Despite more than 20, lawsuits filed against music fans in the years since they started finding free tunes online rather than buying CDs from record companies, the recording industry has utterly failed to halt the decline of the record album or the rise of digital music sharing.

Still, hardly a month goes by without a news release from the industry's lobby, the Recording Industry Association of America, touting a new wave of letters to college students and others demanding a settlement payment and threatening a legal battle. Now, in an unusual case in which an Arizona recipient of an RIAA letter has fought back in court rather than write a check to avoid hefty legal fees, the industry is taking its argument against music sharing one step further: In legal documents in its federal case against Jeffrey Howell, a Scottsdale, Ariz.

The industry's lawyer in the case, Ira Schwartz, argues in a brief filed earlier this month that the MP3 files Howell made on his computer from legally bought CDs are "unauthorized copies" of copyrighted recordings. But recently, the industry has been going around saying that even a personal copy on your computer is a violation.

RIAA's hard-line position seems clear. Its Web site says: "If you make unauthorized copies of copyrighted music recordings, you're stealing. You're breaking the law and you could be held legally liable for thousands of dollars in damages.

They're not kidding. The council finally opens the meeting, with the customary pledge to allegiance and the playing of the national anthem. At this time, several people have been removed by police, including rapper Sesswho when asked for his real name by a reporter, replies, "F off.

The chamber is filled and quiet, after the fracas that broke out in the center of the chamber near the podium. Protester Krystal Muhammad is carried out of the chamber by a group of police and deputies. She screams repeatedly. A second woman is also forcibly removed, as Fielkow calls the meeting to order, one hour late.

The Rev. James Smith gives the invocation: "May we never be lazy in our work for peace. May we honor those who have died in defense of our ideals Help all of us to appreciate one another. A struggle breaks out in council chambers. Police officers race to break it up. At least three people are ejected, as shouting fills the chamber.

A woman slaps at a cameraman's lens, drawing his ire. Krystal Muhammad shouts out, "I'm not going nowhere. Several protesters greet the council members with boos and slurs. Head responds by blowing a kiss and waving to her. Muhammad keeps shouting. Jay Arena shouts, "Jackie Clarkson, you're a sell-out.

Council members begin entering the chamber. We've got plenty of seats in here. Muhammad, who says she is with the New Black Panther Party, calls out to the council members: "You no good sell outs. I bet your house is still standing! City Hall officials stick by their earlier statement that they are limiting the crowd to for safety reasons. Council members still haven't entered the room. The meeting was set for 10 a. Attorney Tracie Washington accused officials of changing the rules for the public housing crowd.

You've gotpolice here. Ain't nobody going to do anything in here. He is the man seated behind Sharon Sears Jasper, who minutes earlier had called him a "racist white man. Meanwhile, the council members have yet to enter the chamber. A man is shouting in front of a bevy of video cameras about the homeless problem and how he is from public housing.

The meeting hasn't started yet. Council members haven't entered the chamber. Civil sheriff's deputies continue to try and keep order, telling the people inside that they may not stand during the meeting and that everyone must have a seat. Tempers flare in one section of the chamber. Bernard complex resident shouts at a man seated behind her.

Stop the demolition! As housing activists continued to protest the proposed demolition of four public housing complexes, federal housing officials provided new details Tuesday about hundreds of public housing units available across New Orleans, with dozens of units ready for occupants in the B. Cooper, the former Desire and the Guste developments. Housing officials said hundreds of private apartments where disaster or Section 8 vouchers can be used are also available to help meet the needs of displaced public housing residents, both in the short and long term.

Meanwhile, activists staged a protest on the steps of City Hall, saying procedural snags, as well as extra costs for utilities and security deposits, put those options out of reach for many poor people. Furthermore, some alleged "slum" conditions at those properties, and they have said they don't trust housing officials to make good on promises of mixed-income redevelopments that will welcome the poor. Federal Department of Housing and Development officials said the local public housing supply outstrips demand.

Currently, 1, public housing units are occupied and nearly are available or within weeks of being ready at eight Housing Authority of New Orleans complexes and at scattered housing authority sites.

Another public housing units across the city are being repaired and will be put to use in the coming year, housing officials said. But the target of 3, public housing units in New Orleans is a flashpoint because it represents a drop of about one-third from the 5, units occupied before Hurricane Katrina in As the city repopulates, housing officials say, other demands for housing can be met through use of vouchers that can be used for private apartments, the quality of which is in dispute.

HANO officials say they inspect private units, more than of which are listed on the housing authority's Web site, but activists say poor conditions in many units deter renters. Sharon Jasper, a former St. Bernard complex resident presented by activists Tuesday as a victim of changing public housing policies, took a moment before the start of the City Hall protest to complain about her subsidized private apartment, which she called a "slum. John home, but she said she faced several hundred dollars in deposit charges and now faces a steep utility bill.

Pointing across the street to an encampment of homeless people at Duncan Plaza, Jasper said, "I might do better out here with one of these tents. Jasper, who later allowed a photographer to tour the subsidized apartment, also complained about missing window screens, a slow leak in a sink, a warped back door and a few other details of a residence that otherwise appeared to have been recently renovated.

