Official Food Critic Statement on the Donner Party
Last week, science claimed that the fabled Donner party might not have gone cannibal after all. Weekly food critic Max Jacobson had this to say:
"Eating human flesh is way beyond the call for my profession, even if the legendary gastronome James Beard once stated that he would eat it "if there were enough tarragon." So I breathed a sigh of relief when I read that the Donner party may not have done so to survive, although we must note that the famous Colorado cannibal, Alferd E. Packer, has a grill named for him at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Pass the salt."
One-Minute Book Review
The Idler Book of Crap Jobs (3 stars)
Edited by Dan Kieran
This breezy, often hilarious compilation of reader submissions from Britain's The Idler magazine chronicles the world of really, really bad jobs. It's best picked up occasionally rather than read straight through, as its 100 tales of maggot farmers and tampon-factory cleaners can get repetitive. Still, they are easy to read and generally identifiable—sometimes a little too much so. We were especially concerned about No. 95: Journalist.
Kid Deposit Triumph
Our Peace Will Destroy Many (2 stars)
Hey, Ma, another scream-o band! More guttural howls that wouldn't sound out of place on a Halloween sounds disc. More screechy, nearly butt-rock guitar leads. Yes, it's another case of precise, talented, passionate musicians being held back by continuing to toe the genre line. There are some bright spots: the acoustic instrumentals "Introduction" and "The Dartboard at the Arizona Motel." Best track: the hidden "There's Always Something (The Annexation of Puerto Rico)" remix. KDT has great potential, not as a rock band, but as an electronica act.
Lord of War: 2-Disc Special Edition (R) (3 stars)
It's possible to learn more about the international arms trade from reading Frederick Forsyth's The Dogs of War than from watching Andrew Niccol's Lord of War. Nonetheless, fans of Nic Cage will enjoy his darkly comedic portrayal of Yuri Orlov, a Ukrainian immigrant who has convinced himself that dealing weapons to despots is no less ethical than selling booze in convenience stores. The bonus disc in the optional "special edition" offers much evidence that Orlov is mistaken.
Two for the Money (R) (3 stars)
Few actors chew the scenery with as much enthusiasm as Al Pacino. At his most voracious, as in The Devil's Advocate, he might as well have been performing a one-man show. In D.J. Caruso's convoluted drama about sports wagering, Pacino almost manages to make Matthew McConaughey and Rene Russo disappear, but pulls back long enough to avoid a union grievance. Just as in Advocate, Pacino plays a Satan-like mentor to a young man whose soul comes with a price tag attached. Russo plays both men's conscience. The bonus material includes an interview with the gambler who informed Pacino's portrayal.
Cabin in the Sky/Stormy Weather/Hallelujah/Green Pastures (NR) (4 stars)
In the golden age of Hollywood, few studio-made productions bothered to depict blacks as anything other than nightclub entertainers, flamboyant preachers, stylish hoodlums, compliant servants or nervous bag-toters for bwana. Cabin in the Sky, Stormy Weather, Hallelujah and Green Pastures further some unctuous stereotypes, but at least they didn't beat viewers over the head with them. Instead, the gifts of such marvelous entertainers as Lena Horne, Ethel Waters, Eddie Anderson, Bill Robinson, the Nicholas Brothers, Cab Calloway and Fats Waller were exulted. The movies benefit from the handling of such sympathetic—if undeniably white—talents as Vincente Minnelli, King Vidor, Irving Berlin and Harold Arlen. The commentaries, vintage shorts and bonus featurettes are terrific.