TORONTO -- If the first few days of the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival have failed to produce any major hits to set the cognoscenti and Oscar-bloggers buzzing, it's got three things in spades: 1) terrific roles for women; 2) sexual frankness, often taken to an anti-erotic level, and 3) movies that get people talking. You get all three and more in English artist-turned-filmmaker Steve McQueen's sex-addiction drama "Shame," which screened for the press here on Monday morning. If you don't know McQueen (other than as the namesake of a legendary '70s movie star), his debut feature was "Hunger," an extraordinary sound-and-vision experience that starred Michael Fassbender as IRA hunger striker Bobby Sands, and that seemed more like a transmission from an alien planet than a historical drama.
Hans A. von Spakovsky wants you to know that if Democrat David Weprin pulls it out and wins the special election tomorrow for the congressional seat vacated by Anthony Weiner, Weprin will have won this longtime Democratic district through voter fraud. So, you know, just be prepared!
Anderson Cooper is not Oprah. He is not Dr. Phil, or Donahue, or Tyra. If he were, what would be the point of his new daytime talk show? We've already watched all of those men and women put their own indelible stamps on the art of brandishing microphones and holding hands and saying things like, "Let's take a look at her incredible journey." The question then, for both Cooper and his viewers, is who is "Anderson"? Not the Anderson America already knows from his years of feisty yet somehow debonair reportage for CNN, but the "Anderson" who on Monday afternoon set out to reinvent the institution of the daytime in his image.
Is Greece approaching the end of the line? Judging by a lengthy and detailed article in Spiegel, "Germany Plans for Possible Greece Default," getting passed around Monday by econobloggers like a eurozone-destroying hot potato, the answer is yes. Germany's patience -- never much to begin with -- has run out. There is no way that Greece will be able to keep to the terms of its ongoing bailout, and the support spigot appears finally about to run dry. So one way or another, the country will default. The only question is whether it does so as a member of the eurozone, or as a refugee.
"We live in a society where it's hard to maintain self-respect if you don't have a job," Kwame Anthony Appiah, philosopher at Princeton, said in a recent radio interview, and I can certainly identify. All of my life I've been an achievement junkie. I have two Harvard degrees, practiced law at elite Manhattan firms, and wrote and published two novels, among other things. But of all my accomplishments, by far the most impressive is absent from my résumé: It's my more than two-year stint of job searching and unemployment.
A debate is unfolding in official Washington about whether the Obama administration should leave any troops in Iraq, and, if so, how many. Negotiations are ongoing between the U.S and Iraqi governments on the issue, as a 2008 agreement requires that all American troops leave by the end of the year.
Years ago, I helped produce for public television an annual year's end interview with New York City Mayor Ed Koch. We always shot it in a private room at Windows on the World, the restaurant on top of the north tower of the World Trade Center, with a spectacular view toward the Empire State Building. From that height, at the end of a sunny winter's day you could see the lengthened shadows of the two towers stretch diagonally all the way across lower Manhattan, up and east to Stuyvesant Town.
"There are plenty of ways to make a movie," writes critic and filmmaker Jim Emerson in an introduction to his video essay series "In the Cut," about film editing. "There are plenty of ways to make a mess, too. But sometimes when I and fellow critics and moviegoers complain of 'incoherence' in modern movies (particularly action sequences), some people say they don’t know what we’re talking about. This is an attempt to be very, very specific about why some of us get confused. What it boils down to this: we’re actually watching the movie."
BOSTON -- The once bright dream of the common European currency looks increasingly bleak this week as fears escalate that that the 17-nation euro zone won't survive in its current form long enough to celebrate the 13th anniversary of the euro's debut on January 1, 1999.
In recent weeks the debate over the future of public education in America has flared up again, this time with the publication of the new book "Class Warfare," by Steven Brill, the founder of American Lawyer magazine. Brill's advocacy of "reform" has sparked different strands of criticism from the New York Times, New York University's Diane Ravitch and the Nation's Dana Goldstein.
As the current crop of Republican presidential candidates tours the United States denouncing Big Government in language virulent enough to make Barry Goldwater quail, it seems almost impossible to recall that once upon a time American voters endorsed the principle of strong government action by propelling Franklin D. Roosevelt to landslide victory after landslide victory. The contrast is heightened further when one considers how difficult it has been for the current president, who, like Roosevelt, came into office during a time of great economic crisis and on the heels of a thoroughly discredited Republican Party, to move his own agenda through Congress.
Thrilling campaign update: Loser Tim Pawlenty, a former candidate who never actually had very much support from anyone, has made his endorsement! He is going for Mitt Romney. And I'm sure the voters who supported Pawlenty will fall in line, besides the ones who only supported Pawlenty because he was supposed to be the non-Romney candidate with the best shot at winning. Pawlenty says he is supporting Romney because of Romney's record and his positions, but in his Fox and Friends appearance this morning, Pawlenty gave away the real reason:
Billionaire private equity mogul will get America back to work by complaining about government spending
Billionaire private equity mogul Steve Schwarzman, a living symbol of post-industrial late capitalism's gaudy depravity, wrote an opinion column about politics and the government, and the Financial Times published this column. It's a bad, dumb column, but that is to be expected, because what the hell does billionaire private equity mogul Steve Schwarzman know about politics?
Mitt Romney adviser Jim Talent, the former senator from Missouri, is formulating Romney's coal energy policy while also running a lobbying firm that works for the huge coal company Peabody Energy.
A little less than a month after dropping out of the Republican race for president, and Tim Pawlenty has already made his formal endorsement. The former Minnesota governor was on "Fox and Friends" this morning to make the announcement, and there he voiced his support for struggling, former-frontrunner Mitt Romney.
Not long ago, the city council of Ventura, California, passed an ordinance making it legal for the unemployed and homeless to sleep in their cars. At the height of the Great Recession of 2008, one third of the capital equipment of the American economy lay idle. Of the women and men idled along with that equipment, only 37 percent got a government unemployment check and that check, on average, represented only 35 percent of their weekly wages.
Season finale! Witch Marnie is dead, but her spirit has invaded Lafayette's body and now she's inside of him, having breakfast with Jesus before work. Jesus apologizes to Lafayette for pushing him into the blood magic before he was ready, but Marnie just twitches Lafayette a little, trying not to betray her possession. Stating the obvious here, but it must really suck to be a medium if you can be snuggled in your animal-print bedding after a long day of slaying necromancers and end up possessed by a crazy witch without so much as a hangnail for a blood offering. How does Lafayette even walk down the street in Bon Temps without being violently overtaken by every tortured sap wandering out of Sam's rental slums? Jesus offers to "lead a magic-free life" if Lafayette wants, but when he goes in for a kiss he can totally taste Marnie's cherry chapstick and he knows. Marnie tsk-tsks him and stabs his hand to the bone with a fork. Real bad things with you!