Thursday, October 25, 2007

What happened September 6th?

Well, here it is. Do you see it? This is the building -- now no longer in existence -- at latitude 35° 42' 31.02" N; longitude 39° 49' 58.50" E, not far from at-Tibnah, Syria. This is the site which was supposedly hit by Israeli jets on September 6th. Initially the garbled reports relegated the incident to some kind of exploratory overflight as the Israelis tried to find lanes for a possible attack on Iran. Then it was reported to be an actual target, maybe a missile facility. Now it is a nuclear facility? Was it a nuclear weapons plant or reactor in the making? We'll never know for sure, because the Syrians have bulldozed over it. Certainly in this picture there is little to confirm the worst suspicions. Your guess is as good as mine. One thing we know is that satellite photos often reveal as much as they conceal. Remember the WMD sites touted by Colin Powell?

On the other hand, no need to guess about this picture. Here is Israel's Dimona reactor, built way back in the 1950s with France's assistance. It has been on-line since the early 60's and has produced so much fissionable material that it is estimates tht Israel possesses at least 70, and as many as 400, nuclear weapons.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

American Bollywood: Across the Universe

Clocking in at just over 2 hours, Julie Taymor's Across the Universe is not unlike good Bollywood. It has an international, compelling. and emotional story (a good part of the story takes place in England, a site of many a Bollywood flick). The visualizations of the more than 30 songs (far more than in a typical Bollywood movie) is largely commendable, though sometimes forced. Early on, there are some highly innovative and stupendous samples of cinematic choreography (in a bowling alley, and a Princeton dining club), but towards the end there is some poor use of blue-screening and digital effects. The movie ends abruptly, which means I would have been happy to take in a third hour. The music is nicely recorded, combining soundstage and on-site 5.1 recordings, and as far as I can tell (see this highly technical article), there was no playback singing. The interpretations of the Beatles' music is solid and artful. Whether studio recorded or live action, the players do a fine job with some tremendous lyrics and arrangements. Not since Baz Luhrman's Moulin Rouge (2001) has a mainstream American movie toyed with the Bollywood format of love story/music/dance/politics so successfully. Across the Universe - chock full of songs you already know and love - is worth the $10, or the $25 it will cost to get the DVD on February 5, 2008.