Friday, November 12, 2004
Few films have portrayed the absurdity of war as convincingly as Samuel Fuller's The Big Red One, first released in 1980. It was in some ways his most audacious effort: As America wallowed in post-Vietnam defeatism, Fuller focused on the bloody, desperate last days of World War II. He touted basic American values when many Americans believed their country was a lost cause. But most importantly, Fuller displayed the horror of tyranny without flinching, and dared to claim that a cause like freedom was worth dying for. With its grim determination and deep moral convictions, The Big Red One implicitly rebuked the self-absorption of the "Me Generation" -- and for that sin, studio heads declared it anachronistic. They severely truncated the film without the director's permission, then released it with little fanfare to poor box office.
At a barely coherent 110 minutes, the theatrical cut of The Big Red One is not a great film. But like other mangled masterpieces -- Welles's Magnificent Ambersons, or Lang's Metropolis -- it offers tantalizing glimpses of what might have been. Time magazine critic Richard Schickel, one of the film's first champions, was not content with this mere peek at greatness. Over the past five years, he combed through studio vaults and warehouses (even finding missing footage in Kansas), and gradually assembled a 160-minute reconstruction of Fuller's original cut. This new version features several previously unseen sequences, as well as a major subplot that radically alters the film's structure. At last, this is The Big Red One as Fuller meant it to be seen.
Perhaps it's appropriate that this film should resurface now, as Americans display our vision and resolve in a new world war against terror and tyranny. The Big Red One may have seemed dated in 1980, but now it feels like a blast of fresh air -- clear, cleansing and true. It's playing for one week only at the AFI SIlver Theater, just outside Washington, D.C. Run, don't walk, etc.
Palestinian leader Yassir Arafat died yesterday. Today, presidents and ambassadors from across the globe will attend a grand funeral in Cairo, remembering the man as a tireless advocate for peace.
Apparently, denial is a river in Egypt.
Thursday, November 11, 2004
On this day, as Americans celebrate those who defend the freedoms we hold dear, let us also remember those valiant soldiers who served their country with pride, yet received nothing for their efforts but a dishonorable discharge. Surely America's Gay veterans deserve more than scorn and disdain. Isn't it time these Gay and Lesbian people received an equal share of the freedoms they fought to save?
Wednesday, November 10, 2004
Over the past week, we conservatives have had a golden opportunity to witness left-liberals go through the five stages of grief all at once. So screw all this "healing" crap, and let's enjoy some good old-fashioned schadenfreude:
Step 1: Denial.
Thom Hartmann tells us what must have happened at commondreams.org: The hot story in the Blogosphere is that the "erroneous" exit polls that showed Kerry carrying Florida and Ohio (among other states) weren't erroneous at all - it was the numbers produced by paperless voting machines that were wrong, and Kerry actually won. As more and more analysis is done of what may (or may not) be the most massive election fraud in the history of the world, however, it's critical that we keep the largest issue at the forefront at all time [sic]: Why are We The People allowing private, for-profit corporations, answerable only to their officers and boards of directors, and loyal only to agendas and politicians that will enhance their profitability, to handle our votes?
Robert Parry at Consortiumnews.com maintains that the Dems wuz robbed: Though there's still no proof of such a cyber-attack, suspicions are growing that the U.S. presidential election results were manipulated to some degree. Voting analyses of some precincts in Florida and Ohio have found surprisingly high percentages for Bush. Others have noted that the large turnout among young voters and the obvious enthusiasm of John Kerry’s voters would have suggested a better showing for the Democrat.
No catalog of denial, however small, would be complete without an Election Night quote from John Edwards: We waited four years for this victory; we can wait one more night.
Step 2: Anger.
Kerry volunteer Janet Sullivan, writing in Salon.com., won't even touch leprous conservative scum: By the time I had gone to bed, the chorus of pundits had fixed on a single tune, as they always do, and remarkably quickly, too. [...] They had dusted off the old theme that the Democrats need to "reach out" more to the "heartland." Reach out? How, exactly? Forget that these folks blindly ignored all objective reality -- and their own best economic and national-security interests -- and voted for Bush. [...] "Reach out" to these voters? Yeah. Then boil your hand till it's sterilized.
Eric Alterman waxes ontological at his MSNBC-sponsored blog Altercation: The problem is just this: Slightly more than half of the citizens of this country simply do not care about what those of us in the "reality-based community" say or believe about anything. (Hey, wait a minute: I wrote about the "reality-based" community before he did!)
Also at Salon.com, Farhad Manjoo finds a more productive outlet for Democratic wrath: Am I the only one who thinks the Bush victory isn't a fundamental realignment of the electorate (a rightward shift toward "values") and instead suggests something more simple -- that John Kerry was a pretty poor candidate with a not-exactly-great political team running against a pretty good candidate with a tested political team who, as the incumbent during a time of war, probably couldn't have lost against anyone anyway, no matter how badly he did in the debates?
