January 20, 2009
Fast Company notes that the Obama Administration didn’t even wait until the body was cold (reptilian, only-technically-alive ex-Vice President Dick Cheney being an exception) to replace the old White House web site (traditional, austere, boring) with a new one (multimedia-driven, color-rich and even includes a blog). See screen-caps of the two sites below:
Of course a president’s merit isn’t be measured by the quality of his online presence. But the tone the Obama administration has set with the new site is a welcome change from the beaurocratic, distant and officious feeling of Bush’s site. If nothing else, it’s a hell of a good start.
[Update: Slate just published a nice little tour/analysis of the site that’s worth checking out.]
November 12, 2008
If I had seen “Rachel Getting Married” when I was 17, I would have looked at the family of the titular character with admiration and envy. Liberal, well-educated, well-intentioned, tragically yet lovably dysfunctional, witty, musically inclined, good looking, lily-white yet a paragon of racial acceptance (the wedding party scene in the movie plays like a pageant of diversity), and, apparently, rolling in the dough, they have achieved what I then would have considered The Good Life.
The family patriarch is a good-natured musician who has managed to make a good enough living to festoon his daughter’s wedding with all manner of expensive bells and whistles. Hired wedding planners, rehearsing string sections and other paid helpers punctuate the family’s expansive house throughout the movie.
This may be the life that some — particularly those who run in the same circles of director Jonathan Demme or his screenwriter, Jenny Lumet — live. However, it will no doubt seem fairytale-like to the majority of the movie-going public. For this reason, I felt a bit alienated by “Rachel Getting Married.”
Be that as it may, “Rachel Getting Married” is in many ways a masterfully made melodrama. The otherworldly Anne Hathaway (who plays Rachel’s sister, the just-out-of-rehab Kym) embodies the emptiness and impotent rage of a recovering addict with an intensity you — or at least I — didn’t know she had in her. Perhaps even better was Rosemarie Dewitt (Don Draper’s bohemian girlfriend in the first season of “Mad Men”), who as Rachel vacillated between the measured compassion and righteous anger a sister of an addict must feel with bone-chilling authenticity.
The casting of TV On The Radio’s Tunde Adibempe as Rachel’s husband — who is touchingly forgiving of Kym’s transgressions — was an inspired choice. And a film class geek like me will never argue with the jazzy Altmanesque direction employed by Demme in this, probably his best movie since “Silence Of The Lambs.” Yet as much as I enjoyed its exceptional style and excellent performances, I can’t shake the feeling that it wasn’t made for the likes of me.
November 4, 2008
Lately, in the foyers of friends’ houses and queues in coffee shops, I find myself tempted to announce that I liked Obama before he got big. Back in early 2005 I was predicting a 2008 Obama presidential run, based on little more than his self-possession, sense of humor and charm. “Here,” I thought, “is a man I can imagine actually being proud of having as a president.” I’d never seen a national politician like him before. He wasn’t robotic and humorless (Gore), smart but smarmy (Clinton), fake folksy (Bush), clinical and detached (Bush Sr.) or paleolithically old (Reagan). He seemed candid, grounded, self-aware, and likable.
As a personality cult blossomed around his candidacy, I became increasingly skeptical of his skills as a statesman. Be that as it may, I am hopeful that the ineffable sense I got from him more than three years ago proves to be an authentic indication of someone special, and that he manages to not just promise change, but deliver it.