film is a bit on the silly side, and I’m not too sure how likeable Julia’s character is. The only genuinely sympathetic of the principles is Avis, who is only doing what any young actress would do in her situation.

It’s all very nice, in a "Masterpiece Theater"/Merchant-Ivory kind of way, but this isn’t as great as the advertising makes it out to be.

thurday evening

So today the festival begins and we head off into the usual groove that we'll generally follow for the rest of the week:

We wake up sometime around a quarter of seven and do the normal morning ablutions, then we take the subway up to Bloor street where we head to one of the local cafes (either Starbucks, Timothy's or some other trendoid place) before heading over to the Variety multiplex in where one takes one's seat for the first screening of the day, which is about 8:30 AM, which is usually too early to go to the movies but this is special.

Today, we begin with James Toback's When Will I Be Loved?:

So what are we to make of this female revenge fantasy? When we first meet Vera (Neve Campbell), she’s doing a walking job interview with a weird professor of African studies(James Toback), while her boyfriend Ford (Frederick Weller) is lying his way through a whole bunch of silly situations. Ford, it seems is a two-bit hustler with delusions of grandeur.

These delusions are fed by the fact that we see him doing three models at once in the middle of central park, and the fact that when he accosts the zillionaire Italian Count Tommasso Lupo(Dominc Chianese), the Count responds positively. What is going on?

What’s going on is that the Count has fallen in lust with Vera and Ford has decided to pimp her our for a hundred thousand dollars. Will Vera do it?
Do we care?

The answer is ambiguous. We don’t like any of these characters. They’re mean and unappealing. On the other hand, Toback’s writing is very funny and the dialogue is something that’ll keep you in your seat. In fact it’s rather fun to watch.

We then head off to pick up the morning's mail, which contains the same stuff as yesterday's mail. Which is very strange indeed....I picked it up yesterday! Then I discover that I missed the next film, so I wander into the nearest screening room and find a thing called "Tarnation" which is the cheapest film ever to raise it's head here in Toronto. It's a cinematic autobiography of Jonathan Caoette a minor actor who's never hit it big. He used a mac and various generations of video. It's actually quite interesting and trippy in we do lunch, which means one of Toronto's famous hot dogs before going to our next selection: a thing called Whiskey Romeo Zulu....

Around five or six years ago, a Argentine airliner crashed, killing quite a few people. It seems that for a number of years a pilot named Enrique Piñero had been trying to call attention to the problems the airline in question was having and, like most whistleblowers, was first grounded and then forced to resign.

His revenge was twofold: First he gave all the information he had to the authorities. Then, he became a movie star, and after a number of years was famous enough to get his side of the story made into a movie written, directed and starring himself, a pretty nifty trick if you think about it.

What’s even niftier is that Piñero has made a truly great film, He’s a fine actor, the directing is even better and the writing is clear, crisp and direct. The other actors, as the prosecuter and as the childhood friend who becomes his confidant and then turns on him, are even better.

Now that he has this whole thing out of his system, maybe he can now go on and become the auteur he has the talent to become.

Next is a gem called Private:"

Now one can’t really trust what the Europeans have to say on the subject of the Middle East Crisis, they’ve long ago given their support to the Palestinians in their effort to drive the Jews into the sea. But sometimes we have an interesting take on the subject.

Fighting terrorism near it’s border with the territories, a small contingent of Israeli soldiers is assigned to take over a strategically placed house, and orders the family out. The problem is that said family won’t leave, and this leads to a standoff of sorts, with the Israelis taking the second floor and the Palestinians keeping the first. It’s sympathetic to the Palestinians, of course, the family is the focus of the film, but we get to see the Israelis too and they’re also shown in a somewhat sympathetic light as one of the daughters of the family hides in the closet and observes them in their day to day activities.

It was surprisingly even-handed. It’s clear that writer/director Savario Constanzo gave this lots of thought and is even slightly pro-Israeli. (otherwise it wouldn't have played there and have some of the Jewish state's hearthrobs as the soldiers).

As to the parties, they start tomarrow....

