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The sundown kid: “The Old Man and the Gun”  (***)  By Dennis Hartley @denofcinema5

Saturday Night at the Movies

The sundown kid: The Old Man and the Gun (***)

By Dennis Hartley

I have no idea what kind of box office The Old Man and the Gun will do its opening weekend, but if my unscientific head count of approximately 10 fellow patrons at the Friday matinee I attended is any indicator, I’d say Venom is in scant danger of usurpation.

Not that you asked, but there were more indicators of lowered expectations. For one, I noted I was the youngest person in the auditorium (I’m 62). Granted, the star of the film just blew out 82 candles this summer. And of course, a film with “old man” in the title is obviously not targeting a young demographic. It’s no secret Hollywood is all about the youth audience. This may be why the film’s leading man Robert Redford has intuited it’s better to burn out than to fade away; insisting that this role is his “farewell” performance.

This informs the elegiac tone throughout writer-director David Lowery’s leisurely-paced character study, based on the true story of career criminal Forrest Tucker (Redford). Tucker was a slippery devil; during his “career” he escaped from prison “18 times successfully, 12 times unsuccessfully” (his words). Like Redford himself, Tucker pursued his chosen profession well into his golden years, earning a reputation as a “gentleman bandit” (he committed armed robberies, but was courteous to all his victims).

Truth be told, Tucker’s relatively benign bio (well, for a felon) doesn’t have the inherent makings of a riveting crime thriller; but luckily Lowery is smart enough to know that. This is mostly about Bob Redford playing…well, Bob Redford. For one last time. So Lowery doesn’t go for film school flash; utilizing mostly close-ups and two shots, he lets his camera linger on his star, while he exudes that effortless Redford charm and charisma. Both the subject matter and Redford’s naturalistic, low-key portrayal recalls Phillip Borsos’ wonderful 1982 sleeper The Grey Fox, which starred Richard Farnsworth as turn-of-the-century “gentleman bandit” Bill Miner (which is also based on a true story).

Redford is supported by some ace players. Danny Glover and Tom Waits play Tucker’s partners-in-crime (who were dubbed “The Over-the-Hill Gang” by law enforcement). Waits’ character has a great monolog explaining why he hates Christmas that makes you wish he’d been given some more screen time. Sissy Spacek is a welcome presence as a widow Tucker romances (I swear she gets more radiant as she ages). Casey Affleck is effective as a rumpled police detective who plays cat and mouse with Tucker for a spell.

While this is may not be the most memorable film Redford has done over a long, illustrious career, there are worse ways to go. And Bob? We’ll keep the light on for you.

Previous posts with related themes:

Don’t nobody move: Top 10 Heist Films

More reviews at Den of Cinema
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--Dennis Hartley


Say my name, Brat!

Say my name, Brat!

by digby

Laura Ingraham's favorite xenophobe snowflake got taken downtown by his very able opponent:


Is Iowa’s 4th district going to re-elect a Nazi sympathizer?

Is Iowa's 4th district going to re-elect a Nazi sympathizer?

by digby

I'm not exaggerating:

Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) visited Austria in August and gave an extensive interview to a far-right publication there in which he spelled out, in clearer and more shocking terms than he ever has before, his white nationalist worldview.

The eight-term congressman, up for re-election next month, talked to Caroline Sommerfeld of the Austrian far-right propaganda site Unzensuriert (which means “uncensored” in English). Sommerfeld is a prominent intellectual in Europe’s neo-fascist identitarian movement, which has deep connections to America’s so-called alt-right.

The interview, published in September, came to HuffPost’s attention this week. In his conversation with Sommerfeld, King discussed his belief in the superiority of European culture over others. He talked fearfully of falling fertility rates in the West and spoke at length about his belief that Europe and America are threatened by Muslim and Latino immigration.

“If we don’t defend Western civilization, then we will become subjugated by the people who are the enemies of faith, the enemies of justice,” King said.

The interview is remarkable, capturing a sitting U.S. congressman completely fluent in modern white nationalist talking points just weeks before an election he is favored to win.

“This interview reveals a whole new level of reality underneath this guy’s politics,” said Roger Griffin, an expert on fascism and modern history at Oxford Brookes University.

King never would have opened up that way with mainstream reporters, since they wouldn’t understand what he was talking about, Griffin said. He added, “But with her, who is obviously steeped in this stuff, he just opens up because he knows he’s going to be understood.”

