North Korean Counterfeits

From the New York Times (research for Twenties):

No Ordinary Counterfeit

Published: July 23, 2006

On Oct. 2, 2004, the container ship Ever Unique, sailing under a Panamanian flag from Yantai, China, berthed in the Port of Newark. As cranes unloaded the vessel’s shipping containers, which were filled with a variety of commercial goods, dockworkers singled out a container and placed it aboard a flatbed truck, which was driven to a warehouse a few miles away. There, F.B.I. and Secret Service agents, acting as part of a sting operation, gathered around the container and cracked it open. Beneath cardboard boxes containing plastic toys, they found counterfeit $100 bills worth more than $300,000, secreted in false-bottomed compartments.

The counterfeits were nearly flawless. They featured the same high-tech color-shifting ink as genuine American bills and were printed on paper with the same precise composition of fibers. The engraved images were, if anything, finer than those produced by the United States Bureau of Engraving and Printing. Only when subjected to sophisticated forensic analysis could the bills be confirmed as imitations.

Counterfeits of this superior sort — known as supernotes — had been detected by law-enforcement officials before, elsewhere in the world, but the Newark shipment marked their first known appearance in the United States, at least in such large quantities. Federal agents soon seized more shipments. Three million dollars’ worth arrived on another ship in Newark two months later; and supernotes began showing up on the West Coast too, starting with a shipment of $700,000 that arrived by boat in Long Beach, Calif., in May 2005, sealed in plastic packages and wrapped mummy-style in bolts of cloth.

In the weeks and months that followed, federal investigators rounded up a handful of counterfeiting suspects in a series of operations code-named Royal Charm and Smoking Dragon. This past August, in the wake of the arrests, Justice Department officials unsealed indictments in New Jersey and California that revealed that the counterfeits were purchased and then seized as part of an operation that ensnared several individuals accused of being smugglers and arms traffickers, some of whom were suspected of having connections to international crime rings based in Southeast Asia.

The arrests also prompted a more momentous accusation. After the indictments were released, U.S. government and law-enforcement officials began to say in public something that they had long said in private: the counterfeits were being manufactured not by small-time crooks or even sophisticated criminal cartels but by the government of North Korea. “The North Koreans have denied that they are engaged in the distribution and manufacture of counterfeits, but the evidence is overwhelming that they are,” Daniel Glaser, deputy assistant secretary for terrorist financing and financial crimes in the Treasury Department, told me recently. “There’s no question of North Korea’s involvement.”


Another Way to Die Video

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Local Boys Do Well - Filmmakers - Duplass Brothers

From today's TP:

Local filmmaking siblings take indie sensibilities to studio system

by Mike Scott

Fade up, Metairie Playground. Daytime.

Two teenage boys are using a video camera to shoot a low-tech movie starring a handful of their friends. There is laughter and general goofing off, and at least a little thought going into it all.

Flash-forward 15 years. Interior, nondescript L.A. office.

The boys, now in their late 30s, are signing a movie deal. Movie deals, actually -- plural -- with Sony Pictures Classics, with Universal Pictures, with Fox Searchlight studios (the arty arm of 20th Century Fox).

But this is no movie. This is really happening. The boys are Metairie natives Jay and Mark Duplass, and for all their perceived slackerly laid-backness, these lords of the indie world's so-called "mumblecore" movement would appear to be on the brink of something big.

Their second feature film, "Baghead," opened here Friday, at the Canal Place Cinema, where it will reside at least through Thursday. (Perhaps longer, depending on audience response.) It comes on the heels of their 2005 festival-circuit sensation "The Puffy Chair," and it hits theaters as the Duplasses get to work on those three recently-inked development deals with Sony, Universal and Fox, as well as a TV deal with NBC.

The Jesuit High School grads (Mark: class of 1995; Jay: '91) are reluctant poster boys for the easy-going, low-fi mumblecore movement, a term that emerged in the early 2000s to describe the work of a group of young filmmakers who favor raw, made-on-a-shoestring movies with a general do-it-yourself vibe.

