Friday, September 29, 2006
Wednesday, September 27, 2006
So, this is a repost, but let me know what you think nonetheless.
For the last five years the Republican controlled House and Senate have offered bill after bill filled with what they believe are solutions to problems pervasive to this country. The Prescription Drug Benefit, the Highway Bill, the Bankruptcy Bill, No Child Left Behind. The list goes on and on. There are other issues the Republicans have taken strong positions on and outlined them extensively:
For better or for worse, the Republicans are offering strategies to deal with the problems of the day, whether we like those solutions or not. This is a good thing, whether we like their solutions or not.
It’s my belief that in order for the Democrats to reclaim power, they need to offer productive and reasonable solutions to counter those presented by the opposition. The status quo seems to be this: Republicans define the debate, they pick an issue and write legislation to fix their view of the problem. Democrats hate said legislation and decry the Republicans for partisan hackery and corporate shilling. Sadly, that’s where the cycle generally ends. If the Democrats want to lift themselves from their slump, now that they seem to be feeling empowered, they need to offer sensible solutions in direct response to Republican solutions.
Democrats tend to be against the war. We’d like to see our troops home. The most people in the party seem to be doing is calling for an exit-strategy. Why not outline a clear exit-strategy? Instead of shouting, “There isn’t an exit-strategy!” They’d gain a lot more ground politically if they were to be shouting, “The administration has no exit-strategy. We do, here it is. We’ve mailed this to the President and had 150 Senators and Congressmen sign it.”
The Democrats heads have been spinning because of the recent budget proposals. Instead of argue about the ridiculous nature of the cuts to spending and maintenance on the tax-cuts, why don’t they offer a sensible budget alternative?
I think you get my point. In order to appear strong, instead of fighting about the issues and solutions framed by the opposition, reframe the debates with better solutions.
I know that Democrats have a clear message, a vision to take
Instead, the best argument I’ve heard out of the Democrats for the last 5 years has been, “I’m not Bush.” In my opinion, for the Democrats to make their way out of the hole they've been in for the last 6 years, they will need to be on the offensive insofar as framing the debate. They need to offer the American people a clear vision of where they want to take us and they need to offer realistic plans to get there. And whenever the Republicans choose an issue and run with it, the Democrats need to hijack that issue and offer a better plan to put themselves in the favour of the people.
They can do better than this. I know it.
As soon as the shining stars of the Democratic party that Steve outlined yesterday are able to take this platform to the American people they'll be able to get back to work.
Here are my six platform points that I believe would bring the Democrats to victory:
1) Iraq. The Democrats need come out and say that voting for the war was a mistake. That's obvious. And instead of calling for an exit strategy, make one. It's obvious that we can't withdraw our troops immediately, but we can outline certain benchmarks that will remove our forces from the region. Additionally, we need to make a call for broader UN support. One of the reasons terrorists wish to attack us is because we are in their land, so if we shift the forces from American and Coalition to a UN peacekeeping operation, the level and intensity of insurgent attacks would come down. We also need to remove ourselves from their democratic process.
During the Mid terms, this is obviously going to be a major issue. If Democratic candidates can rally behind a comprehensive exit strategy as part of their platform, they will be one step ahead of the Republicans whose exit strategy has been simply, "Stay the course."
2) The Budget. There has been no limit to outrageous deficit spending, tax cuts and severe cuts to vital programs. There has been much outrage and little action on the part of the Democrats currently to solve this problem. The Democrats can win many voters from both sides of the aisle on this issue and here's how. "We'll bring sanity back to the budget. We will balance it. We won't spend more money than we're making and we won't outsource our debt."
There is no question that we have in power a gaggle of "Un-tax and Spend" conservatives. There is no question that they have marginalized those in their party that believe in fiscal conservatism. If you ask me, fiscal conservatism is common sense. Democrats can frame the debate in a very easy and catchy way: "The Bush administration and the Republicans in the House and Senate have deficit spent hundreds of billions of dollars on America's tab that they have no way to pay back. That would be like you running up a BILLION dollars on your company credit card, switching jobs and handing it over to your successor to figure out how to pay for it as you wash your hands of it. I don't know about you, but I think that's going to cost a lot in interest and that's exactly what's going on here." Bring this issue down to a level people of both sides will understand and you will win votes right here.
