Monday, November 5, 2018

Conservative Republicans have become racists

Conservative President Donald Trump is the head of the Republican Party. He and his conservative Republican allies have been making racists statements over the last month to motivate bigots in the party. And I have not seen any push back from other conservatives. They have embraced racism. Don't believe me? Let's go over some of them.

In the Florida Governor's race, Conservative Republican Ron DeSantis has described his African American opponent, Democrat Andrew Gillum with this phrase. Don't "monkey this up" by electing Gillum. (The Hill) I've never heard the phrase "monkey" something up. I have heard racists compare blacks to monkeys and apes.

Trump then called Gillum a "thief" (Trump tweet below.) There is not one shred of evidence that Gillum is a thief. (CNN) And too often, it is what racist whites use to describe African Americans.

Then, conservative Republican Sonny Purdue who's also the Agriculture Secretary said that the Florida gubernatorial race was too "cotton pickin'" important to be messed up. (Vox) "Cotton pickin'" is a phrase used to associate with Afircan American slaves who were forced to pick cotton.

And since there is another African American running for governor in the United States, Trump felt the need as head of the Republican Party to again drop another racist charge. In Georgia, African American woman and Democrat, Stacey Abrams is running for governor. Trump on Sunday called her "unqualified." Now, this is an old insult against African Americans by racists who question their intelligence. Ms. Abrams is a Yale Law School graduate and was minority house leader in the Georgia House of Representatives. (CNN Report)

If you wish to reject this bigotry, stop voting conservative Republican. Vote Democratic.

Friday, October 26, 2018

In midst of bomb attempts, Trump must act like a President

It's been disappointing to see President Trump tweeting that some of the blame for the atmosphere that has led someone to send bombs to Trump's critics belongs to the media. Now's the time for Trump to do his job as President. He is not just President of the Republican Party, he's also President of all the American people and that includes Democrats, independents and others. It's in times like these that the President must comfort the people, condemn the violent acts even if they come from a supporter because we are a nation of laws.

So, this is to President Trump. Go before the nation. And from the Oval Office, give a speech on what I have just said. Here, I've written a couple of sentences for you.

"My fellow Americans. Do not let one deranged individual to terrorize you from living your lives, exercising your fundamental rights such as the right to speak and to vote. I am confident that our law enforcement will find this person or persons. To the individual or people behind these bombing attempts. You do not represent my campaign. I repudiate and reject your acts of terror. Stop these criminal actions."

See, President Trump. It's not so hard. I note that you have asked the "caravan" to turn back. You can do the same with this terrorist to stop these violent actions. He does follow you. He is attacking your critics. Please be the President of all the people.

Trump has indirectly encouraged the attempted bombing of his critics

Over the last few days, pipe bombs were sent to critics of President Donald Trump. One was sent to CNN, perhaps Trump's favorite news organization he hates. They all share one two things in common. One, they have spoken or published negative things about Trump. And this is most important. Trump has personally attacked them. Sometimes, he went after them in rallies. The targets make up an enemies list. See Huffington Post article.

Now the President can be critical of people. I don't have a problem with that. However, his words matter especially since he is the President of the United States. People may follow what he says as  a kind of a command an authority or think they are doing their patriotic duty by taking his hatred to criminal levels. So, when he says the "the press is the enemy of the people", somebody might act out violently thinking that this is somehow right.

Trump's dangerous attacks are numerous. But here are a couple. As i said, he says the news media is the "enemy of the people." Just this month, he praised the attack on a reporter. Axios video below. Trump is giddy that last year Cong. Gianforte (R-Mt) body slammed a journalist. Watch the video below. At the twenty second mark, Trump literally applauds the act. At the thirty second mark, Trump says "But I had heard he body slammed a reporter" and he points to the press in the back as to signal them out. His crowd goes wild. Later, he says, "I know Montana pretty well.  I think it (the assault) might help him. (Gianforte) And it did." (Parentheticals added. Fifty second mark.) By the way, Gianforte was charged with assault and pled guilty to it.

At an October 2, 2018 rally in Mississippi, Trump said this about Democrats, "These are really evil people." AP News.

I could go on about the attacks on the the bombers targets. But Trump has gone after all of them. Hillary Clinton. Former President Barack Obama. George Soros. Cong. Maxine Waters. Even the great actor Robert De Niro has been attacked by Trump. So what does this all mean? They form Trump's Enemies List. It's a roll call to some right wing conservative who listens to Trump, and is now trying to kill Trump's enemies and intimidate his critics with terror. Time to call this what it is. Anybody hurt on the Trump's Enemies List lies at the feet of this President.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

The Predator review

Here's the thing about director-writer Shane Black. He likes to deconstruct genres with a subversive glee. Take a look at his films Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005) and The Nice Guys. These two movies were part comic takes on the private detective- film noir genre. It worked well for those two films because he respected the genre and the it could withstand the comedy without the films becoming camp. In 2013, Black co-wrote and directed the blasphemous Iron Man 3 and by blasphemous, I mean that Black took a serious comic book villain, The Mandarin, and turned him into a clown. He also showed no respect for the concept of a man donning the Iron Man suit and becoming a hero. The result of that movie was regrettable for the fans of Iron Man. Now, Black takes on the fourth movie in the Predator series, if you exclude the Alien vs Predator series, in The Predator. Quick trivia, Black acted in the first Predator (1987) film. The question is will Black's rebellious style work here?

