Videos I Love: The ‘Blow’ trailer

The biopic starring Johnny Depp explores the tragic rise and fall of George Jung, who built a U.S. cocaine empire in the 1970s, at the cost of everything most important to him.

I’m occasionally sharing some light thoughts on a few videos that make me smile, make me think, or preferably do both. Read more from this special series here.

I have tried really hard to be a fan of Johnny Depp’s work. His droll, smoldering style would seem perfect for my own skeptical and cynical outlook on the world. I was never drawn to his oddball Tim Burton roles or the whole “Pirates” thing. To me, the best Depp work has been in “Donnie Brasco” and in one his most underappreciated films, “Blow.”

The biopic explores the tragic rise and fall of George Jung, who built a U.S. cocaine empire in the 1970s, at the cost of everything most important to him. It’s no masterpiece, but some sequences are truly beautiful, and the soundtrack is excellent. Star turns include Ray Liotta as Depp’s father, Penelope Cruz as Depp’s psychotic wife, the strangely gorgeous Franka Potente as Depp’s girlfriend, and Paul Reubens as a Jung drug connection.

But the film’s real star was director Ted Demme, whose brisk, inventive style emulated P.T. Anderson’s and Martin Scorsese’s best work. He died of a heart attack months after “Blow” premiered, and fans and critics alike speculated on the interesting film directing career Demme may have had.

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

The ‘napalm girl’ photo / Exercise and get smarter / A looming galactic collision / Texas traffic / Living to 100

Most of these great items come from my Twitter feed or Facebook news feed. Follow me on Twitter and on Facebook for more fascinating videos, articles, essays and criticism.

1. Cheever’s Art of the Devastating Phrase
By Brad Leithauser | Page-Turner :: The New Yorker | May 31
“The more you read Cheever, the more you feel his best work is often less about plot than about language — about poetry in the broadest sense.”

2. AP ‘napalm girl’ photo from Vietnam War turns 40
By Margie Mason | Associated Press | May 31
“‘I really wanted to escape from that little girl,’ says Kim Phuc, now 49. ‘But it seems to me that the picture didn’t let me go.’ ”

3. Exercise Makes You Smarter, Thanks To A Common Gene
The Huffington Post | May 31
“It turns out that exercise does a lot more than get the blood pumping: in about 60 percent of the population, it may be responsible for the expression of a gene that floods your cells with … a protein that is thought to help with mental acuity, learning and memory.”

4. Mexico’s Drug Corruption Arrests: Why Soldiers Make Bad Narco Agents
By Tim Padgett | Global Spin :: Time | May 31
“While putting soldiers on the streets might have provided some short-term relief, the fact remains that in the long run soldiers make lousy anti-drug agents … and the longer they’re kept in that role, the more problems you’re going to have.”

5. NASA Predicts Our Galaxy Will Collide With Another In 4 Billion Years
By Carl Franzen | Talking Points Memo | May 31
“Andromeda, which is located 2.5 million light-years away, is moving rapidly towards the Milky Way at a rate of 250,000 milers-per-hour, a clip that will only increase as the galaxies approach.”

6. Are you feeling sleepy? Here’s why …
By William Leith | The Daily Telegraph | May 31
“The pace of modern life forces us to ignore one of the most powerful parts of our brain — the body clock. But at what cost?”

7. Yes, Texas Traffic Really is That Bad
By Jason Cohen | Texas Monthly | May 31
“INRIX, which released its numbers last week, also found that Austin was the eighth most congested city in America.”

8. Is the vice presidency worth having?
By Chris Cillizza | The Fix :: The Washington Post | May 31
“[Here] are our most up-to-date rankings of the vice presidential field … . This month we decided to cut to the chase and give a single line about the good and the bad of each potential pick.”

9. The secret to living over 100 is optimism, genetic background
GlobalPost | May 30
“A new study on aging studied participants over 95 of Ashkenazi Jewish descent.”

10. The 1 Percent’s Problem
By Joseph E. Stiglitz | Vanity Fair | May 31
“Why won’t America’s 1 percent — such as the six Walmart heirs, whose wealth equals that of the entire bottom 30 percent — be a bit more … selfish? As the widening financial divide cripples the U.S. economy, even those at the top will pay a steep price.”

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TUNES

Tonight I’m spending some time with the blues, specifically with the Texas Blues Café. Check out the line-up and then listen here.

1. Blake Havard — Love
2. Mark Guitar Miller — Tired
3. Rob Mcmahan — Trouble
4. Summer and the Sinners — Breakin’ Up
5. Kid Rock — Country Boy Can Survive
6. The Midnight Flyers — Down Low
7. Tommy Z — Can’t Hide My Feelings
8. Los Lonely Boys — Man to Beat
9. Bleu Edmondson — Dallas
10. Dana Fuchs — Lonely for a Life Time
11. Chris Aaron Band — Grain Of Salt
12. Voodoo Blu — Blues is my Business