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by Bill Gibron

22 Jan 2009

As announced this morning here are the nominations for the 2009 Academy Awards (review links appear after a specific film’s first mention):

Best Picture:
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (review)
Frost/Nixon (review)
Milk (review)
The Reader (review)
Slumdog Millionaire (review)

Best Actor in a Lead Role:
Richard Jenkins - The Visitor
Frank Langella - Frost/Nixon
Sean Penn - Milk
Brad Pitt - The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Mickey Rourke - The Wrestler (review)

Best Actress in a Lead Role:
Anne Hathaway - Rachel Getting Married (review)
Angelina Jolie - Changeling (review)
Melissa Leo - Frozen River
Meryl Streep - Doubt (review)
Kate Winslet - The Reader

Best Actor in a Supporting Role:
Josh Brolin - Milk
Robert Downey Jr. - Tropic Thunder
Philip Seymour Hoffman - Doubt
Heath Ledger - The Dark Knight (review)
Michael Shannon - Revolutionary Road (review)

Best Actress in a Supporting Role:
Amy Adams - Doubt
Penelope Cruz - Vicky Cristina Barcelona (review)
Viola Davis - Doubt
Taraji P. Henson - The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Marisa Tomei - The Wrestler

Best Director:
David Fincher - The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Ron Howard - Frost/Nixon
Gus Van Sant - Milk
Stephen Daldry - The Reader
Danny Boyle - Slumdog Millionaire

Best Foreign Film:
The Baader Meinhof Complex - Germany
The Class - France
Departures - Japan
Revanche - Austria
Waltz With Bashir - Israel

Best Screenplay from Adapted Material:
Eric Roth and Robin Swicord - The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
John Patrick Shanley - Doubt
Peter Morgan - Frost/Nixon
David Hare - The Reader
Simon Beaufoy - Slumdog Millionaire

Best Original Screenplay:
Courtney Hunt - Frozen River
Mike Leigh - Happy-Go-Lucky
Martin McDonagh - In Bruges
Dustin Lance Black - Milk
Andrew Stanton Jim Reardon and Pete Docter - WALL-E (review)

Best Animated Feature Film:
Bolt (review)
Kung Fu Panda (review)
WALL-E

Best Achievement in Art Direction:
Changeling
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
The Dark Knight
The Duchess (review)
Revolutionary Road

Best Achievement in Cinematography:
Changeling
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
The Dark Knight
The Reader
Slumdog Millionaire

Best Achievement in Sound Mixing:
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
The Dark Knight
Slumdog Millionaire
WALL-E
Wanted (review)

Best Achievement in Sound Editing:
The Dark Knight
Iron Man  (review)
Slumdog Millionaire
WALL-E
Wanted

Best Original Score:
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button - Alexandre Desplat
Defiance - James Newton Howard
Milk - Danny Elfman
Slumdog Millionaire - A.R. Rahman
WALL-E - Thomas Newman

Best Original Song:
“Down to Earth”  from WALL-E - Peter Gabriel and Thomas Newman
“Jai Ho” from Slumdog Millionaire - A.R. Rahman and Gulzar
“O Saya” from Slumdog Millionaire - A.R. Rahman and Maya Arulpragasam

Best Achievement in Costume:
Australia (review)
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
The Duchess
Milk
Revolutionary Road

Best Documentary Feature:
The Betrayal (Nerakhoon)
Encounters at the End of the World   (review)
The Garden
Man on Wire (review)
Trouble the Water (review)

Best Documentary (Short Subject):
The Conscience of Nhem En
The Final Inch
Smile Pinki
The Witness — From the Balcony of Room 306

Best Achievement in Film Editing:
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
The Dark Knight
Frost/Nixon
Milk
Slumdog Millionaire

Best Achievement in Makeup:
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
The Dark Knight
Hellboy II: The Golden Army (review)

Best Animated Short Film:
La Maison en Petits Cubes
Lavatory — Lovestory
Oktapodi
Presto
This Way Up

Best Live Action Short Film:
Auf der Strecke (On the Line)
Manon on the Asphalt
New Boy
The Pig
Spielzeugland (Toyland)

Best Achievement in Visual Effects:
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
The Dark Knight
Iron Man

by Rob Horning

22 Jan 2009

David Harvey’s The Limits to Capital makes for especially interesting reading, given that he argues (extrapolating from Marx) that contradictions in “the circulation of capital” lead inevitably to economic crises that get expressed in the credit system (which had evolved, in his view, to solve lower-order crises of “overaccumulation”—aka “savings gluts”). He looks at bubble phenomena from a Marxist viewpoint—bubbles form when capitalist accumulation necessarily fails to achieve balance; the crises that occur when they pop are tentative, temporary solutions to the contradictions inherent in capitalism. When the capability to reinvest in capital formation is constricted for lack of viable opportunities—- when profit can’t go back into making more capital—fictitious capital is created via the credit system. That yields a speculative frenzy (since the relation between opportunity and underlying economic capapcity has been severed) that is unsustainable. So then, inevitably, there must be devaluation, to re-create opportunity in the ashes.

Perhaps that is where our economy is now. Indeed, Eliot Spitzer writes in his Slate column that we have yet to see enough creative destruction:

Although everybody claims to love the market, nobody really likes the rough-and-tumble of competition that produces the essential “creative destruction” of capitalism. At bottom, this abhorrence of competition and change are the common theme that binds together the near death of the American car industry, the collapse of the credit market, the implosion of the housing market, the SEC’s disastrous negligence, the Madoff Ponzi scheme, and the other economic catastrophes of recent months.

