Gregory Peck (1916-2003)

I always liked Gregory Peck. Although he was sometimes criticized for having a somewhat wooden acting style, there was no question that he had an impressive on-screen presence where he seemed to ooze integrity and the viewer was confident that he would do the right thing. I haven’t seen all his films of course, but as far as I am aware, there were very few in which he played a villainous character, one being Joseph Mengele in The Boys From Brazil.
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Laura Poitras speaks!

The notoriously publicity-shy documentarian is making the rounds promoting her Edward Snowden documentary Citizenfour (see my review here) and she appeared on The Daily Show. Jon Stewart makes the same point that I did, that the picture of Snowden that was painted by his early critics has no resemblance to the person seen in the film and that he seems to an earnest, idealistic young man who realized that he had information the people needed to know and was willing to take the risk to tell them. Poitras thinks that history will vindicate Snowden like it has with Daniel Ellsberg
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Film review: Citizenfour (2014)

I saw this film yesterday and really enjoyed it. Documentarian Laura Poitras, a key person in the chain of events that led to the revelations of Edward Snowden, was in the odd position of making a documentary in which she could have been one of the featured people. But she is someone who hates the spotlight and she manages to largely write herself out of the film, appearing only in brief glimpses in mirrors or in the text of emails exchanged by her with Snowden and Glenn Greenwald, and providing the voice for the emails she received from Snowden that started the process.
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Review: The Day Israel Attacked America

Thanks to reader boadinum, I learned that the Al Jazeera program with the above title about the attack on the USS Liberty on June 8, 1967 was freely available on YouTube (see the embedded link at the end of this post) and I watched it yesterday. It was a fascinating program that had a lot of new information that was not made public before. The producers had correspondence, tape recordings, and interviews with survivors and government officials that reveal the sequence of events and what the discussions were prior to and after the attack.
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Film review: A Most Wanted Man (2014)

I saw this film over the weekend. It is one of the final ones by Philip Seymour Hoffman and he gives a typically fine performance as the head of a small German counter-terrorism unit based in Hamburg that is keeping track of potential Islamic terror networks who might be using that city as a stage to launch operations. Hamburg is where Mohammed Atta plotted the 9/11 attacks and none of the German authorities want a similar plot to go undetected.
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Visualizing the physics in the film Interstellar

Although I like science, or maybe because of it, I tend to get irritated with films that casually break the laws of science merely to achieve a cheap solution to a plot problem. I don’t expect perfect fidelity but gratuitous violations of laws (such noisy explosions in space or the presence of Earth-like gravity on spaceships) are annoying. This is why I liked 2001: A Space Odyssey and to a lesser extent Gravity, because they tried to stick as closely as possible to what may be actually possible.
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The zeitgeist of Divergent and Elysium

I recently watched two films Divergent and Elysium. While mildly entertaining, I would not really recommend either of them. As with many such futuristic films, the plots are full of holes large enough that one can drive a truck through, but I am going to overlook them. What prompted me to write about them was what they said about the prevailing zeitgeist.
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