Saturday, May 28, 2022

Movie Reviews: The Cursed

The Cursed
directed by Sean Ellis

The Cursed harks back to the mid twentieth century Hammer Films period horror movies. The Cursed has a brief gratuitous nod to the salacious early seventies Hammer entries with a topless scene by actress Kelly Reilly. This came out of left field. It added nothing to the story except well, beauty, which is always worthwhile.

Some leading actresses have contract clauses refusing scenes with cleavage, toplessness, or nudity. Perhaps Reilly has a contract insisting that at least one such scene must be in her films. Snicker. 

The Cursed updates some old horror myths. Like Stephen King's "Thinner" it centered the titular malediction in a crime against the local (in this case French) Roma minority population. An American viewer may see similarities to crimes against Black Americans and especially Native Americans. As the saying goes the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must. The Cursed references some Christian themes.

Dog Fights Mountain Lion

I thought this story was good evidence of the selflessness that is normal for many dogs. 

If dogs could speak they might indeed take an oath to their humans, much like Aragorn's in The Fellowship of The Ring, "If by my life or death I can protect you I will.

A California woman's dog is being hailed as a hero after jumping to her owner's defense when a mountain lion attacked the pair. The woman, who has been identified as Erin Wilson, encountered the mountain lion when she was taking her dog Eva for a stroll near a picnic area along State Route 299 in Trinity County on Monday.

After she exited her car with her dog, the duo began walking down a path with Eva slowly tracking ahead of her. Before Wilson knew it, a mountain lion jumped out from her side and swiped her across her left shoulder.

While in pain, Wilson called out for her dog. “I yelled ‘Eva!’ and she came running,” Wilson told the Sacramento Bee on Wednesday. “And she hit that cat really hard.” Wilson noted that her 2 1/2-year-old dog weighs 55 pounds and tried its best to take down the cougar.

Delaware State University Women's Lacrosse Team Racially Profiled in Georgia

The problem with a great many police is that they simply do not believe that Black people have constitutional rights. 

Courts and juries too often support police in this belief and practice. 

Therefore police are quite comfortable subjecting Black people to apparent Fourth Amendment violations. 

Although a recent example of this took place in the deep South in a state with a long sordid history of official law enforcement hostility to Black Americans, the facts are that this kind of thing happens all over the United States. As courts won't reign in these violations, eventually Black citizens will need to do so.  

DOVER, Delaware (WPVI) -- Delaware State University announced Friday it will be taking legal action against the sheriff's department in Liberty County, Georgia, calling a search following a traffic stop last month involving the university's women's lacrosse team "constitutionally dubious."

Law enforcement bodycam footage from April 20 shows sheriff's deputies in Georgia board a bus carrying the Delaware State University women's lacrosse team. The sheriff's office says it pulled over the bus for riding in the left lane. That minor traffic infraction turned into a drug search.

Saturday, May 21, 2022

Movie Reviews: Walking Tall (1973)

Walking Tall (1973)
directed by Phil Karlson
I have a memory of seeing this film as a child at the drive-in with my parents when a babysitter wasn't available. Or it could be that I am remembering the film Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry, which was similar in tone if not plot. I am sure I saw that one. 

I might have been taken along to the drive-in at a young age because my parents were confident that I wouldn't remember anything as neither film is really child friendly. I don't remember much. I just had a very strong sense of deja vu when I watched this film.

Walking Tall is based on the true (well mostly true) story of McNairy County Tennessee Sheriff Buford Pusser. It wasn't a pretty story. Real life rarely is. 

Pusser died in a mysterious auto accident shortly after the film's release. There was no proof of foul play but as Pusser had survived an assassination attempt by vindictive people with long memories, many folks were convinced that something in the milk wasn't clean.

Movie Reviews: Christina's House

Christina's House
directed by Gavin Wilding

This thriller movie started out with a few good ideas but quickly went south. As is usual for the genre the movie featured some gratuitous female toplessness but as the female in question was supposed to be in high school the movie felt sleazier and more disturbing than it needed to be.

It's strange that there are so many thriller or horror movies featuring high schoolers depicted by actors/actresses who are past college age. That probably says something about other social issues but I'm not going down that path in this review.

