Asawin Suebsaeng

Asawin Suebsaeng

Reporter

Asawin Suebsaeng is a reporter at the Washington, DC, bureau of Mother Jones. He has also written for The American Prospect, the Bangkok Post, and Shoecomics.com.

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A graduate of Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Penn., Asawin came back to DC with hopes of putting his flimsy Creative Writing major, student newspaper tenure, and interest in human rights and political chicanery to some use. He started cutting his teeth at F&M's student-run weekly, The College Reporter, serving as editor in chief. He has interned at The American Prospect, been a reporter for the Bangkok Post, and scribbled for ShoeComics.com. His favorite movie is either Apocalypse Now or Pirahna 3D, depending on the day or mood.

"The Master": One Long, Impressive "Meh"

| Fri Sep. 21, 2012 6:01 AM EDT
Dodd complex: Philip Seymour Hoffman as fictional '50s cult leader Lancaster Dodd.

The Master
The Weinstein Company
137 minutes

The Master is the kind of movie destined for dissection and canonization by critics and film students for eons to come—and for all the wrong reasons. It's tremendously ambitious and gorgeously shot (in 65mm, no less). It's the latest big-screen offering from the sadly not very prolific writer/director Paul Thomas Anderson, the brilliant 42-year-old maestro behind classics like Magnolia (1999) and Punch-Drunk Love (2002). The film stars Philip Seymour Hoffman, Joaquin Phoenix, Laura Dern, and Amy Adams, all of whom have built filmographies that speak volumes for themselves. Hell, Radiohead's lead guitarist Jonny Greenwood is back working with Anderson on the score!

It's the type of movie you'd be silly not to root for. And yet The Master achieves little more than being a film of ravishingly empty beauty, choked off by an untiring indulgence in flat visual metaphor.

I take no joy in typing this. As a fan of Anderson's challenging, often beautiful work (he has an eye for character, photography, and epic sweep that few of his generation possess), this letdown stings just as badly as the pangs of disappointment felt after Pixar disproved the longstanding theory that they are incapable of making a bad movie.

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"Movie & An Argument" Podcast: Chick Flicks & Dick Flicks Edition

| Fri Sep. 21, 2012 6:00 AM EDT

On this week's episode of A Movie & An Argument, With Alyssa Rosenberg & Asawin Suebsaeng, we discuss:

  • The Master, writer/director Paul Thomas Anderson's hotly anticipated new drama (with a central character inspired by the L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of the Church of Scientology). I give the movie (and prime 2012 Oscar bait) a very sad, disappointed "meh." It opens Friday, September 21.
  • End of Watch, an acclaimed cop drama starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Peña. Alyssa gives the film her enthusiastic endorsement. It opens Friday, September 21.
  • Trouble with the Curve, Clint Eastwood's latest flick, in which he plays an aging, reliably crotchety baseball scout for the Atlanta Braves. (Hold all of the empty-chair jokes, or so help me god.) It opens Friday, September 21.
  • More on the third and current season of Boardwalk Empire on HBO.
  • The Mob Doctor on Fox.
  • "Chicks flicks" and "dick flicks," and also GQ's epically dumb "Men's Guide to Fall TV."
  • A little bit about Mitt Romney, just cuz.

Each week, I'll be sitting down to chat with ThinkProgress critic Alyssa Rosenberg (who also does killer work at The Atlantic and Slate's "Double X"). We'll talk, argue, and laugh about the latest movies, television shows, and pop-cultural nonsense—with some politics thrown in just for the hell of it.

Alyssa describes herself as being "equally devoted to the Star Wars expanded universe and Barbara Stanwyck, to Better Off Ted and Deadwood." I (everyone calls me Swin) am a devoted lover of low-brow dark humor, Yuengling, and movies with high body counts. I hope you enjoyed this episode, and tune in during the weeks to come.

We'll be featuring guests on the program, and also taking listeners' questions, so feel free to Tweet them at me here, and we'll see if we can get to them during a show.

Thank you for listening!

Click here for more movie and TV features from Mother Jones. To read more of Asawin's reviews, click here.

To find more episodes of this podcast in the iTunes store, click here.

To check out Alyssa's Bloggingheads show, click here.

"Chaos on Bullshit Mountain": Jon Stewart Lampoons Fox News Response to Romney Videos

| Thu Sep. 20, 2012 11:24 AM EDT

On Wednesday night's episode of The Daily Show, host Jon Stewart discusses Fox News' response to the Romney fundraiser video—a reaction he calls the "chaos on Bullshit Mountain."

Stewart mocks the news channel's multifaceted spin on the issue, particularly the conclusion that the leaked "47 percent" footage contained hard-hitting truths that will ultimately help the Republican candidate win.

"It's like Romney jazz! It's the words you don't hear [that matter]," Stewart said, lampooning Fox talking heads' claims about what Romney "actually" meant to say.

 

Scientists: We Can Build the Starship Enterprise

| Wed Sep. 19, 2012 6:05 PM EDT

While we were all poring over Mitt Romney's aversion to the poor, physicists in Texas gathered to work on bending the space-time continuum so that spacecraft can travel 10 times faster than the speed of light. 

Clara Moskowitz at Space.com has this Quantum Leap episode—er, story—detailing how the researchers are trying to make the concept "popularized in television's Star Trek" run efficiently and, you know, realistically:

An Alcubierre warp drive would involve a football-shape spacecraft attached to a large ring encircling it. This ring, potentially made of exotic matter, would cause space-time to warp around the starship, creating a region of contracted space in front of it and expanded space behind...Meanwhile, the starship itself would stay inside a bubble of flat space-time that wasn't being warped at all...[S]cientists stressed that even outlandish-sounding ideas, such as the warp drive, need to be considered if humanity is serious about traveling to other stars.

The recent brainstorming on interstellar travel was conducted by a diverse array of scientists participating in a NASA- and Pentagon-backed summit in Houston. Previous studies had concluded that, in order to function, a single warp drive would likely require an amount of energy on par with the mass-energy of Jupiter (which is a lot). New calculations by the Johnson Space Center suggest that if the shape of the ring around the spaceship were "adjusted into more of a rounded donut," the drive could run on a mass roughly the size of the famous unmanned space probe Voyager 1.

This would give you an estimated speed of 6.7 billion miles per hour.

There you have it. The era of the man-made space-time warp may soon be upon us. It's just too bad that time travel...

By XXBy xkcd

...has largely been panned as impossible by the scientific community.

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