Step 3: Bargaining.
At Slate.com, pretzel-logic feminist Katha Pollitt finds that the American electorate drives a hard bargain: If a Democratic candidate were to Sister-Souljah [sic] Britney or 50 Cent or Eminem or similar, he might please many an anxious parent, but he would lose the young — the only age group that went for Kerry — and, depending on the target, make trouble for himself with blacks or Hispanics or even (if he attacked a female performer when we all know the men are so much worse) women. Similarly, how is the candidate going to keep pro-choicers while attracting anti-choicers, motivate single women (and single men, who also favor the Democrats) while going on endlessly about marriage and family values and God and promising to shovel yet more goodies to married couples and the suburbs? Democrats assume the base is endlessly forgiving because where can it go? This time that was true—turnout was high, Nader tanked. But we have our limits, too.
Meanwhile, Democratic strategist Will Marshall proposes the next Sista-Souljah moment: Let’s let Hollywood and the Cannes Film Festival fawn all over Michael Moore. We ought to make it clear he sure doesn’t speak for us when it comes to standing up for our country. (Ah, but Moore did speak for Democrats. That was the problem.)
In upstate New York, Bill Clinton explains why Democrats should trade Gay rights for evangelical votes (thus orchestrating the largest betrayal of GLBT Americans since his '96 reelection campaign): Gay marriage was an overwhelming factor in the defeat of John Kerry.
Given these proposals, perhaps Tom Curry at MSNBC overstates Democrats' adherence to principle: Of course some Democratic beliefs are very likely non-negotiable. (Prompting loyal readers to respond, "Really? Which ones?")
Step 4: Depression.
The homepage of Sorryeverybody.com is just one long bummer: Some of us — hopefully most of us — are trying to understand and appreciate the effect our recent election will have on you, the citizens of the rest of the world. As our so-called leaders redouble their efforts to screw you over, please remember that some of us — hopefully most of us — are truly, truly sorry. And we'll say we're sorry, even on the behalf of the ones who aren't. (You don't have to apologize for me, thanks. Europe and the UN earned a middle-finger salute from the hearland, fair and square.)
Rebecca Traister, a "Mother Who Thinks" at Salon.com, looks for the silver lining, but finds only grey skies ahead: So yeah, it all sucks, elementally. We lost. We don't have anything to look forward to. We have been defeated, by our own country, by ourselves. We gave everything we had, just like our parents told us to do, and it wasn't enough. The Enlightenment is being rolled back before our eyes. We can't get a firm enough grip to hold it in place. We're dying. We're all going to die ...
Naturally, The Bloated One finally weighed in at (where else?) michaelmoore.com: [American voters] brought Armageddon that little bit closer and re-christened their beloved nation The Home Of The Knave and the Land Of The Freak. God Help America. Heavy stuff, man.
Step 5: Acceptance.
Leave it to the chuckleworthy New York Times to show us how urban liberals accept people who might be, you know, different from them: "If the heartland feels so alienated from us, then it behooves us to wrap our arms around the heartland," [film producer Beverly Camhe] said. "We need to bring our way of life, which is honoring diversity and having compassion for people with different lifestyles, on a trip around the country."
In the world's largest atheist UFO-related cult group -- the all-caps RAELIAN MOVEMENT -- everything is batshit crazy as usual: His Holiness RAEL, founder of the RAELIAN MOVEMENT, is so deeply moved by all the pro-peace American citizens who are deeply depressed by George Bush’s victory and are thinking about leaving the USA to emigrate in Canada, that he is giving them another much more powerful idea: create a new nation which would regroup all the pro-Kerry states: The New United States of America or "NUSA."
But when it comes to hat-in-hand contrition, nobody can top the blogosphere's own Andrew Sullivan: I wanted Kerry to win. I believed he'd be more able to unite the country at home, more fiscally conservative, more socially inclusive, and better able to rally the world in a more focused war on terror. I still do. But a slim majority of Americans disagreed. And I'm a big believer in the deep wisdom of the American people. They voted in huge numbers, and they made a judgment. Not a huge and decisive victory by any means. But at least a victory that is unlikely to be challenged. The president and his aides deserve congratulations. And so, I think, does Senator Kerry, whose campaign exceeded the low expectations of many of us. In other words: "Yaay! Lollipops for everyone!" (To be fair, Sullivan is actually a conservative -- which probably explains why he's mellower about the election returns than most of the Democratic faithful.)
Something tells me the leftists are only going to get whinier over the next four years. The good news is, conservatives don't have to care. So grieving Democrats, please excuse them: I'm sure they'd love to stick around while you have a good cry, but they have a government to run. (Actually, at the moment they have a couple of governments to run. Busy, busy, busy!)
Tuesday, November 09, 2004
After the election, I crashed pretty hard. I still have to write a few articles on the Virginia Film Festival for the Metro Herald, but I'll try to get the old prose mill working by Friday. The post on left-wing "activist cinema" will just have to wait.
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