"I think the key elements are a lot of improvised dialogue and an importance on performance over plot, shot on digital video -- just an overall feeling of naturalism," Mark Duplass said. "But Jay and I feel like we have one foot in and one foot out of the movement in that we do share those sensibilities and the aesthetics, but we do tend to like more traditional story structure, and we do like to work with plot and genre."

"Baghead," for example, has a definite plot structure -- the story of young people on a weekend retreat who are tormented by a mysterious figure with a bag over his head -- but the improvisational aspects still shine through.

"We keep the scene structure tight," Mark said, "but how the actors want to say the lines and how they want to go about getting their specific goals for the scene, it's up to them. We've just found that in doing so, you get naturally individualistic characters -- they separate their voices from each other -- and you just get much better stuff than Jay or I could dream up in the bedroom with a pen in our hands."

It's also a daring exercise. If a filmmaker's actors are feeling uninspired on a particular day, it shows.

"And that does happen," Jay said. "Sometimes we have to re-shoot scenes, (but) sometimes we just use the fact that they're feeling a little 'blah' and we let one of the other actors call it out in the scene and make it part of what's happening.

"Our whole ethic of filmmaking is, don't try to force anything into a preconceived box. Just accept what's happening that day and go with the natural energy of that and you can't mess up, because you're just being honest with what's really happening."

You're also giving your actors -- and your entire crew, in fact -- a personal, creative investment in the success of a film, resulting in what the Duplasses describe as a satisfying collaborative on-set energy.

They stick to that tack in their next film, "The Do-Deca Pentathlon," which they shot locally over four weeks in April. It will include some of their usual suspects, such as fellow Jesuit grad Steve Zissis, one of the stars of "Baghead."

"It's about two brothers who compete in their own private 25-event Olympics that no one else is allowed to view or compete in," Jay said, chuckling. "It's our brand of comedy with a dark, sort of tragic undertone."

"It's actually based on two brothers who grew up near us in New Orleans," Mark added.

The Duplasses are aiming to have it ready in time for January's Sundance Film Festival. After that they plan to shoot a film called "Jeff, Who Lives at His Mom's" in Baton Rouge. It's a studio-backed film, based on a script the Duplasses wrote; "Juno" and "Thank You for Smoking" director Jason Reitman will produce.

"That's about all we can say at this point without waking up with a horse's head in our bed," Mark said.

Because the brothers' filmmaking approach is so counter to the my-way-or-the-highway outlook of some of Hollywood's famously control-freak directors, it'll be interesting to see what effect the big studio experience will have on the way they make movies.

"It's possible it might get a little bit cleaner," Jay Duplass said. "We might have more people around, so it's not me and Mark running around and trying to capture things desperately. But as far as the ethic of having the actors do their thing and us following them sort of as a documentary crew, I think that will always remain. So in terms of the way the public will see it, it will look and feel very similar.

"One basic thing we're planing on doing is to use the same filmmaking approach, just use famous people and put them inside of that."

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The Right Stuff

Space - X FALCON 1

Welcome to the New World:



New Benjamin Button Trailer


Moriarty Interview Spike Lee

Really good piece here:

Moriarty: I just loved that, right from the beginning, it felt like you were giving back. Like you were putting the hand out to other filmmakers and saying alright, look, here’s what I had to go through. And DO THE RIGHT THING especially, with the turnarounds, and with how that film almost didn’t happen, and sort of the struggles, it really, to me, crystallized that if it’s worth doing, and if you believe in a project, then keep butting your head against the wall.

Spike Lee: Well that’s part of… I’ve been teaching as a professor at NYU for the last eleven years, the last four or five, I can’t remember exactly, I’m also the artistic director of the non-grata film school, this is where I went to school, where I finished back in 1982, and I try to instill into my students that they have to get up and go, they have to have gumption. They cannot just sit around and think that it’s gonna happen if they don’t make it happen. You have to get off your ass, roll up your sleeves, and make it happen. When I went to Morehouse they always had this speech the first day. [Laughs] They said “Look to your left, and look to your right. There’s a good chance one of those two people will not be there next year when you come back.” Well it’s the same thing in film school, and you have to feel passionate about what you are doing. And you also have to have a thick skin. If you’re a person who can’t take criticism, or is gonna slit your wrists when you get a bad review, then you should try something else. And not everyone is always gonna like what you’re gonna do, but you just gotta strap it up and get out there for the next one. Just try and get the next one. You did one. Alright, you’ve got that under your belt. Now try to do another one. And then the trick is, if you can, try not to repeat yourself, and keep learning and exploring as you go on this journey. Just try to get better as a filmmaker.

