Category Archives: Film

Chart of the day: Partisan divide on film industry

From Gallup, evidence of the culture wars in the sharp divide of opinions of the movie industry:

BLOG Movies

Quote of the day: Donald Trump as Travis Bickle

And in more ways than one.

John F. Hinckley Jr., the man who nearly assassinated President Ronald Reagan, was inspired by Travis Bickle, the violent psychotic portrayed by Robert De Niro in his seminal 1976  Martin Scorsese film, Taxi Driver.

Hinckley shot Reagan to get the attention of de Niro’s child co-star, Jodie Foster.

And given the not-so-veiled hint by Donald Trump that his “second Amendment” followers might preempt a move to pack the Supreme Court by a President Hillary Clinton, the parallel is even more haunting.

The famous actor took on Trump at the Sarajevo Film Festival, reports the Associated Press:

“What he has been saying is totally crazy, ridiculous, stuff that shouldn’t be even … he is totally nuts,” De Niro said during a question and answer session at the Sarajevo Film Festival.

When the moderator asked De Niro to elaborate on Bickle’s mental illness, the first thing that seemed to have crossed the actor’s mind was the Republican candidate.

“One of the things to me was just the irony at the end, he (Bickle) is back driving a cab, celebrated, which is kind of relevant in some way today too,” De Niro said.

“People like Donald Trump who shouldn’t be where he is so … God help us,” De Niro said. Sarajevans responded with a frantic applause.

De Niro says the media had given too much attention, but are now starting to say “come on Donald, this is ridiculous, this is nuts, this is insane.”

And this post wouldn’t be complete without a clip, via Movieclips, of De Niro, reciting in full Trumpian glory, the film’s most famous line:

And now for something completely different. . .

It’s time for more delightful animations from the National Film Board of Canada.

Though our first entry was created 25 years ago, its political protagonist bears more than a slight resemblance, at least metaphorically, to a certain presidential candidate:

The Lump

Program notes:

by John Weldon — 1991

This animated short tells the story of a short and unattractive man who develops an inert but highly attractive lump on top of his head. By simply buttoning his shirt over his face he changes his life! An animated parody on the superficiality of those qualities that lead to popularity and power.

Next, the first of two animations from the same creator, this one offering a delightful and visually striking reimagination of how we got to be here:

From the Big Bang to Tuesday Morning

Program notes:

by Claude Cloutier — 2000

From the earliest forms of life on Earth to the world of today, From the Big Bang to Tuesday Morning uses absurdist humour to tell the biological story of humanity. From a mighty cosmic explosion comes the matter from which evolve the mineral, vegetable and animal worlds. There follows a series of metamorphoses illustrating the branching out of the human genealogical tree.

And for our final item, a remarkable example of animation created with a pen and India Ink, adding a striking new dimension to a familiar tale:

Sleeping Betty

Program notes:

by Claude Cloutier — 2007

Princess Betty sleeps in a narcoleptic stupor. The king appeals to his subjects to wake her. A worthy Prince Charles lookalike has to leave his royal suburb to save the princess, but will Betty be wakened with just a kiss?

Drawn in India ink, this animation sets the Perrault classic in Claude Cloutier’s disjointed, anachronistic and playful universe.

Film: Reconnecting with Native American roots

Tony Chachai was born to an addict mother, and abandoned his roots in the Atikamekw Nation, a Canadian Native American tribe whose homeland is along the Saint-Maurice River valley of Quebec, only to return as a young man in his search for answers and reconciliation.

Filmmaker Thérèse Ottawa, herself an Atikamekw, filmed a short documentary about his reunion with his heritage as he fulfills his mother’s last wish and takes up traditional dance with the help of cousin.

The American Indian Film Institute describes the origins of the film:

In 2012, the National Film Board of Canada (NFB) in partnership with the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN) launched Tremplin NIKANIK, a competition for francophone First Nations filmmakers in Quebec hoping to make a first or second documentary with a runtime of 30 minutes or less. Thérèse Ottawa was one of the competition’s finalists, completing her first film, Red Path.

In following the story of Tony Chachai, a young Aboriginal man in search of his identity, Ottawa raises issues relating to her culture, the past, and the transmission of knowledge and traditions among members of the Atikamekw Nation.

Moved by the desire to reconnect with his roots, Tony Chachai delivers touching testimony on the journey that brought him closer to his family and community. On the verge of becoming a father himself, he becomes increasingly aware of the richness of his heritage and celebrates it by dancing in a powwow alongside his cousin Ronny Chachai.

And here, via the National Film Board of Canada, is the documentary:

The Red Path

Program notes:

In following the story of Tony Chachai, a young Aboriginal man in search of his identity. Moved by the desire to reconnect with his roots, Tony Chachai delivers touching testimony on the journey that brought him closer to his family and community.

