Saturday, January 19, 2008

Conrad Black and Cloverfield


I just finished a "book" on the biggest crook in journalism history, Conrad Black, called "Robber Baron." Don't let the title fool you. It's not a critical look at Black, whose criminal activity in the newspaper business and international politics makes Enron look like a Girl Scout cookie scandal. The book appears to be sympathetic to Black, minimizing what I see as the viciousness of this little man and re-portray him as a possibly sympathetic genius who tried to do good but was backstabbed by his best friends, some of whom happened to be the most anti-Semitic, fascists in the world. (Not to mention his wife, "Super Bitch" Barbara Amiel, whow as once a Communist and Socialist who changed stripes for personal benefit.)

The book is written by George Tombs, who challenges many of Black's critics, and to excuse away Black's crimes. He doesn't spare the journalists who covered Black's career with more professional care and journalistic integrity, slamnming many of them, too.

I was a little too critical of Tombs in an earlier version of this post, but after an email exchange, I realize he may have been simply doing his best to be objective -- and maybe it's my bias against Black (ya thuink? :) ) that drove my interpretation.

So, I have changed. Buy the book and give it a read yourseld. I'd love to hear your views on it. And maybe I won't be so mean in the future when I review other peoples' hard work.


I went to see Cloverfield. Not everyone will like this film, but I loved it. I love science fictiona nd monsters, of course. (Which is one reason I read the book cited above). Cloverfield is filmed in the style of "reality TV." The movie is reflected fromt he perspective of a handheld camera that begins at a going away party for someone, filmed by a friend. Friends are asked at the party to leave the going away party with some parting words. The tape will be given to hima s a going away gift, kind of like the videos taped at weddings for the newsly weds. Of course, it's all done professionally so the timeline of the film can be followed better.

In Cloverfield, somethign explodes and an earthquake like event hits Manhattan, shaking everyone at the party. Of course, they rush to the roof, the leats safe place, to see what happened, and witness something behemouth destroying a building in the distance that explodes in a ball of fire. News reports say Manhattan is under attack. No explanation for the cause, but something huge is destroying the city.

The partygoers all part and a group of friends try to make it over the Brooklyn bridge, after the head of the Statue of Liberty is knock off like a baseball and lands inf ront of their building ... and the Brooklyn Bridge is then destroyed, and four frioends decide to go back to the center where the destruction takes place and the military is in full swing with takes and missiles fighting some unknown beast of sorts. Dumb move.

It is a great science fiction movie. Forget about the claims it is too reminsicent of Sept. 11, 2001. That excuse doesn't hold water any more. Destruction in film is fantasy with a purpose, to off-set the fears of our reality and make us feel more secure.

It was a great movie. Although it would have been even better, and more people int he publci would have loved it, if it had been filmed in a more traditional manner. Maybe combing two formats, handheld camera and conventional filmmaking.

This film should definitely be remade.

Ray Hanania

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