Monthly Archives: March 2010

40′s movies marathon – part 86

Sciuscia - Shoeshine (1946) - Franco Interlenghi, Rinaldo Smordoni

Shoeshine (1946, Italy, de Sica) – Two boys try to make a living on the streets of Rome, but end up in juvenile prison, where they are hurled towards inevitable doom.  The system is to blame.  Watched it all.

Heartbeat (1946, USA, Wood) – Some guy runs a school for pickpockets in Paris. He invites people to job interviews, and recruits the candidates who take the opportunity to steal from him.  The premise is so great that it’s a shame everything else sucks.  Watched: 16 minutes.

Night and Day (1946, USA, Curtiz) – Cole Porter was young once too, and faced adversity etc.  But not too young, or too much adversity, or they couldn’t have gotten Cary Grant to play him.  Watched: 11 minutes.

Colonel Effingham's Raid (1946) - Charles Coburn

Colonel Effingham’s Raid (1946, USA, Pichel) – A Colonel Blimp goes to war against a city government run by corrupt carpetbaggers who want to remove symbols of the town’s Confederate past.  Think of it as a Mr Smith Goes to Washington but with implicit racism and an obsession with women’s legs.  As in, every time the Shockingly Independent Woman With a Job enters the screen, the camera zooms in on her legs, and we hear a crowd whistle appreciatively.  Pretty bad, but hard to stop watching.  Watched it all.

Centennial Summer (1946, USA, Preminger) – Life of some stupid family during the 1876 Centennial celebration.  Hey, I just read a Flashman novel set at that time.  Quite interesting.  Indian wars and everything.  Did you know scalping isn’t fatal?  Watched: 6 minutes.

With Muslims in the role of needy victims and Norwegians as heroic benefactors

Though immigration and integration have become major points of contention in Europe, they weren’t even open for discussion when I was first living in Oslo.  On these topics, the “one idea” of the “one-idea state” was clear: Muslims in Europe were a colorful and enriching asset – period.  In Norway, the expression on everyone’s lips was “fargerik felleskap” – “colorful community”. On the rare occasions when immigrants were mentioned on TV or in the press, you could be sure these words would figure prominently. Norwegian journalists, professors, and politicians loved to use the term. But from the beginning, I found it offensive. Its fixation on the skin color mocked Martin Luther King’s dream of a color-blind society, and its reduction of immigrants to their most superficial aspect turned them into mere window-dressing – an outward sign of ethnic Norwegians’ inner virtue. Often, hearing and reading comments on immigration by Norwegian establishment types, I nearly gasped at their grotesque condescension, their inability to see immigrants as individuals, and their view of the whole business as a morality play; with Muslims in the role of needy victims and Norwegians as heroic benefactors.

- Bruce Bawer, While Europe Slept

Hey have you heard about this thing called “Twitter”?

I am now on the Twitter, as BjoernStaerk, and that is why every paragraph in this post is less than 140 characters. Nd prctc shrtnng sntncs.

So far I have mostly twittered (twut?) about how wonderful it is to be on Twitter. Twitterers (twits?) are like bloggers that way.

I also twit (twoot?) when I go to the bathroom, in case someone wonders where I am right now.

My first followers wanted to sell me cigars. My next followers came to hear about politics. I hope they like pirate-themed metal videos.

When you get 1000 followers I think you level up or something. At higher levels you get magic items. It’s awesome.

The hype is now so over that it isn’t even not cool to be on Twitter any more, so go right ahead and join.

Six word messages, next big thing.

40′s movies marathon – part 85

Three Strangers (1946) - Geraldine Fitzgerald, Sydney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre

Three Strangers (1946, USA, Negulesco) – Three strangers of deplorable character meet under the statue of a Chinese goddess to pray for the one thing that will make them happy: Money.  They then go out and destroy their lives beyond the repair of any divine power.  Watched it all.

She-Wolf of London (1946, USA, Yarbrough) – Gah.  Watched: 7 minutes, which I’ve already forgotten.  The Warren Zevon song is pretty good though.  Also the one about that headless Norwegian.  Hm, where did I put my Zevon songs?

Green for Danger (1946) - Alastair Sim

Green for Danger (1946, UK, Gilliat) – The problem with stopping movies when I don’t like the beginning is that some of them get better afterwards.  If I had stopped this one after the first 25 minutes, where people at a hospital just walk around being miserable, I would have missed the part where it turns into a dark, witty whodunnit.  Watched it all.

The Spider Woman Strikes Back (1946, USA, Lubin) – These monster movies would be a lot more interesting if they didn’t spend the first half trying to ease us slowly into the fantastic premise.  Watched: 3 minutes, then fast-forwarded to see the spider, but there isn’t any.  There is an evil mansion that burns down at the end, though.