At the City Hall protest, a crowd of people railed against "privatization and gentrification of the city," saying it would be a mistake to raze well-built public housing at a time when so many people need affordable housing.

One of their leaders, Loyola University law professor Bill Quigley, said it's appropriate that advocates for the poor from across the country have gathered in New Orleans to help fight the demolitions. Spears is 12 weeks along and initially kept the news to herself when she learned of the pregnancy from an at-home test and subsequent doctor visit, she told the celebrity magazine, which hits stands in New York on Wednesday and the rest of the country by Friday.

What message does she want to send to other teens about premarital sex? Another person who might not be so thrilled by the news? A source close to the pop princess told TMZ. The Web site reports that Britney may not have been aware of the news until today. At least four top White House lawyers took part in discussions with the Central Intelligence Agency between and about whether to destroy videotapes showing the secret interrogations of two operatives from Al Qaeda, according to current and former administration and intelligence officials.

The accounts indicate that the involvement of White House officials in the discussions before the destruction of the tapes in November was more extensive than Bush administration officials have acknowledged. Those who took part, the officials said, included Alberto R.

Gonzales, who served as White House counsel until early ; David S. Miers, who succeeded Mr. Gonzales as White House counsel. It was previously reported that some administration officials had advised against destroying the tapes, but the emerging picture of White House involvement is more complex.

In interviews, several administration and intelligence officials provided conflicting accounts as to whether anyone at the White House expressed support for the idea that the tapes should be destroyed. The former official did not specify which White House officials took this position, but he said that some believed in that any disclosure of the tapes could have been particularly damaging after revelations a year earlier of abuses at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

Some other officials assert that no one at the White House advocated destroying the tapes. Those officials acknowledged, however, that no White House lawyer gave a direct order to preserve the tapes or advised that destroying them would be illegal. The destruction of the tapes is being investigated by the Justice Department, and the officials would not agree to be quoted by name while that inquiry is under way.

Under that proposal, the Lee High student body would be absorbed into other schools — a proposition that had Lee High student protesters saying they feel like renters facing eviction. If approved by voters, construction would be funded by a renewal of a 1-cent sales tax plan.

The School Board is expected to finalize construction plans by Jan. Theriot said the proposal pits children from low-income families against more-affluent children. Placide said her biggest problem remains unsolved: Finding an alternative place for more than 1, students to go to school for two or more years while the high school is being renovated. Placide put out a call in July for help finding such a place.

Us Crazy Horse. Thanks, RIAA! Now what the people are doing with your labels' music isn't stealing anymore. It's a political protest. And I say "Power to the People! How many have used it to rip their CDs onto their computers? How many people have music on their iPods that originally was on a CD they bought? Now, does the RIAA think it can lock us all up? It might get some of us, but the ones it doesn't -- and that number will be legion -- will kill the record labels dead.

Book it. You act like you're George Armstrong Custer. We are Crazy Horse. And we buy WhoopAss by the case. Email This BlogThis! Saturday, December 29, Patti Smith makes sense of this week. Against the world, but generally regional play, our internet suxorz.

Obviously, I'm Agrafena. Cursing and spitting and headbutting anyone who gets in his way. Is that a gun or a flask in Bell-Vinsky's coat pocket? I wouldn't wager a guess if I were you. Your best bet is to throw down your fancy white gloves, take your shot and see what fate has in store for you and your once-handsome faux-coif. Labels: BellflurUntitled Interview. Y'all, sometimes it is so, SO easy to make me happy.

I mean, all you have to do is tell me some wonderful piece of news, like that one of my most favorite I'm trying not to play favorites for a minute Virginia bands is going out on tour again.

Instant glee. Throw in the news that a new EP is due out mid-April, and you might just have made my dang day. For real. If you haven't yet had the massive pleasure that is a night out with the jingle jangle shimmy lovers Eternal Summerswell, now's your chance to change that huge, huge seriously wrong wrongness.

Oh, Spring. You're such a tease. Don't let the Winter weather fool you, my loves, this is most assuredly Spring. How do I know? Because there are too many daggum good shows all at the same time, that's how. For instance, you might find yourself unsure of which awesome show to go to Wednesday evening. One of your choices is the super radness of thinking-man dance maniacs Starfuckercoming to spread their rainbow-flavored rollicking roller disco lusciousness with a serious side.

They've been mercifully released from SXSW-related incarceration to spread their party love to the masses. Go forth and have a grand ole time. Labels: CasiokidsOtherwise EngagedStarfucker. Lo and behold, the 80s, decade of bad fashion and frightening hair though it was, have proven to be ripely inspirational for a whole generation of bands now churning out some lovely, lovely music.

Latest case in point: Craft Spells. Worthy inspiration for a very worthy band. Mama like. Labels: Craft SpellsSingles Club. Some of us are afflicted with an inherent, deeply-rooted lust for the chase. If it comes too easily, we just don't want it. It's a feeling that applies to a whole lotta stuff, but particularly matters of the heart.

