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Intellectual Property Rants, SUV Wrongs, and Random Movie/Media Reviews
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:: Saturday, April 19, 2003 ::

Movie Review: Bend It Like Beckham

Friday night was date night. We went to Sammy's Woodfire Pizza and then off to the Landmark for a flick. We chose Bend It Like Beckham which I had read some nice reviews on.

Plot: Bend it is a dual-tracked story about a British Indian girl Jess (short for Jessminder) struggling for independence in her pro-tradition family while at the same time striving for acceptance and success with an all-girls football team (i.e. soccer for you yanks). The plot picks up with Jess in final year of high school. She's an excellent "footballer" with the guys in the park but has never played for an organized team. While playing one day, a woman named "Jules" spots her showing off her skills and asks her to join the local all girls team, the Hounslow Harriers. Of course this would all be fine and good except that according to Jess' family: (a) Indian girls don't play organized soccer, (b) Indian girls don't show off their legs in shorts, and (c) Indian girls who do "boy" things don't find husbands. Culture clash, teen angst, and love triangles ensue.

While somewhat standard for a teen Coming-Of-Age movie, the plot really works for this film. The writing is fresh and the pacing is excellent. Just as you've digested one crisis resolution, another black cloud conveniently appears on the horizon. The final crisis/climax between love and obligation to family and the rugged pursuit of individual dreams is believable, palpable, and heart-felt. Much of this is due to excellent screenwriting by Gurinder Chadra, in particular her ability to convey laughter, anger, exuberation, and sadness between many different characters: family members, teammates, neighbors, lovers, etc. By the end of the movie you not only have a greater appreciation for Jess as a woman and an athlete, but also as a daughter. It's also worth noting that this is one of those multi-issue films -- you know, the kind that bring up almost every social issue to date, e.g. aids, domestic violence, race relations, gay/lesbian issues, etc. However, unlike other films that simply pack each issue on top of the next, Bend It actually does a masterful job of integrating the issues into key plot points to bring greater cohesion and synthesis to the film rather than distraction.

Acting: We were also very impressed with the acting in the film. Jess is played brilliantly by Parminder Nagra, who has an exceptional range of emotion and physical talent for a young actor. She was equally convincing in both her emotional as well as her action scenes. The rest of the cast does a wonderful job as well, but special hats off to Anupam Kher, who plays Jess' dad. His role is often subdued in this movie about girls becoming women, but he plays his key scenes with a kind of reserved warmth and strength that provides exactly the kind of background character development rich films about family growth require.

Downsides:The only downsides to this film are the football scenes. Chadra shows some nice touches in filming them, such as using time-lapse techniques to imply power and quickness, but ultimately unless you already play the game, it's hard to get a feeling for the thrill of the key moments Jess and her teammates live and die by. Still, by the time you get there, you've already bought into the ride and the football scenes become more icing on the cake than anything.

Rating: 4.5 stars (out of five).

p.s. if you go see it, make sure you stay until the end. The outtakes during the credits are not to be missed!


:: Jason 8:28:00 AM [+] ::
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:: Wednesday, April 16, 2003 ::

Anti-American Protests Intensify in Iraq

AP seyz some 20,000 "liberated" Iraqis gathered yesterday in Bagdad to protest US occupation. The U.S. Military was so shocked and awed, apparently, that they actually tried to physically keep the international media from reporting the story.

p.s. A month since the war started. A week since it ended. Number of Weapons of Mass Destruction Confirmed in Iraq: Zero.


:: Jason 1:19:00 PM [+] ::
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The Seeds We Have Sown

Yahoo News reports that India is considering invading Pakistan under the same preemptive strike theory that the U.S. used to invade Iraq becuase Pakistan harbors terrorist camps.

Are we prepared for this?


:: Jason 1:12:00 PM [+] ::
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Third Circuit Judges Force Third Grader To Run Away With The Circus

Well, not exactly, but I like the idea. Yesterday, the Third Circuit held in a split decision (2-1) that a third grader who got 30 of her classmates to join her petition against going to the circus because it "hurt[s] animals" can still be forced to go on a class field trip to the circus in spite of any First Amendment rights she may have not to go.