He points to those tell-tale marks of capitalist decadence—cronyism and rent-seeking—and appears to be wishing for a real rain to wash the system clean. He concludes:

Both GM and the SEC need to see a change in market conditions as an opportunity—not a challenge to market share…. This is a unique opportunity for President Obama and the Congress to take two seemingly different entities and force them to play by the real rules of capitalism: compete and transform to produce better products.

It’s the word force in that passage that strikes me as a bit ominous. That’s probably because state repression of that sort plays a prominent role in Harvey’s crisis theory. After differentiating between “periodic crashes” and “long-run problems that arise with the irreversible transformation of configurations in the circulation of capital, class formation, productive forces, institutions and so on,” Harvey argues:

The latter, as Marx observed, are strongly affected by the increasing socialization of capital itself, first via the agency of the credit system and ultimately through socially necessary interventions on the part of the state. The character of periodic crashes is thereby also transformed. Instead of being the aggregate social effect of an essentially atomistic, individualized process, they become a social affair from the very outset. The state, via its policies, becomes responsible for creating what it hopes will be a ‘controlled recession’ that will have the long-run effect of putting accumulation back on track.
The options for the internal transformation of capitalism become increasingly limited, more and more confined to innovations within the state apparatus itself [think TARP, et. al.]. And once the limit of the state’s capacity to manage the economy creatively is reached [think, the zero interest bound] the increasingly authoritarian use of state power—over both capital and labor (though usually with far more devastating effects upon the latter)—appears the only answer. Crises embrace the legal, institutional and political framework of capitalist society and their resolution increasingly depends upon the deployment of naked military and repressive power.

Not to get all paranoid, but this sort of argument puts Rahm Emanuel’s intention to never let a crisis go to waste in a much more sinister light. Harvey reminds readers of Lenin’s view of the matter, that imperialist nations can always resort to war to solve crises; nothing works better for devaluation than some wanton wholesale destruction. That may go a ways toward explaining Bush’s inexplicable foreign policy. Obama has promised to end one war; let’s hope the deteriorating economy doesn’t force us into another.

by PopMatters Staff

22 Jan 2009

A.C. Newman
Submarines of Stockholm [MP3] from Get Guilty
     

 

Cut Off Your Hands
Turn Cold [MP3]
     

Happy As Can Be [MP3]
     

 

Lithops
Handed [MP3] from Ye Viols! [27 January]
     

Richard Swift
Lady Luck [MP3] from The Atlantic Ocean [7 April]
     

It Hugs Back
Work Day [MP3] from Inside Your Guitar [3 February]
     

The 1900s
Age of Metals [MP3] from Medium High EP
     

Animal Collective
My Girls [Video]

Loney Dear
Airport Surroundings [Video]

by Bill Gibron

22 Jan 2009

Today’s the day. By the time you read this, Forrest Whitaker and Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences President Sid Ganis will have announced the nominees for the 81st Annual Academy Award. Set to be presented on 22 February 2009, the coveted gold statue is considered the film industry’s highest aesthetic achievement. In celebration of this momentous day for film, we here at SE&L will offer up a special selection of material.

First, in honor of presumptive favorite Slumdog Millionaire, Farisa Khalid will present her take on this clever cross-culture fable. By noon EST, an actual list of all the names and categorical recognitions will be made available on the site (with links to reviews, where available). Finally, by mid-afternoon, we will offer commentary on the yearly debate over what Oscar got right (the surprises) and those films and creative individuals that definitely deserved better (the snubs). We’ll even look at the unnecessary nods and glad-handing hack acknowledgements that seem to spring up every year.

So stick with SE&L over the next 30 days as we offer regular looks at the obvious omissions (especially in the always dreaded documentary and foreign film sections), the inarguable no-brainers (the late Heath Ledger, we’re looking at you), and what this year’s picks mean to the always intriguing artform in general. While they don’t always celebrate the best in film, the Academy Awards are a lot like the much debated College Bowl Series. The final result may not reflect the absolute number one, but its existence sure does make for some lively discussion. 

by Mike Deane

22 Jan 2009

In 1978 in Leeds, England there were three excellent post-punk groups emerging from a group of friends in an art program at the University of Leeds.  Of course the biggest was Gang of Four, then the catchy and dancey Delta 5, and then there was the Mekons.  As a post punk band they emerged and quickly faded away releasing a series of excellent singles and a couple of inconsistent albums from ’78 into the early ‘80s. Once they disbanded and reformed things were a lot different as they focused on trad folk and soon got into country music where they have stayed until this day. 

As a post punk band, the Mekons were never a success like their compatriots in Gang of Four or, even, Delta 5; they didn’t even put out the consistently good material like their friends, they never even released a decent album. But the singles! The singles were outstanding. Songs like “Where Were You” and “Work All Week” were like amazing ‘76/’77 styled punk with the self

Never Been In a Riot

Never Been In a Riot

awareness spawned by the post punk scene. Near enough to punk’s origins to sound exciting, raw and legitimate, but removed, allowing them to stray from spitting political rhetoric.

Their first three singles were an exciting progression from snotty and noisy to more focused and still sloppy punk rock. The first was “Never Been in a Riot”, an off tune, off time, slacker anthem with the memorable lyric: “I’ve never been in a riot / Never been in a fight / Never been in anything / That turns out right”.  As a direct response to the Clash’s suspect “White Riot”, it embodied post punk’s awareness, not to mention its conflict with punk’s original ideals.

The following two singles explored the vulnerability, uncertainty and defeatism first introduced here. Where punk groups were only able to show two emotions: anger and outrage, the Mekons and other post punkers were able to reveal emotions outside of that narrow scope, moving on to often complex and conflicting conditions. Beginning with “Where Were You” and moving onto “Work All Week”, we’ll go through a lyrical exploration of the Mekons’ early singles.

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