Thursday, September 09, 2004

thursday afternoon

So the first day of regular viewing has started. We've done four today ranging from a female revenge fantasy to Israeli occupaion of an inconveniant Palestinian house, to an Argentine plane crash. Some of them were pretty good.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Wednesday afternoon

One of the themes this year is the Rwandan genocide of 1994. There are a number of films on the subject and the first I've seen is Shake Hands with the Devil which is about Canadian General Roméo Dallier, who was the head of the UN peacekeepers in that godforsaken place when the lord forsook it a decade ago.

He returned for a confrence and the filmmaker Peter Raymont decided to tag along, and the results are both infuriating and heartbreaking. One tends to wonder if the wanten murder of between 800,000 and a million people killed mostly with machettés could have been prevented, and if Dallier could have done more in that direction. But the simple fact is that while it probably could have and he couldn't.

There was plenty of blame to go around, could the French told the perpetrators to not go there? Should the UN have gone to war when there were two thousand UN troops briefly there to get foreign nationals out? One could go on for months on this topic.

But the simple fact is nobody did a damn thing and then nobody did anything after that. What did happen is that Dallaier was kicking himself about it ever since.

This film is especially important when we see what's going on in Durfar, Sudan.

The reason nobody did anything was simple, by the way. Look at how Bush was treated over other words the world would go nuts blaming the rescuers and nobody wants that...

Tuesday afternoon

Our first flick of the festival is Hari Om an Indian story of a girl left behind (Camille Natta) and her meeting the eponymous rickshaw driver(Vijay Raaz), who happens to be on the run. So she decides to follow her boyfriend(Jean Marie Lamour) to the next stop on the train and somehow, our hero finds our heroine at the side of the road [the bus had a flat of course], the two of them take the rickshaw [a motorcycle kind of thing, not a seat with wheels powered by a guy running] and go across India where they meet several interesting people and sort of fall in love before our hero has to start a worker's rebellion and the boyfriend .

It’s actually not that bad…

Our second Selection is Forest for the Trees which is a sad tale of a reletively nice person(Eva Löbow) who’s looking to start her life over. Unfortunately, she makes a botch of it and spends her life lonelier than ever. It’s depressing as hell, but Löbow is a brilliant actress and is cute as a button and is terrific as the protagonist. I'm not sure if it's worth the bucks, and I don't think it's going to come to the arthouse anytime soon, so don't sweat it.

Our third selection for the day is an exercise in Weirdness for Weirdness' sake. Innocence is about a bizarre prison/ballet school for a select group of little girls who enter the place in a coffin and are told weird stories about kids who try to escape and are turned into old hags who must serve the girls forever and the like. The whole thing is very strange and not very effecting, and the ending is particularly dissapointing...we were hoping for more murders....bummer.

The discovery of the day is that the daypasses don't work until 9:30 which makes them almost useless, me having to get to at least half a dozen places in the early morning...%^&*

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Day Two part one

I’m not exactly sure what the schedule is. I’ve got to exchange those old bus tickets for new ones sometime this morning and find out where the screenings are. Usually they’re at the National Film Board building, but not every time, so one has to check.

The list of films this year isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be. Oh, sure, there’s a few real winners on the list, but most of the stuff already reviewed by NOW, the local alternative weekly is on the mediocre side. But at this point I could be wrong and I usually am.

The ones I’m most looking forward to are the biggies. Stuff like "I [heart] Huckabees" or "Millions" which may be the big kiddie flick of the year. The horror flicks are rather obscure, and as to the rest…They’ve got the usual Canadian bias that’ll show lots of obscure films that’ll never see the light of day south of the border….

In the meantime, it’s cold and feels like It’s going to rain, which may be a good thing as the humidity is a killer….

Monday, September 06, 2004

Toronto Day one

So now we change gears and leave politics behind and start thinking about movies. But we can't for the most part as my poll addiction has yet to abate. I first caught this year's case in the spring during the primaries, the Canadian election helped it along (Them Canadians are fickle) and then there's the fun and games over the summer. Kerry seems to have been making a comeback of sorts and is back to being either even or slightly behind...but be that as it may...

