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You, you, you oughtta know!

Movies, Books, Television & Other Things You Oughtta Know

Television: C-SPAN - Prime Minister's Questions Lili TaylorLili Taylor: One of the best actors working today!
Source: & Cable Television
My take:
Entertaining & enlightening
Tired of staged "Town Meetings", impotent and genuflecting congressmen and a leader who can barely string a coherent sentence together? If so, then treat yourself to "Prime Minister's Questions" on C-SPAN television. I am a devoted watcher of the program/series and generally find myself entertained, pleased, enlightened and dismayed when I see that disparate political parties can interact in a spirited way and still get something done. While the American Congress prattles on in partisan and nonsensical ramblings as a diversion for masking earmarks, the British seem, as usual, to just get on with it. If you are even remotely interested in seeing and hearing spirited political discussion, treat yourself to: Prime Minister's Questions.

Prime Minister's Questions airs LIVE Wednesday mornings at 7am ET on C-SPAN2 & reairs on Sunday nights at 9pm ET on C-SPAN.

Actor: Lili Taylor
In a Hollywood rife with anorexic, superficial female actors who substitute a pair of breasts and perkiness for acting; Lili Taylor remains a consistent, substantive, attractive and talented gold nugget among the pyrite that jostles for their fifteen minutes. Whether as Rose, the purportedly ugly, socially-conscious aspiring folk singer in "Dogfight", or Kathleen Conklin, the seductive existential vampire in "The Addiction", Valerie Solanas, the woman who claimed, "I Shot Andy Warhol" or Paula Klaw, the photographer in, "The Notorious Bettie Page", Lili Taylor brings something unique and multi-faceted to all of her roles.
    In her twenty-year career, Lili Taylor has demonstrated her versatility on the small screen as well as the large. With notable appearances in the "X-Files", "Live From Baghdad" and, most recently, as Lisa Fisher in HBO's "Six Feet Under", she proves her dedication to the craft no matter what the medium.
    Because good, American actors are so rare; especially ones who are willing to take on deep, dark and substantive roles, I strongly encourage you to seek out Lili's movies. Once you do, I believe you will find yourself as taken with her as I am and you will have a good time as well. Look for Lili next in the upcoming supernatural thriller, "The Secret" with David Duchovny.
Movie: Two Brothers Television: Iconoclasts
Writer/Director: Jean-Jacques Annaud
Writer: Alain Godard
Stars: Guy Pearce, Jean-Claude Dreyfus, other excellent actors not well known in the US ...
My take:
From the director of two other excellent movies, The Bear and The Name of the Rose, Jean-Jacques Annaud displays a very deft hand at anthropomorphizing two tiger brothers and their mother. Primarily, the story follows the two brothers (thus the title) as they are separated from both their mother and each other while young cubs and raised in captivity. Music and expert camera work capture and enhance the emotion in the highly-expressive faces of the animal actors. I dare anyone not to root for the two brothers as they make their way through fire traps and heavily-armed soldiers on their trek back to the jungle.
Like "The Bear," Two Brothers is one of the few family-friendly movies that will keep both parents and children moved and enthralled.

Following is a plot summary from on Two Brothers: "Two tigers are separated as cubs and taken into captivity, only to be reunited years later as enemies by an explorer (Pearce) who inadvertently forces them to fight each other."

Channel: Sundance
My take:
I like the idea of Iconoclasts which, despite how they define it, have two celebrities talk to each other to show each as real people. Particularly, I strongly recommend the Iconoclast with Renée Zellweger and Christiane Amanpour. I think anyone would find the segment fascinating because, Christiane Amanpour is fascinating. For those of you living under a rock for the past twenty or so years, Christiane Amanpour is, in my opinion, the best journalist (on CNN or any other network) in the business today. She has traveled to the hottest spots and refused to succumb to the role of merely an 8 x 10 glossy talking head.
     Renée Zellweger is the bright, young actor who has starred in everything from Me, Myself and Irene with Jim Carrey to Bridget Jones' Diary and Cold Mountain. No matter what role you see her in, Renée brings an honest strength and sensitivity to it. I believe she could go on to be the cinema icon that someone like a Meryl Streep has become. The most enlightening part of this Iconoclast segment was seeing how deep and substantive Renée Zellweger is. We learned that her first love is/was journalism and that she is intensely aware and interested in world politics and society.
Movie: Syriana Books: Fog Facts: Searching for the Truth in the Land of Spin
Writer/Director: Stephen Gaghan
Stars: George Clooney, Christopher Plummer, Jeffrey Wright, Matt Damon, Tim Blake Nelson ...
My take:
Syriana is not for the casual thinker or the person who wandered into it because they mistook it for the theatre showing, "The Ringer" with Johnny Knoxville. Syriana must be watched and the plot followed in order to truly appreciate the depth of knowledge Stephen Gaghan has regarding geo-politics and their effects. Some have complained (including me) that there are some characters and storylines that seem under-developed and go nowhere but that's not altogether true. I believe the plot of Syriana is so involved, some of these characters were created as a way to help explain motivations so that the story can move forward.

Following is a slightly altered plot summary from on Syriana: "Syriana, a political thriller that unfolds against the intrigue of the global oil industry. From the players brokering back-room deals in Washington to the men toiling in the oil fields of the Persian Gulf, the film's multiple storylines weave together to illuminate the human consequences of the fierce pursuit of wealth and power."

This a great movie for thinking people and fans of mystery and intrigue. If you liked "Traffic", another Gaghan screenplay, you should like this as well. Personally, I left the theatre thinking, "These people are so powerful; what can I do to stop them?" Well, one thing everyone can do is to support movies like this and talk about the issues they address. Hopefully, if we talk about it enough, someone with real influence may be motivated to do something about it.
Author: Larry Beinhart
My take:
Though I haven't finished the book, I did see a two-hour question and answer session with the author and was impressed with his knowledge and passion. If you enjoyed the movie, "Wag the Dog," you should enjoy this as well. Like many books of this genre, my sense is that he relies more on opinion than example to make his case in several instances but some my find that enjoyable. Personally, I feel injecting a predominance of opinion does not make for as convincing an argument as example; unless you are preaching to the converted.
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