It's a sentiment I've had on oh so many occasions, and they've wrapped it up nicely in this little ditty and the accompanying video for "I Don't Want Anybody That Wants Me. It's a super fun song, and a super super fun video. And it kinda makes me feel a little justified.

Just a smidge. If there's one thing I love, my friends, it's hitting the road for an out of town show. It feels like a teensy vacation, venturing outside state lines to go see some music at a club outside your usual The Apple Trees) When The World Was Young - Mel Torme* - At The Red Hill (Vinyl of venues. And Durham's Motorco might just be my favorite non-local spot within driving distance.

So give me the chance to go see two amazing live bands at such a great venue and odds are good I'll make the trip. Even with all that hideous DC metro Friday evening traffic. I don't really know what else could be better on a Friday night. Hooray for Earthsome of my new favorite New Yorkers, are definitely a special live band. They have this certain feel to them, a rush of breathless, frenetic yet totally chill energy.

It's the sound of the promise of beautiful warm weather, and to my winter coat-wearing ears they sounded simply delightful.

To me, they're at their best when bouncing all over the place sonically, buoyed by lively drums and an inescapable feeling of excitement. At times, the room lacked a little intensity, but I think a big part of that was the drunken, basketball-glutted Duke and UNC fans in attendance.

Taking cues from their lovely noise, the accompanying background images were a collection of swirling, dizzying colors and shapes. Big, clunky riffs and an uneven, awesome drum beat hallmarked a lot of the songs from their upcoming LP.

Initially, I wasn't quite sold on this tour pairing, but having seen Hooray for Earth again, and heard more of their great, great songs, I think it totally made sense. In a way, they're like the sunshine to the stormcloud of animalistic aggression that is A Place to Bury Strangers. They didn't even throw my jam "Surrounded by Your Friends" into the set, and they were still daggum fantastic.

So too was A Place to Bury Strangers. They've been just about flawless each and every time I've seen them, and are without a doubt one of my favorite live bands. And I made damn sure to have myself some earplugs for this one.

The crowd was still on the lackluster side for their set, but the band played like they didn't notice. One song in, Oliver was already going gangbusters with his guitar-playing contortions and LP) jerky moves, a precursor of the awesomeness to come. They weren't, as usual, big on banter, but early on we were informed that drummer Jay Space had a broken collarbone.

After their set, I'd have said I didn't believe it. He, and the rest of the band, carried out their industrialized shoegaze with gusto. The guitar bore the brunt, too, ending up tossed across the stage before the song was over. My most favorite song came right after, an extra feedbacked and extra slinky rendition of "Ego Death. The trio gritted and grimed and fuzzed and tore their way through their set with much savage force.

And I ate up every last minute. The black and white ballerina projections were the perfect juxtaposition to the sheer brutality of the merciless fuzz. The instrumentation in this song in particular was nigh on epic. This is a band that taps into some amazing energy when they get together on a stage, and if you haven't yet seen them live, well, you'll want to amend that as soon as possible. Despite the blase attitude of the basketball-hungover crowd, both of these bands killed it at Motorco.

It was a great tour pairing, and both of these bands should be seen live whenever possible. Sad but true: I've never been to Ireland Northern or otherwise. However, if Girls Names is any indication, I'm missing out. Instead he supplies a pensive, self-deprecating air of humour that reveals a man whose cleverness has tripped him up maybe this is why he's aptly named Tripp and given him a mask of self-pity to hide in. But in Wonder Boysthe mask melts away.

The hard lines in his face which in Fatal Attraction and Wall Street told the audience that he would stand tall against all comers doesn't reveal defiance, but rather a man (Ah himself back together again and becoming whole.

But it does allow Douglas — more explicitly this time — to tear down the defenses that in the past have made him such an impenetrable star. Co-directed by Brian Koppelman and David Levien, Solitary Man features Douglas as Ben Kalmen, a once successful car dealer who suddenly discovers that he might be mortally ill. But rather than take stock of the life he has built with his attractive and loyal wife Susan Sarandon and forge stronger bonds with his daughter Susan Jenna Fischer and his grandson, he deliberately destroys his business and romantic credibility.

He even sleeps with his latest girlfriend's year-old daughter. Solitary Man tears down Kalmen's walls a little too methodically, but Douglas does get an opportunity to turn the self-righteous smirk that made him a star into a damaging scar. When he tutors a young inexperienced college kid the game Jesse Eisenberg in matters of sex and success, Eisenberg is no Charlie Sheen.

The pupil doesn't outsmart the teacher but rather outclasses him. And Douglas has enough sense to realize it. Though he alienates everyone who ever counted on him, Kalmen as Douglas plays him doesn't find refuge in self-deception. He knows he's become a shadow of himself and his bravado is merely an empty sales pitch with nothing to back it up. Yet Solitary Man doesn't score points off Kalmen's indiscretions, nor does the picture make us feel morally superior.