The Toronto film festival begins on Wednesday and there are pre-screenings tomorrow, and for all intents and purposes is going to start then. I've seen a few films already, and most of them are rather good. If it weren't for the Republican invasion of the last week, I'd have already started to post reviews and such, but scheduling conflicts are the spice of life usually. Here are a couple:


Written and Directed
by Dylan Kidd

Louise Harrington (Laura Linney) is the admissions officer for the Columbia University art department. Her life isn’t that bad, pretty much the same as any sitcom achedemic you’d care to come across. She’s got a decent relationship with her ex husband Peter(Gabriel Byrne) her mother Lois Smith) and her old high school pal Missy (Marcia Gay Harden), who lives in California with her husband and two kids. Whom she doesn’t have all that great a relationship is with her brother Sammy(Paul Rudd) who’s gone from being a drug addict to a 12-step guru.

But this isn’t really about him. It’s about a recent BFA named F. Scott Feinstadt (Topher Grace), who’s sent an application for the Master’s program at Columbia.

Louise gets his application the last day that they’re due and suddenly remembers that this fellow has the exact same name as her and Missy’s old boyfriend who had died tragically over twenty years before. She calls him back and tells him he forgot to send in slides of his artwork and sets up an appointment. He shows up the late and is a spitting image of Long Dead Boyfriend. She takes him home to bed. Is there a lawsuit in the offing?


But there is some of the funniest dialogue to hit the silver screen in quite a while.
That’s what saves this film. The words that come out of the people’s mouths range from the merely witty to downright hilarious, and when Linney and Grace are sitting next to each other blathering away this is as good as it gets, HOWEVER….

The sideplots are rather tedious. Peter’s confession as part of "Step 9" of the 12 step process is kind of dumb. The thing with Sammy is completely useless and detracts from the budding romance. Harden comes in as a human deus ex machina, arriving out of nowhere to get into bed with Scott, just to make sure that the guy hasn’t come back from the dead or anything.

This film is like the little girl with the curl, when it’s good it’s very yery good, and when it’s bad it’s horrid. Fortunately, it’s the former for most of the time.

Silver City

Directed, Written and
Edited by John Sayles

In the many years he’s been making films, auteur John Sayles has made dozens of films. Some have been great and others merely very good. He’s never done a bad one in his life.

I bet you thought I was gonna say "Until now." Fooled ya!!!

No. His winning streak goes on, and this is one of the better ones. This is what people like Michael Moore and Robert Greenwald WISH they could do.

GW Bush-clone 'Dickie' Pilager(Chris Cooper) is running for Governor of Colorado and he and his manager/Svengali Chuck Raven (Richard Dreyfuss) are shooting a commercial by a lake, when our hero casts his fishing pole and snags a dead body.

Dickie is innocent, but Raven thinks that someone might have dumped the body in the lake in order to sabotage the campaign, So he goes over to the office of a private investigator(Mary Kay Place) who’s worked for him before, and she send out her top assistant, one Danny O'Brien (Danny Huston), to go to these people and tell them that they’re being watched.

Now Danny used to be an investigative reporter, and he still has a nose for news. Who killed the poor fellow Dickie found in the lake? Ah, that is the question!

We follow Danny as he questions the suspects he’s been given: Is it the right wing nutcase radio talk show pundit(Miguel Ferrer)? The retired environmental activist(Ralph Waite), Dickie’s libertine Olympic-wannabe sister Madeleine (Daryl Hannah)? Or might it be someone we haven’t thought about, like mysterious indnustrialist and Piager backer Wes Benteen (Kris Kristofferson) or someone sneaking in illegal aliens into the country?

It’s all sorted out in the end, but along the way there are dozen of cameos which have little or nothing to do with the plot, but are interesting none the less.

On the other hand we don’t get much character development. Just who IS Dickie anyway? When the threads binding him and the corpse begin to break, why does Raven suddenly appear to change sides?

What does the relationship between Danny’s ex-girlfriend Nora(Maria Bello) and her current fiancé(Billy Zane) have to do with any of this? Sal Lopez is great as a chef who briefly doubles as Danny’s assistant, but he’d not in there long enough. Michael Murphy, as Dickie’s Senator father has a brief two minute cameo and why does he get any billing at all? Same with Tim Roth, who should be getting more work.

The propagandistic value of this film is understandable and the acting is great throughout. It’s worth a matinee at least.

Saturday, September 04, 2004

Now that it's over....

Look the protests may have backfired-BIG TIME!!!

Did you see that TIME magazine poll? It might be due to some extent by the protesters. Backlash, y'know?

