Who would have predicted that the current yellow jersey wearer of the
Tour de France would be fired by his team almost immediately after
winning a stage of the race? Rasmussen is out of the race. Apparently
the rest of the team has been given the option of continuing to race
should they choose. The justification for the firing is that the team
learned Rasmussen lied to them about his whereabouts during the
period when he missed some out of competition doping controls thus
violating team rules. He was apparently in Italy when he had reported
being in Mexico.
Alexander Vinokourov has tested positive for having two types of blood
in his system following the stage 13 time trial, of which he was the
winner. He has requested that his B-sample be tested. He is suspended
from the team, and further the team has been invited to withdraw from
the Tour and has done so.
OUCH! More terrible news for cycling; it just never ends.
Stage 15 of the Tour continues the battle between Alberto Contador
and Michael Rasmussen. Contador, the wearer of the White jersey for
best young rider, attacked Rasmussen over and over again on the
slopes of the day’s final climb. It was thrilling to watch Rasmussen
struggle to stay on his wheel, but stay he did. It appears that
Discovery Channel (Contador’s team) is trying to gain as many
precious seconds as they can from Rasmussen with an eye towards the
final time trial on Saturday. Right now Rasmussen has a lead of 2:23
over Contador. Third place Cadel Evans is 4:00 off the lead and
Contador’s teamate, and supposed Captain of the Discovery Team, Levi
Leipheimer is 5:25 back in fourth place.
I think if Contador and Discovery really want to hurt Rasmussen they
are going to have to lay it on the line with Levi. I think Levi needs
to attempt to get into a breakaway. This would force Rabobank
(Rasmussen’s team) to defend and chase. The plan would be that once
Rabobank was worn out then Contador might be able to make the jump
and take time from Rasmussen. The problem with this plan is that
Rabobank isn’t the only team that would ride to defend its position.
Predictor Lotto would also chase down Levi to defend Cadel’s third
Can Levi hold off both Predictor Lotto and Rabobank long enough to
allow Contador a later break? The other possibility is that Levi
could hold them off and possibly gain enough time himself to become
again the threat he is supposed to be. Discovery is in a fairly good
position with two people very high up in the rankings who can be used
to slingshot each other to advantage.
I’m rooting for Contador. The battles on the mountainsides between
him and Rasmussen have been very powerful and basic. This is the
tour, and it is brutal and harsh, and suffering is the winner. These
two boys have been suffering, but Contador has been making suffering
look almost easy.
Tomorrow, Tuesday, is a rest day. Wednesday returns to the Pyrenees
and a stage with two category 1 climbs and two “beyond” category
climbs. The last of which is a climb to the finish. This will be a
bloody battlefield. Expect to see riders scattered for miles up and
down the slopes of these climbs.
So I’d nearly forgotten to give a followup regarding The Fountain.
The movie is visually arresting, but I think ultimately it is only
moderately good. Hugh Jackman give a surprisingly varied performance,
but Rachel Weisz seemed miscast.
The basic arrangement of the movie is that Jackman and Weisz play
characters in three different eras who each may actually be the same
person somehow connected through time. In the earliest era Jackman
plays a Spanish conquistador and Weisz is the Queen. The quest
revolves around the search for the tree of life in the new world. In
the current era Jackman plays a doctor/scientist/researcher who is
struggling to find a cure for his wife’s brain tumor. His wife is of
course played by Weisz. In the future Jackman and the tree of life
are in some sort of spaceship that appears as a clear sphere floating
in space towards a dying star, while Jackman’s character has dreams
or memories of Weisz’ character.
All three of these stories wrap around each other, and sometimes it
almost seems as though characters are finishing the sentence or
waking from the dream that one of the characters in the other era was
The themes of the movie revolve around ideas of death, eternal life,
fiction as reality, time as not strictly linear, and man often as
prideful and reckless – yet with a sense of hope that he could learn.
All of these are fine ideas to toy with, but there are almost too
many here, and somehow it all ends seeming somewhat superficial. I
think that this sense comes from a lack of connection with the
characters, particularly the ones from the present era. I feel like
the stories of the earlier and later eras are built around the
current one, and it is the current one that needed to build better
the relationship between Jackman and Weisz that defined the single-
mindedness that Jackman’s character personifies.
So, all in all, I’m glad I saw it, and I look forward to more movies
by this director – Darren Aronofsky, but I don’t think this is one I
would refer to casual movie watchers. This is one more for the hard
core movie fan who must see every film by their favorite director or
40 miles by 9:15 AM, and I feel good.
Although I bet I’ll nap my ass off this afternoon.
I haven’t watched it yet, but I’ve downloaded the movie The Fountain to my Tivo from Amazon. This is one of those movies that I’ve been very curious about for a while, and at one point was very keen to see, and yet somehow I never managed to get to the theater to see it. Maybe the reviews undermined my desire, which is a shame. The director is the same guy who made Pi and Requiem for a Dream, both of which I greatly enjoyed. These are movies that really stick in your mind, and get under your skin. I wonder if this one will do the same?
The other interesting thing about this, as I noted, is that this is a rental download. It’s the first time I’ve tried something like this. I had heard about it, but I honestly hadn’t paid that much attention to this new service, but for some reason it clicked that the movies could download directly to the tivo. I checked the prices and they were comparable, or even a little less, to renting from the video store, and it didn’t cost anything else Ñ no membership fees or anything of that sort, so I thought, what the hell. Let’s give it a test. Now the one thing I didn’t do is monitor the download process to see how long that took. I started the process right before going to bed and then just checked the next morning and there was the movie. As far as I know it took eight hours and finished just before I got up. The other thing I’m curious to see is what the aspect ratio of the movie is. The Amazon website seems to be contradictory in how they have this detail labeled. It states 1.33:1, which is regular tv shape. However, it also states “Letterbox”. So which is it? I’ll let you know after I watch the movie.