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Archive for the ‘movies’ Category

Hillary Clinton is beginning to seem like Hubert “The Happy Warrior” Humphrey to me. The prospect of Hillary running against John McCain feels to me a bit like choosing between Humphrey and Nixon.

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Bamboo stalks and leaves are easy enough to whack away and dispose of. It’s the rhizomes that wear you out.
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We watched a very engaging movie last night about four North Africans who volunteer to fight for the French. Part and parcel of the story is that these men are fighting for a nation that has colonized their own countries. As soldiers in Europe they find themselves in wonderfully ambiguous places, confronting scenes and situations familiar to audiences yet novel for the characters; generally sweet, likeable young men. (Those who’ve seen Amelie will recognize Jamel Debbouze.)
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All dreams begin in a sort of psychic confinement, as if context is lost and you’re reborn of circumstances you cannot explain.
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We’ve seen a lot of documentaries so far this year; such as
The Yes Men, Outfoxed, Bush’s Brain, You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train,
American Blackout, and This Film Is Not Yet Rated.

A good documentary gives me something not commonly known, so I didn’t care for
Shirley Chisholm ’72: Unbought & Unbossed, and I thoroughly enjoyed
One Bright Shining Moment about the McGovern usurpation of the Democratic machine in 1972.
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Bullitt was on TV last night.

Once again I was so drawn in to Steve McQueen‘s role that I forgot I was watching an acting performance. The word natural gets overused, but McQueen so becomes the character that you can forget you are watching fiction and get completely involved in the story.
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Cut!

Malcolm Cowley wrote a wonderful introduction to a collection of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s stories where he describes the cultural changes that struck America in the 1920s. It was a sharp rift. The young kids of the Jazz Age felt the older generation was morally bankrupt on issues such as women’s suffrage, prohibition, and the war.
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Deception is everywhere. Even the simplest animals employ camouflage to deceive. Vladimir Nabokov writes of a butterfly whose wings portrayed a leaf so completely that it included the appearance of raindrops, with the lines on its wings curved to simulate the refraction of light through water. (That still amazes me.)
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My very good friend Gary and I had an understanding that, if we ever agreed on anything, we each needed to automatically re-examine his own position.

There was a Zen element mixed into this, mostly by Gary, who had taught in Japan, although I held my own. And his half of our agreement was premised on the fact that Gary was a Catholic-raised, Zen-loving, California-hating, gun-toting libertarian (who argued with being labeled in such ways, but would agree that those words come closer to the truth than most others, as they are diametrically opposed to liberal, gun-controlling, commie, pinko or protestant, let alone godless atheist.
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While I was in high school, some forward-thinking teacher showed us the movie The Strawberry Statement, in class. It stuck with me, so much so that I later found a used copy of the book it was based on, by James Kunen. It’s set in ’68 during the student protests and the takeover of the administration building at Columbia University.

In hindsight, it’s easy to think the anti-war position was a popular view, but in a very immediate way The Strawberry Statement brings home how embattled they were, how much of a minority they felt (the jocks, for example, called them “pukes”), and not just the spontaneity of the moment but a feeling of newness, or everything being up for grabs.
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