Wednesday, November 30, 2005

How I Blew the Rent Money

A Movie Review

Well an occasional anomaly in my work schedule poked up again this week, causing me to have a 3 1/2 hour gap between my last class and the start of my shift on Monday. So like any red-blooded American I decided to use that extra time to go and see a movie. Now I started out to the local 21-screen cinema complex with the intention of viewing the new Johnny Cash bio-pic Walk the Line; however I seemed to have been mistaken in my understanding of the available show times. Sadly I would not have the time to wait until the next showing of Johnny's movie, and was to committed to the idea of spending my time in the theater to simply go away. So I decided to see another movie, I had two real choices and in the end I found that I probably should have gone with that space version of Jumanji.

What I ended up seeing was the new film Rent, my reaction to which can be summed up by the phrase: "A little to blue-state for me." My understanding of Rent was that it was a musical film about 20/30 something singles living in urban NYC. This topic would have done in a pinch as a back-up movie, but proved to be not really what I had expected. Basically the film focused on three couples (one gay with AIDS, one hetero with AIDS, and one lesbian without AIDS) as well as a single hetero jewish male filmmaker (without AIDS). I figured the AIDS and homosexuality would be in the film, but I thought that it would be confined to a subplot and most of the film would be like a gritty version of Friends (oh, if only Friends had been gritty it might have been salvageable).

Now I want to say that I though the music was good, the production values lavish (in a decaying sort of way), and that Chris Columbus did what was for him a better then average job at directing the thing (it probably helped that most of the cast had been with the play on Broadway and so had essentaly been pre-directed). The story line though was kind of meandering and the film strangley paced (the first hour of the movie covers two days, the second have just under a year). My main complaint with the movie is that to me it pushed its message to far, yes tolerance is good but these people are engaging in dangerous and self-destructive behavior and the film seems to be telling me that that's okay. Now I do have sympathy for the characters, their not 'bad' people, but they're all going to kill themselves! Four of the seven already have a fatal illness(one of whom dies in the film) and the fact that the other three don't is pure luck given their lifestyles. Some characters do make progress but you get the impression that they would all benefit from some serious critical self-examination. In short, Rent serves as an unconvincing denial of the failure of a values system more concerned with pleasure and "independence" then self-control.

Hey, Hey, I got my spellcheck to work!

Hey, I finally got that stupid spell check to work. It seems that a filter on my computer viewed the spellcheck window as some form of unwanted material and was blocking it. So now I can spellcheck, and I am happy. Also another friend of mine now has a blog and his rantings can be found at

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

How About That

I wrote my last colume (which was also my first colum in a way) on Saturday night and scense that time several modistly positive events have occured n relation to what I had to say. Sunday on 'Meet the Press' (sorry couldn't get the computer to change the font on the shows title) Senator John Warner (R-Virgina) echoed my suggestion that the President address the nation in a prime time speech to give details on the long term plan in Iraq. Well its cool to know that the Senator and I think alike, thought I'd probably have given more thought about marrying Elizabteh Taylor then he did (though I wouldn't have rulled it out). In addition I think I just heard something on the radio about the President (do I always need to capitalize 'President'?) giving a live address sometime later this week, now that's a good sign thought not necessarly suggestive or any real change. Also POTUS did give a speech on Monday about the boarder situation, I have not been able to peruse its contents yet, but whithout the issuence of some sweeping new policy preposals it might just be as much hot air.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Everybody Hates Bush

Thirty-seven percent, thirty-seven percent , that's the number currently most floated among the cable talkning heads in regards to the presidents approval rating. Sadly this is mostly the presidents own fault, not only is the public largely against the implementation of nearly any aspect of his domestic program (such as it is), but they have turned against him on the issues that are usually Republican bread-and-butter. Security, he dosen't seem to be doing much about it (read: boarders). Fiscal discipline, I seem to remember our party standing for that at some point. Finally and most importantly the war in Iraq. Now the lack of any coherent, reasonable or practical policy on this front on the part of the Democrates is a matter for a different column, but the presidents chief failure on this front has to do with a lesson his father learned from Colin Powell, in short it goes as followes:

Introductory Geo-Politics and Warfare 101:

Lesson # 1: So you want to 'fix' a broken country:

Question: How do you avoid getting involved in an annoying 'Vietnam-style' quagmire?

