“You Don’t Mess With the Zohan — in which Adam Sandler plays an Israeli counterterrorist commando whose big dream is to become a hairdresser — is the movie Munich should have been. At the very least, it’s got to be the first picture to use smelly-feet jokes as a means of parsing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But more than that, it’s a mainstream movie that dares to make jokes about the kinds of complex political realities that most of us don’t dare bring up at dinner parties.
“And while it doesn’t attempt to offer any viable diplomatic solution (you won’t see Sandler accepting the Nobel Peace Prize anytime soon, or ever), it makes a valiant effort to bridge a gap that most of us, dispiritingly, have come to believe is unbridgeable. When Zohan’s mother, played by the saucy, sunny Dina Doronne, urges him to stay in the army, she professes to see some light at the end of this very long, dark tunnel: ‘They’ve been fighting for 2,000 years, it can’t be much longer.’ The stark reality is that it probably will be.” — from Stephanie Zacaherk’s 6.6. review on Salon.
Criterion will issue a loaded DVD of Pier Paolo Pasolini‘s Salo, or the 120 Days of Sodom two and a half months from now. To those who’ve never seen it, I can only say two things: (1) As a perverse but lacerating piece of social criticism by a first-rate filmmaker, it’s totally deserving of respect but (2) you’ll never see a more appalling depiction of deliberate cruelty in your life.
I’ve sat through it twice, and I’m not sure I want to go there again. My second viewing was at the New York Film Festival in ’76 or ’77. I remember that during the scene when the four fascists are dressed in drag, a guy in the audience yelled out, “Diana Vreeland!”
The most concise what-went-wrong-with-Hillary’s-campaign? explanation I’ve read so far, written by Michael Kinsley for the 6.8 N.Y. Times. But it’s not the only one.
Hillary Clinton‘s opening line at the podium today — “this isn’t exactly the party I’d planned, but I sure like the company” — was spoken with real feeling. Ditto her comments about the symbolic historical role her campaign played over the last several months. But to me, the delivery of the most of her speech felt a little tight and clenched. She wore a reserved and somber expression throughout, and yet it seemed like a fairly sincere statement. Wisely written, well sculpted. She stood up.
Hillary got into the soul of it towards the end — I’ll give her that. During the final seven or eight minutes she almost begged her older-women supporters not to turn away from Obama….”please don’t go there.”
“I endorse [Barack Obama] and throw my full support behind him!,” she said about six or seven minutes in. Some in the crowd are very clearly and audibly yelling, “Noo!! Booo!!” “Support him as you would me!,” she said. Nooo…!!! “I am standing with Senator Obama as I say, ‘Yes, we can!'”
Her expression is nonetheless correct, guarded — on the glum side. That look of indigestion on her face after every “support Obama” statement was pretty evident. “I understand that we all know this has been a tough fight, but the Democratic party is a family” and now it’s time to pull together, etc. Yeah, yeah, some in the crowd seemed to say.
To those who might refuse to support Obama or even vote for John McCain, “Please don’t go there,” she pleaded. “The stakes are too high to dwell on what might have been. I will work my heart out to make sure that Senator Obama will be our next president, and I hope that you will join me in that effort.
“It would break my heart that in falling short of my goal, I would in any way discourage any of you in pursuing your own goals. We weren’t able to shatter this particular glass ceiling, but it’s got about 18 million cracks in it. If we can launch 50 women into outer space, we can someday launch a woman into the White House.
“Will we go forward together or stall and slip backwards? Like millions of women, I know there are still barriers and biases out there. I ran as a daughter who benefitted from opportunities my mother never dreamed of. There are no acceptable limits or prejudices in the 21st Century. You can be so proud that from now on, it will be unremarkable for a woman be in a close race for president…truly remarkable, my friends!
She was being careful, forceful. She sold the message, but was, I felt, reading the words more than feeling them. The body english, the facial muscles and the heart were only somewhat there. The woman is in pain, but she did the right thing.
12:26 pm update: The big Hillary Clinton concession speech event was supposed to start at noon, and her motorcade has just left her Georgetown home, which is a good 15 minutes away from the National Museum Building. She’ll be at least a good 45 minutes late, and we all know what that means…c’mon. A bride or groom arriving this late for a wedding always indicates indecision, if not doubt.
Lamenting the destruction of numerous 35-millimeter theatrical prints of classic films in last week’s Universal Studios fire, UCLA film professor Ron Kuntz has written in a N.Y. Times 6.7.08 op-ed piece that Universal “has already canceled screenings of Rear Window and Howard Hawks‘ Scarface for the U.C.L.A. film history class I teach, along with all their other titles for the indefinite future.
Kuntz says he hopes this disaster “will prompt Universal and its fellow majors to better preserve not just key titles like Duck Soup, Dracula or Vertigo — which will surely be reprinted and return to circulation — but also the other 90 percent of their inventories, the less famous and therefore more vulnerable titles that the studio may not feel justify spending thousands to save. These are exquisite samples of 20th-century American culture and deserve to always be seen in their extravagant, sensual, big-screen glory.”
Of course, Kuntz wrote the article and the Times ran it precisely because they don’t believe — no one does — that Universal execs will make a concerted full-boat effort any time soon to replace the destroyed prints, and certainly not the less-well-known ones.
Covering yesterday’s farewell-and-thank you party thrown by Hillary Clinton for campaign workers, N.Y. Daily News reporters Kenneth R. Bazinet and Michael McAuliff have described “tears and hugs and lingering bitterness that will take some time to heal among Clinton’s soon-to-be-unemployed foot soldiers.” They’ve also run an astonishing kicker quote — an anonymous “campaign aide” saying, “I will never forgive Obama for what he did to Hillary…I will vote for him, but that’s it.”
What do you say to such a statement? Do you say, “Yeah, I hear you…Obama played it low and dirty while Hillary held high the torch of dignity and appealed to the best in voters”? What kind of prescribed medication do you have to be on to buy into this?
Trust me — in her noon speech today in Washington, D.C., Clinton’s carefully parsed words will provide comfort to the person who voiced the above. Clinton’s heart-of-hearts is not in this charade — we all know that. Many of her rabid supporters regard today’s concession speech as a kind of funeral. She’s something of a political realist, of course, and knows what she has to do, but many of us will be flabbergasted if she convinces everyone that she really and truly means what she’s about to “say.”
We all know who and what she is — do we not?
N.Y. Times reporter Jodi Kantor has offered a more carefully measured view of the situation.