What we see in all its discomfort is the unraveling of one man's fear of dying, a mounting terror that the image he's invested a lifetime in propping up can't cast more than a pale reflection.

In Solitary ManMichael Douglas creates a character who is a construct of almost everything he's ever played and he unsparingly brings the curtain down on him. Yet there's an obvious irony in Solitary Man due to the recent revelation of Michael Douglas's illnessbut who knows where his career could go from here. Solitary Man was no more successful than Wonder Boys which suggests that Douglas may be trapped.

Yet there's a nice touch at the end of Solitary Man where Kalmen sees a tangible choice to be made. He could go on playing the seductive rogue who ultimately turns the tables on those who care for him, or he could get a chance to heal all wounds. He looks both ways then stares blankly at the camera. With a solitary man you never know which way he's going to turn. One of the riskiest pictures Boorman DeliveranceExcalibur has ever made, Beyond Rangoon is a potently absorbing piece of work.

The story focuses on Laura Bowman Patricia Arquettean American nurse whose husband and son are murdered during a home invasion. In order to give herself time to heal, she agrees to accompany her sister Frances McDormand on a trip to Burma. Since they are making the trip inthey encounter the rise of the democracy movement led by pacifist Aung San Suu Kyi against the brutality of the military dictatorship under General Ne Win.

Suu Kyi's release from house arrest last week, after spending 15 of the last 21 years imprisoned, adds another layer of poignancy for the contemporary viewer.

She not only rediscovers her calling as a nurse, but becomes politically motivated as well. When she makes herself a target for killing by the government, she simultaneously comes to terms with the intimate details of the deaths she's experienced closer to home. Bowman immediately wakes up to a fragile world where life and death have become delicately intertwined. John Boorman has always been a humanist director, but sometimes he got caught up in the kind of New Age mysticism The Emerald Forest that inadvertently rendered his films as exercises in camp.

In Beyond RangoonBoorman envisions the Burmese torpor as a fever dream where Bowman along with the country awakens into a spiritual affirmation that comes with a heavy price.

Although many critics at the time complained that Boorman cast the Burmese revolution through the eyes of a Westerner, Beyond Rangoon does not cheapen their struggle by doing so. If anything, Boorman vividly shows us the full cost of the burgeoning idealism of the Burmese democracy movement. Unfortunately, it barely got the time of day. The story of journalist Stephen Glass Hayden Christensena writer for the liberal publication The New Republicwho cooked up over 90 percent of the stories he published, happened not long before Blair started his own brand of faux journalism.

Directed by Billy Ray BreachShattered Glass is an intelligently laid out story of how a young and eager journalist on the rise charmed his way into the editorial bosom of a prestigious magazine at about the time that eagerness and charm began taking precedence over brains.

Christensen gives a performance both cunning and subtle, playing a quietly obsequious cipher who finally hits a wall. Peter Sarsgaard, as the editor who provides that wall, gives an equally understated performance. As an investigative drama, Shattered Glass doesn't break any new ground, but it sure smashes a lot of illusions.

It's also something of a rarity for an Iranian film: a deadpan comedy. Director Babak Payami gives this quirky drama a very formal, subdued tone, but the engaging ironies provide the movie with some definite pop. The story begins with a huge wooden box that's dropped from an airplane. It lands at an army outpost where two soldiers appear to be guarding a deserted beach. The package contains election ballots, and not far behind that is the pollster.

The pollster has been sent to gather up every vote in the region for the current election. But what the soldiers haven't been told is that the election representative is a woman. Not used to taking orders from a lady, one officer initially balks at her suggestion that he drive her around.

Soon, however, he reluctantly takes her from town to town, where the days' events eventually have an indelible effect on both of them. Secret Ballot Most of the humor in the plot comes from Payami contrasting the personalities of the two characters. The pollster is a liberal idealist who believes that, given the opportunity to vote, people will automatically open themselves up to democratic principles.

Meanwhile, the soldier has the harsher, more cynical view. He thinks that being free means not allowing yourself to be swindled by anybody. One example occurs when they spot a man running across the desert: She sees him as a potential voter while he thinks the man's a thief that he needs to bring into custody. Payami doesn't take sides or simplify their views. As they travel across the flat landscape, both have their belief systems challenged. Secret Ballot might be a little plodding at times, but Payami still fills his picture with the kind of political ironies that sneak up on you.

In Vittorio De Sica's masterful picture The Bicycle Thiefa stolen bicycle became an emblem that set a man against his own impoverished surroundings. In the rewarding Beijing Bicyclethe stolen bicycle is instead an emblem of class conflict. Director Wang Xiaoshuai creates a poignant and bittersweet picture of life in modern China.

In the newly industrialized world of Beijing, the bike is not merely a mode of transportation, but also a key to one's identity and self-worth. Beijing Bicycle At 17, Guei Cui Lin decides to leave his provincial village to find a new life in the city. He begins work as a bicycle courier, managing to make a meagre salary until he can pay off the cost of his lustrous mountain bike.

