Rightwing Film Geek

A shaggy letter to the DNC

A friend leaked to me this important letter, an example of the sort of support worthy of the Democratic National Committee and (most of) the party’s White House hopefuls:

Dear DNC:
Thank you for giving the opportunity to speak my mind.
I lost my job this past year. When Clinton was president, I worked in a prosperous enterprise. But in the last year, we had to close our operations. We simply could not compete with foreign labor. This foreign labor worked for low pay under very bad conditions. They worked very long shifts, and many even died on the job. This competition could hardly be called “fair.” I was forced out of the place where I had worked for 34 years. Not a single government program was there to help me. How can Bush call himself “compassionate?”
Far worse, I lost two of my sons in Bush’s evil war in Iraq. They gave their lives for their country, and for what? So that Bush’s oil buddies can get rich. My pain of losing my sons is indescribable. While it is trivial next to the loss of my sons, I regret to say that I also lost my home. I simply had nothing left. How can Bush call himself a Christian when he neglects people like me?
I am a senior citizen with various medical problems. I’m not in a position where I can begin a new career. I was reduced to the point where I was basically homeless, all because of President Bush.
Mr. Bush, I dare you to look me in the face and tell me you are a compassionate man! I dare you to look me in the face and tell me you are a Christian!
If I had any money left, I would donate it to the Democratic party. If Al Gore had been elected in 2000, I guarantee I would still have a job, a home, and most importantly, my dear sons!

Regards,
Saddam Hussein

January 29, 2004 Posted by | Uncategorized | | Leave a comment

Love and hate about the Oscar nominations

Having trouble with my phone line at home (cursed ice storm), so I couldn’t write up my reaction to the Oscar nominations until now (the complete list is here.)

Good surprises:
friedmansbox.jpgThe year’s best film IMNHO was CAPTURING THE FRIEDMANS, which was unfortunately was a documentary and therefore in years past its quality and critical popularity would have guaranteed that it would not get a nomination as Best Documentary. But not this year. Not only was FRIEDMANS nominated, but the other candidate for the year’s most widely-praised documentary, THE FOG OF WAR, was picked too. Though I’ve expressed my doubts and crushed high expectations about FOG, it’s also good that finally the Academy acknowledges the existence of the country’s most important documentarian — Errol Morris. And all three of the others were films that I have heard of, that played in theaters, and that was generally well-liked by the few critics who saw them. The documentary branch for years had a nearly perfect record of ignoring the one film that year that *had* to be on the list — Morris’ own THE THIN BLUE LINE, ROGER & ME, CRUMB, HOOP DREAMS, HEARTS OF DARKNESS. But this year and last, they seem to have gotten their heads screwed on straight. Last year, four of the five nominees were BOWLING FOR COLUMBINE, WINGED MIGRATION, SPELLBOUND and DAUGHTER FROM DANANG — all films that, regardless of my varied particular opinions of them, were strong enough *as films* to get substantial critical praise and to win (with the exception of DANANG) a very broad and hugely popular commercial release by documentary standards.

Some major nominations going to foreign films. THE TRIPLETS OF BELLEVILLE scored a nomination for best animated feature nomination and one for best song. And then there was all the love for CITY OF GOD — four nominations, including two major ones (script and director). I’m under no illusions that either is likely to win anything — for a foreign film, it is really true that the honor is just being nominated (some exceptions duly noted, including last year’s script win for Almodovar’s excellent TALK TO HER). According to the Associated Press, when director Fernando Meirelles heard of the nominations, he asked “Has the Academy gone mad?” No, Fernando: you just did good. I’ll have more to say here about this great film, which will be out on home video in a couple of weeks, when I do my Top 10 essay this weekend.

The near-shutout suffered by COLD MOUNTAIN in the major categories — film, actress, director, script (yes … adapted script). I don’t begrudge Renee her nomination (and likely win), but what exactly was distinguished about Jude Law? Have I mentioned that I don’t care for this fantasy for the art-house audience? One Southerner of my acquaintance high-fived me, and told me that when he had heard of the film’s Oscar flop, he was dancing on the toilet bowl.

billmurray.jpgFinally, a Best Actor nomination for Bill Murray, and he might even win, though my money would be on Sean Penn (insert this rant from yesterday about the Academy giving short shrift to comedy and comic actors).