The congressman’s office did not respond to a request for comment. Unzensuriert also did not respond to questions about details of the interview.

King’s conversation with Sommerfeld largely revolves around the paranoid idea of the Great Replacement — the belief that mass migration, particularly from Muslim-majority countries, is an extinction-level event for white European culture and identity. Or as he put it in the interview, a “slow-motion cultural suicide.”

“The U.S. subtracts from its population a million of our babies in the form of abortion,” King said. “We add to our population approximately 1.8 million of ‘somebody else’s babies’ who are raised in another culture before they get to us.”

Sommerfeld responded, “That’s what we call the Great Replacement.”

Nick Ryan, the director of communications at the British-based anti-racism advocacy group Hope Not Hate, told HuffPost that “terms such as ‘Great Replacement’ are the preserve of conspiracy theorists and extremists.”

It’s a phrase, he said, widely used by anti-Muslim European networks to refer to the supposed Islamification of Europe by migrants and refugees.

The cover of this English translation of The Camp of the Saints, which envisions the takeover of Europe by waves of immigrants, calls it “a chilling novel about the end of the white world.”

The idea of the Great Replacement is imagined most vividly in The Camp of the Saints, a stunningly racist 1973 novel by Jean Raspail that “reframes everything as the fight to death between races,” said Cécile Alduy, a professor of French at Stanford University and an expert on France’s far right. It describes the takeover of Europe by waves of immigrants that “wash ashore like the plague.”

In the interview, King said that he read the book and that it was “completely logical to me that this could come to pass.” He went on to describe how he believes George Soros, the billionaire philanthropist and bogeyman of the far right, might be footing the bill for the Great Replacement.

Unzensuriert is known in Austria for routinely publishing Islamophobic, anti-refugee articles and attacking the country’s traditional media outlets. In recent months, it has translated more of its articles into English in an attempt to reach a larger audience.

“Unzensuriert is very much like a German-language version of Breitbart,” said Ingrid Brodnig, the author of a book about online misinformation and an expert on the Austrian far right. She said many of Unzensuriert’s stories are not factual. “They are opinion pieces which offer a far-right view on the world.”

Last year Austria’s intelligence services, in an internal report that was leaked to Austrian media, found that the site promoted anti-Semitism and extreme xenophobia. The site also spreads misinformation and conspiracies: Of the 10 best-performing Unzensuriert articles on Facebook, five contained false information or were wholly debunked, according to BuzzFeed Germany.

The site has close ties with the far-right Freedom Party, or FPO, and its former editor-in-chief is now the head of communications for the FPO-controlled Interior Ministry.

King celebrated President Donald Trump’s inauguration with FPO leaders in Washington.

King has long-standing connections to the far right in Europe and was the first elected U.S. official to meet with France’s National Front leader, Marine Le Pen. In the interview with Unzensuriert, he mentioned that he phoned Dutch anti-Islam politician Geert Wilders to offer support after Wilders was convicted of hate speech. King’s affinity for the global far right extends to outright extremists — including retweeting British neo-Nazi Mark Collett and this week endorsing Canadian white nationalist Faith Goldy.

J.D. Scholten, King’s Democratic opponent, told HuffPost that while King had time to talk to Unzensuriert during his visit to Austria, he skipped an editorial board interview with The Des Moines Register, Iowa’s largest newspaper, before the election.

“It’s disrespectful to this district that he’s spent more time (5 times in the last 6 years) in Austria on TAXPAYER DIME than he does in most counties in our district,” Scholten wrote in an email.

King, who represents one of the reddest districts in America, has beaten his Democratic opponents by more than 20 points in the past five elections. An Emerson College poll last month showed him leading Scholten by 10 percentage points.

Maybe these people all think he's just a good old guy who owns the libs. But this is no joke. This "movement" is gaining steam and elite politicians like Steve King are becoming more openly sympathetic.

The people of Iowa who vote for this odious racist should be ashamed of themselves. They are complicit whether they agree with his Nazi views or not.


Trump slipped and admitted that he is in on the cover-up

Trump slipped and admitted that he is in on the cover-up

by digby

He said it:

The Saudi Arabian government announced Friday that Khashoggi died after a fistfight at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, and that 18 Saudis had been arrested for further investigation while Deputy Director of Saudi Intelligence Ahmed al-Assiri had been dismissed

"I do. I do," Trump said when asked about his confidence in the explanation. "Again, it's early. 

