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Saturday, January 12, 2013

'Gangster Squad' a stylish but shallow noir tale, critics say



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Taking its name and inspiration from a real LAPD operation that battled organized crime during the 1940s and '50s, the new film "Gangster Squad" dramatizes the story of Sgt. John O'Mara (played by Josh Brolin) and his squad's crusade against the interloping East Coast mobster Mickey Cohen (Sean Penn).

Given free rein to bend (and break) the rules by the police chief, O'Mara and his men (played by Ryan Gosling, Robert Patrick, Anthony Mackie and others) pull no punches when going after criminals. Unfortunately for the squad, movie critics aren't taking it easy on the film either, with most reviews characterizing it as stylish but shallow.

The Times' Betsy Sharkey says "Gangster Squad" initially shows promise, with a "swell cast" (which also includes Emma Stone as Cohen's dame), "a lot of neon and noir-ish flash" from director Ruben Fleischer ("Zombieland"), and a script by Will Beall packed "with period details, violence and the sort of pithy lines you'd expect bruisers to be spitting out in the 1950s."

But "the soul of the era is missing, and with it any reason to care," Sharkey says, adding, "The movie quickly slips into something closer to a 'Law & Order' procedural."

The Boston Globe's Wesley Morris labels "Gangster Squad" "an almost movie." He explains: "It's almost entertaining. But it's missing the shameless insanity of a wonderfully bad movie, and the particular vision, point of view, and coherence of some very good ones. So it sits there in between — loud, flashy, and unnecessary." And despite the talented cast, Morris adds, "Fleischer appears to have left them all to figure out how to stay in the same movie."

A.O. Scott of the New York Times writes that " 'Gangster Squad' is less a movie than a costume party run amok … a hectic jumble of fedoras and zoot suits, stockings and cigarettes, and red femme-fatale dresses." Being "too self-serious to succeed as pastiche," Scott adds, the film "has no reason for being beyond the parasitic urge to feed on the memories of other, better movies."

Scott isn't the only critic to compare "Gangster Squad" unfavorably to its predecessors; Ann Hornaday of the Washington Post is another. She writes, "Slick, sick, self-consciously stylish and defiantly shallow, 'Gangster Squad' is one of those movies you can’t talk about without invoking other (often better) movies. A lot of movies." (Among them are "L.A. Confidential" "The Untouchables," "Chinatown" and even "Dick Tracy.")

Salon's Andrew O'Hehir has an intriguing take on the film, which he initially describes as "reasonably successful entertainment" and "by the standards of midwinter Hollywood releases, not bad at all." More damning, however, and more interesting, is that O'Hehir goes on to blast the film as "a complete whitewashing of one of the most vicious and racist paramilitary organizations in American history: the Los Angeles Police Department." With its simplistic take on Los Angeles history, O'Hehir says, the film qualifies as "lazy and mendacious soft propaganda."

Among the somewhat scarce positive reviews of the film, Variety's Peter Debruge calls it "an impressively pulpy underworld-plunger." Some "over-the-top" action notwithstanding, "every creative decision seems to be in service of telling the most entertaining possible story, backed by first-rate wardrobe and art contributions."

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Oscar nominations analysis: The academy shakes up expectations


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The topsy-turvy nature of the academy's choices signals a few surprises ahead. Here's a list of what to take away from the Oscar nominations.

If the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences moved up its nominations this year to combat the sense that theOscars were becoming an awards-season afterthought, then Thursday's slate of nominees certainly accomplished that goal. That was good news for one Benh (Zeitlin, director of"Beasts of the Southern Wild"), and a bummer for another ("Argo" helmer Ben Affleck), and who's to say the surprises will stop there.