The Bamboo Blonde (1946, USA, Mann) – This is the second ’46 Anthony Mann movie that is absolutely terrible .. and yet I find myself watching it to the end.  Who is this guy?  This one is sort of a cheap version of a Preston Sturges movie, featuring Stan the used boat salesman from Monkey Island.  Watched it all.

Velkommen til Norge

Jeg har et essay i Minerva i dag om veien jeg har gått i forhold til innvandringsspørsmål o.l. det siste tiåret.

En av mange ting jeg har trodd på en gang er multikulturalismen. Det var vanskelig å vokse opp i Norge på 80- og 90-tallet uten å bli innprentet i verdien av det fargerike fellesskap, og jeg antar at det er det enda. Det var en grunn til denne innprentingen. Et land hvor nærkontakt med fremmede kulturer stort sett hadde vært forbeholdt sjøfolk og misjonærer taklet naturligvis innvandring dårlig, og dette var utgangspunktet for anti-rasistiske bevegelser og multikulturelle visjoner. Det var godt ment, og riktig tenkt.

Men barnelærdommen holdt ikke det den lovet. Den lovet, i Jo Tenfjords ord, at meget er forskjellig, men det er utenpå. Inni er vi like. Men det kulturelle mangfoldet i verden forteller oss at det er omvendt: Av utseende er vi mennesker ganske like, det er på innsiden vi finner de virkelig store forskjellene. Ikke bare på tvers av kulturer, men innad i dem.

40′s movies marathon – part 84

Till The End Of Time (1946) - Guy Madison, Robert Mitchum

Till the End of Time (1946, USA, Dmytryk) – Marines come home from the war, and find that nobody wants to know what they’ve been through.  The war has created a gulf between those who fought, and those who didn’t.   Watched it all.

Magnificent Doll (1946, USA, Borzage) – Abandoning the White House during the 1812 war with Britain, Ginger Rogers makes sure to take with her the original Declaration of Independence and the portrait of George Washington.  Watched: 4 minutes.

The Dark Mirror (1946, USA, Siodmak) – Either Olivia de Havilland or her identical twin Olivia de Havilland have murdered a man, and they won’t say which one.  Faced with this conundrum, the police is helpless.  Watched: 16 minutes.

Strange Impersonation (1946) - Brenda Marshall, Hillary Brooke

Strange Impersonation (1946, USA, Mann) – The weirdest noir so far, with some really inventive touches, such as all the main characters being women, so I don’t mind that it’s terrible.  Watched it all.  IMDB reviewers complain that this isn’t strictly noir or strictly good or strictly coherent, which is to miss the point: It’s strange and fun!

Till the Clouds Roll By (1946, USA) – All these biopics are the same.  This one’s about Jerome Kern, some composer who I’m sure faced the usual adversity etc. etc.  Watched: 9 minutes.

Wanted for Murder (1946, UK, Huntington) – A woman dates a psychotic asshole, despite there being a perfectly fine nice guy available.  He’s probably the murderer referred to in the title, (unless it’s the nice guy, you can never trust these quiet ones).  Watched: 17 minutes.

The Algerian War (in 256 words)

Alistair Horne - A Savage War of Peace - Algeria 1954-1962

When the Algerian rebellion started in 1954, Algeria had a population of 1 million Europeans, known as the pied-noirs.  France thought of Algeria as France, and the pied-noirs thought of it as home.  To lose it was inconceivable.

The war started because France refused to grant the Algerians political rights.  Even assimilated Algerians were distrusted by the French, who feared the power of the Muslim hordes.

Algerians formed the FLN, which used a combination of guerilla and terrorist tactics.  Their terrorist activity reached a peak in 1957 with the Battle of Algiers, which resulted in a fantastic movie but was a strategic mistake.

Their failure to defeat the FLN caused the fall of multiple governments, and the French political and military elite turned in despair to Charles de Gaulle, who agreed to take over if he could write a new constitution.  This created the Fifth Republic, which is still in place.

His backers expected de Gaulle to continue the war, but de Gaulle didn’t take orders from anyone.  When he began to hint that France would have to let Algeria go, the army attempted a coup in 1961, which failed. Segments of the army and the pied-noirs formed a terrorist organization of their own, the OAS, whose pointless, brutal terrorist campaign alienated the French public, and made it impossible for the pied-noirs to remain after independence.

The second worst outcome of conflict, after genocide, is mass migration, and this is what happened to the pied-noirs after Algeria became independent in 1962: They all emigrated, mostly to France, where they were assimilated.

