Tag Archives: alfred hitchcock

Roger Ebert dead at age 70

roger ebert

I truly love movies. Back in the day, when I had time, it really didn’t matter what kind of movie was in the theater, if I had time I would go. I saw Attack of the Killer Tomatoes (one of the worst movies of all-time!!!). Nope, I wasn’t drunk. I went to the movies because I loved all of it. In the late 1980s, the sound systems got better. We got stadium seating and nice comfortable chairs. I really and truly love going to movies.

In both high school and college I took film criticism courses. I learned about jump cuts, Alfred Hitchcock, Stanley Kubrick and D. W. Griffin. I learned about lighting and how it can tell a story. I simply loved movies but when I read about movies in the newspaper (we had newspapers back then) I despised the contempt most film critics had for just about everything. (If you don’t know what I’m talking about see Richard Corliss from Time Magazine.) Then, somehow, there was Roger Ebert. He was a guy who can enjoy a regular movie.  The rest of the film critics, at least to me, seem to hate movies and love to find flaws which they can pick apart. It wasn’t that Roger Ebert didn’t see the flaws. He did. But he was able to see past the flaws and enjoy the movie anyway.

Almost none of the formal, stuffy-nosed critics liked the 1977 classic Star Wars. Roger Ebert did. As a matter of fact, Ebert was with us, the regular folks. He loved it. That may be one of the reasons that I truly enjoyed listening to and reading Roger Ebert. He was genuine.

I will truly miss Roger Ebert. As a matter fact, the last year or so, I’ve been following his tweets. He embraced technology, another aspect to enjoy about his personality.

My heart goes out to his family.

From the Chicago Sun-Times:

Roger Ebert loved movies.

Except for those he hated.

For a film with a daring director, a talented cast, a captivating plot or, ideally, all three, there could be no better advocate than Roger Ebert, who passionately celebrated and promoted excellence in film while deflating the awful, the derivative or the merely mediocre with an observant eye, a sharp wit and a depth of knowledge that delighted his millions of readers and viewers.

“No good film is too long,” he once wrote, a sentiment he felt strongly enough about to have engraved on pens. “No bad movie is short enough.”

Another Failure for the Bush Administration

By now, it is hard to keep up with the vast amount of failures that the Bush administration has accumulated. Two of these failures arrived in the lap of the American people at the same time. The first is the anthrax investigation. The second is the trial of Salim Hamdan (I’ll talk about this later).

After almost 7 years, an unknown number of man-hours and the huge cost of this investigation (must be in the tens of millions of dollars), the FBI concludes that Army scientist Bruce Ivins was the sole person responsible for the anthrax letters. Over the last several days, there’s been lots of speculation but yesterday, the FBI is basically closed the case. Unfortunately, this whole incident looks like an old Alfred Hitchcock TV show plot: “As the confused but brilliant scientist lays gasping for breath on the floor after taking an overdose, the camera pulls back to see a shadowy figure in the foreground with the queer smile on his lips. He walks out of sight as the credits roll.” This is crazy.

When all is said and done, there was a lot of compelling evidence presented by the FBI. The problem can be found in what was missing, not in what was presented. Most of the letters were written in the handwriting of a very young child. How did Bruce Ivins do that? Although Bruce Ivins had access to the strain of anthrax that was used in the attacks, how did he turn the suspension of anthrax into the lethal powder form (technically very challenging)? Did he have the knowledge to do this? Did he have access to the equipment needed to convert the liquid form into the powder form?

By the way, what was his motive? I’m not buying the flimsy excuse that the FBI tossed to reporters, suggesting that he was worried about losing grant funding for an anthrax vaccine and therefore caused a whole nation to panic over the death of five people. I’m sorry, that just doesn’t make sense. I’ve dealt with a lot of crazy people of my life, including people who were truly schizophrenic. They all had a particular logic that can be followed. Yes, the logic may be bizarre but it could be followed. But, this guy caused nationwide panic so that a grant could be funded?

Finally, what I believe is the biggest flaw in the government’s case is describing how all of this accomplished without any help. Our government has tried on multiple occasions to get us to believe that some catastrophe was caused by one lone crazed madman. Whether it was the assassination of John F. Kennedy or the bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City, the common thread is that the government is telling us that only one person did it. I find it hard to imagine that one man had all of this expertise. He might have been a brilliant genetic scientist but did he have the skills and the equipment to carry this out.

Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa has called for a congressional investigation. It will be interesting to see what happens in this investigation. Personally, I’m not sure that Congress is ready for a serious investigation into any wrongdoings. They haven’t seriously investigated anything in the last seven years, why start now?

Glenn Greenwald and Marcy of Emptywheel have some thoughts. Marcy has put together a time-line.