Friday, July 30, 2004
It was a defining moment.
John Kerry's acceptance speech last night was the perfect parody of a Kerry speech ("Let's hear more about me!"), and it came complete with glowing references to Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11. It could have been worse, but I don't know how. Half the time I expected Al Franken to walk up to the podium and announce that we were live from New York, it was finally Saturday night, and we could all get so drunk we'd forget all about this. No dice, folks. It was Boston, it was Thursday, and I think Kerry believed he was serious.
As every second-rate newspaper hack in the country has noted, it was "the speech of Kerry's life" -- and where better to begin the speech of one's life ... than with one's birth? Quoth Kerry:
I was born,
If Edwards had his way, it would've been a C-section.
... as some of you saw in the film ...
Umm, couldn't we have figured out that Kerry was born without seeing the film? After all, given his presence on the podium last night, what were the alternatives to birth? Were we supposed to believe that Kerry "just grew," or that he crawled out, fully formed, from underneath a rock? The mind boggles, but the worst, alas, is yet to come.
in Fitzsimmons Army Hospital in Colorado when my dad was a pilot in World War II. Now, I am not one to read into things, but guess which wing of the hospital the maternity ward was in?
Ummm ... the Left Wing? The Extreme Left Wing? The Michael-Moore-Is-The-Best-Damn-Filmmaker-Since-Leni-Riefenstahl- Made-All-That-Stuff-For-The-Nazis Wing?
Fear not, gentle readers: Kerry has the answer. Kerry has all the answers.
I'm not kidding. I was born in the West Wing.
John Kerry: Born with a silver spoon up his ass.
Thursday, July 29, 2004
Well, I was going to vote for Kerry this November, until I watched Edwards speak last night. It was a viscerally uncomfortable experience. The vapid speech was yet another variation on his "Two Americas" stump speech, this one awkwardly tweaked to focus on national security. Fair enough: I don't expect anything profound in convention rhetoric. But no matter how hard I try, I'll never forget Edwards's beady, shifty, nervous little eyes, always darting around the auditorium. I don't think they made contact with the cameras even once, for even an instant. From my perspective, it looked as if Edwards were trying, rather desperately, to avoid something. Was the old ambulance-chaser suddenly afraid that, with the whole nation watching, something might expose him? Did he worry that someone might discover a strangely misshapen portrait in his closet? I'm still wondering.
This line didn't help the cause, either:
Tonight, as we celebrate in this hall, somewhere in America, a mother sits at the kitchen table. She can't sleep because she's worried she can't pay her bills. She's working hard trying to pay her rent, trying to feed her kids, but she just can't catch up. It didn't use to be that way in her house. Her husband was called up in the Guard. Now he's been in Iraq for over a year. They thought he was going to come home last month, but now he's got to stay longer.
Who is this woman, and who is her husband? Most politicians, I think, would have given some indication that these people exist in the real world. Al Gore would have told us their names, and added a home address and phone number just for creepy kicks. John Edwards, on the other hand, seems to conjure these folks straight out of his head. That bereft woman at the kitchen table (where else, gentle reader, would she be?) and her husband in the Guard -- are they Edwards's new imaginary friends?
She thinks she's alone. But tonight in this hall and in your homes, you know what? She's got a lot of friends.
Well, if imaginary friends were allowed to vote, I think the Kerry/Edwards ticket would have this election pretty well licked.
Wednesday, July 28, 2004
In Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, the character of Brick won't stop drinking until he hears a "click" in his head. At one recent Kennedy Center performance of Cat, the actor playing Brick announced that he finally heard the "click," and a woman in the audience yelled the perfect retort: "Well, it certainly took long enough!"
This post may be my own way of announcing I've heard the "click." I can't help feeling that my Glass Menagerie review "certainly took long enough" to write, but at least it's finished, more or less. Right now I feel as if someone stuck a tap in my brain and left the thing running all night. It's time for a break.
I, Critic. I haven't been seeing (or watching) that many movies over the past month, perhaps because it's summer blockbuster season and I can't imagine anything interesting coming my way. I suspect that Alex Proyas's I, Robot is the sort of xenophobic parable that the anti-immigrant movement could easily embrace, if the film's star weren't Black. The spectacle of undifferentiated robot nannies, domestics and menial workers, all rising up to kill their American masters, seems to reflect a deep-seated class-war paranoia regarding all those brownish people who cross America's southern borders, take low-wage jobs, and generally make a new life for themselves here without so much as asking Peter Brimelow's permission. (Hey, those robots all look alike to me.) If I'm right about this film, then it's a nasty piece of work and I don't really want to see it -- and if I'm wrong, then it's probably an empty shoot-'em-up and not worth my time.
Cop Killer. Last weekend I caught a sneak preview of Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle. This episodic, low-budget comedy chronicles the adventures of two hyper-intelligent potheads, one Asian-American and one Indian-American. The film gets bonus points -- in my book if not John Ashcroft's -- for understanding that many occasional tokers are smart as whips, with responsible jobs and comfortable lives. It offers several inspired moments of political incorrectness (most of them, alas, in the first half hour), and its anti-drug-war satire is rare enough to pass for fresh. On the many occasions when Harold and Kumar lacks wit, humor and taste, it coasts on the charm and easygoing chemistry of its two leads. I wish the entire film were as much fun as its first fifteen minutes, but it's good enough to pass (barely), and may even turn a modest profit.
Unfortunately, the film also celebrates the cold-blooded murder of a police officer. The cop-killing occurs in a dream sequence, and is meant to be comic: When the policeman bleeds to death in a hail of bullets, he claims that Harold has discovered "bullets, [his] only weakness" (a dismal one-liner, possibly lifted from Ray Dennis Steckler's '60s schlockfest Rat Pfink a Boo Boo). Well, the audience around me laughed and cheered as the officer fell bleeding to the ground, though I'm afraid I found this moment deeply disturbing. Doubtless Bill O'Reilly will cite it as an example of how low left-liberal Hollywood will stoop -- and for once, he'll be absolutely correct.
Conventional Wisdom. Is there anything duller than a political convention? Some right-wing bloggers are complaining that the Democrats are trying to position themselves as a centrist rather than a leftist party. (Funny, I thought we conservatives were in favor of enlightened self-interest.) Doubtless the Republican Convention will take a similar tack, keeping a strategic distance from the Far Right. Both representations are equally dishonest: Democrats listen to Michael Moore, and Republicans look to Rick Santorum. Still, after six months of pandering to religious conservatives, Bush may have more trouble wooing centrists and undecideds than Kerry will.
I'll post reviews of Kermit Hunter's Honey in the Rock and Cheryl West's Jar the Floor in a few days, when I feel replenished.
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