40′s movies marathon – part 83

No Regrets For Our Youth (1946) - Setsuko Hara

No Regrets For Our Youth (1946, Japan, Kurosawa) – A group of anti-militarist students try to find their place in the Japan of the 30′s and early 40′s, but there isn’t any.  All they have is old ideals and a dream that things may one day be different.  Watched it all.

Tomorrow is Forever (1946, USA, Pichel) – Claudette Colbert faints when she hears that her husband Orson Welles has been killed in the war,  (the previous one).  Watched: 10 minutes.  Did you know that shock and fear does not actually cause people to faint?  The only exception is people who are afraid of blood or needles.

Devotion (1946, USA, Bernhardt) – The lives of the Brontë sisters (and their brother Dot) were just as interesting and dramatic as the novels they wrote.  Watched: 6 minutes.

The Jolson Story (1946, USA, Green) – Al Jolson loves to singa, about the moon-a and the June-a and the spring-a, he loves to sing-a.  Watched: 54 minutes, mostly spent reading the much more interesting Wikipedia entry about Jolson, where I learned that he was the Elvis of jazz, blues and ragtime, and also that the movie is completely fictitious.

Cloak and Dagger (1946, USA, Lang) – The OSS recruits Manhattan Project scientist Gary Cooper to go to German-occupied Europe as a spy, to prevent the Nazis from acquiring the nuclear bomb.  Oh come on, that’s just retarded.  Well, maybe Feynman could have done something like that.  Watched: 13 minutes.  Btw, the Office of Strategic Services is a much cooler name for a spy organization than the Central Intelligence Agency.

I det mere provinsielle Norge var det derimod lettere at udtale sig frit

Liberalisme på norsk - Ideer om frihet 1980-2000

Liberalisme på norsk – Ideer om frihet, 1980-2000 samler artikler fra det liberalistiske tidskriftet Ideer om frihet, et tidsskrift jeg aldri har hørt om, og dermed er vel mye sagt om tilstanden til norsk liberalisme.

De beste artiklene i samlingen forsøker å grave frem sporene etter en ørliten liberalistisk tradisjon i norsk politikk.  På midten av 1800-tallet var denne tradisjonen representert ved stortingsmannen Søren Jaabæk, en slags norsk Ron Paul som var kjent som “Neibæk” fordi han stemte nei til enhver økning av offentlige utgifter.  Kulturelitens skrekkbilde fra fjorårets valgkamp var faktisk en realitet: Jaabæk stemte nei til kunstnerlønn for Bjørnson og Ibsen.

Og allerede før 1800 var det en forsiktig interesse for markedsliberale ideer blant dansk-norske embetsmenn, som i 1779 sørget for den første offisielle oversettelsen av Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations. Den ble riktignok ikke lest.

Det er også mer filosofiske artikler her, blant annet av SF-forfatteren Øyvind Myhre.  Det er noe virkelighetsfjernt over liberalistisk filosofi, men samtidig er det interessant på sin måte.  Liberalister er blant de få som fremdeles tenker prinsippielt om grunnleggende politiske ideer, så som i hvilken grad man rasjonelt kan begrunne statens legitimitet.  Det har lite direkte relevans for virkelighetens politiske liv, men det bidrar til å belyse aspekter vi lett går glipp av oppi all pragmatismen.

Liberalismens mer frustrerende sider er også representert, med en lengre debatt rundt en av Ayn Rands grunnteser.

Mange av artiklene kan leses her.

40′s movies marathon – part 82

I See a Dark Stranger (1946) - Deborah Kerr

I See a Dark Stranger (1946, UK, Launder) – Raised on stories about British atrocities, Deborah Kerr goes to Dublin to join the IRA.  Turns out the old IRA isn’t very active these days, what with the independence and all, but Nazi Germany wouldn’t mind some help with their heroic struggle against the British.  Watched it all.

Mysterious Intruder (1946, USA, Castle) – An old man hires a private detective to find a girl who lived nearby.  All he remembers about her is that she was 14, and had long, blonde curls.  Okay, that’s creepy.  Watched: 6 minutes.

A Night in Casablanca (1946) - Groucho Marx

A Night in Casablanca (1946, USA, Mayo) – The Marx Brothers are getting old, literally.  But this is pretty good for one of their later movies.  The jokes are actually funny, and the rest doesn’t get in the way.  Watched it all.   Of course, Horse Feathers is five times funnier.  And Duck Soup.  And A Night at the Opera.  Did I mention that the Marx Brothers are the only 30′s and 40′s comedy team that was funny?  I had no idea before I started this marathon, but it’s true, or at least interesting.

Angel on My Shoulder (1946, USA, Mayo!) – A murdered gangster goes to Hell, where Satan recruits him to spread the cause of gangsterism back on Earth.  I guess that’s plan B after Nazism failed.  Watched: 17 minutes.