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Saturday, February 29, 2020

Best films of 2019

Metacritic produces an annual list of the top films of the previous year based on top-10 lists created by various film critics. This is an aggregation based on lists produced by 340 critics:
Movie and Metascore# 1st Place# 2nd Place# OtherPoints
196 Parasite7733137.5434.5
283 Once Upon a Time in Hollywood3827124.5292.5
394 The Irishman2445118280
493 Marriage Story1427117213
590 Uncut Gems201887183
695 Portrait of a Lady on Fire121079135
791 Little Women51285124
882 Knives Out9582119
987 Pain and Glory10766.5110.5
1089 The Farewell2787.5107.5
1191 The Souvenir3955.582.5
1281 Us1173.578.5
1384 Booksmart255268
1478 19175542.567.5
1572 Midsommar3252.565.5
1683 The Lighthouse3250.563.5
1783 The Last Black Man in San Francisco4246.562.5
1882 Transit4728.554.5
1980 Ad Astra134554
2059 Joker4530.552.5
2158 Jojo Rabbit423450
2278 Avengers: Endgame3138.549.5
2378 A Hidden Life323447
2485 Atlantics033743
2579 Hustlers1037.540.5
2680 Waves412539
2785 Ash Is Purest White322437
2877 High Life1131.536.5
2969 Her Smell2225.535.5
3088 Apollo 110228.532.5
Through February, I've now seen 15 of the 30 listed films. My rankings would be (roughly):

Tier I Outstanding: top award choices

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Marriage Story
Little Women
Portrait of a Lady on Fire

October 2020 update: 2019 was a great year for movies, clearly. Indeed, the top 3 on the next tier could be moved up with these 6 on another day.

Tier 2 Very good: strong consideration for awards

Knives Out!
Uncut Gems
The Irishman
JoJo Rabbit

Uncut Gems was very well done, generally, but I didn't care for the 3 artsy shots used by the filmmakers to peer and travel inside a human colon, a gemstone, and an open wound. The film it most reminded me of this year was Her Smell, actually, as the two main characters of these films were seriously flawed and frustrating to observe.

Tier 3 Above average, but flawed in some way

The Souvenir
The Farewell
The Last Black Man in San Francisco
High Life
Ad Astra
Apollo 11
Her Smell

My rankings are not very precise. Virtually all of the films listed here have real strengths and are worth your time.

Tier 4 Skip it

Avengers: Endgame

If you are a big fan of these Marvel films, you probably already saw it. If you are not, then just skip it. I wish I had the nearly 3 hours back to watch something else and read. It moves slowly at times. There are too many characters. The fight scenes are cartoonish with lots of CGI. I'm tired of the impossible-to-kill villain. Spoiler alert: Now available with time travel. 

I'll update this list with highlighted additions after this post first appears.

Of the 15 films I've missed as of the original post, it's unlikely I'll see Midsommar anytime soon as I'm not a big fan of horror.

These are all of the unlisted films in alphabetical order. I'll move them up as I see them:

Ash is the Purest White
A Hidden Life
The Lighthouse
Pain and Glory

On any given day, I might feel slightly differently about film rankings within the different tiers. In any case, 2019 was another good year for film.

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Friday, February 28, 2020

ISA 2020: Mulling withdrawal

March 25:

On February 28, I sent the following note to a colleague that I follow on twitter.
Dear X:

I saw your coronavirus and ISA tweets. Are you attending? I'm supposed to stay 4 nights and give 2 papers but had delayed buying tickets even before the news about the 2 Japanese tourists. I saw that you referred to Hawaii as a vector and I think that’s true. Somewhere I read recently that Hawaii has about 800 flights per month to/from Asia.

News reports suggest Hawaii hasn't sent any samples from sick people to CDC for tests, so the Hotel/ISA statement about cases is somewhat misleading. Hawaii has quarantined dozens of people (56 as of last Friday). Doctors have apparently forwarded samples from some of those patients and requested CDC tests, but local authorities have said they don’t meet the criteria (because the people hadn’t traveled to Asia, basically). Because of tourism, Hawaii obviously has strong incentives to avoid an outbreak. Then again, they might have perverse incentives to slow-walk information that would imperil their economy. Trump is doing that with regards to the stock market. 

If this disease starts spreading from domestic cases (like the one in California), then Hawaii’s lack of testing makes no sense. Local authorities didn’t even know about the Japanese couple until they had returned home. The incubation period for the disease is estimated at 5 days, though they don’t really know.

Given that the contagion rate has been really high in some countries and the death rate is 2-3% (reportedly 20 times the rate for the flu), this is obviously a serious issue. The hospitalization death rate is around 15%, which would seem to indicate that as many as 20% of patients end up in the hospital. Even a prolonged hospital visit with a ventilator would be terrible.

I’m interested in your perspective as I mull pulling out of ISA.

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Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Research update

In the last year, I've had several publications appear online and/or in-print.

1. Rodger A. Payne (2020) Canada, the America First agenda, and the western security community, Canadian Foreign Policy Journal, DOI: 10.1080/11926422.2020.1712219. 

If you want access, the journal publisher provided an eprint link I can share with 50 people. Send me a note.

2. Rodger A. Payne (2020) Stigmatization by Ridicule: From Dr. Strangelove to Donald Trump, in Non-Nuclear Peace; Beyond the Nuclear Ban Treaty, ed by Tom Sauer, Jorg Kustermans, and Barbara Segaert (Palgrave Macmillan), pp 87-113. DOI: 10.1007/978-3-030-26688-2_5.

I have a pdf if you are interested. This was tied to the conference I attended in Antwerp, Belgium, in May 2019.

3. Rodger A Payne (2019), Grappling with Dr. Strangelove’s “Wargasm” Fantasy, International Studies Review, , viz018, 

This one is a bit older (online March 2019), but it remains forthcoming in print afaik. Any members of ISA can download this.

4. Rodger A. Payne (2019), “America First” and U.S.–Canadian Relations, in Canada–US Relations
Sovereignty or Shared Institutions? ed. by David Carment and Christopher Sands (Palgrave Macmillan), pp. 61-83. DOI: 10.1007/978-3-030-05036-8_4

This was related to my fall 2018 Fulbright in Canada, but I actually delivered the paper at a workshop at Johns Hopkins SAIS in June 2018.  It's already been downloaded over 200 times, so I presume it was used in some courses over the last year. That's one primary purpose of the Canada Among Nations annual volume. I think I have a pdf of this too.

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