3) Social Security. This is the best way for the Democrats to draw attention to the hypocricies of the current Republican cabal while at the same time coming out in defense of an issue that has proved important. It's obvious the majority of American's don't agree with George Bush's ideas about Social Security and the Democrats had a chance to force the issue and counter-propose popular legislation that would fix the problem and serve as a major political defeat for the Bush team. They didn't do this. But now they have another chance and it would be foolish to pass it up because we all already know the Republicans have been losing on this issue for two years. And, in my opinion, the solution is simple and two pronged:
a) include in the Budget provisions to pay back all the extra money raided out of Social Security over the last few decades. Each agency that has benefited from Social Security's prosperity ought to be able to cut some type of fat out of their budget to pay back the money they owe.
b) eliminate the salary cap on the Social Security tax.
Viola! Once again, Social Security becomes solvent and you've won over all of the Baby Boomers hoping to rely on it.
4) Health Care. This is an issue that Democrats mention over and over and over again and people are tired of hearing about it and nothing getting done. But there is no reason why we can't figure out a way to provide every American with affordable (or free) Health Care. This is a chance to have a meaningful debate with conservatives and show the world that Democrats aren't Republicans in bad suits. You'd also win the vote of every person that can't afford Health Care. And Jimmy Smits wasn't far off on the West Wing when he suggested removing the words "over 65" from Medicare.
Yes, it would be controversial, but wouldn't you rather have people talking about this than the regular hot-button issues that get voters hopping mad? Issues like abortion and prayer in school and whether burning the flag should be against the law. Democrats need to force the idea into the dicourse that we need to take care of our people and the first step is making sure they can see a doctor if they're sick, no matter what.
Just see what happens when the Republicans come on TV and try defend the idea that people don't deserve to have Health Care. It's a losing argument and there are enough people without insurance or other forms of Health Care that wouldn't normally vote that you could lure to the polling stations with the promise that they would get free Health Care out of it.
Besides that, it's the morally right thing to do. You can win the Christian vote on this one as well by relating it back to the bible and about taking care of the poor and the sick and the weak.
5) Corporate Accountability. Enron, WorldCom, Halliburton, Phillip Morris, McDonalds, Walmart, Exxon/Mobil, Jack Abramof, Monsanto. These have all become synonymous with corruption and it is taken for granted that they have enough money in their pockets to buy any amount of congressmen and presidents or vice presidents to screw John Q. Consumer. I think the Democratic party needs to sever themselves from corporations. I know that sounds crazy, and I know that the Democrats are having a hard time fundraising as it is, but it would be the best PR move in the world to say, "We are no longer beholden to Corporate Interests and Political Action Committees. We will no longer take their money. We are going to ensure that there is a barrier between legislators and private interest. What we do will be the best for the people and the best for the people is Corporate Accountability. And the best first step is to sever all ties with private entities."
Now this issue leads into other issues like campaign finance reform and whatnot, but it's a major one. People are out there doing all they can to make sure people know about all of the horrible things these companies do. Why not put those efforts to work and be able to tie all of that evil to the opposition. "They are the party of corporate interest. Once again, we will fight for you."
Political campaigns have turned into Nascar Racers and people know it. If the Democrats can step away from that and raise enough money to make sure everyone knows it, they'll be clearly the more trustworthy group.
6) Homeland Security. The way the Democrats can take this issue back is simple. "We understand more about our enemy than our opponents do. Our opponents have made no effort to understand the enemy and we have. We understand why Abu Ghraib makes the situation worse. We understand why Iraq is having the opposite effect on terrorism that the administration. We understand why we have to be held to a higher moral standard. We know what it takes to keep America safe and it's our moral obligation to do it."
Jimmy Carter said on Larry King the other night, "After 9/11 I picked up a copy of the Quran and read it cover to cover. I now understand more about the Islamic Faith and learned more about how certain fundamentalists have perverted that religion into a violent sect of death and destruction. I think our leaders need to know more about why these terrorists hate America."
That's brilliant. And that needs to be part of the message of the Democrats.
But they can't just say, "We understand them better, so we're better suited for the job." They need to back it up with a comprehensive Homeland Security plan that will illustrate to the American people how they are going to be able to sleep more soundly under a Democratic watch. Kerry tried this unsuccesfully during the last campaign, but this can be stepped up with a clear plan of action.
So, that's it. Obviously, there are more issues at hand, but these are the main 6, in my opinion, that will take the Democratic party back where they belong. There are two honorable mentions that need to be addressed and perhaps I'll outline them later and they are: Immigration and Torture.
UPDATE!:(In the intervening year, Immigration and Torture have been raised up on the list of important issues. Tonight or tomorrow I'll try to get something up about them)
Monday, September 25, 2006
It seems like a no brainer to me.
