miscellaneous commentary

Archive for February 2013

Billing Block

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Even though I will likely watch tonight’s Academy Awards ceremony, I’m not particularly interested in any of the Best Picture nominees nor am I rooting for any particular film. I didn’t watch it last year and I’d be just fine not watching it this year. I find I’m not interested when none of the films I really enjoyed are nominated, and I only loved a handful of movies from 2012. Since I don’t feel like writing about any of the nominees, here’s an all-out copy/paste job from this weekend’s New York Times.



Written by camcarlson

February 24, 2013 at 12:14 PM

Posted in Cinema

Movie miscellanea 2012

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Random movies seen in the past few weeks:

Before I forget… “Surviving Progress” & “No Impact Man” are macro- and micro-examinations of sustainability. SP looks at how our world society is quickly running out of ways of sustaining our current rate of consumption, and how no single national economy can easily survive if several foreign economies plummet. NIM examines one man’s quest to consume next to nothing for an entire year, save for food and medicine. Best of intentions, and I was intrigued by his workaround for toilet paper (even if I’m squeamish to try it myself), but I think he, his wife and their daughter could have done a LOT more had they moved away from midtown Manhattan, rather than retrofitting their (his) new lifestyle into their current dwelling.

Saw “Silver Linings Playbook” last month. It was good, though would have made a better rental. Goes along nicely with Russell’s other movies, “Three Kings” and “The Fighter”.

Saw “Warm Bodies” on Superbowl Sunday. Meh. It’s a rental if you’re a fan of “Zombieland”. Otherwise pass. Nowhere near as good as “Shaun of the Dead”.

I forgot to include “Skyfall” in my 2012 movie roundup. It was a very good movie, almost as good as “Casino Royale”, but definitely better than nearly all the non-Connery Bond films. Craig is now my favorite Bond, Barden was a great villain (more canny than his Chigurh in NCfOM) and the final scene at Bond’s boyhood home was one of the best scenes from any Bond movie. It has grossed almost $300 million domestically and around $1 billion internationally – a huge (and deserved) return for a 50-year old film franchise.

Last weekend I watched a pair of foreign films on Netflix – “Code Unknown” and “Certified Copy”. Both star Juliette Binoche, who I’ve always felt looks like my good friend Katya if she were 10 or so years older. CU was directed by Michael Hanecke, whose “Amour” was nominated for Best Picture this year (it’s a near-lock to win the Best Foreign Film category). Very similar to his 2005 suspense film “Cache” which also starred Binoche.

Saw “Brave” last week. Okay movie, but not in the same league as “Finding Nemo”, “Ratatouille” or “Wall-E”. I hear Disney is planning a sequel to “Monsters Inc” and “Finding Nemo” and might want to make a fourth “Toy Story” movie. Geesh!

Also saw “Celeste and Jesse Forever”. Ugh. Wasn’t worth my money nor my time. Rashina Jones and Andy Samberg are capable of so much more, if only they hadn’t been given such clichéd and eye-rolling material to work with. I watched this movie and I just felt sorry for them, except for the bit where they meet at a bar and Jones states she’s dressed like a cat lady. The only genuine laugh in the entire movie.


Written by camcarlson

February 18, 2013 at 8:01 PM

Posted in Cinema

Flame retardants

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From the New York Times (italics mine):

The problem is that flame retardants don’t seem to stay in foam. High concentrations have been found in the bodies of creatures as geographically diverse as salmon, peregrine falcons, cats, whales, polar bears and Tasmanian devils. Most disturbingly, a recent study of toddlers in the United States conducted by researchers at Duke University found flame retardants in the blood of every child they tested. The chemicals are associated with an assortment of health concerns, including antisocial behavior, impaired fertility, decreased birth weight, diabetes, memory loss, undescended testicles, lowered levels of male hormones and hyperthyroidism.

