a brighter summer day (edward yang, 1991)

This is more of a placeholder than a review. I watched A Brighter Summer Day under less than ideal circumstances, and don't really feel competent to evaluate it yet. It's just under 4 hours long, and I had figured I'd have to at least invent an intermission. But then the Criterion Channel didn't want to work properly in my browser, and by the time I realized that and switched back to the TV, I'd already lost a day. And I was half asleep for that one. So I ended up watching about 90 minutes the first day, 30 minutes the second day, and the rest of the movie on the third day. Since this is a movie that rewards close attention, I was not giving it the respect it deserved.

I had trouble keeping the characters straight. This might have been a result of my fragmented viewing, I can't say. Also, Paul Dano notes on one of the extras that he thinks it would be useful for viewers to first learn a bit about Taiwanese culture (it takes place in a few years around 1960). I was often confused, and I think Dano is right. I'd just read an essay about how spoilers are actually good for you, and it's possible I'd have had an easier time following the film if I already knew what would be happening. (This makes it a good candidate for a second viewing.)

Finally, I was reminded a bit of the great City of God, one of my favorite movies. Like A Brighter Summer Day, City of God deals with youth gangs. But that movie's characters were a lot like the gangsters I was used to from the U.S., in particular Menace II Society. I lacked a deep understand of life in the favelas, but I felt I knew the characters. The young boys in A Brighter Summer Day are connected to American pop culture as well ... the title comes from the lyrics to "Are You Lonesome Tonight?" But they seem to draw their cues from a different place than what I'm used to as an American. City of God was easier for me to connect to, compared to this film.

In the meantime, I must mention the exquisite visual compositions in the film. I've only seen one other movie by Yang, Yi Yi, which I liked but which I confess I don't remember very much about.

Here is a scene I particularly liked, in part because it makes an American pop culture reference you know I'll love: teens are at the movies, and on the soundtrack, you can hear that they are watching Rio Bravo:

#123 on the They Shoot Pictures, Don't They list of the top 1000 films of all time.


a net plus for trump

Matt Taibbi on what he calls a "fiasco [that] will surely end up being a net plus for Trump". "The Press Will Learn Nothing From the Russiagate Fiasco".

So, yay journalism! You were more truthful than Donald Trump, at times. This is like being proud of beating a fish at Boggle.

We’re not trying to be right more often than Trump — we’re trying to not be wrong, ever. It’s a standard, not a competition. [emphasis added] ...

Reporters are going to insist all they did was accurately report the developments of a real investigation. They didn’t imply vast criminality that wasn’t there, or hoodwink audiences into thinking a Watergate-style ending was just around the corner, or routinely blow meaningless episodes like the Sessions-Kislyak meeting out of proportion, or regularly smear people who not only weren’t part of a conspiracy but had no connection to anything (see here for an example).

They’ll also claim they didn’t spend years openly rooting for indictment and impeachment via wish-casted predictions disguised as reporting and commentary, or denouncing people who doubted the conspiracy as spies and Putin apologists, or clearing their broadcast panels and op-ed pages of skeptics while giving big stages to craven conspiracy-spinners like Malcolm Nance and Luke Harding....

The obstruction parts of the report make [Trump] look like a brainless goon and thug, but the absence of what Mueller repeatedly calls “underlying crime” make his ravings about an elitist mob out to get him look justified. This is not an easy thing to achieve, but we’re there, and the press is a big part of that picture.


don't know what this means

Which means I'm not sure why I did this, other than it was there. This comes from the I Side With website, where you answer a bunch of questions and they tell you which presidential candidates come closest to your views. You can see the results here: https://www.isidewith.com/profile/3755425458/ballot/2020-presidential

I pretty much lost any confidence I might have had when it said Beto O'Rourke was my guy. There was a question that asked straight out, if the election was today, who would you vote for, and I said "undecided", so I guess it serves me right that I left it up to them. While I am not a member of any party, the top 13 out of 16 were Democrats (or Bernie Sanders), followed by a Libertarian and two Republicans. (I am 65 years old, and have still never voted for a Republican.) There were 10 candidates who finished from 92% (Amy Klobuchar) to 97% (Beto) ... not sure what the numbers mean, but that's how they rank candidates. Elizabeth Warren came 5th, and she's probably who I would vote for now.

Among the additional notes:

Left Wing vs. Right Wing: "You side extremely towards 'left wing', meaning you very strongly support policies that promote social and economic equality."

Pacifism vs. Militarism: "You side strongly towards 'pacifism', meaning you strongly believe we should use non-violent diplomatic discussion to resolve conflicts."

Centralization vs. Decentralization: "You are a centrist on centralization and decentralization issues."

Secular vs. Religious: "You side strongly towards 'secular', meaning you strongly support policies that reflect a separation of church and state."

Big Government vs. Small Government: "You side strongly towards 'big government', meaning you strongly believe the government should do more to address social inequality, corruption, and assistance for its citizens."