I don't know why it's taken the American people (or the Democrats) so long to start paying attention to this issue.
Oh yeah, I remember. Politicians don't seem to grow spines and work on issues until it's election season.
Saturday, September 23, 2006
It’s no secret that people who rely on Fox news are, on average, more likely to know less about the issues than someone who relies on other sources. This morning, while I was doing my running at the gym, I was forced to watch Fox news for a little while because there was nothing else to listen to. You see, I’m not hip enough to have an iPod or anything cool like that.
Well, they were discussing Hugo Chavez and his recent remarks at the UN. Now, I think the reaction to his remarks is a little too much. I think it amounts to him making a very apt joke to warm over the crowd. And really, a lot of us have called George Bush a lot of things a lot worse than El Diablo. So, I still respect what Chavez has been standing for.
And if any of you have read this blog for a while, you’ve seen my posts about Chavez. (here, here, here)
But these people on Fox, an entire battery of shouting pundits were arguing about Chavez. False statement and half-truth after false statement and half-truth, these guys were the most bombastic, ill informed bunch I had ever seen. They had my jaw on the floor.
Want to know what they had to say?
First off, they were calling anyone who had any respect for Chavez an “idiot.”
On a news station, they were calling people of differing opinions “idiots.” That’s just to illustrate the maturity of discourse on Fox.
One mistakenly called him a leftist dictator. For those of you who didn’t know, Chavez is the democratically elected leader of Venezuela. He’s not a dictator. And, as opposed to Bush, he actually does have a mandate from the people and political capital to spend.
Another called him an economic terrorist. Why would he be an economic terrorist? That doesn’t even make any sense. But this was the “experts” argument: “Venezuela is the fourth largest oil supplier in America. He can sell it to China. If he does, it’ll cripple our economy. If he does, he’s an economic terrorist.”
Don’t forget that these are the same people who are into Free Market Capitalism and selling to the highest bidder and things like that. And don’t forget these are the same guys who support the actual economic terrorism of the WTO. (The WTO is notorious for going into country’s and forcing them to gut their infrastructures and sell off their national resources to Multi-national conglomerates to the detriment of their well being and their people.) So, if anyone is an economic terrorist, it would be countries who support the WTO. (read Greg Palast for more about that)
The host of the show kept asking if Chavez’ comments at the UN were enough to wake the people of America up enough to kick Venezuelan oil interests out of the country, or were they too stupid to see it?
Another pundit also said that Iran wanted to put missiles aimed at America in Venezuela.
The last thing about the segment, however, was certainly the most shocking. A pundit said the following words that have absolutely no basis in fact: “If you buy gas at Citgo station, you’re directly funding Al Quaida.”
What in the fuck?
And this went on the air, completely unchallenged.
It’s no wonder people like Bush are still in office when people are getting their news from a station so willing to allow fiction be broadcast over their airwaves. How can thinking people compete against such blatant disregard for reality?
No really. Answer me. I want to know.
Wednesday, September 20, 2006
Now if only the trailers have that classic '40's retro Casablanca feel, I'll be head over heels in love with this movie, sight unseen.
Click here to see a larger version of it.
Tuesday, September 19, 2006
People should listen.
Read this, it makes a lot of sense:
America should commit to an immediate freeze in levels of carbon dioxide emissions and replace payroll taxes with levies on corporate pollution, Vice President Gore said yesterday in a speech at New York University in which he endorsed a series of far-reaching proposals to combat climate change.
Mr. Gore's address, which lasted nearly an hour, marks a turning point in his effort to raise awareness and spur widespread change on national policies toward global warming. While he had spent months promoting a documentary film, "An Inconvenient Truth," that spells out what Mr. Gore says is a "planetary emergency," yesterday's speech contained his most extensive proposals for solving the perceived crisis.
Mr. Gore renewed a call to replace taxes for Social Security and unemployment with pollution taxes, saying the swap would be revenue neutral."Instead of discouraging businesses from hiring more employees, it would discourage business from producing more pollution," he said
Monday, September 18, 2006
I've been thinking alot about the falling gas prices in everywhere but Utah. I've come up with a completely ridiculous conspiracy theory about it, but the more I think about it, the more sense it actually makes.
Okay, here's the theory: Rising gas prices have caused political backlash for the political party in power. Oil companies are posting record profits and are doing their best to gouge everyone. But, we're two months away from a mid-term election and the current poll numbers suggested that their buddies in the Republican party are on their way out. So, because they don't want to hassle with more congressional investigations where they might need to be sworn in this time, in a massive gesture, much like a campaign contribution, they start to decrease gas prices. Public opinion of economic handling is so short, people start to think the last few years haven't been so bad and they feel comfortable voting Republican. I mean, if gas prices are falling, they must have something to do with it, right? They are in power, maybe they do.