That was one of the most important things I learned when I was in film school. I read an interview about Akira Kurosawa. At the time he’d just done RAN, so he was probably 85, something like that. And the person interviewing him said “Mister Kurosawa, a master such as yourself, is there anything that you don’t know about cinema?” And Kurosawa – I’m paraphrasing here, but he said “There is still a universe which I do not know about cinema.” So when someone like Kurosawa says that after making many masterpieces, being one of the master filmmakers of all-time, if he says when he’s 85 years old that there’s still a universe he’s yet to learn, then… me reading that in film school, that was like an atomic bomb went off. It was like “Oh shit… if HE says that, then what do I gotta learn?!” So I mean, just understand that you’ve got to keep learning, got to keep growing.

Moriarty: I love the fact that you have shot for television with things like SUCKER FREE CITY, or you know, some of the documentary work that you’ve done, and I love that you’ve embraced hi-def at times, like you said you used Super 16 and 35 on this film, you shot documentary, you’ve shot narrative, you’ve shot giant films, you’ve shot small films… it really seems to me if you’re not flexible like that, you’re not going to survive the next 15 years of filmmaking, because things are changing so dramatically. I read an interview where Spielberg allegedly said, “I can’t make a film for less than $50 million anymore.” I just don’t believe that. I think he could if he wanted to.

Spike Lee: [Laughs] Well, if he doesn’t have to, why should he?

Moriarty: “Oh, I wish I could just go shoot something for $100,000 with three friends, and just do it.” I think that’s a mindset where you COULD do that if you really felt like it. And film is so... you know, with SUCKER FREE CITY, for example: yes it was a TV project, but these days, does that matter? Doesn’t it all just end up as cable and DVD fodder anyway? Does the first distribution point really define what your film is anymore?

Spike Lee: Well, I did SUCKER FREE CITY because we really wanted that to be a pilot for a show. You know, they didn’t want to do it and that’s their choice, so it was just released as a film. But I think you were right about that first statement: if you don’t adapt, no matter where you are, no matter what you’re doing, you’re gonna perish, especially in the volatile times we live in. You know I woke up this morning, I turn on the news, and 25,000 people are out of work at Lehman. Just like that. People are coming out of there with all the stuff from their office in a paper box, many people had their life savings wrapped up in 401s and Lehman’s stock… wiped out entirely. It is volatile. If I had been rigid… I mean from the very beginning, we shot SHE’S GOTTA HAVE IT in 12 days, two six-day weeks, for $175,000. Now I could have said ‘You know what? I’m gonna need a million dollars to shoot this.’ I think the original budget was half a million, but then I got religion [Laughs], and it became apparent to me that if I was gonna do this, it was gonna be for that amount. And we had to make do; we adapted. So that budget became $175,000. That’s just the way it’s been since the beginning, and you’ve got to adapt.



Rian Johnson - More on the Red Camera

Johnson updates his original article:

This is a second draft of this article. As we were ammending the first draft to address new arguments, we found that it was becoming mired in what could be an endless back and forth over technical definitions and minutia. So we're going to zoom back, take a breath, and refocus this piece on what was meant to be the original point of it in the first place:

There is a lot of hype right now about Red camera outperforming high-end HD cameras and even 35mm film cameras. We're going to tell you why we think it's just that -- hype.

We'd like to stress that we're not saying that Red is a bad camera. What we WILL do in this article, though, is take a sober look at the technical realities of digital imaging for cinema and show why the Red One camera does not, in our opinion, top high-end HD cameras like F23, F35, and Genesis.



