"When faced with a problem you do not understand,
do any part of it you do understand; then look at it again."
~(Robert A. Heinlein - "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress")

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Monday, February 18, 2013

Devil in a Blue Dress (Revised)

Saturday, 23 Feb 2013 - I revised this post to add a couple of pictures, remove one that didn't really belong and to fix up some quotes.

Recently, Denzel Washington and Don Cheadle teamed up in Flight (2012), in which Denzel played an airline pilot who, when his plane malfunctioned in mid-air, managed to successfully crash land it, saving 96 of the 102 passengers and crew on board.

The sticking point, of course, is the six that did not survive.

It turns out that Denzel's character has a drinking problem, kept well hidden for years. That brings up the possibility of manslaughter charges.

Don Cheadle plays a lawyer for the pilots union, assigned to protect him from those charges, who is in awe of the pilot's performance in the incident, but is clearly disgusted with the man as a person.

Denzel has played bad guys before ("Training Day" and "American Gangster" come to mind) but this time he's brave enough to risk his image by playing an asshole. Don't recall him doing that before.

A powerful film, with strong performances by everyone, but it's not what this post is really about.

Washington and Cheadle were together once before,
in Devil in a Blue Dress (1995),...
From samefacts.com

... directed by Carl Franklin (who also did One False Move (1992) with Bill Paxton in one of his few starring roles, and Billy Bob Thornton as a very scary crook).

Walter Mosely wrote a series of novels about black detective Ezekiel ("Easy") Rawlins, of which "Devil" was the first.

The story is set in 1948. Rawlins, a  WWII army veteran, has moved from Houston to the Watts area of Los Angeles, to work in an aircraft factory and is paying a mortgage on a house. When he loses that job and is desperate for money, a friend introduces him to DeWitt Albright (Tom Sizemore) ...
From forums.filmnoirbuff.com

... who offers him a couple of hundred dollars (in a time when a rental or mortgage payment might have been $50.00/month) to help him find the missing fiance of a local politician.

That fiance, Daphne Monet (Jennifer Beals) ...
From rollingstone.com

... has disappeared into the black community and Albright figures that Rawlins may have a lot more success than he would asking questions there.

Accepting the job, Rawlins soon finds himself in a "Chinatown" situation (the subtext of that movie being "You never knew what was going on.") in which people are killed, the local police become very interested in him in connection, and he is threatened by Albright and his goons...
Screencap from DVD

Back in Houston, Rawlins had a trigger-happy, dangerous as a rattlesnake friend, Mouse (Don Cheadle)...
From guardian.co.uk

... Because of those character traits ("If you got a friend that you know does bad things -- I mean real bad things -- can you still keep him as a friend? You think that's wrong?" - Reply: "All you got is your friends.") he's kinda kept his distance from him, but knowing he's in way over his head, decides it's time to give him a call.

Mouse arrives just in time ...
Screencap from DVD

... to help Rawlins in a confrontation with a local gangster upset by Rawlins poking around, shooting said gangster in the arm resulting in his departure.
(YES! That is a British Mark VI Webley service revolver in .455 caliber that Mouse is holding.  As this is three years after the end of WWII, a lot of them found their way over here, brought back as souvenirs by returning soldiers. It's not far fetched for Mouse to have gotten hold of one. While not quite as powerful as our .45 Colt or .45 ACP, nevertheless it does throw a big fat heavy bullet that makes a big hole and is a proven man-stopper. In short, it gets the job done. Mouse probably found it suited him perfectly.)

Rawlins (all his misgivings returning): "You ain't been in my house five minutes, and you've done shot somebody already!"

Rawlins finally meets with Daphne a couple of times, only to have her taken away from him at the second meet by Albright and his goons. Rawlins and Mouse go hunting for her, with the assistance of an associate of Albright whom they capture and force to tell where they might be.

They find them and a bloody gunfight ensues. I don't know what mean streets director Carl Franklin grew up on, but the violence and gunplay in his movies have a feel of someone who has either actually seen it, or more likely heard about it. Ugly and messy...
Screencap from DVD

Returning to their car, with Daphne, Rawlins looks for that associate mentioned above: "Where's *****?, Mouse"

Mouse (like a kid who's done something he shouldn't):  "Huh?"

Rawlins: "Where *****?"

Mouse: "Uh - he's - uh - right there."

Rawlins (seeing a body on the ground): "What happened?"

Mouse: "I ain't had no time to be tyin' him up, Easy."

Rawlins: "What?"

Mouse (defensively):  "Look, you just said 'Don't shoot him, right?"

Rawlins: "That's right."

Mouse: "Well, I didn't. I just -- choked him."

Rawlins: "WHAT?!!!"

Mouse: "Well, how am I gonna help you out if I'm back here foolin' around with him now?" -- If you ain't want him killed, why'd you leave him with me?"

As Rawlins was told before, "All you got is your friends."

Don Cheadle has been first-rate in everything I've ever seen him in, but Mouse is my absolute favorite of his roles. He is what makes this movie worth seeking out.