The press was ALWAYS conservative. Yeah, Walter Cronkite is a liberal, but if you go back to the age before television, you'll notice that most of the media was owned by people like Hearst and Pulitzer

The simple fact is is that EVERYBODY was here in the City and the lunatic fringe was most visible.

The problem was that Kerry's advisors got him to underplay the swiftboat ads because they were so easilly debunkable, but that wasn't what it was all about. It was about wimpieness, and since he didn't SLAP them down HARD was telling, escpecially after the ultra-macho convention performance.

The bounce will be a bounce. Kerry will be back to being even with Bush by the middle of the week, and the thing will be decided by the debates. If you can find a site, you'll notice how this is like 1980.

Carter was ahead after what was a terrible convention.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

The big night II: W's speech

The anticipation is so thick you can cut it with a knife. But then there’s some more music to kill some more time. After all, we’ve got about three minutes to go. There’s a filmed introduction and the man himself comes out. The crowd in the hall goes completely nuts. Screaming "four more years" at the top of their lungs. I can see the back of his head as he accepts the nomination for a second term. He goes on about his job as commander in chief. After the mention of 9/11, he starts talking mush. He loves his wife and daughters and siblings and he rest of the family. I guess that this is part of the usual schtick before he goes into why he should be re-elected. There’s a laundry list of the real and imagined achievements of this administration. So far there isn’t actually very much there. But the crowd loves it. He speaks in revolutionary platitudes. He says that America must be the best place in the world to do business. He gives as a method the standard conservative program. Less taxes and less regulation. He also comes out in favor of energy independence and then moves to ban "frivolous’ lawsuits. He denounces the tax code that was mostly written by Republicans. He’s for job retraining and more aid for community colleges. So how exactly is he going to pay for this? Then he has a plan about potable health insurance. Isn’t that what the Democrats were proposing?

So far he’s been concentrating on domestic issues, and there isn’t all that new here. Everybody’s in favor of affordable housing and decent health care. That he takes credit for a small public school in North Carolina. The Gall!!!

So far he’s focusing solely on education before starting in on Kerry. "We are heading to the future and are not turning back." This is one of the most vacuous speeches I’ve ever heard. He’s saying nothing new at all. Well, that’s conservatism for you….he attacks Kerry for claiming to be a conservative, something I’m certain he never claimed.

He also implies that Kerry won’t defend America…and he will. It’s the same old thing as a protester approaches the podium and gets arrested. It seemed that the crowd was trying to shout the president down. A few more protesters start shouting and are hustled out of the room. The crowd started screaming "Four More Yeasr!!!! Four More Years!!!"

He praises he people of Afghanistan for registering to vote. Elections are scheduled for January in Iraq. "If America gives it’s word, America must keep it’s word." The person next to me says of the protesters: "This is a disaster."

He praise Tony Blair, Burlusconi and John Howard and others. This is going on and on, it’s all very nice, but I don’t think that it’s going to help very much. None of this is new…being conservatives, the crowd loves it…..

It's all the same stuff we've heard before. He finishes with a forgettable flourish and soon Cheney, the wives and kids are out there waving to the crowd as balloons fall from the ceiling as is tradtional at these things.

While the music plays and the dancing on the floor continues, we leave the room and head for the subway. Now the real work begins for Kerry, Bush and company.

The big night, part one

So here we are the final night of this godforsaken show, and having managed to snag the last piece of official White House press corps cheesecake. The party was over and they let me have it. So much for the food at the Convention, it wasn’t nearly as good as it was in Boston despite the fact that it’s generally better here.

Now to the program: The first speakers were lightweights and it was a good time to eat cheesecake. Our first major speaker is Tommy Franks, who is an independent and endorses the President, after all as the commanding general during the Afghan and Iraqi battles, and he’s about as responsible as Bush, Rumsfeld and Cheney for the progress of the war. Possibly more than them because he was the one who let Osama Bin Laden and pals escape. So at this point, he cannot possibly endorse Kerry at this stage. He’s actually a pretty good speaker. Thus we cannot be sure how much bullshit is being slung.

