Review: 2017 Live Action Shorts Oscar Nominees

I have no interest in the Oscars or similar marketing entertainment, and I would be hopeless at predicting winners, but I enjoyed these five films this weekend at Los Angeles’s Nuart Theater.   Timestamp The nominee that makes the most effective, engaging and original use of the tools of cinema is Timestamp, from Spain, directed […]

Donald Trump and the Law of Unintended Consequences

No one should have a fuller experience with and understanding of the law of unintended consequences than Donald Trump. Serious blunders are inevitable for a president who is impulsive, narcissistic. and willfully and profoundly ignorant (of culture, history, economics, science . . .). Serious blunders are inevitable for a president who considers his intuition more […]

Review: Icebergs

Icebergs is a light and reassuring comedy about deciding whether to have children in a worsening world. Los Angeles’s Geffen Playhouse has created a fine production for the world premier of playwright Alena Smith’s sit-com script. Audiences will enjoy a classic realistic set, purposeful direction, and good comedic acting. The production, directed by Randall Arney, […]

10 ways to improve the presidential debates

All reality TV is boring and only pretends to be spontaneous, but the worst reality TV shows are probably the presidential and vice-presidential debates. They are not really debates at all, and probably never will be, but here are ten ways to make them much more honest and useful to voters. 1. Get a competent […]

Review: Don’t Think Twice

Don’t Think Twice shows the forced transformation of a small improv group from New York hopefuls to the newest arrivals in that vast community of artists all over the country who have abandoned their quests for celebrity careers, and settled for pursuing their art in small towns. As the film opens, members of The Commune, […]

The Myth of the Missing Welcome

The Napa Valley Register reported a June 28, 2016, program to honor Viet Nam veterans at the Lincoln Theater in Yountville, an event sponsored by the Veterans Home of California. I am always glad to see veterans of different generations and their families get together. But the article title suggests that the event perpetuated a […]

Geoffrey Hill has died, and we inherit his poetry

The truly great poet Geoffrey Hill has died. Death, there is thy sting. Unlike nearly every other poet of every era, Geoffrey Hill precedes his poems in death. I performed a memorial reading of some of Geoffrey Hill’s poems today in the Dialog coffee house in W. Hollywood, California. I was the only one there […]

Why the American jury system is endangered

As the United States Balkanizes into hostile political and racial demographics, one obvious victim ahead is our jury system. I have no clue as to how the jury system will be modified, but I do not see how it can possibly survive in its current, flawed form, however important it is to democracy. Our jury […]

Review: Eye in the Sky

Gavin Hood’s 2015 film Eye in the Sky is a very well constructed thriller, crispy written and mostly well acted. And it is a film with an important central issue. The ethical dimension The central subject of Eye in the Sky is not drone warfare per se, no matter what some reviewers say, it is […]

Who Made Donald Trump a popular candidate?

One of the many amusements of the 2016 presidential primaries is watching establishment Republicans panic as Donald Trump elbows his way to the nomination and endangers down-ballot races. That establishment should find Trump’s appeal easy to understand, since they prepared his way: the Southern strategy’s appeal to less-educated working class white men, their relentless and […]