Letters 10-24-2016

It’s Obama’s 1984 Several editions ago I concluded a short letter to the editor with an ominous rhetorical flourish: “Welcome to George Orwell’s 1984 and the grand opening of the Federal Department of Truth!” At the time I am sure most of the readers laughed off my comments as right-wing hyperbole. Shame on you for doubting me...

Gun Bans Don’t Work It is said that mass violence only happens in the USA. A lone gunman in a rubber boat, drifted ashore at a popular resort in Tunisia and randomly shot and killed 38 mostly British and Irish tourists. Tunisian gun laws, which are among the most restrictive in the world, didn’t stop this mass slaughter. And in January 2015, two armed men killed 11 and wounded 11 others in an attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. French gun laws didn’t stop these assassins...

Scripps’ Good Deed No good deed shall go unpunished! When Dan Scripps was the 101st District State Representative, he introduced legislation to prevent corporations from contaminating (e.g. fracking) or depleting (e.g. Nestle) Michigan’s water table for corporate profit. There are no property lines in the water table, and many of us depend on private wells for abundant, safe, clean water. In the subsequent election, Dan’s opponents ran a negative campaign almost solely on the misrepresentation that Dan’s good deed was a government takeover of your private water well...

Political Definitions As the time to vote draws near it’s a good time to check into what you stand for. According to Dictionary.com the meanings for liberal and conservative are as follows:

Liberal: Favorable to progress or reform as in political or religious affairs.

Conservative: Disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, etc., or to restore traditions and limit change...

Voting Takes A Month? Hurricane Matthew hit the Florida coast Oct. 6, over three weeks before Election Day. Bob Ross (Oct. 17th issue) posits that perhaps evacuation orders from Governor Scott may have had political motivations to diminish turnout and seems to praise Hillary Clinton’s call for Gov. Scott to extend Florida’s voter registration deadline due to evacuations...

Clinton Foundation Facts Does the Clinton Foundation really spend a mere 10 percent (per Mike Pence) or 20 percent (per Reince Priebus) of its money on charity? Not true. Charity Watch gives it an A rating (the same as it gives the NRA Foundation) and says it spends 88 percent on charitable causes, and 12 percent on overhead. Here is the source of the misunderstanding: The Foundation does give only a small percentage of its money to charitable organizations, but it spends far more money directly running a number of programs...

America Needs Change Trump supports our constitution, will appoint judges that will keep our freedoms safe. He supports the partial-birth ban; Hillary voted against it. Regardless of how you feel about Trump, critical issues are at stake. Trump will increase national security, monitor refugee admissions, endorse our vital military forces while fighting ISIS. Vice-presidential candidate Mike Pence will be an intelligent asset for the country. Hillary wants open borders, increased government regulation, and more demilitarization at a time when we need strong military defenses...

My Process For No I will be voting “no” on Prop 3 because I am supportive of the process that is in place to review and approve developments. I was on the Traverse City Planning Commission in the 1990s and gained an appreciation for all of the work that goes into a review. The staff reviews the project and makes a recommendation. The developer then makes a presentation, and fellow commissioners and the public can ask questions and make comments. By the end of the process, I knew how to vote for a project, up or down. This process then repeats itself at the City Commission...

Regarding Your Postcard If you received a “Vote No” postcard from StandUp TC, don’t believe their lies. Prop 3 is not illegal. It won’t cost city taxpayers thousands of dollars in legal bills or special elections. Prop 3 is about protecting our downtown -- not Munson, NMC or the Commons -- from a future of ugly skyscrapers that will diminish the very character of our downtown...

Vote Yes It has been suggested that a recall or re-election of current city staff and Traverse City Commission would work better than Prop 3. I disagree. A recall campaign is the most divisive, costly type of election possible. Prop 3, when passed, will allow all city residents an opportunity to vote on any proposed development over 60 feet tall at no cost to the taxpayer...

Yes Vote Explained A “yes” vote on Prop 3 will give Traverse City the right to vote on developments over 60 feet high. It doesn’t require votes on every future building, as incorrectly stated by a previous letter writer. If referendums are held during general elections, taxpayers pay nothing...

Beware Trump When the country you love have have served for 33 years is threatened, you have an obligation and a duty to speak out. Now is the time for all Americans to speak out against a possible Donald Trump presidency. During the past year Trump has been exposed as a pathological liar, a demagogue and a person who is totally unfit to assume the presidency of our already great country...