The crowd is pretty attentive. I cannot see the general speak because I’m in one of the worse seats in the arena, although I’m in the press seating area. They come and check, but it seems no one here is in their proper assigned seats and getting everyone to get up and go would be an impossibility. So I get to be able to see the President make his acceptance speech from a decent angle. It’s in the round and there’s a stage painted to look like the presidential seal.

The former Railroad Commissioner of Texas, an old friend of Bush’s and a black man, gives a touching reminiscence of life back in Midland Texas in the 1980s. There’s a preview of a commercial which is totally information free. Then there’s a singer named Donnie McClerken, who’s does some mediocre and uninspired gospel music. Well, it’s a way to kill time before we go on the air and Dubya makes his big speech.

There’s some mre music and a guy named Martinez, a Cuban who’s running for the US senate, and a former secretary of something gives a speech in which he says how awful Castro was and how wonderful the US is. Having been to Cuba I can sympathize. But then he goes into the same tired spiel that we’ve been hearing all week.

We’ve got less than a half hour until the President’s address. The guy who’s going to introduce him is George Pataki, the governor of New York, who thanks the Oregon delegation for keeping the New York tourism industry going and the Iowa delegation for sending blankets for the firefighters for ground zero. He talks about what happened here on 9/11. The people in the Republican party hated this city until that day. I guess Pataki is right to thank the rest of the country for the response to 9/11. But then he goes to the usual bullshit and a few cheap jokes…he then defends the War in Iraq, and the crowd goes wild.

What else is going on...

This is a convention, and conventions have huckster rooms. That's where people in comic book conventions buy comic books and trekkies buy Spock ears and such.

So the Hilton is host to the Republican suvenier festival where you can get all sorts of stuff from Republcian commemerative water to books on the presidents of the continental congress to about six different vendor of campaign buttons. This is a great place for a political junkie to blow a few bucks. Unfortunately, they don't have any buttons or bumperstickers with any of the potential 2008 contenders.

Then there's the free "spa" which is run by Barney's. The thing is rather pathetic, although the barbers and hairdressers are most likely first rate. The waiting list is HUGE. I guess I'll have to go somewhere else...

One ten in the afternoon

So here I am at what's called "radio row" where everybody who's anybody in the talk radio biz is supposed to be at this time in the afternoon.

I had problems getting in. They asked for extra ID, which I had left at home since nobody ever asked for it before. They searched my bag and then searched it again, and looked at my legitimately obtained credentials repeatedly. They asked me if I was going to start a disruption. I said no of course, but why would they ask such a stupid question? Were they expecting someone to say "Sure! I"m going to start a riot all by my widdle self!" jess!!!!

Finally, after waiting for what seemed forever, I was finally permitted to go through the metal detector and do the whole thing all over again. I went over to the blockers bench, and security told me that since I'm not a "real blocker" I would have to leave. I told her that I was going to tell the world how mean she was being and she told me not to. I don't care. I'm going to do it anyway. The White House press corps is going to have a special luncheon and nobody's allowed to go except them what good it that then? I demand free roast beef!!!

This is all because that $%^& Bush is coming into the hall. I can see some security, but this is ridiculous!

Al Franken is about twelve feet away from me and at the moment is drinking some bottled water while discussing the latest disheartening poll results. Rasmussen has Kerry down by four after being tied with Bush yesterday. Millers speech had it's effect. We'll see what's going on later.

Later than that...

Zell Miller breathes fire. He started out saying that in the past there was bipartisanship, but then the republicans have been been firmly against bipartisanship for years and years and years. He lists every single weapons system that the US ever bought and claims that Kerry was against all of them. The problem is that some of them were funded when Kerry was Lt. Governor of Massachusetts or even before. The substance was a load of crap, but BOY! What delivery!!!

The Second Lady of the Land gives her husband, the Vice President of these United States a rousing introduction. Then comes the Veep...

Cheney wasn't nearly as bad as expected. He attacks both Kerry and Edwards and goes on and on about the both real and imagined triumphs of the Bush administration. It's more than watchable but not as riveting as Miller's was.

From the convention I head south to the "Billionaires for Bush" party on pier 60, 23rd and the river. The Klasmatics or some other band plays strange Jazz and everyone dances with wild abandon. We get home around a quarter of two in the morning...oog.