Just at the moment when he almost gains possession of his treasure, the bicycle is stolen. Guei, who is fired from his job, combs the city in search of his lost possession. What Guei doesn't know is that Jian Li Bina wealthy city boy, has bought Guei's bike from a local flea market.

For Jian, whose father has denied him a bicycle so they can send his sister to school, the vehicle is merely a tool to impress a new girlfriend, Qin Zhou Xunand gain status with his friends. Before long, both young men confront each other to finally decide who is to gain possession of the bicycle.

Beijing Bicycle has a blithely comic air that slowly turns tragic. Xiaoshuai lets us take in the rapid pulse of the city alongside Guei, so we gradually come to see that owning the bike is a major step for him to becoming an adult with proprietorship and responsibility. Jian, on the other hand, comes to see that having the bike does little to take away his anxiety at feeling that he barely matters in life. Beijing Bicycle is a startling and fresh examination of how the bike still remains an ambiguous icon in Chinese society.

While the atmosphere of Somewhere is nowhere near as exotic as Lost in Translationthe examination of dissolute people with no direction home is equally powerful and rewarding. Sofia Coppola's elliptical approach to melancholy, regret and alienation in Somewhere is surprisingly stirring.

She's like Michelangelo Antonioni with a soul. Sixties counter-culture. But the movie also shows how Ochs was undone by his affliction of manic depression that only escalated with the collapse of the left-wing idealism of the Sixties.

Bowser's view isn't wrong, exactly, but there's an even larger theme that lies unexplored even though it's touched on throughout the movie. In telling the story of a mirror man, Phil Ochs: There But For Fortune also suggests that, by being a mirror who reflects, Phil Ochs was more a reflection of his times rather than a man who could help define and shape them.

When those times were over, the personality — and the man — disappeared. The topical song culture of the Sixties, in which Ochs became an integral part, grew out of the Civil Rights and anti-war movement. Their songs, which spoke of injustice, racism and inequality, also carried the hope of building a new nation, one they felt lived up to the democratic principles that laid within the country's founding documents. Building on the spirit of Kennedy's New Frontier inthe folk music movement, that percolated in the bohemian enclave of New York's Greenwich Village, dedicated itself to the idea that songs could actually change society.

By drawing on the socialist realist legacy of the old left that included Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger, they believed that the songs themselves took prominence not the singers. To this community of activists, the performer was merely an instrument who brought forth both change and political awareness through their music.

In true socialist realist fashion, the artist was defined more by the composition rather than the other way around. While some folk artists, like Joan Baez and Dave Van Ronk, had strong enough personalities to prevent themselves from disappearing into their topical music and Dylan simply cut himself loose from the ideological strait-jacket of the movement by embracing the Golden Calf of pop music where his individuality could thrivePhil Ochs found himself a world — and a cause — that gave him a personality and a purpose that he might otherwise have lacked.

As the movie finally reveals, too, his devotion to the cause obviously hid his personal problems. And when the movement died, so did Phil Ochs. In short, they remain painfully predictable.

Entre les Murs The Class is that rare exception. It examines the complex dynamic that develops between an inspired teacher and a motley group of students. That incongruity is woven into the texture of the story. Loosely adapting a book by French school teacher Francois Begaudeau, Cantet illustrates how this dedicated, idealistic instructor tries to teach a diverse group of students from various social classes and cultures.

The results are as diverse as the students themselves. Cantet transforms the material into an entertaining, yet incisive look at how the process of learning can be predicated by certain social and political realities.

In The ClassBegaudeau plays Francois Martin, a composite of himself, while Cantet casts a number of non-actors to play the students. What Cantet provides is a facsimile of documentary realism that still remains dramatically potent. But the book and subsequent script become simply a starting point for his story. Cantet, whose parents were also teachers, met Begaudeau at a radio interview when both men were doing promotional interviews in Working with a group of unprofessional actors playing the students, Cantet grapples with pertinent issues that grow out of classroom discussions — including everything from interpreting The Diary of Anne Frank to arguments about rival football teams.

When he attempts to confront the bad behaviour of two girls who are class representatives, he uses an insulting pejorative that has the opposite impact of what he intends. Another student, Wei, a Chinese teen, is one his best students. But his learning is affected by his self-effacing shyness and the tumult brought on by his mother an illegal alien facing deportation.

Soulaymane Franck Keitafrom Mali, is a troubled and failing student who faces both expulsion and a father prepared to send him back to Africa. The Class is truly in a class of its own. In most political thrillers, the stories are driven by a sole idealist who seeks to uncover a conspiracy of corruption that will redeem his idealism or perhaps shatter it. McGregor's writer is not motivated by any political ideals.

He is simply a writer-for-hire who nobody knows exists perhaps like many nameless film directors who are relegated to be hacks. The scribe tries to uncover this conspiracy merely as a means to make himself matter. But nothing in this entertainingly original thriller goes as planned. Polanski is so relaxed and assured in his direction that he doesn't once turn the story into a typical suspense story.