What to make of these topsy-turvy noms? Here are five take-aways:
No. 1: Throw out conventional thought this year.
There wasn't nearly as much overlap between the academy's choices and those of the various guilds, most of whom announced their picks after Oscar voters had turned in their ballots. And even with the Screen Actors Guild, which announced its picks last month, the split was significant. The past two years, academy voters and SAG members agreed on 17 out of 20 nominees. Three years ago, it was 19 out of 20. This year: Just 14 overlapped.
The divide among voters deciding the directing races was even more extreme with the academy matching just two of the Directors Guild nominees. One can argue with the quality of the choices — Oscar voters selected David O. Russell("Silver Linings Playbook"), Michael Haneke ("Amour") and Zeitlin over Kathryn Bigelow ("Zero Dark Thirty"), Tom Hooper ("Les Misérables") and Affleck — but beyond dispute is that for the first time in many years, the academy has put its own distinctive stamp on the awards-season landscape. When Oscars are handed out Feb. 24, there will be more suspense, less of the same-old, same-old. That's a good thing.
No. 2: That said, "Lincoln" is still the movie to beat.
Steven Spielberg's noble historical drama led the field with 12 nominations. About 75% of the time, that distinction translates into a win, though it didn't help "Hugo" last year. "Lincoln" has also racked up nominations from every major awards indicator and its commercial success would seem to make it a popular choice for just about everyone. Of course, the last time Spielberg had a presumptive favorite "Saving Private Ryan" came up short, bested by "Shakespeare in Love." Can Harvey Weinstein pull off the same feat again this year and persuade voters to choose the lighthearted "Silver Linings Playbook" over Spielberg's weighty drama? Probably not. But it's sure going to be fun to watch him try.
No. 3: The directors branch remains a boy's club.
How else to explain Bigelow's shocking omission? "Zero Dark Thirty" screened plenty, so it's not like the critically acclaimed thriller wasn't seen. And it scored a best picture nomination, as well as nods for actress Jessica Chastain, screenplay, editing and sound editing, indicating that those voters who saw it found much to admire. The directors branch, however, withheld its approval, even though the one-time Oscar winner has been lauded extensively elsewhere.
The academy has given the director's award 85 times, nominating a woman on just four occasions. Bigelow's snub stands as the latest example that, three years after her win for "The Hurt Locker,"industry sexism remains alive and well.
No. 4: And speaking of the directors branch, they don't like interlopers either.
The directors branch has also been known to nominate movie stars making their directorial debuts (Kevin CostnerRobert Redford), but take a more cautious route with actors seen as encroaching on their territory. Ron Howard won the DGA Award in 1995 for the popular "Apollo 13," but the academy's directors branch didn't even bother to nominate him. That might be good news for the DGA-nominated Affleck, who could well win that guild's feature film award next month. Had Affleck won an Oscar nomination, as nearly everyone expected, he could well have taken the Oscar, too, since the huge actors branch would have been eligible to vote. For now, Affleck can take solace in the fact that Howard eventually won a nomination — and the Oscar — for his work on "A Beautiful Mind."
No. 5: Outside of Daniel Day-Lewis losing, anything remains possible.
Oscar ballots are due 40 days from now, i.e. the same amount of time it took Noah, as the story goes, to build his ark. Look for Oscar campaigners to gather academy members two by two during this long, long chasm of time, attempting the neat trick of keeping their films in the conversation without making voters utterly sick of hearing about them.

Taft School Shooting: Teen Gunman Told Teacher, Ryan Heber, 'I Don't Want to Shoot You'


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A California teacher'sbrave conversation with a 16-year-old gunman who had opened fire on his classroom bullies allowed 28 other students to quickly escape what could have been a massacre.

Science teacher Ryan Heber calmly confronted the teenager after he shot and critically wounded a classmate, whom authorities say had bullied the boy for more than year at Taft Union High School.

"I don't want to shoot you," the teen gunman told Heber, who convinced the teen gunman to drop his weapon, a high power shotgun.

Responding to calls of shots fired, campus supervisor Kim Lee Fields arrived at the classroom and helped Heber talk the boy into giving up the weapon.



"This teacher and this counselor stood there face-to-face not knowing if he was going to shoot them," said Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood. "They probably expected the worst and hoped for the best, but they gave the students a chance to escape."

One student, who police say the shooter had targeted, was shot. He was airlifted to a hospital and remains in critical, but stable condition, Youngblood said. He is expected to undergo surgery today.

Two other students received minor injuries. One suffered hearing loss and another fell over a table while evacuating. Heber received a wound to his head from a stray pellet, police said.

Police said the teen, whose name has not been made public because he is a minor, began plotting on Wednesday night to kill two students he felt had bullied him.

Authorities believe the suspect found his older brother's gun and brought it into the just before 9 a.m. on Thursday and went to Heber's second-floor classroom where a first period science class with 20 students was taking place.

"He planned the event," Youngblood said. "Certainly he believed that the two people he targeted had bullied him, in his mind. Whether that occurred or not we don't know yet."

The gunman entered the classroom and shot one of his classmates. Heber immediately began trying to talk him into handing over the gun, and evacuating the other students through the classroom's backdoor.

"The heroics of these two people goes without saying. ... They could have just as easily ... tried to get out of the classroom and left students, and they didn't," the sheriff said. "They knew not to let him leave the classroom with that shotgun."

The gunman was found with several rounds of additional ammunition in his pockets.

Within one minute of the shooting, a 911 call was placed and police arrived on the scene. An announcement was made placing the school on lockdown and warning teachers and students that the precautions were "not a drill."

The school had recently announced new safety procedures following last month's deadly shooting at a Newtown, Conn., elementary school in which 20 young children were killed. Six school staffers, including the principal, were killed as they tried to protect the children from gunman Adam Lanza.

The school employs an armed security guard, but he was not on campus Thursday morning.

Youngblood said the student would be charged with attempted murder, but the district attorney would decide if he was to be tried as an adult.

Some 900 students attend Taft Union High School, located in Taft, Calif., a rural community in southern California.

Bagaimana Korang Boleh Meningkatkan Trafik Blog Dengan Cepat



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Jadi, anda memulakan tapak baru dan harapan untuk belajar bagaimana anda boleh meningkatkan trafik blog cepat? Sertai kelab ini! Terdapat beribu-ribu blogger baru memberi pukulan setiap hari, jadi persaingan adalah sengit. Tetapi, jika anda belajar bagaimana untuk menunggang gelombang pendatang baru anda boleh mendapati diri anda berjaya dalam masa yang singkat semua.