The Predator opens up like the first one with an alien ship containing a Predator approaching earth. This time the ship crashes. It just happens to crash nearby a hostage rescue. On this mission, Army Ranger Quinn Mckenna (Boyd Holbrook) and his soldiers stumble on the ship. Quinn takes some of the armor off the alien. After fighting with the Predator, he wanders the countryside. Quinn later mails the armor to his young son Rory (Jacob Tremblay) who I think is about ten. Quinn gets captured by government agents led by Traeger (Sterling K. Brown) and is transported to a secret base where a captured Predator is being studied. Also arriving is Dr. Casey Bracket. (Olivia Munn) You can guess what happens. Said Predator escapes.

I can't complain about the cast. They're solid. A quick nod to Emmy Award winner Sterling K. Brown who's known for his sensitive Randall Pearson in the TV series This is Us. Here he's ruthless, ends justify the means government official. And before I forget, Quinn recruits a squad of misfits led by Trevante Rhodes, and Obama's Anger Translator, Keegan- Michael Peele. Okay, Peele is doesn't play Obama's Anger Translator but he teams up with an unrecognizable Thomas Jane or was that Aaron Eckhart? Sorry it's Jane, confused by male white actors with long faces and strong chins. Anyway, the misfits are the comic relief.

The Predator has many problems, the least of which is Black's subversive take on the franchise. First, is the screenplay by Fred Dekker and Black. I'll praise it for some good ideas as far as why the Predators are coming to earth. But it has logical flaws. I mean why would Quinn send Predator armor to his kid? I guess it's a contrivance to set up other plot threads. Then, there are way too many jokes for this type of thriller and too often they don't work.

Second, Black substitutes making a taut action movie with night scenes which are too dark, and fast cutting. The result? Confusion. And his subversive tone drowns out any drama. Is he making a sarcastic action comedy or a tale of life and death struggle?

The Predator is a mess of a movie. It can't decide whether it wants to be a thoughtful science fiction action picture or a sarcastic comedy on the genre. It fails both. The grade is C Plus.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Fahrenheit 11/9 review

About fifteen minutes into director and writer Michael Moore's documentary Fahrenheit 11/9, he makes a fascinating point. America is actually a liberal nation. As evidence, he cites polls which show majority support for unions, a women's right to choose and other progressive causes. He even cites the recent Reuters poll which shows that a whopping seventy percent of Americans want medicare for all. So he raises the question of how did we as a nation elect a far right-wing conservative in Donald Trump as President? It's one of the themes in this film.

The film starts out with the political Titanic campaign of Democrat Hillary Clinton. We again are reminded of how the Democrats and she were so confident of winning that she skipped campaigning in Democratic states such Wisconsin. It would be these states primarily in the rust belt of the Midwest and Pennsylvania that doomed her. Yet she won the popular vote. So, how did she lose?

Moore goes back and examines the system and politics that lade to Trump's victory. No doubt, he raises the Electoral College system. But Moore goes in a direction that most people would not expect. He blames Democrats. Don't get me wrong, conservative Republicans don't look good in this movie either. However, it's Democrats who "compromise" their liberal beliefs that fails working people. He makes this point by looking at the water crisis in his hometown of Flint, Michigan.

Moore uses Michigan as a microcosm of how Trump was able to win. Michigan's governor is Rick Snyder who like Trump was a super rich businessman. Promising to use his business expertise to run the state even though he had no experience running a government. To seize power from some of the cities, Snyder ordered Emergency Managers to run them and suspend democratic rule. Yes. this is true. In Flint, to save money, the manager decided to take water from a polluted river that would corrode lead pipes. As a result people were poisoned with lead.

Now in Moore's film,  conservative Republicans take some of  the blame. However, Moore is objective. He highlights a visit by then President Obama, who comes gives a great speech, and pulls a stunt by drinking a glass of Flint's water. But he does nothing to help them. Later the city is used for war games. Abandoned, you can guess that people are not going to vote Democratic. It's this abandonment of liberal ideas by Democrats that suppressed the votes of their own. Why would working people vote Democrat when it's all lip service. Hence, the rise of Trump just like Snyder. And Trump also wants power, to the point of looking like a fascist.

It's not all a horror show. Moore shows emerging democratic progressive movements. West Virginia teachers striking for better pay. Parkland, Florida high school students who survived a mass shooting, taking on conservatives and the NRA. More women candidates running in the #metoo movement. And the rise of Democratic Socialist candidates like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who won her New York Democratic primary against heavy odds.