Picture Worth 1,000 Words Nobody disagrees with the need for affordable housing or that a certain level of density is dollar smart for TC. The issue is the proposed solution. If you haven’t already seen the architect’s rendition for the site, please Google “Pine Street Development Traverse City”...

Living Wage, Not Tall Buildings Our community deserves better than the StandUp TC “vote no” arguments. They are not truthful. Their yard signs say: “More Housing. Less Red Tape. Vote like you want your kids to live here.” The truth: More housing, but for whom? At what price..

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None - August 19th, 2011  

Another Earth (Drama, PG-13, 92 minutes).

A new planet four times the size of the moon, appears in the sky of Earth. Searching for it out her car window, a young woman (Brit Marling) causes a car crash, killing a mother and child and sending the father (William Mapother) into a coma. After he emerges from the coma, she contrives to work as his housecleaner, and they develop a fragile relationship without him realizing who she is. The presence of Earth 2 in the sky suggests alternative lifelines we could have lived. Marling makes an impressive debut, and the film is thoughtprovoking. Rating: Three and a half stars.

Captain America (Comic book action, PG-13, 125 minutes). Chris Evans stars as Steve Rogers, a puny kid who is transformed into a muscular superhero and battles a Nazi uber-villain known as the Red Skull (Hugo Weaving). With Hayley Atwell as a sultry WAC, Tommy Lee Jones as an Army colonel, Stanley Tucci as a scientist and Dominic Cooper as Howard Stark, who will go on to develop Iron Man. Rating: Three stars.

The Change-Up (Comedy, R, 101 minutes).

One of the dirtiest-minded mainstream releases in history. It has a low opinion of men, a lower opinion of women, and the lowest opinion of the intelligence of its audience. Rating: One and a half stars.

Cowboys & Aliens (Sci-fi western, PG-13, 118 minutes). Without any doubt the most cockamamie plot I’ve witnessed in many a moon. Daniel Craig is a stagecoach robber with amnesia, Harrison Ford is a tyrannical rancher, Sam Rockwell is a saloon keeper, Olivia Wilde is a pretty lady who’s not from around these parts. The aliens are throwbacks to classic bug-eyed monsters. Rating: Three stars.

Crazy, Stupid, Love (Romantic comedy, PG- 13, 117 minutes). A sweet romantic comedy about good-hearted people. Imagine that. No snark. No raunch. Steve Carell and Julianne Moore balance on the edge of divorce, Emma Stone plays a sweetheart, Marisa Tomei steals scenes, and Analeigh Tipton and Jonah Bobo are cute as an impossible teenage couple. Oh, and Ryan Gosling plays a lounge lizard and lady-killer. Yes. Ryan Gosling. And very well, too. Rating: Three stars.

The Devil’s Double (Biographical drama, R, 109 minutes). Uday Hussein, the eldest son of Saddam Hussein, was a vile and deranged man. This film sees him through the eyes of Latif Yahia, an Iraqi soldier forced to act as his double. As Uday indulges in cocaine-fueled depravity, Latif resists him and dangerously begins an affair with his mistress (Ludivine Sagnier). Dominic Cooper does a virtuoso job in a dual role, and the movie is undeniably entertaining in the tradition of Al Pacino’s work in “Scarface.” But questions remain unexplored. Rating: Three stars.

Final Destination 5 (Horror, R, 92 minutes).

One of those rare movies where the title itself is a spoiler. Yes, everyone in the movie dies, except for Coroner Bludworth. But you knew that because of the previous four films. The increasingly challenging task of the filmmakers is to devise ever more horrible and gruesome methods for them to be slaughtered. They do. Rating: Two stars.

Friends With Benefits (Romantic comedy, R, 109 minutes). Follows romcom formulas as if directed by an autopilot, but that’s not to say it isn’t fun. Mila Kunis plays Jamie, an executive headhunter in New York City. Justin Timberlake plays Dylan, the hotshot behind a popular website. They agree to have sex without emotional attachment, and you know how well that works. But they’re both the real thing when it comes to light comedy. Not a great movie, but I enjoyed them in it. Rating: Three stars.

The Guard (Comedy, R, 95 minutes). Brendan Gleeson is wonderful as an Irish cop with shaky standards; he steals drugs from accident victims, parties with hookers and deals in graft. But he loves his mother. Partnered against his will on a big drug case with an FBI agent (Don Cheadle), he rises to the occasion, but not before much dialogue of sly wit. A rich human comedy with a gripping ending and much humor along the way. Rating: Three and a half stars.

