July 5th, 2004


Harry Potter and the Bottomless Franchise

Apparently, the title for the next Harry Potter book was revealed a few days back.

"Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince"

Well, ok. More interesting, perhaps, is that the Bulgarian publisher is saying it will be out in 4-5 months. Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble have already started taking advanced orders, in fact.

Something tells me that J.K. Rowling's publishers have visions of sugarplums dancing in their heads...

You'd have thought I would have gone earlier...

...but today, I finally went to "Fahrenheit 9/11".

The experience of seeing it was kind of odd... It's been over a week since the movie came out, and the number of theatres it was showing at has doubled in that time (from 868 when it was initially released to 1725 today) and yet the line was incredibly long and the movie was sold out. The crowd going to the film was also incredibly mixed... all ages, all demographics, including a lot of people who didn't look like they'd normally go to see a Michael Moore documentary. It's grossed $60 million so far, and all indications point to Fahrenheit having a very strong run at the box office, where its per-theatre gross and staying power will keep it running strong, right up until its September release on DVD and video, just in time for the election.

According to boxofficemojo, most movies drop off from 22-35% on Sundays... Moore's movie dropped only 12%, and seems to be consistantly drawing crowds on all days of the week. The more that is said about this movie, positive and negative, the more people get drawn into going to it, as it is quickly becoming a national discussion... and upon seeing it, the more Michael Moore's side of the argument is strengthened.

While habibi rightfully pointed out awhile back that a brief video montage of happy, playful Iraqi kids seemed a bit too cheerful a way of depicting Saddam-era Iraq, I think that perhaps too much is read into this, as Moore borrowed the scene from the ending of the 60's movie "Fail Safe" for this sequence.

That said, there is plenty that Moore doesn't touch on. He doesn't mention the horrors of Saddam, but he doesn't mention the horrors of U.S./U.N. approved sanctions on Iraq either. He doesn't explore the humanitarian reasons for the war, but he also doesn't explore the historical background of Neo-Cons wanting a war with Iraq. He doesn't mention the potential for self-rule in Iraq, but he doesn't mention how the Coalition has stacked the deck against true autonomy. He doesn't show the hope of today's Iraq, but he also doesn't mention that Iraqis were, are, and presumably will still be living in fear for a long time to come.

It showed the full aspect of how U.S. soldiers can be... courageous, loyal, disillusioned, kind, rude, scared, angry, high-spirited, duty-bound, emotionally isolated from the pain they sometimes inflict, gung-ho, emotionally conflicted. I have seen all of this and more from some of the soldiers I have met on LiveJournal, and I don't think it's an unfair depiction. Moore, despite having a point to prove, shows a surprising degree of respect, both for these soldiers and for the truth. I have heard a few scathing comments about Michael Moore from some soldiers, but twenty years from now, I think that veterans will find something of value in this film. They will see the faces of the soldiers and ask "were we ever really so young?" And yes, the faces are often painfully young. For many, Iraq will be a defining moment in their life... one that they will not easily walk away from.

Ultimately, most people will judge "Fahrenheit 9/11" based on how accurately it depicts Iraq, as that is the issue of the moment, but I would argue that this isn't the point of the movie. Instead, Moore is presenting his case against George W. Bush and his administration of gross negligence and cronyism in the wake of 9/11... which intentionally diverted our country's attention from Saudi / Al Qaeda support for terrorism and led us into a war based on false pretenses... a war that many people believe is justified, or at least worth winning, but which very few of us can now say was absolutely necessary.

For all the talk of Moore's lies, it should be pointed out that he presents 100% factual information. You can accuse him of picking the evidence that he wants in order to lay out his case against the Bush administration, but ultimately, his case is strong. It remains to be seen whether it will result in a public conviction, but it will certainly lay the groundwork in many for reasonable doubt.

Free movies == good!

It's wonderful to see the sudden upsurge in outdoor free cinema in the South Bay... just bring your own lawnchair, and embrace the oddness!

For instance, there is the Santa Cruz Guerilla Drive-In, every 2nd Friday during the summer. They have some interesting films coming up, including Kiki's Delivery Service, Rushmore, and Run Lola Run... and there's also Cinema San Pedro in downtown San Jose, which will have The Meaning of Life this Wednesday... they're going to have The Birds, The Thin Man, and Supercop soon, which should all be a lot of fun!

...and need I mention the word FREE again?! Throw in the $1.50 Tuesday nights at the Milpitas Cinelux Cinema Saver, and you can get your fix for new releases on the cheap too.

So... anyone want to get a group together for any of these movies, possibly followed by hot tubbing at our place? I'm going to The Meaning of Life on Wednesday, and intend to bring some wafer-thin mints.

Now if only I had a large bag full of Bertie Bott's vomit flavored jellybeans...