Answer: Know what your goals are.

During the initial planning stages for the first Gulf War back in the early 1990's, President George H. W. Bush was informed by then joint-chiefs chairmen Colin Powell that the key to avoiding another 'Vietnam' in Iraq was to have a clear goal and basic conception of what victory should look like. In Vietnam we didn't know what vicotry meant, was it to consist of a unified and democratic Vietnam? A stable boarder? A permanent U.S. military presnece in South Vietnam? This was never made clear.

Now in the first Gulf War it was decided fairly early on what victory would mean and look like. It would consist of 1.) A free and liberated Kuwait, and 2.) A greatly diminished war-making capacity on the part of Iraq. This last goal ended-up taking the form of containment and is why we didn't push on to Baghdad. So when all of these goals were meet we called it good and most of our troops got to go home, though seem were sent to the territory of our relatively pro-American allies in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.

But what is victory suppose to look like now, for this war? What consitutes a 'free and stable Iraq'? How many native troops need to be trained? How many elections need to be held? The president needs to tell us these things. If he dosen't we can't know waht we are working towards, and are thusly denied anything to potentially 'rally-around'. So the president needs to give another speech, a prime-time one complete with charts and graphs to outline to us, the American people what this victory is suppose tolook like and how we are going to get there. Staying the course is fine, but if we don't know where we are going at some point we are going to get tired and want to turn around and go home. That in the long run, the prospect of not reaching a worth while destination in Iraq is a bad thing all around.

Clearing the Air

A Movie Review

The best thing I can say about Pieter Jan Brugge's 2004 film The Clearing, is that it is diffrent. Now I don't mean this in a condescending way, as if to say that the only thing to recommend the film is the fact that it does not fall within any clear tread-worn Hollywood category. In fact The Clearing boasts an excellent cast featuring Robert Redford, Helen Mirren, and Willem Dafoe, all giving moving performances. The cinematography is crisp, the pace refreshingly slow, and what little score there is is memorable. No, The Clearing is great because its not the type of film they make much in Hollywood, and I mean this in a number of ways.

First, it's a movie about a 60ish year old couple. While the plot revolves around the kidnapping of former auto rental exec. Robert Redford by former employee Willem Dafore, the device serves largley as a frame in which to examine a flawed, complicated, but ultamently strong and enduring relationship between partners of over 30 years.

Secound, The Clearing is refreshingly small in scoop despite its big stars. This could have been an indie film, the plot would have worked with lesser-knowen actors, but the whole thing is given more weight by allowing the established stars to play something just slightly unconventional. Also when one takes into account the quite limited number of players in the film, as well as the location shooting, I can't imagine that the movie cost all that much by Hollywood standards.

Thirdly and finally for my purposes, The Clearing is real. By real I mean both emotionally true, as well as logically true. This is how a kidnapping of this sort would happen, this is who would plan it, and the time it would take to occure I think is accuretly portrayed. This is the kind of story you could see yourself reading about in the newspaper, and in truth something very similar to this scenerio did happen about 12-to-15 years ago.

The Clearing is not along film (which helps it stay fresh), so its not going to be a big time commitment to see it. I'd recommend this movie as a good change of pace from your typical far, wether that be mainstream or art-house. The Clearing is a simple story strengthened by a hard, dare I say "Hollywood" backbone. It caries its own weight.

I have a radio show

Hey, just wanted to let it be knowen that I have my own radio program. The show is called The Ghostwood Development Project and you can listen to it from anywhere in the world at 2:oo pm Mountian time at . This week the show will be the 3rd and final part of my tribute to the late Bing Crosby.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

In Harms Way

A Movie Review

Like the painter Picasso, director Otto Preminger went through many periods. One of the most productive of which was the era of controversial epochs he made during the 1960's. The best of these films were not afraid to take on strong subject matter and powerful institutions, and succeeded in bringing there messages to the public in large part because they were dressed in Hollywood spectical. Exodus examiend the establishment of the state of Israel, Adivse and Consent the U.S. Senate, and The Cardinal The Roman Catholic Church. In Harms Way Premingers 1965 opus of a World War II film, is not as successful as any the movies mentioned previously.

I don't know what it is exactly that the movie lacked, but when stacked up against the other films I just mentioned (with the possible exception of Exodus which I know only by reputation) the picture mostly falls flat. Where it does succeed however is in its incredible cast featuring then stars John Wayne, Kirk Douglas, Patrica Neal, Dana Andrews, Franchot Tone, Priminger discovery Tom Tryon and the directors frequent supporting player Burgess Meredith. The movie also boasts an impressive group of up & comers including George Kennedy, Carroll O'Conner and a young Larry Hagman.

Despite all this talented cast the film is slow going and surprisingly conventional. In fact the most visually intersting part of the flick comes in the end credits sequence were a wild sea storm slowly transforms into a montage of explosions and battle culminating in several mushroom clouds. This imagery coming during the relatively early stages of massive American military commitment in Vietnam speaks potential volumes. It is only a pity that the usually incisive Otto chose to be overly subtle throughout the rest of the movie.

President Pardons Turkey Named Scooter

A News Parody

Datline Washington- In a bizarre twist on the traditional practice of the presidents pardoning a turkey for Thanksgiving. President George W. Bush has granted a full and offical pardon to former vice-presidental chief of staff I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby. A representative of the White House legal office defended the action, which was announced Teusday, as being both proper and legal. White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan also defended the pardon during his Thanksgiving eve briefing, stating that the Presidents actions in the matter fit with the spirit of the traditional holiday exercise in that Mr. Libby is considerd in many quarters to be in fact a turkey.

A Test Blog

Having some trouble getting this thing to post today, just want to give it another try.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

It happend in Sun Valley (and probably in Burbank)

For my first movie review on this blog I have selected the 1941 film Sun Valley Serenade, which I watched earlier this evening. As a fan of the Glenn Miller Orchestra I have been meaning to see this film for some time. I regret that back in the winter of 99' I was unable to make the trip up to Sun Valley for a showing of the film with some of the surviving members of Millers orchestra, that would have been a neat experince.

In watching this film it seems to me as if the whole movie were constructed by the studio in a despereate attempt to do something with various players they'd signed but had no idea how to use. The Nicholas brothers are here doing a dance number with a young Dorothy Dandridge (Note: I got to meet Fayard Nicholas in Burbank this last summer at the age of 90!). A pre-television Milton Berle does a fine job in a role that would have gone to Bob Hope if the film had been made at Paramount rather then Fox. Finally Glenn Miller himself comes off as a particularly stiff version of George Reeves in his Clark Kent persona.

The plot is typical of a programer of this sort, a light romance full of misunderstandigs and songs. John Payne is the lead playing Ted Scott a piano player with a little known band that's headed by Miller and managed by Berle. As part of a publicity stunt for the band Ted is talked into sponsoring a refuge from Europe. But craziness ensues when instead of the young tike he expected, Scott is saddled with the responsibility for 29 year Sonja Henie (in the film she's a refugee from Norway named Karen Benson). This situation of course leads to conflict with Vivan Dawn (Lynn Bari) the irritable lead singer Scott's been courting. So when Vivan gets so irritated that she splits just before the opening of the bands Sun Valley gig, it is very helpful that the group now has an Olympic quality figure skater on hand to take her place in the show. Yes I gave away the ending but you don't watch movies like this for plot. Anyway the flicks a harmless little distraction valuable mainly for its unusual cast and well choreographed musical numbers.

My links don't work yet

Well to quote my header "my links don't work yet." I'm not a very computer competent guy so it may take me some time to figure out how to properly set-up my links. However I did want to get those web address out there, so here they are in classic text-only form.

So I started my blog today...

Hello and Welcome to the Dredge Report, a multi-media extension of the Nate Dredge experince. Any way I just wanted to get this thing started today so I can see how it looks. On my blog you shall find my musings on various topics of intrest to me, ranging from politices to current events, to theology, to film and so on. So please check-up on things here from time-to-time, and I promise amussing spelling & punctuation errors.