But why aren't they falling in Utah?
Because Utahns are sheep enough to vote Republican anyway, no matter how much you hit their pocketbook. Democrats are evil, remember?
Like I said, it was a crazy theory, but the timing and situation is too good to not say it. I mean, why else would prices fall everywhere but in a Republican stronghold such as this? It's got all the other analysts scratching their heads and maybe, just maybe, I'm on to something.
Apparently, one of my employees (which is still in High School) was assigned in class on Friday, along with the rest of her class, to rebut my letter that I wrote to Stan Kanter, care-of the Daily Herald. It seems as though the teacher (who, frighteningly enough is also the Debate Coach at Orem High) was so livid about the inherent wrongness of my response that she assigned her students to rebut it for her.
I found that deeply humerous as well as deeply troubling.
For one thing, why would an English teacher do something so obviously motivated by irrational partisan politics?
I don't know.
Anyhow, the employee in question is going to try and get some of the responses her classmates wrote so that I may display them here. I also told her that I would be more than happy to debate the teacher about this issue in class. It would be a hell of a learning experience.
Second, I have a theory about gas prices that I'll post shortly...
Saturday, September 16, 2006
I apologize in advance for it's depressing nature.
Friday, September 15, 2006
He spoke of the need for harsh treatment, the need to strip detainees of due process, he spoke of his unrelenting stubborness and foolishness in his various foreign policies, backpedaled through his comments linking Saddam to Al-Quaida.
He also tries painting this rosy picture of Iraq and it's bizarre and disgusting. It's like everyone in his administration has to wear red-tinted sunglasses so when they look at pictures and reports of Iraq, everything is rosy in color and the blood doesn't show up. (The same thing happened in the Emerald City in the Wizard of Oz, except all the glasses were emerald. You see, the city was normal colored but you had to wear the glasses... That's why everyone thought it was the emerald city.)
It is good to see things backfiring for Bush on the Senate floor for a change though. Perhaps sense isn't totally lost in Washington.
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
The new Pirate Club Graphic Novel hits finer comic book stores today. If you can't get to your local comic book store, be sure to order it from Amazon.
Elias and I helped script this and a short I wrote is featured as an extra in the back.
Buy it or suffer the consequences. You can also order volume 1 here.
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
You can read the article here.
Here's the quote:
"I think it's disappointing that all who disapprove of Bush are immediately labeled 'liberal.' Over the past few years, I've actually become more of a moderate, but it's hard to convince someone in today's political climate that I'm a centrist. They hear that I disapprove of President Bush and instantly they think I'm a left-leaning liberal."
"I think it's gotten to the point where you don't have to be a left-wing liberal to be angry at the Bush Administration's terrible handling of the war," said Greenstreet. "It's gotten to the point where all you need is basic common sense."
I've decided that I like both versions of the films the best. In the context of Episodes IV, V and VI as standalone theatrical events, the classic versions are the preferred version. However, in the context of the entire, overall saga, there is no doubt about the continuing glory of the Special Editions. In the Special Editions, most of the changes serve the overall saga much better.
Long story, short: I reaaaaally like Star Wars.
In honor of this Red Letter day, watch the fan film Elias and I filmed on the two year anniversary of the release of The Phantom Menace. (which was another excellent film, naysayers be damned.) It was made available in November 2001 as a bonus feature on the DVD for our first film "Missy"
Monday, September 11, 2006
There is nothing more jarring than waking up one morning on your honeymoon to a phone call from your mother. "What the hell could my mother want that she'd bother me on my God damn honeymoon," I remember asking myself.
"Turn on the TV," she tells me.
The world was changed that day. Everyone has a different, very personal story to tell about it. Indeed, I was on my honeymoon. In Vegas no less (well, we'd planned to drive to Vegas, but just didn't care to keep going as soon as we hit Mesquite. What was the difference? A hotel is still just a hotel.) Indeed my mother did call to shock me back into harsh reality.
We cut things short and drove home that morning where I was glued to the news for the next couple of days.
The problem is that we haven't learned the horrible lessons of that day. The world hasn't changed for the better because of September 11, 2001. Horrific acts like that one are beset before people and our reaction is a large indicator in to the national soul and consciousness. Instead of trying to be a force of peace and goodness in the world, we were out for blood. And we've paid for it.