2008 New Orleans Film Fest


Another Way to Die

The new Bond tune for the movie Quantum of Solace by Jack White and Alicia Keys.

Another ringer with the slick trigger finger for Her Majesty
Another one with the golden tongue poisoning your fantasy
Another bill from a killer turned a thrill into a tragedy

A door left open
A woman walking by
A drop in the water
A look in the eye
A phone on the table
A man on your side
Someone that you think that you can trust is just
Another way to die

Another tricky little gun giving solace to the one that'll never see the sunshine
Another inch of your life sacrificed for your brother in the nick of time
Another dirty money, heaven sent honey turning on a dime


Another girl with her finger on the world singing do you whatcha wanna hear?
Another gun thrown down and surrendered took away your fear
Hey! Another man that stands right behind you looking in the mirror


Suit 'em up, bang bang!

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Kick Ass Script Review

Moriarty at AintItCoolNews reviews the script. I haven't read the comic yet, and won't until it is a trade; but I wanted to bookmark this piece for when it comes out later.



CHUDindie on the Red Camera

Ian at CHUD weighs in with his thoughts on the matter:

For all the positives the camera brings, RED’s negative aspects far outpace its actual usefulness to Average Joe/Jane Indie who at best will end up with his or her film on DVD or Teh Interweb, and not at the Cinerama Dome (unlike Joe Carnahan, Steven Soderbergh, Brian Taylor/Mark Nevaldine, etc.). On that note, so far there have been few professional filmmakers with the patience to support an expensive and experimental 2K/4K workflow, so I can't imagine many ultra-low budget projects wasting their time and money in a similiar fashion.


Rian Johnson on the Red Camera

He does not seem to like it at all:


Straight talk about the technical realities of the RED ONE digital cinema camera

So you're an independent filmmaker, and at some point you start hearing the buzz about this new RED camera. Big time directors are using it. Articles in movie, music and tech magazines declare it to be the sounding death knell of 35mm film. It promises quality that surpasses both film and high-end HD, at a fraction of the price, and with a camera that looks like a weapon out of HALO.

And if you're like me, you start getting excited. Why not? Why wouldn't somebody put all the best new technology in one camera and do it right? Why couldn't the RED be everything it claims? Just because it all sounds too good to be true, does that really mean it has to be too good to be true?

You bet your ass it does.

The RED camera does not do what it claims. Which is not to say it's a bad product, or that it doesn't have its place - in terms of quality it's a good alternative to things like Varicam and HDV. But it does not hold a candle to regularly used high-end HD, let alone film. And we're going to tell you why.

The RED ONE camera claims to achieve "4 times the resolution of the very best HD camera." That's misleading at best, and they can only get away with saying it because the term 'resolution' is a bit hazy. The RED people do not outright lie, but they are agressivlely misleading and tricky with the language they use in their specs.



It Takes a Thief

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I Spy

The Prisoner - AMC


Baksy in New Orleans


David Foster Wallace Film Articles

Rambling, Gambling Willie

Come around you rovin' gamblers and a story I will tell
About the greatest gambler, you all should know him well.
His name was Will O' Conley and he gambled all his life,
He had twenty-seven children, yet he never had a wife.
And it's ride, Willie, ride,
Roll, Willie, roll,
Wherever you are a-gamblin' now, nobody really knows.

He gambled in the White House and in the railroad yards,
Wherever there was people, there was Willie and his cards.
He had a reputation as the gamblin'est man around,
Wives would keep their husbands home when Willie came to town.
And it's ride, Willie, ride,
Roll, Willie, roll,
Wherever you are a-gamblin' now, nobody really knows.

Sailin' down the Mississippi to a town called New Orleans,
They're still talkin' about their card game on that Jackson River Queen.
"I've come to win some money," Gamblin' Willie says,
When the game finally ended up, the whole damn boat was his.
And it's ride, Willie, ride,
Roll, Willie, roll,
Wherever you are a-gamblin' now, nobody really knows.