Map of the day III: Big Lebowski fans by country

One of esnl‘s favorite films is has fans around the world.

Based on Facebook “likes,” via the Independent:


Political topography: Two different nations

The stark outward differences between the two major party presidential candidates are also reflected in the “likes” of the Facebook followers, as revealed in a new state-by-state analysis reported by the Wall Street Journal.

First up, their favorite actors:

BLOG CW Actors

Next, their favorite musical performers:


And then there’s their favorite books:


White Boy Privilege: An Atlanta youth nails it

A 14-year-old student won the poetry slam at his private school in Atlanta, Georgia, with a devastating take on the privileges inhering in the simple fact of being born white and male.

To be fair, Royce Mann is a talented professional actor who has appeared in feature films and acted on stage. He also writes, produces, and directs.

From Sheri Mann Stewart:

Royce Mann, Age 14, “White Boy Privilege”, Slam Poem

Program notes:

Royce Mann, 8th grader from Atlanta, GA, USA, wrote and performed this slam poem as part of a competition. He ended up taking home first place.

And the story, from U.S. Uncut:

Royce Mann, a white eighth-grade student and rising acting star, recently brought the house down in a passionate slam poetry performance about white privilege that is spreading like wildfire.

Mann’s poem, “White Boy Privilege,” is about awakening to the fact that the world has set the 14-year-old up to succeed while stacking the deck against women, people of color, and immigrants. In the poem, he at first celebrates his privilege, saying he “loves it” that he has innate benefits as a white male in American society, but later comes to the conclusion that his privilege wasn’t created by his generation, calling on other young white males to reject their privilege and actively demand the privileges afforded to them be shared with the rest of society.

Read the poem in its entirety:

Dear women, I am sorry.

Dear black people, I am sorry.

Dear Asian Americans, dear Native Americans, dear immigrants who come here seeking a better life, I am sorry.

Dear everyone who isn’t a middle or upper-class white boy, I am sorry.

I have started life at the top of the ladder, while you were born on the first rung.

I say now that I would change places with you in an instant, but if given the opportunity, would I?

Probably not. Because to be honest, being privileged is awesome.

I’m not saying that you and me on different rungs of the ladder is how I want it to stay,

I’m not saying any part of me for one moment has even liked it that way,

I’m just saying, I fucking love being privileged and I’m not ready to give that away.

I love it, because I can say “fucking” and not one of you is attributing that to the fact that everyone of my skin color has a dirty mouth.

I love it, because I don’t have to spend an hour every morning putting on makeup to meet other people’s standards.

I love it, because I can worry about what kind of food is on my plate, instead of whether or not there will be food on my plate.

I love it, because when I see a police officer, I see someone who’s on my side.

To be honest, I’m scared of what it would be like if I wasn’t on the top rung.

If the tables were turned, and I couldn’t have my white boy privilege safety blankie to protect me.

If I lived a life by what I lack, not what I have, if I lived a life in which when I failed, the world would say ‘Told you so.’

If I lived the life that you live.

When I was born, I had a success story already written for me. You, you were given a pen and no paper.

I’ve always felt that that’s unfair, but I’ve never dared to speak up because I’ve been too scared.

Well, now I realize that there’s enough blankie to be shared.

Everyone should have the privileges that I have. In fact, they should be rights instead.

Everyone’s stories should be written, so all they have to do is get it read. Enough said.

No, not enough said.

It is embarrassing that we still live in a world in which we judge another person’s character by the size of their paycheck, the color of their skin, or the type of chromosomes they have.

It is embarrassing that we tell our kids that it is not their personality, but instead those same chromosomes that get to dictate what color clothes they wear, and how short they cut their hair.

But most of all, it is embarrassing that we deny this, that we claim to live in an equal country in an equal world.

We say that women can vote? Well, guess what? They can run a country, own a company, and throw a nasty curveball as well. We just don’t give them the chance to.

I know it wasn’t us 8th grade white boys who created this system, but we profit from it every day. We don’t notice these privileges though, because they don’t come in the form of things we gain, but rather the lack of injustices that we endure.

Because of my gender, I can watch any sport on TV and feel like that could be me one day.

Because of my race, I can eat in a fancy restaurant without the wait staff expecting me to steal the silverware.

Thanks to my parents’ salary, I go to a school that brings my dreams closer instead of pushing them away.

Dear white boys, I’m not sorry. I don’t care if you think that feminists are taking over the world, or that Black Lives Matter has gotten a little too strong, because that’s bullshit.

I get that change can be scary, but equality shouldn’t be.

Hey white boys, it’s time to act like a woman. To be strong and make a difference. It’s time to let go of that fear.

It’s time to take that ladder and turn it into a bridge.

And just for the fund of it, here’s another take on the privileges of being born white and male from comedian Louis C.K. presented in 2014 at the 3% Conference:

Louis CK “White Male Privilege”