Friday, March 05, 2004
The most rapidly aging nation turns to robot care for the elderly
Japan's nurses' unions successfully lobbied parliamentarians of the governing Liberal Democratic Party in late February to block the admittance of foreign doctors and nurses. Some congressmen said that foreign doctors and nurses should only be allowed to treat foreigners. Caught between Japan's high labor costs and anti-immigrant sentiment, some mainstream politicians have suggested exporting some of Japan's elderly to Thailand and the Philippines. But this has never won much popular support. So even though the human washing machine retails for almost $50,000, enough to pay a year's wages for two Filipina nurses, robotic home care may lie ahead for Japan's aging millions.
10:03 AM - [Link] - Comments ()
Blow was OK, glitzy Hollywood faux-sleaze, and Depp is better than the material, as usual.
Matchstick Men was like a fine indie script hijacked by, well, Ridley Scott. The whipsaw ending doesn't really take, maybe because you forgive Nic Cage's character his criminal life, Cage plays him so believably fractured and tender.
Gilliam's commentary on the Criterion edition of Fear and Loathing has the childlike enthusiasm and wealth of inside info that all directors' commentaries would have in a perfect world. The deleted scenes are must-sees too, and the BBC doc from '78 on HST is the best piece on him I've seen. Still have to get to the rest of the extras.
School of Rock was disappointing, mostly because of the accolades it's received. Still has some nice moments, and they did get the rights to "Immigrant Song" ...
I liked Decasia, but I put on Eliane Radigue's Trilogie de la Mort after a few minutes of Michael Gordon's dusted Reich score (though I liked it).
Last Year at Marienbad didn't work for me at all, after being bewitched by Hiroshima Mon Amour. Somehow I think Resnais could've done a great job with Phil Dick, maybe Time Out of Joint? More like Godard's sensibility I guess.
I liked Mothman Prophecies better the second time around, lower expectations partly, also that Low track sticks with you. But even though it's shot in distractingly crisp lighting and is edited like a horror movie, it's got some canny metaphysical Wisdom tucked inside.
Criterion also just released Barbet Schroeder's Maîtresse from '73, which has the most realistic BDSM scenes outside of the porno market, I'd imagine, even today. He claims in the disc interview that the participants were clients of a dominatrix friend of his, who was the inspiration for the film. Long way from his role here to Green Card and Cyrano for Gerard Depardieu (this was the first movie role he contracted for, though it ended up being the third film of his to be released). The plot is somewhat believable, but the realistic depiction of the BDSM boudoir is what'll keep you watching.
Sylvia is for diehard Plath fans only.
Have I mentioned that Thirteen blew me away? Evan Rachel Walker is amazing, and everyone else is quite good. Adolescence as a very fetching psychotic tailspin into self-abuse of every type. One of the best films I've seen.
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Good Pitchfork review of the essential comp box No Thanks!: The 70s Punk Rebellion
But even if not absolutely perfect (and could any compilation really be?), compilations don't come more essential than this; it is required listening for anyone new to punk, and unquestionably the best primer on this music in existence. Rhino does away with any pretense of chronology to great effect; vital, fiery sermons spar with tense, calculated cool, and with one-hits back-to-back with the classics, virtually every track commands attention. Middleman-ing between Richard Hell's perversely jubilant "Love Comes in Spurts" and the primally willful, snot-nosed ignorance of The Dead Boys' classic "Sonic Reducer", even the (still living) Boys' "First Time" sounds like a hit. Each disc is an untouchable mix, varied enough that five consecutive hours of listening isn't out of reach, but Rhino have outdone themselves even here, in case you can't afford that time commitment. Subtle as it is, disc one flirts precariously with becoming a full-fledged classics compilation, between opening with "Blitzkrieg Bop" and "White Riot", followed in short order by The Damned's blistering "Neat Neat Neat", The Jam, Pere Ubu, and Jonathan Richman's hypnotic ode to midnight radio at a thousand miles an hour, "Roadrunner."
2:17 AM - [Link] - Comments ()
The new DVD of 3 Women I spoke of a while back is coming out on Criterion, so at least the picture quality should be pretty good, despite an Altman commentary being the only extra
Check out the neat cover at the graphic link on the Criterion page.
2:10 AM - [Link] - Comments ()
musicplasma is one of those graphic-links-of-floating-spheres search sites that link you to similar artists
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The Internet Public Library's Literary Criticism page
Kind of a grabbag, some links are dead, and the William James page had links to works by Truman Capote under James' name. But it might be useful to some.