9:55 PM

I tried to get a better seat and couldn't actually get one, so now I'm sitting in front of the Larry King set, where he and Disney President George Mitchell while they're watching a video tribute to Ronald Reagan, who's the second patron saint of the party. King seems as bored as Mitchell, although the video is rather well done. They then give out information on how to buy a copy, which is something that they haven't done before. I don't think that they've put that on CNN or Fox.

Then they do disco. I'm not sure why. There are lots of ways to kill time until the broadcast networks start their coverage. King interviews his panel, but you can't hear what he's saying as the music's so loud. The next speaker up is the Lt. Governor of Massachusetts, Kerry had the job under Dukakis, and then they start attacking the Duke. Then they go after Kerry, using the L-word a number of times before going into a commercial for Gov. Mitt Romney, who's next on the list. Romney hasn't been that an effective governor. With the geographical credentials in place, Romney goes after Kerry, cracking exactly one good joke, "we don't need leadership in 57 varieties." Then he goes on to attack gay marriage.

Larry King doesn't seem to be listening. We've got about fifteen minutes before Cheney steps up to the plate...or rather Zell Miller, as I just found out he comes first

9:30 pm

Well, here we are at the press section of the convention and the delegates have just made Bush's nomination, which was every single one of the 2508 eligible votes, unanimous, and there was a bit of a dance before the appointment of committee to inform him of what he already knows. This was followed by the nomination of Dick Cheney for vice president. This is by voice vote, as there was a rules change in 1988 in order to stop an anti-Dan Quayle revolt and an extra roll call is a waste of time.

So, the work of the convention is hereby done. Cheney is going to accept the nomination later tonight, and that speech is going to be extremely important in stopping Kerry if that is possible...and it is. But so far nothing much has actually happened. The networks have yet to actually start broadcasting. They're too smart for that. There's no need to broadcast what's already a done deal.

There's really nothing to do until either Zell Miller or the Vice President make their speeches later on in the evening. However, Secretary of Labor Elaine Chou takes the podium after her husband, the state's senior senator, gives her a rousing introduction. She gives an autobiographical sketch which is actually pretty silly in parts. The crowd begins to mill around and most of the delegates begin to ignore her. This is going to be pretty much the state of affairs until around nine or nine thirty.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Breaking News!!!!!

The Kobe Briant murder case is over. The prosecution threw in the towel.

Why this blog as the name it does

Excerpts from the Vice President's speech:

The Vice President on the opportunities available in this great land:

\"It is the story of this country that people have been able to dream big dreams with confidence they would come true, if not for themselves, then for their children and grandchildren. And that sense of boundless opportunity is a gift that we must pass on to all who come after us.\"

The Vice President on the greatest challenge of our time:

\"These have been years of achievement, and we are eager for the work ahead. And in all that we do, we will never lose sight of the greatest challenge of our time: preserving the freedom and security of this nation against determined enemies.\"

The Vice President on the stakes of this election:

\"In this election, we will decide who leads our country for the next four years. Yet, there is more in the balance than that. Moments come along in history when leaders must make fundamental decisions about how to confront a long term challenge abroad and how best to keep the American people secure. This nation has reached another of those defining moments.\"

The Vice President on the sharp contrast between the President and Senator Kerry:

\"And on the question of America\'s role in the world, the differences between Senator Kerry and President Bush are the sharpest, and the stakes for the country are the highest.\"

The Vice President on President Bush's vision for a safer world and a more hopeful America:

\"The historian Bernard DeVoto once wrote that when America was created, the stars must have danced in the sky. Our President understands the miracle of this great country. He knows the hope that drives it and shares the optimism that has long been so important a part of our national character. He gets up each and every day determined to keep our great nation safe so that generations to come will know the freedom and opportunities we have known - and more.\"

I keep on missing all the good stuff...

After the daily press briefing...a bunch of demonstrable lies from the Secretary of Commerce and a number of Governors such as Pataki and Taft, I attended the very beginning of the Youth Convention. Now I had a lunch date on ninth avenue with an extremely pretty journalist who..well you know...anyway...

It seems just after I left a bunch of protesters took off their tee shirts and began to start protesting the convention. A micro-riot ensued while I was waiting at the wrong diner. We finally got together, but had our wires not been crossed she would have seen the whole thing with me. Bummer.