He even plays off the writer's innocuousness by depriving him of any kind of drive. Polanski also means this literally. McGregor is often lead to clues by the GPS in his car suggesting that the story is always driving him. When Polanski deals with the circumstances surrounding Adam Lang, too, he doesn't turn the former leader into an obvious weasel who needs to be snared. Pierce Brosnan's colourful performance makes it clear that, whatever one feels about Lang's decisions, he takes full responsibility for having made those choices.

For instance, in one particularly subtle and funny scene, McGregor finds that a car may be following him. Conditioned to anticipate a car chase as are wehe quickly hides on a side street and waits for it. The moments continue to pass quietly as this mysterious vehicle never arrives. Polanski plays shell games with what we have come to expect as well as what we don't see coming. The movie continually works beneath the surface of the plot which is mostly perfunctory.

The actors are having a ripe good time as well. Ewan McGregor is perfectly cast as a man whose talents are only for adapting to his circumstances. Besides Brosnan's crafty depiction of Lang, Olivia Williams is also quite impressive as his wife Ruth. Williams brings a brittle and bitter fragility to the part that successfully disguises Ruth's cleverness which ultimately fools the ghost. As Lang's assistant and mistress, Amelia, Kim Cattrall has a piquant eroticism that spices up the dryness in the material.

Eli Wallach also turns up briefly as one of those nosy neighbours characteristic of almost every Polanski thriller from Repulsion to The Tenant In his early films, though, Polanski took a perverse delight in dabbling in darkness which often brought an unnecessary layer of creepiness to the material.

As he's gotten older especially since his darkly erotic comedy Bitter MoonPolanski has accepted the macabre as part of life's paradoxes. The darkness now adds texture to his stories rather than being its driving force. Like Huston who played the wealthy villain in Polanski's ChinatownRoman Polanski is relaxed and assured here in a world view that is shadowed, but no longer squalid. He has finally developed a spry humanism to go with his gargoyle grin. Based on a short story by Philip K.

Dick, the plot deals with material pretty familiar from much of science-fiction. It delves into the idea of fate versus free will and whether or not our destiny is our own. But what looked from the trailers to be your typical paranoid thriller turns out to be essentially a romantic story. But the many styles at work in this film ultimately cancels the movie out. The Adjustment Bureau is too busy adjusting itself. Matt Damon plays David Norris, a young rising star running for the Senate in New York, who keeps finding ways to mess up his career ambitions.

On the night he loses the election, he happens upon Elise Emily Blunt in the men's room hiding from security while he's practicing his concession speech. Within seconds, he believes he's met the love of his life. Unfortunately, their brief tryst is interrupted by aides whisking him to the podium.

But one day, he meets Elise again on a bus heading to work and he seeks to hook up with her. The problem however is that he soon encounters a bureau of men dressed in fedoras who work for "the Chairman. Apparently, Norris and Elise were never supposed to meet again after that first encounter.

The rest of the film features David trying to outwit the Bureau while the fedora brigade keeps trying to throw roadblocks in his path. Writer and director George Nolfi who co-wrote the last Bourne film certainly provides a lighter romantic tone than one expects from this kind of material. But he can't develop anything substantial from it because it's built to choke off the very thing that keeps the movie interesting: It continually keeps its two stars apart.

As it is, the story barely adds up. You're always left wondering why they just don't let him have the girl. What great destiny awaits them anyway besides big career moves? How is that ever a solid guarantee for a lifetime of bliss? Care to consider Charlie Sheen? Yet Damon and Blunt do manage to provide some lively romantic interplay despite the movie's efforts in tearing them apart. There's a casual spontaneity in their rapport that is truly engaging.

In many ways, The Adjustment Bureau is a better version of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind which also tried to get at the lingering regrets in romantic loss. But that film, with its labyrinth script, swallowed its conceits and laid bare a horribly sentimental story without giving us any clue as to what that couple ever meant to each other. Damon and Blunt, on the other hand, give this movie a core of (Ah possibility. But that's about all it gets to achieve. Stamp looks so bored that he could be reading from a teleprompter.

Anthony Mackie, who plays the one bureau drone who helps Norris and Elise get together, has reasons for doing so which are so obvious that you can't believe why none of his colleagues haven't figured him out. Yet even with all its faults, The Adjustment Bureau has a look and a feel that isn't totally negligible. Nolfi creates some lovely visual gags where bureau members run through office doors in buildings that magically exit into the Statue of Liberty, or Yankee Stadium.

He also brings a relaxed pace to the proceedings where he never forces the action despite the numerous chases. But he can't escape the trap of the story. In a picture about the randomness of the romantic impulse, an impulse that can never be willed or controlled, it seems ridiculous to have a bunch of guys in hats running around trying to control it.

Did anyone on the set also consider why women don't rate being in the bureau? The Adjustment Bureau is a peculiar picture that's bound to earn superlatives because of its choice to not be any one thing. In an age when many movies seem to come out of cookie cutters, The Adjustment Bureau seems to be discovering itself right before our eyes — even if it never really discovers itself.