I personally don't know that this is a First Amendment issue, but I thought this quote from the concuring opinion (via How Appealing's write up) was particularly offensive and condescending in its dismissal of the potential for third graders to understand issues of animal rights and express their own opinions on the matter:

I think that it is unlikely that the third grade children here could have had knowledge of how a circus treats its animals. After all, I have no such knowledge myself. Yet Amanda induced more than 30 of them to sign a petition that they did not want to go to the circus because it "hurt[s] animals." Of course, I recognize that even adults will sign petitions without understanding the issues involved and in doing so likely will be protected constitutionally, as will be the persons circulating the petitions. But the status of adults differs from that of children at school as in general public officers and agencies have no obligation to protect adults from their own conduct or the importuning by other persons. On the other hand, students are in the temporary custody of the school authorities who must protect them during the period of the custody. See Bd. of Educ. of Indep. Sch. Dist. No. 92 v. Earls, 122 S.Ct. 2559, 2565 (2002). Moreover, an eight- or nine-year old child might not be able to resist the peer pressure to sign a petition and thus might do so even if the petition advocates a position with which he or she does not agree. In any event, a child of such age should not be confronted with having to make the choice to sign or not sign.

Perhaps Senior Circuit Judge Morton I. Greenberg (the author) does not have children or grandchildren that age. But last Christmas, Tara and I spent a week with her nieces -- who are in first grade and kindergarten -- and they both already had a strong sense of how animals should or should not be treated. I think it's a shame that Judge Greenberg underestimates the moral potential of kids to care about these issues.


:: Jason 12:46:00 PM [+] ::
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Doubleclick Exec Becomes Homeland Security Privacy Czar

The Washington Post reports that Tom Ridge has chosen Nuala O'Connor Kelly to "the privacy post" of the department, which is responsible for vetting proposals and programs the involve collecting and using U.S. citizens' personal information.

This is an interesting pick. Kelly has some street cred from groups like CDT because she helped dig Doubleclick out of the FTC investigation mess it dug itself into a few years ago after it started privately and secretly linking ad banner click-throughs with personal data. Kelly has the chance to mend some of the rift between the Intelligence and Privacy/Civil Liberties communities caused by the USA Patriot Act and the TIA-Poindexter fiascos. Of course, she'd better bring her tightrope walking shoes with her.


:: Jason 12:35:00 PM [+] ::
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:: Tuesday, April 15, 2003 ::

Comments, Questions, Suggestions...

I've added a "Comments" feature. Flame on!


:: Jason 2:37:00 PM [+] ::
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The spoils of war...

Reuters carries a story about the internal reaction to looting in post-war Iraq, both from Iraqis and American soliders:

"Is this your liberation?" one frustrated shopkeeper screamed at the crew of a U.S. tank as a gang of youths helped themselves to everything in his small hardware store and carted booty off in the wheelbarrows that had also been on sale.
"Hell, it ain't my job to stop them," drawled one young marine, lighting a cigarette as he looked on. "Goddamn Iraqis will steal anything if you let them. Look at them."


:: Jason 2:32:00 PM [+] ::
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EFF breaks down new Super-DMCA bills

Fred at EFF has posted a great analysis of the MPAA's new "Super" DMCA legislation that they are trying to cram down the throat of state legislatures. As usual, it takes control of new technologies out of the hands of consumers and the marketplace and puts them into Hollywood's deep pockets.


:: Jason 11:54:00 AM [+] ::
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:: Monday, April 14, 2003 ::

The Ethics of Anticipating Evil

"I see that a man I know to be a ruffian is pursuing a young girl. I have a gun in my hand -- I kill the ruffian and save the girl. But the death or the wounding of the ruffian has positively taken place, while what would have happened if this had not been I cannot know. And what an immense mass of evil must result, and indeed does result, from allowing men to assume the right of anticipating what may happen. Ninety-nine per cent of evil of the world is founded on this reasoning -- from the Inquisition to dynamite bombs."

- Leo Tolstoy, The Kingdom of God Is Within You


:: Jason 11:28:00 AM [+] ::
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Coalition of the Willfully Infringing?

Blogcritics.org has posted a rumor that Hilary Rosen, former RIAA tyrant, has been chosen to draft the intellectual property laws for the new regime in Iraq.

In essence, my worst nightmare.




:: Jason 10:03:00 AM [+] ::
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