We haven't finished our review, our investigation. But I think it's a very important first step."
He's clearly referring to the Saudi investigation as "our" investigation. There is no American investigation that we know of.

He's been talking up this Saudi investigation for days and the investigation is obviously a cover-up.  So ...


Trump’s tough talk

Trump's tough talk

by digby

Over at Salon, Lucian Truscott makes note of Trump's "tough talk" on the stump last week:

During the week his White House has been consumed with finding some way to excuse the apparent murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi by the Saudis in their embassy in Istanbul, Turkey, Trump decided now was a good time to celebrate the only member of Congress who has been convicted of violently assaulting a journalist who was just doing his job, covering a political campaign (Gianforte was sentenced to a six-month suspended sentence, 20 hours of anger management counseling, 40 hours of community service, and was assessed $385 in court costs and fined $4,464.97).

But he didn’t stop there. Musing on Gianforte’s skills as a body-slammer Trump recalled that Vice President Joe Biden had “challenged me to a fight, and that was fine. And when I said he wouldn't last long, he'd be down faster than Greg would take him down. He'd be down so fast. Remember? Faster than Greg. I'd have to go very fast. I'd have to immediately connect."

Let’s take a moment and consider these fine words from the President of the United States. First, what Trump is praising Gianforte for is the wrestling equivalent of a sucker punch. Ben Jacobs, the reporter for the British newspaper The Guardian, was asking him a question about the Republican healthcare plan when Gianforte suddenly “grabbed Jacobs by the neck with both hands and slammed him into the ground behind him,” according to Alicia Acuna, a Fox News reporter who witnessed the assault. “Gianforte then began punching the man, as he moved on top the reporter and began yelling something to the effect of ‘I’m sick and tired of this!’” (You can listen to a tape of the incident here)

“At no point did any of us who witnessed this assault see Jacobs show any form of physical aggression toward Gianforte, who left the area after giving statements to local sheriff’s deputies,” the Fox News reporter recalled.

So what captured Trump’s attention wasn’t a story of a man defending himself, but rather a man violently attacking an unsuspecting victim who had a legitimate reason to be asking the candidate questions about issues in the campaign for the office he was aspiring to. An attack that got him arrested and convicted of assault.

With that, Trump was off into dream world. Everything he said there after was all in his imagination. He wasn’t telling his Montana audience what he did to Joe Biden. He was telling them his imaginary fight with Biden “wouldn’t last long” because “I’d have to go very fast. I’d have to immediately connect.”

He then says, "who talks like that?" and notes that Trump has never in his life been in such a fight. (He did punch his teacher in the 8th grade which sent him to military school, but that was it --- well, except for violently raping his first wife and all the other sexual assaults.)

Anyway, it reminded me that Trump talks like this all the time. He loves to pretend to be a big tough guy who levels anyone who looks at him sideways. I wrote about this a lot during the campaign.

This is the Trump fantasy:

On the stump last week-end, Donald Trump entertained his followers in the wake of the massacre in Oregon with colorful fantasies of him walking down the street, pulling a gun on a would-be assailant and taking him out right there on the sidewalk. He said, “I have a license to carry in New York, can you believe that? Somebody attacks me, they’re gonna be shocked,” at which point he mimes a quick draw: 

As the crowd applauds and cheers, he goes on to say “somebody attacks me, oh they’re gonna be shocked. Can you imagine? Somebody says, oh there’s Trump, he’s easy pickins…” And then he pantomimes the quick draw again: 

Everybody laughs. And then Trump talks about an old Charles Bronson vigilante movie and they all chanted the name “Death Wish” together. 
Keep in mind that this sophomoric nonsense took place just two days after a disturbed man went into a classroom and shot 17 people.

He has long lived in a fantasy world in which he is a macho superhero. That seems to be a fantasy his followers bought into and believe in. 

It's one thing for a loony millionaire to hype himself to the New York tabloids. But he parlayed this fantasy into the presidency, giving him and his followers reason to believe it must be true. 

He's always been a BS artist first and foremost and bragging about his manhood (literally) is just a part of that. He's not really a brave person --- watch his obsequious performance in Helsinki or listen to that Omarosa firing tape and you'll see the real man.

