Tuesday, May 16. 2006
Saw two movies after the last such notebook entry. Figured since I had been ganging the movie notes up that wasn't enough. Then never quite found the time. Now it seems like it's been so long -- last report was actually dated March 7 -- that I've forgotten much of what I've seen. So I expect this will be patchy. But if not now it'd only get worse.
Movie: Caché. Not as clear as it could be, but a powerful testament to how strange and subtle blowback can be. Daniel Auteuil plays a minor television personality -- has a program about books -- who is stalked, taunted, and haunted by an Algerian he drove away from his childhood home. The significant thing here is not whether he was wrong then but how self-righteously aggressive he acts now -- the old best defense is a good offense ploy. Denial, after all, is not just a way to hide from responsibility; it makes sure no wrong is redressed. A-
Movie: Mrs. Henderson Presents. Was prepared for yet another dull exercise in the British notion that nudity is good for business. Found instead that the immaculately posed nudes were their own best critique. Also got some humor at the expense of the British upper classes, and an antiwar speech that strikes me as fundamentally correct, even if narrowly conceived. Like the British notion of the business of nudity. A-
Movie: Why We Fight. The title comes from Frank Capra's WWII propaganda films, but Eugene Jarecki doesn't do much with that. Instead, he spins what Gore Vidal calls "perpetual war for perpetual peace" around Dwight Eisenhower's lecture on the military-industrial complex. There must be a million ways to slice up this story -- James Carroll's new book is one I plan on reading soon -- but this one seems as valid as any. I could have done without the 9/11 blowhard, but even that story has some interesting twists. A-
Movie: V for Vendetta. This has a reputation of being pro-terrorist, but the terrorist in question is as tangible a product of horrific state-implemented torture as one can imagine. Where he differs from your garden variety terrorists is in the uncommon elegance of his vendetta and the gentlemanly grace with which he accepts his own flawed doom. But then, this is fiction; one should never forget that, or lose the knack of separating it from fact. As for the government that unleashes biological warfare against its own people to promote a panicked embrace of fascism, that's fiction too. But I still want to know who sent all those post-9/11 anthrax letters out. Those were fact, as was the mad rush to war that followed, not to mention the NSA snooping and other aspects that this fiction runs the risk of understating. A-
Movie: Inside Man. Clever caper, although I have all the usual caveats -- Nazis in the closet, remarkably principled and skilled Jewish crooks played by WASPs, Denzel's girlfriend confusion, whatever Jodie Foster was supposed to be. Spike Lee could grow up to be Sidney Lumet, if that's what he wants. B+
Movie: Friends With Money. Let's face it, money's wasted on the rich. B
If there was another, it's slipped my mind. Maybe I should go back to one short entry each time out. Not that there's been anything to see in several weeks.