May 02, 2003

Blair: Bush "Highly Intelligent"

I'm no fan of George W. Bush on most things, although I think he did pretty well on Iraq. Apparently, so does Tony Blair, who is a fan of Bush on some things.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair, whose closeness to U.S. President George W. Bush earned him praise from Washington and derision at home, says he thinks the American leader's lightweight image is "complete bull."
"I was about to say, 'He's not someone who will philosophize,' but actually that's not true, because he does. But 'directness' is the best way I can describe it. He has a very, very direct way of stating exactly what he feels about a situation."

Blair added about Bush, "He is highly intelligent, and it's not clotted by so many nuances that the meaning is obscured. The good thing about (Bush) is that once he does really think that an issue has to be tackled he has big reserves of courage for doing it, and he won't really be diverted."

That is sometimes known as integrity (strange in a politician).

I never understood this idée fixe that some on the left have that Bush is some kind of "moron" or "idiot". He may be a good old boy, and his impromptu articulation is weak, but "misunderestimating" him is a sure way to get 4 more years (and further "misunderestimating" then gets you Jeb for 4).

But, hey, the Democrats have a death wish. Forward into the breach.

As an added bonus, the article refers to Scottish Labour MP Tam Dalyell, Saddam-appeaser, distant relative of Harry Truman and general-purpose antiwar loony. It's good he's keeping up the antiwar side. To spare you suspense, it's the Jews' fault (surprise!).

The author then quoted Labour Member of Parliament Tam Dalyell, the longest serving member of the House of Commons, as saying he thought Blair was unduly influenced by a cabal of Jewish advisors.
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I just received my first ... what shall I call it ... blogvert*. By way of the Great Gray Lady, an entertaining note from John Malkovich, written in blog-style, with insights and stories about his new picture:

After some time, we set up the film with an English distribution company, a singularly disreputable group of people who after paying to option the book spent several fruitful years ensuring that it would never be made into a movie."

Reaction: Works surprisingly well, at least on me! Fox's one mistake: it's not available as an actual blog, with a link so I can insert that in my weblog, e-mail it, etc.

*in homage to Max Headroom's "blipvert".

I put the entire text in the extended entry section. Worth reading:

In the winter of 1995 I was making a film in Poland. I got from somewhere a copy of an English newspaper - The Daily Telegraph - which often has articles about what various people are reading. Actually, they're less articles than little blurbs or encapsulations. "I found so and so's book blah blah blah rather stimulating" etc. Someone, I can't remember who, was reading a novel called The Dancer Upstairs by Nicholas Shakespeare and gave the briefest synopsis of the story, and if I remember correctly, commented favorably on the tone of the book. I called my crack staff in Los Angeles for them to hunt up a copy of the book and send it along to my little cabin in the forest next to the requisite icy lake. I read the book, liked it immensely and we immediately set about trying to option it in the hopes of eventually making a film of it through our company Mr. Mudd.

After some time, we set up the film with an English distribution company, a singularly disreputable group of people who after paying to option the book spent several fruitful years ensuring that it would never be made into a movie. Why would they do that? Why would they behave that way? I actually couldn't tell you, and during the two or three years I wasted with these felons I actually didn't much think about it. I've spent many years in the film industry and have on occasions dealt with other liars, some accomplished, poetic and just plain likable, others lacking imagination, creativity or inventiveness.

The film eventually fell apart five or so years ago in Spain when we were only a few weeks from the start of shooting. Every couple of days we were told that the money to make the film would be arriving in the bank on Monday morning. Sorry, Wednesday afternoon, Thursday during siesta hours, and on and on. After a few weeks and a few hundred-thousand dollars of this, I called the owner of the distribution company, made some not so veiled threats, employed the "c" word and shortly after our relationship ended. I tried to rescue the film in a government bailout sort of way, and in the movie industry the government is the studios. I sent the script to several companies in the States and most responded promptly, some (I'm thinking of a gentleman at DreamWorks) were quite fulsome in their praise of the screenplay, but were in no way interested in financing the film.

The film was cancelled; the actors and crew notified, and The Dancer Upstairs became another of the film industry's dreams deferred.

During the ensuing few years we searched high and low for film financing, had scores of meetings and heard some immensely curious and entertaining reasons for financiers' distinct lack of interest. "Who is Javier Bardem?" "It's political." "It's too political." "She's old and has a fat ass." "Who cares about terrorism?" "It's about European Mexicans." "It's not political."

Eventually I met a Spanish film producer and although our relationship was at times less than fully gratifying, he said he would make the film, and wonder of wonders, he did. The Dancer Upstairs started shooting in May of 2000. We shot in Spain, Portugal and Ecuador over a nine week period. The film cost around $4,500,000 or so. Among the nationalities represented in the cast and crew were Spanish, Portuguese, Ecuadorian, Italian, British, German, Belgian, Mexican and American.

During the shooting we lost our electrician and our first and second assistant directors due to deaths in their respective families. The production company had neglected to open a bank account in Ecuador and so we arrived there after having shot in Europe for seven weeks with no money to give the crew, so I spent my two days of final preparation for the shoot going around to cash machines in Quito. The maximum amount one could withdraw was fifteen dollars, still quite a bit of money in Ecuador. A highly trained and tenured university professor might make $40 (U.S.) per month. We had a very dedicated cast and crew and with some per diem money which I had left over from other films probably still Con Air I should hope-we were able to pay people until we eventually received our production money a few days later.

Looking back over the seven years it took us to bring the film to fruition, it seems astonishing to me that it took so long, that so few people were interested, and I must say in closing, that they were so incredibly and so pompously wrong.


John Malkovich makes his directorial debut with The Dancer Upstairs - now playing in select cities.

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Canada Threatened with Weapons of Intense Bureaucracy

US threatens Canada if it legalizes marijuana:

Murray didn't spell out what the American response would be, but he invoked images of tie-ups at border crossings and intense bureaucracy.

Ooooh. Somehow I don't think the Canadians are going to be scared. Having worked for the Canadian Ministry of Transport, I can tell you that intense bureaucracy may be the one threat that Canada is equipped to deal with.

The US may finally be outgunned.

Thanks to Mad Mitch for the heads-up and some appropriately cogent advice to the US drug agency.

Mitch is probably mad because he's in Ottawa, or else he's in Ottawa because he's mad. Either works.

Posted by campbell at 10:59 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Kristof Meets the Enemy He Wants Locked Up

I had to check the date on this New York Times column (registration required), it seemed like an April Fool's joke.

Nicholas Kristof advocating breaking down the door in the middle of the night, hauling off people and detaining them against their will?

One main obstacle has been shrieks of protest by civil libertarians, whom I'm usually sympathetic to — but not this time.

Well, okay, Nick. Take a deep breath.

Having just come back from Sars-lyvania (Toronto) myself, I agree with Kristof on the issue and the response. However, if we substitute the words "suspected of terrrorist intentions" for "suspected of having the disease" and "chemical weapon" for "smallpox" — we just fell through the looking glass.

Why is this suspension of civil liberties any more acceptable than the Ashcroft variations? I liked the "shrieks of protest" line, sounds like Charles Krauthammer.

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Caution Men Working

May 1, 2003, Chambers Street, New York

International Worker's Day!

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