While I’m not crazy about most of the particular choices, it is good to note that the Academy actually acknowledged that films get released in the first 11 months of the year. Last year, all five nominees were released Dec. 18 or later. This year: LORD OF THE RINGS 3 on Dec. 17; MASTER AND COMMANDER on Nov. 14; MYSTIC RIVER on Oct. 8; LOST IN TRANSLATION on Sept. 12 and SEABISCUIT on July 25. Perhaps the shortened awards season this year (and the screener ban) made the end-of-year booking strategy not viable. Or maybe the voters just didn’t care for MONSTER, HOUSE OF SAND AND FOG, 21 GRAMS, THE COMPANY, COLD MOUNTAIN, IN AMERICA, BIG FISH, GIRL WITH A PEARL EARRING and CALENDAR GIRLS.

Bad surprises:
campbellscott3.jpgThe absolute shutout suffered by THE SECRET LIVES OF DENTISTS. That’s not so much a surprise, I guess, as a disappointment about what I think was the best American fiction film of last year. I well realized it wasn’t gonna be a major player, since it was released in August and did poorly at the box office. But it still hurts that there was no room at the inn for its script and that Campbell Scott has nothing to show for the two of the best performances by an American male of recent years (this one and ROGER DODGER — so amazing because the characters in question are nothing like one another). Grrr … oh well: DENTISTS came out on home video last week and I heartily recommend it as one of the most realistic and dry-eyedly romantic depictions of family life I’ve ever seen.

The nomination of Tim Robbins and his collection of gestures masquerading as a performance in MYSTIC RIVER for anything other than a Razzie. Have I mentioned here before that I *hate* that performance. I suppose I can see the logic … that’s Acting. In fact I’ve never so *much* Acting in a noncomic performance in my life. You see every twitch and halt, and all the blood, sweat and tears that went into this, The Ultimate Performance. It’s discouraging that even professional actors are again mistaking playing a handicap (or someone of the opposite sex, who ages 100 years, etc.) as acting.

lostscarlett.jpgNo Scarlett Johansson. She gives two of the year’s best lead female performances — in LOST IN TRANSLATION and GIRL WITH A PEARL EARRING — and gets shut out. And not because neither film was up the Academy’s alley — LOST was one of the big winners and PEARL was a December prestige release that did get several (very deserved) nods in the technical categories. Maybe the two performances canceled each other out. Or maybe the Academy just prefers telegraphed collections of body-language tics to using your eyes and face and just *existing* on camera.

January 29, 2004 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

A compromise on cloning

A three-judge panel in Atlanta Wednesday rejected a court challenge to Florida’s ban on adoption by homosexuals from four gay men, thus spoiling Fox’s sitcom lineup for next year. Here is the nut quote from the Associated Press account of the decision. Keep in mind this is a sitting federal judge talking:

“We exercise great caution when asked to take sides in an ongoing public policy debate,” Judge Stanley Birch wrote in the unanimous decision by the three-judge panel. “Any argument that the Florida Legislature was misguided in its decision is one of legislative policy, not constitutional law.”

What? *A sitting federal judge* says it’s not his role to pass judgment on every legislative judgment. How did this guy get through law school? How did he pass the ABA vetting? How did Charles Schumer and Patrick Leahy let him on the bench? Doesn’t Judge Birch know that letting the people’s legislatures decides moral issues is racist?

I propose therefore the following compromise on the deeply divisive issues of cloning and stem-cell research. Conservatives will drop our objections if we can clone 100 Judge Stanley Birches and put them on the federal bench. And his stem cells should be sold over-the-counter and, if necessary, forcibly implanted into all pregnancies in the Hamptons, Marin County and Malibu.

January 29, 2004 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment