Category Archives: Sunset Boulevard

Life imitates art. Film relating to life.

Is the U.S. Government Evil? You Tell Me!

The greatest evil is not now done … in concentration camps and labour camps. In those we see its final result. But it is conceived and ordered (moved, seconded, carried, and minuted) in clean, carpeted, warmed and well-lighted offices, by quiet men with white collars and cut fingernails and smooth-shaven cheeks who do not need to raise their voices. Hence, naturally enough, my symbol for Hell is something like the bureaucracy of a police state or the office of a thoroughly nasty business concern.” ~ C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters

Is the U.S. government evil?

You tell me.

This is a government that treats its citizens like faceless statistics and economic units to be bought, sold, bartered, traded, tracked, tortured, and eventually eliminated once they’ve outgrown their usefulness.

This is a government that treats human beings like lab rats to be caged, branded, experimented upon, and then discarded and left to suffer from the after-effects.

This is a government that repeatedly lies, cheats, steals, spies, kills, maims, enslaves, breaks the laws, overreaches its authority, and abuses its power at almost every turn. Continue reading

How Shirley Temple Responded to Sexual Harassment

Is much of the current dialogue on sexual differences between men and women patronizing toward females?

Shirley Temple was probably the greatest child star, not only of her generation, but of any generation. She was not just popular, she was phenomenally, outrageously popular. No one hadn’t heard of her. Of course, her popularity was at its height in the 1930s. But even for someone growing up in the 1960s, 70s and 80s, she was still—despite the fact that she gave up acting early in her life—familiar to everyone and her movies were still frequently aired on television (which, those of us with cultural memories know, was the only way one could see old movies). Continue reading

“All I Want to Do Is Enter My House Justified!”

The Classic American Western As Emblem of Historic American Culture

Since the beginning of the twentieth century one of the newer art forms and expressions of our culture has been cinema—“motion pictures.” It was the novelty of live theater and acting captured as moving images in film and presented on a screen. In many respects, like other art forms, film represents what is happening in our culture. At its very finest it is capable of shining a vivid light on our beliefs and values, portraying them, dissecting them, and, like other art forms, it may be used as an instrument to affect or even shape our outlook and our politics. Continue reading

Viet Nam – Who’s story?

Be skeptical of Ken Burns’ documentary: The Vietnam War

Some months ago I and a dozen other local veterans attended a screening at the Woodruff Arts Center in Atlanta – preview of a new documentary on The Vietnam War by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick” The screening was a one hour summation of this 10-part documentary, 18 hours long.

The series began showing on PBS Sunday Sep 17, and with Burns’ renowned talent mixing photos, video clips and compelling mood music in documentary form, the series promises to be compelling to watch. That doesn’t mean it tells the truth. Continue reading

You Want a Picture of the Future?

Imagine a Boot Stamping on Your Face

“The Internet is watching us now. If they want to. They can see what sites you visit. In the future, television will be watching us, and customizing itself to what it knows about us. The thrilling thing is, that will make us feel we’re part of the medium. The scary thing is, we’ll lose our right to privacy. An ad will appear in the air around us, talking directly to us.” — Director Steven Spielberg, Minority Report

We have arrived, way ahead of schedule, into the dystopian future dreamed up by such science fiction writers as George Orwell, Aldous Huxley, Margaret Atwood and Philip K. Dick.

Much like Orwell’s Big Brother in 1984, the government and its corporate spies now watch our every move.

Much like Huxley’s A Brave New World, we are churning out a society of watchers who “have their liberties taken away from them, but … rather enjoy it, because they [are] distracted from any desire to rebel by propaganda or brainwashing.”

Much like Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, the populace is now taught to “know their place and their duties, to understand that they have no real rights but will be protected up to a point if they conform, and to think so poorly of themselves that they will accept their assigned fate and not rebel or run away.” Continue reading

Political Lessons from “Blazing Saddles” and “Bananas

blazing_saddlersThe recent death of Gene Wilder prompted the theatrical re-release of two of his most popular movies. For those unfamiliar with the great comic actor on the big screen, that new release yielded much more than a windfall of laughs.

“We’ve got to save our phony-baloney jobs,” perhaps the truest line in all of cinema. In September, Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Wilder’s family-friendly film from 1971, played in 200 cinemas. The 1974 Western satire Blazing Saddles played in only 60 theatres but was more significant, for several reasons… Continue reading

Metropolis: Back to OUR Future…

Metropolis-August-Scherl-Berlin-1926_bkgrnd_02.jpgIn the early 1960’s, on Friday nights I would watch WTTW, the local PBS television station in Chicago. Their offering? Silent movies. The one that struck me the most – ‘Metropolis‘ – the 1927 film by German Director, Fritz Lang with musical ‘soundtrack’ by Gottfried Huppertz.

In this past half-century plus, missing segments of the film have been discovered and the film was eventually restored to its near full original presentation – the Director’s cut – if you will.

Over the years I have witnessed numerous additions and partial restorations including the first semi-full major restoration of the film – including digital applications in 2001. ‘Metropolis’ was once again upgraded in 2010 as additional footage was discovered.

Why does any of this matter? To some – it will not. To others, you will realize that what you are about to watch is an eighty-nine year old depiction of life in the future. Much of it has come to pass.

Oh yes… what you about to see has been modified by a fan, to include the music of Pink Floyd (‘Wish You Were Here‘). It is set set to the pre-2010 version (without the most recently discovered footage).

Today is one of those days that I am not up to publishing new columns on this day.

Let us return – Back – to OUR Future.

Enjoy the beauty of REAL film-making. ~ (J.B.)
Continue reading

George Kennedy (Dragline) Dead at 91

George-Kennedy-Dragline-Cool-Hand-LukeGeorge Kennedy, an American actor who won an Academy Award for playing a hulking chain gang convict who pummels Paul Newman in the 1967 film “Cool Hand Luke” and later earned laughs in the “Naked Gun” comedy films, has died, media outlets reported on Monday. He was 91.

The Hollywood Reporter and Variety, citing a Facebook post made by Kennedy’s grandson, said the actor died early on Sunday in Boise, Idaho. Reuters could not independently verify the reports. Continue reading

Gaddy: Fort Massacre – REVISITED

“The West has never known a Hero like the Killer who commanded Fort Massacre” ~ Taken from the film trailer of the 1958 Western, “Fort Massacre.”

Fort_Massacre_FilmPosterFor those of us who have realized that no matter who we vote for, a corrupt government gets elected, the past few days have provided an awful lot of humorous but thoughtful moments. It has been fun to watch the Republican Party continue to implode as their previous demand that Donald Trump not run as a 3rd party candidate begins to backfire and further illustrate there is actually no significant difference between them and the Democrats. As this writer has previously written, one of the strongest supporters of current, stated republican principles is none other than the Democrat front runner, Hillary Clinton. She supports everything Jeb, Marco, Carly, Lindsey Graham, Huckabee and Ben supports, militarily and socially, even more so in many regards.

A couple of days ago, Trump set the media (social and sycophant) on fire with his proposal to stop all immigration of Muslims “until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.” It certainly appears the entirety of the political world has turned on the “Donald” with many making reference to the same Constitution they have studiously avoided while religiously supporting unconstitutional social issues and unlimited wars. Continue reading

American Sniper Breaks Box Office Records

eastwoodThe Hollywood Reporter calls it a “shocker” that a patriotic movie by one of the best directors working today, about an American hero who kills jihadists, is really, really popular. To me, that sounds like a formula for success, but Hollywood still thinks tender stories about gay males coming of age are what the public demands, along with cartoonish special effects-laden, nine-figure-budget mind candy. Continue reading

Hanson : Our ‘Face in the Crowd

obama_face_in_the_crowd_on_brick_wall_8-17-14-1Elia Kazan’s classic A Face in the Crowd is a good primer on Barack Obama’s rise and fall. Lonesome Rhodes arises out of nowhere in the 1957 film, romancing the nation as a phony populist who serially spins yarns in the most folksy ways — confident that he should never be held to account. Kazan’s point (in the film Rhodes is a patsy for conservative business interests) is that the “folks” are fickle and prefer to be charmed rather than informed and told the truth. Rhodes’s new first name, Lonesome, resonates in the film in a way that Barack does now. Finally, an open mic captures Rhodes’s true disdain for the people he champions, and his career crashes. Continue reading