Horrible Bosses (Comedy, R, 100 minutes).

Very funny and very dirty, in about that order. Involves three horrible bosses and three employees who vow to murder them. The movie works because of how truly horrible the bosses are, what pathetic victims the employees are, and how bad the employees are at killing. Kevin Spacey and Jennifer Aniston stand out in a strong cast including Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis, Colin Farrell, Jamie Foxx and Charlie Day. Rating: Three and a half stars.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes (Sci-fi action, PG-13, 105 minutes). James Franco stars as a scientist who tests an anti-Alzheimer’s drug on chimpanzees and finds it dramatically increases their intelligence. After the experiment is called off, he brings a baby chimp home, and Caesar (a motion-capture performance by Andy Serkis) flourishes until he rebels after being sent to an unkind primate shelter. With Freida Pinto as a beautiful primatologist, John Lithgow as an Alzheimer’s victim. The movie has its pleasures, although the chimps seem smarter than the humans. Rating: Three stars.

Road to Nowhere (Thriller, R, 121 minutes).

The first film in 21 years by the cult legend Monte Hellman, whose “Two-Lane Blacktop” (1971) is celebrated. Imagine a jigsaw puzzle where you assemble as many pieces as seem to fit, but have pieces left over and gaps left in the puzzle. Shannyn Sossamon stars as an actress in a film within a film, Tygh Runyan is her director, and Dominique Swain is the blogger whose work may have inspired both the inner and outer films. Scenes in search of a movie. Rating: Two stars.

The Whistleblower (Thriller, R, 112 minutes).

A film to fill you with rage, based on the true story of Kathryn Bolkovac, a police officer from Lincoln, Neb., who took a job with the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Bosnia. She found direct evidence that underage girls were being held captive and bought and sold in a sex-trafficking operation. Her evidence was ignored by a male conspiracy. Rachel Weisz in one of her best performances. Co-starring David Strathairn, Monica Bellucci, Vanessa Redgrave. Rating: Three and a half stars.

New on DVD:

SOURCE CODE (Sc-fi thriller, PG-13, 93 m., 2011).

Jake Gyllenhaal plays a character who finds himself inside the mind of a man aboard a commuter train that will be blown up by a terrorist in eight minutes. By reliving those minutes, can he uncover the secret of a plot even larger and more cruel? Rating: Three and a half stars.

PAUL (Sci-fi comedy, R, 104 m., 2011). Two middleaged Brit fanboys (Simon Pegg and Nick Frost) travel to San Diego for Comic-Con and then rent an RV for a tour of America’s UFO sites. They strike gold when they encounter Paul (Seth Rogen), an actual alien, who comes along for the ride. The movie starts well but loses its way, perhaps because Paul is too much comic relief and not alien enough. Rating: Two and a half stars.

YOUR HIGHNESS (Comedy, R, 102 m., 2011).

A juvenile excrescence that feels like the work of 11year-old boys in love with dungeons, dragons, warrior women, pot, boobs and four-letter words. A promising cast (James Franco, Natalie Portman, Danny McBride, Zooey Deschanel) in one of the worst films of the year. Rating: One star.

JANE EYRE (Gothic romance, PG-13, 118 m., 2011).

A voluptuous adaptation of the 1847 novel that remains enormously popular, expressing a forbidden attraction between a powerless young woman and her fierce and distant employer. Mia Wasikowska and Michael Fassbender embody Jane and Rochester with a firm sense of who they are; neither is unattractive, although the novel says they are, but then this is the movies. Directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga, a rising star whose “Sin Nombre” was one of the best films of 2009. Rating: Three and a half stars.

SOMETHING BORROWED (Comedy drama, PG-13, 112 m., 2011). Kate Hudson plays Darcy, the lifelong best friend of the heroine, Rachel (Ginnifer Goodwin). Blond, rich and headstrong, Darcy’s about to be married to Dex (Colin Egglesfield), whom Rachel has had a crush on since law school. No good can come of this. Also involved are party animal Marcus (Steve Howey) and Rachel’s confidant, Ethan (John Krasinski). The movie is about how none of these people seem able to express their true feelings, and finally we can’t admire them enough to like them as we should. Two stars.

  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
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