Jangan terkejut jika ini tidak masuk akal kepada anda agak lagi. Blogger paling berjaya tidak memahami bagaimana mereka boleh meletakkan persaingan mereka untuk bekerja dalam mempromosikan blog mereka. Panduan ini akan mengajar anda bagaimana untuk melakukannya dalam fesyen yang beretika dan adil. Itu betul! Anda tidak perlu berasa bersalah mengenai yang berjaya.

Mencari Bloggers lain dalam Niche Anda
Langkah pertama anda perlu melawat Technorati.com. Carian untuk niche anda, dan kemudian menyusun keputusan berdasarkan kuasa rendah. Senarai ini akan menyediakan anda dengan sekurang-kurangnya sedozen blog yang memberi tumpuan kepada topik anda, dan kebanyakan mereka tidak akan terlalu mengesankan.

Selepas itu, hop ke carian blog Google dan melakukan perkara yang sama. Sila lihat baik melalui semua blog anda mencari dan mengasingkan orang-orang yang seolah-olah mempunyai sentiasa dikemaskini jawatan tetapi sedikit interaksi sosial. Mereka mungkin tidak kelihatan terlalu berharga pada mulanya, dan mereka tidak mungkin kelihatan seperti mereka boleh memberikan anda banyak membantu.

Dengan itu yang berkata, blog ini masih membawa masuk pelawat baru ke atas mereka sendiri. Sebaik sahaja anda mempunyai senarai ini, mengkaji semua laman web, membuat beberapa komen, dan akhirnya menghantar e-mel yang anggul topik untuk pos tetamu.

Jika anda bernasib baik, anda akan dapat untuk mendapatkan peluang untuk berbuat demikian pada beberapa tempat. Semua komen dan jawatan dan terkumpul akan memandu trafik daripada laman anda sendiri. Anda juga akan mendapatkan beberapa pautan yang berharga, yang akan membantu meningkatkan kedudukan anda dalam SERPs.

Penulisan Posts tetamu Memaksa
Sebaik sahaja anda mendarat peluang anda untuk menulis pos tetamu yang anda perlukan untuk memukul ia keluar dari taman. Anda mahu menjadi seorang penulis berulang beberapa blog jika boleh. Ini akan membantu untuk corong trafik baru ke laman web anda secara tetap, meningkatkan pendedahan anda (dan peluang blog tetamu), dan membina asas yang kukuh SEO organik.

Jangan hanya menghadkan diri anda ke blog khusus dalam niche anda. Fikirkan blog yang sama atau berkongsi pembaca yang serupa. Sebagai contoh, jika anda memiliki sebuah laman web mengenai model kereta api, anda mungkin mahu menulis pos tetamu di tapak yang memberi tumpuan kepada membina diorama mengesankan. Percaya atau tidak, keputusan carian Google blog menunjukkan 235,000 posting blog mengenai topik ini - jadi ia pergi tanpa mengatakan bahawa anda boleh menggunakan taktik ini tidak kira apa niche anda masuk

Membina List Penerbit
Jika anda melakukan kerja yang baik ini, anda boleh mempunyai senarai 20 atau lebih penerbit dalam bulan pertama. Mereka semua akan makan trafik baru ke laman web anda pada kadar yang berbeza. Mengandaikan bahawa setiap blog menghantar kira-kira 10 pengunjung baru ke laman web anda sebulan, anda akan mempunyai sekurang-kurangnya 200 pembaca sebulan dari bulan pertama anda bintang kempen ini.

Memandangkan hakikat bahawa ia mengambil kebanyakan blog sekurang-kurangnya 6 hingga 12 bulan sehingga mereka mempunyai apa-apa aliran tetap pengunjung baru, ini adalah sangat cepat dan sangat mengesankan. Jika anda menyimpan ia pada kadar ini, anda akan mempunyai lebih daripada 2,400 pengunjung baru setiap bulan hanya dari sumber tetamu anda posting.

Apabila anda menggabungkan bahawa dengan trafik baru anda akan menjana dari SEO organik jawatan-jawatan ini menyediakan laman web anda perlu mempunyai sekurang-kurangnya 3,000-5,000 pelawat baru sebulan.

Sudah tentu, ini tidak adalah sangat berskala. Anda tidak boleh menyimpan menambah sumber baru untuk senarai penerbit anda setiap bulan. Sebagai masa berlalu, anda boleh menggugurkan beberapa laman web dan memberi tumpuan kepada mendapatkan yang baru. Pautan yang mereka hantar ke laman web anda akan berada di sana selama-lamanya. Anda tidak perlu untuk terus bekerja pada mereka.

Dengan menambah sekurang-kurangnya 20 posts tetamu baru untuk senjata anda setiap bulan anda boleh berakhir dengan jumlah trafik yang serius dalam masa yang singkat semua. Outsource penulisan tetamu pos dan anda boleh mengambil ia ke tahap yang lain, sepenuhnya.
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