Daily Archives: January 23, 2009

The Patterson Pick: He Got It Wrong

So what else is new? Patterson’s vision is occluded not only physically but psychically as well. What was he thinking?

It did not have to be Caroline Kennedy but it did not have to be http://www.nypost.com/seven/01232009/news/politics/dave_picks_gillibrand_as_liberal_dems_ho_151502.htm this woman Kirsten Gillibrand–yuck!

She’s about as exciting on the white tip as Roland Burris is on the black tip. Excitement aside what’s this choice really all about?

Patterson obviously does not have a clue. He chose someone qualified, but not over qualified, cute, but not exciting, politically well-connected but may not be so people-connected.

We’ll see how long this pick hangs on the senatorial tree.


Movie Review: The Visitor by Heloise

Heloise was visiting Chicago and her sisters when she saw the movie “The Visitor.” the cast


“The Visitor” buzz, written and directed by Thomas McCarthy is not unexpected, especially from lefty bloggers like me. It was a good movie let’s get that out the way first. I think it is a good movie because I know musicians and know them well. But this movie is not about the musician per se but about music of the heart playing unbeknownst to the players.


I know this life from the viewpoint of American citizens who have lived much of what is portrayed here.  I spent years around fine musicians in Chicago who also happened to play the conga drums and eek out a living and just “make do” without regular salaries.  In fact my musician friends, who are black and have made jazz music their life, lived much like the illegal aliens portrayed in this movie.


Richard Jenkins plays the bored, lazy professor who keeps an apartment in New York City that he rarely visits except for this movie—just kidding. That means the movie is set in you guessed in NYC, that big bastion melting pot on the Hudson.  Heloise is not the only one who knows this story. She happens to know it from the perspective the of bored disaffected college professor as well as the second class citizen that comes with lack of formal education or formal fitting into an Anglo-Americana AKA the ruling class.


Along with the ruling class come rules and lots of them and one taboo might be translated “though shall not mix with ‘the other’” and if you do though shall keep it a secret.


After Professor Vale finds the two unmarried visitors’ cohabitating in his apartment they are both surprised, someone has been duped here. When the dust settles the goodly white man, who did not know he was so good, offers the couple refuge, they accept reluctantly.


The film’s drama is built on this tense triangle. It is a symbolic of so much that America is all about—how to navigate the mine field that is race, class, culture and ethnicity without sounding or acting patronizing and racist. This is where The Visitor succeeds in my opinion. It is not full of trite meaningless platitudes. It is all heart. That heart is especially beating not only in the scenes where the two men drum-roll their intentions and the roles they have been given by the fates or karmas but also when the Professor Vale comes face-to-face with Tarek’s (Haaz Slieman) beautiful, shy mother (Hiem Abbass). Their encounter is heartbreaking.


The Visitor is not melancholy but at the same time does not get in the way of the viewer’s emotions. Is it one-sided, you betcha it is told from the viewpoint of a bleeding heart liberal who did not know he was a bleeding heart liberal. That is the gotcha moment of this movie. Take heart it won’t rub off on you unless you let it. 


Heloise (first published here at The Trough)

Movie Review: Frost/Nixon–updated

What director Ron Howard has wrought in Frost/Nixon–riveting. Hands down this movie is best-picture-of-the-year material. Howards’ handling of the film adaptation from the Peter Morgan screenplay will be studied for years to come. Frank Langella’s Richard Nixon is a study in the flawless character presentation of a deeply complex man. David Frost is the perfect foil to the face of evil that Nixon continually presents to the public and to the man he hopes to trump and outwit. Frost/Nixon retells the historical interviews conducted by David Frost and subject Richard M. Nixon. Nixon is a ticking time bomb of information waiting to explode, but will he?

The film opens with the hapless career of David Frost. Michael Sheen’s Frost is believable, loveable and cunning. He can’t get enough good exposure in England so he settles for bad exposure in Australia. Enter Nixon and the 43 million audience share who watch his televised farewell. The biggest names in network TV are chomping at the resigned-presidential interview bit. According to the film, Frost is frankly the last man with the credibility to pull off any media coup let alone this one.

Frost’s goes into overdrive to secure an interview with Nixon before the big dogs of journalism snag him first. But is he credible? David’s first task is to buy Nixon’s interview. The tension and conflict inherent in this decision consumes Frost and the first half of the film. Sheen’s acting sags in these critical scenes. He is not clear on how to handle the inner Frost. Who is David Frost the man, talk-show host and bon vivant? We are not really certain. Frost’s character and what drives him is not fleshed out. Conversely there is no doubt about Langella’s Nixon, he is the former president for the duration of the film.

