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The silver screen, or at least the silver disk

While Your Humble Blogger doesn’t feel compelled to note in this Tohu Bohu every movie watched, now and then we watch enough to pile up some comments...

  • I was disappointed that Bandidas wasn’t more fun. It was fun, but it wasn’t fun enough. The odd thing, though: if you have Penelope Cruz and Selma Hayek, and the two characters are the elegant European-educated Do´┐Ża and the ignorant peasant girl, wouldn’t you cast Ms. Cruz in the former and Ms. Hayek in the latter? Still, they probably had more fun doing it the way they did. The other thing of note is that as a grown-up, I find it awkward to watch the bits in movies like this where they hint that it will degenerate into hard-core pornography, when I know that the movie is rated PG-13. And, you know, I am perfectly capable of renting hard-core pornography, if I so choose, and presumably have chosen this instead. And besides, I’ve seen Frida, I’ve seen Ms. Hayek topless, so the whole is-she-about-to-lose-her-top wink-wink came off very ... actually, very priggish.
  • I can’t believe that American Dreamz wasn’t at least watchable. I mean, it’s a brilliant idea—in an attempt to play for ratings, an American Idol-type show pushes an Ay-rab through to the finals, which will have the President of the United States as a guest judge. What they don’t know is that they Ay-rab is, in fact, a sleeper Al-Qaeda agent, activated by his success to get a chance to assassinate the President. Meanwhile, giddy with his own new celebrity, he can’t tell whether he is trying to win for his cause or for his fans. He’ll have to betray one side or the other. It could be played as a suspense thriller or as a farce; either way, it’s a great idea. Lousy movie, though. Or, at least, it seemed like a lousy movie to me. It’s possible that a lot of that wasted time was actually hilarious spoofs of actual reality shows, which YHB does not watch, and so I just didn’t get the joke.
  • Good Night, and Good Luck was a lovely film. Seriously, David Strathairn shone with the light of his inner justice, he was wreathed in the luminous cigarette smoke of truth, he squinted into the krieg lights of, well, they were actual krieg lights. It was odd, though, because it seemed to be a call for journalists today to go up against our own McCarthys, and it did a terrible job of explaining who Edward R. Murrow was, and why he could go up against Joseph McCarthy. Or of how powerful Sen. McCarthy really was, or seemed to be. Or of how Sen. McCarthy actually fell, and any connection between that fall and Mr. Murrow’s stand against him. The Senate turned on him because of some corruption unconnected with anything Mr. Murrow was reporting on, and because he was a drunk, and because he hung around with young gay men. Now, you could argue that they felt they could afford, politically, to turn on him because Mr. Murrow gave them cover, but George Clooney doesn’t make that argument, or any other. As a result, it seems like it was just ... out there. A gutsy thing that Mr. Murrow did, that he more or less got away with doing. That’s all.
  • I wonder if any brilliant comedian of this time could have anything like the career Peter Sellers had. I just watched Carlton-Browne of the F.O., in which Ms. Sellers plays a corrupt prime minister of a small mediteranean island, a greasy Greek slimeball. It’s a terrible part, and he’s hilarious. Other than being funny, though, what’s astonishing to me is that he gives the impression of being obese, without wearing a fat suit. There’s something about his costumes, and the way he holds his head, and the way he moves, that all give an idea of obesity, to the point that now and then I’d see a full-body view of him and think oh, right, he’s not fat.

    The thing that really struck me, though, is that Peter Sellers is at his absolute best when he is sending up ethnic stereotypes. I’ve seen him playing joke Frenchmen, joke South Asians, joke Americans, joke Chinese, joke Germans, joke Spaniards, joke Mexicans, joke Italians and of course joke Englishmen. Most of these were of course terribly offensive, sure. And I’d rather live in a culture that doesn’t (in general) hire white actors to portray joke Asians in yellow makeup. If that means that we don’t have any more Peter Sellerses, that’s fine. The world is full of tradeoffs, and that one isn’t close. Still, it’s a loss.

  • Saw Spiderman 2 and wished I hadn’t. Oh, and since I saw some sort of extended director’s cut on video, was there a bizarre thing in the theatrical release of the movie where the dishonest jerk Peter Parker was hiding from his landlord and not paying rent (because he’d rather play hero than hold down a job), and seemed to be considering banging the landlord’s daughter in lieu of rent? And then the landlord, the landlord malnourished daughter, Peter’s money trouble and Peter’s aunt’s money trouble just drop out of the movie as if there had never been any point in wasting our time with them? How, exactly, was Peter paying his rent?

Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,