Up in the Rocky Mountains in a town called Cripple Creek,
There was an all-night poker game, lasted about a week.
Nine hundred miners had laid their money down,
When Willie finally left the room, he owned the whole damn town.
And it's ride, Willie, ride,
Roll, Willie, roll,
Wherever you are a-gamblin' now, nobody really knows.

But Willie had a heart of gold and this I know is true,
He supported all his children, and all their mothers too.
He wore no rings or fancy things, like other gamblers wore,
He spread his money far and wide, to help the sick and the poor.
And it's ride, Willie, ride,
Roll, Willie, roll,
Wherever you are a-gamblin' now, nobody really knows.

When you played your cards with Willie, you never really knew
Whether he was bluffin' or whether he was true.
He won a fortune from a man who folded in his chair.
The man, he left a diamond flush, Willie didn't even have a pair.
And it's ride, Willie, ride,
Roll, Willie, roll,
Wherever you are a-gamblin' now, nobody really knows.

It was late one evenin' during a poker game,
A man lost all his money, he said Willie was to blame.
He shot poor Willie through the head, which was a tragic fate,
When Willie's cards fell on the floor, they were aces backed with eights.
And it's ride, Willie, ride,
Roll, Willie, roll,
Wherever you are a-gamblin' now, nobody really knows.

So all you rovin' gamblers, wherever you might be,
The moral of this story is very plain to see.
Make your money while you can, before you have to stop,
For when you pull that dead man's hand, your gamblin' days are up.
And it's ride, Willie, ride,
Roll, Willie, roll,
Wherever you are a-gamblin' now, nobody really knows.

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Roulette Scam

Mr Bojangles

I knew a man Bojangles and he danced for you
In worn out shoes;
With silver hair, a ragged shirt, and baggy pants,
The old soft shoe.
He jumped so high, he jumped so high,
Then he'd lightly touch down
Mr. Bojangles, Mr. Bojangles, Mr. Bojangles,

I met him in a cell in New Orleans, I was
Down and out.
He looked to me to be the eyes of age
As he spoke right out
He talked of life, he talked of life,
He laugh-slapped his leg a step.

He said the name, Bojangles, and he danced a lick
Across the cell.
He grabbed his pants, a better stance, he jumped up high,
He clicked his heels.
He let go a laugh, he let go a laugh,
Shook back his clothes all around.
Mr. Bojangles, Mr. Bojangles, Mr. Bojangles,

He danced for those at minstrel shows and county fairs
Throughout the South.
He spoke with tears of fifteen years how his dog and him
Had traveled about.
His dog up and died, he up and died,
After 20 years he still grieves.
Mr. Bojangles, Mr. Bojangles, Mr. Bojangles,

He said "I dance now at ev'ry chance in honky tonks
For drinks and tips.
But most of the time I spend behind these county bars
'Cause 'I drinks a bit."
He shook his head, and as he shook his head I heard someone ask "Please,
Mr. Bojangles, Mr. Bojangles, Mr. Bojangles,

Sinatra - That's Life

That's life, that's what all the people say.
You're riding high in April,
Shot down in May
But I know I'm gonna change that tune,
When I'm back on top, back on top in June.

I said that's life, and as funny as it may seem
Some people get their kicks,
Stompin' on a dream
But I don't let it, let it get me down,
'Cause this fine ol' world it keeps spinning around

I've been a puppet, a pauper, a pirate,
A poet, a pawn and a king.
I've been up and down and over and out
And I know one thing:
Each time I find myself, flat on my face,
I pick myself up and get back in the race.

That's life
I tell ya, I can't deny it,
I thought of quitting baby,
But my heart just ain't gonna buy it.
And if I didn't think it was worth one single try,
I'd jump right on a big bird and then I'd fly

I've been a puppet, a pauper, a pirate,
A poet, a pawn and a king.
I've been up and down and over and out
And I know one thing:
Each time I find myself laying flat on my face,
I just pick myself up and get back in the race

That's life
That's life and I can't deny it
Many times I thought of cutting out
But my heart won't buy it
But if there's nothing shakin' come this here july
I'm gonna roll myself up in a big ball and die
My, My



Counterfeiting - Twenties - Research

Charlie Kaufman Interview


Dr No

Watching my full DVD on this one this weekend. Slowly but surely going to work my way through the Bond films and my 4 box set of DVD's. Dr No, the first Bond film in the EON series.