Heather Stapleton, a Duke University chemist who conducted many of the best-known studies of flame retardants, notes that foam is full of air. “So every time somebody sits on it,” she says, “all the air that’s in the foam gets expelled into the environment.” Studies have found that young children, who often play on the floor and put toys in their mouths, can have three times the levels of flame retardants in their blood as their parents. Flame retardants can also pass from mother to child through the placenta and through breast milk.

Logic would suggest that any new chemical used in consumer products be demonstrably safer than a compound it replaces, particularly one taken off the market for reasons related to human health. But of the 84,000 industrial chemicals registered for use in the United States, only about 200 have been evaluated for human safety by the Environmental Protection Agency. That’s because industrial chemicals are presumed safe unless proved otherwise, under the 1976 federal Toxic Substances Control Act.

When evidence begins to mount that a chemical endangers human health, manufacturers tend to withdraw it from the market and replace it with something whose effects — and often its ingredients — are unknown.

And then there is the graphic below… I was in agreement up until the suggestion to “vacuum with a HEPA filter several times a week.” Overkill perhaps, but the alternative is to replace the furniture with something less toxic.


Written by camcarlson

February 16, 2013 at 11:40 AM

Posted in Science

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Favorite films of 2012

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I didn’t see as many movies that I loved in 2012 than I have in previous years. Has the quality of movies gone down, or are there simply fewer good movies, or maybe my preferences are changing, or maybe it’s just in this particular moment in life movies don’t factor as heavily as they once did… or maybe it’s a little bit of each. I dunno. All I know is I think back to the movies I saw and I’m hard pressed to write an obligatory ‘Top 10’ list (which partially explains my lack of writing these past couple weeks).

Beasts of the Southern Wild - 6

At any rate, I figure I better get something down in writing before my thoughts on last year’s movies become too stale. So here goes:


Like usual, the early part of this year was lacking in quality films. I saw and enjoyed “The Secret World of Arrietty” and “The Avengers”, and highly recommend “Haywire” to anyone who is a fan of the Bourne films.


I saw “Prometheus” twice and really liked it, and made it my sole DVD purchase of the year. Having seen it two more times, I still like it, though I picked up on a few notable flaws in the plot — gaping holes, if you will — even though they don’t really bug me. I still like the movie. Quite a bit. A worthy prequel to “Alien”, even if it regrettably substitutes action and quick editing for mood and suspense. I included a video at the end of this entry that references many more “problems” with the film than what I initially noticed… but it’s still a good movie dammit!


If I had to name a favorite film from last year, and I don’t feel hard pressed to do so, I’d go with “Moonrise Kingdom”. I’ve liked every one of Wes Anderson’s movies, with the exception of “Life Aquatic”, and I think each film is better than the last (again, with the exception of “Life Aquatic”). I wrote about this charming, quirky film back in July.


A number of good films came out in the fall: “Looper” and “Cloud Atlas” (making 2012 a fantastic year for science fiction), “Beasts of the Southern Wild”, “Argo” and “Lincoln”. I also rented and liked “A Separation” (last year’s Oscar winner for Best Foreign Language film), “ParaNorman” and “Weekend”.


Good films this winter include “The Hobbit” (though it was WAY too long), “Django Unchained” (not nearly as good as Tarantino’s 2009 film “Inglorious Basterds”) and “Zero Dark Thirty” (not nearly as good as Bigelow’s 2009 film “The Hurt Locker”). Over New Years I saw “Surviving Progress”, which dovetailed nicely with “No Impact Man”… two films I will try really hard to write about in the near future.

Movies I have heard good things about and am waiting to see include “The Master”, “In The Family”, “The City Dark”, “Flight” and “Amour”, the only one of this year’s Best Picture nominee I haven’t seen yet.

My apologies for not only allowing this entry to take so long to be written but for allowing it to basically fall apart at the end. What can I say… I’m busy catching up on movies on Netflix and Hulu Plus! Hey, if I’m not spending time writing about movies, at least I’m spending time watching them.

Written by camcarlson

February 6, 2013 at 10:39 PM

Posted in Uncategorized