2:01 AM - [Link] - Comments ()
Edward P Jones' The Known World just won the National Book Critics Award for fiction
I read the first few pages on my library's site, and the Publisher's Weekly review is right about the flat "ponderous" prose -- but also about the "crushing momentum through sheer accumulation of detail, unusual historical insight and generous character writing." You can feel the character described in few paragraphs like he's right in front of you.
I've always been morbidly fascinated by slavery and the treatment of blacks in the US, particularly in the 19th century, and for anyone like me, this looks essential.
12:49 AM - [Link] - Comments ()
Tuesday, March 02, 2004
Anti-sex hysteria alive and well in Arabia too
Arab Big Brother pulled, called "entertainment for animals"
For the first time since the show's inception, men and women were barred from each other's sleeping quarters.
There was also a prayer room, a separate women's lounge and a mixed-sex communal area.
But these modifications to reflect Arabic customs did not go far enough for some protesters.
"It is normal for males and females to mix, but not to put them together in the same house for a long time," said 21-year-old student Maryam al-Sayrafi.
1:40 AM - [Link] - Comments ()
Also in China: adultery comes out of the closet
The film [Cellphone] is filled with black humour, mostly focusing on his spectacularly incompetent efforts to cover his tracks.
He leaves his phone lying around so that his wife can intercept a call from his mistress, allows his lover to record their steamy chit-chat and take a photo of him fondling her breasts, and forgets to close the door after sneaking off to the toilet to write an SMS to his girlfriend.
Despite suffering personal disaster after personal disaster, he blames the technology rather than himself. Eventually, he develops an allergy to cellphones, which he compares to hand grenades.
One of the film's final scenes shows him throwing his mobile onto a funeral pyre.
The obsession with sex and technology makes Cellphone very much a film of the times. The number of mobile phones in China has risen tenfold over the past five years, and has now hit the 260 million mark.
A sharp contrast with the past is highlighted in the film's opening, a scene from the Cultural Revolution which, typically of that time, shows hundreds of people queueing up to use a telephone kept under lock and key.
Along with rising incomes and changing social attitudes, the increased freedom of communication has been blamed for an increase in sex before marriage, adultery and divorce.
1:05 AM - [Link] - Comments ()
"Sheep eat people"
Capitalism and class and moral cynicism in China
The reform era began with concepts like "truth," "kindness" and "beauty" already devalued; in the Maoist period, people learned to scoff at such notions. For a few decades, Communist ideals like saving humanity from capitalist oppression had displaced Confucian teachings like respecting the elderly. That left a moral vacuum when Communism's grip loosened, and nothing has yet emerged to fill it. Since I'm taking a hiatus at my other blog, some political stuff may show up here.
"A lot of people simply don't believe that things like truth, selflessness and altruism exist," said a government researcher in Beijing. "We have a very cynical population."
12:54 AM - [Link] - Comments ()
Someone found my other site through Blogmatcher, and I've found some after plugging in this site that I like:
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Monday, March 01, 2004
...which last 2 posts lead me to Dali's Butterfly Landscape (The Great Masturbator in a Surrealist Landscape with D.N.A.), which is listed alphabetically on this fine resource linking all of his work
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Painting with genetically modified bacteria: the art of davidkremers, "distinguished conceptual artist in biology" at CalTech
His website seems unfinished (only one link on archive page worked), though the circle link on the right of his homepage might be interesting, if you have broadband.
1:37 AM - [Link] - Comments ()
Rouge: an annotated filmography of renegade filmmaker Raúl Ruiz [alamut]
Raúl Ruiz's City of Pirates is (de)composed under the sign of Surrealism, with its trust in ecstasy, scandal, the call of the wild, mystification, prophetic dreams, humour, the uncanny. Given the surprising swerves and disorientations evoking Buñuel and Dalí, and the confidence in a poetic discourse recalling Eluard and Péret, one wonders if Ruiz didn't elaborate his scenario using the Surrealist mode of automatic writing. Troubled, graceful Isidore -- Ducasse and Duncan? -- is a purely Surrealist heroine, part Ophelia, Salomé, Bérénice, prone to trances, somnambulism, hysterical seizure, contact with the "other side". Her calm violence links her to the real life murderesses -- Germaine Berton, the Papin sisters -- exalted by Breton's circle, and by Jacques Lacan. Indeed, Lacan's notion of a psychoanalysis in which the analyst stays off his patient's wavelength, inspired by the idea of "surrealist dialogue" in which paired monologues at cross purposes strike sparks of meaning off each other, underpins the scatty trajectory of Ruiz's own graphomania, snared this time as the tale of a Pirate's City.I'm not sure what half of that means, but I'd like a look at the film.
The only one Netflix has is Shattered Image. No, it's out of print, scratch that (*sigh*).
1:11 AM - [Link] - Comments ()