Crank up the right wing outrage machine: The next James Bond is a black woman!

Daniel Craig is handing over the James Bond baton to Lashana Lynch.

In news that will surely come as a shock to James Bond fans and the film industry at large, it was revealed today that longtime 007 Daniel Craig will pass the Walther PPK to black British actress Lashana Lynch in the iconic role.

For years there has been intense speculation about who would take over the reins of one of the most durable and profitable film franchises in history once Craig stepped aside. Much of that speculation has revolved around whether the series might make a nod toward diversity and cast a person of color or a woman for the first time.

But if the report today from UK tabloid the Daily Mail is to be believed, the 007 producers are going for a radical twofer: casting a 31-year-old black female newcomer as Bond’s heir apparent.
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When video and audio do not match

I recently watched an old French film with English subtitles. But the timing was very slightly off in that the English words appeared a beat or two after they were spoken. If there were gaps in the dialogue, then one could keep the recently disappeared video image in mind while waiting for the translation to appear. But in quick exchanges, the words that one character spoke would appear when the other person was responding. It was extraordinary how this very slight time lag made it very difficult to follow. My brain found it very difficult to make the rapid adjustments necessary to restore continuity.
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TV review: Black Mirror: Season 5 (no spoilers)

Netflix recently released the three episodes of season 5 of the acclaimed series Black Mirror. As people who have seen earlier seasons know, this show takes a somewhat dark look at the impact of technology on our lives. It is usually set a little in the future and imagines advances on current technology that on the surface seem benign and even a boon to people but turn out to have unexpected negative consequences. In particular it focuses on the kind of technology that is ubiquitous, such as social media and AI.
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Film review: Salt of the Earth (1954)

I recently watched this powerful film that I heard about on a podcast on Latino USA. It reminds us, if we needed it, how much we owe to the unions who fought hard to get the benefits and working conditions that so many of us now take for granted. The film also brings to the fore the major but often unrecognized role that women played in these struggles by keeping things from falling apart by maintaining homes and raising children under very difficult conditions. This film, though, shows an occasion when women actually took the lead role.
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What’s happening in Sudan

There has been a lot of violence in that country. After public protests resulted in the dictator Omar al Bashir being deposed on April 11 after 30 years in power, the military took over under what they call the Transitional Military Council (TMC) and have started brutally suppressing the pro-democracy groups who had organized a civil disobedience campaign to demand civilian rule.

In his latest episode of Patriot Act, Hasan Minhaj provides the background to what is going on there. He says that the military junta in Sudan is getting support from the despotic leaders of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and the UAE and that what is happening is similar to what happened in Egypt where the overthrow of a dictator ushered in a brief period of democracy before the military took over again.

The impact of Plessy v. Ferguson

Brown vs Board of Education is a landmark 1954 case in the US civil rights movement because it deemed the practice of ‘separate but equal’ to be unconstitutional. That policy had held that it was acceptable to have separate schools for black and white students as long as the schools were ‘equal’. Of course, in practice they were not. But it interesting to go back to the earlier 1896 case Plessy vs Ferguson that had challenged the constitutionality of segregation laws. The US Supreme Court held that the laws were constitutional, thus putting a seal of approval on practices that had already existed for 60 sixty years in all parts of the country and led to their further expansion.
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Perpetuating war by exalting its sacrifices

Currently many world leaders are in Europe commemorating the 75th anniversary of the D-Day invasion. This remarkable scene from the anti-war satire The Americanization of Emily (1964), set during World War II, just prior to the D-Day invasion, has James Garner warning of the dangers of glorifying war to the mother of Julie Andrews, who has lost her husband, father, and brother to the war.

That speech was written by screenwriter Paddy Chayefsky. I wonder if mainstream film companies would allow such a scene these days.

TV review: Unforgotten

I have watched all three seasons of this British police procedural TV series. Each season has a self-contained story and consists of six episodes spread over 4.5 hours and is one of the best of such shows that I have seen. I fancy myself as a connoisseur of such detective shows and like most connoisseurs have strong likes and dislikes. I heartily dislike violence and gore and find action sequences such as chases and fights to be boring. They seem to me to be a cheap way of generating interest to compensate for weak plots and poor writing, acting, and directing. I like shows where the focus is on the process of detection and this show definitely fits the bill.
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All you ever wanted to know about 2001: A Space Odyssey

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) is a polarizing film. On the one hand, there are those like me who absolutely love it. The other pole does not consist of people who hate it, because there is nothing really objectionable in the film. Instead it consists of those who were utterly bored and baffled by it. Even those who loved it were baffled by it but did not let that reduce our enjoyment as we were swept along by the cosmic grandeur of this revolutionary science fiction film, the story it told, and the awesome special effects that blew us away even though (and perhaps because) they were done using models and film trickery in that pre-CGI age. They still hold up well in this CGI age.
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