Dec 302010

Most movies coming out of Hollywood are so simplistic that they can be easily summed up in one sentence (or even less). The Last of the Mohicans is not one of those movies. It is a story of the French and Indian War told with the immediacy of a contemporary expose; it presents its characters and details with an almost obsessive level of authenticity, yet allows their narrative to take on a myth-like structure; it contains rousing action yet has deep socio-political undercurrents. The Last of the Mohicans isn’t some puddle deep blockbuster, but a piece of art looking at a complicated moment in history with a layered and complex point of view.

All you have to do to begin to appreciate the thought that went into the movie is to consider its cinematography. Director Michael Mann (Heat, The Insider) and Cinematographer Dante Spinotti (L.A. Confidential, Public Enemies) create a painterly appearance to the film inspired by landscape painters of the 1800’s like Thomas Cole and Albert Bierstandt. What is so striking about taking inspiration from this classical perspective is that it allows them to not only establish the grandeur and reality of the untouched wilderness, but they need never shy away from creating clearly staged compositions. Part of the reality of the time period is created with the illusion of source lighting. This is not a film bathed in artificial light where you can clearly see every corner of the frame; it is a film of depth created with shadow and fog. Despite the appearance of realistic lighting, the shots are composed to be as beautiful as possible. It isn’t just interesting photographic choices that reveal this balancing act, it is apparent throughout the entire film.

One of the important things about Michael Mann as a filmmaker is that everything which appears within his frame has a story. Whether you are discussing extras, costumes or even sets; he creates an all encompassing reality for his characters to live in. He was so concerned with the authenticity of the Native American’s dress and weaponry that he brought in experts from the Smithsonian Institute to advise. When it came to the European infantry and artillery units he had dozens of extras attend a boot camp in Alabama to train as a military unit from the 1600’s would have. This reality wasn’t just reserved for the actors but extended to the sets as well. In fact, “set” may be a bit of a misnomer as they could be more accurately called replicas. All the sets were constructed on site in the middle of the wilderness. Areas were cleared of trees for the construction and then were built with the removed local timber just as they would have been hundreds of years ago. Despite this strict adherence and respect to the reality of the times, Mann crafts a narrative that is almost operatic in its execution. This isn’t a movie that shies away from grand pure emotions. What keeps it from becoming corny is that the emotion is always sincere and earned. This sincerity allows for a film with sets, costumes and lighting as real as if they were from the 1600’s, to be told with a sweeping, heroic, tragic and romantic style.

Michael Mann is one of the few film-makers that can bring these disparate strands together. It has become a theme of his personal style to do so. Look at his film Public Enemies as an example. He takes a historical event from the early 20thcentury, and shoots as if a documentarian with a digital camera was in the room at the time; yet he never shies away from making sure every epic moment of Dillinger’s life is noted, whether real or exaggerated. This type of film-making reminds me of how David Milch (Deadwood, NYPD Blue) said he writes screenplays based on historical events. His process is to do as much research as he possibly can on the subject he is writing about. Once he feels like he has learned every little detail he walks away for a period of weeks or sometimes months. When he finally does begin writing he feels that he will retain what is essential and not be overly precious with details that are not. Or as John Ford (The Searchers, The Grapes of Wrath) said, “When legend becomes fact, print the legend”. This is exactly what Mann does in The Last of the Mohicans; he creates an incredibly authentic world but allows “the legend” to be printed in order to create emotion to coincide with history. His immersion of the cast in this staged reality helps them to create an emotional truth which comes from a real place rather than just convention.

Although Daniel Day-Lewis (Gangs of New York, There Will Be Blood) is known as an actor who thrives in an environment in which he is able immerse himself in the world of his character, it seemed a bit of an odd choice to cast this son of poets as the great trapper Hawkeye. He was fresh off his Oscar win for his performance in My Left Foot, but it’s hard to imagine two parts more different from one another. Yet just like his character Hawkeye, Day-Lewis steeped himself in the world of the Native American. He spent months training in the wilderness to learn the skills of a survivalist. He learned to hunt, skin, build fires, track, shoot, fight and even load a single shot black powder rifle while running. All of this training couldn’t help but to inform his character and give him the confidence that he was never faking it. This allowed Day-Lewis to concentrate of the emotional journey of Hawkeye rather than be worried about the technical skills he was performing.