But unfortunately, he's also narcissistic, arrogant and ignorant which means he could easily make a big, big mistake and cause a serious crisis. There are a dozen hot spots around the world that he's likely to misunderstand or where he'll overplay his hand. And it could easily happen because he emboldens a tyrant like MBS or Putin with his sophomoric tough talk. 


Kush goes all in

Kush goes all in

by digby

Too close to the truth:

In an effort to be completely transparent about his business deals, a bearded, keffiyeh-clad Jared Kushner announced Friday that he would avoid conflicts of interest by joining the Saudi royal family. “The American people deserve to know exactly where I stand in regards to financial interests, so to be completely open and transparent, I will become a member of the House of Saud,” said Kushner, who will henceforth be known as Prince Jared bin Charles. “In addition to renouncing my citizenship, I have decided to sell all of my U.S. properties, divorce my wife, and marry the eldest daughter of Prince Faisal bin Salman. Furthermore, I have made a $2.5-million donation to the country’s most selective Wahhabist school to ensure the acceptance of my heirs. Through all of this, I have been and will remain a senior advisor to President Trump.” At press time, bin Charles reportedly drove off in a gold-plated 2019 Lamborghini Aventador.

And yes, that IS The Onion.

He Was Lifting Weights with PJ and Squee

Behold, a Birthday Fundraiser!


Mitch’s chop shop by @BloggersRUs

Mitch's chop shop

by Tom Sullivan

Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in an interview with Bloomberg News this week all but tied on a mask and pulled out a gun:

After instituting a $1.5 trillion tax cut and signing off on a $675 billion budget for the Department of Defense, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday that the only way to lower the record-high federal deficit would be to cut entitlement programs like Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.

"It’s disappointing, but it’s not a Republican problem," McConnell said of the deficit, which grew 17 percent to $779 billion in fiscal year 2018. McConnell explained to Bloomberg that "it’s a bipartisan problem: Unwillingness to address the real drivers of the debt by doing anything to adjust those programs to the demographics of America in the future." The deficit has increased 77 percent since McConnell became majority leader in 2015.

McConnell and company want to dismantle America's most popular safety-net programs. No matter that promises have been made and money withheld from Americans' paychecks for decades to support them. Looting the treasury and selling off America for parts is the GOP's program and what its well-heeled patrons demand. McConnell just doesn't want to do it when he has the power to. Bipartisanship is a good thing when it comes to spreading around the blame. He'll drive up the deficit and moan about the deficit to improve the optics of slashing the safety net. He'll lead Republicans to the cliff, but won't let them jump and take the blame alone for what their party alone wants to do.

As Jordan Weissmann recalls:

With Trump in power, Republicans came within a hair’s breadth of gutting Medicaid under the guise of Obamacare repeal, but were foiled by John McCain’s thumbs down. Other than that, they’ve been happy to pass tax cuts, increase defense spending, and push forward some reductions to food stamps, which would have a negligible budget impact while cutting off aid to needy Americans. Any even-handed observer would have to look at all this and conclude that Republicans mostly see the deficit as a political club with which they can opportunistically beat Democrats, rather than an actual existential concern.
Democrats have long embraced health care as the number one issue voters care about. Republican candidates at long last have discovered that too. So in between scare-mongering about murderous immigrant women and children from south of the border, they are shoe-horning in a message about preserving medical coverage for pre-existing conditions.

Eric Levitz writes in New York magazine:

This was always going to be a tricky gambit for the GOP. Simply put, it’s hard to convince people that they can only trust you to protect their entitlement benefits, when you’re also arguing that taxes must never be raised; military spending must never be cut; and the budget deficit is a threat to our grandchildren.
Levitz lists four false premises behind the GOP targeting of the most popular programs in the republic. The one that I want to highlight a moment is 3) America cannot significantly reduce its military spending:
But popular support for America’s current levels of military spending is much weaker than for the maintenance of entitlement benefits at their current levels. And our nation’s military budget is far more aberrantly expensive (relative to other countries’) than our safety-net programs for the elderly are. No budget “math” dictates that the Pentagon’s funding cannot be cut, but that aid to seniors can be. It is an ideological assumption, and objective news outlets should not allow politicians to present it as anything else.
Nine hundred or more military bases scattered among the world’s nearly 200 countries outside the United States is just what the founders intended, one supposes. The GOP will not touch those. Your Medicare and Social Security are fair game.