Terrorist attacks the world over have risen sharply in direct response to our retaliations in the name of 9/11 and we've soiled the name of United States in one big bloody horror of an occupation of a country that had nothing to do with this atrocity. We went into Afghanistan at first because a few of the people involved were probably hiding there, despite the fact that 15 of 19 hijackers were Saudi Arabian and they could trace all the money into Saudi Arabia. Today, Afghanistan is an occupied wasteland rife with daily terrorist attacks and fighting. Saudi Arabia is stronger than ever. Then, once we'd "toppled" Afghanistan, we went into Iraq under a series of ever-changing (and ever constantly false) pretenses and now our American troops are paying the price for this ill-conceived blunder and our protracted occupation in a country that is facing all out civil war.
We had a moment to look within ourselves as a nation and make things better in those moments after the terrorist attack on September 11, 2001. Our actions have defined our nation these past five years and to be honest, I'm not very proud of how we, as a nation, proceeded.
I see September 11, 2001 as a wasted opportunity to show the world how a truly great nation reacts to such a calamity.
Since our response (in Iraq, Afghanistan, etc.) has, by all accounts, created more terrorists, hopefully we'll be better prepared to deal with the next terrorist attack in a much more Christian way. Perhaps we could start organizing peace in the Middle East instead of destruction. Perhaps we can start spending more money on keeping our citizens healthy and well than on "defense." Perhaps instead of obliterating other nations who we see as an axis of evil, we can work multi-laterally and peacefully toward moderating them.
But, with George Bush still in office and the House and Senate controlled by Republicans, not today.
Sunday, September 10, 2006
I'll be back later today or tomorrow with pictures and a review of "Hollywoodland" (It's worth seeing at least once).
Just in case you forgot, here's the rough teaser trailer from the film we're working on. (And by "we" I mean the Saturday Shorts guys.)
I have to say, it's been quite an entertaining process putting a film together with no budget and a one-day-a-week-for-18-weeks schedule. It's been a learning process and something fun to throw spare time into (not that there is ever much of that.) I mean, at the end of the day, we'll have a full-length feature film that we shot on weekends. That's how Sam Raimi did the first Evil Dead picture. I know that we aren't making a masterpiece or some piece of high art, but I do know that what we're making is funny and entertaining.
Friday, September 08, 2006
Stan Kanter, a self-described "staunch Republican" from Mapleton, Utah wrote the following letter under a headline reading "Anderson's anti-Bush rant embarrased every Utahn":
Here is my response:
I guess I can best by affiliation be described as a Reagan conservative, as well as a staunch Republican.
I take umbrage with the lousy reporting in the two articles on President Bush's visit. In the first, it was supposed to be about Bush's arrival in Utah; however, after a paragraph or so, it honed in on Rocky Anderson, albeit the other article was also about Rocky Anderson.
As far as I and many of my friends and neighbors are concerned, Anderson is an embarrassment to the great state of Utah. He is a malevolent individual who has degraded the office of mayor and is a traitor to our great nation. Only a demented and depraved individual would make the kind of malicious remarks about the president of the United States, a man whom I greatly admire and totally support.
Anderson's vociferous diatribe were a humiliation to every resident of Utah as he embarrassed himself and his office in front of the whole world.
I just couldn't help it:
In response to Stan Kanter's Letter to the Editor from September 6, I would like to say that I believe Stan Kanter and his friends and neighbors are an embarrassment to America and Democracy. Mr. Kanter described Rocky Anderson as a traitor to the nation for voicing valid and, according to Bush's approval ratings, popular opinions about the "president" and his handling of the situation against the "threats" to our nation.I'll let you know if they print it.
To say that a man who has voiced his opinion, regardless of his office, is an embarrassment and a traitor is against the very tenets of democracy and American idealism.
Further, Mr. Kanter describes those who would question the questionable and despicable actions of the Bush administration as demented and depraved. I would put the shoe on the other foot, as it were. I would describe someone who would support a man who condones torture, the reduction of personal privacy, squelching of opposing opinion, pre-emptive, immoral war and fear mongering, demented and depraved.
Mr. Kanter, perhaps you and your "stanuch republican" neighbors should go back and read up on your history of dissent in the context of American freedom and our ideals of a democratic society. You might learn why Utah should be proud of Rocky Anderson and why America should be disappointed in your disgust at the outpouring of public opinion contrary to yours.
Read this excerpt from an article that appeared in todays Tribune.