Every person who appears in this film is a character, there are no one-dimensional stand-ins. Through the casting of great actors, dialogue often wasn’t needed to convey story or emotion. Take the case of Uncas and Alice Munroe siblings to our romantic leads. These two characters have little to no dialogue in the film(let alone with each other) yet by the end of the movie it is of paramount importance that we understand exactly who they are and the relationship they have with one another. Eric Schweig (Big Eden, The Missing) and Jodhi May (Defiance) develop these characters and relationships through the use of facial expression and presence alone. Madeline Stowe (Twelve Monkeys, Short Cuts) while having more screen time is equally effective as Cora. She gives a multi-layered performance that allows us to see a gorgeous woman of class who also possesses intelligence and a fierce sense of independence. We never question that a self reliant man like Hawkeye could fall instantly in love with her, yet she is never reduced to being simply a maiden in need of rescuing.

The one performance looming over the entire film was that of Russell Means (Pocahontas, Natural Born Killers). What is truly amazing is that this was Mean’s acting debut. Previous to Mann seeking him out to play the part of Chingachgook he was a political activist. By the end of filming was he not only an actor capable of fulfilling the role of the titular “Last Mohican” but he was able to create a character that embodied the pure Native American culture that was passing into oblivion at the time. Serving as counterpoint to Chingachgook was the villain Magua. Magua as portrayed by Wes Studi (Geronimo, Avatar) wasn’t a one dimensional villain; he had a point of view and reason for becoming who he was. In Magua’s mind he was the hero of the picture striking out at the unjust authority of the white man. Just as Chingagook becomes representative of the traditional Native American way of life, Magua was the personification of the argument that Native peoples must adapt to the ways of their intruders in order to survive. Magua wanted to change and adapt, “become what warped him”.

It needs to be appreciated that despite the film being made in the 1990’s by the Hollywood system, it does not simplify the Native American experience of the European invasion to a modern white perspective. The movie and its treatment of Native Americans isn’t through the prism of guilt looking back. It also doesn’t give us the “noble savage” who closeness to nature gives him a natural moral superiority to the proprietary western man. This is a film that attempts to look at the deep and complicated sociopolitical climate at the time and see it from their perspective. This was a conflict with numerous sides from the English, French, Iroquois, Huron, Mohawk and more; there were no simple solutions to anything. The question to the native peoples at the time was, “what are we to do”? Do they hold on to the past like the Mohicans, keep their traditions and slowly fade away? Or do they change and become like the white men and abandon what defined them, but allow them to survive. Despite these undercurrents with regard to the nature of land ownership, war and way of life, The Last of the Mohicans remains as rousing an adventure/action film as you are likely to find.

If I were to try and list off the greatest action climaxes in movie history the last 20 minutes of The Last of the Mohicans would appear very early on my list. From the moment the Huron chief makes his ruling until Hawkeye and Cora embrace; the film just ratchets up the action, music and drama more and more until it reaches an honest and amazing crescendo. One of the things I love about this sequence is that as action packed as it is, it is all based on the emotion and motivation of the various characters. It isn’t simply action for actions sake; it serves as the resolution to each characters arc. Everyone gets their resolution and chance at heroism. The Last of the Mohicans is a film that stirs the soul. It isn’t often that we get movies that are equally visceral and intellectually satisfying. The Last of the Mohicans is one of those rare gems.

Nikali Starkovich writes a movie blog Nickel-Eye News providing reviews, trailers, reactions to breaking movie news and retrospectives of classic films. You can find out more at his web site:

Author: Nikali Starkovich
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 Posted by at 8:46 pm
Dec 302010

Again, history is on the path to repeat itself in American Politics. It seems like for 2 different reasons America’s citizens have felt the need for a third party in politics. Either they believe in one or two political issues that they feel are not given a big enough role in either of the two big parties platforms or they don’t believe in anything and are annoyed with how democracy and debate work to solve political issues in society.

The green movement in American politics showed that the first of the reasons for forming a political third party actually are useful way of having an impact on politics. The main reason the American political system has only two parties is the ballot setup and how political elections are won. As we all know, it takes a majority or 51% of the vote to win most elections in politics and 51% of the state’s citizens votes to win all of the state’s electoral college votes.

