Thursday, September 3, 2009

Watching Bruce Weber short films and getting depressed.

I just watched a quintet of shorts from filmmaker Bruce Weber [his recurring motifs include Hollywood glamour and an abiding love of dogs] currently airing on the Sundance Channel.

One short was dedicated to River Phoenix. And it's fascinating how Phoenix has been near-completely forgotten in the fifteen-plus years since his death. No definitive biography. No retrospectives. Not even a remote comparison to the attention paid to Heath Ledger since Ledger's passing (Ledger's final film, Terry Gilliam's THE IMAGINARIUM OF DOCTOR PARNASSUS, is likely to have a decent-enough opening weekend due to the curiosity factor).

The final short, LIBERTY CITY IS LIKE PARIS TO ME, is now spectacularly poignant and depressing. The viewer gets to watch African-American citizens of Liberty City, Florida celebrating the inauguration of Barack Obama--plus a dance number (set to a soundtrack recording of Sammy Davis, Jr. singing a PORGY AND BESS song) that, in a good way, resembles the song-and-dance interlude in Spike Lee's SHE'S GOTTA HAVE IT.

But it's now clear that Obama's not the President and Leader of the Free World that the citizens of Liberty City (and other American towns and cities) hoped for. Instead, he's in the Oval Office to make sure corporate trains run on time and business interests aren't too disturbed by calls for the kind of oversight that decreases profits. And Obama, Rahm Emanuel and David Axelrod are willing to rope-a-dope liberals (or that antiseptic synonym "progressives") on health care and likely any other key issues until the folks on the Left are worn down from fruitless battle and are willing to accept toothless "compromise" because it's "something to build on."

Sort of like what businesses do when union members go on strike.

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