With his vast collection of quick-witted jack-in-the-box character masks, he was the Tasmanian Devil of comic actors, spinning madly out of control and wiping out everything in his path. But he wasn't just some dervish comedian chewing the scenery. Carrey became the scenery.

Often loudly dominating the action, he left his co-stars especially poor Matthew Broderick in The Cable Guy looking like they were desperately trying to escape the picture to avoid being run over. To me, Jim Carrey always worked best served in small doses as he was brilliantly on TV's In Living Color ; or perhaps, had he been around in the Thirties, he would have been perfectly electrifying in those review skit comedies like The Big Broadcast of But most of his feature films were either broadly aggressive burlesque comedies, or painful attempts to make him into a normal guy The Majestic ; broaden his appeal The Truman Showor sanctimoniously tame him Liar Liar.

Except for his perfect pairing with Jeff Daniels in the hilarious Dumb and DumberJim Carrey has been an overheated comedy machine rather than an actor. But in his latest film, I Love You Phillip MorrisCarrey has finally found a part that integrates with perfect precision his multiple character roles into one coherently whole person.

It's Carrey's triumph. Unfortunately, due to its subject matter, distributors have done their damnedest to make sure an audience never discovers it.

Don't make their mistake. I Love You Phillip Morris is an uneven, wobbly romantic comedy-drama based on the story of Steven Jay Russell Jim Carreywho was a con artist, impostor and multiple prison escapee during the s and s. He was also gay. During his time in prison, he fell in love with Phillip Morris Ewan McGregora fellow inmate, who eventually became a free man.

In order to be with the one he loves, Russell finds numerous ingenious means to escape imprisonment. But while his spoken impulse is romantic, its borne out of any number of multiple personalities that he possesses. The cock-eyed punchline of the picture is that Phillip Morris has no clue who the hell is in love with him. It's daring to set a film noir drama almost entirely in the daytime and Burger provides a clever subtext of linking the use of drugs to the world of high finance high, or course, being the operative word.

But Limitless still ends up being a rather limited drama. As he proved though in his dreamy and seductive The IllusionistBurger knows how to think with his eyes. In Limitlesshowever, it's his brain that fails him.

Most good noirs show how good men make bad choices by giving in to desires that destroy their lives. Their lives, in fact, spiral downward in their attempt to succeed. Limitless shows Eddie instead creating a lot of wreckage while becoming upwardly mobile, but he's never left accountable for it.

Eddie's insider trading and metaphysical manner of cheating his way to the top is presented as something victorious. Perhaps because Neil Burger loves the ephemeral flow of images, he also falls too much in love with the drug itself. It really hates them. I can almost hear it saying, "Back in my day. Which is a pun you might "get" if you're as old as I. Labels: cultureelectronicsgadgetsgeekeryhi-fimusicradiostereotechnology.

Monday, May 21, Thou shalt not take Obama's name in vain. I had a couple of teachers this stupid, ignorant and hostile when I was in school.

And I can't get the IQ points back that those fools cost me. Some school systems tolerate this kind of willful incompetence and bullying. Those would be bad school systems, best avoided. The problems with this moronic gasbag of a social-studies teacher at North Rowan High School in North Carolina -- as evidenced by the video -- begin long before she suggests the government of the United States hass veys of dealink vith doss vhat "slander" der Gott-Kaiser Barack Obama.

That the woman still is employed suspended with pay by the Rowan Salisbury School System more than a week after her "discussion period" is all one needs to know about the Rowan Salisbury School System. This "teacher" doesn't need firing so much as she needs defenestrating.

No, I didn't learn that word from those crappy teachers I had, just like I suspect no kid in the the presidential-respect commissar's class learned a damn thing about social studies this year. Labels: educationgovernmentmoronsNorth Carolinasocial studiesstupidityteachers. I have pretty much drifted through my adult life, doing a little of this and some of that, but still not knowing my true vocation.

No more. Praise the Lord, I saw the light. I now know what I was meant to do in life, and I owe this big change in my aimless existence to a couple of big, big dogs by the names of Sadie Sue and Boo Radley. We have been foster pet-parenting the old girl and her big little brother for the past couple of months while their real parents' house has been torn asunder and put back together in a radically different order. I think the technical term for this is "remodeling," and the aim of this major surgery -- involving sledgehammers, flooring, cabinetry, lots and lots of drywall, lots and lots of tilelots and lots of construction workers, stainless-steel appliances and a stained-steel I-beam that now holds up the second story -- has been to create the "Kitchen of the Future.

ANYWAY, I have been reliably informed that big, big dogs and construction workers coming and going is not an optimal combination. So we got the dogs instead of the cool new kitchen. I know, Molly the little, little Dog.

It sucks to be you. You will be rewarded with limitless dog treats as you await Mama and me at the Rainbow Bridge (Ah your time on earth is done. These slobbery and hairy weeks at La Casa Favog, as it turns out, have been a time of self-discovery for yours truly. At age 51, to my great surprise, I seem to have an innate talent heretofore unknown to me. I am a great hair sweeper-upper. An artiste with a broom, as it turns out. And I just wanted to share this with you.