The majority system in politics pits two candidates against each other and gives no incentives for only winning 15% of the votes. The contrast to the American political system is Great Britain, which has a proportional system. Because of this system, politics in Great Britain are different at their core from American politics. In a proportional political system, if there are 10 seats available and a political party wins 20% of the vote then they win 2 seats out of 10. I’m sure you can imagine how this influences the whole art and strategy of politics in this system.

Ok so what is unity and what do they have to do with all of this?

Unity08 on the surface is trying to sell itself as the party of the people and uses polls and catchy marketing to try to convince people to join their cause. They are a wannabe third party that has no core issue(s) that are not covered by the two major parties. They actually claim that they take on the more crucial issues rather than the somewhat important issues that don’t actually affect people.

They show base for their support by citing a polls that show the American public agrees with some things that are totally unrelated to a third party in politics. Things such as dissatisfaction with the way the country is headed and polarizaton. Also they polled on hypothetical questions of a different unity ticket and probably asked whether they agree or disagree with the idea. Good political pollsters know that people are always more likely to agree on any question when given the choice.

Ok now what do they have to do with third party politics? Well technically, they claim they do not want to be a third party. No No….They want to influence the big 2 political parties by giving them a wake up call. Oh it gets much better than this. They seem to contradict themselves a lot. They don’t want to leave their political parties but they want a moderate candidate or one person from each big political party to join together and run under their ticket.

So on some of their crucial political issues of national debt, nuclear proliferation, health care for all, and the disappearance of the American Dream they just want one candidate from each party to come together and run?

Ok Ok….Slow me down if I am wrong about this but is their differences on how to go about these issues what makes America the model democratic republic? Did our founding fathers not set our political system up with just that clash and debate?

I feel like I am under the Capitol Dome looking at the painting of Thomas Jefferson apparently stepping on John Adams toe and unity asking Mr. Jefferson if they could shake him up and then to embrace Mr. Adams like his political best friend. The political founding fathers setup the American system on the ideals of Newtonian physics where 2 political parties would both butt heads and the equal opposite reaction would end in a balance.

You cannot expect to take bits and pieces from each different approach given by the major parties, throw them into a blender and out comes the perfect solution. Most moderates in politics today hold views on political issues that are held by both political parties. However, they are affiliated with a certain political party because they believe in their core platform.

Finally, if unity08 plans to have one prominent member from each party on their presidential ticket for the 2008 political elections then how do they decide which party holds the President and which one holds the Vice President. I feel like I shouldn’t need to say this but unity08 makes it out like they do not see the huge difference in power between those two political offices.

So my final thought is this…The main founders and backers of unity08 are in this thing for exactly one reason. *Drumroll* MONEY. Plain and simple. Unity08 said they are seeking an advisory council from the FEC to see if they can be considered not a political committee. This means they do not want to be bound to FEC rules. Also nothing states that they are a non-profit and therefore I have to wonder whether they are not just a for-profit company.

Finally, one of the main founders bio on their webpage states this…

“Hamilton Jordan, Atlanta, Georgia. Carter White House Chief of Staff, writer, investor; focused on for-profit and non-profit start-ups; most importantly, father of three.”

This could mean nothing but it sure sticks out…investor;…for-profit and non-profit start-ups. Also, most of these former political people would not have wasted their time on this if they couldn’t control the cut they’ll make as consultants for unity08.

hmmm…This thing smells of scam and unrealistic dreams that not only contradict the founding fathers political setup for America but are also bad for America. The 2 party system is and will always be the best system for America. Does America need political advocates and higher citizen engagement? Of course! Conflict and honest debate is the best path to the perfect solution.

So to end let me say, unity08, no thanks.

here’s a link to their site. I feel like it is doing them a service but for my readers that don’t know what I am talking about I feel I must.

Jonathan D. Rhyne

Editor of The Right Minded Elephant

Author: Jonathan Rhyne
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 Posted by at 7:42 pm
Dec 292010

The City of Los Angeles, in the 70’s, was a hub of action. The entertainment industry was exploding with exciting new stars like Jack Nicholson, Bo Derek and Meryl Streep. Movies like “Chinatown”, “Ten” and “Grease” populated the movie houses, and “Star Wars” became a sensation.

