In Grassroots, Seattle music critic Grant Cogswell (Joel David Moore, right) runs for city council with the help of his campaign manager, unemployed journalist Phil Campbell (Jason Biggs). Cogswell and Campbell were real-life campaign partners in Seattle.
Credit Erik Simkins / Samuel Goldwyn Films
Richard McIver (Cedric the Entertainer) is Cogswell's election opponent, portrayed as the advocate for an undesirable status quo.
Maybe we have Frank Capra to thank for the notion that in politics, at least as it plays out in the movies, the little guy is always the good guy. Stephen Gyllenhaal swallows that idea hook, line and sinker in Grassroots, in which an out-of-work Seattle music critic (Joel David Moore) runs for city council without bothering to think the issues through: He assumes he'll automatically change the status quo by donning a polar-bear costume and making an impassioned plea for extending the city's monorail system.
Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai is set in an era in which some underemployed warriors would bluff their willingness to commit ritual suicide, hoping for money or employment from wealthy families who didn't want to deal with the mess. Hanshiro's (Ebizo Ichikawa) own bluff in the film, however, goes deeper.
Credit Tribeca Film
Hanshiro and Miho (Hikari Mitsushima) in one of the many flashbacks that director Takashi Miike uses to unfold the plot in Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai.
Japanese cinematic extremist Takashi Miike is known for movies that go too far — often because they can't figure out where else to go. So it was revealing when last year's 13 Assassins, a remake of a 1963 samurai adventure, demonstrated a traditionalist streak in Miike's tastes. But that movie is a crystal-meth freakout compared with the director's latest effort, the stately Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai.
The General Services Administration, which is tasked with developing the rules followed by other government agencies, is back in the limelight for the money it spent on a one-day event in the Washington, D.C. area.
In a letter to House members, the agency's inspector general says it has launched an investigation after its initial findings showed the GSA spent $268,732 on the event.
JACKIE NORTHAM, BYLINE: I'm Jackie Northam in Washington. Today at the U.N., Russia and China vetoed a Western-backed draft resolution that warned of sanctions against the Syrian regime unless it complies with a peace plan.
This is the third time those two countries have used their veto power to block a resolution on Syria. Britain's U.N. ambassador, Mark Lyall Grant, called the decision by Russia and China appalling, and said it would lead to further bloodshed in Syria.
Early in this show, fellow guest Tim O'Brien joked that the Ontario-based Great Lake Swimmers "had better get started" if they hoped to make it to the show on time. They didn't actually swim – but it was still great to have the Toronto band on an episode of Mountain Stage recorded on the shore of Lake Superior in Grand Marais, Minn.