“As a nation we began by declaring that all men are created equal. We now read that practically to say all men are created equal—except Negroes. Soon, it will say all men are created equal except Negroes, foreigners and Catholics. When it comes to this, I shall prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretense of loving liberty. To Russia, for instance, where despotism can be taken pure and without the base alloy of hypocrisy.” – Abraham Lincoln
As you’ve might have guessed by this point, I’m something of a history nerd. And history nerds tend to ruffle a bit at the assumption that history is dull, preachy, or worse: irrelevant. This is almost certainly due to the fact that all of us hated our freshman year history teachers, only to hate our sophomore history teachers even more, and third period American history was more or less along the lines of Chinese water torture.
Which is totally unfair.
As the passion, fervor, and gut-wrenching agony of the last two weeks of this Election year proved, history in the making makes for tremendously entertaining theatre. Why on earth wouldn’t we think that the moments recorded in our history textbooks were any less passionate, fervent, agonizing. Read more ►
The further we get from the 1990s, the more I believe we are coming to realize that it was probably the last great decade of truly original, creative product from Hollywood. (Unless of course the 2010s do an abrupt about-face and prove me wrong.) Sure, there were franchises, but only a handful, and not every film produced with a moderately successful sales return was re-purposed for sequels of the exponential kind. Of course, the ’90s wasn’t without its share of extraordinarily mind-blowing bombs. (Cool As Ice, anyone? Suburban Commando? Wow.) But looking back, it is quite clear that good films of the 1990s were the result of a Hollywood system that was still willing to take risks on solidly good storytelling.
It was a renaissance for independent filmmakers as well, its golden age, and an all-around great decade to be a teenager who loved movies. Like me.
It was also a great decade for swing music. Read more ►
Who’d have thought that Argo, a political thriller about the Iranian hostage crisis of 1979, would turn out to be the most quintessentially “Hollywood” film of the year.
It is a story that most American’s know, and remember, vividly: In 1979, the U.S. Embassy was besieged by a group of 500 strong Iranian Revolutionaries in protest of America’s support of Mohammed Reza, Iran’s deposed Shah. Fifty-two Americans were held hostage for a shocking 444 days. Six American diplomats escaped the coup, and were ushered into underground sanctuary by the Canadian embassy. The question, obviously, was how the hell to get them out of the country. Read more ►
I’ve done many things for Bill Holden. Not to be small about such matters (in the words of Norma Desmond) but the man owes me one year’s tuition at a community college and a security deposit for an apartment. Obviously, not really, but the other night lying awake as my rowdy Hollywood neighbors carried their revelry into dawn (not that I sleep anyway as a confirmed insomniac but, you know, its the principle of the thing) I realized what a peaceful, quiet night I could be enjoying if I’d not insisted on living next door to Holden’s fictional flat from Billy Wilder’s classic noir Sunset Blvd. In my defense I didn’t actually move into the Alto Nido apartments (the “artist colony” community was a bit too bohemian for my blood, which is really saying something), but seeing that iconic sign each morning was a definite deal maker in signing my lease next door.
Joe Gillis, you cad, you’re mine. Read more ►
It doesn’t seem possible that 72 years ago, one of the greatest musicians of the 20th century was born. It was on a night the Nazi’s bombed Merseyside, and his Aunt risked the danger to run across town to be with her sister at the Green Street Hospital. (Her steely fearlessness would influence John in so many ways.)
There is something almost prophetic in the fact that his turbulent, angst-filled life began on such a night; things were never going to be normal for John Lennon.
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