Directed By Terence Young

Wikipedia entry on the movie.

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First listen to Another Way To Die

It's a commercial, but you can hear the music for the new Bond flick. I like it. Much more old school than I thought, but should have expected from Jack White.

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Polanski Bio


Quantum of Solace Full Trailer

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Collecting Cards as Weapons

Bond Speaking MP3'S


CHUD Indie: Digital Cinematography


Robin Hood


Books in 2008

In the Blink of an Eye
In Harm's Way
One Fearful Yellow Eye
Pale Grey for the Guilt
Little Brother
Girl in the Plain Brown Wrapper
High Fidelity


Umbro's One Love

Soccer commercials bring out the best filmmakers. Really. Occasionally you will see a good basketball spot, and rarely a good football or baseball; but you always get choice ads with soccer.

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New Brothers Bloom Site

New website for The Brothers Bloom. Limited release December 19th, wide release January 16th. Tumblr blog also.

Best part of the new site for me is the inspiration page.


Musashi Manga

Bootleggin Movie


Amos Moses

Well Amos Moses was a Cajun,
He lived by himself in the swamp.
He hunted alligators for a livin,
He just knocked 'em in the head with a stump.
The Louisiana law gonna get ya Amos
It ain't legal hunting alligators down in the swamp, boy

Well everybody blames his old man,
For makin' him mean as a snake,
When Amos Moses was a boy
His daddy would use him for alligator bait.
Tie a rope around his neck, and throw him in the swamp,
Alligator bit him in a Louisiana bayou

About 45 minutes southeast of Thibodeaux, Louisiana
Lived a man named Doc Milsap and his pretty wife Hanna
hey raised up a son who could eat up his weight in groceries,
Named him after a man of the cloth,
Called him Amos Moses

Well, the folks around south Louisiana
Said Amos was a hell of a man
He could trap the biggest, the meanest alligator
And just use one hand
That's all he's got left cause an alligator bit him
Left arm gone clean up to the elbow

Well the sheriff caught wind that Amos
Was in the swamp huntin' alligator skins
So he snuck in the swamp, gonna getcha boy,
But he never come out again.
Well, I wonder where the Louisiana sheriff went to?
You can sure get lost in a Louisiana bayou!

About 45 minutes southeast of Thibodeaux, Louisiana
Lived a man named Doc Milsap and his pretty wife Hanna
They raised a son who could eat up his weight in groceries,
Named him after a man of the cloth,
Called him Amos Moses


Daniel Craig = Steve McQueen?


Gustav Evac

Lot of people from Houma here in Starkville, MS. We should use this as recruitment for State.

A four-and-a-half hour trip turned into eight-and-a-half hours yesterday. Ended up getting off of I-55 at McComb and taking 51 to another highway to 35 and took 35 north until it ran into 25. Glad we at the last minute decided to take 55 instead of our normal route through Hattiesburg and Meridian. It was taking people four hours to go what normally takes 20-30 minutes.

Phones are working intermittently for us. Takes a few times but calls are going through eventually.

Trying to find info on Lafourche Parish especially South Lafourche. Staying with our friend Rebecca who is from there originally and have a house full of people from there. Hard to get info.

Killed me yesterday when we were on I-55 and I saw four lanes of my people running north. Yet again we have to flee our homes. But at least we get to see our disasters coming. I love when people elsewhere ask why we live here. We se ethe hurricane several days out. Your don't see or get a warning from an earthquake or terrorist attack and you barely get a warning for a tornado. And fires, well you may be able to see them, but you can't survive fire; you can swim in water.

Xeni Jardin called this Twitter's first news test. It really is. Getting a lot of info and links from twitter.

Hoping we can go back Wednesday. We will watch and make sure the levees hold. If they do tomorrow, we will get up and drive down Wednesday.

Blackwater is already got ads out for mercenaries to come down to post-Gustav south. Bastards.

What is this going to do to the film industry in New Orleans?