On sprawling Los Angeles freeways, drivers tuned into a fairly new phenomenon, “talk radio” with an entertaining twist. KABC, a Los Angeles radio station offered talk show host, Michael Jackson, who popularized talk radio to be more than just news. Jackson baptized an era of a new kind of radio show… a combination of news, political talk and celebrity interviews. It brought a little bit of Hollywood into your car while traveling along freeways in rush hour. Michael Jackson interviewed everyone from Presidents to actors. I worked with Michael Jackson in the 90’s when I worked at KABC, and found him to be the perfect gentleman. I loved sitting in the KABC studios watching Michael interview Charlton Heston and George Carlin. He wasn’t controversial and made guests feel comfortable. I was lucky enough to meet my childhood heartthrob, Charlton Heston, a gracious guest, indeed.

In time, sports shows, cooking shows, restaurant and movie reviews, high tech advice and psychology shows became popular trends for radio listeners.

Dr. Toni Grant, famous radio psychologist, also had a popular show on KABC790 Talk Radio in Los Angeles during that time. Listeners called in with problems about their kids, spouses or friends. Imagine, having your problems resolved within a few minutes by a perfect stranger..over the radio. The country was changing towards getting information faster and results quicker.

In the 1980’s with the elimination of the FCC’s Fairness Doctrine, talk turned to politics. The Fairness Doctrine was originally intended to make sure that there was diversity of programming, not as a censor. For example, if there were three radio stations in one town or area, no one industry, such as music, religion or news could dominate.

Rush Limbaugh started an entertaining radio show phenomenon that gave rise to talk about politics and current events on national, state and local levels. It wasn’t journalism but rather entertaining opinions on today’s news and current events. And America loved it…well some of America loved it. Others hated it. This was probably the first time that listeners reacted negatively to radio broadcasting. Some say an outgrowth of the hippies and radical movements of the 60’s brought with it a negative reaction to conservative talk radio which they identified as the establishment. Others see conservative talk radio as an option to liberal press and liberal TV media that they perceive as presenting only one side of an issue.

Nevertheless, Rush Limbaugh developed a winning show format. Others followed the winning style and format of Rush Limbaugh and echoed in a new era of talk radio and a formidable option to the main stream media. Hosts Sean Hannity, Mark Levin, Mike Gallagher, Laura Ingraham and Dennis Prager are just a few.

Vicky has worked with Dennis Prager, Michael Medved, Mike Gallagher and Dennis Miller on Los Angeles Talk Radio. She is a professional speaker and CEO of Dynamic Communication Workshops.

Her Website is

She is the author of “ON AIR. How to Host Your Own Radio Show for Fun and Profit”. for more information, go to

Author: Vicky Nissen
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 Posted by at 9:43 pm
Dec 292010

With the number of recent injuries to WWE superstars such as Shawn Michaels, Triple H and The Undertaker the WWE has started to look a little short on genuine top of the card performers. This got me thinking about years gone by when there seemed an endless line of WWE superstars fighting it out for the top spot which brought an interesting question.

Which wrestlers past or present, dead or alive would I have loved to have seen come back in their prime to help the WWE in there current injury crisis? Here are the 5 I chose.

Bret “The Hitman” Hart

I’m sure the Hitman would be on many list of superstars people would love to see return, not just to the WWE but wrestling in general. Unquestionably one of the greatest in ring performers of all time, he would definitely improve the current roster and perhaps help make superstars of guys like Mr. Kennedy in the same way he did “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. Also a battle of the Canadians with Edge would make for fantastic viewing.

“Stone Cold” Steve Austin

WWE could certainly use a bit of the “Stone Cold” magic, he could help John Cena finally become the megastar that WWE crave for by teaming with him and would be a great opponent for the Legend Killer Randy Orton.

Brock Lesner

I was undecided which powerhouse I’d want to return between Lesner and Goldberg but I opted for the guy with more potentially great feuds. Cena, Batista and Bobby Lashley would all be possible headlining feuds and just imagine the potential of a feud with “Stone Cold” Steve Austin.