Note: If you click the IMDB link for "Devil", you'll see they only rate it 6.5 out of a possible 10. With all due respect for the morons who so rated it - wrong, Wrong, WRONG!!!

Hunt it up and see for yourself.
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Thursday, February 14, 2013

A Good Day To Die Hard

I wanted to title this post (about Bruce Willis' latest) "Hokahey Hard" in a parody of Lakota Sioux but learned that wouldn't fly because of this from http://www.native-languages.org/iaq21.htm ...

... which Hollywood believes has the meaning "It's a good day to die!" in Sioux. That isn't true either--"Hokahey" is a man's exclamation in Sioux, similar to the American expressions "Let's do it!" or "Let's roll!" The reason people think it means "it's a good day to die" is that the Lakota Sioux leader Crazy Horse famously exhorted his troops "Hokahey, today is a good day to die!" Which meant something like "Let's go men, today is a good day to die!"

Ok, then. With that out of the way, what about the movie?

This latest installment of the "Die Hard" franchise succeeds beautifully at what Arnold Schwarzenegger almost pulled off with "The Last Stand", and what Sylvester Stallone barely even tried for in "Bullet To The Head" : To make a put brain in neutral and enjoy piece of fun from the blow em up real good school of movie making.

Bruce's John McClane character flies to Moscow to get his grown son Jack out of serious trouble, only to find that Jack is working for the CIA and trying to stop weapons grade uranium from falling into criminal hands. Much violence and mayhem ensue.

Jack is played by Australian actor Jai Courtney (who also has a major role in Tom Cruise's excellent (and highly recommended by me) "Jack Reacher")...
From ew.com

He is an excellent actor and has a powerful screen presence, at the moment mostly as another Vin Diesel. As we already have one of those, when he gets around to defining just what a Jai Courtney is, I suspect he'll be even better.

This is someone to watch.
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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

"It is a tale told by an idiot, ...

... full of sound and fury, signifying nothing."

How I've wanted to apply that line from Macbeth to an Obama speech (almost any of his speeches would qualify).

The State of the Union speech seemed a perfect candidate (and I'll bet it was appropriate) but I cannot really say because I didn't watch it.

To honestly use that line for that has a fearful price; I would actually have to watch that speech, listen to that moron drone on and on (and on) about his wonderful accomplishments capped with "But we're not done yet. We still have a lot of work to do." (After all, he hasn't finished destroying this country yet).

That promised to be an exercise in masochism. In my current state of black depression, I decided "Life's too short!", and this will be the post that never was.
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Friday, February 08, 2013

"Do what you have to do."

On 31 October 2012, I posted "Criminally Negligent Manslaughter ...", in which I openly accused President Barack Obama of precisely that in the Benghazi incident of 11 Sep 2012 that resulted in the deaths of four of our citizens.

If you notice that I didn't provide a link to that post, it's because I have pulled it.

In the hearings on the incident, CIA Director Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta testified that President Obama told him to "Do what you have to do." (OOPS!! - He was CIA Director until he became SecDef on 01 Jun 2011.)

In Dr. Jerry Pournelle's latest post Do what you have to do (from which I borrowed the title for my post) he notes ...
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This morning Rush Limbaugh was castigating President Obama for not being in the command scene during the last of the Benghazi crisis. According to Limbaugh, the President told the Secretary of Defense “Do what you have to do,” and vanished from scene.

If this is true, I would say it is to the President’s credit, and reminiscent of President Reagan who, told of the opportunity to capture a known terrorist by taking him from an EgyptAir 737 now in flight. The risks and benefits were explained. The President ordered the military to do it. When asked if he wanted to be kept up to date on the operation, he said, “Sure. Let me know when you’ve got him.” This in contrast to President Carter, who was on the phone to Colonel Beckwith at all phases of the doomed attempt to rescue the American embassy personnel held captive in Tehran. As von Moltke the elder put it after his success against the Austrians, this was probably the last battle in which a general did not have a telegraph wire from supreme command up his bum. That was prophetic but not always. Reagan told his people to do the job and got out of the way.

This sounds like what President Obama did. If we seek enlightenment on why so little was done after that, we have to ask the Secretary of Defense and the duty officers in command – why the President’s blank check wasn’t passed along to the theater commander. “Do what you have to do” sounds like the kind of orders that put heart in a soldier. Why didn’t Panetta call the theater commander and simply say, “The consulate is under attack. Use whatever resources you have to get the American personnel and consulate employees out of the consulate and safe house. The President says do what you have to do. I’ll get out of your way now.”

We can ask why nothing was done, but it’s hard to say the President didn’t give the right order.
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I hope Dr. Pournelle will forgive me for using half of his post in that quote above. In this case, I found him persuasive enough to pull my own post and felt that he should be quoted accurately instead of cherry picking from it.

I've seen nothing in his posts to indicate that he is a fan and supporter of The One, but he is willing to give the President a fair shake on this. I have to admit that's more than I've done.

No! I have not become a convert to The One and am not likely to ever do so.  There are many issues for which the word "despise" is not too strong to describe my feelings towards him.

The "If this is true" is a very important caveat, but, if we make it past that obstacle, then I was wrong and I have to face that.
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