And your protection from health care discrimination on the basis of pre-existing conditions. House Republicans who voted repeatedly, year after year, to repeal the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) — more than 50 times, in fact — now want to assure voters they have their backs when it comes to protecting that feature of the popular program they swore to kill. Will Ragland, Center for American Progress’s managing director of communications, tells Mother Jones:

“Republicans seem to have gotten some sort of memo saying they need to stand up for preexisting conditions,” Ragland says. If any had not gotten that message yet, they certainly received it yesterday when President Donald Trump tweeted that Republicans must support protections for preexisting conditions.
Candidate Trump would have added, "Trust me."

McConnell, Trump and the GOP congress are merely tidying up their act before the November elections, hoping to survive them and extend the looting spree. Infrastructure and pieces of America they cannot steal directly from voters' pockets they'll haul to the legislative chop shop and sell off for parts.

* * * * * * * * *

For The Win 2018 is ready for download. Request a copy of my county-level election mechanics primer at tom.bluecentury at gmail.


In Honor of This National Day on Writing… birthday fundraiser continues grin

Meanwhile, as my coffers fill with gold, I'll be out on a neighborhood street cleanup on the west side of town (early AM) and door-knocking for the Londrigan campaign through the afternoon wherever they need me.

If you're out there too, say "hey".

Behold, a Birthday Fundraiser!

“Cheat your landlord if you can and must, but do not try to shortchange the Muse. It cannot be done. You can’t fake quality any more than you can fake a good meal.” -- William S. Burroughs

“The freelance writer is a man who is paid per piece or per word or perhaps.”-- Robert Benchley

“The greatest part of a writer’s time is spent in reading, in order to write; a man will turn over half a library to make one book.”-- Samuel Johnson

“Know your literary tradition, savor it, steal from it, but when you sit down to write, forget about worshiping greatness and fetishizing masterpieces.”-- Allegra Goodman

“Style means the right word. The rest matters little.”-- Jules Renard

“The first sentence can’t be written until the final sentence is written.”-- Joyce Carol Oates

“We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.”-- Ernest Hemingway

“It ain’t whatcha write, it’s the way atcha write it.”-- Jack Kerouac

“Let the world burn through you. Throw the prism light, white hot, on paper.”-- Ray Bradbury

“If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.”-- Elmore Leonard

“When I say work I only mean writing. Everything else is just odd jobs.”-- Margaret Laurence

"Writers live twice." -- Natalie Goldberg

Friday Night Soother

Friday Night Soother

by digby

Via Zooborns:

Keepers at Banham Zoo are thrilled to announce the latest addition to the zoo, a male Red Panda cub, an extremely valuable addition to the ongoing international efforts to protect this threatened species.

The cub, which is yet to be named, was born this summer to the zoo’s pair of Red Pandas, Jasper and Maggie. The two adult pandas have been together since 2015, producing a female cub in 2016.

In European zoos, Red panda’s usually mate in early spring and will give birth usually to one or two cubs after a gestation period of approximately four months.

Keepers at the zoo were convinced that Maggie was pregnant again this year and closely monitored her behaviour. They were proved correct when the cub was born in late July.

Maggie is doing an excellent job caring for her baby, staying in the nesting box for long periods of time. Red Panda cubs spend the first two to three months inside their nesting box, and although the keepers have decided to take a “hands-off” approach, they have managed to get an occasional glimpse of the infant to ensure that all is well.

The cub has started to explore its surroundings, occasionally venturing out of the nesting box with mum Maggie to the delight of keepers and visitors.

Animal Manager, Mike Woolham said, “We are delighted with our latest addition. The conservation of the animals in our care is of paramount importance to us and we hope that our latest arrival may throw the spotlight on the plight of this species and others under severe threat in South-east Asia”.

Red Pandas are listed as endangered and numbers in the wild are believed to have decreased by 50% in less than 20 years due to massive habitat loss and an increase in human poaching for their meat and beautiful red fur.

The cub will remain with his parents at the zoo for at least a year. Once he reaches maturity the European and International Studbook Coordinator for the species will recommend transferring him to another zoo, where he will most likely join a female to make up a new pair. They will hopefully then produce young of their own, helping to ensure the survival of the species.


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