“Macho Man” Randy Savage

Not an obvious choice but whenever I think back to my favorite times of years gone by Randy Savage is a name that shows up quite frequently especially his amazing match carrying performance against the Ultimate Warrior at Wrestlemania 7. Who he’d feud with I’m not really sure, perhaps Edge would be my top choice, but it would be great just to see him in the ring once again.


This is definitely a personal choice of mine that I don’t expect many to agree with. I always feel Vader is one of the most underrated superstars in wrestling history, especially his time as a monster heel in WCW where his feuds with Cactus Jack and Sting still live as two of my favorite feuds of all time. John Cena, Bobby Lashley and Batista are all opponents who would benefit from a feud with the monster heel.

I’ve had to write this down before I change my mind again as the likes Davey Boy Smith, Rick Rude, Eddie Guerrero, Chris Jericho, Kurt Angle, Samoa Joe, Sting, The Dynamite Kid and The Rock have all featured on my list at some time today and I’m sure your list would be different too.

If your a wrestling fan then take a look at the new wrestling magazine packed with information and articles. Let the rest of the wrestling world hear your opinions.

Author: Adam Bradley
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 Posted by at 7:47 pm
Dec 292010

We’ve all heard the old saying “Never discuss sex, money or politics”. Even conversation between good friends can end in an argument when discussing politics.

We have conservatives, liberals, democrats, republicans, independents, moderates… Everyone sees the world a certain way, and how we should go forth in improving our great nation. You would think it would be easy to talk about these things, discuss and come to agreements. Hardly! More often than not, these discussions turn into arguments, and at times get very heated.

For thousands of years there has been fighting over politics, many of which lead to wars. I we all agreed, it would obviously be a perfect world with no wars, but sometimes the political fighting gets fierce and things get ugly.

This is not only typical amongst our politicians but amongst every day people too. Seems less and less are willing to compromise when it comes to their political beliefs and the country is divided. We have world leaders arguing over politics, then we have the US politicians going at it, then state politics… you get the point, it all crumbles down, all the way to you and I.

The keys to staying cool when debating or discussing politics is to leave your emotions in check, leave room for compromise and/or discussion & realize that the other person believes in what they’re saying as well and remain respectful.

The best way to win a debate is to do so in a civil manner, presenting facts and explaining your point of view. Many times when points can’t get across, it quickly turns the debate into an argument. It’s best at that point to get back on topic, or try to move onto the next topic.

I have owned a few political on-line websites, been members & have moderated as well. Of all the forums I have participated on, the political scenery has to be the hardest for all of those involved. It’s a constant quagmire and the in-fighting never seems to cease. The best you can do is take the higher ground, remain impartial and apply rules equally.

Jim is owner of

Author: James Lutz
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 Posted by at 7:23 pm
Dec 292010

Everyone knows that clothes make the man. From the executive
suits that litter Wall Street like the remnants of a ticker-tape
parade to the coveralls and work boots worn by construction
workers and mechanics, clothes tell the story of who we are and
where we’re going. Even when the workday is done, what we
choose to wear on our own time is still a reflection of our
personalities. From the sweat-suit to the wet-suit, our clothes
are meant to be not only functional, but forthcoming as well.
Clothes tell others what we like, and often, how we spend our
time. Sports franchise logos are constantly on display on Main
Street America. T-shirts with well known television, film and
music icons can be seen almost anywhere. Clothes have
something to say, and people are beginning to realize that the
responsibility of being a walking billboard requires us to choose

Now, more than ever, politics are entering the realm of fashion.
Blatantly political phrases and slogans are becoming more
prevalent on the backs of the public than the bumpers of
cars. There are even items of clothing that advertise specific
candidates or political parties and were actually purchased
by someone, somewhere (not obtained as a door prize at a
party fundraiser). But what options exist for those who like
a little subtlety with their agenda? Enter the merger of
socially conscious art and clothing. Less politically charged
and infinitely more fashionable, boutique clothiers have
created garments that are the realization of the finite
balance between the message and the medium. Using art
as the instrument of exchange and clothing as the canvas,
these pioneers of significancy are providing people with a
method of expressing themselves both in figure and in
fact. What better way for entrepreneurs to meet the
demands of a public that is focused on reflecting a belief
in both style and substance.

Article written by Kingston Amadan.

Author Bio::

Kingston Amadan


political discussion forum


Author: Simi Hogard
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 Posted by at 4:42 pm