Hollywood vs world movies

May 22, 2007

    One great thing about the Cannes film festival is watching films made around the world.
 French humorists Omar and Fred at Cannes
    Later this week, Cannes rolls out the red carpet for Hollywood flick, “Ocean’s Thirteen.” The movie, about a group of con artists robbing a Las Vegas casino, is fast-paced, features expensive sets and has global stars like Brad Pitt and George Clooney. There is little doubt it will do huge numbers at box offices, but does that make it good?
    Here at Cannes, Mexico’s “Stellet Licht” is exactly the opposite of “Ocean’s” with a slow tale of a Mennonite farmer in an adulterous affair, and it relies on few words to evoke complicated emotions. French musical “Les Chansons d’Amour” tells of a young man whose menage a trois ends disastrously but causes him to grow as a man.
    It is unlikely “Stellet Licht” or “Chansons d’Amour” will reach theaters in many other countries. If they do, it is just as unlikely they will play outside small, arthouse cinemas. Their box office figures will pale next to “Ocean’s.” But does the fact few people see them make them bad movies?
    In 2006, all of the top 20 films were released by a major Hollywood studio. But was “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest,” which was 2006’s No. 1 box office draw with more than $1 billion in global ticket sales, good? Most critics did not think so. Some fans did; others did not.
    Moviegoing is subjective. What one person likes, their best friend may hate. Not all box office hits are good. Not all small, arthouse films are bad. The opposite is just as true.
    So, this week when the third “Pirates” film opens in theaters, think for a moment. Even though your best friend may be going, do you want to? There may be some foreign language flick playing down the street that has no queue outside, and it may be far more thought-provoking and entertaining. Or, maybe not. That would be up to you to decide.

Mulling the presidential candidates at Oklahoma Church

May 22, 2007

Its still almost a year and a half to the next U.S. presidential election in November 2008, but the campaigning has already been going on for months.

Five-hour stopover and warm welcome at Oklahoma megachurch

May 21, 2007

church3.jpgOn Sunday, we visited First Baptist Church in Moore, Oklahoma. Moore, located a few miles south of Oklahoma City, is perhaps best known for its tornadoes; indeed, the one that ripped through here on May 3, 1999, was one of the strongest ever recorded and was part of a system twisters that killed 40 people in central Oklahoma.

Undecided in Oklahoma City, but an interest in Sen. Brownback

May 21, 2007

loafman_web.JPGA key part of First Baptist’s community outreach program is its weeknight English as a Second Language program and its Sunday Bible study class for Spanish speakers. Doug Loafman, 49, and his wife, Lucinda (left), 48, public school teachers, are the volunteer coordinators for both.
The Loafman’s joined First Baptist when they moved to Oklahoma City from Texas a few years back. Like most of their fellow congregants at First Baptist, the Loafmans lean heavily toward the Republican Party. They put a high value on what they call “character” — something they say they see in President George W. Bush but see less of in the current crop of presidential candidates, both Democrat and Republican.
The notable exception? The couple expressed an interest in Senator Sam Brownback, a longshot Republican candidate from Kansas, who opposes abortion and same-sex marriages and said, when announcing his candidacy earlier this year, that “we need to embrace our nation’s motto, ‘In God we trust,’ and not be ashamed of it.”
As a result of the work they do with non-natives, the Loafman’s are supporter of immigrant rights.  “We’re more liberal on the immigration issue. We know them as people and they’re honest people. Yes, many of them are illegal. But we have to find a way to make them legal … We’re 12 million people too late.”
According to the Baptist Convention of Oklahoma, Hispanics are the fastest-growing group in the church.

Church goers: Bush’s ‘heart in the right place’

May 21, 2007

Clarkson3.jpgPresident George W. Bush’s popularity ratings among voters are languishing at low levels nationwide, but in a series of interviews, people from large congregation and staff of the First Baptist Church in this southern neighbourhood of Oklahoma City said that they think the current president is doing what he believes is right, as Pastor Kevin Clarkson put it.

You should get out more

May 21, 2007

“You should get out more.” That was the advice my wife gave me a few days ago when I was whingeing to her about how frazzled I got rushing from breakfast to screening to press conference to interview to screening to press conference to bed at the Cannes Film Festival. Not for the first time, she was right.

Audio: Seinfeld on his flight as a bumble bee, golden age comedians

By Reuters Staff
May 21, 2007

So how did comedian Jerry Seinfeld take to hurtling down a wire from a great height at the Cannes Film Festival, where he’s promoting his animated film, “Bee Movie”? It wasn’t so bad in practice, but… here Seinfeld’s reaction here. You can find the flight of Seinfeld the bumble bee on video here.

Two very different Route 66 museums only a few miles apart

May 21, 2007

Elk-City5.jpgHow many museums does Oklahoma need to celebrate Route 66?

The answer, it seems, is two. There is the National Route 66 Museum in Elk City in western Oklahoma, with a rustic, old fashioned feel to it, even though some of the exhibits are clearly new.

European Jaguar Club in Elk City, Oklahoma

May 21, 2007

jaguar_club.JPGThe pull that Route 66 exerts on the popular imagination isn’t felt only in the United States. Far from it. According to the staff at the National Route 66 Museum in Elk City, Oklahoma, most of the visitors they see coming through their doors hail from abroad. 
On Saturday, it was a stopping point for a cross-country rally sponsored by a Jaguar Club from Europe. 

Snapshots from Oklahoma

May 21, 2007

texas.jpgSnapshots, clockwise from upper left: Oklahoma’s soil is strikingly red and provides an interesting background for wild flowers; Jean Van Der Elst and his wife Isabella were tracing Route 66 west, along with 65 other vintage car owners from Europe; a crucial moment in the the Team’s trip: Getting Route 66 hats!; Giant windmills outside Weatherford — the self-described “wind energy capital of Oklahoma”; At some point as the Route 66 Team headed east, rivers started having water in them again. This is the Canadian River in central Oklahoma; Lee French, his wife Vicki and granddaughter Dai, in a 1955, two-door Bel-Air sport coupe, in Clinton, Oklahoma. French owns 15 vintage cars, most of them Bel-Airs.
Nick Carey/James Kelleher, May 19 ,2007