See the top picture? Some of my handiwork from this afternoon. I do this every day, three times a day -- take hairy floors in the living room and kitchen and sweep them clean, creating neat little mountains of fur and then dispatching them out the back door.

I'LL BET the rabbits and squirrels are scared spitless at the overwhelming scent of danger that now wafts over their previously unremarkable universe. Tee hee. Just a little devilish lagniappe that comes with my new career, which I discovered on Monsters. It's not everybody who, thanks to a couple of monster dogs and a yappy one, stumbles into a perfect career for the new economy.

I am a lucky man. Labels: careersdogseconomyhairhomehousekeepinghumorMolly the DogNebraskaOmaharemodeling. From and West German television. Here now is the title track from their "Idea" LP. Labels: Bee Geesculturediscomediapop musicradiorecordsrockTop Robin Gibb, The thing about the Bee Gees was this: Even if you were young and opinionated in the late s -- a foot soldier in the "Disco Sucks" army, even -- you had to acknowledge just how damned good the brothers were.

Because you remembered this song, among others the brothers Gibb -- Robin, Barry and Maurice -- had recorded. You had loved those pop-music classics first heard through a little earphone and eight transistors, classics that lived in the grooves of the soundtrack album of your life. Soon enough, you would realize that the brothers' disco-era incarnation was part of that soundtrack, too. And you were OK with that. Quality endures, even though the earthly body does not. Not Maurice's.

And now, not Robin's. May he rest in peace, along with all the stilled voices of my youth. Grace crashes high-school reunion. I'm here to tell you that I'm a pretty big rat bastard and that you may be, too. Or that, at some point, you likely were. A bunch of teen-age rat bastards circa just received grace, which led to insight, which led to repentance, which led to more grace.

God often shows up when and where you least expect Him. A woman says a Facebook poem she posted about bullying has brought pleas for forgiveness from former classmates who tormented her at a California high school 25 years ago. Now, some of those classmates want to make amends and have asked Lynda Frederick, 42, of Rochester, N. I have forgiven those who have hurt me in the past. In her poem, she wrote: that little girl who came to school with the clothes she wore the day before instead of asking why.

He cried and cried. It's what's for sinners. Labels: s, bulliesCaliforniacultureeducationfaithGodgracehigh schoolteens. Thursday, May 17, Pulitzer subito!

Peter's Square, banners and chants arose, all demanding a single thing -- "Santo subito! Independent -- even if it was by accident, a bit of exasperated prose, "dummy type" that got left in when it shouldn't have -- I got to thinking what a wonderful thing it would be if Americans could descend en masse on Columbia University to demand "Pulitzer subito! Even if it was a glorious "mistake," much like the most famous of the genre, when The Boston Globe 's backshop accidentally left the joke headline "Mush From the Wimp" on an editorial about one of Jimmy Carter's speeches on the economy.

After all, in lying times like these, I'll take a little unvarnished truth any way I can get it. You don't get them anymore for telling the truth, either -- though some have gotten them for fabricating stories out of whole cloth. No, that's not how it works. Instead, you get fired. Labels: Gret StetjournalismLouisianamedianewspaperoopspressPulitzer Prizesports. Wednesday, May 16, Payback by the bottle.

You know how it's said that all of life is high school? Here in Nebraska's 2nd Congressional District, even the elections are high school. Ewing was a football standout, while Terry played another role for the Huskies. A ccording to Ewing, our nerdy member of Congress was "the water boy. Whatever the case, it's pretty obvious that Mr.

Touchdown never saw Revenge of the Nerds. By November, though, I'm pretty sure the county treasurer who wants to be a Big Man of Congress will be feeling the "liquid heat".

House of hi-fi. You may be a geek if you get really excited over winning this in an eBay auction.

Party Night - Marius Dragomir & Nadia Dragomir - One More Party (Cassette, Album), Hometime - Various - The Brit Awards Album 2003 (CD), Aint No Turning Back - The Meteors (2) - Doing The Lords Work (All Media, Album, LP, LP), Aint Looking Closely - Tift Merritt - Home Is Loud (CD, Album), In The Hall Of The Mountain King, The Chordettes - Harmony Time Volume II (Vinyl, LP, Album), We Rock The Mic - KJ52* Representing Sons Of Intellect - 7th Avenue (CD, Album), Call Us Fools - Anne Murray - Something To Talk About / Harmony (CD, Album), Big Bacon Bastards - Hängerbänd - Hängoverkill (CD, Album), Malaga Virgen - Brand X (3) - Moroccan Roll (Vinyl, LP, Album), Hale Bob - Magic Flute (Vinyl), I Needed Love - You Were There - Love Unlimited - In Heat (CD, Album), Medley: Jingle Bells; Sleigh Ride - Henry Mancini, His Orchestra And Chorus* - A Merry Mancini Chri, Nightmare, The Who - Meaty Beaty Big And Bouncy (Vinyl, LP)

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