Frost has his chance to fall up the media ladder when Nixon’s gay/effeminate agent calls him in the middle of the night to accept the offer that has been booted up to a cool $600,000—the most ever paid for an interview.

Nixon is giddy with greed over the prospect of taking easy media money. He and Kevin Bacon who plays his aide and confidante Jack Brennan have plans. This is fascinating stuff.

Since the film is THE retelling of the making of the famous Nixon/Frost interview–a re-enactment of the taping sessions is in order, making up the second half of the film. The Frost “crack team” of researchers watch in horror as their plan goes suddenly awry in the hands of a cavalier Frost. He becomes enthralled, and who wouldn’t, with exotic arm candy Caroline Cushing (Rebecca Hall). The realists that make up the Frost team see early on that it is pointless to talk him down from his love nest. They ignore the tryst, but at the same time have to buoy a weary Frost as he endures many Khrushchev moments.

Nixon playfully walks all over Frost just as Jack Kennedy reported about his Russian meetings with Nikita Khrushchev. How did that happen? Nixon wrestles away the interview from Frost with wild reminiscing and anecdotes that fill the time with talk and trash. He will not shut up. The audience however wants to know if the plan, now shot full of holes and hubris, will succeed. Nixon’s strong personality creates unexpected tension threatening the interviews’ success. 

The cast of Frost/Nixon is a wonderful ensemble who gives Frost the weight he needs with network bosses. They don’t give in nor get in the way of the story that would flatten its impact. And in any historical or documentary film that’s important.

America, David Frost and company all want to hear the truth from Nixon’s own lips. Hot is hot, cold is cold and criminal is criminal and Langella’s Nixon demonstrates time and again that he may never learn this moral lesson. Will America be treated to long-awaited capitulation and contrition or just the hot air of “Tricky Dick” Nixon? You be the judge. But whatever final verdict is rendered do not miss this bad-ass film. 

It is up to Ron Howard to move this two-hour biopic forward–he gets the pace just right. The real director’s cut.

If practice makes perfect then Howard’s ability to keep this movie on nimble toes is evidence of that perfection. This film talks, but not aimlessly. No words, looks or theater was wasted. Nixon’s waterfall of words could have bogged the film down but Howard’s strong direction keeps apace with the intensity of the subject matter. He does not drop the drama from the first frame to the last. Ron Howard has made another great film that we want to watch and reward.

Updated: Ron Howard’s Frost/Nixon has been nominated for best pic and for best director.

Heloise  originally published at Blogcritics.org 


I predict Ron will win best director. He has stiff competition though from the Slumdog director. Gotta think about that one.




Clinton Stationery and Direct

Hillary Clinton unlike Caroline in retrograde is stationery and direct in the house of State. And what a house it is.

She appeared in brown pantsuit alongside President Obama et al.

She means diplomacy so she says and so she will do.

There is no duplicity ringing in her words of the end of divisiveness.

How quickly we forget. But we will let bygones be gone Clinton. We are looking for you to do a great deal of deal making using diplomatic channels. Channels that have run dry in the Bush years.

Dare we begin anew? This time hope and believe that American diplomacy will not run parallel to the rest of the world. Hopes that we will not be running alone but rather in a horde of marathoners who also see the finish line?

Hillary will do a great job and the left wants to see her succeed.

The best is good enough if it is sincere. That will resonate in a house well aspected, rather than loud voices in an echo chamber. Hillary is in the number one cabinet post as Madame Secretary. We wish her well.


Caroline In Retrograde

There is little consolation in defeat and even less in humiliation or loss of face. This all seemed the fate of Caroline at least in her mind. 

Six weeks of political lashings seems to be out of fashion now a days. Especially since that ugly word “entitlement” was attached to her string of media coverage and blogosphere exposure.

Did she tire of the bad press or the thought or more to come should her private failings become public fodder? It seems odd that it is time to write an ending to this political saga before it has even begun. But then there is always a mystique attached to that Kennedy name. 

The public was just getting used to seeing her face in all sorts of sundry settings among  the low and the high. The public she faced showed little resentment of her bearing and her desire to fill senate shoes of Hillary Clinton. 

It is not too late. Run Caroline run. Is this the way it will end with Caroline saying goodbye to her bid for the New York senate?  I hope not.