This movie was made in 2000 but had a very eighties vibe, which I thought was the only good thing about it. The plot or acting certainly weren't strong points.

The Tarling Family , father James (John Savage), daughter Christina (Allison Lange), and younger son Bobby (Lorne Stewart) has moved to a rental house on the outskirts of town. I think it's because the family can be closer to the mother/wife Joanne (Chilton Crane) who has gone completely bonkers and is locked up in an insane asylum.

Saturday, May 14, 2022

Sounds Of The Universe

Have you ever wondered what black holes sound like? Humans can't get close enough to a black hole to hear any sounds that they might make and even if we could, do not have the ability to hear frequencies far outside of our range. 

But black holes do make sounds. And some scentists have been boosting the frequencies black holes make to levels that are audible to humans. The results are fascinating. 

In space you can’t hear a black hole scream, but apparently you can hear it sing. In 2003 astrophysicists working with NASA’s orbiting Chandra X-ray Observatory detected a pattern of ripples in the X-ray glow of a giant cluster of galaxies in the constellation Perseus. They were pressure waves — that is to say, sound waves — 30,000 light-years across and radiating outward through the thin, ultrahot gas that suffuses galaxy clusters. 

They were caused by periodic explosions from a supermassive black hole at the center of the cluster, which is 250 million light-years away and contains thousands of galaxies. With a period of oscillation of 10 million years, the sound waves were acoustically equivalent to a B-flat 57 octaves below middle C, a tone that the black hole has apparently been holding for the last two billion years. 

Jumi Bello and Plagiarism

There are some career paths where "fake it 'til you make it" is a viable strategy to get ahead. Some of my favorite musicians stole songs from other musicians and made millions. 

I have known people in the information technology or accounting fields who lacked the leadership experience or knowledge that they claimed to have or should have had given their expected salaries or job titles. Sometimes this worked out for them because they worked diligently to catch up. 

Sometimes this worked out for them because they were related to, friends with, or married to more powerful people who ran interference for them. Sometimes this worked out for them because they were the correct complexion or gender. So it goes. Life isn't fair.

However in today's world it's easier than ever to check up on someone and verify that they have the credentials they claim to have or have created the work they claim to have created. So regardless of what people have gotten away with in the past, it's probably the best move today to be honest about things like credentials and creations. 

Jumi Bello, an aspiring author, learned this the hard way. Bello, forced to admit that portions of her debut novel were plagiarized, wrote an explanation and mea culpa that were also plagiarized. 

Saturday, May 7, 2022

Movie Reviews: Sugar Hill (1974)

Sugar Hill 
directed by Paul Maslanksy

This was another low budget American International Pictures feature that combined horror and blaxploitation themes. Sugar Hill wasn't a great movie but it had a few good scenes. Some of the story is illogical but that's normal for the genre. 

American International Pictures also created or distributed similar films such as Blacula, Count Yorga, Black Caesar, and Coffy . Some actors from those films appear in Sugar Hill. Sugar Hill's director would later produce the Police Academy movies. Sugar Hill's most direct antecedent was Coffy. As in Coffy, a sexy Black woman confronts a racist power structure. Maybe Coffy's star, Pam Grier, wasn't interested in appearing in Sugar Hill

The special effects here aren't ground breaking or even that convincing. Nevertheless, despite that, or perhaps even because of that, there are some honestly creepy moments.

Movie Reviews: Tolkien

directed by Dome Karukoski
This was a tightly focused, though ultimately not very revealing look at J.R.R. Tolkien, the famous academic and author of "The Lord of The Rings", "The Hobbit", "The Silmarillion" and several other fantasy stories, most of which were set in his imagined pre-historical world of Middle-Earth. It's not easy to make compelling films about writing, and this isn't one of them. Writing is usually a solitary activity that takes place internally in a writer's brain. How do you dramatically depict that process visually so that it will resonate with people watching it?

Perhaps smartly, the director doesn't attempt to do that. Instead the director focuses on what he can visually express: Tolkien's gift for languages, Tolkien's fascination with Northern mythologies and heroic tales, Tolkien's budding romance with and fierce love for the woman who would later become his wife, Tolkien's experiences during World War I, and Tolkien's platonic love for his close friends at King Edward's School at Birmingham.