The problem with reviewing a documentary is what happens when the critic agrees with the political views of the filmmaker. It becomes more difficult to be objective. So, I watched Moore's film trying to be more critical of his more leftist opinions. What I looked for were moments of truth that could not be denied. Immigrant children in detention camps crying for their parents. The children of Flint poisoned by lead. Moments like these were emotional and powerful. It made me question what our democracy has become. One small gripe, the focus on Flint does take away from Moore doing a more thorough analysis of Trump's con job.

Fahrenheit 11/9 is both horrifying and hopeful. At times sad and funny. It's also a powerful call for liberals to fight back. The grade is A.

Friday, September 7, 2018

Crazy Rich Asians review

As a Chinese American, I'm glad that Crazy Rich Asians has the "rich" as part of its title. Because the lifestyles of these Asians is nothing like your average, normal Chinese American. it's like a fairy tale for Asians who yearn to be really rich. And by rich, I mean rich as in royalty rich.

Based on Kevin Kwan's novel of the same name, Crazy Rich Asians, is about the romance of Nick Young (Harry Golding) who's the heir of a Singapore real estate dynasty and "commoner" Rachel Chu (Constance Wu). She's an economics professor at New York University. Nick invites her to attend a friends wedding in Singapore and meet the family, including the head of the Young family, Wai Lin (Michelle Yeoh) a kick ass secret agent for China... oops, that's the excellent James Bond movie, Tomorrow Never Dies. (1997) Her name in this movie is Eleanor. She's not too thrilled about her son romancing an American commoner. If you look at the conflict that I just described, you can guess where this film is going. No, I'm not talking about the James Bond movie of a narcissistic villain wanting to dominate the world.    Hold on.  Isn't that is what is happening in America now?  Okay, back to this film, I'm talking about the coming clash of classes between the wealthy Young family and Rachel's "working" woman.  Hold on.  She''s a college professor not a constuction worker.   Oy.  I forget, this is how the Chinese want to see themselves in a movie.  . 

When Rachel arrives in Singapore, she looks up a college buddy, Peik Lin Goh (Awkwafina) which sounds like in the movie "Piglet." Thank God for the internet because I would have called her Piglet. Yeah, major ABC moment. (American Born Chinese) Anyway, Peik Lin lives with her crazy rich family led by Wye Mun Goh played by Ken Jeong who thankfully doesn't do a full frontal nude scene like he did in The Hangover. (2009) That being said the Goh family steals the movie. They're wacky and fun. And Peik Lin might be super rich but she's every man or should I say every woman. The common person could relate to her wit, middle class sensibility even if she is super wealthy.  She's got a  hilarious demeanor. Peik Lin is Rachel's guide to the "royal" Young family because everybody in Asia has heard of the Young family except Rachel and us the audience.

It's a fact that there are very limited acting roles and stories for Asian actors in Hollywood films. It doesn't help when they whitewashes Asian stories. I'm looking at you 21 (2008) and Ghost in the Shell (2017) So, it is good to see another world, one that is based on Asian society. This film gets it right when they describe the color red as symbolizing good fortune to the Chinese or  the love of  eating especially dumplings. But what this film misses is that it's not a normal look at Chinese Americans or Chinese. Virtually all Chinese in China or America do not live the obscenely wealthy lifestyle of the Youngs. That economic royalty is a fantasy for Chinese. Hence, if you're not part of the world, you don't get what the real world feels like for Asians.
The screenplay by Peter Chiarelli and Adele Lim has some very funny moments but swings uncomfortably between comedy and drama.  This occurs when the film focuses on Nick's sister, Astrid (Gemma Chan) and her personal problems.  Perhaps this novel might have been better presented as a mini-series.  As for the directing,   Jon Chu certainly has an eye for film as his visuals are lovingly created to show the beauty of Singapore.  I'm sure this film will do well  in China as it generally has a positive view of Asians.

There is nothing new  in Crazy Rich Asians. The only thing new is this is a movie about obscenely rich Chinese who are basically economic royalty.  It's the Chinese fantasy.  Think of it this way.  It's Chinese Cinderella.  The grade is B.

Friday, August 31, 2018

An Aretha Franklin Tribute Concert

I say farewell to the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin,  who passed away on August 16.  We love  you Aretha.  Here's the Basement Blog tribute concert with some of her videos and hits.

"I Say a Little Prayer for You."  


"Think" From The Blues Brothers.  (1980)

"(You Make Me Feel Like)  A Natural Women."  From 2015 Kennedy Center ceremony honoring Carole King. Yeah, check Ms. King.  She loses it because Aretha is awesome.  We all lose it. Right, President Obama?

"Until You Come Back to Me."  This is my favorite Aretha song which was written by Stevie Wonder.

And we end with...

"Freeway of Love."