CNN reported in its online edition July 30, 1996, that Senate Republicans opposed President Clinton's anti-terrorism legislation and Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, was particularly concerned about - get this - Clinton's proposal to expand wiretaps to catch terrorists.These are the kinds of partisan politics that damage America. I'm not saying Hatch was right then or now, but it's horribly convenient that Hatch would trust such over-reaching powers to one of the most power-hungry, war-mongering and ignorant presidents we've ever had merely because he's a Republican. I mean, Clinton did a lot of bad things, but he wasn't exactly a bad guy on the level Bush is.
The story said Clinton knew there was Republican opposition to some of his proposals, but, the president said in a news conference, "We need to keep this country together right now. We need to focus on this terrorism issue."
It quoted Hatch, who was then chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee: "These are very controversial provisions that the White House wants. Some they're not going to get."
Hatch also called Clinton's proposed study of taggants - chemical markers in explosives that could help track terrorists - "a phony issue."
The story also quoted Hatch as saying that he had "some problems" with the president's proposals to expand wiretapping. Of course, that was a Democratic president.
After months of not being up in SLC during business, I finally made it to the Ashdown campaign headquarters to grab stickers and yard signs.
That's good times.
Sorry about the lack of yesterdays post. I got busy. There probably won't be another one today either. It's my anniversary. So...
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Monday, September 04, 2006
2) I have been asked to guest teach some screen and stage writing for a UVSC class on Thursday. It's on the Heber campus, so if you're reading this and happen to be in Joel Petries class, you have me to look forward to.
3) Steve is teaching his documentary class at UVSC. Everyone should check it out.
4) I saw Robert Greenwalds Walmart documentary (finally) and will probably post something about it tomorrow.
Until then, I'm Chevy Chase and you're not.
Friday, September 01, 2006
It wasn’t bad. I don’t think it was great either, though. It was missing something and I’m having a hard time putting my finger on it. The story was interesting, the period is engaging, the actors are wonderful, the music was amazing (Phillip Glass did the score and it was quite excellent).
The problem, I think was the structure of the film. It just didn’t work. It was limp. The climax wasn’t exciting, the danger seemed forced, the suspense was non-existent and the love story was weak. All of the other elements were there, the movie just chugged along and didn’t care to do a great job of setting the story up for itself. It felt as though the film was directed by a first time director and was forced to bookend the picture with a scene that allows Paul Giamatti to narrate when he isn’t capable of telling the story in pictures. (click link below to read more...) Rarely do I say a film should be longer, but this one should have been an extra reel long and it should have been at the beginning of the film. It needed at least an extra fifteen minutes of set-up to properly establish the story elements required to evoke the emotions the filmmaker seemed to want to evoke. For example, what if Mel Gibson’s “Braveheart” had relegated the entire establishment of it’s love story into one five minute flashback with child actors without even a passing resemblance to Mel Gibson and his co-star? Would it have 1/10th the emotional impact the film does now? That’s part of the problem with the structure, the pieces are there, the filmmakers just didn’t use them properly.
I think another problem with the film is that there is only one scene between the good guy and the bad guy. They both want the same thing, essentially, which is the girl. They have one scene together in Act One and two smaller cameos with each other, also in Act One. One thing that could have heightened the suspense in the film would have been to give them at least one very confrontational scene together where Edward Norton and Rufus Sewell lay it out on the line the consequences of the action.
Another problem with the film is that Edward Norton says nary a word in the second act of the film. It is supposed to be communicated to me that this man is a genius and yet he basically stares at his hand for the middle act of the film.
William Goldman explained in one of his screenwriting books that audiences like to see how things work. They like to see con jobs pulled off. They like to see the good guy get away with it. I’m paraphrasing, naturally, but I really agree with this. I think it would have helped the film to not keep the audience so far in the dark, so that when the filmmakers hit you with the ending from “Usual Suspects” (yes, the ending is a rug pull) you are left wishing you’d seen everything played out.
Don’t get me wrong, the film had a lot of strong scenes and acting, they just didn’t compliment the story. And the “book-ended” structure with Paul Giamatti’s character feels forced and tacked on later.
I enjoyed this film better than “Little Miss Sunshine,” that’s for sure, but at the end of the day, I don’t think anyone will remember either of these films five years from now.
(One more nit-picky point-Although it shouldn’t have, it drove me nuts that you could tell that the brick patterns on buildings were just painted on. The flawed structure of the film was able to destroy some of my disbelief suspension and it drove me up the wall. I know it’s nit-picky, but there were times where it took me out of the film.)